Just Tell Me Real Quick...

If you were sitting right next to a two-year-old girl of someone you didn't know on a safari tractor hayride thing, her parent(s) were not within arm's reach, and she curiously stuck her little finger in the real, live, accustomed-to-being-fed-by-safari-hayriders camel's nose...what would you do?

Day 91: Let the Listmaking Begin

Stuff For Me To Do Before David Gets Home:

  1. Sweep, vacuum, mop all the main level floors.
  2. De-smear all the windows, inside and out.
  3. Clean the main bathroom so he doesn't have to.
  4. Clean the master bathroom so he doesn't have to.
  5. Get all of his shirts ironed so he doesn't have to. (And by that I do mean have a pro do it - I have never learned how exactly and it's a creasy, starchy mess every time. I'd love some tips and instructions - like how to do the sleeves. Really.)
  6. Bring order to the boys' room.
  7. Make a menu of real dinners to eat when he gets back.
  8. Make a grocery list of real grocery items for when he gets back.
  9. Do real grocery shopping (I.e., purchase other items besides milk, juice, eggs, fruit snacks and lunchables) for the first time in three and a half months.
  10. Make the kitchen sparkle.
  11. Have the car detailed.
  12. Dissuade Calvin from picking all the wilting flowers from the back yard right now "to save for Dad when he gets home." ("You can put 'em in a glass with water Mom, and put them on the counter...")

Stuff I've Been Neglecting Saving for David to Help Me With Do When He Gets Home:

  1. De-spider the back yard and sandbox.
  2. Carpet the boys' room.
  3. Paint the boys' room. (I will help with this because I love to paint.)
  4. Disassemble Henry's crib.
  5. Find, buy and assemble bunkbeds.
  6. Paint our room.
  7. Find, buy and assemble a bed with a real-live headboard for us.
  8. Pull the rock-hiding unraveling stair carpet up and fix the stair treads.
  9. Keep the boys busy for a while so I can de-junk for the upcoming Gifts of the Heart event. (TBBAL - To be blogged about later.)
  10. Devour and lavishly praise everything I prepare for dinner.
  11. Remember my birthday.

So, yeah, basically I am just counting down the 7 days until I have to start on my list so everything will be checked off by the time he arrives two days after that. And he gets to work pretty much 24/7 (except for the mealtimes) for the first seven days he is home so that everything on his list gets checked off before he has to go back to his "real" job.

But hey, I may have to hire a pro for the shirts and the car on my list, but he gets to go to Home Depot for lots of things on his list. Probably eighty more times than we can even estimate. What could he possibly want to do more than that?

Sleep shmeep.


More on Sleeping, Eating and Talking

After all, those are the main activities of a mom and her preschool sons, right?

Calvin has acquired my bit of insomnia, apparently. Ever since the paper chain has been down to one tier, he is so excited about Dad coming home. And he tells me about it in the middle of the night...

Sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. for the last three or four nights, he's come thumping into my room and in his cute little voice (albeit quite a loud little voice, since the house tends to be very quiet at that time of day), says without preamble, something like, "Mom! When dad gets home, I'm going to give him the biggest hug EVER!" or, "Mom! I bet Dad is going to LOVE what you did to me and Henry's room." (I set up a "big boy bed" for Henry.)

And then after his little dad-related outburst, he says, "Um, can I get in bed with you?" It's really quite sweet. Except that I am usually just dozing off or else struggling to get to sleep, and once I am fully wakened by these midnight exclamations, the sleeping process is nearly a lost cause. Although sometimes I must actually go to sleep because I am awakened sometime later by a foot on my face...But so it goes.

That is perhaps why I fed the boys breakfast in bed the other morning. They weren't in bed. I was. They had played with blocks quietly for a little while after waking up and when they got hungry, they simply made several trips downstairs, brought back cups of yogurt and/or applesauce to me in bed, which I opened, they went back down and got themselves spoons, came back to where the yogurt was waiting on the side table, then sat down and had a little morning picnic by my bed. And I am admitting one more episode of my slovenliness to the internet. But why else do I blog?

(In my defense, I just must reiterate that I am a relatively responsible and vigilant parent. I know that those of you with little ones probably understand, but there are still some parents out there who do not. What it's really all about is tenacious curiosity, unfathomable energy, keen observation, and incredible speed plus a complete inability to wait for anything. Times two. Divided by a mom who is still trying to stay on the toddlerhood treadmill and sometimes just needs a few more minutes in bed.)

Henry has in fact become very self-reliant in the food department, from peeling himself a clementine, to eating with utensils, to flooding the fridge getting drinks of water . He has been a bottomless pit since birth - even in all my engorged glory I couldn't give him enough to eat. The wonderful thing is that up until recently he was not terribly picky - edibility was really his only requirement. Of course now he doesn't much like meat. And he's anemic, so we're having fun with iron supplements. But anyway...

Combined with his ability to find his own food is his new speaking ability, which seems to have sprung from nowhere in the last few weeks. Much of the time I am the sole interpreter of his language, although it becomes clearer and clearer to the untrained ear each day. The other day, however, I was stumped.

He was telling me over and over, "Case! Dida! Case! Dida!" and I could NOT figure out what he was telling me or talking about. I told him so. Well, a few minutes later, he comes into the living room with a bag of tortillas and a block of cheddar from the refrigerator and starts again: "Case! Dida!" OOOOOOHHHH! He wants a quesadilla! (Which, interestingly enough, is not something that I have recently or very frequently made - it's more of a dad snack around here...)

Later that afternoon, he told me very determinedly, "Lemmehavadonut." And I said, "Can you say, 'Please?'" And this is what he said - I am not even joking: "LEMMEHAVADONUT!" Small pause. "Come. Oonnn!" Um, he got a laugh for that, but not a donut. Where do they pick this stuff up? And I thought that tone of voice wasn't supposed to happen until maybe age ten.


Excuse Me, May I Have A Roar With You?

Everyday Mommy is hosting a Summer Writing Contest and this is my entry! The subject was "What My Children Taught Me About God." Wow, did that prompt a whole summer of thought and realization...Here's just a small piece of what I know about Him because of Them.

Sometime late last summer and fall, Calvin began roaring at other kids at the playground. Close, in their face. Children he didn’t even know ran tearfully away with his spittle on their little freckled noses. They were terrified. Of my little boy. At first, I thought maybe he was overtired - he had stopped taking his afternoon nap a few weeks before and maybe it was catching up to him.

I tried pulling him away to sit on my lap to calm down, explaining that roaring was not OK. He would calm down long enough for me to feel he could leave my lap on the park bench and then go right back to it. I tried to have him apologize to the fleeing children but this was met by him with resistance and refusal and sometimes even mothers of the children would roll their eyes at my efforts, especially when he finished one "Sorry!" only to pounce on a new victim.

I then removed him from the park altogether, which really created a scene because Henry was still playing, minding his own business, but if one kid had to go, obviously the other did, too. So I'd stomp off looking like an octopus out of water - Henry's arms and legs flailing as I held him under one arm and Calvin's arms and legs flailing as I held him under the other, then prying their fingers off the car door and the antenna to get them to the carseats as all the mothers would stare at us, shaking their heads and wondering how I created monsters and why I brought them to scare their children.

When Cal's fierce roaring continued and intensified after threats and explanaitons and even tears on my part, I began to wonder if he had a personality problem and if it was something I needed to talk to a professional about. And that was before he started biting the children that he was roaring at and chasing. The day he chased a little boy until the little boy wrapped himself around his mother’s legs, only to be bitten by Calvin right below his mother's protective hand just as I arrived to stop him and fumbled an apology when I saw her angry face – well, that was the day I vowed never to take Calvin among other children ever again, because he was so terrible and nothing was ever going to get through to him.

Then that night I hit my knees and asked for help on how to handle this. I was at my wits end - where did I go wrong? How could I fix it? I needed a solution – it was beyond my parenting abilities or understanding, and it had developed into a pattern of behavior that disturbed and concerned me for the future of my little boy. He would never have friends! How could I teach him? Why was he doing this?

Feeling in my heart that avoiding the situation wasn't entirely the answer (and not being able to really stay inside at home for too many days in a row), I dared to take him to the park not too long after my pleading prayer for help. Calvin once again sat on my lap for time out for roaring at someone right as we arrived. And then something came into my mind that incredibly had never entered it before. I just needed to ask: “Why do you roar at other kids, Cal?” At which point his writhing stopped and he answered matter-of-factly: “I just want them to play lions or dinosaurs with me.”

And so it hit me: He doesn’t know how to meet people, or how to make friends. I hadn’t taught him! He wasn’t being mean or antisocial – it was just the opposite! He wanted someone to play with him, so he was trying to engage someone in a favorite outside rowdy game! He and I took a moment on that park bench, and a few times after that, practicing together, “Hi, I’m Calvin. What’s your name? Do you want to play?” And then he took those words with him back onto the playground. Some kids ignored him, some kids walked away after they said their names, but a few actually played with him. And he almost immediately stopped roaring and biting.

This is how my child taught me three very important things about God (and my work as a mother). These are the things I learned:

First, God is in this with me. I’ve learned it time and time again, but this little experience brought to my heart the understanding that no concern over any child of His and mine is below His consideration or intervention. He will give guidance, He will give inspiration, He will provide a solution for helping one of His little ones – even with something like a three-year-old’s social skills. He cares. He wants my boys to learn what they need to to be kind and decent and faithful individuals. I just need to ask for direction, and I can depend on it no matter what.

Second, that my son has an inherently good nature, and as a parent I need to believe in that and nurture it and not jump ship or despair when his actions don’t reflect his real goodness or live up to the level of love I have for him. My Heavenly Father would never give up on me, the person He knows I am inside and the person He knows I have the potential to become. He would never resign himself to the fact that I am a lost cause, or refuse to take me somewhere because He couldn’t trust my behavior, or keep punishing me when I just didn't understand what I could be doing better.

He stays on. He teaches. He waits. He shows. He gave His Son so I can start each new day fresh, even if I roared and bit everyone in sight the day before. He trusts the good little soul inside of me and offers hope and reassurance, and He asks me to do the same for my boys, because the love and encourangement they feel from me will help them better understand His infinite love and mercy better. That means taking them back to the playground and letting them try again and again and again, and modeling my parenting after God's.

Finally, that there is power in words. Over and over a phrase from a Sunday School teacher has come to my mind – “The world was created with words.” Realizing that all Cal lacked was the proper words to articulate what he was trying to do, and seeing the difference it made in our life at the playground, was astounding.

The most profound thing was understanding that he didn’t just need me to say tritely, “Cal, use your words,” as I hear so many moms regurgitate over and over again. (I’ve often thought that the children in such situations are thinking, “WAAAAA! and CREEEEEEECCCHHHH! are my words! Who did you think said them?”) He needed me to give an example, to model them for him, to practice them with him. Just knowing the right words and when and where to say them created a whole new world of making friends and finding playmates – a hugely important life skill.

Connected with this realization of what changed for Calvin when he learned the right words to say was an understanding that the words I use and the tone I use with them actually paint the world that my children grow up in. I’ve become more aware that sarcastic words are confusing to little children and hurtful to older children. That name-calling or belittling words not only get repeated at inopportune times but create an ugly spirit and a contentious atmosphere. That the receivers of my words should always feel at ease and invited to be their best selves through everything I say.

As God showed me how to teach my little boy just the right words to say, I learned how much power and strength there really is in a concerned word, in a friendly word, in a polite word, in a patient word, in a teaching word, in a godly word, in a word that is understood by a mother's heart.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)



I have had at least one little boy in the house long enough to understand that elegance is merely an aggravation, and safety hazards are cleverly disguised as innocently useful items. Toddlers think aesthetics are for eating. And side tables are for climbing. Lamps are for pulling or twirling. Bookshelves are for emptying. Brooms are for wielding as weapons.

My personal experience is this: Electrical outlets cannot be childproofed. No matter how I try there will always be one Sharpie marker or a tube of Desitin that will mysteriously turn up in a little fist. It is nearly impossible to store cleaning supplies high enough or locked up enough and that the words, “No! Danger! Not a toy!” may as well be a foreign language.

And just like a foreign language, even if you yell the words louder or say them over and over again to the person who does not understand them, they are still not comprehended. And they may even become patently disregarded, after too much repetition and even when (or because) you begin sign language and “tone” to convey the message.

It is really not that my children are willfully destructive. They don’t touch, explore, eat, throw, or open and shut things loudly and repeatedly because they want to get under my skin or terrify everyone present. No children do. They do it because they are kids and their job is to explore and learn things – like that glass things break when they drop them. Every single time. That juice spills when you tip it or hold it upside down. Every single time. That pushing buttons on the remote or TV or DVD will make something happen. Every single time. That the milk carton will come off the top shelf faster and heavier than you can handle it. Every single time.

I believe that little boys are particularly tenacious in their explorations and experiments. But I am beginning to know pretty much exactly what they will go for when I’m not watching. I almost know intuitively (which is not as simple as you would think - many people have no idea, I assure you) the type of knick knack or unsuspecting tool will immediately be challenged from its rightful decorative niche or useful purpose. I have become so clever and conscious of every possible temptation to my budding engineer/artist and technophile/explorer that I am almost to the point where I can take a shower in peace, knowing that whatever it is that is not a toy is out of sight, out of mind, or locked in the bathroom with me.

Call me lazy or a cynic, but three years into this little boy thing, I have decided to accept the fact that even though it should be OK to leave certain things in view or reach, it just isn’t. I have now cried all the “never-going-to-have-anything-nice-ever-again” tears that I’m going to and resigned myself to reduced beautification and constant vigilance on their “destroy-by-means-of-natural-curiosity-and-common-household-accoutrements” front.

And yet with my remarkable adaptation to the battle at hand and surrender by minimalism, I still have lapses in judgment. Like when our filter pitcher cracked recently and needed replaced, I thought it would be a good idea to buy this:

Yeah, that’s a spigot with sixteen 8 oz. glasses of H2O (my reason for the purchase) behind it. Within detectable reach of any two-year-old recon mission. Inexplicable, really. Who’s side am I on, anyway?


Day 83: Allow Me to Lament A Little Longer

I did some calling around about the camera repair. The bad news is that I have to send it to the pros in New Jersey because the run-of-the-mill repair places don't mess with my model. *weeping* The good news is that they say most repairs on my model don't cost more than half the price of the camera, so it actually is more economical to repair it than to replace it. The other bad news is that it will take a couple days to get there, a couple days before they MAIL me the estimate, and five to ten business days to repair it and send it back.*wailing* So just how many Kodak Fuji moments will I miss in all that time? I'm telling you, I am one bereft blogger without my camera.

Which is exactly why I bought a disposable a couple days ago, to get me by. I utterly forgot the whole idea that you have to use up all the film on the camera before you can go have it developed, but I decided to get over the fact that the pictures wouldn't be "real-time" and just roll with it.

Then I picked up the picture CD today and exactly 7 of the 27 exposures actually turned out. NONE of which were the ones I was dying to post! *gnashing teeth*

But Morning Glory did just fine without a digital camera the other day, so I decided I would follow in her footsteps with this post.*sniffing, blowing nose, pulling self together* So try to picture these:

Photo One: Calvin standing outside the crib at about 7:30 a.m., reaching through the crib rungs to turn the pages on a book in Henry's lap, telling him about the pictures as they went. This is what he did after waking up instead of coming in to wake ME up.

Photo Two: Calvin and Henry in their new back-to-school church clothes on Sunday. Adorable, all cleaned up after the carefree days of summer. The colors of their little striped polos are tan and light orange and sky blue - beautiful with Calvin's tan skin and Henry's blue eyes. Neither of them go to school yet, of course, but the temptation of the season just got to me. Especially after the 10 for $10 spiral notebooks and the 15 cent boxes of 24 crayons arranged in beautiful towers of academic proportions in the entrance to the store. I'd send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, but I don't know your mailing address.

Photo Three: Henry holding up a play-doh creation. Completely mixed colors, a lumpy bumpy middle clump with two lumpy bumpy but slightly flattened parts sticking out of each side. He held it up, "Yook, Mom. A Pane!" And I could not believe that a two-year-old could create a plane out of play-doh, without even a discussion of planes going on at the time to give him the idea. Seriously, it resembled one. And in his fat little hand...Oh, Camera, why did you fail me at such a time? *sobbing*

One thing I just don't have the heart to make you imagine is another paper chain photo. So here you go...*praying that blogrrrr will work on the bazillionth try*

(Just imagine those scribbles and what they scribbled over are not there. That's a lot easier than imagining the whole photo, isn't it?) We're down to one tier! Less than 21 links and subtracting! That's right, folks! Daddy's coming home 2 weeks earlier than originally planned. The day before my birthday!!! Woot! I mean, WOOOOOT!

And now that I am in a much better mood, I'll share a couple photos that did turn out from the disposable camera.

I got a special glimpse into Calvin's perception of my rabid photo taking when he begged me, "Take a picture of me and my Sprite, Mom! Pleeeeeaaaase?! It will be so cute!" Yeah, OK. It would be sad not to post such a thing, even with the substandard disposable exposure. (I promise - our grout is gross, but not that gross...)

And not too long after, perhaps because I had made such a fuss over the play-doh plane, Henry said, "Tek pitsha mah towder!" So I got a shot of him and his tower.

And maybe I am partial, but this is just too much ridiculous adorableness.

So I'll quit boohooing now.


The 101: You Do The Math

I like lists. So my not-so-ultra-creative idea for my 100th was to give you little lists of things about me that add up to a big list of 100. I think I did it. But it's not as thrilling as I wanted it to be. I apparently collapsed under the pressure. But if you add them up, you'll find I overachieved.

If my life were "filmed on location," the camera crews would set up in these 6 cities:
Montrose, Colorado
Rexburg, Idaho
Donetsk and Gorlovka, Ukraine
Logan, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Washington, DC (and surrounds)

With important transition and vacation scenes in these 5 places:
small Toyotas or Hondas traveling across the US
Amsterdam, Holland (and surrounds)
Valletta, Malta
the Pacific Northwest U.S.
Victoria, British Columbia

If books are old friends, there's about 17 that I go way back (and frequently get together with):
The Little House on the Prairie Series (10 books - read them all repeatedly)
Gone With the Wind
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Great Expectations
My Antonia
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Hiding Place

If there is a restaurant in Heaven, these 21 things must be on the menu:
My mom's everything, but especially her Chicken Enchilada Casserole
And her Sunday Roast Beef
My grandma's everything, but especially her from-scratch Chicken Noodle Soup
And her Potato Salad
Auntie S's everything, but especially her Parmesan Chicken
And her Ginger Beef
Aunt Sheri's Sourdough Sugar Cookies
And her Gnocchi
My Pork and Red Pepper Stew
My Cheddar Cheese Ball and crackers
Thanksgiving Dinner (with a brined turkey)
Chocolate-dipped Cinnamon Bears
Varenyky (translated: little boiled things - they're a little like ravioli, with potatoes and onions in them.)
Borscht (Everyone thinks this is beet soup. Not the way I learned in Ukraine. Come on over this winter and I'll dip you up some!)
Plov (Fabulous, fabulous rice dish that David learned to make in Ukraine.)
Foil-wrapped hamburgers
Shavano Valley Pork Producers pulled pork sandwiches
Olathe Sweet corn on the cob
Tomatoes from my Grandpa's Garden
Chicken from El Pollo Rico
Waldorf Salad
Dark Chocolate Truffles

If All I Had Was Time, You'd Probably Find Me Doing One of These 11 Things:
Sewing - I need to learn first!
Reading the Great Works of Western Civilization
Or finishing the Great Works Master's Degree I started
Writing a Book
Redecorating every room in the house
Scrapbooking (maybe - I'm beginning to think blogging is the better way to really document)
Relaxing in a big hot bubble bath
Sleeping in a big white bed

If they had extreme makeovers for character flaws, I'd have these 13 things "enhanced:"
Ability to enjoy the NOW
Ability to appreciate ordinary life
Giving people the benefit of the doubt
Taming my sharp tongue
Seeing a glass that's half full every time
Discipline in gospel study
General enthusiasm
Ability to manage money
Faith in myself, in others, and in God

If I started a list of people I am grateful for, these 34 would be at the top:
My parents (there's 2)
My grandparents (there's 7 if you count the "greats" that I knew as a child)
My siblings (there's 6)
Their spouses (2)
Their kids (4)
My husband
His family (10)

If there are 2 posts that indicate what kind of things give me irrepressible giggles no matter how often I read them, they are these:
Angela's Cakemanship
Antique Mommy's Pagan Baby

If you really want to know me, you should ask these 4 people:
Auntie S
Joeli (sister)


Kids Meme

Katrina at Callapidder Days tagged me last week for this simple yet thoughtful kids meme. And it came at such an excellent time, because I know a couple of my two readers are probably missing the "meat" about the grandchildren / nephews while I've been lamenting the camera and analyzing the act of blogging. So here goes: three things about each of the boys...

age 3 years, 8 months

1. In a word, intense. He was born with what Auntie S dubbed the "thinky look" - tiny furrowed eyebrows and really bright eyes and a serious little mouth. It hasn't changed much. He notices everything, he feels things deeply, and he can be quite volatile about things that don't seem right or comfortable to him. Boredom and embarrassment are huge triggers for his intense moments. Luckily, he's getting really good at articulating. For example, he calmly came to me at a social function not too long ago saying that some boys pointed at him and were talking and it made him feel "shy." Adorable, helpful communication. I know it took a lot of effort for him to temper what he really felt and to come to me instead of kicking or screaming at the boys. So I have confidence his intensity will translate into a great quality as an adult.

2. He is so eager to please. I see it in him all the time, wanting to hear he did something well, craving feedback and approval. He also loves other people and wants to interact with them and have them hear and understand him. If I could change one thing about my mothering, it would be to remember this fact about him more often, and just focus on and praise and give thanks for all the things he does wonderfully, instead of harping on all the 3-year-old stuff he does that he'll probably grow out of on his own anyway. Maybe he would even grow out of it faster and with more confidence...Yeah, so there's one of the rough edges my kids are polishing off of me. :)

3. He loves to learn and perfect new skills, phrases, habits and activities. ("Perfect" being the key word there.) He watches intently, listens even when you think he is not, and practices quietly or in his mind before he will perform or say what he learned in front of other people. But when he does do something new, it is usually flawless or clever or very sweet, with a lot of thought and consideration behind it. He is very tentative and thoughtful before he acts, but exact, and surprises me just about everyday with something he has figured out.

The latest example of this quiet learning is his suddenly being able and willing to offer prayers all by himself at mealtimes and yesterday, in Primary at church. He went from me saying all the prayers to doing it all on his own, without too much of the stage where I tell him the words to say and he repeats them. It's precious! My favorite lines from his recent prayers are, "Thank you that we could live in this beautiful earf," and "Help us be happy and good."

age 2 years, 1 month

1. In a word, easygoing. From day one. So pliable and very much a "go with the flow" baby and toddler. He's starting to get some sass now and exert his newly discovered will (hollering from his bed, "Be nice, Mommy!" to get me to come pick him up), but all in all, he rolls with the punches and just has a happy time coming along for the ride.

2. He has the best facial expressions of anyone I have ever known. His sad, stick-out-the-bottom-lip thing gets me every time. His smile could light up a city. He can cock one eyebrow and make his eyes twinkly with mischief like no other. And his giggle is absolutely contagious. So much personality.

3. I hate to project a life interest on a little kid, but if there was ever a boy made for football, it's the Hemster. He is a bulldozer - unlike Calvin, he doesn't calculate anything before romping right over it, under it, or through it. He has had so many bumps and bruises, bonked head, and face plants into the sidewalk. And it never slows him down! There have been times that I was nearly crying and sure it was going to be an ER situation when he just got up, maybe came for a tiny bit of sympathy but hardly crying, then went back to climbing, running and pummeling. We've seriously considered the nickname "Ricochet" for him, because that is what he spends most of his time doing! There's no stopping his extreme adventures.

Like crawling under the bed for a book he knows is under there and getting stuck with his knees tucked under him. He yelled for me and I helped him get out, pulled the book he was after out, and he went back under for another book. (No we don't keep books under the bed. They were there, as Cal explained, because he moved them out of the way so he could build his train track. Which he was actually building quite a distance away. But see, he was planning ahead...)

So, there you have it. My boys in a 3-point nutshell.

I tag Carrot Jello, Gina, Gabriela and Nettie to tell us three little things about each of their children! (And yes, the criteria for my tags was to have four or more children. Growing up with lots of sibs, I love to hear the family dynamic!)


As Henry Would Say...

"Me is one hundred posts old!"

Well, almost...

Ninety-nine Code Yellow posts on the blog,
Ninety-nine Code Yellow posts -
Take one down...

There is no way I can think of 100 things anyone would care to hear about me, a la mommy blog tradition, so I'm going to think up something a little different to celebrate the big 100. It'll be good, so don't worry. Hopefully it will be done by the 200th post. Because life is what happens while you're busy making other posts. Or something like that.


Dare I Propagate A Unit Of Cultural Evolution?

Some time ago, I was so relieved to find that our pizza ordering habit was actually now going to help us build a strong family and learn to communicate with one another, sharing our innermost feelings and bonding over mozzarella and marinara. I just wanted to hug the box and thank the creators of this “family first” idea (read “advertising gimmick") for providing me such a solid foundation on which to better my family.

“Pizza [Chalet] has been gathering families since 1958." The box the pizza came in proudly proclaims. I didn't know it was pizza that was doing that all this time. Food budget money well spent, I'd say.

"Now making it easier with great pizza and fun family games!”

“Gather ‘Round the Good Stuff.” Who said pizza didn't qualify as a protein, a starch, and two veggies?

I don’t know about you and your kids, but it doesn’t take fun family games on the pizza box to gather round food. And my boys aren’t even teenagers yet. But kudos to the pizza people for inviting us to sit and enjoy a family dinner together. Especially considering that the fact Mom ordered the pizza probably indicates either a big ol' party going on that precludes meaningful parent-child conversations, or else that the main goal of the evening was just to feed the fam, not bond with them. (I'm kidding...kidding! Just laugh!)

The family game they offered on the particular night I noticed the box was a “fun” question and answer game between parents and kids. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, this should really be a meme! Yes! That’s it! I can’t even imagine the deep dinnertime discussions that will result across America, and now all over blogtopia, because of one pizza delivery.

So, dear readers, gather round the good stuff, remember who started this one, and have fun with….drumroll…..

The Pizza Box Meme

Special Note: The first 3 items were for, “Hey, kids! Ask your parents…” and the second three were for parents to ask their kids. I’ve altered them for meme-ability, so we can each answer them all.

What was your favorite thing about being a kid?School! I loved it, I really did. Probably mostly for the school supplies. And my teachers loved me. I still like learning and reading.

What was your favorite subject in school?Litrachur and History

Who was your best friend when you were my age (let’s say age ten)?
Colleen Donnelly. My funniest memory of her was after Jimmy Carter lost the presidential election. We were much younger than ten at the time - we stayed friends all through elementary school. Anyway, about Jimmy Carter: she was crying, sobbing, after school that day and said something like, "But Jimmy Carter is just the most handsome man I've ever known!" I hope that's not still true.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A zebra, because I think it is fascinating how they are boldly black and white but when they are in a lush green landscape, they don't stand out at all. Interesting camouflage - that's the ticket.

What would you change about your school (occupation/life) right now?I'd try to take more pride in housework and homemaking and get really good at doing the tedious stuff that I'm lazy about now.

What’s your favorite color?Green like an apple or a lime.

(Not on the box, but important:) What’s your favorite type of crust and favorite topping on a pizza? Thin crust, "supreme," add pineapple.

Tess you are tagged because I like your whole separate blog for memes. Katherine you are tagged because you are my family dinner idol. No Cool Story and Mugwumpmom, you are tagged because I said so. And anyone who likes pepperoni on their pizza or likes the crust best of all, is also tagged. Let me know when you’ve posted it!

Don't you think it will be funny when this makes it around again and it's just titled "Pizza Box Meme" and no one really knows why, and it has seventy questions instead of just seven, plus you have to list twenty pizza toppings and tell how they symbolize your life? I'm telling you, the Pizza [Chalet] people had no idea what they started.

(Goodbye, my infant meme…live long and mutate…)

Maintaining Interest

A day or two ago, as we were getting in the car, Cal waved at the neighbors arriving home across the street. He commented to me, "We're not the same color as them." (I thought it was cool that he put us as the ones who were different...)

After we got in the car, he asked, "Mom, why are people all different colors?" I told him that it was because Heavenly Father made each one of us special, some with different colors of skin, some with different languages, and every different person can do different things really well. Then I said, "And if we were all exactly like one another, wouldn't this world be really boring? If everyone looked just like you or had the same color of skin or did the exact same things, life just wouldn't be interesting."
So tonight we were putting a puzzle together and winding down for bedtime. We weren't really talking and Cal stopped piecing the puzzle and sighed. He said, "Mom, this is really boring." He paused and I thought it was my cue to put the puzzle away. But then he said, "I don't like for us to be pink and white all the time. I wish our skin could be a different color."
Leave it to Cal to be bored not with the activity at hand, but with the color of his skin!


WFMW: Who Moved My Cheese (Slicer)?

When I visited my mom this summer, I noticed this super simple yet brilliant idea that she had implemented: The cheese slicer was in the cheese drawer of her refrigerator!

Just one very small solution that makes life a tad easier – Since you use it only for cheese anyway, why keep it in the drawer ? (Every kitchen has one, full of such gadgets and tools.) This way, you always have it handy right near the item you use it with – the cheese! I've also found that I'm not searching for it in the dishwasher as much , either, since I'm just using it for the same thing over and over again.

Mom is quite clever.

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for more great ideas.


Day 74: State of the Code Yellow Family Members

First of all, huge THANK YOU to Jules at Everyday Design for my spanky new blog look. Do you love it?

Second, I don’t have a picture of the paper chain because Henry dropped my camera in a tidal pool and it has not yet recovered from the sand and water shock.

Just so you know, the camera was in a snapped pocket of my purse that was in the bottom of the diaper bag, I hadn’t even had it out where he could know I had it with us on the beach, and he found it and carried it away in less than two minutes while I had my back turned playing with Calvin. He has a sixth sense for knowing where techno-thingamajigs are, and an amazing capability for procuring them when my back is turned. It is unreal.

In defense of my non-obliviousnes, I did do a very good slow-motion run across the sand – “Heeeeeeeennnnnnnrrrrrryyyyyyyyy!!!!! Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!” But he made it to the puddle before I made it to him. And it frustrates me beyond measure, so I won’t talk about it anymore.

But about the paper chain, it’s down to one swag across the doorway and a few links hanging down the left side. Very impressive. Take my word for it.

For new readers, my husband is out of the country since June, until September. So, on this "Day 74 Without Dad," how do things look?

Calvin is alternately super cuddly and super screamy. And really sentimental about doing things with Dad, sending things to Dad, and saving things (like PBJ sandwiches) for when Dad gets home. I lose my patience the most with him, and I know he is probably the one that needs me to keep it together and offer security the most right now. So we’ll work on that.

Henry is talking so much and has actually changed the most of all of us over the summer. (Sorry, Husband – my “svelte babe” goal hasn’t panned out the way I would have liked.) I think Henry has gotten taller, and he is definitely more little-boyish than little-toddlerish. I think Dad will be most surprised by Henry when he gets back.

I, the Mom, am doing surprisingly well. (Except the patience thing, but that’s an issue whether Dad is out of the country or not.) Frankly, I miss the companionship, conversation, and really good kissing more than I miss sharing the childcare and other home responsibilities. I went into this thinking that as time wore on, I would have a more and more difficult time keeping afloat, physically and emotionally. But it’s not so bad anymore, we've ahd a lot of diversions, and a month doesn’t seem like that long before he will be home again. Maybe that’s why I’m doing OK – there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

He will correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Dad is having the hardest time at the moment. I mean, no home-cooked meals, no bedtime stories, no toddler conversation, no beach vacation, and no one around who knows his wife or kids or feels the same way about them as he does. (At least we here at home can share the missing feeling with other people who know and love him.) Only business of the utmost stressful importance all the time, hecka overtime hours, and hot weather. Not to mention that fact that neither of us are good phone talkers. All of it has begun to take its toll. Not that he’s a baby whiner about it or anything, I can just tell. And I have to say, it’s kinda nice to be missed. So maybe he shouldn’t correct me if I’m wrong.

At any rate, the countdown to his homecoming is about to begin, and we’ve done it! The summer stretched out before us and looked so daunting and almost interminable, but as I hear about kids going back to school, and the sunsets start coming a tiny bit earlier, I realize the dog days of our summer apart are coming to a close, and our family will be on the same side of the ocean again before we know it.

I can’t wait!

I Wanna Hear It

Fuzzy Nugget (fuz’e nug’it), n. 1. A small piece of breaded and deep-fried chicken or other meat that has been lost on the floorboards of a car and subsequently attached itself to hair, lint, and carpet fibers. 2. A newborn baby, even if over nine pounds in weight, most often covered in fine, downy soft hair. 3. In writing, a solid idea in superfluous text. 4. An interesting analytic judgment that is not developed sufficiently enough to be clear to the reader or listener.

My life is full of fuzzy nuggets, in all their forms.

I find fuzzy nuggets frequently under the seats of our car. I am not prepared to stop serving lunch to my kids en route (despite all my good intentions), so I will continue to find these nuggets, I suppose.

I have given birth to two fuzzy nuggets. Adorable. Peachy soft. No complaints here, even about the over nine pounds thing.

I consistently write and post fuzzy nuggets. This I have taken upon myself to adjust. If I can. Of course, losing verbage might be like losing weight – really a bummer to cut out the things I just must eat (write). And my real friends will love me whether I’m fat - or verbose - anyway. There’s a lovely Russian saying that goes, “There should be a lot of a good person.” I like that. Lots of room for fuzzy nuggets in all their forms and after-effects, eh?

However, I really took to heart Katherine’s goals in blogging as she outlined them here, and Carol at She Lives gave some fabulous advice to new bloggers here (which I just ate up, and am still trying to apply). Then a bit later, Shannon of Rocks in My Dryer offered the same suggestions in her FAQs here. So I’ve been processing and I think brevity (while probably the least important of the ideals listed in the aforementioned advice) is a really good idea.

I just felt like blogging about blogging today and I’m really craving some feedback. So, what I want to know is: Are you turned off by really long posts (Like, do you skip them when they show up on your bloglines in a search for more succinct reading)? Do you try to limit the lengths of your own posts? How do you do it? In general, what makes a post good to you? And does anyone else obsess on occasion about things like this? Can’t wait to hear what you have to say…


Just Plain Cute

I'm in a bit of a blogging bah-humbug...kinda the "not-wanting-to-say-anything-unless -it-will-amuse-the-entire-room" thing...I need to get over it, I know. And I will. But in the meantime, I did need to share a couple darlingnesses from my boys.

This is Cal getting ready for a kiss from MY cousin (Auntie S's youngest), Tiny Girl. She is almost eight months younger than Cal, and not quite eleven months older than Henry. The three of them...WOW. Each time they get together (nearly every day), they run to each other like it's been years. It's adorable. They also do things like remove the keys from computer keyboards together. (Tiny Girl and Henry's project tonight while we finished dinner.)Not so adorable. But probably inevitable, with personalities like these.Henry is starting to talk like crazy. He actually piped up at the table tonight and said, "Pass buttah, Johdah (Jordan), pees." My favorite thing that he has said lately, though, was a couple days ago when we were winding down and I asked if he wanted to watch a movie for a little while. He said he did and I asked him what he wanted to watch, knowing he would say, "Dowah." But instead, he answered, "Ahna wats 'coming soon to D.D.D.'"


A Little Sea-bathing Could Set Me Up for Life

We're home. Sweet home.

The sea air and ocean water gave me the best facial ever - seriously smooth and beautiful feeling. I hope it lasts a few more days, because I feel like an Ivory soap model or something.

My feet, on the other hand, are a little worse for the not wearing of shoes for pretty much two whole weeks. Hot sand, seashells, no arch support, lots of walking, sinking in mud, and one VERY painful collision with the tidal pool Tonka truck have left my footsies feeling like they'd rather not play anymore for a day or two.

And I have muscles I never knew existed but that are now very apparent due to my rigorous ocean pummeling and/or carrying small children into the waves. Not to mention sand castle-building. (I'm serious - that digging and hauling, plus up and down to run after boys is a workoput!) I really feel like I have a good start on buns and quads of steel. And it's not a particularly good feeling, I might add.

We left for the 7-hour drive home yesterday at 4 p.m., which I might full-heartedly recommend because the boys slept much of the trip, except for the getting home at 1 a.m. part. That's a bit of a drag.

I am so happy that I swept and vacuumed the stairs and otherwise cleaned up the house nicely before we left (that doesn't always happen in the hurry out the door, you know...) because when we walked in and the house smelled and looked clean and fresh, I was extra happy to be here.

And my bed...oh., there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed. Even if it is only for half a night.

The moral of the story is that vacation was wonderful. The beach was beautiful. The friends and family were great. The house we stayed in all together was fabulous.

There's just no place like home.


My "Little" Sis is the Big 3-0

She probably hates for me to tell you that, but there it is - Happy Birthday, Les!

She was born when I was two, so I don't remember life without her, and I'm so glad to share so many memories and now the experiences of being mothers with her. She's beautiful, smart, savvy, and tender-hearted, and one of my heroes.

On the day that she was born, I was given the best gift ever - a sister and a friend.


Calvin at the Beach

A little look at Cal's beach activities...

Today Cal worked at digging "pools" on the beach during low tide. Henry got anxious to go up to the swimming pool so I had to pull Cal away from his work. He started pleading, "Mom, pleeeeaaassse...can't I finish our project?" My little workaholic perfectionist - he takes his work very seriously, and doesn't like to leave anything undone. He was also a little frustrated later in the day when his project - a whole morning's work of consistent digging and hauling - was under the waves of a higher tide. (Hmmmm...sounds a tiny bit analagous to momming, eh?)

Henry's Day at the Beach


An Incomplete Thought About Perfection

I spent a little while on the beach today with Cal. He was "driving" our famous Tonka and I was looking at seashells and wondering at the ocean. I think even after I've come to the beach every summer for the rest of my life, I will still be in awe of it's changelessness and yet how it is always different - where and how the waves crest, the different patterns the tide makes in the sand, the pieces of life that wash up in the ripples.

A few months before we were married, David and I were in San Diego for New Year's Eve. He had been there a few days earlier for a friend's wedding and I joined him for the holiday. We walked on the beach a bit - it was cold of course, but we happened to find a perfect sand dollar. I love it's perfection, it's whiteness, it's symmetry and beauty and fragility. Last year, I collected a few similarly perfect shells.

This year, for some reason, I am drawn to the kinda jumbled, mottled looking shells. And the fragments. I've found some beauties - one that looked just like a little foot, the way it was shaped oblong with little ruffled "toes," and a couple broken shining spirals from little conches. I found myself especially looking at the fragments with their beautiful colors and interrupted stripes, the circles that started so small once and spun out in purple, coral, pearly white and gray...

Even looking at what was left in the broken edges, it made me think of the piece of a perfection they were once part of. I could imagine in my mind's eye what they were meant to look like, and it made me really love and appreciate the immensity and infinity of what I saw in the sea.

I just enjoy wondering at the beauty and incredible creation of this world. Just like the ocean, there is no end to the awe I feel about it.

(Calvin has gotten it into his head that we need to mail some shells to Dad. So, um, I think I might have to figure out a way to mail shells overseas. And Dad will have to enjoy bringing them back in his suitcase...)



(hallelujah, hallelujah, ha-a-a-leh-eh-lu-jah!) I hope it's not sacrilege to use Handel to celebrate wi-fi at the beach. The one drawback is that I don't have the camera hook-up, so probably no pics until we get back, but my flowing prose will paint the perfect picture, I'm sure. (he, he.)

We arrived a couple hours ago and it seems that while my boys are afraid of the swimming pool, they are fear.less. when it comes to the ocean waves. Henry particularly. Serious giggling and gurgling sea water. So darling I most definitely will have to video it and figure out how to do a video post.I did wish I had the camera out when I stripped him down at the sand-off hose and he took off running nekkid down the boardwalk toward the ocean - nice contrast of cutest bum ever with an ocean backdrop.

Of course now I have no excuse for not posting every now and then on vaycay. Except for the breathtaking ocean a mere hundred yards from the back door, my little body surfer sons, and the occasional chaise lounge nap that will take precedence over even you, my internet friends.

All I can say is that it is lovely.