Sunday, January 31, 2010

In One Ear, Out the Other...

Have I ever told you how much I like graphic violence and horror tales?    No?  That must be because I don't.  I'm so wimpy I have to leave the room during parts of the Princess Bride.  The whole six finger thing just kind of grosses me out.  

Of course, being a mother of five children means that there are times when I have to repress my over-active gagging reflex and pretend to be the mature one in the situation.   Take getting shots, for example, I can hold their hands, comfort them, and tell them it'll only hurt for a second, but don't expect me to watch while the nurse cuts off their circulation and pokes them with a needle.  No way.

With as squeamish as I am, it's actually quite a miracle that my girls ever get their ears pierced.  If the piercing process wasn't bad enough, the whole cleaning and teaching them how to insert and remove earrings takes quite the motherly sacrifice on my part.  Of course, I do it just to see their lollipop stained smiles of glee at officially joining the world of the bejeweled. 

But then something like THIS happens....

That would be her earring embedded into the middle of her ear, pushed there by a stray ball in gym class.  It was stuck as stuck gets, not budging  forward or backward even a tiny bit.   It didn't take long before I was well on my way to, um, for lack of a better phrase, freaking out.  

After even the pediatrician threw up her hands and sent us to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist), I knew we were in for a rocky road.  Six long hours later (most of which were spent in the waiting room), after several numbing shots, a tiny little scalpel, and eventually giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, "In one ear and out the other..." or in this case "In one side of the ear and out the other side..." we have a couple of decisions to make. 

Do we wait for her ear to get all healed up and let her keep her pierced ears (outlawing earrings for any and all physical activities involving balls)?  Or should we just take this as a sign that it's not meant to be?    Or [gulp]  just let her choose herself?  

And what about Ellie you say?  I've already got her piercing date all set up for her birthday in 2035.  


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ten Commandments of a Teen-age Boy

1.  Thou shalt not try to hide thy chips of corn from before mine eyes.  I needest them for my skin above and my bones beneath for I art a growing boy. 

2.  Thou shalt not make me to cleanest any part of thine house, insomuch that I likest it just the way it is.

3.  Thou shalt not make thy name upon my Facebook page in a wall post or it shall be stricken off before thou can blinkest.

4.  Remember the Saturday to keep it wholly for the purpose of mine rest.  For in five days I have laboured diligently with mine brain and to grant unto me sleep is to shew mercy unto me.

5.  Honour thy son's friends; that his days may be cool upon the land.  

6.  Thou shalt not kill my unlimited texting plan for it is the steadfast way of the rising generation.

7.  Thou shalt not commit  the unpardonable sin of leaving me to hunger for forty minutes, nay even forty seconds.  Yea, thou shalt lay a store of food up for  mine own purposes and none other.  

8.  Thou shalt not steal my playlist from upon the computer and try to makest me hear thy music.  For insomuch that thou thinkest my music is raucous, thine music smiteth mine ears from off mine face.  I ask thee is it good for mine ears to be smitten?  Nay, I say it is not good. 

9.  Thou shalt not bear me to rise up and putteth away mine cell phone. Not even while I sleepest, for in the day that I do shall surely be the day when a lady, most fair above all ladies, shall text mine phone. 

10.  Thou shalt not covet mine full dance card, neither my manly lacrosse gloves, neither my mother of questionable humor. 


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

100% Awesome!


  • Hours and hours of intense drilling,
  • Gallons of tears,
  • A parent-teacher conference,
  • Pop quizzes at school AND at home....

Emma the third grade multiplication queen has arrived!  

 Emma   +   Four minutes   +   Thirty-eight problems   =   100% AWESOME!

Way to go Emma!  We're so proud of your hard work and perserverance!

So, I was just remembering that I didn't have to learn my multiplication facts until fourth grade.  Is this a nationwide trend to do it a year earlier?  Or is it just our school district?  Do you remember when you learned multiplication?  


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Book a Month

Ever since my earliest days of elementary school I have been a book worm.  In my youth I eagerly devoured entire books in one sitting,  a book a day.   In my adulthood though, reading books has become a sort of guilty indulgence to be taken in small doses.  It's too easy for me to get into my reading zone and neglect kids, housework, and cooking in favor of "just finishing this one more page".  As a result, for most of my adult life I have usually read a book or two a year, usually while on vacation and the rest of my reading would come in little 15 minute increments when I would read newspaper and magazine articles.   

A few years ago I attended an Enrichment meeting where the speaker taught about the joy of reading and how important it is to broaden our minds.  Although what she said wasn't necessarily earth shatteringly different, it made a deep impression on me.  I realized then that in fear of becoming a distracted mother, that I had completely neglected my deep-seated love for reading for years and I missed it terribly.  That's when I decided to join our ward's book group.

I soon found that a book a month was just about perfect for me.  I could get lost in my own world for a day or two while I read books I never would have picked out of my own accord.  In the last few years, I have read old classics, fun teen novels, and everything in between and my life has been richer for it.

At over 1000 pages with tiny typeset to boot, our January selection of, "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand was daunting to say the least.  

Instead of a couple days of being in another world, this one has taken an entire week and the state of my house reflects that fact with perfect clarity.  Although a somewhat depressing book, it held so many parallels to the political and economic woes of today, that I was enraptured.

As the societies of the world began to demonize and punish business owners and their wealth, the innovative and intelligent producers of the world simply went on strike refusing to be coerced by the government and the non-thinkers of the world.  Although fatalistic, I found it one of the most thought provoking books I have ever read.  I recognize that many of those same early signs are happening right here in our own society and I wonder if we are the frogs in a pot of slowly boiling water, not recognizing the warning signs all around us.  While I did not agree with her views on morality or religion, her views on politics,  economics, and government were eye-opening to me.

The fact that I just wrote that last paragraph about one of the ten longest novels of the English language is a testament to how far I've come in the last few years.  Not only was I not scared off by the length or subject matter, but I enjoyed it completely without guilt.  (Okay maybe there was that one time when I picked up Spencer 30 minutes late from lacrosse, so I could squeeze in a few more pages where I felt a *tad* guilty.)

Are you a read-all-at-once kind of person or are you better at breaking into bite-size chunks than I am?  What is your favorite novel? 


Friday, January 22, 2010

Flashback Friday: Rambling Note to Sixth Grade Self

Dear Sixth Grade Self,

  Don't write notes to yourself late at night.  

Your Future Self

Which one do you think I am? (Click on picture to enlarge)


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yay Me!

Every once in a while I bravely climb the wooden pull-down stairs leading to the dusty  no-man's land of our attic.  In addition to our bins filled with holiday decor, a whole lot of dust, and a random smattering of STUFF, you will find the box of unfinished projects.

You know, the cross-stitching project from 1995 that was meant for Glen's brother's wedding.  The cut fabric with patterns still pinned to it for some size 2T pajamas for Cami.  Then there's the stack of papers for scrapbooks I never made and the box of tangled up ribbons meant for cute bows to match Ellie's every outfit.

The box is a sad symptom of my inexplicable tendency to lose focus in the middle of projects.  Never mind that my blog is now my scrapbook and Ellie's hair is way too short for bows, I used to truly believe that the day would come that I would find the time to finish them up.  Lately though with the increased busyness of my life, combined with the decreased sleep amounts, I've arrived to a point in my life that I'm hereby writing them off as a lost cause.  What are the chances anyway that I could find the same shade of embroidery floss 15 whole years later?  And what on earth would I do with size 2T homemade pajamas now that my baby wears size 5?

But then knowing it's a lost cause and actually arriving to a mental state where I can let go of it enough to say "Let's throw this in the trash," (or donate it) is a whole new step for another day. 

One thing THE BOX lying idly in my attic does do for me though, is that it has made me much more cautious about endeavoring into new projects.   Is this project really going to be worth my time and money?  Can I finish it?  And most importantly if I do finish it, will I really be happy with it?

This new, mature way of thinking is the reason why I rarely clean my oven.  The hours of effort it would take to scrape up the blackened surface, just doesn't seem worth it to me.  My oven has a door that closes, so no one can see inside of it and blackened, dried food chunks don't make me gag or anything, so I'd rather just let it be.  Me and my oven in perfect zen.  

Despite my best efforts to simplify and not add to my guilt-inducing box in the attic, every once in a while though I get an idea in my head for a project that won't go away.  I saw this blogpost in February and got it so stuck in my head that I immediately tracked down the kit she used, started pulling out my genealogy, and excitedly planned the place on the wall where it would reside.  

Fast forward  almost an entire year and I am proud to announce that it is not a forgotten cadaver tossed into THE BOX in the attic.  It's all done, framed, and even hanging on my wall. 

Yay me!

Am I the only one who starts projects and never finishes?  What's in  your unfinished project box?  Will you ever finish them?


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Idiot of the Day

This year has been a cold and snowy winter for us.  In our 12+ years in the East we've never seen snow stay on the ground this long and it's getting kind of old.  The snow has been on the ground so long now that it has ceased to be novel or lovely anymore.  It's blackened with dirt and hardened into solid ice--it is the snow of my Minnesotan childhood.

 So when Glen and I were married in the dead of winter16 years ago, Glen was convinced that the rumors of Minnesota winters were all exaggeration.  He was a Colorado boy and he knew all about cold.  Or so he thought.  The week we were in Minnesota for our wedding reception the temps dipped down to the -20°s, which is just about cold enough that we Minnesotans start wearing gloves.  He was snow balled into humility in just 2 short minutes out in that bitter cold.  Of course I used this experience a mere week into our marriage as an opportunity to introduce Glen to the wife knows all way of thinking. 

I'd like to say that in the 18 years I've lived away from the frozen tundra that I've kept my penchant for cold weather tolerance, but for anyone who's seen the way I shiver through church on Sundays they would know that it's a lie.  There is one exception to my complete reversion to winter weather wimpiness though--driving! Normally intelligent people turn into complete idiots when they drive in the snow.  I, however, pride myself on my non-idiocy and love to harshly criticize anyone less skilled than myself.   Everyone. 

Two feet of snow falls and I don't bat an eyelash.  I know how to use the appropriate amount of caution and other than the 10 seconds I got stuck in the post office parking lot when one of the idiot sorts pulled out in front of me and caused me to swerve, I never got stuck once. 

So then almost an entire month after the last significant snowfall,   I come around a tight corner to turn onto a major highway and this happens....

Yep.  I've lost my driving skills too.  And in a BIG way.  There I was stuck as stuck gets jutting out onto oncoming traffic on a busy highway.   Cars were swerving.  Trucks blaring their horns.  People yelling out the windows.

I was scared out of my mind.     

Thankfully, Good Samaritans were out in force that day.  Three carfuls of people immediately stopped to lend their assistance.  Five guys were standing on the highway risking their own safety to push me back onto solid  ground and when I didn't budge, one of them ran home and got their truck to pull me out.  In all, the whole experience took a mere ten minutes, but it was ten minutes that renewed my faith in the good-heartedness of people. 

Turns out the only idiot around here is the one typing this post.  


Saturday, January 16, 2010


Disregard this post. 


Only a Little OCD

Every year my love affair with the good old-fashioned Christmas card begins the day we take the Christmas boxes down from the attic and I uncover the old shoebox filled with photos and letters from Christmases past.  I usually spend a good hour or so every Black Friday ogling over how cute everyone's kids are, reviewing what was new in everyone's lives in previous years, and reminiscing about our friendship with each of them.

Facebook and blogging have made keeping connected with long-lost friends easier than ever, but there's just something so irreplacably thrilling about walking out to the mailbox and bringing in a handful of ♥love♥  in the form of smiling faces, interesting updates, and the occasional hand-written note.   I devour each letter with eager anticipation and secretly make brazen plans to pay a visit to each one of our friends wherever they are in the world to renew our friendships again (don't start panicking about us dropping by plans rarely come to fruition).   

I'm one of those crazy slightly neurotic people who wishes people would keep in touch forever.  I just love seeing how their families have grown.  I love hearing about their yearly adventures, however awe-inspiring or boring they may be.  And I'm always a little teary eyed and protective when it's time to take the cards down off the wall.  No one is allowed to tell me that it's time to take them down, nor is anyone allowed to help me take them off the wall.  I barely took them down a couple of days ago and already I find myself staring at the blank wall with a touch of longing for the familiar faces of friendships past.      

Okay. Okay.  Maybe I'm getting a little overly sentimental here, but if you think I'm a little OCD about getting Christmas cards, you should see the space in my brain that is consumed by the creation of our own Christmas cards each year.  It's a wonder I have enough brain left to type this blog post.

Not only do I mentally check off our activities during the year as being Christmas letter worthy or not, but wherever we go during the year random strangers are accosted and rallied into taking family photos of us.   Every year except this year one of those nameless photographers has taken the photo that is sent out to friends and family to be the face of our family for the next 12 months.   Little do they realize what power they wield when I hand my camera over to their bewildered hands.

This year we opted for our Blue Lily photo which we had taken in April.  It was the only time we've ever used a professional photo and the first time we haven't ordered our cards from Costco.   I figured we would never get a shot with such gorgeously brilliant lighting again, so we may as well go all the way with it.  After all it is the face of our family for the next 12 months....

PS   I'm curious. I have several friends who just don't like to send Christmas cards and since this viewpoint is such a foreign concept to me,  I'm interested in understanding better why people feel this way.   What it is that you like or don't like about sending and receiving cards?   


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Internet=No Blogging

...or commenting, or reading emails, or answering emails, or checking facebook....

except of course when I stop at the library for 10 minutes on my way to Enrichment Night to get reacquainted with modern technology again.

On the bright side, I'm almost caught up on laundry now and I'm considering mopping my kitchen tonight during my normal blogging time.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hot Date Idea

If you're like me, sometimes you just want to break out of the old dinner and a movie date night routine.  Not that I'd ever complain about food I didn't cook and something besides college football on the screen in front of me, but with Valentine's Day coming up in a month or so I've been looking out for something different and romantic for a date night.  

I thought of deep sea fishing in the Atlantic, pottery painting at an art studio, or maybe a trip in a hot air balloon over the White House, but then I remembered that Glen's allergic to seafood, the two of us together have negative art skills, and that they shoot down anyone who gets too close to the President's abode.    Soooo....I'm back to square one again.

That's when I got this great idea!  Let's do something completely unexpected.

Let's  go to a gussied-up  fast food joint that's decorated all romantic like.

Seriously, the website says it's sure to  "Wow your special someone with tableside service, flowers, and candlelight, in a place made famous for late night cravings..."

Square shaped hamburgers, deep-fried french fries,  and heart shaped doilies....can't you just feel the love?

And if you're still undecided about the whole thing, I hear they'll even serenade you with the famous theme song from the 1980's while you eat:

(sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

White Castle,
White Castle,
Their hamburgers are soggy,
Fed 'em to my doggy,
He died young.
He died youuuuuuuuuung.

I'm feeling all steamy eyed just thinking about it.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Wondering...

After having kids in school for the last ten years I still can't seem to figure out what to call my kids' teachers.   Some teachers have never once uttered my first name and still sign every note "Mr. Bloggosaurus" even after closely working with them for 3 whole years . Other teachers seem to really prefer the first name basis from day one.  And then there are the teachers who really mess with my sleep deprived brain by switching back and forth between "Mrs. G" and "Lara" on a day-to-day basis.

So now I'm wondering, how do you refer to your child's teachers?

Mrs. Smith?   Or Karen?

Does it matter how old they are in what you call them?  Or what gender?  Or do you just wait to see how they sign their emails?    Am I the only one confused by such a simple concept?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pollyannas We Are Not

I'm sure you all remember my "Grumpy Face" post from a few days ago. Pouty lips, evil eyes, twirling leaves, snarling faces....they laid it on thick for my camera that day.  In fact, since I'm on the topic, let me take this opportunity to declare that the winner of the Little Miss Grumpy contest via your popular vote...

 Ellie!  Between her downcast eyes, furrowed brow, thumb in mouth, all the while clutching her special "corner blankey"  Ellie outgrumped the competetition and took the prize----an entire chocolate chip cookie to herself.  (The rest of the kids are hoping she'll share).

And while we're still on the topic, I thought I'd show a little glimpse at the rest of our New Year Day, including our visit to US Botanic Gardens in DC which also happened to be the site of our grumpy face photo shoot. 

The lines were long, the weather cold, and the whole family sleep deprived.  The pouts were not hard to come by...

But as we entered the warmth of the gardens, our icy dispositions slowly made way for wonder and delight as we finally arrived upon the reason why we'd come: 

The seasonal display of an elaborate fairytale wonderland filled with detailed castles....

colorful model trains,

quaint cottages,

gorgeous gardens, and any fairytale character you could think of....

  It truly was an amazing spectacle of childhood delights and we could have stayed and explored for hours, if it weren't for that pesky line out the door that reminded us that other families were still waiting outside in the freezing cold. 

It didn't take long before at least everyone could ATTEMPT a strained smile for this family picture taken by a random stranger...

and by the time we were walking back to the car, the wonder and beauty of the gardens had thoroughly worked its magic and I had to secretly wonder if some garden fairy had waved her magic wand while we there and dusted them with some kind of happy dust.  And if so, I wanted to go find her and bring her home with me.  I'm sure garden fairies could be bribed with some of Cami's baking.

Do you know how absolutely cool I think it is that the Capitol of the USA is in the background of pictures of my kids?  Living by DC rocks!


And lest you think Little Miss Grumpy Pants was all pouts and  scowls, she did eventually manage a little bit of sunshine to shine through....


Now if anyone had a good reason to be grumpy that day it would be me....

Thankfully it's only the outer protective lens, not the actual lens.  (Best 5 bucks I ever spent buying that protective lens cover--thanks Aitch)

But too bad that when it fell it dented the protective lens just enough that it won't budge a bit and it is stuck right where it is.  Even a pair of pliers didn't help.

But there is a silver lining....

all of the pictures in this post  (and the grumpy face pictures) were taken with this cracked lens.  I was beside myself with horror when it happened on New Year's Eve (my fault) and was shocked when my test pictures to make sure the camera still worked actually turned out okay.  The only time you can really tell is on the really wide angle pictures (like the picture of the long line at the beginning of the post).  Now if anyone knows of a way I can turn this into a good excuse to buy a fun new lens, even though this one is actually broken, just let me know.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Vanity Above All

 When I was twelve-years-old my parents finally let me get my ears pierced.  I had just cut my waist-length hair and got a perm for the first time and couldn't wait to take the next step towards my "coolness".   It was with great disappointment though that  I discovered mere hours after getting my ears pierced to learn that I was severely allergic to metal. I had always thought it odd that I would get rashes on my wrist or finger whenever I wore a watch or ring, but had never related it to metal before.  Now that I had  metal inside of me though my ears were a miserable mess and I couldn't even take them out for six whole weeks. 

My ears were itchy and red all the time and would often bleed.  Looking back, I realize that I should have just taken the dang earrings out and called it good, but not me.  My sense of fashion martyrdom was such that I would rather put up with the pain and the gross looking lesions on my ears (which apparently made me a little dense too) than go back to my earring-less days.  Eventually I would just wear earrings for a few hours (during school or on a date), then take them out as soon as I got home to avoid the worst of the reactions.  My vanity won out while my ears suffered for a good 10 + years before I finally realized that it would take a lot more than stylish earrings and big bangs to make me cool. 

Now I haven't worn earrings in over a decade, I'll never be able to wear watches, I can't wear my wedding ring at night, and recently I've noticed that I even react to my aluminum based deodorants. 

So you can imagine it was with great trepidation when Cami started asking to get her ears pierced several years back.  She'd always been my rashy child with bad eczema and I was just so sure she'd react to metal like I had, but we felt like we had to let her try it for herself.  A few years ago we let her Grandma Sandy take her to the mall and give it a try.  She was nine-years-old and thankfully NOT allergic to metal.  She can wear any type of cute earring she wants and never have a problem.  

But we'd started a precedent.  Since Cami was nine when we relented, that meant that the day Emma turned nine we started getting pestered about when it was her turn.

As we had for Cami, we opted for the Christmas present route for fun (and for cool Aunt Heather who was in town). 

She was bit nervous...

but in the end was as happy as could be with her newfound sparkle!

  And after a week
I think it's safe to speak
Daddy's genes
raced to the scene
and give her a shot at cool
unlike her poor mama fool.
Emma's got the bling
without the sting!  

Sorry about the poetry again...


Friday, January 1, 2010

A Little Help Please

Like many families around the world, our family stayed up just a wee bit too late last night.  We watched Sydney's New Year celebration on YouTube, drank our Martinelli's, then sent the three little ones to bed about an hour past their bed time.  The rest of us, however, had to stay up to see the official New Year ring in in our time zone, then attempt to wait up for Spencer's return from his "epic" New Year dance.  In aggregate I estimate that we're short about 187 hours of sleep or so over the course of the winter break. 

Of course, I'm not complaining or anything, it's just that I  like to brag about how little sleep I get in hopes that people will be  impressed.


So, we've been having this ongoing argument over the last few days and I'm hoping you can help me out...

1.  Keep in mind the following people are not actors.  They are full and true members of our family who all happen to be having a "bad" day today. 

2.  Please be honest and forthright in your answers as a lot of chocolate chip cookies are riding on the results.

3.  Please note that the freckles, age spots, and gray roots were photoshopped into my picture to eliminate any jealous jabs at my flawless skin. 

Whose face do you think emanates "grumpy" the best?





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