Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Decor 2010

So mom told Maryn that she could complete the family room decorations. It kind of looks like the Christmas rubbermaids threw up all over the place. Lights draped on anything and everything, random groupings of assorted decorative elements...

Like this faithful nutcracker soldier carefully guarding the mailbox while legions of snowmen prepare the onslaught...

Obviously mister tall hat on the floor there FAILED at his job since the blue box he's guarding has obviously been compromised. And what's kilt boy on the right there doing? That's right...NOTHING.

I am especially fond of the Santa on the polar bear on the sled on the TV....

And the figurine on top of the snowman box in the basket under the lights...

Now, this isn't bad at all. I like the balance and the overall feeling. Except one can't help wonder if Santa is practicing those squeazy chimney moves by smooshing himself into a remote control caddy. Love the "one ball only" snowman guards. Cheaper then other snow folk security because they take up less space and don't need as much to eat...

This is our tree...nothing smart alecky to say on this one. I like it! Except for the random poinsettia bush sprouting on the right there...
The string of lights continues... Something about the plastic Santas and resin nativity in front of the fireplace makes me feel...oh, I don't know...all warm and melty inside...

And of course the traditional decorated "half- dead- stick- branch- thing-mom- needs- to- stop- trying- to- save- this- plant "decoration no home should be without. The bow is basic home decor 101 type stuff...

Now these were meant to be pretty. So no comments from the peanut gallery please...


Paul had an opportunity to be part of a live nativity this evening! He was a wise-man. Well, you close as he could get ;) I had to threaten to wack him one. It took me 5 shots to get him to stop messing around and just let me take a picture. Are you allowed to smack a wise-man?

His quote, "In order to truly be a wise-man, you have to be half crazy first."

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Last night was the ceremonious tree lighting at Levi's Commons. We decided to go over and see the 50 foot tree come to life. Santa was there. and there were carriage rides. But the lines for each were so long, we didn't get to do either. So we went and stood by the tree with our friends the Turners. They passed around candles and there were some singers and performances. Then they counted down to the lighting. It was very pretty.Here are some pics from the evening.

Maryn and her magic hat (It makes here do chores without complaint!) by the tree. Love this picture.

The kids in front of the base of the tree.

The tree as it was first lit. I wonder how many lights there are on this thing?!?!

Ashlyn holding a candle. I lvoe the glow on her sweet little face.
Robert, Nathan, Ashlyn, Caleb, Hannah, Krystyna and Maryn share their light!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


This morning the kids and I went to Toledo Public Library and helped hand out socks to homeless and needy folks. There were other groups there besides Hannah's Socks passing out toiletries, food and clothing. There were droves of people. Mostly black men. Somehow smiling. Some even laughing. And it was cold. And it was going to get colder. We gave out all the socks and went back to out warm car which would take us to our warm house with food waiting. And I was grateful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A trip to the store

So this evening we had the Turner children (all 8 of them!) over to watch a movie, have pizza and generally eat crappy food. It was fun. But first we had to go and get pizza for that many people and grab some Twizzlers. Ashlyn wanted to go with me. But first, she had to prepare. Here is a picture of what she wore and what she took to go grab Twizzlers and pizza.

Pink Dora Crocs?

Fairy wings?

Blue Velor pants?

Jasmine Nightgown?
Checkity Check.

2 books, a pencil, and 3 blankets.
Checkity Check Check Check.

Homemade Fairy Crown?
Left it at home because she ran out of room.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Captain's Log

So, I have always liked Star Trek. Next Generation was my favorite. And I super like the new movie with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk. Best. Kirk. Ever. Yowza.

But beside drooling over hot guys in uniform, there was something else I learned from Star Trek. Captain’s Log. This is a check point for my Captain’s Log.

We have recently finished the first part of new journey. And although we aren’t really going where no man has gone before, we are going somewhere we have never been before as a family. And boldly going into the unknown takes a bit of courage.

I presented the plan to my children and gave them the opportunity to post legitimate objections. They did post objections, but none were truly legitimate or insurmountable. I was very prayerful about this choice. And encouraged my oldest children to discover whether or not it was the right thing for us on their own terms and in their own hearts. I reminded them gently that most often the right thing is not the easy thing. I felt very strongly that if we stayed in Maria Stein, we would have been fine, but moving here would be better. It meant the difference between treading water enough to keep my head above water and swimming toward something.

So now that 3 months have passed, here are the benefits I see from the move.

1) High school. Okay, now at first, the HS freaked Paul out. Its huge. Practically the entire Marion Local High School can fit in the Commons area. Okay maybe the commons and the gym, but you get the idea. But with size there are benefits. More kids mean more diversity. Here, there are many ways to fit in and lots of people to find that you can have things in common with without creating that commonality through alcohol (a huge ML issue). There are more programs, more clubs, more classes. And now, he loves it. He is coming to terms with loving it here and not feeling unfaithful to his friends from ML. He got a B average on his last report cards…first time ever…and has moved out of an academic assist study hall into a regular study hall. This is a shout out to all the ML teachers, his IEP coordinator has commented frequently on how well trained he is. He comes in with his work, sits down, and actually does stuff.

2) Seminary. This is another Paul benefit. He loves seminary. Loves it. He is the first one there every morning. He participates and volunteers. He got an A+ first quarter. He originally suggested a B to his teacher and she laughed at him. Silly lad. He loves the camaraderie with the other LDS students as well. Which leads to…

3) Church. Here, because his dad only lives 20 minutes away (benefit or drawback depending on who you are and what week it is), Paul can attend church every week. With his mission literally 3 ½ years away, I can only see benefits of this. He is the 1st counselor in the teachers quorum, and loves the fact that there are 20 young men. I know the others are adjusting well to their schools and their teachers only have good things to say about them. Except for Conner. But he’s Conner, and his teacher adores him despite his imperfections. He is often described as charming.

4) This has been a lot about Paul, but I have seen benefits too. I had no idea how stressed I was, until I was no longer in that situation. I yell way less than I did in MS, mostly because I am functioning on a much lower level of frustration. I love taking my kids to school and picking them up. Love it. And volunteering. I want my work to work around my kids, not the other way around. I love helping them with has their homework, and being available to them both physically and mentally. I didn’t realize how hard it was until I wasn’t doing it any more.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Women's Suffering

Paul was telling me today after school about some guest speakers they had in their CIA class (Contemporary Issues in America).I think their main purpose was to get the kids to think about serious questions. And I guess they did.

Paul; "So they asked whether or not we thought they should vote to get rid of women's know..the right to vote."

Suffrage...suffering...same thing...

Although very often the right to speak my own mind does lead to suffering.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


So for the last 3 weeks I have been doing this diet challenge. The first week I lost 6 pounds. And I was excited. But these last 2 weeks, even though I changed nothing about my eating habits, the weight loss has slowed. Significantly. And when I can't see progress I get discouraged. When my efforts continue but I get no pay off, it gets hard. Weight loss is not the only area I seem to struggle with this is. How can I be patient and stay motivated when it feels like anything I do will only sink me deeper in the mire?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hannah's Socks

We live down the road from some wonderful people. They have 8 children ages 5 to 11 they have fostered and then adopted. Five years ago, they were serving Thanksgiving Dinner at a homeless shelter, and their then 4 year old daughter, Hannah noticed with concern a man without socks. Although her mother tried to reassure her, Hannah was persistent in her concern, and finally told her mother that the man could have her socks. The next day the turners purchased several pairs of socks and took them back to the mission. There was a need, and soon others got wind of the project. Four years later, they have a building and are an incorporated non profit agency. Last night was their open house. We went in support of the Turners, but also because since moving here my kids have become involved on the junior board doing service and I may be serving on the actual board.

Here are excerpts from a book that was written for children about philanthropy. Hannah and her story are included on these pages:

And this is Ashlyn and Maryn with some of the Turner kids at the Hannah's Socks office; Hannah and Bethany (back row left and right) and Faith (in front).

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I want to share a story with you that happened almost ten years ago that seems somewhat relevant here. We were living in the country and I was driving home from the school when I happened to look over the side of the bridge that crossed the ditch that split the fields and crossed the road. And I saw something strange. There was an empty truck nose down in the ditch. Now we lived in crazy country, and I at first figured that some lunatic farmer had let his 10 year old drive the truck across the field and it ended up there. But something whispered to me to stop. So I did. I craned my neck to see if anyone was in the cab. No one was,so I put the car back in gear to continue. But something whispered in my mind, "Get out and look over the side." I did. And there, in the bottom of the ditch lying in an inch of water on a frigid October morning was a man. I cried out and heard in response gasps and chokes. He was alive. I was only a half mile from home (and had no cell phone back then)so I rushed there, sent my husband down to the ditch to stay with him and check his vitals (but not to move him) and called 911. David went to the hospital and found out the rest of the story.

He had been coming home from a night shift at work, and less then a mile from home, had fallen asleep for a moment. When he gathered himself after hitting the bottom of the ditch, he wasn't bleeding and decided to move over and get out. He had no idea his pelvis had crushed against the steering wheel, and when he put the weight on his feet, he collapsed to the ground. Unable to move, he cried out to every car and truck he heard pass; dozens in two and half hours. But no one saw him. No one heard him. He cried and prayed, pleading with God to help him somehow. And he did. Someone was listening with something besides their ears. When he knew he had been found, the gasps and chokes I heard were him sobbing with relief.

I thought about how grateful I was that day that I had been listening. And I realized something. So often we find ourselves in the ditches of life. Our cries are too small to be heard and no one sees us. I have tried to live my life in such a way that I could hear with my heart when others are in the ditch, and hope that others would be listening when I found myself in a ditch.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Adrenaline Rush

So it happened. Today my son got his permit. In celebration I immediately took him to the church parking lot and we had our first driving lesson. He did not as bad as I thought he would and it was not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.

Funny though...I had him let up on the brake and drive with just the power to practice maneuvering in slow motion. The slower the better from my point of view. At one point, he was doing well and I encouraged him to pick up the speed. And he about 10 miles per hour.

So here we are, speeding along the edge of this parking lot about as fast as I can run sideways, and my son excitedly states, "This is such an adrenaline rush!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quote of the day

Ashlyn: "Mom, is Paul-y getting his drivers thingy today?"
Mom: "Yes."
Ashlyn:" Well what if he drives and gets in a car accident?"
Mom: "He won't. I'll drive with him."
Ashlyn: "But what if he does? Will he have to get the money to pay for your car?"
Mom: "I guess so."
Ashlyn: "Then how would you get to work because you wouldn't have a car because Paul crashed it."
Ashlyn: "Maybe you shouldn't let him get it mom."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warm Water

I woke up yesterday feeling sore and achy and still exhausted. I was able to drag myself out of bed long enough to get in the shower. I love the way nice hot showers feel in the morning, how they rejuvenate and alleviate the pain. This particular morning as I let the water trickle over my head and shoulders, I remembered some words from a non-nonsense nurse who attended to me after Conner’s surgery birth eight years ago. Her words of wisdom I have never forgotten, and often repeat them to myself on mornings such as this. “There isn’t much warm water won’t fix.”

It was true in the moment she had shared it with me. I had been laying in bed mostly numb form the waist down for 36 or more hours. I felt gross. C-section surgeries do not keep the patient clean and tidy. I was physically and mentally wiped out and in a pain. Every time I stood up I felt fairly sure my guts were going to fall on the floor. Dave had to help me with the 100 tiny steps it took to get to the bathroom 5 feet away. But once I was in the shower, everything changed. The pain didn’t go away (come on, let’s be serious about that…less than a day and half before my insides had been on my stomach and an 8 pound infant yanked out from under my ribs)and I was still a little stooped and slow, but it suddenly felt manageable. I felt clean and more relaxed…and human.

For some reason this Sunday morning shower and the warm water turned my thought in a different direction. I began to think about the scriptures, and how often water is referred to in some form or another and all the things it represents. I was still thinking as I dried off and got ready for the Sabbath. As I waited for my hair to dry, I began flipping through the scriptures and I discovered a few things. In the times that the scriptures were written water was a precious commodity. Nearness to it dictated survival. It stood for health and well being. It was also cleansing. The earth was cleansed by water while Noah was in his boat. The Savior himself entered into the waters of baptism to begin his mission here on the earth.

And then I found a term; living waters. In each verse this term appeared in, it was followed by a very specific description of what these living waters represented. There were two main themes that I felt closely coincided with the Jewish perception of the infinite value of water; The love of God and the Word of God or the gospel.

Is it then not accident that when we are baptized we are immersed in the love of God and His word and come forth again new? Is it not true that our nearness to him ensures our spiritual survival just as nearness to the water ensured the physical survival of the people long ago in the scriptures?

Whenever the world and the day to day life it brings shamelessly to my doorstep leaves me feeling in pain, slow, sore, bent over and exhausted, I can bath myself in His “living water”, warm water that is perfect for what ails my soul and will leave me feeling rejuvenated and refreshed and will leave the pain I feel…manageable. Truly, as that nurse said, there is very little a little warm water won’t fix.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Football Man

Conner decided he wanted to play football outside. This is his outfit. The helmet is one his dad had for decoration and is currently hanging on his wall. I let him pay with it on. Dave isn't here to stop me :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A day in the life...

Get up, Maryn up,Find clothes for kids, Make scrambled eggs, Take Maryn to practice, Make sure kids are ready, find socks, take mom to school, take kids to school, come home, get Tank dressed, exercise, shower, check facebook and email, go get groceries, drop Tank off at Luce's, go to dental clinic at UT, find out I need to either pull the tooth in question or have a $1000 crown put on, come home, get Tank, call Melanie and ask what I should do about tooth situation, pick up kids, pick up mom, unload groceries, put away groceries, make dinner, load dishwasher, play UNO with Maryn and Ashlyn, Homework, Tell kids to shower, watch the Mentalist, Go to bed. The End.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One day at a time

Sometimes I wish tomorrow would just get here faster. This patience and learning from your experience is for the birds. I am not by nature the type of person who reads all the way through a book beginning to end. No, I am the one who reads the first 5 chapters, skips to the last 3 and then goes back through the middle chapters sporadically to get the gist. This concept does not work well in life. I want to know how it ends. But then again, if I knew how it ended, I would likely just skip all the middle.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Conner was super excited today was election day. Way more then I was. He woke up; "Hooray! It's election day!" And I almost didn't go vote. But then I thought about stories I read about women spending time in prisons for asking for the right to express their opinion. And then another conversation I had with a visitor from China came to mind. Somehow we started talking about voting, and I stated that at the last election I didn't go. She nodded knowingly, and said, "Ah, because it was too dangerous to go." I felt sheepish replying that it was because I was getting a haircut and forgot. Often, when a gift is simply given to us, we don't appreciate it because we didn't work for it.
It is a gift to be allowed to choose.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lord Grant Me the Patience...

I found this cross stitch in the closet.
I remember this from when I was little. My mother had it hanging on the wall above the piano in Evanston . I can see its place on the wall very, very clearly in my childhood memory file.

But I don't remember seeing it after we left Wyoming.So I find it very interesting it has survived that many moves.
I remember liking it as a child, but not really understanding it. And wondering why it was in such a prominent place in our home where surely, all could see it each and every day.... especially my mother.
But now I TOTALLY get it.
Like when I say to myself "I wanted children. I had each of them on purpose. What the helenore was I thinking?"
Or when my sister and I call each other, children screaming hysterically in the background and one will say to the other..."Tell me why again?"
And the other will say, "Because its part of the plan of happiness. Children bring you joy. Blah, Blah, Blah."
Children are essential to growth. They compress you and stretch you and force you to face everything and ignore other things and make choices and be vague and be firm and be flexible and let go and hold on and look forward and analyze your past...without giving up or giving in.

Truly, Lord...grant me the patience to endure my blessings.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


So this is the first time since my kids have been alive that we have not lived out in the middle of nowhere. Our first Halloween in suburbia has convinced by children of the benefits of living in town and not in the country. We went out for just over an hour and had a marvelous time running from house to house and then swimming in the candy we brought home.

I decided to be frugal his year and make their costumes. For those of you who doubt this, making costumes is not more frugal. It was kind of fun though, even if it led moments of mommy shouting. “Leave me alone! Can’t you see I’m busy doing something nice for you! Go Away!”

But I felt overall pleased with how well they turned out.

Maryn was invited to go trick or treating with her friend Kate and another friend Zenub (sp?). So they met at Kate's house.

This Maryn as Dorothy and Kate as Frankenstein's girlfriend...or something like that. Zenub got there much later after I left.

Here are Conner as Mario, Tank (who's visiting) as a pony, and Ashlyn as Tinkerbell in front of Grandpa's Christmas Grinch he put up because he's weird like that. He kept wishing all the children good holidays that were not Halloween. There were some very confused small children in Perrysburg. This is what's wrong with our education system today. They let people like my dad teach little kids :).

Contrary to what one might believe upon appearances, the guy in the hoodie is NOT the Grinch even though he might look like it. That was the green guy on the lawn. He also threatened to turn on the Christmas Fire DVD and play Mannheim Steamrollers. If anyone wants to know why I'm not normal, come to my house for a day or two. Clarity will abound.

We met up with Kate and Maryn by accident. Okay not entirely by accident. We knew they were giving out full size candy bars at Kate's house so we kind of headed that direction. Tank lost it about 15 minutes after this. Dad came and picked him up. The little horsey had run his last race, but he was a big hit while he stayed with us.

Some trick our treat pics. This is at the house of our friends the Maddens. Gummy body parts. Awesome.

Some random people I thought looked cool. I want to confess the shot was set up. I tried taking it au natural but couldn't quite get it. The ladies were laughing and laughing. And Ashlyn kept wondering why they kept fake giving her the same piece of candy 5 times.
This is also a friend. Dayna Miller. Her mom's sewing machine was behind the creations you have been enjoying.

And a Happy Halloween to all...and to all a fabulous sugar high deterred only by your mother forcing you to eat apples or carrots or some other such nonsense.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I can not always live in a bubble. I found out tonight that someone who used to work with Melanie and I was shot by her estranged husband today and then he killed himself. There were 7 children in the house (she had some of her own and ran an in home daycare) who were unharmed. It was another reminder to me of how real Domestic Violence is and what the affects can be. I cried for almost half an hour from shock. Then have been in a zombie - like state for a while. It feels more like a "Lifetime" movie then real life. But it should explain why I do not feel like typing more than a little even thought it is my goal to be faithful.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Of boats and oars and bad metaphors...

There are days when I feel like I have it all together.

This is not one of those days.

At all.

I have felt short on patience and long on procrastination. I have argued separately with each of my children about something or other and realized that a paper I though wasn't due until Sunday is, in fact, due today. And there is no way I will be able to get it done before I have to got to bed in an hour. I'll have to take the 5% penalty. But even worse, I found out 4 of my other assignments were late for the same reason.

I was a little frustrated to discover one source of income I thought I could depend on ($600 a month worth of income) ...I can't. Major readjustment. I need a job. Really. Thinking about that a lot. 3 hour meeting. Trying to figure things out is mentally exhausting. I walk into the basement and see my kids clothes everywhere and just want to lose it. Trying not to lose it. Kind of just want to go to bed and sleep it off.

Not the worst day of my life. Just sort of...blah. I try and focus on singing in the lifeboat, on finding the good in the bad; but there are seriously just days when it feels like you're not even floating there being battered to and fro by the waves. You're stuck on a stinking sandbar and the water is still except for the occasional shark that stops by and smiles at you like we smile at turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving day. And thats nearly as frustrating as the storm.

Go away sharks.

I have an oar and I know how to use it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So one of the roles take pride in playing in my life (just a role, not the entire identity of who I am…but that’s another post) is that of mother. And it is a tough role. Tough crowd. They boo at you a lot. And it is very time consuming and the pay, most of the time, is terrible. Actually, you often don’t get paid at all. We should start a petition or call a union rep or something.

But, when you play the role to the best of your abilities and with all your heart, might, mind and strength, there are occasional payouts that have nothing to do with cash. And the payouts come in moments not money. And moments are more priceless then a mountain of pennies, more valuable than a no- limit Discover Card and harder to come by then a pterodactyl riding a unicorn chasing a leprechaun.

But today I got 2 paychecks.

One was from Maryn. She got named student of the month for her class. The theme for the month was perseverance. Her teacher, Mrs. Moschinkski came and sat by us while Maryn noshed on some donuts and bananas and juice (and I watched thanks to my diet) and told me that she loved having Maryn in class and how she never gave up and kept trying which is why she chose her.


The other was from Paul. I got an email from his IEP coordinator at school with the new IEP attached so I could review it before the meeting. There is section where it talks about the student’s future plans. I quote:

“Paul completed a career assessment October 10, 2010 and stated that his future goals include going on a 2 year mission, attend college at BYU in Utah and major in literature, writing, history, or maybe teaching. He hopes someday to publish a book.”

Cha-ching. Cha-ching.

Bring on those moments baby. To me, it’s a standing ovation.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This morning as part of my new routine, I tried to catch a quick walk before the weather turned uber nasty. Mom wanted to exercise as well, but she only made it a block. Since I thought we were going to be going together, I did not bring my ipod and found myself suddenly left to my own thoughts.

Dangerous place that.

I really had nothing to think about or have conversation about with myself. So it got pretty boring pretty fast.

And then, as I found myself thinking about, well, nothing…I started noticing something. With my mouth unoccupied, I was able to appreciate other senses I usually ignore. I took a deep breath. I love the way fall smells. Spring as well. Summer just smells like sweat so that’s gross. Winter…I just love the smells associated with the holidays but winter itself is pretty lame.

But back to autumn.

I could smell the trees, the air was crisp and fresh (it had rained the day before) and someone was burning wood. I love the smell of burning wood. So I smiled and took another deep breath.

Which opened up a whole new train of thought.

Why do I love the smell of burning wood? And this time as I took a breath, I closed my eyes and let my mind float on the scent filtering through my senses. Suddenly I was back 25 or so, and we were sitting around a fire in the Uinta mountains at one of our many family campouts. It was always cold enough during the summer in the Utah mountains that a fire was a welcome source of comfort, warmth and light. And food. S’mores. Hot Dogs. And those funky hollowed out oranges with muffin mix in them. We would talk, laugh, and sing. So much singing. The worst part of the night was removing myself from the sweet warm circle of the flames reach to tuck myself into a carefully laid out sleeping bag stuffed with extra blankets. I would lay and listen to the breeze in the pines, the sound of the lake or the creek (there seemed to always be one or the other) and the last hiss and crackle of the fire as is sputtered and died to coals, sleeping as we did until it was needed in the morning.

I took another deep breath.

My thoughts progressed.

I loved the smell of the crisp, wet air in the trees because it meant I was surrounded by living and moving things…trees and water . Plus the smell of the earth after rain…so utterly cleansing. I grew up in Wyoming and rain was a novelty…so I lingered on those moments when the world smelled new. Those things make me feel more peaceful than anything else. I could find my nirvana by a gurgling stream in a secluded glen.

And suddenly there were dozen smells I didn’t smell at that moment that I suddenly realized could transport me just as readily to moments and memories in my life great and small.

New leather book smell take me to New York where I spent 4 weeks as a cast member of the Hill Cumorah Pageant after my senior year. I took my brand new scriptures with me (a graduation gift from my grandparents)and we were challenged to read the entire Book of Mormon in 10 days. When we weren’t rehearsing or learning how to be good missionaries, my nose was buried in that book , curled up in the shade of the very hill where the plates had been hidden before they became the book I now inhaled as quickly as I did the heavy New York air.

I touched an evergreen bush, and my mind moved to another smell I adore; pine. Growing up so close to the mountains, I never knew there were such things as fake Christmas trees. Anyone who had them was ridiculous in my mind. We would go together with other families up into the mountains to a place called Christmas Tree Meadows and ride snowmobiles to where we would pick out the perfect tree. My dad always liked the ones that were not bushy…plenty of nooks and crannies we could nestle our collection of ornaments in. And my dad is a very gifted light putter-onner. And I never thought tinsel looked as elegant and extraordinary as it did draped around one of those trees. And it smelled fantastic. It filled the house with this amazing scent I still can’t chase from my mind. And they are attached to beautiful moments of my life…my sister and I faithfully organizing and reorganizing the gifts under the tree, cheeseball and crackers, finally realizing that mysteriously Dad and Santa’s writing was quite similar…a thousand beautiful pictures of my past that make up a mass of who I am in the present.

I was home by then.

So I paused. And I realized that I needed more moments of silence and reflection in my life to ground me more thoroughly…but more importantly to remind me of home.

But was there something I was missing? Are there things I’m too busy to notice that remind of my first home? Do I miss being brought back to tender memories I could relish in because I’m too busy to let the cue from my surroundings consume me?

If I stopped for a moment…maybe.

Just maybe I could go home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Carving Pumpkins

Last week for FHE, Amanda and Michelle joined us (as they always do), and we carve our Jack o’ lanterns in preparation for the upcoming holiday. Bring on the Halloween! For the first time in their lives, we actually live somewhere where we can trick or treat to someone besides the cows and chickens. The kids are super stoked! So we had 2 teams.

Dad is not on a team. He was being a smarty pants with the trimmer.

The kids though it was great to get their hands in and dig around in the goop! Here's team Amanda, Ashlyn and Conner.

And the M2 team...Maryn and Michelle!

Ashlyn insisted on coloring in the shapes they drew before cutting them out.

The finished pair!

Rea life questions...

Conner, in the middle of FHE, started randomly telling about his afternoon visit to pay at the neighbors. Summary: "I walked in and they were throwing spiders at me. Then I jumped on them, and everyone was attacking everyone and I'm thinking, ' Why am I the chicken in this game?'"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Morning Conversation

I’m at the computer, and Ashlyn comes running in. “Mom! Conner just called me a stink!” “Okay, so what do you want me to d about that.” Pause. Little voice. “Give him consequences?”

Obviously we have been focusing a lot on consequences of choices here in our home lately J

So I continued.

“What do you think his consequences should be?”


“Grounded from playing with a friend?”

“For calling you a stink.”


“Well, that’s fine, but whatever you choose for his consequence is the same consequence you have to take for yourself next time you call someone a name.”


“How long would I be grounded from friends?”

“Just one time. So, the next time Hannah and Kristina come and ask if you can play, you can’t.”





“Are you growling at me?”

Pause. Smile.


Smiling. Running off into the kitchen.

Me, watching her go back to the kitchen table.


“Maybe he should say he’s sorry.”

Conner, “I don’t want to!”


“Because I don’t know how to sing a song!”

“No Conner. Say you’re sorry. Not sing a song. Say, Ashlyn, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you a stinky.”

Conner smiling.

“Ashlyn I’m sorry and I should always call you a stinky-poo.”


“Conner! Say it right, or you will NOT be playing Wii for the rest of the day.

Pause. Sobering his face.

“Ashlyn, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have called you a stinky-poo.”


Ashlyn grunts and points at Conner.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pink Elephant

So as is typical, I was messing with my eight year old son before bed. Teasing him, bantering with him, pinching his little tooshy as he climbed onto the upper bunk and making him laughed hysterically. And then, as he nestled into his blanket, I saw it. My son was sleeping with a pink elephant that sings lullaby music when you pull its tail.

Faking shock, I picked it up and shook it at his face.
"What is this?!?! I can't even believe you are sleeping with this girly pink elephant Conner! What would your dad say?"

Small pause.

"Throw it at your mom?"

Yes come to think of it, he probably would...

At Johnston Farms...

So after we picked apples they has some things for us to do. There was a petting zoo with this cute little donkey who would happily eat our of your hand.
And a little stand with hot apple cider (perfect for the brisk and windy morning!) Katie actually got fresh apples slices and caramel with walnuts. Yummy! We also got a free candle from swan creek candle company for being one of the first 300 families there. It smelled like spiced apple cider! They also had a stand that showed how you could purchase their stuff to make you own candles quick at home. A nice lady making handmade soaps also helped the kids put together little bags of bath or foot soak which was fun.

And we met Phyllis. She is a lovely Amish woman we chatted with and watched who weaves rugs on a loom. she said she needed something to do to keep her busy when all her kids went to school, so she picked this up as a hobby and now goes around selling her product and demonstrating the technique. Its quite amazing actually. And time consuming. Its amazing what kind of time frees up when you have no TV. We had a wonderful chat with her.

And she was fine with having her picture taken. So we got a group shot.

Lastly, we bought a 1/2 peck of Gala apples in the apple store. Note to self: They also sell honey, popcorn and pumpkins.

Apples for everyone

So yesterday I met up with a former student of mine, Katy Minton. We went downtown to Stella's and had a lovely talk and walked around looking in all the cute little shops along Lousiana Avenue. It was very lovely and long overdue. But where this leads me is that in one of the shops there was a poster telling about an event going on on September 25 (the next day) called "Apples for Everyone". There is an orchard in Swanton called Johnston Fruit Farm that was trying to pick a semi truck load full of apples to give to the food bank. They needed volunteers to come and help (including families). And I decided it was a good idea.

So this morning with Maryn's friends Katie McVicker in tow, we headed up to the farm. And we had a wonderful time!

Here's the truck getting full (Already!) at 10:30 in the morning. They were asking each family to only pick one bushel to leave some for people later in the day since it was supposed to go until 5!

The kids and our 2 bushels. Interesting side note: Conner actually puked in the the orchard from being car sick. it was awesome. I mention it only for posterity.

Flashback... Climb every mountain

Now it is true that this happened nearly 2 months ago, but I meant to put the pictures up then and life just kind of happened. So here it is now. Can I hear a better late then never?

So one of the "fun" (and I use that term relatively) things we did was drive the Aspen loop and then hike to Stewart Falls. I remembered the hike being much easier then it was. It kicked my butt and my kids butts. It was worth it once we got there...then the hike out sucked more. I kept telling the kids to think about how proud they should be of themselves for accomplishing something like this and they just kept saying they hated me (Or something like that. Maybe it was Garrett they hated because he kept pushing them and wouldn't let them rest.)

Bryant was a trooper and stuck with Ashlyn. He even carried her on his shoulders part of the way with a camel pack already on. I was the lallygagger on the way back, and my good son stuck with me and helped me even as often as I needed to stop. Garrett took Maryn and Conner back down and that was where the hating Garrett part comes in. While we were up there, Erica freaked out more then once, Ashlyn discovered stinging nettle while trying to find a potty place (Good idea Bry..."Just take them over there in those bushes") and Bryant slipped and fell and bruised his hand.

But here are the accomplishments:

I took the rock climb up to the upper falls. Super pretty. This cool mist felt great on the hot day.

Paul, Me, Maryn, Erica, Conner and Ashlyn. One mountain conquered!

And here is the mountain of fries they conquered after we got down. We went and got really good burgers and fries after the hike. We were filthy. The cute kid on the end is my cousin Sam.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cheese Touch

Interesting Conversation

"Hey Maryn. It was so cute this morning. Ashlyn said she thought Conner had given her his cold because he didn't want it anymore."

Maryn (smiles and snickers):
"Like thats how it works. Its not like its cheese touch or anything."

Ummm...say what?

Monday, August 30, 2010


So this is undeniably out of order and skewed a bit, but the important thing is that its here, right? For posterity and all the world to see... Erica actually took these pics because it took a lot of concentration to drive. It was, at times, precarious. So I stole them from her facebook, doctored the color on Picasa... and voila!

So apparenty the black spots on the rocks are caused by mineral deposits being exposed to the sun and other weather (which is apparently very little other kinds of weather...)

This truly, truly fascinated me. There was a man named John Wolfe who was a Civil War vet who decided it would be good for his health to settle in the area. His health? Seriously? What drives a person to look at this landscape and say "Why, yes, I think it would be perfect to live here?" It was terribly remote and primitive...even by the standards of 1888. They stayed for 20 unbelievable years after building a dam on the salt wash and using the sparse grassland for cattle. Now that's an interview I would have loved to have been able to have. The geography was amazing...but its people that fascinate me the most.

The minerals make some of the sandstone green and some red.

I believe this one is called Devil's Garden. We didn't go in. Its a heck of a hike and must be ranger led.
Pothole Arch

Ashlyn spent a lot of time collecting the ones in her hand here.
She wanted to take a picture.

This series of arches is supposed to look like elephants.

Balanced Rock.