Wednesday, June 30, 2010


For book club this month, we read The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis. It's about 13 women who buy a rilly rilly expensive diamond necklace (it's worth, like, 30k) and share it.

Honestly, it's not my kind of book. I'm not into fine jewelery, so the premise really didn't interest me. However, I found the story interesting (though the actual writing was not good). These women- some in the group are strangers in the beginning- come together and create a community around the ownership of the necklace.

They also use it for all sorts of community good: fundraisers and such, and the question of materialism is brought to light. Just letting others around town WEAR THE NECKLACE was a big deal, which, huh? It's just a necklace. But it really did make a difference in people's lives.

Since I don't consider myself a very materialistic person (by American standards, anyway), I thought that part was interesting. And it got me thinking: what things do I own that I put a high value on?

Aside from people and pets (in case you file those things in the "possessions" column), family heirlooms (grandpa's watch and the like) and personal mementos (photos, coming-home baby outfits, etc), what do you own that you value? What's your most prized possession(s)?

[Edited to add my answer: I turned this question in my head again and again, and I'm not sure what thing(s) I value most in my life. I mean, I love lots of our belongings. I love our bedroom set, and I love my red cupcake stand, and I love Marin's bedding, and I love owning so many books. These things could all easily be replaced though.

I love our house- oh, how I love our house. There's so much yet to be done here, but the character, the woodwork, the built-ins... And I love the location of our house; I love our neighborhood, our grown trees, the sidewalks... However, we don't technically OWN our home. Hrrmph.

I think my final answer is my camera. Just like Erin! And my camera would be fairly useless to me without my laptop. And I use my laptop for so many other things (hello, Facebook? blogging?). So my camera AND my laptop. ...AND my internet connection.

In trying to answer this question, I've realized just how disposable our culture is. If our house burned, along with all of our stuff, I'd collect insurance money (I am, after all, required by law to carry insurance on my property) and go about replacing all of our STUFF. Even my camera and laptop are technically replaceable....]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shy Vs. Stage

I've woken up the past two days with a slamming headache, which says Good Morning like nothing else, ya know? There's something about having severe headaches/migraines that makes life during those times feel foggy and surreal. Reminds me of childbirth, actually.

So the fact that our friends are moving seems unreal right now, as does the post I wrote about it, along with all of your thoughtful comments. I'm actually appreciating a little distance from that reality, so, you know, silver linings and all that. (Seriously, thank you for your kind and understanding words.)

But still. Headaches suck. Especially when you live in fear (actual FEAR) of that headache crossing some invisible yet very noticeable line into Migraine Territory.

Aaaaanyway, moving on.

My big girls are taking a theater class this week. I'm not sure if I've ever described their crippling shyness on this here blog, but it's true: they are horribly, painfully shy. Even with people we know really well, if we see them out of the girls' normal "comfort zone" (like at the grocery store), they hide behind me and refuse to speak.

But they also have this inner desire to perform. They love High School Musical, Camp Rock, and the like, and easily memorize songs and lyrics, which they belt out with an amazing accuracy and heartbreaking earnestness.

(If you've ever had dinner at our house, you know this. Because it's inevitable that at some point during the evening, one of the girls sidles up next to me to whisper "We're having a show. It starts in 10 minutes."

And then our poor, unsuspecting dinner guests are coerced invited to watch the girls' performance. Sometimes, it's just singing. Other times it's dancing or gymnastics. Lately, they've been into writing up simple "plays" to perform. If our dinner guests have children, those kids are dressed in costume and given parts as well.)

This theater class is so good for them- and fun for me- because they get to wrestle their inner desire to perform with their shyness. It's fantastic to see them become comfortable enough throughout the week to overcome The Shy and participate in a short play. On a real! stage!, no less.

As I watch them up there on that stage, I see them shed another thin layer of their babyhood, revealing- if even just a tiny bit- the confident, self-assured young adults of their future-selves. It's magical; you'll just have to trust me.

P.S. I'm happy to report that upon completion of this post, my headache seems to be GONE! I'm sitting here happily eating a wrap, stuffed full of CSA veggies, and feeling (as I often do after a prolonged headache) on top of the world. I can do anything! My head doesn't hurt!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tender at the (Everyday) Heart

So our friends, our good, lives on our block, spends holidays and birthdays together, swaps kids back and forth often, have been hanging out together since our oldest were babies, friends... are moving.

Moving. As in, moving away. To another state.

On August 1st.

Ruthie, Dan, and JJ will no longer be our go-to friends, for borrowing sugar, or borrowing company for a bonfire, or nada.

And we are all just so sad about this; it's really a sight to see. I am not a weepy person, and there has been weeping. In fact, the tears keep sneaking up on me, which is really wigging my shit out, but there they are, filling up my eyes, making me feel like there is a GIANT SPOTLIGHT on me and everyone in the whole entire world- or at least everyone in this zip code- can see me sniffling like a jerk.

And my kids are sad, sorry, little sacks of bones. I told the girls about it a few days ago, and big crocodile tears rolled down their cheeks. And I honestly can't even type that without getting all choked up myself. The sweet self-talk (but JJ will still invite us to his birthday! And we can go and visit him! Road trips are fun!); my girls trying to make it all ok.

And really? birthday parties? My girls- in their lack of understanding- are worried about JJ's birthday party? They have not yet absorbed that he won't be here, just a few houses away, for whenever they are bored and/or lonely or have a great idea for a game or want to have a lemonade stand. That he simply won't be here at all. His birthday party is, like, 2 hours out of the year that is probably the least quality time they spend with him all year.

I know it's not about me- not about us- at all. I know. And I'm happy for them, for I know Dan has been unhappy here in his profession for awhile. His new job is perfect for him and is a excellent career move. The area they are moving to has countless amazing opportunities for all of them. They need to do this, and they will be happy there.

But it sure seems like it is about us. I suppose that was mourning does- it makes you lose perspective, or at least not be able to logic-talk yourself to a place of peace. The sadness has to come; it's how the process works.

The thing is, we have so many wonderful friends here. In fact, Ruthie isn't even my best friend here. Nor is Dan David's. But the ease in which JJ slips into our family life, the way they all fit around our dinner table- unplanned, usually- so perfectly, the simplicity of Marin joining their pew at church, the way being in their home or hanging around their yard is so comfortable... It's all the most natural, beautiful thing. As a family, they are our closest friends, because being with them just makes sense.

When we are with them, or they with us, there is no disruption... it's just smooth and normal.

So while I feel so fortunate to have so many other friends here- and you can ask the other Tiny Town peeps, because we are all just amazed that there are so many cool people here, and that we have found each other- Dan, Ruthie, and JJ 's leaving will be felt deeply by our family.

I'm not even sure we understand it yet.

The weird thing is that I've been so shy around them about how I really feel about them going. I mean, they know I'm sad, but I haven't been able to say to them how broken I- we- feel. I guess I'm just being... what? strong? for them? Or, maybe I don't want to talk about it for fear of Teh Ugly Cry? I'm not sure.

I was putting Marin to bed tonight, and she had big fat tears and a quivering bottom lip. My three year old. Who I didn't even realize understood that they were moving. Was crying about missing Ruthie. Ruthie, Dan, and JJ have always treated Marin like the family pet (ah... we all sorta do that) and have always had a huge soft spot for her. I just had no idea that she felt the same way about them, or that she would be able to be feeling that way now, before they left. I mean, she's THREE.

We'll still seem them, sure. They have family in Minnesota. We're still planning our annual camping trip. We will go and visit them. Road trips are fun!

But the things I love the most about them- how our gatherings are spontaneous and fun, how we just see each other while going about our normal lives, how we are raising our families together, how none of it takes any effort- are the very things that are not possible living far away from each other.

I like coming downstairs to find JJ smashed between my girls on the sofa, watching tv. Or to hear a man's voice and peek into the family room to find Dan chatting with Marin. Or to look out my window to see them walking by, glancing at our window, and waving hello.

I'll miss their seeing their faces as regulars as the filmstrip of our lives rolls by. I don't want guest appearances; I want them as everyday cast members.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Storm's Passage

Right now, outside

there is a large, vivid, double-rainbow arching over my house

the trees seem to be glowing

and the light is magically glowing both greenish and yellowish at the same time.

The storm has passed, the sirens are quiet

and sun is setting.

Storms make my blood pump- in an exciting way- and rainbows give me goosebumps- in a this must be meaningful way.

Both in one night? Cozy and delicious...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Keeps Me Laughing Lately

I know I am about to share something that a group of pimply 7th graders would love, and perhaps beneath it all, I am just a bezitted 12 year old. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are a bunch of us (us meaning ADULTS) that find this song to be... oh, man... just so funny.


So I'm sharing it with you. Judge me if you must, but my god, at least watch the video through the first chorus before you make up your mind.

And keep in mind that each chorus gets better and better.

Oh man. Pounding the rocket! Smacking the cracker! Attacking Peru! Juicing the mango! Orbiting Venus! Driving Miss Daisy!

I'm wheezing over here, folks, and I have a side ache.

And since I'm on a roll, may I also suggest this perennial favorite:

Related: Garfunkle and Oats' song "Pregnant Women are Smug" reminds me of you, Swistle. Specifically, their line about "Can't wait 'till somebody says, don't care if it's limbless, don't care if it's brain dead if it has a penis". (Link here.)

I know, I know, this blog just took a turn... for the douche.

(Saucing the taco! Taming the shrew! Oh, you guys...)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh! And FYI:

I forgot to mention to you that my children, after spending 4 days camping were NOT TIRED. I'm not sure if you've encountered NOT TIRED yet in the children in your life, but in case you have not, I thought I'd give you a brief summary.

NOT TIRED causes many children to bicker their little hearts out until someone forbids them from speaking, in which case, they then fall into a decidedly NOT TIRED stance such as:

Of course, NOT TIRED related bickering lasts long enough that the alternative NOT TIRED stance is not reached until the children are a mere 15 minutes from home. And then NOT TIRED causes children- blurry-eyed and falling asleep into their dinner plates- to declare with an admirable earnestness that they are indeed NOT TIRED.

Just a little heads up, from me to you.

(The little boy pictured is our neighbor, who is basically a member of our family, and who rode with us camping so that his parents had more cargo space to haul more of our combined camping gear.)


Catching toads,

eating s'mores,

taking walks in the woods,

hanging out in large groups, with lots of other kids to play with and torment,

posing for a family photo, to make your mama happy,

going into town to check out the marina where the sailboats live,

wearing goggles for the fun of it,

enjoying blue skies and deep, cool waters,

swimming while sailboats float slowly by,

watching gorgeous sunsets every night...

Camping is good for the soul.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

They Left, on a Jetplane

Oh, what a whirlwind, you guys. My dearest friend in all the world (known here as East Coast Anne) was here visiting and now she's not and it went way too fast and it was kind of a stressful visit in terms of caring for our combined FIVE children and we didn't get to talk enough just the two of us and I can't believe the effort she went to, to get here (and then HOME AGAIN) alone, on a plane with a 4 year old and a 1 year old and I'm so sad she's gone.

And to top it off, I forgot to ask her permission to post photos of her kids here, which is really too bad because you guys? They are GORGEOUS.

So they left this morning and we leave to go camping tomorrow for 4 days and we haven't packed or figured out food/meals and I probably need to do laundry before we go and my house is showing the effects of having FIVE feral children little sweeties underfoot for 5 days.

Also? I miss EC Anne already, and she's probably not even back to her own house yet. And I feel sad that there wasn't more blissful fun moments but proud that we team-worked parenting our kids. It sucks that I won't see her again for probably at least a year, and who knows if next time we'll get all of our kids together or if we'll just say fuck it and meet somewhere, just the two of us. Which would be awesome, but then I won't see her kids (nor she, mine) for MORE THAN a year, which just seems wrong and BLERG.

I'm just a little bit pissed (read: MAJORLY PISSED) that life put us a couple thousand miles apart.


This time tomorrow night I'm going to be sitting by a campfire, with all the planning and packing behind us. And I'll take some photos of the sunset, and hug some friends that I don't see often enough, and watch my kids run in wild little packs, like hyenas, complete with maniacal laughing and mangier-by-the-moment fur.

And by Sunday, I'll be a whole new person. I'll still be missing my friend, but with more perspective and clarity, and less raw emotion.

I hope.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Neighborhood Excitement

A manned, black car has been sitting outside my house for the past 3 days.

I had noticed the car, but didn't realize there was someone inside it until my neighbor called to ask me what was up with Mr. Black Car. And then I was all that car? has someone inside it? Welllll, that's a game changer...

I was actually pissed off, if I'm being honest. So without Thinking It Through For The Love (sorry Tess!), I put Marin on my hip and marched out there, knocked on the window, and said "DUDE. You are freaking me out. WHAT ARE YOU DOING???"

He was nice, very polite, and explained he's waiting to serve papers to someone "down the street".

I found out my neighbor called the cops on him, and he was permitted to stay, so he must be legit.

But now the neighborhood is all ABUZZ with who is he? what's he REALLY doing? who do you think he's watching? Etc.

I doubt he's watching our house since he's so totally OBVIOUSLY parked in front of our place, and parked in a place where there's never cars parked. There are plenty of places he could watch us (creepy!) and be more incognito, ya know? And besides, David and I have nothing going on in our lives worth surveillance.

As weird as it is, I have to be honest that's it been kinda fun. I really want all my friends to go for a walk by the car, knock on his window, and ask him what's up. (Poor guy... just trying to do his UBER BORING job...) David wants to make him feel really welcome (read: uncomfortable) and bake him cookies or something.

He showed up again this morning briefly and then left. Boo! (Maybe he'll be back?)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Last Day

Today is the last day of school here in Tiny Town. Oh Emm Gee, that did not come fast enough, especially in light of Anxiousgate 2010. But we made it! I am so looking forward to peaceful mornings with Kate, instead of tears and woe, tears and woe.

Here's what we did for teacher's gifts this year (inspired by Joy Unexpected's teacher gift):

Each of the girls' classroom teachers got a pot of begonias (um? I think?) with two little plant markers in them. The girls wanted to paint the pots, but I didn't come up with an option that wouldn't wash off if the pot got wet. And besides, this way, the pots are reusable.

The plant markers are little rectangles of wood that I got at Hobby Lobby (4/pack for $1.99, I think). The girls painted them, and then I added their photo (mounted on card stock) (ha, ha, "mounted" sounds all fancy... how does "glue-sticked" sound?) . I let them write the little note, though I was tempted to do it myself. (You know, CONTROL, and letting go of it.) Then I taped a colored wooden stick to the back and stuck them in the dirt. Easy-peasy.

I like how they turned out. They meet the Teacher Gift Criteria of being a) reusable b) homemade; original, and c) not something the teacher has to keep around for years to come (read: apple themed knick-knacks). Typically, I like to give something consumable, and I guess you "consume" flowers by enjoying them, and- unlike a houseplant- you can get rid of them after a season.

Of course, the girls also insisted on making our usual teacher gift of note cards. They love making them, and above any other gift we've given, these are the best received (cute! original! consumable!). They made one set for their classroom teachers and one for the teacher's aide.

I think teacher's gifts are the hardest to get right. I mean, how do you really thank someone for nurturing and teaching your kid for 7 hours a day for the past 9 months? Are there even words for that? I feel like I could spend my summer weeding their gardens and cooking their dinners and serving them iced cold pitcher of mojitos, and it STILL wouldn't be enough.

And then throw a kid like Kate into the mix- a kid whose teacher has sent countless emails to me and on her behalf, who has comforted her and joked with her and made her feel happy and safe, who has racked her brain and gone out of her way on several occasions to come up with a solution. In short, a teacher who has taken a personal interest in helping my kid.

How do you say thanks for that?

(Spoiler alert: I have NO EFFING CLUE.)

So anyway... the last day of 1st grade. (Last day of Kindergarten here.)

Don't you love how Kate (in green) has a worried look on her face, even NOW, on the LAST DAY?

Tomorrow morning, I am going to sit on my sunny porch with the girls, and I am going to watch Kate happily devour her breakfast, and then I am going to take the girls strawberry picking.

Oh, man, we made it, you guys!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Steps

AHA! I can finally get on my blog! Oh, Blogger, you are not making any friends by acting up all the time.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about today was Thing We Can Do To Be Green(er) This Summer. I've been a part of many of these types of convos here on the Interwebs, and I think we can all agree that Baby Steps is where it's AT, in terms of being more environmentally conscious.

This topic is on my mind because 'Tis the Season for BBQ's, picnics, porch meals, neighbors over for grilling, camping, etc. And we all know that the average Use Of Disposable Products increase- drastically- for these kinds of events.

So it works like this: I tell you the accumulating baby steps we've made to our lifestyle, and you tell me the baby steps you've made to yours, and then we all have ideas for more baby steps.

Baby steps! That's all it takes!

*We don't use disposable products- at all... ok hardly ever- anymore. We started by buying a stack of plastic plates (12, I think) to go with our already-in-use kids' IKEA plastic plates, and also kids' and adults' size plastic** cups. The cost was similar to buying packages of paper/plastic/Styrofoam dinnerware, and we've been washing and reusing ours for several years now. "Outdoor Dishes", FTW!

(**I know, I know, I'm a self-proclaimed Plastic Avoider. But I made an exception for our outdoor dishes, since plastic is SO MUCH easier to carry back and forth to picnics and porch dinners that our regular dishes. The regular ones are too heavy!)

*We use cloth napkins 100% of the time now. Except for when we use paper towels. Which isn't very much, I swear. I've purchased most of ours at thrift stores. We probably have 30? 40? I'm not sure, a big ol' stack. I have about 12 nicer ones that I "save" from the rest in case we have company for dinner, but that can be used if our regular stash runs low before I do laundry. (I keep a laundry basket at the top of the basement stairs to throw the dirty cloth napkins in. Also, wash clothes and dish towels. When we start running low, I toss the load it in the wash.)

*We don't buy bottled water all at anymore. Ever. Well, ok sometimes we do. But it's expensive! We all have reusable water containers that I keep clean, and sometimes I keep filled and in the fridge for easy grabbing. For times when we have more than just our family in the house, I fill a pitcher with ice water and add some lemon or lime slices. Since we have lots of big plastic cups, this works well.

*We use reusable containers or wax paper bags for packing lunches.

*Last summer we started composting. We compost anything raw (egg shells, fruit and veggie scraps) as well as coffee grounds and the occasional paper towel. It's really easy to do (it goes in an ice cream pail in the counter, and then is carried out to the pile as needed) and has noticeably reduced our weekly garbage quantity.

*We don't buy individual packages of chips, pretzels, raisins, etc. Instead we just throw in the big bag/box, and bring home what we don't eat. I buy the string cheese that comes in one big block, instead of wrapped separately. (We DO still rely on individual yogurt tubes. They are just so! easy! for the kids to grab...)

This summer, my baby step is going to be not buying juice boxes/pouches. I think that spending 60 seconds to mix up a pitcher/thermos of juice and grabbing a stack of kids' glasses will be not too much extra effort... and will produce much less waste.

So, what are your baby steps?

Friday, June 4, 2010


I have a couple of friends with older children- middle school/high school aged- and all they do is sit at their kids' games.

Softball, soccer, baseball, basketball... every evening, on the bleachers. Weekends? Tournaments. One to two FULL DAYS of more bleachers.

And I want my girls to have the opportunity to play whatever sports they want, and be in choir and band and school plays, and join clubs etc. But with all of those things- minus the sports- it's just a matter of getting the kid to and from the practice/rehearsal/meeting. Any sort of performance happens once a season- at most.

Sports, though. Ugggg. It's like, a game a minute or some shit.

When I was growing up, I wasn't into sports much at all. My dad was a long-distance runner, my brother was in wrestling and cross country, and I stood around in left field with a glove on my head played softball. My younger two siblings did a few sports too, but I was out of the house by then.

I don't even remember if my parents were at my games. I mean, I know they came to some... Then again, I was probably hoping they WOULDN'T come; less witnesses when you strike out and all that jazz.

My own daughters are not exactly athletically inclined either. Their Phy Ed report cards always make David and I laugh: O+ for attitude, participation, etc*. Wonderfully cheerful comments punctuated with SEVERAL!!!!!! exclamation points!!!!! about how lovely they are to have in class. And then, you flip to the other side and see they ran the mile in 18 minutes and could do less than ZERO pull-ups.

(*O is for outstanding.)

For now we have a "one activity at a time" rule. This winter it was gymnastics (which they love and are average at.) Over the summer we relax that rule a little, since lots of things overlap. They are taking tennis, swimming lessons, and a theater class.

I know that at some point, however, they may find a sport that they love. And of course, we'll back them 100%. I'll even buy a big ol' bag of sunflower seeds and one of those fancy bleacher chairs with a back. I'll cheer my little heart out.

(Wait... are the sunflower seeds just a stereotype, or are they actually required? They make my tongue hurt...)

But I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

I can think of 48592904 other things to do with my evenings/weekends. Ya know?