Monday, September 22, 2008

Simply Said

Simply said, I love you September.

Maybe more than any other month. My own personal epiphany occured sometime last week, taking me quite by surprise. In ways September as a month reminds me of Tuesday as a day. Nothing much special about it. No fantastic holidays, the most notable thing is the change of seasons from summer to fall, but that's about it. However, I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about things, for lack of any other overused description, and finally placed why.


Actually quite a lot happens in September. Though the formal change of seasons doesn't happen until late in the month, the arrival of September for me marks the official turn of the corner into fall. My kids have already started school, and my life is still hectic but in a very different way and with larger blocks of unhectic time carved out of each day that I call blessed.

September is like Christmas morning with the kid tip-toeing and giggling down the hall to the living room to see what treasures await. I tell you, it's really better than the actual opening, but you have to be 35 before you realize it.

September is the calm launching pad into two to three months of fun and celebration. Through the eyes of September you can enjoy what awaits and not do any of the work that will be required to make it all happen. There is no fighting with other shoppers in the aisles, no hissing or cursing, no pounds are gained, everything looks beautiful and is in perfect place, no last minute shopping panic, no spoiled kids with a mountain of unintended presents with well-intentioned parents (ahem, of course I don't mean me). That doesn't happen. No, because September won't allow those things to spoil the fun. I haven't quite decided, but it may be the perfect month.

September is when you plan Halloween parties and costumes, organize cupcake walks, decide who's house to have Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day at, and plant the seeds of the family feuds that will spice up the holidays to come. 30 days to reflect contendedly on past holidays, past Christmas Gorillas, past haunted houses, past Thanksgiving lasagnas, past Santa Claus pillows and Christmas elves, past Halloween eggings and 8th grade space cadet costumes. All of course with the amber glow of September. September is a delicious little oasis. September, you are mine.

We only have 8 days left. Tip-toe. Giggle, giggle. It's almost gone...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Your what?

That would be U-R-A-N-U-S.

This may be the most uncomfortable word to speak in the whole english language--even in the comfort of your own living room with only your two smallest children for company.

You see, my 5-year-old, brand new kindergarten student made his first trip to the school library on Tuesday. Yesterday he plopped himself on the couch and opened up his special book. After a few questions of how to say this and that, I went to sit by him and read the book out loud. You know, like a good mom. I was under the impression that this was a book about the solar system or something. No. It was a book dedicated entirely to our favorite 7th planet.

Lest you think I am playing the part of a twittering schoolgirl, just imagine yourself reading page after unrelenting page, out loud to your kid. Sentences like....

U-R-A-N-U-S.....ah, this word and I have a history. At one point in time we might have even been called friends, well at least not enemies. In my young and innocent years, before my eyes had been opened to the shameful results of this word being spoken out loud and in a public setting, I graciously considered our 7th planet on equal footing with our 7 other planet friends, except I've always thought Pluto (which is now deemed a dwarf planet) was the cutest, being so very small and out there all alone in that outermost icy orbit of his (or hers).

Anyway, I was young--at that age when a kid is desperate to perform any stunt that will make adults smile and think they're cute. I was with my family at The Good Earth. For whatever reason we were eating at their cafe and I ordered the Planet Burger. They brought the food to us. At that moment I was sabotaged in the worst way by this unfortunate need for positive reinforcement. I held my Planet Burger up thinking I was truly the most clever kid ever, and said loudly, "Does anyone want a bite of U-R-A-N-U-S?!?" Trust me, I wasn't trying to be crude, just terribly clever. I was mid sentence but past the point of no return when the walls came crumbling down. I had been so sure of the admiring smiles until I heard myself say that word. Why couldn't I have chosen Saturn, or Mercury, or even cute little Pluto who surely needs a little recognition? Nope. Yeah whatever, they thought it was hilarious. I was horrified.

So, who chose the pronunciation anyway, or the word for that matter? Come on. There must have been some other candidates, and what was the reason they didn't make the cut and our friend U-R-A-N-U-S did? I'm sure there was a great deal of giggling at the thought of all the future generations of discomfort and public embarrassment that were now destined to come barreling down the pike.

Here's to you, namers of the 7th planet. You got me. Now, can we at least prounce it differently? Like U-RAN-U-S? I'm trying to find a good hiding spot for my kid's book. It gets to live at our house for a whole week. Aren't we lucky?

Monday, May 12, 2008


My nose and lungs and carpets are tired of this....

I am also tired of this.....

and this.....

and this....

I've had my fill of this leaving my bank account....

Last week I slept in this...

so my bedroom could have this....

I just want more of this....

and this....

I'm ready to be done remodeling now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

you look pretty for a Wednesday

.....these were the words I heard from a friend at my book club this last week.

Translation: I'm surprised you look okay, because by Wednesday most moms have given in to the hurricane that is her life as a mother to her children, in which her appearance deteriorates steadily and noticeably throughout the week. So, by Wednesday things don't look so good.

So, here's the secret, gals, I hadn't even showered that day. The Deterioration Theory was in full force, I just threw it a little humdinger: It's called the straightener, which I used to curl my hair. It's that simple.

No need to do this: (because by Wednesday things are a little sketchy and you might not see the inside of a shower until Friday when it's time to go out on a date).

Just use a straightener on that unwashed Wednesday head of hair, put on some makeup if you can and a decent outfit, and you'll look like this. {Ahem.}

It's all you need to do to get told you look pretty on a Wednesday, and that's saying something.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

we'll be together again

I may be the only one raising my hand to admit it. So, here goes: I still like listening to Erasure.

And so, I'll continue with further embarassing Erasure-related facts as they pertain to my life:
  • There are more Erasure songs on my exercise playlist than from any other band.

  • I like the fact that they are gay (well, Andy the singer is)- don't know why - maybe because it's really just about the music, and seriously, take a look at them. Whoa. Yep, it's just about the music.

  • When I was putting together a new playlist a couple months back and thought of them, highschool flooded back and hit me full force in the head, for better or worse

  • Memories of lots of leotards, lots of tutus, and lots of men at the Civic Auditorium in SF

  • Tears came to my eyes when I first listened to them (since high school) on my playlist during a run {crap, I can't believe I just wrote that} - is this a bit like my dad's listening to Anne Murray when I was younger for the whole drive to and from Tahoe? (Neil Diamond was included - I still kinda like him - I think I have no choice since these drives essentially programmed our wee little childhood brains)

  • I promise I have a taste for current music, but man, there's just something about Erasure - I must enjoy hearing music about debauchery and "shoving bitches up against the wall" - perhaps a reaction to my current state of residence and craving just the teeniest slice of Babylon

  • It makes me run faster - I'm also known to bob my head and giggle out loud while running (sometimes to other music, too) - I haven't twisted my ankle yet or fallen off the sidewalk or in front of any moving vehicles

  • I don't really listen to them other than when exercising - I'm too afraid to take away the magic for when I need it most

Who will take their place on the horrible day when I hear them on the radio and associate them with a nasty five-mile run? Any suggestions? I am in need.

Requirement: Band must evoke high state of euphoria so that I can block out all exercise pain.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

from dust to dust

Is it possible to be made of dust, yet still be living? There is dust everywhere and this is only the demoltion stage. Regardless, I am happy to anounce that our basement is undergoing a facelift. I don't even dare show you pics of the untouched before since it was not pretty. Think gold flowered wall paper, wood particle board paneling, mirrored wall tiles, and light fixtures that could double for medieval headpieces (plus, they were hung too low - those medieval people were short weren't they? - so you'd crack your head if you chose to walk with good posture).

What is it about taking a sledge hammer to a wall that is so deeply satisfying? My father-in-law, who was helping us (thank you, Mont) commented that he'd never done this before. If you haven't had the opportunity, by all means, search out a friend with a scary medieval house and offer your helping hand. It may take care of a few months of therapy since you can literally feel the repressed anger and aggression (ahem, not that any of us have this brewing or anything) and let it shoot right out of the end of that heavy-as-hell hammer. I even karate-chopped a few sad pieces of drywall. We only made one trip to the ER - Spencer, following his mama's fine example went ahead and karate-chopped some drywall of his own and caught Ava square the face, namely the eyeball. She grabbed at her eye and I pried her hands away to find a HUGE hunk of white plaster tucked nastily underneath her eyelids right on the front of her eyeball. This is when I wished I could go-go-gadget some sort of drywall magnet that would whiz it magically off her little eyeball! Of course, a two-year-old just wants to rub it out. Bad idea. After unsuccessfully trying to flush it out, I drove a drenched Ava to Primary Children's where she got to have a full IV bag of fluid flushed through her eyesocket (a suction cup thing with a water hose connected to it is put INSIDE her eye, under both eyelids so she just had that hose sticking out and the fluid dribbling down the side of her face - freakish and horrible). Please, don't any of you ever have to go through this with one of your kids. It takes agonizingly long to get through a whole IV bag, while she, with the nurse practically sitting on her and me whispering hopefully-comforting words in her ear, kicked and screamed. Now she has to have twice-daily doses of vaseline-like ointment in her eye to heal the abrasion. She walks around looking like she's doing an impersonation of a pirate, with one eye clenched shut, the good eye open, and her head cocked a little to one side. Ahoy.

thankfully, the patch was only for the first night

Since one brush with disaster wasn't enough, I have enlisted the help of my child laborers and have done my part to protect their little baby lungs from dusty tile debris.

Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have some good after pictures - and newly cleaned upstairs carpet which I hope will have the decency to recover from the dust shower that we'll be living in for the next bit. Can you get lung cancer from remodeling?

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Ava is now lopsided. Oh, Jake. You'd better run.

Monday, March 17, 2008

WHAT to be....or not to be

So, you know how proud parents like to see traits in their kids, sometimes obnoxiously as infants, and project on the sunny futures of their gifted little ones. Sometimes this may be spot on, sometimes it's wishful thinking, sometimes you get info that can blessedly help you steer your cherubs away from a certain profession.

Take this last week: Spencer has always had a real thing for constructing things, figuring out how pieces and parts fit together. Some would call this being visuospatially inclined. At a school art night he put together a toothpick/gumdrop structure that garnered compliments from other stranger-parents as he carried it home. Our friend (an architect) offered to take Spencer to the architecture building at the university where he works and show him around. While we waited for them to come get Spencer I explained what an architect does, how he/she can build buildings 100 stories high without them falling over. We talked about support beams (we're remodeling) and what they do. He was so full of excitement he started to draw his own high-rise, complete with all the bells and whistles. After he came home he told us about all the different building models he saw and went straight to the Legos to build himself a mini city. A future architect? Who knows?

(support beam on the right)

This morning I kept the kids in the car while I unloaded groceries. While I was busy, Jake handed my mascara over to Ava and she went to work. Though this was her first attempt, let's just say that we now know that a makeup artist she will not be. Ain't she a beaut?

Monday, March 10, 2008

pop goes the weasel

To all of you who get a little giddy excitement and strange satisfaction at popping zits: Hold onto your hats, this should take care of you for at least six months....maybe a year. Happy Monday.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Take me back

I've been away for awhile, actually enjoying the sun in San Diego. A person can only take so much snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. This has been one harsh winter. We were all so happy to fly to CA and escape this winter wonderland that we even forgave SD for giving us one rainy day. That's okay, we educated ourselves with a little museum visit indoors and enjoyed the guilt-free restaurant eating that only comes on those vacation Sundays.

When you've been away from the coast for a long time and you get to visit again, you just want to stay awhile, close your eyes, and let the sand tickle your toes for a bit. (And try not to wish that you didn't live in a land-locked state. This is hard to do when every other minute your kids are asking if you can move to San Diego.)

This is what it looks like when you've been away for awhile:

You even remember the magic glow from the setting sun and what it can do to a sweet face.

We participated in the other obligatory kid entertainment activities: A visit to Sea World (Matt and I liked this), Legoland (all of the worst parts of Disneyland, i.e., the rides that don't go over 2 mph, concentrated exclusively in one lively themepark, uugh - Jake loved it), SD's Wild Animal Park (really I think people go there on the off chance that the lions will escape and hunt down the safari caravan of gawking tourists - I'll admit I was looking for a hole in the enclosure).

Then we got lucky and stumbled onto a beach where the sea lions are having babies this time of year. We all got to go down and hang around the sides of this little grotto where they beach themselves - and get chastised by a well-meaning activist who had appointed herself in charge of making sure we all knew she was "in charge" so she could remind us that we just might do something wrong by letting our eyesight rest momentarily on the sea lion mothers. She informed us that a baby sea lion had died earlier that day and that they were trying to prevent any other deaths. Lest I be labeled as one who is rooting for death to all baby sea lions, this sounded like a very unfortunate event. But, wow, I think she just wanted it to be the actual fault of one of us standing there and couldn't chill out enough to see that nobody was even venturing away from the rock edge toward the little group of sea lion mommies. I hope the do-gooder survives the stress of the sea lion birthing season. We wish her well.

On the last day we went on a whale watching excursion - which didn't find any whales, but did manage to find some cute dolphins who swam along with us for about 30 seconds. We tried to make those seconds last since we were on the boat for a total of about 3 1/2 hours. But hey, we have rain check tickets in case we want to come back. Hmmm.

Right before getting heading to the airport we toured the USS Midway which has been turned into a museum/tour. All of us liked this one too. It's so big we were there for almost two hours.

And because we could, we had dinner at In & Out Burger afterwards. I admit that they get an "A" for simple ingredients and a straightforward menu, and I liked the chocolate milkshake we got, but if I'm going to stock up on unwanted calories by eating a huge cheeseburger, there are other places I'd rather go. So, this is just a fun tradition, but I will say their fries are sick.

Friday, February 15, 2008

little men

Every mother of boys guards a little secret - a secret that goes lightyears beyond the dreary old 'snips and snails and puppy dog tails,' it is the stuff of little boys. The essence of the stuff of little boys is something sacred. There isn't a name for it [at least I've never come up with something adequate], but it can be described in a thousand different ways and through a thousand different little slices of life carved out of our day to day. You find this essence of boys in the adoring smile and the unbidden, impromptu kiss; it's there when the big brother asks if he can pick out little sister's outfit for that day (oh, but shh, he wouldn't be caught dead telling his friends at school - come on, this is special stuff); it can be found in mommy's closet because her shoes are just so fun to try on and her silky robe just feels so good; it whispers by when you see one brother reach out to steady the other brother as they wobble together through knee-deep snow in the backyard; you can get a fleeting glimpse (because time whirls so quickly by) when a little boy sweetly cradles a doll, the one he got as a gift because he wanted it, and gives it a love, the kind mommy gives him; it's the little boy that mommies everywhere get to see before the advancing years of growing up have them in their grasp and carry them steadily way. And suddenly, this essence of little boy, so tender, so innocent, so soft and full of love and whispers and snuggles and giggles gets snuffed out. Now, this doesn't happen immediately; it doesn't always disappear forever. Sometimes it even resurfaces, but it doesn't come back with the full strength that it once had. The moms who are the guardians of this secret something are the ones who can provide a path, a winding way for this essence of the tender little boy to creep out and allow the full measure of the man, who is her son, to be realized and to bless the lives of his future family.

Last night I called to wish my friend, the wife of a deployed Air Force Captain serving in Iraq, a happy Valentine's Day. She, too, is a mother of boys and our conversation really got me thinking about the absolutely genuine core of sweetness that is at the center of a little boy who's working so hard at this business of growing up. She told me about the gifts that her 11- and 8-year-old boys got her. While on an impromptu night-before-Valentine's-Day trip to Wal-Mart her sons explained that they wanted to leave her and go look in a different section of the store for a bit. She said okay and they met afterward and went to the check-out lines. Her oldest then explained that he had something to buy and that her line was too crowded. So the boys went to the next line over. On Valentine's Day, the next day, they presented her with their gifts. The 8-yr-old had chosen a daffodil plant - he had watched his mother and knew how she loves flowers - and bought it with his own money. His 11-yr-old brother had tried to think about what his mom would want and chose a crystal box with a rose carved on it. One thing is certain: my friend is another mother who guards this secret about boys. They are sweet, and soft with a true capacity for pure love, a sacred tenderness that needs defending.

After hearing her tell this story I thought about my friend's little boys, how they must have planned and thought about their mom and what she would want for Valentine's Day, maybe even fretted about how they were going to be able to get themselves to the store without divulging their secret plans. With Daddy not there, I'm guessing that they had wanted to do their part to fill in what was missing on this special day when we focus on those we love. And naturally, their thoughts were on their mommy. Their selected gifts were dripping with little boy sweetness, in the flowers that will brighten their home and their Mommy's heart and in a little crystal box that is ironically something she probably never would have chosen for herself but is now a treasure because it came from the sweet heart of her boy...who will so soon be a man. And my guess is that these boys will attain that full measure of a man because they have a mom and dad who have paved the path and shown them the way and loved them enough to let them just be little boys while cherishing every sweet minute.

So here's to our little boys.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ava Jane, age 2

Snippets from a photoshoot of our sweet Ava on her second birthday. The posing was accomplished on her own. Words can't express how much we love this little girl. From the moment the ultrasound revealed it was she who would be arriving she has held a special place. And though we love our three boys beyond words as well, even they will admit that she is unabashedly adored by all of us. She brightens our lives.

Things of note about Ava and her two years of life thus far:

*Though only 12 days early, she only weighed 5 lbs 6 oz.
*She now tops the charts at 23 lbs as of yesterday.
*She adores Carebears: the movie, the stuffed bears, all of it, and calls them 'bears'.
*She was known as Reese Janelle for the first two months of her life (we still love the name, and that's another story), so she has what they call an amended birth certificate and will always have two sets of names on record
*She didn't learn to walk until she was 22 months old.

*She scooted around on her bum for a full year of her life and has holes in the backsides of her old pants to prove it. She resembled a chimpanzee and was a bit of a delightful freakshow when in public.

*She is obsessed with shoes - one of the girl clubs she has gained entry to recently. Her favorites are the knee-high ladybug rainboots. Mommy is happy.

*She talks constantly and currently loves the words pretty, brothers, and please (she says please with her head cocked to one side and her hands holding her face under her chin). This gets her a lot.

*She still naps for two hours each day. [sigh of relief]

*She loves playdough.
*At 4 mos old we thought she might have hydrocephalus. No. She had a really huge head. She is now back within normal limits like they promised. We are glad.

*She is in love with her older brothers. (they are her servants)

*She doesn't like food. (She won't tell her secret.) Unless it's made with 100% high fructose corn syrup or it's spicy.

*Mommy loves it when Ava whispers baby angel words in her ear.

*Daddy loves it when Ava sits in his lap, holds his face, and talks to him.
*When we tell her to close her eyes because it's time to go to bed, she wrinkles up her nose with the effort of squeezing her eyes shut.
*When she walks away from someone she waves, says "bye!", and blows a kiss - no matter where she is or where she's going....out the door or just to another room.
* She'll play on the floor of the shower until the water gets cold if we let her, talking and singing to herself.
*She is having banana fosters torte for her birthday cake - because she is 2 and we get to decide. She'll have a colorful "2" candle in the middle, so that should be good.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl!