Tuesday, November 22, 2011

7 thoughts with neither intro nor outro

1. Just so you know, Phoebe is the cutest thing that has happened to the history of humanity. Here's one of many proofs. Her word for "meat"? "Meep". Boom. I win.

2. I hate talking on cell phones. First of all, I don't like things that give me cancer. Secondly, the delay is terribly awkward. Also awkward, the breaking up of the line while someone is pouring out their heart to you. It's so terribly uncomfortable to interrupt your friend's tears with, "Hey, San...Sandy?...Yeah...I can totally understand, but...Sandy...San...I-I-I'm sooooo sorry, but I honestly am not really catching all your words. Like, I get the gist that you're totally depressed and feel like you are one the edge and I want to talk about this more, but I'm missing every fourth word. Let me call you back when I'm not on Marshall Ave, k?"
"Oh. Can you hear me now?"
"Yes....But, I always hear when people ask that. I probably won't hear you if you actually start talking again."
I admit that my honesty in these situations makes things a bit more awkward.

3. I recently wrote a post about dyeing my hair. I think it's not relevant to enough readers to publish. What do you think? Should I rework and post or just let it RIP in my drafts cemetery?

4. I haven't picked up One Thousand Gifts since my last post. Somebody make me do it. Vanessa, did you finish it?

5. I think best while driving or while showering. And my synapses are way quicker in the morning.* When do you think best? When are you most likely to be inspired?

6. This past weekend, I was getting Jillian ready for a holiday boutique (aka "craft fair") outing. It was special because it was just the two of us. But, as usual, Jillian was melting down. She doesn't like to get her hair done. She doesn't like to get dressed. She doesn't like to wear her coat or her shoes. I had one of those moments of motherly psycho-clarity. That term has never occurred to me before now, but I think it fits well. I knelt down, put my hands on her shoulders and said firmly, "You will let me do your hair, because you are going to look pretty. And I'm going to look pretty. And we are going to look at pretty things. And we are going to have a pretty day. Do you understand?!" And she nodded her head "yes" and that was the beginning of a beautiful day. Strange.

7. I grabbed a shower between items 5 and 6. That's how I remembered my story about Jillian. No joke. Also, I had a great idea for a book and I'm not even a writer. Would a dry erase board work in a shower? just wondering... (Does anyone else think I sound like I'm on cocaine? I'm not, but sheesh...sloooow doooown, jenna)

*I totally googled "synapse in a sentence" because I have no confidence when using words that are medical, legal, literary, etc. This was no help. I just want to be straight up with you about my literary dumbness. I can't believe I was worried about this when in the same sentence I used, "way quicker." Awesome.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

brain dumps are where it's at. who knew?

I have recently been told by more than one person (read: two) that they like my random blog posts. You know the ones that are basically a list of random things I'm thinking? I have always felt so guilty that the only time I really enjoy writing, is when I pulled together a brain dump and hit "publish". And all this time, all two of you actually appreciated this.

Figures. Figures that what feels most natural is what I should have been doing all along. I've often thought that I should just change my blog title to Brain Dump (or something like it), instead of entertaining myself with an obscure reference to Spinal Tap ("All the Way Home" is the first song that Nigel and David wrote together.) Maybe I'll do that. It would take some consistent writing on my part to earn the reward of a new name. (Also, there's a good chance that "Brain Dump" is already a super popular blog that I've never heard of.)

And now I will commence with a brain dump of epic proportions. (Not really, but I just want to incorporate "epic proportions" more in my life.)

1. I should save the best for last, but I can't. I need to tell you of a conversation Avery and I had yesterday. I ventured out to the grocery store--on a SATURDAY! which means that I must love my family very much. Avery noticed right away that his favorite snack was among the goods. He didn't want to draw any sibling attention to this bag of original Lay's chips. So this conversation ensued in whispers:

Avery: Mom, can I have some chips.
Me (mouthing quietly): A few.
Avery: What?
Me (more clearly, but just as quietly mouthing): A few!
Avery: What?! Oh....I thought you were saying f u!

As I type this, I'm in a public place and I can't help laughing.

2. I'm reading four books right now. Not like I normally read four books, which means that I started four books, but abandoned every one and I'm in denial that I'm never going to read them again. I'm actually actively reading all of them. This is a big deal. Because EVEN IN COLLEGE I've only ever read one book at at time (if I was reading at all...). You really want to know what I'm reading, don't you? I'll tell you, but I'd like to give a line item for each book. Cool? cool.

3. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. All the Christian ladies be all up in this book right nah. And for good reason. It's very good. I want to give a short description, but I'll assume you know how to get to Amazon to read about it. I'm a little stuck right now because her writing is so super poetic and I've left her as she's chasing the moon. I just couldn't connect with that part. So many times I think, "Man the moon is bright tonight." And then when I take a closer look, it's just a street light. City living. Anyway, I'll skim and get back into it. It hasn't been that long since I cracked it. Just a few days. Honest, I'm gonna finish it.

4. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's probably the reason I'm even writing right now. I've been feeling blocked creatively for a few months and I have a great friend who is a beautiful writer who understood this block better than I did and is making me read it. I'm so grateful to her and to this book. I feel like I'm already reaping benefits from it. Again, you can read more about it on Amazon. (No, I don't get any credit through my links. So, maybe go link through someone else's blog to give them a little tip.)

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey. I'm reading it for book club. Very funny memoir. (Heads up: It's a bit crude. You should have guessed though.) I'm grateful to have an easy read for book club, because I haven't finished the last four or more books.

6. Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. Just started it. Already loving it. It's not a manual on parenting, which I happen to be very averse to. If I attempt someone's "tried and true" parenting style, I find that I'm unable to do it consistently and then feel like a failure and then struggle with anger. So, I've been avoiding parenting books for a few years. Lately, I've felt I need a recharge in this area. I'm so thankful that a friend just happened to recommend it. And then a week later, an acquaintance mentioned that she had just finished it and loved it. So, go check it out if you're a parent or want to be one.

7. This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up. I hope to write consistently. If I don't, consider this one of those random long-distance catch up calls with an old friend. It's long, your ear is sweaty, but it was just good to touch base...even if you didn't get to tell them that you're moving across the country and had another baby because your friend just blabbed on and on about the books she was reading and about the time her eleven year old son thought she was saying "F U!" in response to his request for chips.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

am i april ludgate?

This morning, I realized that I look at my eleven-year-old son as if he's my mockumentary camera. That's love.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a note on each kid

after jillian's first day of preschool, she had three pieces of art in her hand. i asked her, "are these for me?" and she said, "yes!...NO! they are for becky!" (she must be saving the good ones for me, right?)

earlier this week, avery asked me if i was wearing a bra. (um...i was...)

miles is in third grade, but in fourth grade math. he IS the absent-minded professor. he lost his homework somewhere between the dining room table and his math class ev.er.y day last week. (oh.my.gawsh! this is SO frustrating...to us! not him. he's not fazed.)

if you ask phoebe, "who made the sun?" she answers, "me!!!" (this is a little digression from when the boys were toddlers and knew their catechism and could recite the books of the Bible...)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

i love me some state fair

We have recently returned from the wonderful Minnesota State Fair. Here are some reflections:

Some people have really, really dumb tatoos. I can't help but try to imagine the thought process one has before choosing a hideous cartoon frog which looks like it came straight out of a generic coloring book.

If you bike to the fair, you will feel guilt-free about every morsel you eat.

It's pretty amazing that some folks carry around ginormous stuffed animals all day...only to realize there's no good place for it at home either.

Anyone else wonder why the heck is there not a Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar RIGHT NEXT TO the All The Milk You Can Drink stand??!!

Is there anything better than showing your toddler a REAL cow after reading Big Red Barn for almost two years?

The San Filipe grande fish taco is well worth the long line and $8.

I pretty much smell like a rose garden after a long day at the fair.

One day at the fair isn't enough. Momma wants to go back. Without kids :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

what to do, what to do...

Last summer, I learned the hard way that it is imperative that Avery has a plan for each day. It doesn't have to encompass the whole day, but there has to be something to accomplish or look forward to. Despite my not-so-structured nature, I've been able to accommodate that need better this summer, but...

With the last minute nature of Miles' surgery, I really didn't have much of a plan for how to deal with the rest of the kids. Within a few hours, Avery was driving me NUTS because he didn't have any structure. He had read all of his library books. He didn't have Miles to play with. We don't have video games. He I couldn't host a friend. What could he do???

Ever since our trip to Dick's sporting goods the other day, Avery has been perseverating on the idea of getting catcher's equipment. So, I made the mistake of letting him look for a set on Amazon and he became quickly obsessed with saving up for it. I'm all for safety in baseball, hard work and saving up, but did I really have capacity to deal with this??? It takes a lot of work to put your kids to work.

Out of sheer necessity to preserve my sanity, I put Avery to work this morning to clean up our construction site/family room. He worked his tail off and organized, moved tools, swept and vacuumed it up. Ch-ching. He made bank.

But, he wanted more work... (ugh...)

I got out a ladder and had him work on pulling off a rotten board from our garage. He worked on it for awhile, but then determined he needed a saws-all to finish the job. Okay...but I couldn't devote time and attention to overseeing that project. Ch-ching. He made a little bit for good effort.

But, he still needed more to do... (oh.my.word.)

So...after thinking for a few moments, I figured now would be a good time for him to learn how to cut-in and roll-on paint. He's 10, right?! But, first he had to sand and prep the walls (just a little bit). And then he had to remove the switch plate and railing (yay for getting to use tools!). He's really focused and loving his job. Ch-CHING! He's definitely gonna earn a good wage for this one!

Here he is working on the stairway down to our basement. We've needed to paint it for five years. I think I like having an eager 10-year-old!!!

You might wonder why I didn't have him unload the dishwasher or do laundry. Well, he has to do those things on an almost daily basis. Pro bono. That comes with the territory of being in our family.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

all in a day's work

People ask what life is like with four kids. First of all, I LOVE being a mother and I LOVE my kids. But, to answer their question, I tell them that it's manageable, but that us + anything else is hard. Here's a debrief of the last 24 hours:

1. Drywall went up in the family room. Thanks, Dan! (He doesn't read this blog. Just thought I'd give a subtle clue that we didn't do it. very subtle.)
2. The house still stunk yesterday. Thanks, Dead Animal! You smell bigger than you probably are!
3. Took the kids to Dick's sporting goods and was tempted to buy catcher's equipment to protect my kids from further injury...read on...
4. Called Miles' pediatrician because he took a baseball to the face three weeks ago (freak accident) and now that the swelling and discoloration are gone, it appears his nose is crooked. Was referred to ENT. (BTW, I had taken him to the ER when he was injured and they thought everything was absolutely fine. bastards.)
5. ENT wanted to see Miles yesterday, so we went.
6. Within 20 minutes of the appointment, we were scheduling Miles for surgery for tomorrow to correct broken nose. (No, they are not going to re-break it.) None of us have ever been put under anesthesia. Pray for Miles.
7. Avery's team played in ridiculously uncomfortable heat. And there were biting bugs. They lost in extra innings.
8. After the game, I hung out with good buddies Kari and Megan and had much needed laughs and heart-to-hearts.
9. Got a text while there from Brent that read verbatim: "Does Phoebe have any diapers? She's wearing a a hybrid cloth duct tape concoction right now!" I thought he was serious. Laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. He had actually put her in a rarely used cloth diaper.
10. Came home and talked until midnight-ish.
11. Woke up at 5am with killer low back pain. Fell back asleep at 6am.
12. Woke up again at 8, needing to get a shower, get everyone fed, dressed and out the door by 8:45. (I seriously hadn't brushed my hair since Saturday. I had taken a shower, but we've been going at such a frenetic pace that I'm pretty sure there was no time for a luxury such as brushing ones hair.)
13. Upon waking up, Jillian said she needed to throw up. She didn't. She was just tired, I think.
14. Phoebe pooped in that cloth diaper. I was going to try to clean it, but I tossed that Bum Genius away after gagging at the smell.
15. My low back was throbbing with pain. I got a deep tissue massage. psych.
16. Avery took antibiotics, because, of course he was diagnosed with Strep a few days ago.
17. Somehow we all got on the road by 9:03am. Only 18 minutes behind schedule...
18. Jillian went to camp.
19. Miles went to his pre-op appointment. Cleared.
20. Cold press coffee at Caribou. finally.
21. Costco trip. Bought a month's supply of diapers, bread and frozen pizza.
22. DQ drive-thru for the boys' lunch.
23. Picked up Jillian from camp while ominous clouds formed overhead.
24. McD's drive-thru for Jillian's and Phoebe's lunch. Torrential downpour ensued during this time.
25. Got to garage, but stayed there to watch golf-ball sized hail crashing down. Very cool.
26. Our house still stinks.
27. Gotta figure out dinner, clean up, do laundry, put stuff away and get Avery back to the fields by 4:30.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

i'm so good at keeping the blog updated. (and has anyone seen my camera?)

I'm terribly inconsistent. I had a gentle reminder that it would appear Avery never came home from camp. Let's try to give some updates, shall we?

1. Avery loved camp. I'll be honest. It wasn't SO bad while he was gone. The best part about his absence was that he's a pseudo-picky eater. So, even though he will actually eat a wide variety of foods, he complains and makes a stink about veggies on pizza and having to go to Chipotle (what?!) and having spaghetti sauce (but he likes lasagna, people!). The worst part about him being gone was just not knowing what he was doing. But, then I would remember what camp was like for me and knew he was having a blast. Getting that first hug from him after nearly a week made me cry. And, he was so excited --or maybe relieved--to see Miles when we finally got home. But he's so subtle, I might have been the only one who noticed.

2. Oh, by the way, my parents were here from Romania and I just LOVED visiting with them. They were so helpful and gracious and I'm looking forward to them swinging through the Twin Cities in August before they head back to the other side of the world!

3. Did you know MN government is shutdown? Pretty much going about as usual. SO grateful our libraries were not closed. Bummer for those crazy folks who like to camp though. State parks are closed down. In one of the few months it's actually possible to camp in Minnesota. Crazy. Also, no building inspectors or regulation spies are lurking about the city. Ah, Minneapolis feels safer somehow.

4. This past week, Jillian went to her first summer camp. While she was at her camp, the boys were at their camp. While the boys were at their camp, Phoebe was napping. If you do the math, you'll notice that I had no children saying "mommymommymommy" for about 2 hours (for two days anyway). I had complete thoughts. It gave me hope for what my brain might be like in a few years.

5. A few days ago, I smelled a vague offensive odor near our living room (which is filled with our family room furniture). The next day, I came home and immediately asked the babysitter if Phoebe was poopy. Nope. It definitely smelled like something was rotting in the trash, but it wasn't. It was emanating from the fireplace. What was it? Not sure exactly, but I this helpful information:

The animal falls or climbs down the chimney but can’t get back up the chimney. The poor guy meets a slow death. The story does not end here. As the body decomposes, maggots and flies develop. Soon the decaying animal body begins to stink and flies enter your home. This usually only lasts a month or two. The best way to solve this issue is to have a brave chimney technician remove your damper and reach up inside the fireplace and remove the decaying animal body. Don’t forget your gloves! (via)

ugh. Thanks to friendly advice on Facebook, Brent sealed up the fireplace with some poly sheeting and I'll get a chimney guru out asap.

6. Did I mention that it was like 90million degrees yesterday. And that there was something dead in our house. Cool. K.

7. Avery (and his entourage, aka the rest of the family) are immersed in tournament baseball for about 10 days. He just played in state with his team and did a fairly good job, but got knocked out by the team that took first place. He literally played 5 games in 24 hours. (Three of those game were shortened to 4 innings) He continues the momentum tonight and will play through Sunday (if they keep winning). During this time, I will make three balanced meals a day and shop frugally and keep our house clean and remember to apply sunscreen on everyone. ;)

8. We're trying to encourage Jillian to eat healthy food. It's hard when she's practically being raised on concession stand fare. Today I told her she needed to eat fruit instead of candy. She tried to convince me that candy IS a fruit. I think she actually believed this. And the candy was not even Skittles; it was a Charleston Chew.

9. Phoebe refuses to talk. She'll say a few words, but if we ask her to say something new, she bats her eyes and shakes her head, "no." It's adorable.

10. I end with a picture. I think it was about a month ago, that Avery's team won a tournament. He is seen here receiving his trophy and about to shake hands with a player from the team who took second.

Monday, June 20, 2011


yesterday we took avery to camp.

my son is two hours away (driving with a lead foot anyway).

miles asked on the way home, "how long would this journey be on foot?" that's so miles.

i thought i'd bawl my eyes out on the way home, but i was too happy for him. and, at the time, thursday seemed so soon. now, a day later, and thursday feels so far away.

i'm dying to know how he's doing. does he have a lot of mosquito bites? has he brushed his teeth since we dropped him off? is he starting to miss us?

i let him pack his own suitcase. i'm pretty sure he did a mostly great job. (i didn't double check.) but, i noticed today while doing laundry that he didn't pack any swim trunks!!! good thing he's a boy and can just wear shorts.

it's nice being able to lavish miles with affirmation without worry. usually there's an older brother who interprets affirmation for anyone else as a criticism for himself.

ugh...i just want to see a picture of him or get a text. it's crazy having no contact with my boy. i can't believe some sons go off to war and their moms can't comfort themselves with mental pictures of zip lines and camp songs. oh lord, how will i survive the ache of being a mother?

i heard today that avery's team won their game last night (with no avery!). they are now in first place in their league. i want to tell him about it. he'd be so excited.

on one hand, i miss the living daylights out of him. on the other, i keep thinking about how much we could get done if they were all at camp...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

9 thoughts on my parents (who read this blog and live in romania)

1. I haven't been able to erase their old American cell phone numbers from my contacts. The thought of it bums me out.

2. Speaking of cell phones, I wish I could text them pictures and random updates.

3. I'm really excited to see them in a few short days!

4. My kids are even more excited. I never really experienced grandparent love as a child. It melts me.

5. I love who I'm connected to through my parents. My aunts and uncles and cousins, Eastern Europeans, my best friend in Pennsylvania...

6. I wish my house was in better order for their visit.

7. I think about holding my mom's hand a lot. I miss holding her hand so much.

8. My Dad is better than yours. He might not be able beat yours up, but he could beat him at everything else.

9. As a parent, I want my children to know how much I love them just because they are my children. As a child, I want my parents to know how much I love them just because they are my parents.