Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 39

July 9

Today we made strawberry freezer jam.

It was fun.

Kinda. was as fun as making strawberry freezer jam with three over eager kids can be. That's a fair statement.

Anyway, it's just another product of our tardy backyard garden this year. Back on June 2nd, I went to great lengths to make you understand the nature of the backyard we inherited when we bought the house. We have slowly been making it our own, complete with gorgeous raised garden boxes built painstakingly by Skippy. We've still got a long way to go but this year we have managed to cultivate and plant our strawberry bed, our transplanted raspberries, three kinds of tomatoes and four kinds of peppers, plus cucumbers and the cantaloupe that Banana has grown from a seed she begged off of the cutting board one sunny Saturday morning.

It's a start. And our efforts are paying off. So far this year we have already used our peppers in chili, our raspberries and strawberries in countless smoothies (not to mention the ones that go straight into the kids' mouths!) and then today we supplemented our store-bought strawberries with more from the patch in the backyard to make our jam.

The kids have so much fun growing things and then seeing how they are used.

I have so much fun watching them.

Life is good.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 36

July 6

K bear this morning: "Mom can I go get a cherry?"

Me: "You can go get one, K. They are going to start picking this week."

I quite clearly said ONE cherry. I mean, we have permission to pick from the folks who own the orchard, but only after the hired field workers are done. That being said, I didn't think that letting my seven year old preview the crop with one cherry would make or break the season. And when there are literally thousands of trees within six feet of your property line, they are hard to resist.

But apparently, this is what "one" cherry looks like to K. I can't tell if that's one handful or one branch, but it's definitely what one little girl can carry in one sweater.

So coming soon to a grocery store near you...fresh Oregon least the ones that didn't go into my kid.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 34

My mother-in-law blessedly took all three children to Bend to see my sister-in-law's family for the holiday.

There are pictures somewhere. I'll track them down.

I worked 43 hours in four days. When I wasn't upright in the chair at work, I was horizontal in bed. I barely even saw Skippy.

So anyway, the blog went on a small holiday hiatus. Hopefully I can hijack some pictures from their weekend from Grammy and get them up!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 32

July 2nd


Now obviously it's not the best picture. I didn't have the good camera handy so I took with my iPhone. And I was alternating between laughing until I peed and scolding the kid.

Would you look at him?

I's less than ten minutes from the ice cream place to our house. How did he DO that?

I even asked for the ice cream in a cup specifically so that he wouldn't make the mess he would if I had gotten him a cone.

Look at that face. And he has the nerve to LAUGH!

Look at his hands.....his arm.

Look at his shirt.

It's on the side of the car for God's sake.

And it's dripping down the seat belt.

Good lord. I think a bath is in order, or at the very lease a soaking with the garden hose.


Friday, July 1, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 31

July 1

Look at my gorgeous girl, already home from camp.

Remember my overly emotional post from a few days ago? The one that shows Miss K all set up on her bunk bed? The one where I was all worried about leaving her?

Yeah. That was groundless. After she threw herself into my arms this morning I asked the key question: "How was camp, K?"

The answer, in her words: "AWESOME. Can I go back next year?"

Why on earth do I worry so much?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 29

June 29


Goodbyes are never easy for little kids when they are about to embark on a new adventure.

Although if we're being honest, the same can be said for Moms too.

So there she is earlier Kbear all set up on her bunk at sleep away camp up in Washington state. She looked so cute, and so big. When I took this picture, I don't think it had really sunk in for her just yet - the fact that I was going to leave and she was going to stay. She hadn't met her counselor yet (code name Snickerdoodle) and she hadn't found the chocolate bar that I hid in her bag. She didn't quite grasp the idea that if she woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee, she was going to have to go by herself at this strange dark place called camp.

Now if we're being REALLY honest, in hindsight she wasn't the only one who hadn't really thought it through. I hadn't really considered the implications of this mini-camp with it's two overnights and not-quite-three-days of summer fun and what it would mean to Kbear. I hadn't really thought about the fact that my girls' lives have been pretty intertwined up to this point. I sign them up for the same activities because quite frankly, it's convenient for me. They both tried dance. They both played soccer. They would go on the same play dates and attend the same birthday parties. They are only seventeen months apart. It's just EASIER. But as they get older that isn't working out for me the way it used to. They are beginning to do their own things, have their own friends, develop their own separate passions and attend different birthday parties. This summer Banana has swim team; that's four days a week for forty five minutes a day, plus competing in meets. So Kbear gets this stint away at camp and then later in the summer, soccer day camp. And this summer (or more specifically, today) it has really hit me that even though they will always walk the same road as sisters, they have begun to choose their own separate offshoots.

And so I gave her one last hug, and I said good bye, and I left her in the care of the (oh so young) camp staff and her fellow campers. As I drove away I thought about how much fun she was going to have. I wondered how late she would stay up and if she would tell scary stories and share that chocolate bar. I know she'll miss me, but more than that I wonder how much she'll miss having her sister by her side. I wonder what Banana will think tonight, sleeping alone in their shared room. I think that overall, the whole day was a revelation of sorts for all of us. It's not's just different.

We pick her up on Friday. I already can't wait.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 27

June 27th

So far, our summer has been delightful. People keep on telling us that this is what an Oregon summer is typically like, but I wouldn't know it - every year since our big move the summer has always kicked our collective family ass, becoming beastly hot by the middle of June with temps topping the 100 mark for days on end. Just because there's no humidity and very few mosquitoes (neener neener Chicago people!) doesn't mean it's not miserable.

So the fact that this year we are grabbing hoodies in the mornings and covering up with blankets at night has been a treat. And our evenings have been spectacular; perfect for dinners on the back patio, and for hanging out in the front yard....and maybe playing with the Bailey girl.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 24

June 24

I actually don't think this one needs any explanation.

He's just that cute.

The end.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 21

June 21st

It's summer reading time at the library!

This year the kids have their own library cards. We'll see if I can make it through the summer A) making them keep up on their reading, B) Keeping track of their logs and C) remembering to take them to the library for activities.

Today was fun though. The kids got to have cake and punch and color bookmarks to use while they rack up their minutes to earn silly bandz - God how I hate those things.

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 20

June 20th

This is what cuteness looks like.

Today I was mowing the backyard - a chore I actually enjoy - and the kids were running around and generally acting like they were in great cahoots about something and it was just one of those wonderful summer days where there isn't much of anything going on, and that's how it should be.

After I shut down the mower I was kicking a ball back and forth with Colin and at some point I tackled him and blew a big old raspberry on his stomach.

"That's called a raspberry." I told him.

Still giggling, he wriggled out of my grasp and ran over to our garden area. He poked around a bit, and then came running back, presenting me with today's picture.

"No silly Mama," he told me "THIS is a raspberry."

Sweet silly smart boy of mine.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 19

June 19

Let's just get this out of the way:

Happy Father's Day to my Skippy.

You are a great Father, the love of my life, yadda yadda yadda. Next year I promise we will try not to schedule Banana's birthday sleepover for what is supposed to be your special day - because nothing says "You're a stellar male parent" like five little girls and one four year old boy clamoring for more s'mores, orange soda, and a bucket of water for "real" pedicures.

What on earth were we thinking?

Nine days ago my Banana girl turned 9. And I had to work. Then Skippy was out of town. Then I had to work some more. Then we started to feel like the whole idea of a birthday sleepover was going to be seriously overdue and half-silly if we didn't get to it we did it on Father's Day.

With my two, we had five little girls.

They were loud.

They had grilled chicken for dinner at Banana's request (so Dad DID get to grill on his Father's Day!)

They screeched a lot.

They had s'mores.

And popcorn.

And soda.

And watched Gnomeo and Juliet on Pay Per View.

They had a blast.

I had Advil for an after-dinner snack.

They stayed up until 1 a.m.

In the morning we had pancakes.

I had Tylenol.

The end.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 17

June 17

I think this picture pretty much sums up the way I would love to approach my summer. Just being lazy, hanging out on the patio with a gardening book.

Then three kids start clamoring for breakfast and I realize I have to figure out how to do laundry, sweep floors, turn on the sprinklers, yell at three kids who think it's okay to come in dripping wet on the newly swept floors after playing in said sprinklers, make lunch, and fill the afternoon with something other than Nick Jr before Skippy comes home.

Sometimes I wish I was a cat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 15

June 15th

And so the craziness begins. The last day of school is upon us - again.

My girls have officially completed first and third grade. I can't quite believe it. In fact, I'm reasonably sure I just attended Kbear's kindergarten graduation a week ago....right? They have both had fantastic years, getting great grades and excelling in their own ways. Banana is quite the artist and came a long way with her reading this year and Kbear is my math whiz and social butterfly. Banana also started Spanish this year (she already knows more words than I do) and she started "Tiger Tracks," a set of classes for the older kids where they get to choose Friday electives. This year Banana took part in "Hike and Draw" which is exactly what it sounds like, and "Cooking" where she brought home everything from crepes to pudding pops and scrambled eggs. She played Lacrosse and expanded her social circle. Kbear took part in art club, marble club, soccer club, and drama club, and had something going on pretty much every afternoon of the week after school. Overall it was a great year. We are incredibly blessed to have the kids in an absolutely amazing charter school with wonderful and dedicated staff and opportunities that I've never thought would be possible at the elementary school level.

But's summer. The year ended with the traditional picnic on the school lawn, complete with one family bringing their horses and tirelessly giving ride after ride to the kids, including my own. Those sweet animals must have paced the length of the school field a hundred times and the kids loved it.

So today's "picture of the day" is actually a double feature, because I just couldn't post only one. You could say our summer is off to a galloping start. *wink*

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 14

June 14th

Today when my Banana got off the bus she was all sorts of snarffly and snuffly. Her eyes were red and she was all blotchy. With the wind we have been having this last week the pollen is flying around in full force and the allergies have been just killing us. So I gave her a benadryl. One Benadryl at 4:30 right? I thought that maybe it would help her zonk out but really I thought no more of it until bedtime, when she realized that one of her favorite shows was coming on.

Banana's pitch:
"Mom....tomorrow is the last day of school can I please stay up late I want to watch So You Think You Can Dance with you and I promise I won't be tired tomorrow I won't even be the teeny tiniest ittsy bitsiest bit crabby and I really like that show and I promise that when you tell me to I'll go right to bed and we won't even miss the bus so please please please please PLEASE can I stay up?"

I countered that she had taken a Benadryl and that it was still a school night.

She gave me puppy dog eyes.

I relented and let her get comfy in the chair.

And after all that, ten minutes later I took this picture.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 12

June 12

See that?

That is the only thing I have left that has my Dad's handwriting on it.

It's a luggage tag. Once upon a time it hung on the strap of his black leather Amoco bag that he used for traveling. I'm not even completely sure how I got a hold of it - I think that Skippy and I borrowed the bag for our honeymoon and that somehow the tag came off and it ended up in my jewelry box. I probably intended to give him the bag (and presumebly the tag) back some day. And then he got sick. And then he died and it stayed in my jewelry box. When we moved, I rediscovered it, tucked into a corner under some old birthday cards and other trinkets that have no real place in my house but that I can't bear to throw away.

And I cried. Over a freakin' luggage tag.

Once upon a time, it probably took him a whole thirty seconds to fill out. It was completely insignificant. Just one more thing to do before heading to the airport. But now it has become so much more than just a luggage tag - it has become one of my most treasured possessions. It's something that I will keep even when the leather is cracked and the stitching has started to deteriorate and the paper inside is yellow. I will keep it even when I have to strain to see the writing that I know so well, his characteristic block letters, all in caps, that told people who he was. When my Mom no longer lives at the address listed on the tab (blurred because she still lives there), I will run my fingers over the writing and remember the years we all lived in that house. I will look at his old characteristic block letters and smile.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 10

Yeah yeah yeah, I missed yesterday. This shift work gig isn't easy you know. But all things considered I think I am hanging in there pretty well. This has been a lot of fun.

Anyway, today Banana is nine. NINE, people. I'm a little aghast. It was really just the other day that they put her in my arms after an 18 hour labor. She was my "moon baby," born during a lunar eclipse. These days she's all legs and attitude, but I'd like to think that she knows that I am the very best friend she will ever have, as long as she continues to let me have that role.

Sometimes I see her objectively, the way a stranger must see her and I realize just how beautiful she is. She is kind and sweet and funny and smart and I love her every bit as much as I did the day they handed her to me.

Today we celebrated with purple hair extensions and her first ever "real" pedicure. I'm a little annoyed that I didn't have the good camera with me, but even so, I got this shot. It makes me smile.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl. We love you so much.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 8

June 8:

Me last year:
"Hey babe, look at this amazingly awesome website I found. This stay at home Mom in Alaska makes all sorts of easy cool things out of wood. Maybe you can use the kazillion dollars worth of tools you have been hoarding and make us a few of these awesome garden beds out of cedar fence pickets....aren't these cool babe?"

Skippy: "Those are cool. Bookmark that. And I did not buy 'kazillions of dollars worth of tools dear.'"

Me a few weeks later last year:
"Hey babe, remember those cool garden beds? Home Depot has the fence pickets on sale. It says you can make a bed with less than ten of them. Can we try it?"

Skippy: "Sure. I'll go get the stuff right now."

Skippy then proceeds to come home with approximately 120 fence pickets. No, I'm not kidding.

Me: >sigh<

So we build a box right? It's pretty neat and Skippy is proud of it, and rightfully so. All of our friends who stop by ohhhh and ahhhh over it. My mother-in-law asks where we bought it. I am envisioning a summer of gardening where I don't have to sit in the dirt, which I hate.

And then our lone garden box sits there all winter long. Empty and sad. We have three kids you know? Life is busy.

Fast forward to this spring:

We finally bang out a few more boxes. And this time we actually put something in them. We have a long way to go before that area of the back yard looks like we want it to, but still - pretty neat, huh?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 7

Isn't she cute?

Actually if we are completley honest, she is so stinkin' ugly that she's cute.

If you've ever visited (otherwise known as lol cats) then you get what I mean when I say, "Go 'way, Mabel haz sunshines."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Summer in Pictures: Day 6

June 6th:

Today we got new carpet upstairs.

When we moved into the house, we put in gorgeous dark sold hardwood throughout the living room and the kitchen, but we left the god awful stained, smelly, shaggy, icky, 1970s carpet in the bedrooms. We contemplated putting the hardwood in those rooms as well, but with two of our four bedrooms being downstairs directly under the two upstairs rooms, we decided to make everyone happy and put carpeting in for soundproofing. If you've ever been downstairs when two dogs decide to play upstairs or three kids go pounding by overhead, then you get it.

Anyway, the install was a nightmare. There is really no other way to describe it. From start to finish it was a living nightmare. But when the girls got home from school, the first thing they wanted to do was make "carpet angels" and that was pretty darn cute.

Thank goodness it feels amazing under my bare feet. That makes it worth it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 5

June 5:

My little boy.

Not so little any more.

Ever since I got fed up with Chunk's ever-messy hair and buzzed his whole head last summer, Skippy has been gleefully looking forward to this year, when he decided that come hell or high water he was going to give our son a mohawk.

I have to admit, Chunk would be cute no matter what, but he actually looks adorable in a mini-punk rocker kind of way. Skippy wants to let it grow and grow and grow and just keep shaving the sides. We'll see how long I can go before it makes me start to twitch.

But for now, he's just too damn cute.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 4

June 4

My new backyard is an exercise in intimidation.

You see, in Illinois we had a backyard that was roughly the size of a Volkswagon. But at the time it worked for us - the girls were little and we didn't have a need for a ton of green space. Then we moved to Oregon, the land of green things and our rental house had a decent sized backyard....unfortunately it was mostly comendeered by the landlord as a place to park all of his various non-working vehicles. The part that he wasn't using was uneven and dry, covered with crabgrass and goatheads, otherwise known as puncturevine the Pacific Northwest. Puncturevine is known as a noxious weed in Oregon (seen here: and it's nasty stuff. I refer to it as "that f'n crap that made it impossible to play outside without having a kid come in every five seconds with a thorn in their foot." But that aside, the bottom line is that it was kind of hard to get your garden on in the old house.

Now fast forward to the new place. It has a wonderful backyard - in fact it was one of the main reasons we bought our charming money pit with it's orchard view. And when I say it has a wonderful backyard, what I really mean is that it has the potential to have a wonderful backyard. You can tell that once upon a time, the previous homeowner was an avid gardener - there are all sorts of exotic (to me) flowers and shrubs struggling to survive out in our mini urban jungle. Unfortunately, you can also tell that the second the previous owner received our offer on the house, she stopped weeding, watering, and caring about it at all. For approximately three months. In the spring. When things grow. In fact I'm reasonably certain she forgot that she even still had a backyard. So by the time we got into the house a year ago, there wasn't much that could be done except hack down the weeds that threatened to eat us and hunker down until this year.

And finally, my efforts are paying off. Slowly but surely I am winning the battle to reclaim the yard. I can actually mow it, the grass is green, and we are cleaning up the flower beds bit by bit, having fun discovering the treasures already planted underneath months of old leaves neglect.

Among my greatest discoveries are the peony bushes. I have never had experience with these before, and when they bloomed I was stunned. The kids and I have had so much fun watching the plants produce their golf ball sized buds that suddenly explode into huge bright blossoms. They are simply magnificent, and the flowers themselves seem to be be saying thank you to me every time they bloom - thank you for bringing us back!

I am more than happy to oblige.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 3

June 3rd

It has been an unseasonably cool spring in the Columbia Gorge. Without a doubt, when we were wearing windbreakers on Wednesday afternoon I was thinking that it was definitely the coolest (almost cold!) June 1st we had experienced since our move four years ago.

But there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. This weekend forecast highs are in the mid-80s AND it appears that our hard re-claimed strawberry bed is going to give us a harvest! Grow little berry, grow!

The Summer In Pictures: Day 2

June 2

Tonight we had Family Night at the kids' school. As usual it was a blast and we were excited and impressed by the level of work that these children continue to produce. Banana's giraffe finally made it up on the classroom wall, and I've got to say, it was pretty darn impressive.

Next year however, we are going to start earlier, and think smaller. And yes....I say that every year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Summer In Pictures: Day 1

June 1st

Today my Bailey girl is 10. She has been with me through it all - through my marriage and my pregnancies, through my miscarriage, and when I lost my Dad. When I came home after having emergency surgery, she jumped up on my bed and refused to leave my side for three days unless she absolutely had to take a doggy potty break. When I brought home each new baby, she appointed herself their personal guardian angel.

I can tell her anything and she loves me no matter what. My children do not know a world without her. Every so often I see the signs that she is slowing down and I realize that I'm not ready to lose her. She's been with me for so long I don't remember what it's like not to come home to her.

She is one constant in an ever-changing world. Happy Birthday, Bay. We love you.

Welcome Back

Welcome back.

It's been awhile, huh?

So sorry about seems that sometimes life just gets in the way. Let's cover the basics first, shall we?

Everything is good.

Jobs are good. Busy on both fronts. I am ramping up for another busy summer in the world of 911. Nothing says, "hey it's June!" like a call that begins, "So I'm camping down at Frog Lake, and there are all these guys with guns running around."

The house is good, if not slightly messy. But let's face it, that's nothing new. I mean really, if I said it was spotless THEN you'd be shocked.

The kids are good. Everyone is healthy. The girls are chomping at the bit to get out of school for the summer, and Chunk is chomping at the bit to start pre-school in the fall.

Oregon continues to be good to us.

So let's try something........again. In the name of full disclosure, I have tried this before, and failed. I want to do the daily summer pictures again - where I post a picture every day that represents a part of our summer. Remember? I think last time I lasted three weeks, if even.

But last time I didn't have my Canon Rebel. I love it. I don't totally know how to USE it, but I adore it. And I'm excited to learn more about it this summer while I run around the Gorge with my kids. So I'll tell you what: I am going to start posting pictures. I'm going to aim for one a day. And we'll just see what happens.

If I blow it who's really going to know, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"I'm going to get married when I'm twenty."

That's what Banana informed me tonight when we were taking a homework break in favor of hitting the Golden Arches. There we are, driving along and jamming to the radio and out of the blue she asks me, "do you like being married?"

So many answers.....most of them way more complex and inappropriate for an eight year old's question.

"Of course I do." I tell her. "I love your Daddy and our family."

She mulls that over for a second and then asks, "how old do you have to be to get married?"

"Well," I hedge "I think you have to be at least eighteen to just run off and get married BUT that's pretty young too; I think it's a good idea to go to college first." She nods wisely.

"Then I'll get married when I'm twenty." she decides.

"That would probably be okay, but you won't be done with college yet, especially if you want to be a bug doctor." Are you seeing a theme to this conversation yet? I mean, naturally I don't tell her what I want to, which would be more along the lines of "over my dead body, you need to experience the world on your own and have friends and go to clubs and date and learn to cook and pay bills on your own first. You'll get your heart broken and break a few yourself, and overdraw your checkbook and buy your first brand new car and get a job and take a trip and cry over margaritas with your girlfriends and do all sorts of other stuff first." I can't say that. That's pretty heady stuff. So I stick with the basics. Like wanting to be a bug doctor.

Banana contemplates this. "Okay." she decides "Then I won't get married until I'm at least twenty four. And after I'm a doctor."

Works for me, kid. We'll work on the hard numbers later. Just stay my little girl forever.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More and more and MORE

Look at my adorable little man. My Chunk. My Buddy. My Boy.

Having a the very least I can say that it's nothing like having a daughter - and not just because diaper changes are WAY easier - because it's way more than that. Boys are definitely wired differently. And even though I look ahead to the tween and teen years of raising two girls with apprehension and sometimes a dose of straight up dread, I don't really worry about not getting along with my girls when the hormones kick in. We will still be close. We will still be friends. We'll muddle through it together. And I work hard every day to make damn sure that they will never doubt that I am there for them.

But boys....boys are different. It's not that I won't be there for him. It's not that we won't be friends. It's not that I don't dread parts of the tween and teen years of raising a son. It's just that it's DIFFERENT. I can't really explain it. But it's what I'm sitting here pondering tonight after finally getting my Chunk into his bed.

Chunker zonked out on the couch earlier tonight, so he and I stayed up eating popcorn on the couch and watching the last twenty minutes of Twilight, New Moon on Showtime until just a few minutes ago. When the credits started rolling, I scooped him up and took him to bed. And once I got him settled under his Cars bed tent with his pillow pet and his puppy, snug and warm in his Batman jammies, with hugs and kisses said and done, I straightened up and moved towards the light switch. And just like every night, our script went into motion:

"Good night baby." I say.

"Night Mama." comes the sleepy reply.

I turn off the light.

"Mommy?" says that little voice in the darkness

"Yes Colin?"

"I wub you."

"I love you too sweetie." I tell him. And as if on cue, he replies

"I love you more and more and more and MORE."

And with that, I leave my little boy to his dreams of puppies and ice cream and hot wheels and anything else that passes through his beautiful blond noggin in the night.

Here's the thing: I know he will always love me. Just like I know that there is nothing in the world that can make me stop loving him. But I know that someday, he won't tell me as often, or with such amazing abandon.

I can hope that he'll always tell me that he loves me more and more and more and more. I already know that he won't. Not like he does now.

But I can hope. Because nothing is sweeter.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January Reading List

In my quest to track the number of pages I have read in 2011, here is my January reading list:

Sweetwater Creek, by Anne Rivers Siddons (Pages: 480)
This was okay - your basic "coming of age" chick lit kind of read. I wouldn't re-read it but I enjoyed it. It's the kind of book I would have read in high school, and has some stuff in it that I'll work to make sure my girls DON'T read, even in high school.

1st to Die (The Women's Murder Club Series) by James Patterson (Pages: 432)
I actually re-read this. It's been awhile and I'd like to work my way through the whole series this year. I think somewhere around the third one I stopped buying them and now they are popping up in thift shops and secondhand bookstores so I'm keeping an eye out for them and picking them up as I find them.

Under the Dome, by Stephen King (1072 pages)
Of all the King books I have read (and I've read a lot of them) this one is right up there with the ones that got into my head the most, It and Cujo. I'm not going to say that I didn't enjoy it (because I'm human and like all humans, I have a morbid streak), but there is no doubt that it was extremely disturbing. King writes so graphically that I was reminded over and over that since having my own children, I can't read certain things as easily as I used to. Hence why I have never re-read Pet Semetary. But it was good. I couldn't put it down until I had bullied my way through all one thousand plus pages.

I, Alex Cross, by James Patterson (365 pages)
Like all of Patterson's Alex Cross books, I read this in less than 24 hours. I have a major crush on Detective Cross and even though it was good, I didn't feel like it was quite up to his earlier Cross books. Patterson is assuming that if you are reading this one, you have read the previous books and although that is likely true, I really missed some of the more in depth character connections that are at the forefront of the earlier Cross books, and are the reason I got sucked into them in the first place. In the first Cross books, you feel like you are getting to know the family for the first time. Then later, it's like revisiting an old friend. I didn't get that this time and felt disappointed. But that being said, I will ALWAYS buy the next one in the series, and as a whole they are some of my favorites.

Total Books Read: 4

Total Pages Read: 2,349

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hard to believe

Another year has gone by. Today marked nine years of almost-always-happy-marital-bliss for Skippy and me.

In case you missed it a few years ago, here is one of my absolute favorite posts, "The Story of Us"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Couch to 5K: Week One

Feets don't fail me now.....

That's what I was thinking when I took this picture this morning while standing next to the treadmill and deep breathing at the gym at 6:30 this morning.

Once upon a time, I loved to run. I never really ran competatively, but I was one of the only girls who never groaned with dismay or faked cramps when the gym teacher announced that it was time to run the mile. At one point in high school, I was accomplishing the mile in eight minutes or less.

Then I went to college. They had buses. Then I had kids. They kept me home and I wasn't motivated to do anything for myself. And that was the end of that.

Then my butt expanded.

I had to buy bigger jeans.

And I am tired of it.

So today on my birthday, I started the Couch to 5K program. I am hoping to rediscover my love of running. I hope all of you will help encourage me when I am rocking, and push me when I'm slacking.

Week 1, Run 1: 30 minutes, 1.4 miles

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's that day again....

I really thought that I was going to be able to get away with not doing the whole "did you know that my Dad died?" blog this year. I was genuinely going to try. I've been venting my emotions out on Facebook and talking to good friends and just kind of getting by. But maybe I've been in denial, because every year I think it hurts a little less and really....every year I realize that it still hurts the same.

Plus tonight the husband is out of town and and my kids are doing their ping-pong-ball-off-the-walls imitations and I'm retaining water and craving chocolate and short on sleep so I'm just generally feeling kind of down. Not to mention I just finished wrestling a tinder-dry Christmas tree out of the house by myself, carpeting my hardwood floor in pine needles before knocking a shelf off of the wall and sending a lamp flying in the process -- right before stepping in dog doo after unceremoniously heaving what has basically become the world's largest toothpick into my front yard for the time being.

So yeah....I've hit a low point. Every Mommy has them. This is mine.

I'm not sure if it was the tree or the lamp or the kids that finally made me realize that I've spent a good part of my day IGNORING the day. I haven't let it in. And I'm still not sure I want to. Right now I kind of feel the way I did three days after Banana was born, when my Mom came over to help and I got emotional over the fact that I burned a grilled cheese sandwich right before bursting into hysterical tears when I stubbed my toe...I'm in that place right now - where the smallest thing could be akin to the breaking of a dam. And I'm not ready to open the floodgates.

So this year, let's try something different. If you want to read the sob story, it's on here, under January of 2009. This year let's talk about some of the GOOD stuff. Like the time we went camping and my parents realized that they had remembered the coffee, but forgotten the coffee filters. Being a coffee drinker myself now, I completely understand that that was a potential disaster of substantial magnitude. But my Dad didn't let it phase him - not when he had a perfectly good clean tube sock at his disposal. It may not have been Starbuck's Special Roast, but cafe ala sock probably had it's own unique taste!

Then there was the time he took me fishing. Actually he took me fishing millions of times, but this one time he took me to Shabonna Lake in Northern Illinois. I don't remember much about the day, just that we left early, he bought us McDonald's for breakfast, and I caught three fish that day. Mostly what I remember is that it was just me and my Dad, and that day I had him all to myself, and he was my hero.

I remember the look on his face the first time he saw me in a formal dress...and the look on his face after the doorbell rang and he saw the look on my high-school boyfriend's face! I remember sitting in the garage in the old yellow swing after getting my first real kiss and jumping six feet in the air when the door to the house squeaked open and he came out "to check on the sprinkler." Sure, the sprinkler. Right. Moving on.

When I was in college we took our last big family vacation to the Grand Canyon. In Sedona we ventured out on a guided horseback tour. If you have ever been on one of those, you know that the only horses that are more gentle and calm are the ones you see hitched up to the pony rides for little kids at the carnival. But when we crossed a small stream, Dad's horse pawed at the water and whuffled loudly, coming up on his hind legs before finally relenting and crossing the creek...and afterwards to hear Dad tell the story, you would have thought that Wyatt Earp had just bullied his wild steed across the mighty Mississippi.

I remember so many different things - so many snapshots - so many moments.

I remember telling him he was going to be a Papa. Twice.

When Skippy and I got married, my Dad was determined to have everything just so. My Mom was the one who worried about getting the bride ready to go, but Dad was the one who made sure I ate breakfast and who decided at the last minute that we should have balloons for the guests to release after the ceremony. I remember him coming to me in the chapel and telling me that it was time to go. He was stoic when he walked me down the aisle - my pillar of strength. His voice was strong when he replied "Her Mother and I do" in response to the classic "Who gives this woman in holy matrimony?" He was quiet and proud and serious when he took his seat next to my Mom....and then somewhere along the way, during a fourteen minute ceremony, it was the father of bride, not the mother, who became choked up.

So many little when my Dad laughed really REALLY hard, I used to think he sounded like Ernie from Sesame Street.

He bought cheap beer, but I think his real drink was rum and Coke.

He tucked his tshirts into his sweat pants on weekends.

He drove us crazy, lectured, and gave unsolicited advice every chance he got.

He loved us more than anything.

I love you, Dad.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


You know that feeling you get on a Saturday morning in the spring, when you open your eyes, warm and cozy under your favorite blanket in your bed, and you see the sunlight streaming in through the windows? The birds are chirping, your children are sleeping, and there is a cat purring on your pillow...and although you feel fully awake in an instant, ready to greet the world for another take just one extra moment, and you stretch. You arch your back and close your eyes and point your toes, and you STRETCH every creak and kink and ache away before you begin the day. You feel your lungs fill with so much air that your chest hurts, and then you let your body go boneless and the air comes out in a whoosh and for a split second your chores and your worries and your to-do list all seem minor and your whole world is just waiting for you to begin all over again. It is without a doubt one of the very best and most gratifying feelings in the world.

I have to tell you, that's how it feels to sign into your blog when you've been away for far too long.

Too much has happened since I last checked in with you, so I've decided that I won't even try to begin to cover it all. Some of it has been wonderful. Some of it has broken my heart. I've been stressed out and I've cried and I've laughed until I've wanted to puke and I've hugged my kids more times than I can count. Life is hard. Life is good. And I think that rather than spend a whole blog entry looking back, I'd rather just take a big bloggy stretch and look towards what lies ahead instead. I'm sure we'll reminice as we go.

It's the first day of a new year. I am ridiculously romantic about starting a new calendar. I believe in resolutions and new beginnings and that anything is possible on January 1st. It doesn't even bother me that at some point, I will most likely break the numerous resolutions that I've made - I told a co-worker that at some point during the year I always come full circle and revisit them. I don't think of resolutions as ironclad win-or-lose edicts....I consider them guidelines that I set to make myself a better person, a better wife and and a better mother. And if they fall by the wayside occasionally, that's okay. I know where to find them again.

So in case you haven't figured it out, the big resolution of 2011 is to blog more. Or rather, to blog again. This is the one resolution I hope to hold on to firmly because I have realized recently how much I miss my blog - how much I miss sharing our life in Oregon with anyone who cares enough to read about it. So stay tuned, because I'm hoping to attack it with a vengeance, and I'm going to try really really really REALLY hard to blog at least once a week.

I've got some other resolutions...I already know that some will be more successful than others, but we'll see how it goes. Naturally I'm going to share them with you, so that in coming months you can taunt me while I stumble around trying to hold fast to them.


(I can tell you're on the edge of your seat. Really.)

So I'm going to lose some weight. Let's just get that one out of the way because I totally get that it's trite and predictable and that a kazillion other people have said the exact same thing tonight. But I'm really going to do it. We'll get into the specifics more later, but let's just say that over the last year I have developed a "bookshelf ass" and I'm not happy about it. I do not believe that it just means that there is more of me to love - I believe that if someone can set their drink on the top of my rear at a party that things have gotten way out of control. And maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit....but really, it's bad. And I'm done. So more on that later.

Just for fun I want to keep track of the books I read this year. I want to cook at home more. I want to coupon hardcore at the grocery store again. I want to play board games with the kids and beat them at Mario Kart on Saturday nights. I want to make a point to go on dates with my husband again. I want to keep learning new ways to do my job better, faster, and easier. I want to stress less, sleep more, and enjoy my family.

I want to have a good year. So I'm going to stretch and flex and shake out the cobwebs...and I'm going to get my rear in gear. Here's to 2011.


Currently Reading: "Run Like a Mother" by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea