Archive | November, 2011

A Contented Child

30 Nov

We have a new “righter”.

29 Nov

My son is blogging. My 7-year-old is blogging. My primary-schooler is blogging. My Lego, Harry Potter, Greek Mythology, Mario Bros., Pokemon obsessed offspring is blogging. In fact, he has a new obsession. It’s blogging. I guess the cyber-apple doesn’t blog, um, I mean FALL, too far from the tree. You see, his brilliant teacher, in an attempt to create better writers, word processors, spellers, communicators, and complete thinkers, has created for his class a kid-blog. The entire class is invited to contribute. They answer questions posed by their teacher. They pose their own questions. There’s give. There’s take. You know, that whole thing. Here’s the deal, though – with my darling there is a lot of give. An awful lot. I’m going to estimate that, oh, half of the posts on the blog are his. Seriously. He’s prolific. He is genetically predisposed to reveal to the masses his mind. You’re welcome, buddy.

Initially, when I found out about his love of blogging I was like, Whoa! – Wait! – that’s MY THING! (I have very few, you see, and I’m not a great sharer.) But then I relaxed. I thought. And this is what I decided: I could invite him into this world. So, I have begrudgingly accepted his need to constantly check his blog and write posts. I get it. AND, are you ready for this? I am allowing him a guest blogging paragraph on this post. Yep, it’s true. Below he has regaled us with his thoughts on blogging. (Pay special attention – it took him about 1 hour to type it. No keyboarding in the 2nd grade curriculum….)


I   like  blogging  becuase  it is like  righting .Mom likes it to. I can ask people things.It is fun. You can talk to people.You can ask things.People can talk.When I blog I talk to people.You can  tell people what your  favorite movie is.I love blogging!

There you have it – unedited and straight out of the little fingers of my own precious blogger.

Sorry We Didn’t Call

28 Nov

Did you ever wonder how this blog got it’s start?  Well, for our trip down Memory Dirt Road today I will tell you.

Usually after a very busy weekend Stacy and I would send an e-mail with headings of the notable events. They served as an informational peace offering in lieu of all the phone calls we should have made.  At some point we decided the e-mails were so fun to write that we should go worldwide, and voila! the blog was born.

So today, I am recreating that apologetic catch-up for all of you out there.  We’re sorry for any missed blogs last week, please accept this really long rambling, but headed, post instead.

Computer Kaput
During our Thanksgiving Festivities I carefully placed my laptop in our bedroom, seemingly out of harms way, when somehow a wee toddling lad (or lass, but my money’s on the lad) made his way into the room, pulled it off the nightstand, and caused the screen to crack against the clamp that attached to the body of the computer.  The clamp was our solution to the screen’s persistent flicker. Its imprint spread darkness across the bottom third of my viewing area, and in the days since the incident, the blackness has edged up toward the tabs and menus at the top of the window, giving me a sense of drowning in my browser.  That’s a pretty valid excuse for not blogging, yes?

But at last I can breathe easy because my darling husband had a revelation:  he could hook my laptop up to another monitor we have in the house.  So, now my lap top is actually a desktop, that is sitting on the kitchen counter, which makes it a countertop, which seems like a whole niche of computers that someone really ought to think about marketing to accident prone moms like me.

Parenting Strategy of the Century
I don’t think my heading is any exaggeration, but I’ll let you judge for yourself:  Instead of normal Sunday School the children were in the church yesterday morning rehearsing for next week’s Advent Service.  Thomas, our somewhat change-resistant child, is having nothing to do with this mix-up of location and routine.  They had to bring him to me at the organ.  He sat next to me sobbing about how he missed Sunday School and the story, and he wasn’t going to do this service, and that he would only go back up with his class if I came along.  Since organ is not such a handy “pick up and move to a new location” kind of instrument that didn’t seem to be workable – but then inspiration hit.  I quickly grabbed a piece of scratch paper, and drew this*:

It’s me, of course.  What?  You were thrown off by the chicken feet and penguin hands?  Or did the smile on my face seem unnatural to you?  It doesn’t matter, because Thomas knew it was me.  And off he marched, with me crumpled up in his hand to go sit with his class for the rest of the rehearsal.

So, when do they hand out the Parenting Grammy Awards?  I need to find someone to make me a dress with uneven shoulder pads and some serious skirt flare.

136 Cubic Feet of Christmas
At our house it’s not Black Friday, it’s Evergreen Friday. Every year we go out to Prince Tree Farms and yell “Timber!”  We love the nice folks out there, and their tree prices cannot be beat – our tree cost less than $0.10 per cubic foot (a half pence more to have it shaken, drilled and tied.)  This year I had my dear husband cut off the top of a rather large tree.  I don’t know why he agrees to do these things for me.  It’s nuts.  But he and his brother sawed that forest dweller down and we drug it home.  It’s a monster at over nine feet high, and nearly eight feet wide.  It’s possibly a wee bit crooked, but only if you fail to tilt your head.  So far, it is adorned with white, gold and orange lights, like all good Christmas trees.  In my defense, the second box of lights looked gold, it was named amber, and I’m sure I’ll grow to love them.  Probably around Jan. 6.

Grab Bag Saturday Make-up Session
Here are two pictures of Stacy and I decorating our 1980 Christmas Tree.  For your protection, and her’s, I have blocked out my sister’s training pants.

Prepositional Milestones
The twins learned not only how to climb up and on things, but in them.

51 Guests
At our house this weekend!  And I’m only slightly exaggerating.  For real, there were twenty-six people at Thanksgiving Dinner and another twenty-five for a Sunday dinner to catch up with out-of-town friends.  But, in all honesty, our family alone makes up over a quarter of each group, and we can’t exactly be called guests.

This is what made both events possible:  Everyone else brings wonderful food, lends gracious and hospitable hands, and warms our house with their presence. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  In the meantime my husband might go cut down a second spruce.

Big White Rectangles
The newest trend in birthday cakes at our house is one I can completely get behind.  The boys want plain, old, regular, boring cakes with a literary tie-in, and a cheap toy plopped on top.  Okay, what they really want is cake and toys, but if you fill in the blanks the rest of it works out great.  Thomas requested an Indian in the Cupboard cake for his Sixth.  Here it is:

And he didn’t seem at all disappointed that Little Bear and Boone were still “plas-tick” and didn’t come to life.  Whew.

No e-mail to our Mom is complete without a weather report, and I want you to feel like you’re getting the Real Deal here:  It was SO NICE all weekend long.  Nice like over 50 degrees, nice. Nice, like we cut the tree without experiencing frost bite, nice.  Nice, like I over-dressed for my runs by wearing a long-sleeved  shirt, nice.

Nice, like the boys got in a game of Charlie Brown football on Thanksgiving, nice.  Nice, like you could stand to be out in the rain without thinking it was horrible, nice.  Okay, the rain was actually not that great, but still, overall, nice.

I Should Quit
Most e-mails end with some explanation about how we should attend to our children, or our husband, or our houses, or our jobs.  In this case my children are asleep and/or helping Jerry with the downstairs Christmas tree, my house is clean because we had all this company, and I’m not at work, so . . .

Don’t worry, I’ll quit boring you now.  Hope you have a lovely week.  Back to our regularly scheduled blogging.  Maybe.

*The above picture was a replica of the replica of me.  Apparently I was thrown away shortly after playing the last chord of Joy to the World.

Boy Review

25 Nov

Our house is in turmoil.

Angst ridden boys are littering the floor.

We left our book in Ainsworth.

Horrible stuff, I tell you. Makes me shiver. But, lucky for you it leads to this post. Hurrah! Our current family read-aloud is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. If you haven’t read these books, you should. They are riddled with adventure, conflict, danger, friendship, Greek Mythology, smatterings of humor, and big splashes of really cool monsters. But don’t take my word for it! (Did I just quote Levar Burton???? Butterflies are currently residing in the sky AND my stomach!)

This is what my boys had to say when asked why they love this series:

Owen: It’s just, it’s a book about myths. There’s so much adventure and action.There’s lots of monsters. It’s awesome.

Joseph: I love Percy Jackson because he is awesome. The books are so awesome, because they are so awesome. I love Percy Jackson.

Charlie: Because I do.

So there you have it, folks. Obviously the books are “awesome”. Obviously they are must-reads. So do.

These are them (in case you want to judge them....).

Tomorrow’s Weather Forecast

23 Nov

As you prepare for your feasts, Thomas has this Thanksgiving wish for for you:

May your day be filled with a Tornado of Food.


Vegan Turducken Redux

22 Nov

My sister is planning a post for later today, but she won’t be able to get it up until she’s done being Miss Viola Swamp, so in the meantime I thought I would respond to the flurry of activity on our blog this past week.  And no, it hasn’t all been Martha Stewart’s lawyers.

You see, the  list of popularly used search terms that lead unsuspecting researchers to our blog indicates that scores of in-laws are preparing to host their children’s vegetarian significant others this Thanksgiving.  And what is it that they are planning to prepare?    Why Vegan Turducken, of course.  And we are the authoritative internet (redundant much?) source for this recipe.

So, while you await my sister’s return to her Miss Nelson persona, here’s that recipe for you one more time:


One of my very favorite blogs is Yammie’s Noshery.  You should really go read it, but not right now, because I promise you, if you start reading you will not come back here.  Especially if you are hungry.  Her food is delightful and her writing is indulgent.  Yesterday, I felt a little like Yammie because . . .

I invented the ultimate fruit.

I know what you’re saying, “inventing a fruit seems like a job for God.”  You’re right, in fact I’m pretty sure He already created this gem.  Before the fall this juicy wonder was probably growing twelve months out of the year around the Garden of Eden.  You see, I imagine cherries had no pits in Paradise, because that would have been, well, the pits.  Instead, I think they had blueberries.

That’s right.  When Eve bit into a sweet cherry she didn’t crack her tooth, or need to produce an unladylike seed spew.  Instead those perfect pearly whites sank right through the yummy cherry flesh, into a blueberry and then exited through more cherry.  Perfectly, perfect.

Wanna see how I recreated this fruity flavor bomb?  Here’s a picture:

And here’s the recipe:


1 cherry (I prefer the Golden Sweet because I don’t pretreat my children’s clothing)
1 blueberry

Pit cherry.  Lift the flap of the cherry’s exit wound and insert blueberry.  Fold flap back over fruit.  Eat.  Repeat.

Okay, now go drool over Yammie.

How Do You Spell Happy Birthday?

21 Nov

The November flurry of birthdays comes to a close today as we celebrate Thomas, born on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Sometimes we falter when asked the actual date of his birth.  Tricky Thanksgiving, always moving around and causing us problems, is at fault.  But this year his actual birthdate reflects the day we always remember.

In a ploy to get my newly minted six-year-old to write this blog post for me, I asked Thomas how he would describe himself to someone who didn’t know him at all.  His answer:

I would just say, “T-H-O-M-A-S.”  But, only to people who can spell.

So much for my plagiarized blog post.  He is a bit much to describe with mere words.  In addition to the words, you need some non-stop singing, rambunctious wiggling, and intense cuddling.

That’d about do it.  We love you, Thomas Thomas.  Happy Birthday.

I Need a Nap

19 Nov

Everyone is a little tired today, so we don’t have much to offer in the way of posts.


You Get What You Don’t Pay For

18 Nov

Words that don’t go together:

Martha Stewart Living    +    Free

Yet that didn’t stop me from signing up for a free subscription to the magazine months ago.  I always drooled over its glossy cover in line at the grocery store, so when I had the chance to have my very own copies to snuggle up with my husband’s homemade canned goods, it seemed like a no-brainer.

To be fair to Martha, I very rarely crack the cover.  The babies spend more time paging through Living on an average month than their harried mother.  Sometimes I even catch them ripping out articles for future reference.  But I have more important things on my plate.  So due to stuck-on food particles, I rarely get a chance to apply Martha’s hints and tips for an elegant life.

Then earlier this month I took a vacation.  That’s right.  No children.  No dirty dishes.  Just me, Lutheran Church Music, and an incredibly gracious set of friends willing to house me.  Their home provided a delightful respite.  Quiet.  Well decorated.  Breakable objects placed less than five feet high.  Adult conversation.  Scotch.  Panera bagels from the food co-op.  Lap.  Of.  Luxury.

My dear friend also has what I can only assume is a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  And so one peaceful morning as I nibbled on my Breast Cancer Awareness Cranberry Bagel I perused the pages of the December issue looking for some great Christmas ideas.

Next to a schedule of complete strangers’ birthdays was this helpful tip: use floral wire to replace a missing hook on your ornaments.

Floral Wire.  Because I have a large stock of that readily available?  You want a helpful tip Martha?  Use a twist-tie.  Now those would provide an “instant fix.”  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the babies have one hidden under the couch cushion, so I probably won’t even have to leave the room to get my plastic bobbles hung on the tree.

Maybe this wouldn’t be an easy solution for Martha, though.  She probably bakes all her own bread.

Finding her helpful hints lacking on the helpful aspect I moved on to stocking stuffers.  The boys are growing tired of second-hand Hot Wheels and Tic Tacs.  Maybe there I would find some inspiration.  Crayons.  That showed some potential.

Not just any crayons.  The retired colors.  Maize and friends. For only . . .

That’s right.  $14.  For eight crayons.  $1.75 a crayon.  I do not feed my babies gourmet foods.  And unless the Burnt Umber is so unappetizing that it prevents the wee ones from ingesting the entire box, then it’s just not worth it.

On to home decor.  Obviously, we don’t need much help here.  Our boys seem to have a great handle on creating a individualized atmosphere full of fresh ideas, but it never hurts to incorporate a few new projects.  This one showed potential:

Poking Christmas lights through cupcake holders?  That is right up our alley.  We will do this.  It will look . . . well, . . .probably not a lot like that.

At last I made it to the section titled “With the Kids.”  Now Martha was speaking my language.

I do not want to entice them back in.  They’ll be in of their own blue-lipped accord soon enough.  They need to stay out a long time.  And not so I can spend two hours constructing marshmallow snowmen for them to dive-bomb into their hot cocoa.  No.  I need time to do laundry.  I need time to shower.  I need time to blog.  Martha, I’m afraid you do not get me.  You had me at “free” and then you lost me somewhere amongst the homemade foiled wrapping paper and the $9.10 glitter.

I suppose everyone will be saying that all of this angst against Martha is really borne out of jealously.  It’s true.  I freely admit it.  Someday.  Someday.  But in the meantime I’m going to go comfort myself in the one Good Thing she and I seem to have in common:


Hey, Lovebucket. Happy Birthday.

17 Nov

November is a birthday heavy month in these parts. Today’s? My super spectacular husband, A.J. And, lucky for me that his birthday falls on Things I(we) Love Thursday, because GUESS WHAT! I love that guy.


Okay, there are many things about my husband I love. He’s a generous, helpful spouse, an energetic, silly, and loving father. He’s cool & handsome & interesting & weird & and never takes himself too seriously. I love those characteristics. But, today, as I drive to Lincoln to see his choir perform at Nebraska’s Music Educator’s convention I’d like to talk about his talent.

My helpmate is a terrific teacher. I’ve had the privilege to witness him at work innumerable times – a rare gift. Initially in our marriage I served as accompanist to his middle school choirs. What? Gasp. We worked together?!? Unheard of. Preposterous. Wonderful. I’d give anything to work with him again, but alas my piano skills reach only as far as middle school repertoire goes (and he already has a fantastic accompanist that is far less lazy than I). During those years at the middle school I witnessed Adolescent Mind Molding Magic. I honestly thought that AJ had found his niche. When one is able to get a group of fifty 13-year-olds to not only learn and understand, but enjoy the Mystery of Key Signatures, that person can teach. And that was AJ. Through character voices, common interests (he has MANY with middle schoolers), and an overabundance of crazy positive energy, he was able to reach those puberty-addled brains. Daily I was impressed.

Then he went to teach high school and I just wasn’t sure those more mature minds would be forgiving of his level of nutso. Well, they were. They glommed onto the geeky like gangsters to Glocks.

Once again, on a smaller scale, I have been privy to this wonderful tutelage. Through subbing, after school activities, and a propensity to loiter I have seen his instruction, watched his interactions, and heard the outcome, and I am here to tell you – he’s got it. He is a man who GETS teaching. He is there for the students. He has found a way to empathize with and relate to them that astounds me. And I couldn’t be prouder. Oh, wait – I could. Because here’s the cooler thing – he shares his devotion to his work with us. He lets us in to his teaching world. His students know our boys and me. We know them. He has found a way to not only teach music. He also teaches the importance of family and of giving all of one’s God-given vocations their full worth. He helps kids sing pretty, sure. But more importantly, he gives them a model of familial citizenship that I fear is lost these days. And that is what throws me over the edge of pride.

And so, AJ (if you’re reading this!), I wish you the best of birthdays and congratulations on creating an environment that gives your students opportunities like today’s. Love love love.