Friday, December 10, 2010


3.5--hours of sleep I got after I went to sleep at midnight
3.5--what time it was that Lee came in to tell me that he wet Alex's bed...with Alex in it
3.5--hours of laundry that it'll take to recover from his recent bedwetting spree
3.5--gadzillion times I wondered why I wasn't sleeping
3.5--snowflake designs I envisioned
3.5--Christmas gifts I mentally hashed out while lying on my pillow
3.5--hours until the 7:00 alarm
3.5--hours of sleep that I did NOT get
3.5--web pages visited looking for hubby's Christmas gift. Hey, I may as well.
3.5--minutes spent chatting with an overseas Irish friend who wondered why I was up
3.5--hours of a nap I'd like to take this afternoon
3.5--chunks of 10 minutes that I'll likely get
0--late-night snacks I ate while I was up.

Hooray for life's small victories!

Now will someone please give Cora a dvd tutorial and direct me to my bed?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Almost Blogiversary

It's been nearly one whole year since I started my blog. Now that I'm pushing a year, I've made some discoveries, have tentative goals in mind and come up with a few queries to myself.

First and foremost, I'm wondering...why on earth did I start a blog in December? What the heck sort of loony nutcase am I? December isn't busy enough already, I guess.

When certain friends of mine would hint strongly that they'd love to read my blog, I always responded that with 4 children and 45 apartments I didn't have time. I was right. I don't. For a while there I was blogging almost regularly, but as of late, I haven't. There are a couple of reasons for that, though, and they come in the form of other realizations:
--I can blog or read. Not both. My recent lack of blogging was superceded by Catching Fire, Mockingjay and the Warriors series that Abby brought home from the library.
--The oldish Thumperism "If you can't say nuthin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all" applies to blogging. When my mood or stage in life is tainted with an undercurrent of malaise, hopelessness or tickedoffedness, I don't blog. Like that bag of feathers released into the wind, I'd rather just shut my e-trap & err on the side of non-offense.
--Blogging is an evening activity for me. When the kids don't get to bed on time or if the hubby's home, blogging gets put on the back burner.
--Or if I'm frantically trying to get Christmas crafts completed by my deadlines.

I do blog in my head, still, and have lots of pictures that I take and think to myself, "This'll make a really great blog post." Then I don't.

Another discovery I've made is that even though I dream of being a fabulous blogger with tons of followers and regular comments, there is a sacrifice required that I'm not sure I'm willing to make. It entails first becoming a regular follower and commenter on multiple other blogs. And that takes a lot of time. So I'm not sure that dream will ever come to fruition in this stage of life.

In the meantime, I'll keep going forward, treating listingloquacious as what it truly is: my own personal public journal. And because I want to blog more frequently, I will.

After Christmas.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Maybe she's born with it.

Maybe it's Maybelline.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Letters On the Road

Linking up with Julie at Foursons for this week's...


Dear Pedestrians,

You have the right of way. I am bigger and faster and deadlier and will keep an eye out for you and your well-being.

I am aware that when you're in a crosswalk, it is illegal for a vehicle to drive through that same crosswalk. But when a car is stopped, backing up traffic, waiting to turn until you're safely across the street, do you mind picking up the pace to a walk instead of mosey?

Itchy Right Foot


Dear Bikers,

I will share the road.

I don't mind it. I think it's great that you are getting exercise, reducing emissions and saving the world. Good for you! I have no problem with you on the side of my lane, and I will always make sure that I give you a little extra space. Heck! Certain areas in Seattle now have green boxes at the intersections that are only for cyclists!

That said, as long as you're throwing a tantrum to be given equal rights on the road, do you mind obeying the rules? If I did half the ridiculous things that I've seen you do, I'd have my license revoked! That big red roundish sign with the little corners and white letters means STOP!!!

Equality means Equality.


And though not a letter, a conversation with Lee that fits the theme:

"Mom, that girl just ran across the street."
"Yep. She made it safely, but probably should have waited until we passed."
"Yeah. Just like on Frogger."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good News, Bad News

Today's Good News, Bad News is prompted by the search for items for Abby's Halloween costume...

Good News: I found my purple & white flag team (dance team) skirt.
Bad News: She doesn't want to be a cheerleader this year.
Good News: The skirt still fits me and is a touch loose.
Bad News: I only put it on one leg.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Perfectly Imperfect

My dad teaches an early-morning scripture study class to a group of high-schoolers in my hometown. When we visited a couple of weekends ago, he mentioned that he needed a completed piece of needlework for an object lesson that he was going to use in one of his lessons, where he could show these teenagers the front AND the back.

He didn't explain the symbolism, but there was no need. Everyone judges the front of the stitchery, noting the beauty, complexity, deciding if they like it or not, often commenting, "I could never do something like that." Maybe even feeling jealous that another person has the talents & skills necessary to complete such a work of art.

Rarely is the back side given a second thought.

The back is usually a mess. There are knots everywhere, intentionally placed so the stitches hold fast. In some places, there are large, clumpy, accidental knots of thread, bunched together in unattractive 'oops'es. Where the front may have delicate French knots or ordered stitches, the back is riddled with seemingly random lines stretching from here to somewhere inexplicable. And the stitches behind the lettering only vaguely resemble the inspiring words on the front.

The front would not be near as presentable if the back was not so imperfect.

We're all like that, though. Every single one of us has knots, 'oops'es and scars that we hide from others. They're past experiences, lessons learned, lessons still being learned, struggles that mold us and form us and make us into better versions of us. The problem comes when we see the back of our own tapestry in all its funkiness and compare it to the beautiful, finished front of everyone else's.

I had an oddball thought as I was driving down the freeway this afternoon. What if we all wore t-shirts that showed our struggles?
--Doesn't feel loved.
--Scared of job loss.
--Molested as a teenager.
--Not good enough.
--Afraid of doctor's test results.
--Marriage on the rocks.

What if we decided that our knots, scars and missed stitches are okay? What would happen if I wore a shirt that said, "Worried about money; Concerned that I'm screwing up my kids instead of teaching them right; Keep forgetting to put my husband first in my life."? Okay, it'd have to be a dress, but you get the point.

Would we think less of each other? Would the world be a better place because everyone just gets it out there & doesn't have to struggle alone? Would it be way more pessimistic and we'd all just concentrate on our woes instead of being grateful for our blessings? (There would be some benefits, because it would be easier to protect ourselves from criminals and the like.) But how would it all work out? Would we run to others to alleviate their pains and uplift them? Would be reach out to strangers to help bouy them up and lift their droopy souls?

Would we forget our own woes as we love & serve & help others?

Of course it's a fantastical idea, unrealistic in many ways. I just wish that there wasn't such a negative social stigma to seeing a therapist or being on an antidepressant or...being imperfect! I don't know a single person on the earth today who's perfect.

There's only been one, and it's good to remember sometimes that He loves me, knots and all.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Do you see it?

I had this super-mega bottle of bubble solution for months before I noticed it.

Gotta' love the power of the brain. And someone on staff who reads English.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Prayer & Pom Poms

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Don't care who ya' are, ya' do, and I am no exception. Interestingly, some of the strengths that I really admire in other people just happen to be the things that I absolutely, completely, positively suck at.

Prayer is one of those things.

Not that I don't pray. I do it all the time. "Thanks for the green light. I really needed that, I'm almost out of gas." "Please help me find the van key because it's the only microchipped one we have." "Thank you for watching over Cora because she just woke up from a nap and pulled a penny out of her mouth." That sort of thing. Lots and lots of thoughts, emotions and requests sent heavenward.

It's the prayer prayer that I'm terrible at. Like the consistently-get-down-on-my-knees-pour-out-my-soul-leave-my-burdens-at-His-feet-and-let-Him-fill-me-back-up prayer. All too often I feel like my relationship with my Heavenly Father is like the dear friend I see very occasionally for a couple hours of good catching up, but otherwise just touch bases through facebook.

Nothing to be proud of. And I'm not.

Last weekend as I watched and listened to His word for me, I was lovingly nudged back to Him, and reminded that He wasn't the one who got lazy. So I've been thinking of ways to keep myself motivated and on track. I think I've found what will work for me until it becomes a habit:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's a reward jar. I figured if the kids can get stickers for using a potty, peanuts for quiet mornings or raffle tickets for positive behavior, I can work toward filling my own jar! To make it attainable, I'm using craft pom poms first, then beans later. (And yes, siblings of mine, that IS the smallest and last-remaining of the glass set of canisters that Mom had on her counter for years. I kept it. I have no idea why, but I did. And now it has a purpose.) It was a bit tricky coming up with a reward, because I can get a donut or quarter or new headband whenever I want. It's one of the glories of being a grown up. After a bit of thought, I decided that my reward would be a record of progress.

So this morning as I let my fingernail top-coat dry, I very carefully wrote my State of Being: where I am in all aspects of my life...physical, relationship, financial, spiritual, etc. (And then I prayed, earning me that first big, sparkly puffball. Not remotely coincidentally, the kids & I had one of the best house-cleaning days we've ever had for the most part. I was full of praise and patience, Lee didn't have a single time-out today & he behaved better than his older siblings!) When my retro jar is full of colorful puffiness, I'll record my State of Being at that time, and again when it's full of beans.

I look forward to looking back and seeing the distinct differences in pretty much all areas of my life, because this one thing touches everything in large and small ways. That will be such a great reward. So wish me luck.

Bag that. Just keep me in your prayers. You'll be in mine.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kitchen Milestone

Waffles are an art.

Well, they are for my husband. When I make them, I make pretty much the same batter as I would for pancakes, but a little thinner & just throw it in the waffle iron. Riah, however, takes the time to separate the egg whites, beat them into a beautiful, soft-peaky froth and fold them gently into the rest of the batter. The work is worth it, because he makes the best waffles ever! They're light, fluffy, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Warm, butter, syrupy heaven.

The Waffle Master has taken on a young padawan, and today she passed her first Waffle Test.

Very often when the children are hungry and ask that eternal question, "What's for lunch?" we respond, "What are you making?" Another derivation is, "Can we have _____?" Typically we answer, "Sure! You makin' it?" They usually just react with mild exasperation or maybe to insist, "Mom! I don't know how! I'm not big enough!" (Our children will either grow to be incredibly sarcastic or able to not take themselves too seriously. I hope it's the latter.)

Today, however, when Abby reminded me that we had recently promised waffles in the near future and I countered with the "You doin' it?" question, she very matter-of-factly and responsibly replied, "Yes."

And she did.

She wanted no help, not even when Alex begged to crack the eggs. It was hard for me not to volunteer help or give tips. I stayed out of the kitchen so as not to interfere. (She did need a little help, as the recipe mix needed tripling, and multiplying fractions isn't something that this 4th grader has mastered yet. But other than that, she was good!) She measured, she beat, she mixed dry and wet in separate bowls, she cooked...she did everything! (She used a mix, not the from-scratch recipe that her dad does...that'll come in time.) Besides the occasional sandwich, she's never taken on a beginning-to-end kitchen project before.

She was quite proud of herself, and so are we.

And the other munchkins liked them, too.

Cora's was half eaten during the prayer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Yam what I Yam and that's all that I Yam.

I am...logical.
I am...pragmatic.
I am...creative.
I am not...Shauna.
I am...funny.
I am...witty.
I am not...the life of the party.
I am...young and vital.
I am not...the reflection in the mirror. Who IS that???
I am...accepting.
I am...forgiving.
I am...confident.
I am...insecure.
I am...34.
I am not...pushing middle-aged.
I am...frugal.
I am not...flamboyant.
I am...God-fearing.
I am not...God-fearing enough.
I am...smarter than your average bear.
I am...smarter than your average 34yo MWF.
I am not...a genius. But don't tell the kids.
I am...a party planner.
I am not...Aubrey.
I am...organized.
I am not...CDO (OCD, but put in alphabetical order, the way it should be).
I am...a mother.
I am...a daughter.
I am...a wife.
I am...a sister.
I aunt.
I am...a friend.
I am...a Princess, as my Father is a King.
I am not...perfect.
I am...loved.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

TYVM--Warning!! Yuck factor below...

I'm linking up to Kmama's blog, via Rachel's blog. Never done it before, so let's hope it works!

Thank You Very Much is a fun way to administer a bit of sarcastic self-therapy.

My Dearest Cora,

For not throwing a fit when I removed your sister's underwear out of your hands while I was sorting dirty clothes and being satisfied with the little princess pair that I pulled out of your own drawer...

...Thank You Very Much.

For waiting until I was out of the room to remove the rest of your clothes, including your diaper...

...Thank You Very Much.

For fussing nervously to alert me that your way was blocked and you couldn't get your naked self down from your sister's bunkbed...

...Thank You Very Much.

For pausing on the second rung up the ladder to attend to a certain natural process, leaving a ginormous pile of it on the ladder, unknowingly barricading yourself on Abby's bed...

...Thank You Very Much.

For leaving little poo spots all over the mattress and bedding (including big fluffy comforter) that I just washed...

...Thank You Very Much.

For putting your perfectly clean diaper in the garbage as you nakified yourself...

...Thank You Very Much.

For doing it again in the hallway mere hours later...

...NO Thank You Very Much!!!

What do YOU do in the summertime?

There is a song that I sang as a child at church. I could never remember all the words, because there are so many, and not necessarily linked together in any manner other than rhyming. It lists things that you do in the summertime, and it's a cute song. I've often wished that I knew the lyrics better so I could sing them at will.

A few weeks ago, our Primary music leader, Shauna, made the comment, "I wish someone would come up with new words to this song." That set my wheels a-turnin, and as soon as we got in the car, I challenged my kiddos to think of things that we do in the summertime. I set them to rhyme, emailed them to Shauna, and the next Sunday, guess what we all sang?

Oh, What Do You Do In The Summertime, AbbyAlexLee-style:

The pictures that she came up were amazing, of course, because it was Shauna.

Oh, what do you do in the summertime, when all the world is green?
Do you walk in the park? Stay up after dark?
Pick blackberries for a pie?
Is that what you do? So do I.

Lots of syllables in this one--gotta' sing it fast!

Put the emphasis on 'on.'

(In Primary, she prefaced the song by explaining that she'd been sitting up front, watching Lee launch from his seat and belly flop spread-eagled on the floor again and again. She wondered what he was doing (besides being a squirmy 4yo boy), but when we sent her the lyrics about the Blue Angels, she knew--he was being a Blue Angel! The kids thought it was cool that everyone was singing a song that we created from our own family's experiences, and Lee absolutely lit up when the part about the Blue Angels--his contribution--came up.

I love Shauna.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Are you a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?

Recently a friend posted on facebook that her wings were in the shop getting re-glittered, but she had her broom. I laughed because it was relatable. All to relatable.

Today this was me...

Absolutely, totally, 100% Wicked Witch of the West. I'm not even sure why. Maybe the headache, maybe the fatigue, maybe the asking-six-times-to-get-dressed-and-an-hour-later-you're-all-still-in-jammies got to me. Whatever it was, my Patience Meter was definitely in the red.

I had to run a work-related errand, so figured that while I was out, I'd take the munchkins to the library to turn in their summer reading charts. It went fine, but afterward we sat for at least five minutes in the parking garage waiting for Lee to buckle his seatbelt. I tried to be patient, I really did. For a while. Then the Wicked Witch lashed out and I hollered at him to just buckle his seatbelt!!!! Finally Abby begrugingly acquiesced to my request to help her brother buckle up. Nice of her, because earlier in the trip he noted that he didn't want to sit by her because he didn't like her. Charming.

I am afraid that I was rather unkind to the others, too, so I put myself in a Mommy Time-Out when we came home. Tired, headachy, cranky mommies sometimes best serve their children by removing themselves. So I did. I told the children that I was going to rest and they needed to stay downstairs. Lee came in FIVE TIMES! Each time I made it clear that he needed to leave, trying to be conscientious about my level of rudeness. As it turns out, the older children were sending him in to ask if they could watch a movie because they "...didn't know 'resting' meant 'sleeping' " and because they didn't want to come in themselves. Stinkers. I gave up on my nap, but was a little better.

Every now and then when I have days like these when I wish that I could be alone. Sometimes I sort of envy my husband just a little bit because he gets to leave for hours on end and not hear the bickering and arguing and whining and yelling and and and... Immediately I feel guilty about it because there are numerous people in the world who would give anything to be me. Today I drove past a Boys & Girls Club and saw a whole passel of kids proceeding on to some activity. I had a fleeting desire to send my kids there instead of keep them home all day. They'd have a lot more fun, that's for sure! Of course, the desire was fleeting because I chose this and this is what I want.

I want to teach them. I want to see them learn and hear them play and witness when Cora reaches out and gently caresses Alex's cheek.

I really hate when I'm a total swear word to them. They're so trusting and loving and malleable. I don't want them to look back and remember Mom as being volatile, impatient and cutting. I want to be good, kind, patient, uplifting, beautiful, helpful, steady and an emotional rock that they can depend upon. I want my Munchkins to run to me, not away. I want to be Glinda.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I am learning...

...that I don't need much of the stuff that I possess. let go of the things that I don't.
...not to do it when the children are around.
...that even though summer is too hot, it is also too short. I don't have the time to schedule all the park play dates and take (send) the kids on all the fun adventures that I'd like.
...that Vacation Bible School is a great, inexpensive way to entertain the children for a week.
...that jumping in is better that wading. But I'm too much of a sissified ninnymonger to do it that way.
...Harry Potter is cooler than Twilight.
...ebay can be profitable for others, but mostly it's a waste of time for me. can get screaming deals on ebay, like $.99 for a handful of Italian-made clothes.
...that showering on a daily basis is not a necessity.
...deodorant is.
...that red meat gives my daughter stinky pits. bring 2 barf buckets on road trips. push ginger herb tea & ginger cookies to avoid the use of the barf buckets.
...about plenty of the things that I did as a young mother that are proving to be the wrong way to produce the results I desire.
...that it's too late to fix some of them.
...not to beat myself up over mistakes of inexperience. to love other people's children that I don't particularly care for.
...that talking to children about sex isn't really so bad if you start early and treat it simply and matter-of-factly.
...some things that I keep learning over and over and over again.
...that even though 35 is the new 25, my body is still out of shape, has borne 4 children and badly needs chiropractic care. But it's not too late.
...that eating sugar makes me break out.
...that my husband's Love Language is not the landslide that I thought. He's got a close second that explains a lot.
...that things change, times change, situations change, and no matter how hard you can try to make it work, sometimes it's just best to cut ties and walk away, even if you're walking into the unknown.

And it's okay.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Missed-Nap Love Letter

Today you missed your nap.

Well, not really. I did lay you down. Twice. But you climbed out of your crib, unlocked the door, opened it and came down, happy to tell me about your achievement. You really should have slept, but I figured that the 'lock you in' trick wasn't working, so I gave up. Anyway, how can I put something so smart and determined and happy and CUTE back to bed?

Instead, you played outside with your siblings and helped me make applezini muffins--by "help" I mean that when my back was turned, you stuck your chubby fingers into the applesauce, shredded zucchini and batter to get a nibble.

After dinner you started screaming. I checked your bum, and found a mess that was really irritating your ouchy rash. During the diaper change you writhed, screamed and wailed. Not even a cool cloth on your burny nether-regions convinced you to turn off the tantrum.

So I did the only thing that I could think of. I held you. And rocked. And quietly sang the songs that bring me peace in times of turmoil and tantrum: I Am a Child of God, I Know My Father Lives, Teach Me To Walk in the Light, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam. It worked like a charm, as usual. You didn't mind the number of times that I changed keys or cracked or simply struggled to hit the right note. There's just something about Mom's soft voice singing songs of the Spirit that brings quiet.

After a while you fell asleep.

Your full lips were just the right shape for kissing, so I did. Again and again and again and again. Your long, dark lashes don't all lay the right way, did you know? Some curl before they reach the length of the others. I'd never noticed before. I kissed your tear-wet eyes, too. Your face was a total mess. I think that crusty blob in your eyebrow once originated in your nose, but it could also have been batter. Probably batter. We never did get you your bath today, so your hair still smelled faintly of the stick of butter that you quietly demolished this morning.

As I rocked you, the evening sun cut through the blinds, the stripey shadows moving across the contours of your soft, round face. And in that lighting, the oils in your skin shattered the sunlight into spectrums of rainbows shimmering across your cloud-soft, perfect, dirty little face. Your chest moved rhythmically up and down as your breathing relaxed and deepened.

I wanted to capture the moment, so when Alex came in, I sent him to have Dad bring me the camera. He brought it and the others came to see what was camera-worthy. Each of them paused to marvel at your cute sleepihood. They adore you. We all do.

Thank you for coming to our family. You were--and continue to be--the best surprise I've ever had.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Laundry Letters

Dear Children,

Laundry is not done magically. Your dresser drawers are not bottomless like the drinks at Red Robin. They do not automatically refill when they get low on clean clothes.

Do you notice that your father and I share a laundry basket? You each have your own, but we two grown-ups with grown-up sized clothing have one.

Abby, please explain to me why I wash clothes every couple of weeks that I never see actually draped over your body parts. How does that work? And the next time I sort stinky, folded shirts, I swear, girl, you're doin' your own!

Alex, I am rather frightened that I wash a week's worth of laundry and fold two pairs of little unders for you. You have plenty. Wear them. Please.

Lee, considering that I have to beg, plead and order you to wear them at all, why am I folding a dozen of yours? And 'how because' your laundry pile is twice as tall as anyone else's, excepting Mom AND Dad's basket of three-times-as-large clothes?

Cora, thank you for your "help" sorting. Moving already-sorted laundry from one basket to another, however, constitutes UN-sorting. You're a very good helper. Now stop. And unless you're developing some sort of nighttime podiatric braille-reading program, get your cute, chubby, jammied foot off the book!

And everyone, the water stays in the tub. Towels may be used more than once. Unless, of course, they were used to take care of the water.

Much love,
The Laundry Fairy

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer Conundrum

Summer should consist of two months of sending the kids out to play. (Well, really it should be three, but that's for the school district to decide.) They should be spending their time making daisy chains, swimming, creating elaborate plotlines in the woods with their friends, sitting in the shade eating popsicles, living in flip-flops, running to show me blackberry-purple fingers, turning the sidewalks into chalky art, sending bubbles into the atmosphere, lying in the grass watching it grow, running, biking, scootering and feeling the freedom that summer embodies.

After their chores are done.

I think it's only fair that if they contribute to making a household mess, they should learn to be responsible for cleaning it up. I feel that it's not a large expectation for them to spend a little time in the mornings completing their small chores on the job chart (30 minutes), making sure that their bedroom floors are tidied (10 minutes, they're not very dirty), keeping up on school skills (15 minutes) and practicing piano (10 minutes).

So why is it almost 4:00 and they're not close to going outside?

I've spent the last 5+ hours reminding them, steering them back on course and redirecting their Distract-O-Selves. That and breaking up fights. And trying not to listen to the tattling.

I'm completely irritated because I've got days of work to catch up on and they're screaming and fighting in the background. Do I give up my requirement that they contribute to the well-being of the household and send them outside so that I can have some quiet? Or do we spend the rest of the summer inside, attempting to teach them that it only takes a long time when you lie down and complain about it for 45 minutes. If you get up and do it, it should take about 10 minutes. If I send them outside, it sends the message that the prerequisites don't matter and don't listen to Mom because she'll cave anyway.

Mean Mom with children who grow up to be responsible, capable adults?
Fun Mom with entitled children who take for granted what they have?

How do other parents do it? How do you teach your children to just get their stuff done so they can play? Or do the whole of the household responsibilities simply fall on the parents?

Either way, summer ain't shapin' up to be fun for anybody!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Alex's Lego Ladybug:

Not the way that I would've constructed it, but he's proud of it. And that's what's important.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lost & Found

Youthful Midsection. Does not extend further than bra in profile photos, bloop over waistband or measure larger than bust measurement. Last seen with Hips that Hold Up Pants.

Slightly deflated pool floaty filled with Jell-O.

Please contact me to claim your dumb floaty. It looks ridiculous on me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can you hear...what I'm saying?

Okay, I'm about to reveal my true level of geekage.

I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Jean-Luc Picard with his Earl-Grey tea, Ryker, Worf, LaForge and his cool visor, Westley--I loved the whole lot of 'em! Alright, I still do, but not on a weekly basis. Anymore. Often I think of Deanna Troi, and not simply that it was wrong on so many levels that she chose Worf over Ryker, who was handsome AND human. How could she even be attracted to Worf's cold, warrior, ridged-foreheaded self? Okay, Ryker had facial hair that would chap her lips from time to time, but at least his teeth weren't all pointy and he at least smiled!

I digress.

Deanna Troi was an Empath. She had the ability to sense others' feelings, thus the very ingenious name of her humanoid race. But when she was with other Empaths, like her nosy mother, they had a telepathic connection.

Which is the part that I think about far too frequently than I should admit.

Wouldn't it just be so much easier if we all knew each other's thoughts? Dating would be much simpler, I think. No more "'My stomach has felt funny since our date last night.' 'Mine too, I ate 3 plates of spaghetti at my dad's house'" miscommunications. How would marriages fare? Would the divorce rate decrease because we knew our spouses' thoughts or increase because, well, we knew our spouses' thoughts? Who would our elected leaders be if we could skip over the rhetoric and understand directly their genuine thoughts and motives? Lawyers would be out of a job. Lying would be obsolete and I'd know exactly who didn't flush and CLEARLY didn't wipe.

There would be no surprise parties, which would be a bummer, and Christmas morning would be a total bust. American Greetings would go out of business, because what would be the point in wrapping paper?

I watched parts of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs the other day with my kiddos. One of the inventions that the main character comes up with is a thingamadealio that allows us to hear the thoughts of his pet monkey, Steve. (Steve!!!) Interestingly, the same technology is used in Disney/Pixar's Up to translate dogs' thoughts--squirrel!--, but without the stylin' headband that Steve gets to wear.

I'd seriously like one of those. Or to be an Empath. Or something so that when I try to have a difficult conversation with someone we can just strap on the groovy headband & actually communicate! I'd love to skip over the discrete phrasing and wading through a range of emotions to get to the one that's just right and finding the best word for it that will properly and effectively communicate to the other party exactly what I'm thinking and feeling without offending or stepping on toes or having to backpedal because that word wasn't quite the right one and you interpret it to mean a certain thing but because of this life experience I had it means something just a little different and while it's not catastrophic to me, it seems to be a big thing to you. Phew! Can we just get past the formalities and connect?

That's what I want. I want to be able to know what you feel and have you be conscious of my thoughts.

But I don't want to have to kiss a Klingon.

PS--Extra points if you can identify the song that the post title came from.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Summer Plans

To do this Summer:
--teach Lee his numbers with the memory game I made for him
--when he knows 1-5, start him in piano lessons (he wants to)
--teach Lee a lot of his letters with the same sort of game (he loves memory)
--have play dates with our friends before they move
--schedule a weekly park day with school friends to solidify friendships before the first day of school
--okay, that one's partly for me, because I want to hang out with the moms, too
--have daily 'summer school' for 30 minutes or so
--do summer reading programs & get lots of rewards
--daily multiplication & division drills with Abby
--enlist the neighbor to do it with her, because it's more fun that way
--have fun
--heap praise on my children for the good things that they do and for the good people that they are

Am I the Only One?

Today is Saturday. Thursday was the last day of school: the beginning of summer, the end of confinement and the commencement of freedom from homework, early waking and daylight bedtimes.

I'm ready to send them back.

It's been two days and I've already had my fill of bickering, fighting and wailing. I've overheard too many times:

That's my favorite. "Ow." We hear it a lot around here, because it's a direct result of the way that Lee processes his displeasure. By hitting. There are not words to fully communicate how tired I am of hearing, "Lee's trying to hit me with a stick!" Aren't they supposed so play nicely if they're outside?

A great indication of the frequency of verbally-expressed frustration around here is Cora. Her first word was "peekaboo" followed by "nonononono," "num," "Mommy" and her newest: "bobbip." Stop it. No kidding. No joke. No exaggeration. The child with less than 10 words in her vocabulary says 'stop it.'

Lee expresses everything in physical ways. Alex and Abby are tired of being pushed around by their little brother, so treat him less than respectfully. Abby talks to him like he's a germ. In turn, he pesters them more, pokes them oftener and hits them harder. He's mean to them, so they're rude to him in return. It's all a wicked downward spiral, and Cora's catching on. Ugh. One day (inabouttwentyyears) they'll realize that the golden rule really does work, and that he'll begin to treat them nicely when they're nice to him for more than 5 seconds. And he'll realize that hitting them isn't producing the desired result of obesiance.

And in the meantime, I'd like to enroll in year-round school. Starting Monday. Can Lee start kindergarten a year early?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Happy Birthday, Alex!

This morning you did the funniest thing. Abby had already gotten you up because she was excited to be the first to wish you a happy birthday. You two were downstairs rummaging for clean clothes and you said, "Let's check" and held out your arms for a measuring hug. I sensed a little disappointment, but it didn't last long after you noted, "It doesn't feel much different." Funny boy.

You were thrilled to help put together your class birthday treat last night, and you were excited to show it to your teacher and classmates. Not a single crumb came home, so it must have been a hit. Nice selection.

I can always count on you to make a selfless decision when you're given the chance to make your own choice. When Dad almost had to work this evening and miss your birthday waffle & sausage dinner (plus cake & presents), you were really sad until he suggested that maybe you could go do something special later with him. Thanks for being willing to let him go do what he needed to do. Your huge smile nearly brought tears to my eyes when you found out he didn't have to go.

You've always been like that, though. Even before you were born. At 37 weeks you were sitting contentedly upright in my belly, not upside-down like you were supposed to. I sat with headphones in my lap for a couple of days and even tried turning myself upside-down. (Besides being a feat to get myself there on the couch, I almost suffocated once your baby weight was pressing on my lungs. That didn't last long.) You never did turn, so your Dad & I went in to have someone turn me into human play-doh and try to move you from the outside. Lo and behold, you had turned overnight. I didn't even notice it!

You talked when you were good & ready, you potty-trained when you wanted to. When you were small and Abby swiped a toy, you'd scream and yell about it. But after I intervened & gave the toy back to you so she could ask nicely, you happily gave it to her.

Perfectly willing to cooperate...on your own terms.

You've always been on the small end of things. I think it's because when you were a baby, you wanted to eat on your own terms. You wouldn't eat baby food unless you could control the spoon. By yourself! So we sort of skipped the baby food stage, and you went straight to finger foods, even though you didn't have teeth yet! Just before you started kindergarten, I told your Aunt Carin that I was concerned about you being so small. Her response changed my whole understanding of you: "Yeah, but only on the outside."

She was right. Not including your body, all of you is big: you think big, you feel big, you love big, you play big, you have big expectations and big frustrations. You feel all of your emotions to their fullest, and I love watching that.

Alex, you bring peace and joy to my soul.

You are kind, loving, selfless, giving, happy, obedient, helpful, smart, funny and such a handsome guy!

(It's no wonder that you're Cora's favorite.)
Even if you never do grow to be very large, you'll always fill my heart.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm not dead...yet!

Today my sister posted that she's going through blog withdrawal. I've been very conscious that it's been weeks since I posted anything, and I'm trying to figure out why.

Maybe it's because... boss has once again raised the axe above my job status and reminded me that I need to do ALL of the agreed-upon parts of my job, in addition to the other requirements that have been added 1 or 4 at a time over the last 6 years. Back to walking the property picking up trash daily (with kids), vacuuming the 3-story secure building & washing windows weekly (with kids) PLUS mailing monthly renewal letters PLUS emailing certain things on 4 certain dates during the month PLUS scanning & emailing documents to her 2-3 times a month PLUS PLUS PLUS... Oh, and when people come to the door, close it behind me because my house is too messy for potential tenants to see.

...I've been trying to get some semblance of an exercise schedule down because in less than 6 weeks I'm doing the 3-mile running leg of a mini-triathlon. (I can't currently run more than 1.5 miles at a time, and there'd better be no uphills!)

...we've recently implemented a new positive-reinforcement discipline strategy with the children in order to combat the craziness that is my home.

...Thursday mornings now find me sitting in on Abby's math lesson so I know what the HECK they're teaching so I can help her when she's lost in her homework that afternoon. (last week it was right, acute and obtuse triangles followed by equilateral, isosceles and scalene triangles. i.n. t.h.i.r.d. g.r.a.d.e.)

...her teacher and I have been meeting, emailing and rallying the troops to get down to the bottom of why on earth Abby won't ask for help, contribute in class, finish her homework and complete any sort of project in a reasonable amount of time. It's involving meeting after school 1-2 times per week with the school's math specialist and even with the school counselor! Figure it out and try our darnedest to start remedying it. husband is home from his working-abroad stint which means that I'm spending more time with him in the evenings, instead of with my keyboard and glowing monitor.

That just might be it.

This month could be better. Or worse. So far:

June 1--be surprised that it's already June. I think we skipped a couple of months since January.

June 3--do the math & realize that I need to plan 2 birthday NOW. love evite all over again.

June 4--purchase bridal shower gift, get so soaked in the rain that the handle pops out of the Crate & Barrel box. really.

June 4--stay up until 4:00 in the morning with coughing, wheezing baby. sleep mostly upright with baby on my torso so she can breathe.

June 5--make Saturday appointment for hubby to take baby to doc

June 5--attend bridal shower

June 5--sign new lease

June 6--visit with mil & step fil for a few hours on their whirlwind grandkid-visiting weekend

June 7--deposit remainder of rent & post notices for any unpaid

June 8--go to school early to set up kid-sized tepee & tent in Alex's classroom for Camp Learned A Lot

June 8--make cool cookie/frosting/licorice centipede to take to Alex's class tomorrow

June 9--Alex's 7th birthday (get gifts & make cake prior)

June 9--possibly skip church ladies' group evening of book sharing and strawberry shortcake...we'll see... I really deserve that shortcake by now.

June 10--take birthday treats to Abby's class because June 27th is after school's out

June 10--attend Abby's class's musical production of The Internal Organ Hall of Fame

June 10--take hubby to the evening production, too

June 11--field trip with Alex's class to the park. take younger kids with. yay!!

June 7-11--prepare for big party I'm throwing that was supposed to be in May because June is way too crazy but key characters were a) out of the state b) out of the country c) having a baby d) all of the above. yeesh! (don't feel guilty, aubrey. your mother's hip replacement is much more important than my insanity, and I'm glad it went well.)

June 12--sign new lease

June 12--start showing apartments that haven't been vacated yet

June 12--set up for & enjoy party, see friends I haven't seen in a few years

June 14-16--plan 2 birthday parties: outdoor-activities for boys & kitchen science for girls

June 15--sign new lease (will someone please tell my boss that I'm rockin' my job?)

June 15--man the egg-on-a-spoon booth at field day

June 16--take veggies to Alex's end-of-year pizza party

June 16--Alex's birthday party

June 17--last day of school

June 17--Abby's birthday party (yes, they're back-to-back. sometimes it's easier that way.)

June 19--attend baby shower

June 19--sign new lease (hello?? 4 leases in a MONTH???)

June 20--Father's Day, get with friends & have missionaries over for dinner

June 21-26--take a very, very small breather

June 25--head to Spokane for Hoopfest

June 27--Abby's 9th birthday (have gifts & cake arranged prior)

June 27--come home... or maybe we'll just stay forever... It's too crazy at my house!

Monday, May 10, 2010

'One of these things is not like the other.'

Imagine for a moment that you are in a room full of 6-year-olds. Now imagine that you ask for one volunteer to go to Disneyland with you. It's easy to envision the excited cacophony that would ensue, each first-grader jumping, squealing, raising his or her hand high enough to (nearly) grab a handful of moon rocks. They so badly want to be the chosen one.

It's kind of like that every time I walk in my front door. Except my willing participants are not excited kiddos, but tasks yelling at me to be completed. It makes it rather difficult to look forward to coming home from anything. Friday morning I dropped off Lee and his preschool carpool-mate Lily to have their heads filled with wondrous things by someone other than their mothers. A few blocks from home I started the process of deciding what I'd do with the two hours of 'free' time that I had in front of me. There were so many options to consider that I did the best thing I know: I made a list.

Possible things to do before the preschool pickup:
-walk through now-vacant apartment 404
-check rent
-ready deposit
-go to bank
-pick up YMCA enrollment paperwork
-drop off 6 big boxes of donations at the church parking lot across town
-11:10 preschool show
-vacuum living room
-plant primroses that have been waiting over a month to go into the planter box on the property
-weed the front bed
-balance checkbook
-load 6 big, heavy boxes into the van
-vacuum property common areas
-walk grounds to pick up trash
-post online ad for Riah's van
-balance checkbook
-pay bills
-pick up priority mail boxes at post office for ebay stuff
-plan healthy menu
-vacuum last-last-weekend sand from van and remove towels we've been sitting on
-gather tax info to file (we extended)
-remove dead rat under the porch (thanks, neighborhood cat)

In a way, the list is daunting. It's nowhere near my insanely overwhelming Master List of Things to Do, but it's relieving that these are merely options of things I could choose to do in this short amount of time, not things required to complete by a certain time. There's no way that they'll all get done, but they all sit and holler at me to be completed. All day, every day they and their Things to Do compadres yell at me to be worked on. Sometimes I just want to stick my fingers in my ears, close my eyes and scream at the top of my lungs for them all to just shut up. Except we don't say that at our house. It's not kind.

Here's what DID get done:
-tumble back seat and shove 6 big boxes into back of van
-check rent
-ready deposit
-walk through now-vacant apartment 404
-call tenant to notify her of the apartment's condition
-call power company to put power in business name
-call tenant to ask that she take power out of her name the day she moved, not a week prior
-call tenant right back because I forgot to get her forwarding address
-call blind company to find out why they charged us for a vertical blind header repair and replacement
-show tenant in 502 where the extra storage is
-rearrange 3 storage units so that I'm taking up only 2
-move shelves out of the unit 502 wants to put into my bedroom (yay!)
-sweep out that storage unit
-begin to remove moving boxes, coat hooks and full-length mirror from 404
-go down to maintenance office to find fully-charged drill to finish the job
-notice that it's 11:00
-drop everything and go to preschool show
-drive across town to drop off boxes
-wait a bit because the trailer's not there yet (we were 20 minutes early)
-kill time at Subway getting lunch
-make note to never, ever feed Cora a part of a sub with too much mustard in a restaurant booth
-clean up the best I can
-be thankful I'm wearing black jeans that don't show mustard...much
-go back to church to drop boxes
-pick up YMCA membership paperwork
-go back to church to drop boxes
-wait for truck to bring trailer
-get call on cell from Wendy at 12:20
-rush home to get fax for the tenant she's moving in 10 minutes

Okay, the boxes never did get dropped off, as the trailer never did show up. I eventually had to rearrange them to un-tumble my back seat so I could pick up Abby from Student Council meeting, after which I eventually deposited the rent checks. You may have noticed that List A did not precisely match List B.

My life kinda works like that. Every day. I did get 7 things from List A finished. The others weren't on that list, but they were either already on the Master List or were about to add themselves. Some tasks jump to the top because they are a high priority (clearing up the mis-billing), others get chosen for reasons inexplicable (like blogging right now).

As I sit and think about my list of today's possibles, I wonder: how do I get picked to go to Disneyland?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Full circle with a twist

One of my favorite things about being a mom is listening to the kids play. I love hearing pretend diabolical plots unfold, personal experiences and issues emerge and creativity blossom. When they get to a certain age it sounds something like this:

"Let's say my name is Fire Ninja because I can fight with fire with my Fire Powers."
"And my name is Ice Ninja because I have Ice Powers."
"Yeah, and I was captured by the bad guys so you have to save me. 'Ice Ninja! I'm over here! The bad guys captured me! Come save me!'"
"And I freed you (you're free), but when I was getting you out of being captured the bad guys captured me and took me over here and put me in a jail made of lava."
"And because it was so hot you couldn't use your Ice Powers, but I can use my Fire Powers (enter verbal sound effect of the Fire Powers), so I saved you and we got away..."

What I especially love is the "and you said" part, followed by the other person actually saying those exact words. But I think the underlying reason I love it is because I did the exact same thing! We even had powers and bad guys and there was almost always lava! Admit it. You did it too.

Like jinxing and rock-paper-scissors, it's one of those things that gets passed on from kid to kid (not parent to child) with very minimal changes.

But the other day as I stepped outside to check on my monkeys I overheard a play conversation between a couple of the neighbor kids:

Sheri, carrying a bag of mini-marshmallows: "And I texted you to ask if you want a snack."
Mike, standing about 20 feet away and responding on a pretend phone: "And I texted you back 'not yet.'"
"And I texted that I'll be over here when you want it."
"And I texted you 'okay.'"

Even re-reading it it makes me chuckle. Naturally play reflects real life, but it's still funny to me. What will parents overhear in a hundred years?

"And I got in my hover car, but the dilithium crystals were gone."
"And you said, 'Now I can't steer my hover car.'"
"Now I can't steer my hover car, and the bad guys are right above us."
"But if you go down you'll fall in the lava."
"So I use my Wind Powers to blow us over the lava."
"And your Wind Powers blow lava on the bad guys so we're safe."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Duo-lly Noted

Dear Po,

I love your movie. I love nearly every single nanosecond of it. Except one part.

Did you really have to go there? Now my boys (especially my 4-year-old) run around the house, yelling, "OH, MY TENDERS!!!" A shot to the gut or face would have sufficed, in my humble opinion.

An Over-Tenderized Mom

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Boys,

I realize that particular part of the movie is funny. I also realize that your father nearly needed CPR from laughing so hard the first time or two that he watched it. And I really, really realize that your not-yet-manly parts are vital to you in ways that you have not yet even begun to realize.

I understand that you are boys, and that part of being a boy is--ah...bodily awareness. So are throwing rocks into water and turning anything imaginable into a gun. But I'm very tired of hearing the words 'tenders' and 'weenie' when you are playing. Enough already.

And that goes for you, too, sis.

Your Tender-Hearted, Weenie-Roasting Mother

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My own little zoo...

I was at the park today with my two youngest. I watched a man release the leash of his Jack Russell Terrier just long enough for the dog to terrorize the too-tame city ducks, sending them to wing in a flurry of ducky panic.

Honestly, we were headed to do the same thing, but the dog beat Lee to it by about 45 seconds. In the few moments it took for the dog to clear the grass of ducks, I had an epiphany:

Lee is my Jack Russell Terrier.

He is cute, smart, funny, active, and if he doesn't have a constructive, positive outlet for his energy, he destroys things.

That got me to thinking. What animal personalities would personify my other children?

Alex was the next easiest. He would be a Labrador/Rottweiller mix. I've always mused that he and my sister's golden lab are kindred spirits; he's intelligent, happy, loves to play, loves to please and thrives on a good belly rub--I mean, snuggle. But even as I type this he's upstairs screaming in fury at Lee, which doesn't really exude Labrador. So even though I adore Carl, there's a bit of Rott in there to explain his sometimes fiery temper.

Yeah, I know it's a Retriever. Close enough.

Abby would have to be an African Grey Parrot. She's beautiful--though not flashy, loyal, smarter than the dickens, doesn't perform on command and can tend toward the talkative.

At first I pegged Cora as a kitten: cute, active, quiet, inquisitive...but then I thought better. The adorability, mischievous smarts and quiet activity that teeters precariously between curious learning and plain ol' stinkerhood is more accurately embodied in a Capuchin Monkey.

Wonder what I would be...
(Thanks to bing search for online images.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend in San Juan--Part II: The Bright Side

As promised (though as it turns out it's less regaling, more recounting and rather long):

We've been missing Riah during the weeks ever since he started working up north. He wanted us to come visit & see the beauty that he sees all around him every day, so we did.

Overall, I was prepared. Of course, I made lists: lists of things to eat, lists of things to take to Riah, lists of clothes to take, lists of other things to remember...lots of beautiful, organized, categorized lists. I listed listy. Friday morning dawned early and I got up with it to bake, cook, clean and pack. I posted a picture/word list of things for the children to gather (two pants, 3 pairs of underwear...etc), complete with boxes for each of them to check off when they're done. They love that.

My goal was to pull away at noon, and I would have almost made it, except that the dumb battery was dead. So I ran (literally) to a friend's apartment, borrowed her keys, jumped my van, ran the keys back and was on the road at 12:17. Not bad. The grocery store stop was really, really fast, we skipped the gas stop and kept going. The ferry terminal is just on the other side of Anacortes, and I was confident that we'd make the 2:45 ferry. Cora was screaming because she was sick & tired of being stuck in her seat. Just this side of Anacortes, however, we found out that she really was sick--carsick. Gross. But we were so close to the ferry that I didn't stop; we could clean her up there. (Are you nominating me for the mom-of-the-year award yet?) It turns out that she really was sick & tired, because after she tossed her Lunchable (no cookies) she fell asleep in her muck. Grossity gross.

We pulled in just before 2:15 and I told the lady in the booth that we wanted the 2:45 to San Juan Island. I think she laughed inside when she responded that if I wanted that, I'd need to be here at least an hour early. The next boat was 4:35. You're kidding. One of my children just fell asleep (albeit in her own barf) and you expect me to keep the rest of them contained, quiet and alive while we wait for TWO HOURS?????
Years and years and years ago back in the olden days when I was a teenager, my family took the same ferry to the same island to go whale watching. We ran into the same problem: missed the boat, gotta' wait. We couldn't go outside, though because there was a frigid wind blowing hard. But we could only take so much sitting in the car. My brother, who's always been a little...umm...different...(he's 2 years younger than I) sorta' lost it. The cabin fever and frustration and boredom took control and to this day we laugh at the memory of him climbing up onto the roof of the car and crowing at the birds. It was funny and frightening all at the same time. Fortunately this time the weather was nicer and we didn't have any lapses of sanity.

After we parked in line for the later boat we made our bathroom trips (one was a sprint and a trip, complete with a bloody knee), cleaned up the now-awake Cora, changed her clothes, put her carseat on top of the car to dry in the sun and wind (really intended to get a picture of that...would've been a great photo of the beginning of our adventures) and went to the beach.

The children were of course, asked to stay dry. We only had 2-3 pairs of pants per person for the whole weekend. Cora, evidently didn't get the memo.

pair of pants #2

She did, however, have a great time throwing rocks & sand in the water.

Lee was in heaven, taking his own sweet time walking up the beach throwing rocks. (How I don't have pictures of it is beyond me. I know I took some!)

Alex walked way up the beach on his own, throwing rocks and being himself. (I'm beginning to see a trend here.)

Abby was the only non-rock-thrower in the group, because she had quest: to find sand suitable to build a sand castle. With a little help from yours truly after I'd given up on keeping Cora dry, she achieved her goal.

I tried to get as many good pictures as I could. It's funny, though, how the best ones are the ones that happen with little to no help at all.

Even though I was bummed that we missed time with my sweetheart, I am glad that we had that beach time. It was great. We got back to the car with just enough time to change Cora's clothes again and it was almost time to load, so I forgot to take a picture of the carseat. We were finally off!

I love riding ferries. Even if it's chilly, I love to stand out on the bow, soak in the gorgeous scenery and let the wind blow new life into my soul. My children love ferries, too. They love the wind, the water, the birds, the seats, the vending machines, the bathrooms, the upper deck...everything! I explored a ferry more thoroughly that Friday afternoon that I ever had in my life!

You may notice that in order to preserve pants,I just put her in jammies. She later leaked out of them. Glad I had a 2nd pair.

By the time we docked we were really excited to see Dad. We met up with him and followed him to the trailer that would become our weekend home. (He'd been staying in an old Silver Bullet with two of the other guys that he's working with, but the thing's a dump. Through the church members on the island he found a newer, cleaner trailer to move into, just in time to have us move with him. The family that was using had 4 kids and had been staying in it until their house was finished; they had just moved out of it. It was perfect!) The super-long trailer had a queen-sized sleep number bed in one end, and the other end had been retrofitted with 4 bunkbeds!! The kids loved them.

There was a fire pit outside, a clean hot shower with a tankless water heater...I could live like that while I built a house. The kids helped Dad unload scrap wood from the job site for the fire pit. Way more than we would ever need, but they enjoyed helping.

We didn't dock until 6:00, so bedtime came way, way too late that night. Saturday, however, was fun.

Some of our fun was planned, some wasn't. A neighbor of Riah's from the Silver Bullet (which is a 4-minute walk from the clean trailer) had met the kids Friday night when they went to borrow some salt; she invited them back the next day to feed the cows. As much as I didn't want to share my Riah time with anyone else, she was generous and the kids really had a good time.

On our way to Lime Kiln Park, the best place to watch whales from the shore, we stopped so Riah could treat us to the island's donuts. Little, light, donuts. Oh, wait, no. These are big, heavy, dense buttermilk donuts.

(Quite concidentally, he saw a teenager in the store that he recognized from the church there. He needed someone to jump his car.) The kids shared a ginormous cinnamon roll, which didn't combine well with the curvy roads. Alex started in with his trademark pre-carsick whining and we found a place to turn off real quick. It ended up to be one of the best mid-trip stops that I've ever taken!

The turnout was actually a parking area for a little trail through an area that SJ citizens had bought to preserve the wildflowers.

(That's Victoria in the background.)

"Daddy, Daddy, wait for me!"

We just loved exploring the rocks.

I learned that Abby has inherited her mother's mountain-goat-like proclivity for rock-hopping. Even though she made me nervous and I tried to rein her in, I totally understood the desire to climb higher, race faster and explore further. Totally and completely.

And she tried to climb every single tree that she could.

Later in the day when we actually made it to LK park, we found out that we're about a month early to see the orcas. It was a little disappointing, and the wind was cold, but we still had fun. Riah took the kids down on the rocks below the lighthouse, where Abby accidentally kicked the shell off of one of the hugest barnacles I'd ever seen. I've tried & tried to see the inside of a barnacle to no avail. She did it, but threw the shell in the sea.

Poor Cora. Her nap schedule had been interrupted so many times on this trip. When he was done exploring below the lighthouse rocks, Riah came up and zipped cold Cora into his coat. I'm not sure who likes that more: him or her. Definite symbiosis. He went up to sit at a picnic bench in the sun while I took over explorer patrol. We had fun. I was standing by a tide pool that seemed rather lifeless until I took a closer look.

We saw a fish, snails, limpets, and this guy, plus about 50 of his friends:

When we'd been down long enough that I was sure Riah'd be bored and ready to go, I coaxed the kids back up the steepest rock wall they could find. (They couldn't take the easy way, that would be way too simple!)

Riah was gone.

I didn't panic, nor was I irritated, just a little concerned that we may spend too much time chasing each other in circles. He'd had a really tiring week at work, and sleeping in that dumpy trailer was uncomfortable. I knew he was exhausted, so I figured that he'd gone back to the van to sleep. I herded the kids back up the trail, trying my darnedest to keep them off the rocks and driftwood. (Ever seen anyone chasing chickens? It was like that in slo-mo.) Just around one of the bends I found them.

And it was perfect. You can see that her face is buried in his coat and her little foot is sticking out at his waist. This bench is around bends on either side, so it's shielded a bit from the wind, and Riah told me that he heard at least one person come down the trail, see them and utter a heart-softened, "aw."

You may recall that I mentioned a fire pit. Dinner was a no-brainer.

Cora, it would seem, prefers her smores open-faced. Foreseeing a mess, I conveniently 'forgot' to add the chocolate. Good thing.

We went to bed exhausted and totally content to have finally spent some recreative time together as a family in a part of the world that is breathtakingly beautiful.

Sunday was relaxing. Good because the branch of church members there meet at 8:30! In the morning! Coughs and goo prevented us from staying all 3 hours, so we skipped out after the first meeting. I'm glad. We had a very laid-back day.

After leaving church we drove around and explored just a little bit of Roche Harbor, which has prettier architecture than Friday Harbor, but the views from the west side of the island are unbeatable. It's still weird to me to stand on an island and look south at the Olympics. Can't quite wrap my brain around it. We lured the children back into the car by reminding them excitedly that we were having waffles for lunch! It worked, and they were yummy. That afternoon we took a short walk, watched the kids run in a field and walk along old telephone poles.

At one point in the day I was in the trailer and Riah and the kids came back from wherever they had gone. Abby came in and reported that she saw some animal that looked like a cross between an anteater, wolf and raccoon. I was baffled. Even after I saw it I was baffled. Turns out it was a gray fox.

It rummaged around under the table looking for weenie-roast leftovers until Cora chased it off. She didn't mean to. She just wanted to pet it. Nevermind that it's a wild animal. I was simultaneously amused and freaked out.

The end of our weekend trip came far, far too quickly. At the ferry terminal Riah decided to ride the ferry with us. When we were on our way to the island, he expressed a little disappointment that he was missing the fun that they were having. So he came with us and witnessed the fun that they had this time. And there was plenty of it.

I guess that it wasn't as great an idea as I thought it was, because Lee surmised that since Dad was on the ferry with us, he was coming all the way home, too. We said our good-byes, then heard the call for all walk-on passengers to board. Think of the worst, most dramatic freak-outs that you've ever seen in a movie. Lee's hysterical sobbing and screaming put them all to shame. All I could do was hold him as we watched Riah walk along the sidewalk and out of sight around the bend, mingling our tears. I had to pull over before we were even out of sight of the terminal because he'd unbuckled himself and was walking toward me inside the car. After I cried with him for another few minutes, I got him re-situated and started back down the road. We pulled over in someone's driveway so we could watch Riah's ferry pull out and start back toward the island. It was a beautiful, sad thing to see; the ferry's lights were all on and dusk had definitely fallen. The boat glowed a fluorescent yellow against the grey-green of the water, islands and sky's waning light.

Fatigue and heartbreak are volatile bedfellows. Lee cried and wailed for about 20 minutes, until he was jammied at the gas station and we drove long enough for him to fall asleep. It was sad for me, too, but given the opportunity to do it again, I'd do it in a heartbeat!

It was wonderful having time away from the rigamaroll of home, doing nothing but spending fun time together as a family.

This is one of my new favorite pictures.