Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sorry Excuse for a Christmas Card 2012

I've declared it an official tradition that I send out a Christmas card through the blog because I'm too much of a slacker to do a real one.  My other excuse this year is that I don't have a good camera.  My "digital camera" (I use the term loosely) has issues.  To get it to focus requires pushing the button down halfway about a hundred times during which time I believe the camera is actually swearing at me.  Then, maybe because it uses up so much energy in cussing and trying to focus on whatever's in front of it, it only grumbles out eight blurry pictures before the battery dies.

So for pictures I'm stuck with my phone.  And it's a phone.

Therefore this year I didn't even do the normal take-a-thousand-pictures-hoping-for-one-good-enough-to-photo-shop thing.  Because it would have been eight blurry bad pictures and I don't think there should be that much swearing during a Christmas photo shoot.  Besides, after some serious statistical analysis I realized there was a 0.00003% chance that any of those shots would have been good.

I did ask Santa for a new camera for Christmas, but seeing as I just remembered I wanted one two days ago, I may have asked Santa too late.

So, in lieu of a real Christmas card or even a Christmas card-y sort of blog post, here's some blurry phone pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Merry Christmas.

First some random cuteness:

Liam finds a Liam-sized tree.

Pretty cute even if she is snuggling a paper towel roll.

Playing in the snow we got a couple of days ago.  (Belle saw the snow and screamed, "NOW it's Christmas!"  Then was temporarily devastated that she couldn't open presents immediately.)

I love fluffy toddlers so bundled up that they can't lower their arms all the way.

Yes, you can feel bad for his cold hands.  I don't have gloves small enough for him.  And really, were any going to stay on?  I think not.  


And just a little weirdness, in case you thought your kids were the only strange ones:
I don't pretend to know why Liam does this a dozen times each day.
He's usually grumbling and muttering something inarticulate at the same time.  


And I leave you with a Vader montage:

The rebels are coming?

What we gonna do?

Just dance....Just dance

Merry Christmas!  
May your Christmas season include as least as much peace 
as I had during the 30 seconds they sat and contemplated the beautiful tree.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Embrace the Porcupine

We've moved across the country and settled in a new home.  This home has lots of lovely things about it.

It's on a quiet culdesac.
It has a nice fenced yard.
It has a cute breakfast nook and front window and brick fireplace.
It has a covered pergola in the back yard for the kids to play under in the rain.  (Yes, we moved to Oregon. Some of you may not know this, but it seems to rain a bit here.  Just gentle little sprinkles of rain on and off.  So far I find it lovely.)

But there's two things that our different from our last house

1) way less square footage
2) no carpeting.

This makes for cozing living.  Both physically and auditorily.

A little back story:
Dalton has noise issues.  When he was little he had Noise Issues.  Parades with fire trucks?  Torturous.  Indoor swimming pools with kids yelling and splashing? Tears and covered ears.

I wondered, "Why does this child have noise issues?  Is it because his brain is so highly developed that he hears even more than the normal person? Are his eardrums unnaturally large?"

Since having a whole gaggle of children in the house I've come up with the real reason he has noise issues.  Both his parents have noise issues. 

I didn't even know I did, but I do.

Fun fact:  Carpet absorbs sound.  I had no idea how much. Until we moved into this lair of hard floors.

It's been an adjustment since moving in here.  And by adjustment I mean I haven't adjusted at all.

I believe there has been more than one occurrence of an adult female in the house yelling, "FOR THE LOVE OF CHRISTMAS WILL ALL OF YOU PEOPLE STOP HAVING FUN AND SHUT YOUR MOUTHS FOR JUST FIVE MINUTES?"  

You see, loud noises sometimes feel like porcupine quills jabbing into my brain.

Soooooo anyway, yesterday I decided that since there was absolutely no way I was going to end up with a quiet house, maybe the house and I could compromise.  I will send the children outside for nice chunks of time, and when they are inside I will embrace the noise.  Perhaps even contribute to it.

So we had this race/parade/free-for-all time yesterday which involved Dalton running some sort of Jedi  race, Belle running after him with an empty milk jug full of clothespins (noisiest toddler-friendly toy EVER) and Liam running after everyone just yelping and screeching to his hearts content.  I stood on the sideline and coached.  Loudly.

I was embracing the porcupine.

And as you can imagine, while embracing the porcupine I was jabbed often by sharp quills, but I did it.

I did forget that during this time Medman was upstairs trying to study.  He wasn't quite as happy about the proximity of the porcupine.  Oops.  I'm not even sure he's on board with embracing it.  I haven't asked yet.

But anyway, there's my goal.  Embrace the porcupine.

Today while Medman was at work we did cotton ball games (why, oh why, did I tell them we'd do this?)  It wasn't bad noise-wise until this game:

Yup, blow cotton balls across the floor (and around a hyper, cotton-ball-grabbing Liam) with straws.  Pure genius, right?  Do you know how much energy they expend in almost silent activity since they suck at blowing?


I video taped it.  But the noise is just too dreadful to post.  You're welcome.

So I'm choosing to think of this as good for me.   I'm going to have to tell myself that about 20 times a day, but I think it will be good for me.  Good for me to let others have fun even if I'm not perfectly comfortable.

Or maybe I'll just gather up those cotton balls and stuff them in my ears.

Embrace the porcupine.  Embrace it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo '12

Hello, all.

So I've set a little challenge for myself and I thought I'd share.  That way I'll feel some sense of social responsibility or something to follow through with it.

Like the title?  Say it outloud.  NaNoWriMo.  Fun to say, huh?  It stands for National Novel Writing Month.  is a website that encourages people to write a novel in the month of November every year.  Or more specifically 50,000 words.  I saw this last year and thought it would be fun, but wussed out.  So I decided this year to give it a shot.

I'm not completely following the rules because you're supposed to start from scratch, but I already had 20,000 words of a story written that's been sitting around neglected for a couple years now.  So I'll be adding 50,000 words to that beginning. Since Medman started his new job today I figured this was a good time to build some new habits and start writing more often.

See that little light blue square up in the corner?  You can track my word count there.  And either be impressed or shake your head sadly at my little word count and make comments about those people who bite off more than they can chew.

Here's what you can and can't expect:

Can Expect: me to share with you how I'm doing. Probably.

Can Expect: Me to hopefully do some real blog posts in the process since I'll hopefully be in writing mode.  (Yes, I realize that's a lot of hopefully's)

Can't Expect: Me to share the manuscript with you.  Primarily because this will be completing a ROUGH DRAFT.  Rough like the edge of a saw.  And I wouldn't want to cut any of you with it.

Can Expect: A little plot summary of the story.  In fact I intended to do that here but I'm out of time.  This morning (in a moment of weakness) I promised the kids "games with cotton balls" and the time for those games has come.

Now I just have to think of some games involving cotton balls.  That doesn't seem too hard, does it?

And I'll leave you with pics of the kids' costumes.  Oh, except D made a quick change at the last minute and went trick or treating as an Adventure Guy (complete with multipocketed adventure vest).  But he looks cute here anyway...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

For the love of a brain

Belle (snuggled up against me): Mommy, I love Daddy SOOOOOOOO much!

Me:  That's good, honey.

Belle (turning to look at me with almost frightening intensity): I love him aaaaallllllll the way THROUGH HIS BRAIN!

Me (undecided between concern and amusement): Really?

Belle (settling back down): Yes.  I do.  And Mommy?

Me: Hmm?

Belle (in an off-hand sort of way): I love you, too.

Me (trying not to let the fear creep into my voice): All the way through my brain?

Belle (matter-of-factly):  No.  I love you UP TO your brain.  (Then resuming the look of adoration she has had toward her father since birth) But I love Daddy THROUGH his brain!

Frankly, since I'm not sure what it means, I'm not sure I'm offended. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Traveling The Oregon Trail

Hello world,

If I sound different today lean a little toward the northwest.  There, sound clearer?  Good.

During the (incredibly long) break since I last posted, our family decided to pretend we were settlers of yore.  We packed up the old homestead, crammed it all into a rental wagon and followed the Oregon Trail from Missouri all the way to Oregon.

Remember when your elementary school teachers tried to impress upon your young mind what a long journey that was?  She wasn't kidding.  No ma'am.  It's looooongggggg.  Wanna hear about it?  I thought so.

So in the spirit of the pioneers and discovery, here's our trip:

Is there a doctor in the house?
TWO DAYS before we pick up the moving truck, Medman gets the stomach flu.*  This is not good.  I'm clearly the brains of this operation, but he's the brawn.  And moving requires brawn. (Brawn and an ability to puzzle oddly shaped objects into a smaller box than they can ever fit into while positively refusing to think about how many more insurmountable tasks are before you.)  But he was down for the count.  He slept for HOURS during the day and only roused himself so that I could go enjoy one last Girl's Night Out.  (To My Girl's Night Out friends - I miss you already.  I know you haven't met again and laughed until you cried over the horrors of motherhood, but I'm missing it preemptively.)
*Medman will not sign off on "flu" because he says that blames our puking on the Influenza Virus.  I admit it is possible this was one of the hundreds of other viruses which cause vomiting.  Perhaps ours was named Helga.  That's sort of the noise that people kept making into the toilet.  So let it be known that my use of the word "flu" is referring to the Helga Virus. 

Discovery #1:
It takes the flu one day to travel from Medman to Liam. This begins to chip away at the belief that I am fiercely holding on to that maybe Medman just ate something that disagreed with him.  Our family hasn't been sick in...maybe forever.  Absolutely no way are we getting the stomach flu while we are moving.  I will not allow it.

Traveling like pioneers #1:
Screw hygiene.  The day Liam started puking, our geriatric washing machine (which broke the spin cycle's equivalent of a hip recently) became incontinent.  Leaking water all over the concrete floor of our basement laundry room - no biggie.  Taking that same old timer to our new rental with a finished laundry room on the main floor - not a good idea.  So we bid goodbye to her, not sadly at all since for months she's sounded like a rocket taking off in our basement any time the spin cycle started.  And all this turned out to be a good thing because there wouldn't have been room for her in the truck anyway. 

But in case you haven't made the connection...PEOPLE IN MY HOUSE WERE PUKING AND I HAD NO WASHER.  This is where our situation became closely related to those pioneers of yesteryear.  Very few clothes (not packed) and no real way to clean things that got grossified.  We started not smelling so great pretty early on.  I'm not even going to talk about how the car smelled. 

Discovery #2: 
It takes two days for the flu to travel from Liam to Belle.  I admit defeat.  It's really the flu.  It's really going to nail every single one of us in turn.  While we are moving across the country.

Traveling like pioneers #2: Dusty floors.  The LAST evening in our home, my vacuum stops working on thick carpet. I've commented before that my vacuum sucks.  And it did.  But could it not have lasted a couple more hours?  Lisa, I'm so sorry the main level of the house is not vacuumed for you when you move in.

Traveling like pioneers #3: 
Cozy travel arrangements.  With the truck loaded, we leave despite Belle still looking a bit wan and myself fighting off some serious nausea.  Medman had to drive the truck while towing his car - which had decided to break down that week, of course.   That left me in our car with all three kids.  Thankfully Dalton is incredibly helpful and Belle is pretty self-sufficient.  We won't talk about Liam right now because if I don't have anything nice to say I'm not supposed to say anything.  But I feel deeply for mothers of 1-year-olds who actually walked the 2000 mile Oregon Trail. 

Traveling like pioneers #4: 
The Long Slow Journey.  We'd mapped it out and it was a THIRTY-TWO HOUR DRIVE at normal highway speeds.  That is intimidatingly long, but we'd squared with the idea.  Oh wait, what does that sticker on the tow dolly say?  Speed not to exceed 55 mph?*  There may have been tears shed. 
*I'm not saying we kept the speed to 55 mph ALL four days, but for quite a bit of the drive we were pretty conscientious about it. Now that I think of it, you probably could have gauged our state of well-being by whether we were sticking close to the 55 mph mark.  The amount we strayed from that speed was directly proportional to our disgust at STILL being in the car.

Traveling like pioneers #5:  
Sickness. We drove slowly for days upon days.  Belle threw up in the car.  Liam threw up in the car. Belle's turn again. (I have no more towels.  We cut up towels, gave them to kids for catching whatever they could, then threw them out at rest stops along I-80.  Sorry trash collection people at those rest stops.)

Traveling like pioneers #6:  
Scarce food. The upside of all the hurling was that no one wanted to stop for food.

Discovery #4:  Budget Truck Rental can't do math.  We discovered that on a rental truck the first 3/4 of a tank of gas lasted 350 miles.  The last 1/4 of a tank of gas means you have 20 miles to go before you run out.  As in RUN OUT OF GAS.  Clearly Budget does not understand the concept of quarters.  Insert hour long break, praying for our own safety on the shoulder of a highway in the mountains, swearing at containers filled up and slippery with diesel fuel as we try to pour enough gas into the truck to get her down the 5 miles of 5% grade into the next city without her running out of gas and losing power breaks and steering. 

Traveling like pioneers #7:  
Four days and two thousand miles later: We reached our new home.  Isn't it lovely?  Everything here is quite beautiful.  I'm positive the pioneers felt as happy as we did to arrive in a beautiful, fertile land after traveling through so much barrenness. This tree is in front of our house and we can see it out our bedroom window.  The picture does not even begin to do justice to how beautiful it is. And there's the stupid broken down Jetta.

This is a view of the parking lot where I got coffee. Look at all the pretty trees and flowers!

So how are we now?

Well I have a lovely new washer and dryer. And new towels.

I don't have a vacuum but there's no carpet in this house, so I'm ok for now.

My car may never smell good again.

We are settling in for a fun new life in the beautiful pacific northwest.

Thank you to the pioneers who made a path out here and the vast number of asphalt layers who created roads on top of the wagon ruts.

And Budget Truck Rentals - may everything you own run out when you think you still have a quarter of it left.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Highs and Lows - Romeo, where are thou?

My dearest husband abandoned me and ran off to the beautiful Pacific Northwest this week to be schmoozed by potential employers.  I begged him to let me come, but he said "NO!" 

Yes, that's him you hear yelling, "Lies!  Lies!"  He did want me to come but I was daunted by the prospect of bringing my three energetic shadows with me on a trip that involved fancy business meetings and dinners at nice restaurants, so I whimped out.  I wish I'd gone, though.  He sent me lovely pictures.  (sigh.)

Anyway, I thought I'd do a little Highs and Lows to sum up the week I had without him.

(Technically it's only been 4 days.  And three nights.  So far.  But it feels like it's been about a month.)

High:  Liam learned to walk!  Ok, this didn't happen while Jason was gone (which would have been sad) but it's a new development in the past couple weeks.  And it's very exciting.   His first birthday is Sunday, so he clearly realized he was on a time crunch. 

High:  Liam learned to point.  I believe I've mentioned before that any form of communication from my children is highly desirable.  I wish they popped out of the womb speaking in complete sentences.  (Actually, I wish they popped out of the womb period without surgical assistance - but I digress...)  So pointing is very good.  Yes, boy!  Point to what you want!  Someone will be sure to get it for you.  Whether Mommy wants them to or not.

Low:  Liam very carefully points directly at my face, takes on a look of euphoric enthusiasm and says, "DADA!" 

High:   Belle pooped every day.  I believe I've also mentioned before that the girl has a few problems with regularity.  As in I hope she's not going to grow up to be a hoarder.  I hear those people don't like to get rid of their crap either.  We've had a bit of a struggle here of late and even though I was beginning to fear that she had, shall we say, permanently sealed the vault, she has overcome her dilemma.  With the help of massive amounts of bribery from the "Big Poop Box" which sounds disgusting but is really just a clear bin set next to the toilet filled with a treasure trove of booty to be doled out when a substantial enough amount has been deposited in the potty.  Hallelujah.  That is not sarcastic.  I have never been so happy to see crap.  Repeatedly. 

High:  Dalton was fantastic while Jason was gone.  Really, the kid stepped up and was uber obedient and helpful.  I think I'll buy him a race car tomorrow.  A real one. 

LOW:  Alright, I'll admit that this is the real reason I wrote this post - this LOW.  It must be in all caps. 

I considered waiting until I know the end of this story before writing it, but I'm too horrified to keep quiet, so you'll all have to be kept hanging, just like me, in abject terror until some future time when the end occurs. 

(Please remember that my husband is two thousand miles away.)

Last night I was sitting in our basement putting the final touches on a big order of necklaces.  I was happily putzing around, the kids were asleep, Jason was off being a fancy doctor type in Oregon, when a little moth started to fly around my head.  Annoying.  So I killed it.  Yay.

A few minutes later, while I was leaning over some stuff, I saw some movement through my hair and thought, "Oh gross!  A big moth is flying around my head!" 

But when I looked over at it and finally got my eyes and brain to work together long enough to classify what I was seeing, IT WAS A BAT!  A BAT!!! Flapping around me in our little basement with its nasty flappy wings and its vampire eyes! 

The words I shrieked as I hurtled myself out of my chair, up the basement stairs and slammed the door behind me may or may not have been suitable for a family friendly blog such as this. 

A BAT!  And not a little bat.  No, this thing had the wingspan of a bald eagle.  And talons. 

Then I raced to the kitchen to call Medman.  Because of course he could help me.  From Oregon. 

But when I skidded to a halt in the kitchen my stomach sank.  The computer, the home phone and my cell were all down on the basement table.  Essentially the upstairs of my house might as well have been a stone age cave.  With electricity and air conditioning.  And I knew that before I could contact ANY HELP WHATSOEVER I was going to have to go back into the lion's den. 

So I went upstairs, put on socks, running shoes, and a hoodie - with the hood up - grabbed a big crate and cracked the door of the basement.  There was no movement so I crept down to the table and as smoothly and silently as possible, so as not to anger the beast that I knew was lurking about watching me, threw everything into the crate, tucked my butt and ran for the upstairs again. 

Since there were no knights in shining armor riding around my cul-de-sac and hubby on the phone from Oregon calmed me down a bit, I realized that if anyone was going to man up around here and try to get rid of the bat, it was going to have to be me. 

So I did.  Are you proud of me?   Hoodie and all I (after extensive googling) crept down stairs and shone my flashlight into all the corners of our basement.  Ok, into a bunch of corners of our basement.  Turns out our basement is all corners and nooks.  It's really a bat's dream house.  It's all bat colored wood panelling with bat sized holes everywhere.   I'm pretty sure the creature thinks it's living in the Bat Hilton. 

I didn't find it.  Nor did I find it this morning when I went down again to look.  (Can you all believe I slept last night with it in the house?  I can't.)  I am NOT going down there this evening after dark.  Oh no.  As I write this the creature is probably swirling around down there glorying in its bat cave. 

The door of the basement is staying firmly shut (with a towel blocking the bottom of it) until Medman returns home tomorrow night.  What he will do at that point, I do not know.  That's his problem for being born with extra testosterone.  Bats are clearly man problems.  If it's heroic and dramatic I'll let you all know what happened.  If he happens (in un-Medmanlike fashion) to see it and screams like a girl, I'll make up a heroic and dramatic story for you.  

So that's where our story stands, people.  THERE IS A BAT IN MY BASEMENT.  Eww. 

Tune in at some future date for some sort of conclusion to the story.  I hope.

(On an editorial note, I was going to put a picture down here of a creepy bat, but trust me, don't google images of bats if you know there's one in your house.  The images make it ten times worse.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guest posting at Dreamer today.

My good friend, Karen, invited me to guest post on her amazing blog, Dreamer.  She has one of those blogs I wish I had written.  It's always lovely and insightful. 

She's doing a little series of guest posts about how the art we make impacts our lives.  Her blog is fascinating, so feel free to stop by and read my post, then stay over there a while and read some of her other writing.  Her color series, which she just finished reposting, is especially good.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Playing Catch up - Highs and Lows

It's been well over a month since I posted.  I'm fairly sure I could sum up everything that's gone on, but that would bore everyone (even me) to tears.  So I think I'm just going to pick out select highlights of the last month of our lives.  (Probably based on the photos I can find in my phone.) Should I do it as highs and lows?  Ok, if you insist.

The high that is on a different scale than the other highs:  Medman finished residency!  This is very exciting.  It is massively more exciting than graduating from medical school.  At that graduation you troop across the stage in your fancy cap and gown as they say, "Congratulations!  You are officially a doctor!"  Then they dive behind the podium snickering and snorting hysterically because even though they now call you a doctor, you still have to put in years of indentured servitude benignly called 'residency.'  But that is now done and Medman is a free man.  It is very exciting.

Colorado Mountains
The last week of residency Medman had a conference in Breckenridge, Colorado.  

High: Hello beautiful mountains, hikes, lakes.  Rural Missouri would be greatly improved if it had the Rocky Mountains in it. 

Low: Hello 10 month old baby who decided he wanted to play newborn and that it was impossible to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time.  Every night.   In hotel rooms where he was sleeping 2 feet from me.  Every night.  Every.  Night.

High:  Resort with a play room for the kids with arcade games and super simple mini golf.
Dalton was in heaven.  He must have played 300 holes of mini golf in 3 days.
Look who's so big.  Standing up and wanting steaks and spirits.

The obvious problem arising from having mini golf in the same room as arcade games...Does under the NASCAR game count as in the rough?
Liam really increased his 4 wheel drive crawling.  (FYI- face plants on pokey, fake, putting green grass make the baby cry, but are sort of funny to watch.)         
Show of hands - who here is amazed that situations like this NEVER ended in injury? 

Belle had no interest in the putt putt, but she rode this motorcycle about sixteen hundred times.  Not with any money in it, of course.  I'm fairly sure she didn't even know that was a possibility. 

And dancing, dancing, dancing.  The girl jammed out on the dance machine for probably several hours, all told.  Which is extra funny when you know that it wasn't even turned on.  Luckily for her the cheapo claw game next to it jingled out some electric banjo music. 

Not high or low - just super weird
I saw this thing several times before I processed what I was looking at.  Off in a dingy corner of the game room was a life sized plastic cow. was a milking game.  See?

We did not play this game.

All in all we had a lot of fun in Breckenridge.  Not that there weren't some moments of boredom in the hotel room...
Watching Myth Busters for 13 consecutive episodes.
Hiding in weird nooks.
Low:  I may not have mentioned it, but Liam didn't sleep.    I don't want to add up the number of hours I stalked angrily around  gently carried him around dark hotel rooms alternately humming soothing music and hissing dire threats like, "Jason!  I am going right now to pack the car and we are LEAVING.  NOW!  At 2 am!  Screw your conference.  And I'm driving for FOURTEEN HOURS STRAIGHT to get home.  NOW!  And you're a doctor!  Prescribe this kid some freakin' sleeping pills!!!!"

Visiting in Denver:

High:  We got to see family and friends around Denver.  I sucked at bringing my camera to things.  And anyway I spent most of the time hovering over Liam who's dearest desire was to put the most lethal thing he could find in any given room into his mouth.  So just imagine happy faces of aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends smiling at you.  (And if we visited you and you have good pictures, please send them to me!)

Friends and fudgsicles.  What could be better?
Low:  Did I mention that baby-not-sleeping problem we were having?  By this time in the trip his exhaustion had overcome his white hot fury at being asked to sleep again somewhere besides his own beloved room and he did start sleeping through the night, but he was still reluctant to go to sleep.  Like the night he sat up as long as possible, finally just toppling forward face first. 

Yup, that's his right foot across in front of his stomach.  And both hands weirdly positioned with the palms facing up.  It is a testimony to how much I wanted him to sleep that I did not try to move him out of this position.  Just left him sleeping.

Fear not, all you soft-hearted readers, he did eventually get his limbs sorted out all on his own.

Dalton's Birthday

High:  My big boy turned six!  He seemed unimpressed when I told him that as the anniversary of me spending 28 hours in labor with him, I should be the one getting presents.  

For his birthday he wanted to go bowling.  So bowling we went.

No pictures of me, of course.  But I'll have you know I won both games.  The second game I even broke 100. 

Let's pretend these pictures are blurry because of the amazing amounts of action they are attempting to capture.  Not because kids are constantly getting fingerprints on my camera lens. 

Liam ate nacho chips. 

Belle heaved around a ball that was exactly one quarter of her body weight.
Dalton hurled his ball with his own kind of style.
And Medman looks good, but he still lost.  To me.

Ok, that exhausts my phone pictures unless you want to see an inventory of the printers available at Walmart.  I'm leaning toward a wireless one, don't you think that's a good idea? 

Hope all of you are well.  It was lovely to see so many of you in Colorado!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Belle is a treasure.  Unfortunately my house is not wired with video cameras recording her every word because so much is lost when she's written down.  And of course I NEVER have my phone ready when she's in true Belle mode and there are actions and facial expressions that a mime would be jealous of.  But here's my best attempt to capture her in ink. Or in pixels. Whatever.

"I am going to count to ten for you.  Ten is a BIG NUMBER.  And  FAAAARRRR away.  But don't worry.  I can find it with...(dramatic pause) mouth."

I love hymns so my kids end up learning them.  They've been know to belt out "Come Thou Fount" in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. My husband thinks that's cool but it's only because he's not there to see all the attention it garners.   Quiet children!  Your mother is an introvert!

One of Belle's favorites is "Crown Him With Many Crowns."  She knows two verses (because I know two verses) and sings it all beautifully.  Except one part.

She breezes easily through "Crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon his throne."

She astonishingly wraps her tiny mouth around "Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but it's own."  Really.  I often stop singing here with her just to be amazed that she gets all those sounds out correctly when she has no idea what they mean.

But here's where she falters.  After a clear "awake my soul and sing," it all falls apart.

Here the simple "for him who died for thee" - all of which are words she is familiar with - turns into an enthusiastic, "FA FOO FARRROOOO FOR DEEEEEE!"

And she wraps it all up with "and crown him as thy mathless king for all eterni-TEEEEEE"

I have no desire to correct her "mathless" to "matchless" because it makes me laugh to think of God not liking math.

(God muttering into his beard, "Hmm, this new galaxy has about muble-jumble billion stars and since it's a loosely bound barred spiral with a small bulge it should spin about...six million radians per second...mumble mumble... carry the one...divide by the, i mean multiply...Four? That's not right..." Then with an irritated huff he just spins it like a top and goes on to other matters. )

Oh, and her version of Amazing Grace doesn't have '"I once was lost".  Instead she very seriously sings "Ah shwaa-aaa shwaaa shwaaa...but now am found..." 

It really makes me wonder how much nonsense she thinks is in the world of grown up words when "shwaaa  shwaaa shwaaa" is acceptable to say. 

And the best Bellism lately is her fascination with things being dead.  Or "super dead" as she says.  It's both morbid and hilarious but it's far too much to stick in at the end here.  "Super dead" demands it's own dreadfully inappropriate post.  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Solar Eclipse on Sunday!

Just in case I'm the only rocket scientist you know and you haven't wandered across a news story about this already, here's a little space news for ya...

On Sunday, around sunset, there will be a solar eclipse.  (Where the moon butts her way in between us and the sun, for those of you who haven't had astronomy classes in a while...)

annular eclipse - photo credit

Even when the moon has moved directly in front of the sun it won't completely cover the sun, it will just cover the center of it leaving a "ring of fire" eclipse ('annular eclipse' for you linguistic nerds.)

The western parts of the US should see the full eclipse.  Those of us in the Midwest won't get to see it all because the sun will set too soon. But we'll get to see the beginning of it.   It will probably look something like this...

...sans the beautiful ocean....

Here's a useful site that will show you what time you'll see the eclipse depending on what state you're in...( or country, my Canadian friends...)

Solar Eclipse by State

Wanna know how to watch it?  It's quite easy.

Please don't just look at the sun.  For some reason we have actually had to make that rule with our two older kids and I can't imagine Liam will completely develop without needing it too.  We'll just be riding in the car, look back and see a little one staring wide-eyed at the searing ball of fire that is our sun.  You can practically hear their rods and cones frying.  "NO LOOKING AT THE SUN!"

But it's easy to make a little pinhole viewer.  I'm making one for us, so here's a little tutorial:

You will need:

  • Part of a cardboard Eggo's box.  (Yes, I suppose any sort of cardboard would work)
  • White cardboard or very stiff paper (really anything flat and white.  A paper plate, a white notebook...)
  • aluminum foil
  • a pin
  • a solar eclipse

 1) cut a little window in your cardboard.  (Do not mock my cutting skills.)

2) tape aluminum foil over the window.  (No, I don't know why there's that extra piece of tape along the bottom.  It's bothering me, too.)

3) Put a pinhole in the middle of the aluminum foil.

4) Go find the sun.  Put the white paper down facing the sun, hold the pinhole between it and the sun.  move your pinhole closer and farther from the white paper until...Viola!  An image of the sun.

Yes, my image right now is round since the sun is looking pretty round today.  But during the eclipse it should look like the giant smile you're by now very excited to see.   And if you're far enough west then you may get to see the entire "ring of fire".

Here's a link to's website with a couple extra ideas for how to view it:

Or stay inside, ignore the outside world altogether, and check out one of the dozens of websites that will be showing it. I'll leave it to you to google one.

And, if you're feeling lazy, don't worry.  God made you millions of solar eclipse pinhole viewers.  

Go stand under a leafy tree and find something white to let the leaves' shadows fall on. The spaces between the leaves act like pinholes and you'll see dozens of little eclipses. 

photo credit

Now, if we could just keep clouds away on Sunday night.....

 Happy space watching!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our Trip to Chicago - Highs by person

Last week we got to go to Chicago for a quick trip so Medman could re-certify in some sort of hero course.  Since Medman and I lived there during our dating years, we were excited to go back.

It was a little funny going back there after living in a small town for seven years, though. We used to giggle at the country folk who came to downtown Chicago, rubbernecking and snapping pictures.

I sometimes forget that our kids have never lived anywhere but our little town.  I don't think we have an escalator anywhere in town.  Do you know how excited they get about them?

D (dashing through the upscale snooty shoppers in Water Tower Place) : Let's take the excavator!  C'mon!

Belle (squealing with delight):  THIS IS SO FUN!!!!

Jason and I handled it with the disdain and boredom appropriate to grown ups who have spent most of their lives in cities.

He declared, "Let's race Mommy to the eighth floor!"

To which I maturely answered by racing off as fast as Liam's uber-cheap umbrella stroller could go to the elevator, pushed the button about a hundred times then yelled down the escalator from the eighth floor when they finally came into view that we'd been up there for hours and how did it possibly take them so long???

I'm fairly sure that the looks we were getting from the professional city slickers around us was one of love and appreciation for the fact that we were clearly a family that knows how to have fun.

I do think we have lost some "city skills."  Apparently seven years of waving cheerfully at friend and neighbor alike as you drive down the road has erased our ability to make "city face."  That face that looks serious, important and a bit detached even though you are surrounded by millions of people, most of whom are invading your personal space. 

We even saw a woman navigating Michigan avenue while reading a book.

I have skills. I can feed a baby while cooking dinner, convincing Belle that "tsunami" really starts with a t, not an s, and follow a convoluted story about race cars closely enough to ask educated questions at the right moments.  But I could not have made the trip she did unscathed, zig-zagging around people and cars with nary a glance up from her page.  Actually, the only time I saw her glace up was when she passed us.

So here's the highs and lows of the trip from each person's perspective. (No, I didn't ask any of them.  I'm just taking it upon myself to declare their highs and lows.  I believe that is within my maternal rights.)


High:  This was tough seeing as he thinks eating grass is a high, but probably the high for him was that he got held a lot because there were lots of floors I didn't want him crawling around grazing off of. 

Low:  He was unhappy but resigned about the hours in his car seat. 


High: Belle loves a good park.  She often comes up to me and says in her most excited voice, "Mommy, I have a grrrrRRREAT idea!!!  We could.... GO TO A PARK!!!"  This is always her great idea.  Morning, noon and night.    And boy did we find a good one.  Near our hotel was one with...
...a very cool playground...
...fountains that shot out water in the most unexpected places.  And by "unexpected places" I mean nailing Dalton right in the wazoo on more than one occasion...

...and the coolest little kid sized maze...

...the hedges were exactly one Belle tall...
Low: I don't think she had one.  The girl just had a good time. 

High:  This is easy.  While we were at this swanky little outdoor shopping area we happened to park next to a Lotus.   

And D sweet talked the owner into letting him SIT IN IT!

The boy could not be any happier. 
Low:  He had to get out of the Lotus. 


We had fun.  We ate at the Cheesecake Factory, 

got to window shop at cool stores like the Lego Store,

Are you wondering what Belle is looking at?

Yup, a Lego dragon coming out of the ceiling above her.
 And we got to get some good pictures.   We have a picture of ourselves that is at least 15 years old from the courtyard of a beautiful church on Michigan Avenue.  Well, we happened to walk by it and we still love this church.  Here are some of our pictures.  This peaceful place is literally feet from the bustle of Michigan Avenue.

Here's us 15 years ago.  Is it sad that I still own that coat?

And thankfully our oldest can work a cell phone, so here is us this weekend.
And the little family we've acquired since the first picture.

Oh, and a trip to the park bench where Jason proposed.  He brought me ice cream that day instead of flowers.  So of course I said yes.  Wise man. 

Lows:  Ummmm, there wasn't much.  A little antsyness on the way home when we were all ready to be out of the car, but overall a fun trip. 

Oh, and Medman is certified to be heroic again, so that's good too.