All posts by Dren

Summer Is Coming

I remember it distinctly: the first time I truly realized how powerless I am over the weather.

I was in my early twenties, the beginning of October had arrived, and with it exited the last smidgeons of summer. Like the White Walkers, clouds were coming. An overwhelming wave of sorrow and helplessness washed over me, from my head to my toes as I stared bleakly at the carpet and wondered, “Am I up to this?”

When I was in high school, the cartoon version of X-Men came out, and I immediately latched on to the character of Storm: her booming voice, her seemingly perfect posture, her ability to zap someone with a bolt of lightning. (Halle Berry did absolutely no justice in the first film – someone forgot to name it “X-Men: the Years of Angsty Adolescence.”) But maybe I should’ve watched more “Superman,” because boy howdy am I solar powered, although I’ve never received a tax credit.

I’m not Storm, but I have learned a few tricks to get through the sun-elusive months: a light box (also known as Mom’s Happy Light, a favorite gizmo to “Mom, let me help you with”), liquid Vitamin D (elixir of the emotionally-grounded gods), logic puzzles and spacial games (“I’m not addicted to Candy Crush Soda; I am taking care of my mental health!”).

And meditation, in which I come to recognize: this too shall pass. Summer shall return. With it’s bounty of sprinklers and enormous water bills and smaller laundry loads and flip flops *everywhere* and playdates and late nights and late mornings and sweaty darling little people with farmers tans and rosier cheeks. It’s futile to wish for something that can’t be – like changing or avoiding the seasons; but to be present in the moment of each season, well, that’s a practice – a superpower – in itself.


Giving Up on Proactive, and Even Active

Yesterday afternoon, buzz buzz goes the phone in the midst of my keeping up with those pesky Kardashians (in the words of Rachel, “Ohhhh, I can’t not look”).

[Mother of JJ’s classmate] ++Did you get information about the fifth grade graduation today, or are Carla and I the only ones who didn’t?!?!

How many messages have I received lately of this nature? Have I:

  • heard if Spanish will be offered in middle school?
  • get the form to voice interest in Spanish for middle school?
  • know that the form that wasn’t sent out is due tomorrow?
  • heard if soccer tryouts are today?
  • heard that soccer costs $300, $600, $900, your firstborn grandchild?
  • know if there’s an actual outline for the state report speech, or is my son kidding when he says they are supposed to “get up and talk about whatever”?
  • been notified that the school implemented a “Shelter in Place” today?
  • been told that “Shelter in Place” is another term for “Lockdown”?

My response has been so consistent, I’m surprised Messages hasn’t made it my auto-response: “Hmm, that would’ve been nice to know.”

When the kids were smaller, I would meticulously go through their take home buckets and folders, sorting art and information papers. The Important Papers drawer has a file folder for each kiddo. The Important Papers file folders were last updated, oh, probably before Kendall launched her modeling career (those workaholic Kardashians).

In response to my friend’s question, I actually had an answer.

+Yes! I know about this! And I don’t think it’s a big deal.

I sent her the details, which I retrieved from my most up-to-date Important Papers folder, located in the garage: the Recycling Bin.

Why did I know it was in that particular Important Paper location? This weekend, when the kids were getting squirrely, and I had run out of fun or positive things to say, I turned to school. “Boo, do your homework; you too, Abe and JJ.” JJ: “I don’t have any!” “Well, do something school-y… like, empty your two-ton binder.”

Paper moved from two-ton binder to the to-be-recycled pile, which I skimmed through for kicks. Easy reading. A few “Hmm: that might’ve been nice to know, last week/month”s. When such papers are moved from the to-be-recycle pile to Recycle Bin, they have anywhere from 1-13 days to be used before going to that great bestest Important Papers Collection Pile in the sky, or on Wynooski Road.

+It’s some program they’ve been doing about not getting involved in gangs. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

++Oh, I got an email from the teacher that L is going to get something. I was just worried that I missed out on some graduation from grade school. So are you going to go?

Not wanting to blow my stellar record of not being on top of things:

+I didn’t get an email. I don’t think I’m going to go.

Turns out I didn’t miss anything. Her son was voted the G.R.E.A.T. kid of the grade, which means he gets an annual pass to Regal Cinemas. How those things go together – gang resistance and Hollywood cinematic features – I don’t know. Maybe if I search through the Important Papers bin in my spare time, I’ll figure it out. Or maybe I could take to Twitter to ask a Kardashian  (those ever-tweeting Kardashians).


Ho-oked on Phonics

Spelling has never been my forte, or at least that’s what I’ve come to believe.

When I was a wee tyke running amuck on a school playground which was next to the corn field which was next my house in southern Idaho, “Phonics” became the new state-mandated teaching curriculum. I know this, because my parents said it didn’t work. “Sounding out words won’t get you anywhere. Why can’t you memorize spelling words like we did?” And with every missed word on a spelling test, “See? Phonics: it’s not going to get us anywhere.” I’m sure it had nothing to do with being bored out of my wee little mind with spelling and wanting to do something more entertaining, like trying to figure out why the wavy borders on the bulletin boards could never  match up. And phonics offered the bonus of learning the skill of interpretation. English can never truly be quantified or qualified, but (yay post-modernity) it can be interpreted.

And now: my children get to hear about Common Core. “Oh no! Common Core will be the death of common sense in education!” Because as a parent I actually knew what type of curriculum was used before? As long as their papers were filled more with pencil marks than red pen marks, I called it acceptable. Now it’s true that I have *no* idea how to help my kindergartener in math (“See, Mom, you break these into the number bonds!” Hmm: breaking and bonding don’t seem like actions that should be coupled. It looks more like Mathematical Reorganization, a concept my Type-A self can fully support), and I have yet to see any lists for a spelling test. BUT thanks to my handy dandy phonics-based education, and tendency to Make The Things Fit, I could understand this offering of creativity on the first read.

An expression of both right and left brain thinking, in my opinion. “Then ho” says Common Core — or phonics, or any number of tricks to help us with the oh so difficult skill of communication — doesn’t work? 😉

Tuesday Juxtaposition

On Tuesdays I pick up the boys at their school. We drive to a nearby town to select our weekly allotment of locally, sustainably, organically vegetables. Then, after other errands, we pick up cheap Happy Meals from McDonalds.

I remember my Senior AP English class, with the teacher who taught us the meaning of juxtaposition: the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. She also told me I’d soon have an ulcer, like her, because of my desire to achieve.

Tuesday guilt and bliss, combined. Guilt: dinner provided by a corporation, one that’s not keeping our best interests in mind. Veggies; obtained, by burning fossil fuels. Today the boys and I spent our drive discussing the idea of a franchise: if one element of the franchise goes down, do they all? If the Fred Meyer in Newberg was gone, that wouldn’t be right: because we couldn’t buy all the things we need?! Isn’t that an inalienable right?!

Bliss: dinner purchased, not created. No messy dishes, happy consuming noises, no complaints, no cleanup.

I don’t want to believe a life of ulcers is my destiny; but how does the juxtaposition resolve itself? I wish I could take time to discern it, but I have to pack for my daughter’s second school birthday celebration, having skimmed the school guidelines book and provided one birthday celebration ahead of time. Slacker, juxtapositioning mom. 🙂

Fall Is Coming



I know a popular show touts the idea that “Winter is coming,” but being the early adopter that I am, I need to bump it up a season: Fall Is Coming.

And is here, for the most part. Kids are in school. THREE kids: all related to me. In various locations.

  • 2 kids in soccer
  • 1 coach in soccer
  • 3 book groups
  • 3 church fun nights
  • 4 Sunday school classes
  • 1 Bible study
  • 1 CSA
  • 1 milk share
  • 2 participants in the School Fundraiser Run
  • 5 pay-for-pics opportunities
  • 1 carpool

FIVE people who want three meals a day. And clean laundry. And screen time. And to be read to, you know, when I’m curled up with my own book.

And a cat. Oh, Hobbsie.

photo (1)

It’s a new season. With new notes for Dren, sometimes on paper and sometime on technology. When it behaves (IOS7: we may have words.)

photo (2)

Crazy hats. Don’t forget the crazy hats.

December 2nd: Boo-yah

When I was in third grade, I lived in Montana. I did not ask to live there; it just “sorta happened.” Those older than, and in charge of, me tried to offer tradeoffs to why life in the netherlands was a fine thing. “There are great people here! Lots of space! So creative! Lots of horses!” What got me – the cinnamon rolls. So large that I could never finish, so the Main Person responsible for me moving to the Hinterlands (a male, engineer, and still on the quest to understand emotions) would swoop in, consume the bestest and most gooey center, and laugh. At me. Each time.

The same person who introduced me to Star Trek. And vengeful behavior. Just in time for the holiday season.

Who found this game at Target? For a decent amount of money off? And then searched online and discovered it’s a sold-out product? And has won all the times playing, so far? Me: that’s who.

Without having had the middle of my cinnamon rolls for SO many years.

DDP2012 #1 – Old School

My friend Amy is doing this thing. And my friend Sherry is doing this thing. And I wanna do a thing. So, here:

[Retrospective. I’m a slacker. Ask my college advisors, all four of them, if you can find them, mwahaha]

Prep for popcorn and cranberry stringing.

And just as my eldest has to wait until mid-day to find the Advent Calendar filled with the daily activity, so will the readers of this site have to wait for daily pics. Cause I have three kids. And I’m an introvert. And blahblahblah, excuses: just enjoy. 🙂


A few days ago I logged on to our library’s online catalog for my usual check: What’s due? What’s almost due? What can I renew and eek out a bit more time? What can I say boldly, “Why YES! Your Captain Underpants book is DUE! It must be RETURNED! GO! NOW!”

I also have to check the balance of how many holds are in, how many holds are coming, and do we have room on our cards. Yes, we should have our own dedicated shelf at the library. No, we don’t. Yes, isn’t it great that our last name happens to be the section that the public gets to see while checking out, and that our last name is unique enough that the public all know who’s taking up all that space. People: the Gourmet cookbook and Peanuts ultimate collection are BIG BOOKS. Talk to the publisher.

Dork, I know. But it gets worse.

When I was checking our family accounts (remember? I was doing that, before the rant about the exposed nature of our reading material), I saw a notification written in lovely, light-blue lettering above the card’s record. “Change to CCRLS holds policy: In order to keep the libraries’ workflows manageable under reduced staffing, CCRLS will be lowering the holds limit for individual patrons to 25 holds at one time. This change will take effect November 1, 2012. Existing holds will not be affected. Thanks for your understanding.”

Understanding. They think I have understanding. Do I? I don’t see it… Maybe I left it in the pile of summer clothes yet to be sorted that are piled in the garage.

Some may think: twenty-five holds?! That should be plenty! But not for my household. My kids READ. I READ. We READ. Really, we should be on one of those “READ” posters, holding books about Ninjagos and Strawberry Shortcakes and Big Nates and Carnivorous Vegan cooking. Just like every other American family.

Don’t worry: I have a plan. And I’m sure you’re just aching to know. Who wouldn’t? Anyway, cards will be assigned “genres” to put on hold. Hubby’s card will be used for long-standing holds: popular items, like the latest movies or best-sellers, that trickle in with little rhyme or reason. JJ’s card: chapter books, graphic novels. Abe’s card: subjects – Lego, Star Wars, knights, ninjas, Avatar. My card: well, that’s for me. 🙂 And Little Miss? She will be getting a card ASAP, which will be all about colors – pinks and purples and reds from Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Pinkalicious, and whatever else will help make our boy-less mornings more manageable.

Hmm, I wonder if card holders are limited to humans only: we do have a cat…