Category Archives: Daily Drivel

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? 😉

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.

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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.)

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Crazy hats. Don’t forget the crazy hats.

It’s So Fluffy!!!

Yesterday my husband was sick.  Head cold and, um, digestive issues.

Which meant my kids got to spend a little extra time with their favorite parent: La Tele (if I call our television by its French moniker, that makes it a cultural experience, right?).  We have a few movies checked out from the library that I’ve been trying to get them to watch.  Because this is how it works:

“Mom, put [insert title] on hold, please!”


Receive title.

“Mom, it’s screentime.  We’re going to watch something on Netflix.”

“You realize we only have that movie for a week, right?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Time passes.

“Mom, what happened to that movie?”

“It was due.”

“What?!! NOOOOO!”

Insert general weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Doesn’t that sound delightful?

So yesterday I told them they had no choice with their extra time with La Tele: they were going to watch “Despicable Me”. With me. Because by the time of the arsenic hour, that was pretty much self-descriptive.

I rarely watch La Tele with the kids: I don’t sit still real well. Neither do they.  That’s a whole lot of wriggling on the couch. But I attempted to sit and enjoy our time together.

Hubby came downstairs later. I was busy throwing things together for dinner for those with stomach issues and tastebud issues. “Did you enjoy the movie? I heard a serious guffaw down there.” “What? Yeah, I guess. Some of it is funny. I was mostly being wooled on by Boo: sometimes I don’t even realize that she’s on my lap – when did she get up there? And for how long? Geez … OH, there was a funny part! There was this little girl, and the cranky old bad guy who adopts her and two other girls, and they’re at a fair, and she sees this unicorn and really wants it, and he blows apart the game to get it for her cause it’s rigged, and she growls, ‘It’s So Fluffy!!!!!’ Yeah, that made me laugh.”

You can laugh along with me right here.

The little girl reminded me of a cross between me and one of my besties: Hannah. After high school I cleaned Hannah’s room, and when I’d move things to the junk pile, she’d tell me: “Nooo! I need this, or I’ll dieeeee!” She may have been right, but we’ll never know.

As for me, I admit it: I have a giant stuffed animal – not a unicorn, but a bunny. My Nana bought an Easter dress for me, and after spending a certain amount at the department store, the bunny was less.  There were bunnies ALL over that store, and Nana was determined my brother and I needed one. My mama sacrificed and bought herself a new dress so Matt could get a bunny. Because I have the bunny Nana bought: I watched the clerk put it in the bag and made sure that one stayed with me. As it has: for over two decades.

Some people have body pillows; I have my bunny, and I believe he’s done wonders for keeping my back in alignment at night. Plus, he’s an awesome head prop while reading.

I love the sheer joy of the little girl in the moment. She doesn’t want the unicorn for practical purposes, for personal edification, for social betterment.  She wants it and LOVES it because it’s fluffy.

It’s time to find some more fluffy in my life. FLUFFY!

That gives us a lot to wonder about

I’m not good at providing answers.

After college I worked in a library and *loved* it: not the organization or the mass amount of books, but being able to point people in a direction to find resources to help them in their journeys.  When I worked in the young adult section I often was asked point-blank questions: “What is the population of Idaho?” “What is the tenth decimal of pi?” “Why is the capitol barricaded?” (That had to do with the present governor’s strong belief that post-9/11 terrorists were attacking key places in America, like the head of the government in southern Idaho. Yeah).

My answer: “Hmm: well, let’s look at where we can get that answer.” Not always a pleasing response, but in the long run, the right answer: they were equipped, and I might have less questions asked of me. 🙂

One of my favorite parenting books, How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, gives four points for helping kids/mankind deal with their feelings (aka. what most of us spend most of our time doing): (HT)

  1. Instead of half-listening, listen with full attention. It can be discouraging to try to get through to someone who gives only lip service to listening. It’s much easier to tell your troubles to a parent who is really listening. He doesn’t even have to say anything. Often a sympathetic silence is all a child needs.
  2. Instead of questions and advice, acknowledge with a word — “Oh … Mmm … I see.” It’s hard for a child to think clearly or constructively when someone is questioning, blaming, or advising her. There’s a lot of help to be had from a simple “Oh … umm …” or “I see.” Words like these, coupled with a caring attitude, are invitations to a child to explore her own thoughts and feelings, and possibly come up with her own solutions.
  3. Instead of denying the feeling, give the feeling a name. The child who hears the words for what he is experiencing is deeply comforted. Someone has acknowledged his inner experience. (“That sounds frustrating!”)
  4. Instead of explanation and logic, give a child his wishes in fantasy. When children want something they can’t have, adults usually respond with logical explanations of why they can’t have it. Often the harder we explain, the harder they protest. Sometimes just having someone understand how much you want something makes reality easier to bear. (“I wish I could make the banana ripe for you right now!”)

The past five weeks in my Sunday class at our worship gathering I’ve been given another tool: The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Instead of providing THE answer with the flannel graph, I’m learning how to create space for my kids to encounter God on their own, to enter into The Mystery, to ponder and wonder.  One of the key phrases the facilitators seem to end with is “Hmmm, that gives us a lot to wonder about.”

Yesterday during our afternoon park visit, I walked the path while my kids joined the masses running amuck.  This group was different, though: light sabres and really big guns seemed to be the main focus.  My boys were mesmerized.  My heart sank. “Ack! Guns: BAD! My babies!” But then I thought of my brother who maintains that his enjoyment of heavily militarized video games stems from the trauma of the de-gunning of his Leonardo Ninja Turtle as a tyke. 🙂

Boys will be boys.  But I cleave strongly to a peace testimony.  But the founders of my denomination declared they were part of the Lamb’s Army.  Ack!

Fortunately as I paced, and prayed, the phrase that came to mind was, “Hmm, this gives me a lot to wonder about.”

When I told the boys it was time to go home (because, honestly, I couldn’t bear much more of my oldest following the tall red-headed ring-leader), JJ burst into tears.  “But he wouldn’t share his gun with me!!” Me: “Oh, you’re sad.” JJ: “Yeah. Sniffle.” Abe: “I will ask Unca Matt for a light sabre or a gun for my birthday.  Because he will get it for me, and it will be awesome.”

Hmm. And sigh. Oh, the wonder.  🙂

Ok, So I Fell Behind in the Picture Taking

Fortunately, someone got my back … or his front.

His face is a glimpse into a moment in time:  food, scabs, bruises, glitter …

Trying to look “normal”.

Or not.

Perhaps practicing his letter of the week from preschool?

I really don’t ask anymore:  just nod and accept, just nod and accept.

Either someone has a healthy self esteem or is the overlooked middle child:  not only taking self-portraits, but also pictures of himself.

Maybe the lack of pictures is do to all the activities we’ve been doing.  What they are, I can’t remember:  but we’ve got some tuckered-out little people around here (sleeping next to “the awesomest book, Mom!” It’s given the thumbs up by George Lucas:  obviously an important literary contribution to this generation).

Like Mama at this age, like Daughter.

Post-nap activity:  snuggles.

And smiles.

And demands for “when will the pizza be reaaaaaaaaddddddddddyyyyyyyy?!!!!!!!” We know how to party on a Friday night.


First Task of the Day: Locate My Mind

I always thought the phrase “I’m looking for my glasses” was interesting, mostly because I needed my glasses to find them.  That’s how I feel about my mind as of late:  I need to remember my mind, but I tend to forget it because, well, I need it to remember.  Make sense?  It does in this convoluted mass of tissue in the upper realms of my noggin.

Three kids.  Two schools.  One husband.  We have yet to have two “normal” weeks in a row, which does not work for my pattern-finding self or routine-oriented children.  Correction:  JJ adapts, but oh the weeping and wailing of my middle child at not having school five days a week, or like this week, at all.  The Little Miss could care less, except when her mother can’t figure out what she wants (like to be fed) or that she’s capable of more movement than army-crawling (like dumping out the cat’s food this afternoon — twice).

I was listening to a podcast of an author discussing his latest book on George Washington.  The former president wrote in his will that all of his slaves were to be freed upon his death, which caused a problem because his wife brought a lot of slaves into the marriage, and they weren’t too hip with the idea of staying longer than the others.  My first thought, “What would you do with all those slaves?” and then, “Oh, wait …”

I’ve taken to making a number of items in our home as of late:  laundry detergent, yogurt, butter, preserving fruits and vegetables, bacon, etc.  The energy and time I could spend doing something else, like writing or speaking to another adult, is used providing healthy, local, happy things to consume.  Which is my choice to make/do.  But I don’t know that my mind naturally works that way, and so I feel like I’m constantly racing — to preserve the food before it goes bad, to make more soap before the laundry becomes the ‘dee’s new Mt. Hood.  And then I get grumpy:  I sure hate being grumpy.

So if my hubby can buy more memory for the computer, can’t the world come up with more memory for our minds?  That, or if someone wanted to move in and help me out:  I’d pay well in cookies:  that I rarely forget to make.  🙂

The Pretend Foodie Pretend Vegetarian Menu Plan

I am by no means a foodie, but I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about food, reading about food, talking about food, purchasing, preparing, consuming, and cleaning up after food.  Other than, “Can I go to”, “Can we go to the park?”, “Is it screen time yet?”, and “Doo-dah/Doe-fa-feen/Dad did it!” the words I most frequently hear are “What and when are we going to eat?”  Mostly, lately, it’s gotten the same response:  “Idunno.”  I haven’t been inspired, it’s been too rainy/cold/blazing hot/enter some other element “out of my control” that would give me the excuse to say “sounds like another snacky lunch day!”

But then a friend made a comment the other day:  “I miss your menu posts.”

What?  Someone reads this ol’ blog?  And they’re interested in what I have to say?  Like a neglected child who gets a glimmer of positive reinforcement, my inner blogger did a little twirl:  someone cares?!!  Then I should menu plan!  And post!  And after a life of family-visits, end-of-the-school-year-madness, surgery, recouping, rockin’-the-rec-at-VBS, trip-to-Kansas, soul-sucking-heat, I actually found time and space to plan out the munchies.

What cookbook are we planning from this time?  The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook.  Not that I’m a vegetarian intentionally.  It’s more that a) meat takes time to prepare, 2) wrongly prepared meat can cause death, iii) I’m lazy and would like not to kill off my family.  And, dairy and I are fast friends.  So I read vegetarian recipes:  plus, honestly, a lot of them are quick and easy and don’t deal with potential cross-contamination.

Sunday:  Breakfast at church before the outdoor worship (took store-purchased granola as my cereal offering – shocking for me not to bring a baked good – that’s how out of it I’ve been – and how non-stove-oriented – cause it’s hot – and we’re doing one-window-unit a/c – gotsta keeps the bebes cool!); Pb banana shake, sugar snap peas (from our CSA – love them!), whole wheat ritz with raw milk yogurt cheese; Whole wheat english muffin pizzas (with Trader Joe’s pizza sauce:  thanks for the recommendation, Ashlee!)

Monday:  Molasses toast, herby (CSA) scrambled eggs, cherries (CSA and our backyard); whole grain waffles, bananas, peanut butter; Veggie breakfast burrito, fruit salad

Tuesday:  Summer muesli, bananas; Tofu salad sandwich, chips, carrots, dried strawberries; Breakfast potatoes and veggies, scrambled eggs plus

Wednesday:  Almond butter orange sandwich; Bean quesadilla, chips, cherries; Scrambled tofu, almond pancakes w/homemade butter and homemade raspberry jam

Thursday:  Soaked apples’n’spice Bob’s Red Mill cereal, string cheese; Rice and beans casserole, chips, salsa, carrots; Tofu and udon noodles (known to the boys as peanut butter noodles, like the kind that beloved Miss Ashlee makes for her boys, cause tofu and udon is yuck, but who can say no to peanut butter noodles?!!), applesauce, snap peas

Friday:  Almond butter pancake sandwich, bananas; Curried rice salad, toasted cheese english muffins; Grilled chicken mango sausage, new potato and pea salad (Thanks, Mere!)

Saturday:  English muffin cheesecake, cherries; Black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, snap peas, homemade strawberry fruit leather; Potato kale quiche, fruit salad, garlic toast

It’s amazing to recognize the changes since I’ve last posted a menu.  I make a lot more stuff myself, or I get a lot more ingredients locally.   On Saturday a friend and I drove past the house I get eggs from which happens to be in the hills of Dundee.  My friend, who was driving, said, “So we turn around to get to your house?” to which I replied, “Oh no, there’s a back road.”  A back road that’s gravel with crazy amounts of small and large potholes, including a turn that drives you over really really loose gravel where it’s not so obvious where the tires of the car should or actually can go.  And yet their house is a mere few minutes away from my house which is firmly located in suburbia.  At times like that, after doing my weekly egg pickup, and as I hear my youngest littles babbling to hear their voices change as we bounce from pothole to pothole, I must admit: I really do love my life.  😉