Thursday, July 30, 2015


Thankfully for you guys, Derek's dad came over yesterday and fixed our dishwasher, which wouldn't drain, took out our old kitchen faucet whose hot water handle broke off about a year ago and swapped it with a new one, and fixed our broken garbage disposal- it had a corn cob skewer jammed in its innards (hashtag Iowa probs).  Because of this, I'm beginning to think my father-in-law is a wizard, making our kids only around 75% muggle, yay!

All of this means that instead of two things to complain to you about today, I only have one.  That thing is, of course, humidity.

Some things you may not know about humidity:

  • It makes you want to die.
  • It is worse than craving a BLT but finding there is no bacon in the house.  WHO ATE ALL THE BACON?
  • It is actually a higher-level demon, beloved great-uncle to Wormwood.
  • Its favorite haunt is along paths that enjoy heavy foot traffic, where its wet fingers reach up from the ground and pull pedestrians to the ground.  This is why you feel the insatiable urge to stop completely and stretch flat-out on the ground when it is humid.  Scientific fact.  (Hey, this is the internet, where apparently I can say any crazy thing I want, and the following will happen:  People will believe it---They will experience absurd outrage---They will lose their minds---They will open their pie holes to vent their spleen, not realizing how embarrassed they should be.  I know this because I have seen it 4,921 times this week.)

I blame humidity for my last ten runs, all of which felt way harder than they should have.  I've tried running well before the sun came up, I've tried running with a full water bottle, I've tried running hills in the morning well after the sun came up.  (Almost died.  Good times.)  I'm still not entirely sure why God didn't grant me autonomy over the humidity thermostat (humidistat?)- a simple oversight on His part, I'm sure- because running in 99% humidity is less like running and more like stumbling around while a wet blanket smothers you.  This weather is fit only for mold and maybe cigars, I keep telling God, not humans, but He just unplugs my extension when I start up that old line again.

Related:  Does anyone else sometimes picture God as one of those old-timey telephone operators sitting in front of a bank of cords, plugging and unplugging people's prayers?  I think this anytime I've been asking for the same thing for awhile- like He sees my extension light up, sighs and plugs it in, wincing to hear my voice, tinny and wheedling, "So, was that a 'no,' then?  'Cause it's starting to feel like a 'no,' and I just don't think..."

"Yes, you've reached God, this is God speaking."

One last question:  Do you think "humidity" is a valid excuse to have ice cream for supper?  Asking for a friend.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nieces From Kansas, Kansas Nieces

This summer both of my sisters made visits to Iowa with their families.  I don't want to brag, or anything, but the only thing that could possibly make a looong car drive with little kids worth it is a certain spectacular big sister.

This shirt was not made for the likes of me.  Or my sisters, for that matter.

Naturally, we showed our visitors a raucous good time whilst they were here.

In June we introduced Charlotte to the wonder that is Legos:

We made them take us back to their hotel so we could swim and I could take adorable pictures of Norah:

Then last weekend we showed Steph and Clinton just what kind of noise they were missing out on by not having a piano in their house for tiny hands to mash themselves against.

Vada jumped on our increasingly decrepit trampoline.  Iowa winters + our children = outdoor items probably quiver in terror as we walk past them in stores, afraid we'll be the ones to buy them and bring them home.

Both Vada and Elliot allowed me to hold them while I stared in rapture at their squishy faces.  I told them their high tolerance for creepers is only okay when the creeper is an aunt.  Best part about three- and one-year-olds?  They'll never remember the things you tell them, so you can say all kinds of wackadoodle crap.  (Who wants to let me hold their children?)

We played hide and seek.  The preschool set and I play this game perfectly together, because like them, I have a childlike belief that if I just look away, no one will find me:  If I can't see you, you can't see me.  You'd be surprised how often this works.

I'm like a chameleon, right?

Our kids waste no time in loving on littler people, either.  I have no idea who they get this from.

Even Derek is unable to resist reaching out a tickling hand with sweet nieces.

Now I need someone to tell me that they'll all look exactly the same in 3-6 months when we see them again.  No growing allowed, you hear?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I had plans today for this blog, plans for posts about nieces and family visits and running and humidity.

But then I stepped outside.  I crossed the street to our mailbox, opened it up, and hit the motherlode.

Oh, you thought "motherlode" referred to silver or gold or some other precious metal?  Nay, friends, this is a motherlode:


A gift card to the grocery store that opened right about a week ago right here in Brave New World, Iowa.  Now, our town is sufficiently small enough that we did not previously have a grocery store, but when it was announced around a year ago that Fareway was coming to town, well, the community just about lost its collective mind.  You have no idea.  People could not have been more excited if the President himself had decided to build a vacation home in our town- you know, to take advantage of the many amenities we have to offer, like, um... mile upon mile of corn fields, and... plenty of hog farms.  It's a glamorous life we live around here, now with A GROCERY STORE!  (You know those overly excited people I mentioned?  I was undoubtedly one of them.)  And now they're sending out gift cards?!  Come on down, Mr. President:  The corn is ripe and the bacon is plentiful.  Amen.


A Breck's Wholesale Catalog, because do you know how many tulip bulbs I plant each fall?  Neither do I, but the number is generally in the hundreds, because I can be the tiniest bit obsessive about some things, and tulips are most definitely one of those things.  I've always been satisfied with the bulbs I get from Breck's- good-sized and healthy- and I haven't been able to find better prices yet anywhere else.  This year I've got my eye on the Salmon Impression Tulip and World Impression Tulip.  Their Anemone blanda mixture is also enticing, although I have a tough time spending my spring flower budget on anything other than tulips.  Only three months until bulb planting, squeeee!


The sight of this package executed the twisted feat of filling me with tempered excitement and riddling me with anxiety, because apparently when my hopes begin to lift and float up where they don't belong, I get nervous.

Okay, so you know how Atticus has night terrors?  Horrifying, screaming, out-of-control, unconscious episodes that have perforated around 80%-90% of the last four years' of our family's nights?  Remember how we've tried everything?  Remember the mountains of advice we've received from people (people:  doctors, nurses, teachers, friends, family, strangers, google), how we've tried and tried and tried different things, but thus far our family has proven the depressing info you find in just about all of the medical literature:  That there's nothing you can really do except stay calm (you know, FOR YEARS) until they grow out of it?

Well, this box contains the newest thing we're trying, "thing" being the Lully.  My mom- who, bless her, has trolled the internet and special subscription-only medical databases and gone to sleep disorder seminars at her school nurse conferences, all trying to help us- she heard about the Lully via npr (who else hears or reads those three little letters and thinks, "Me!  I'll try it!  My hand is up, up, up!"), where their tech section did an article on this brand-spanking-new product, this pod-thing that you put under the afflicted child's mattress, sync up the associated app, and over a period of four weeks the Lully vibrates during a specific part of El Screamo's sleep cycle, not enough to wake them fully, just enough to disrupt and ward off the oncoming sleep disturbance.

The scary part is that this product did crazy-good during its testing and beta trials.  Hope is a fragile thing, and at this point it's near-exhausting to feel it stir its brittle limbs, ready to once again haul itself up and try, try again.  You'd think that at this point nothing would be capable of raising it, but my hope is evidently like a dust bowl farm, hard-scrabble and dry but still there, waiting for the (most likely nonexistent) rain.  I haven't even been able to summon the courage to open the box, but once we get this thing out and ready, you can most likely expect Lully News to dominate the posts around here for some time to come.

Unless it doesn't work at all for Atticus.  Which it probably won't.  (Unless it does!)

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Good

Good things from our week:

(I just had one of those moments where you type an innocent, innocuous word then stare at it suspiciously:  Is that really a word?  Did I just make that up?  "Good."  Gooood."  I kept pronouncing it like the first syllable in Gouda, as in the cheese, as in my brain is not to be trusted.)

  • Yesterday marked eleven years of marriage for Derek and me.  I like the thought of eleven years because it's not the show-off-y, obvious number that ten is, the number you use as an excuse to revisit Charleston (ah, Charleston.  How I miss you.).  If the ten year anniversary is the wedding, eleven is the marriage itself, the everyday celebrations and devotion.  Hurrah for eleven years! 

Dear Charleston,




  • I've spoken in the past about how I loathe certain magazines, "certain" being just about any of those targeted toward women, because apparently all women care about is losing weight and organization?  (I just spent a solid minute debating whether to put a period or a question mark at the end of the previous sentence:  I leaned toward a full stop because that really is what those magazines seem to believe, but went with the question mark because I don't understand why.  Also, it would appear that this is one of those days that finds me incapable of editing; instead I'm just putting all my extraneous thoughts into parentheses.  You have my condolences.)  A magazine I don't loathe in the least?  This Old House magazine.  Oh my goodness.  My word.  There are no articles about losing weight by using your lungs to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide or the best way to clean the bottles that contain your cleaning products.  People, the cover has zero, ZERO exclamation points on the cover.  What it does have are articles on seed libraries (people bring in seeds they harvested from their plants to a central location- in the article's case, an old card catalog cabinet in an actual library- for other people to "check out" and take home to plant!  It's revitalizing heirloom seeds!  It builds up community!  Aaaah!), a review of this new dry erase board paint (goes on clear and glossy over any existing wall color!  It's a dry erase board painted anywhere you want!  Aaaah!), and tips on planting your own tiny hellstrip garden (that struggling strip of grass between the sidewalk and curb apparently has a variety of names, which I did not know- but what a great idea!  Fill it with low-maintenance flowers!  Aaaah!).  Adelaide, for her part, adores Smithsonian magazine, a copy of which my mom sent home with Daughter last month.  She spent two solid days poring over it and hasn't stopped talking about pneumatic tubes ever since.  Mom promised to send her back issues Adelaide's way soon.  Hallelujah.

  • It's the most wonderful tiiime of the yeeeeaaaarrr:
Reason # 1,764 to live in Iowa

The sweet corn stands are up, and the Angels of the Corn (that's my designation, I don't know what they call themselves.  Farmers, maybe?) are out, selling their manna.  Shucking corn is one activity I don't have to force upon Adelaide:  Whatever gets it in her mouth the fastest, she will do.  In this pic she's only four ears into the dozen she prepped for me, and of which I had one for supper that night, one as a bedtime snack the following day, and one each for breakfast the next two days.  They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so fine:  My name is Kristy, and I am a sweet corn addict.  I regret nothing. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Adelaide, Morning Glory

Derek and I are currently embroiled in a fierce debate with Adelaide.  This disagreement has been bubbling for some time, her reasoning changing with the seasons, but her intent remains the same:  She thinks she should be allowed to get up for the day whenever she wants.  We, her puny, insignificant parents, disagree.

"It's summer!  Can't I control my own schedule even in the summer?"  "I am nine, you know.  Nine years is plenty old enough to decide when I wake up."  "We don't even have anything going on today!  Why do you get to decide when I wake up when we don't even have anywhere to go!"

We give her all sorts of perfectly sound reasons for our decision, but she still insists on setting her daily alarm for 5:30 a.m.

I don't know what's wrong with her.  "Yes," I agree with her, "it's summer!  You should be sleeping in like the rest of the kids your age, you early-rising little freak!"  I say this in a semi-jesting tone, and she laughs.  I am well aware that the day is soon approaching when I will say something like this and it will offend her, resulting in anger/tears/righteous indignation.  Before long we will have an adolescent girl in this house.  Come, Lord Jesus.

At our insistence, her alarm clock is currently set for 6.  This is a compromise, an hour earlier than the 7 a.m. that was our opening argument.  My mom has long hypothesized that children grow so much in the summer because they're getting so much sleep; doesn't she, the girl who is determined to reach a height of an even six feet by sheer force of will, think that some extra rest will help her body achieve that lofty goal?

She cares little for this point of mine.  Yes, she wants to be six feet tall (or, she relents, if she has to be shorter than that, then she supposes 5'11" will do, but she won't go an inch shorter than 5'10".  I love how she continues to believe she has any control over this.), but apparently even more important to her is her daily alone time.  I know what she does in those dark, pre-sunrise hours:  She pours a bowl of cereal, adds milk, then spends an extended period of time loitering over her bowl, eating in her extremely slow way, an open book tucked in next to her breakfast dishes.

I, of all people, understand this need to be by oneself, but doesn't she get that in the afternoons, during our daily rest time?  She insists that it's not the same, because I'm there, and besides, she just likes being the only one in the house awake.  It's her favorite time of day.

I'm well aware that I'll probably look back on this post when she finally has reached those dreaded teenage years and it's all I can do to rouse her before the crack of noon.  I'll probably laugh ruefully at my adorable naiveté.

For now, though, I think I'll go set Adelaide's alarm to 6:30, give her thirty extra minutes of growing time.  How else is she going to continue in time-honored Crisler tradition and outgrow all her clothes for fall?

Sleep, Daughter.  Sleeeep.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Good Sportsmanship, or How Hasbro Makes Our Children Unusually Violent

In our house, we have an ottoman.

It's one of those padded affairs, bought when our kids were tiny and seemingly intent on falling sideways into every blessed thing, their target, I swear, the delicate temples on either side of their heads.

In addition to preventing brain damage, the ottoman is hollow, lidded with two (padded) squares that can be lifted to reveal two (padded) storage spaces.  These are stacked full of games:  games that teach number recognition and manipulation, games to help preserve and enhance memory, games that teach and expand vocabulary, games that cause tears and murderous threats and bring our children to the brink of going all Cain and Abel on each other.

The latter game, of course, is Sorry!

What is with that game?  Our kids fight with each other, sure, but only Sorry! elicits Lord of the Flies-level passion and violence and cries for a certain brother's head on a pike.  Sorry! may be a rip-off of Parcheesi, but at least the name is more accurate- although if you really wanted to give potential buyers an idea of what they're in for, perhaps No Fair! or I HATE You! would be a little more fitting.

This happens every six months or so:  The kids dig out the dreaded game, I think that maybe this time they'll be able to play like human beings not destined for death row (put that one in the full-to-bursting "Lies I Tell Myself" file), and I chirp, "Sure!  Why not?  Go ahead and play Sorry!"

You know what comes next:  Accusations.  Weeping.  Literal bloodshed, as in I have cleaned blood off the board four times in the last three days.  (Okay, so that was because Atticus has suffered a spate of nose bleeds recently, and they've been so intent on playing that he keeps dripping on the board before he realizes what's happening.  I will admit to being tempted to take a picture of this somewhat gruesome sight and printing off copies to wave in our children's faces every time they ask to play in the future.)

In related news, our children are learning to shake hands and growl, "Good game," even while supremely pissed.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

How Does Our Garden Grow?

You know what we haven't talked about in quite some time?  My flowers.  (That's right, Derek.  Dismissed.  You may go.)

After an unusually hot week- in the 90's and humid- some of the daylilies are finally opening up, unlike the residents of Iowa, who act like they are dying if it gets anywhere above 89.  This would be comical if I were not now one of those people.  I have officially acclimated to a cooler climate.

Remember how my mom's husband's niece (or... something) let my mom have a bunch of daylilies, some of which were then donated to The Cause, The Cause being packing as many free flowers into our yard as humanly possible?  Well, we planted those a couple years ago, and only two types flowered, making me think I'd have to transplant all those under the giant Tree of Doom to a sunnier locale.  But nay!  This year nearly all have bloomed!

"Supersonic Prize."  Who the heck names these things?


Not a daylily, but tiger lilies are one of my sister Steph's favorites.  Who can deny Stephanie?

Our coneflowers, one of my favorite flowers to watch because of all the activity they're home to every year, are also in full bloom.  Today it was this little guy that caught my attention, as he went from bloom to bloom, walking the full circle of tiny, yellow, starry... anthers?  Stamen?  Elementary school science was so long ago and I can't remember my kids' birthdays half the time.  Anyway, he circuited those, um, pollen holder thingies, on each cone before moving on to the next.

So, uh... anyone have any idea what that thing is?  The green + black and white stripes on his body threw me off; is that a bee or not?  Additionally I can provide you with:  He was pretty heavily pollen-laden, and he could fly.  Amateur biologist, I am not.

My biggest container of flowers already looks pretty scraggly this time a year; June is really its best time:

And now, another case of Name That Flower!

These began blooming in late May and flowered heavily for a full month.  They're maybe a foot tall, and not very fragrant, at least that I can tell.  The thing is, I know I planted this last summer or maybe the one before; it started out as a small, $0.99 perennial and has obviously taken off this year.  I'm good at the planting, not so good at the keeping track of just what it is that I'm plunking into the ground.  This same concept is the reason we don't have a large number of children.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Water Not-Babies

Today I went out back and discovered that I have real, live zinnias growing (not to worry, though; there's still plenty of time for them to wither and die for no good reason), and a mess of wild Crislers frolicking amongst the fading hollyhocks:

Neither Derek nor I want to fuss with even as much as a tiny wading pool, and for me, turning on the hose for a sprinkler is like watching our progeny run and splash through sprays of money.

I fill a big bucket of water, hand them each a cheap water gun, and walk away.  One bucket buys me nearly an hour of time, as they know that once that bucket is empty, water time is over.  This usually works out perfectly, as the last ten minutes of that time generally devolves into tears as they exhaust themselves and will no longer tolerate things like errant sprays to the fact or one of their siblings looking at them.

For awhile, though, all is well.

More or less well, that is:  There are many, many wonderful things that come with living in Iowa, but the insane number of mosquitoes we're plagued with each summer is not one of them.

Caedmon in particular pays a heavy price for daring to play out of doors in the Rightful Realm of the Mosquito.

Our four-year-old's extra sensitivity to bug bites hasn't swayed him, however, from jumping on his newly ready big bike any chance he gets.

Maybe five minutes after Derek had the training wheels properly adjusted Cade left his tricycle in the dust.  He's been waiting on a bike for some time now; there's something about being the youngest child that makes you just a bit more sensitive to being left behind or seen as babyish in any way, and according to Caedmon, nothing says, "baby" like a trike.  I'm also not allowed to use terms like "cute," and definitely not "adorable;" I instead have to save it for here:


Thursday, July 16, 2015

There's No Place Like Home, But Good Luck Getting There

This summer, the section of I-35 between central Iowa and southern Kansas has seen plenty of activity by our family, both immediate and extended.  My mom and Mark's most recent foray north included golf and a trip to see the movie Inside Out, which Mom and I decided must have been written by experts in child development or mental health or something, because it was the kind of movie where the kids get a kick out of it but the more boisterous laughter is really issuing from the adults.  It was sharp and smart and so entertaining.  I can't wait to see it again.

The day after the movie found the kids and I in Kansas, trying to make our way from the site of the funeral to my mom's house.  I don't have a smart phone or any kind GPS when traveling, so I broke out the handy dandy Kansas map out of the glove compartment- as in, a real, paper map.  The kind that doesn't talk to you and is impossible to properly re-fold.  It was delightful.

After consulting said delight, (and, ahem, missing a turn or two) I decided that if I just kept turning onto highways headed south interspersed with a turn on a westerly highway every so often, I would eventually get to mom's house.  I knew vaguely where I was, at least in terms of our relation to state borders, so I wasn't too fussed about knowing our exact arrival time or perhaps accidentally taking a slightly more scenic route.

At one point, Mom called, trying to find out where I was.  I told her my sort-of plan, she sighed "Kristy!" in exasperation, which I gotta say, really took me back, and we hung up.  Then I laughed because I haven't heard my name said in quite that way in some time, and I proceeded to entertain the children with impressions of my mom saying my name.  They were in stitches.

As it turns out, however, there was a reason for her frustration:  She called again shortly thereafter and told me I needed to get it in gear, as there was a huge storm headed for my hometown.  Derek had warned me that the radar showed a wide storm system sweeping across Kansas, but come on!  Trying to kill its citizens with rain and hail and lightning and twisters is what this state does in the summer.  And spring.  Aaaand sometimes the fall.  This particular storm was severe enough to have my mom worried; she and Mark were monitoring the weather from the lobby of a Kansas City hotel lobby, having been herded from their rooms by hotel staff because of tornadoes in the area.

I pinpointed our location on the (paper, manual, figure-it-out-yourself, man-I-love-those-things) map, and sped up the teeniest bit.  It helped that no one was out, although that also contributed to the eerie sensation, especially as a giant wall cloud began to creep over the landscape.  The tiny towns we did briefly slow down for sported people standing on their front porches, staring at the sky- NEVER a good sign in Kansas.  When you see Kansans in this stance, you'd best keep a wary eye out for funnel clouds.  

We drove about half an hour through spooky premature darkness before the wind suddenly picked up and the sky tried to drown us.  Long, long story short, we finally made it to the house, but not before the kids freaked out and I told them that there were NO MORE QUESTIONS UNTIL WE GOT TO GRANDMA'S LORRI'S, because if you ask me, "Are we about to die?" one more time, I'm going to tell you the truth, Adelaide, and you're not going to like it.  All that child-silence gave me plenty of time to reflect on how you forget what severe weather actually looks like if you've lived away from it for long enough- don't get me wrong, we get storms here, but Iowa severe weather : Kansas severe weather :  : any Scooby-Doo villain : any villain played by this guy:

A million bucks says his mom took one look at him at birth and shuddered.  Thanks for the nightmares, Cillian Murphy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ideal Idyll

This summer.  Man.  While it hasn't been terrible, it has been chock-full of unexpected events and happenings.  For someone like me, who appreciates spontaneity provided there's been ample warning given, this has been a little stressful.

This week, however, all the members of our family are back at home, where we belong, where we should stay, forever and ever, amen.

With that in mind, you will understand why low-key summers are my love language.  Definition of low-key:

Having your dad assist you in your dreams toward superhero-dom:

Neither Adelaide nor Atticus could execute that Superman pose; both are way too gangly and leggy anymore.  My mom recently commented on the excess of limbs they're both sporting these days; I told her it was like living with spiders.  Caedmon's still compact enough- not to mention strangely strong- to make this look easy.

Bubbles are the definition of low-key.

How to know you've kept your kids' entertainment expectations nice and low, where they belong:  They lose their minds when you bust out surprise packs of cheap bubbles.  You'd think I'd announced we were going to Disneyland.

Bubbles:  The most exciting thing to happen to him all day.

Really, this is almost sad.
We've also been doing things like playing in the rain and playing with Legos and running and reading, not to mention my continued quest toward the title of Heartless Dictator (actual words spoken by one of our children) in the form of daily chore lists.  Atticus likes to get his list first thing every day, so he can get it done right away and have the rest of the day to spend as he pleases.  Adelaide does hers relatively quickly (with some choice muttering here and there, depending on the chore); Caedmon whines and procrastinates and plays the devastated victim until it becomes clear I'm about to lose it.

Ah, summer.