Thursday, June 1, 2017

Four Things

  • If you are on Instagram, consider giving Merriam-Webster a follow.  Yes, as in the dictionary.  They post a Word of the Day that puts most of those desk calendars and toilet paper to shame.  Here's a recent one I'm still thinking about:
Can you imagine using this in a sentence around people?  "I don't know what it is about tulips, man- I just grok them."  They'd think you were crazy, throwing random nonsense syllables into what was a normal conversation.  

This, of course, means I'm going to try using it at the library today.

  • If you happen to be at the national school nurse conference in San Diego next month, I recommend going to this session:
Why, yes, that is my mom presenting it, because who else has favorite pediatric infectious diseases?  Or refers to themselves as a "former 'Germ Wench'"?  I can promise the whole thing will be a hoot, and am currently taking bets on how many times she mentions hand-washing.  
Pre-test:  Who can tell me three things that are wrong with this combatant's hand-washing technique?  I am not even kidding, and I promise my sisters know.

  • One Friday of every month, our library hosts a little thing called Soup and Sound, where the library staff makes a meal and a person or group comes in and performs.  Over the past year I've heard a presentation by the Iowa Honey Bee Queen, a contingent from our high school speech team came in, and last month, a local hammered dulcimer player shared his talents.  I pulled Adelaide out of school to attend, much to her delight.

I believe she enjoyed listening to Mr. Greenlaw play, and it was so generous of him to let everyone fiddle around with the instrument, but if I'm being honest, the carrot cake was probably her favorite part. 

  • Derek's won a bunch more awards for his work over the past few months, but one is a doozy:
He won a Telly!  What's a Telly, you ask?  It's a big ol' honking international competition with thousands and thousands of entries and only the best win the good stuff.  I did not take that from their website.  

I believe I've shared his winning video before, but just in case, here it is again (and before you say, "Resource Recovery Plant?  No, thanks," well, this is actually interesting and will make you question what your own community does with their trash):

Congratulations, husband!


P.S.  What do you think the past tense of "grok" is?  "Grokked"?  And why isn't it "grock"?  I can't think of any other English verb or noun that ends in "k" rather than "ck."  Mock, shock, lock, hock, chock, dock, why can't I let this go, knock, pock, sock... 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer Break: Day the First

Caedmon came downstairs this morning wearing shorts and a tank top and shivering.  "Why is it so cold?" he asked as he chattered his way over to me and tried to steal what little warmth I had by wrapping his skinny arms around me.

"Because it's 55 degrees outside."

"But it's SUMMER VACATION!"  He was adorably indignant.  Don't tell him I said that.  He still hates to be called adorable or any of its synonyms.  Even if he is, especially like just now, when he came inside telling me he's scared to go back out into the shed.  When I asked him why, he said that "I heard a rumbling sound while I was in there!"

"What do you think it was?"

"Well, it was either my stomach, or something scary.  So I'm not taking any chances."


In end of school year news, all of our children survived.  Adelaide won the fifth grade spelling bee.  I was delighted for her.  She was conspicuously underwhelmed.

Atticus ran 32 miles throughout the spring in Mileage Club, an activity sponsored by a local hospital where volunteers track how many miles participating students choose to run at recess.  It's his highest mileage to date, and he is thrilled.
Okay, so this isn't exactly his thrilled face, but you get the idea.
As a matter of fact, this is his first season to make it to 25 miles, finally earning him the eye-searing t-shirt above.  When I asked him if he was excited to finally get that t-shirt, his answer was, "Kind of.  I'm kind of excited about it, but kind of not, because I know when I grow out of it, Caedmon will get to wear it even though he didn't earn it."

I probably should have tossed some parental pearls of wisdom his way, but I couldn't as I totally get what he's saying.  I feel the same thing when I see leftover marathon finishers' tech shirts at athletic outlet stores, wondering who the heck would buy those when they're clearly meant for people who actually finished those specific races?

Adelaide had a couple music concerts, including band.
We got to watch her perform on a variety of percussion instruments.  She still enjoys band, and we enjoy watching her.  My eardrums already seemed less likely to spontaneously implode out of sheer self defense at this concert compared to her first five months ago.  Apparently elementary school band members improve at a rapid rate- well, that and they already shed the people who quickly discovered they didn't want to be there.

Caedmon was dragged around to this and all kinds of other events:  the life of the third child.

The boys are currently attempting to dislodge a badminton birdie (shuttlecock?  Is that the right word?  I feel like I could be making that up) from the roof of the shed, so when, just now, I heard what sounded like a gunshot echoing through our neighborhood, I jolted out of my chair and out the door to make sure our boys weren't responsible for said noise.  Never mind that we don't actually own a gun, or that they're using a jump rope to coax the birdie off roof; I feel like stranger, more inexplicable things tend to happen when they're within four feet of each other.  Gah, my heart is still racing.

I guess it really is summer vacation.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Balance... Beam of Mashed Potatoes!

If you're thinking to yourself, Gosh, lately it seems like most of Kristy's posts are food-related, well, that's because they are.  Anymore it feels like my biggest chunks of time not spent at work are somehow tied up in food.  Shopping for it, looking up recipes for it, making grocery lists for it, prepping and cooking supper or making school lunches, cleaning up in the aftermath.  These children seem to expect food to go into their mouths every dang day.

Because working my tail off while everyone else goes about their business breeds resentment and makes me act downright hateful, I usually rope someone into supper prep with me.  Most of the time this person is Adelaide.  That is because Adelaide is the easy choice.  She enjoys cooking and baking (except when she abruptly doesn't), she is responsible, and she takes around one thousand percent less oversight in the kitchen than her brothers.  Plus I just like her.  She is funny, and insightful, and fun to be around.  (Except when she's abruptly not.  She's like her mother that way.)

Unfortunately easy doesn't always equal right, especially over time.  I've chosen the easy option for so long that at this point, neither Atticus nor Caedmon have the culinary abilities their sister did at the same, respective ages.  This sucks.

This has all been slowly dawning on me for some time now, but our family has also been in a fairly significant season of change over the past nine months as I went back to work and we all adjusted to new schedules, new expectations, new lots of things.  There were certainly times, especially at first, when this is how I felt when concerned family and friends asked how I was doing:

Getting the boys in the kitchen with me just wasn't a priority.  Heck, it's still a near-daily basis that they ask, "Did you go to the store today?" and my response is, "Exactly when would I have done that, sweetling?"

But now that we've all more or less found our footing in this brave new world, I recently decided it's time to get all the kids into cooking with me.  And because I am sometimes a world class idiot who doesn't consider the wisdom of taking swimming lessons before jumping into the deep end of the pool, last week I panicked and said, "ALL the kids into the kitchen to help me with supper!"  I know there are only three of them, but there's some kind of mysterious transformation that takes place when you put more than one of them into the kitchen at the same time, and by "mysterious transformation" I mean

"I wanted to turn the burner on!"

"It's my turn!"

"Why does Adelaide always get to put salt and pepper on things and I don't?"

"He's stirring way longer than I got to!"

until I turn into an angry panda chef.

We did finally end up with our pork chops with garlic and wine sauce over mashed potatoes, but nothing was hot, nobody was happy, and for some reason I felt slightly ill for the next three days after consuming half of my pork chop.

My takeaway from all this?  Pork chops are only meant to be cooked on the grill by Derek.  If you think about it long enough and allow all reason to vacate the premises, this makes sense.

Also that balance is perhaps key here.  I need to find the proper ratio of kid-to-food.  Maybe 1 Atticus:10 chicken fajitas, or 1/2 Caedmon:2/3 beef noodle bowl.

Anyone else feel like this is making me sound like I'm trying to lure little German children into my gingerbread house?

Then last night I had a dream I was trying to make my way across a balance beam, no doubt brought on by my late night pondering on that whole kitchen balance thing.  But the balance beam was made of mashed potatoes.  In waking hours, I have excellent balance due to yoga, but my dream-state balance was otherworldly, as I made my way across those mashed potatoes just fine.  Jung would no doubt say the mashed potatoes represent civilization's oppression against feet and my incredible balancing act represent my struggles to overcome procrastination or something else completely insane that is nonetheless reprinted in psychology textbooks every year.  I think I just really like mashed potatoes, especially with roasted garlic mashed into them, because otherwise why bother?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Let's Talk About Picky Eaters

Most nights in our house when I make supper, we have at least one kid who isn't thrilled with what's being offered.  Every once in a while someone's feeling particularly spicy and chooses to sit there, letting their food cool and become way worse than it would have been had they just eaten it when fresh.  We don't usually have that problem, though; they can choke down most of their entree, even if it's not their favorite, or they can starve.  We're still working on how to properly express themselves when the food does not cause their tiny palates to salivate.  "What is this?" is not allowed, neither is "Did you have to put so many green peppers in it?" nor "Ew.  Onions."

Now, listen, I remember being a bit of a picky eater as a kid.  My sister still seems to carry a little nugget of hate in her heart toward me because I didn't like chicken pot pie and that meant mom didn't make it as often as chicken pot pie-loving Kelli would have preferred. This seems to be repeating in our own children: Adelaide doesn't like my chicken enchiladas, so I don't make them as often as I would otherwise.  Atticus has expressed his bitterness toward this state of affairs a number of times.  I could just change my recipe to exclude salsa verde, which is the part that our daughter seems to find so offensive, but it's easy and fast and everyone else likes it just fine, so... whatever, Adelaide.

You know what?  I think chicken pot pie may be the key to all this.  I enjoy chicken pot pie now, but I had to make it for myself first.  Peas are not scary on their own, nor are carrots, nor chicken, nor delicious flaky pie crust.  It's when they're presented to you already all clumped together, and it's a mystery as to how they got in there or just what else might be lurking under that top crust that it becomes scary.  I'm still not likely to order chicken pot pie from a restaurant with a kitchen I don't trust implicitly, because chicken pot pie can still go so egregiously wrong.  Or as the ten year old lurking in the corners of my brain whispers, "What is in that thing?"

At this point the problem is that while I know I used to be a picky eater, I'm starting to forget what that feels like, so I have less and less patience with picky people in general.  This all came to a head recently over eggs.  You know- as things do.

See these?
Those are eggs.

See this?
That is the inside of one of those eggs.  Yolk?  Check.  White?  Check.  

Came from a chicken?  Well, no.  You see, these are duck eggs.

That is where, as turns out, people start freaking out.  And I start rolling my eyes.

A friend of mine at work lives in a bit of a menagerie- all kinds of animals, including ducks.  Because she also has chickens and sells those eggs, it is natural for her to gather the eggs from the ducks and sell those, too.

Or attempt to sell them, anyway.  But as it turns out, people don't want duck eggs.  They are afraid of duck eggs.  She's having trouble giving these things away.

Are duck eggs different from chicken eggs?  A little.  They're a bit bigger, and the shell is tougher to crack.  But they cook up just like chicken eggs.  I've been using them interchangeably with chicken eggs for the past few months, careful not to let the family known exactly what's going on in the kitchen, because I am not an idiot.  This woman refers to them as being a little richer than chicken eggs, like you've added cream to a chicken egg.  I use them mostly in cooking and baking, and can't tell a lick of difference.  

I don't understand how people can balk at duck eggs when even chicken eggs are a food you don't want to give too much thought to prior to shoveling it in your mouth.  Where do these things come from?  What is an egg, exactly?  What is its biological function? Ick.

Honestly, though, I probably don't have any room to talk on this subject, as I won't touch a recipe where even a chicken egg isn't completely cooked through:  Over easy, Eggs Benedict, whatever; I need my eggs thoroughly cooked, no runniness, do you hear?  Probably because I have asked myself those questions:  Where do these things come from?  What is an egg, exactly?  What is its biological function?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Things I Learned on Our Son's Field Trip

Despite the fact that we have had at least one child in public school for nearly six full years, prior to this spring I had somehow managed to escape chaperoning a field trip.

This was 99% because we always had a younger child at home, one young enough they could not tag along on the various school-sponsored excursions.  The other 1% was pure self-preservation on my part.

But now, this year?  All our children are in school.  And I work at a place that gives me a ridiculously flexible schedule- great for dentist appointments, but at the same time siphoning away any excuses I have not to go on these field trips.

A few months ago, then, when Atticus came to me, brandishing papers from school declaiming the details of not one but two upcoming outings, I knew I was sunk.  My draft number had been drawn. It was all over.  And any other overly dramatic hyperbole you can think of.

I saw that one field trip was to the science center and immediately said no.  (Actually, I cackled for quite some time and then said, "No.")  We had a family membership to that place for a year, and while we all loved it, by the end of each visit I felt that I was barely escaping with the four things I had carried in the front doors with me- my sanity and all three children- so to help wrangle a few hundred children through there?  I'm good, thanks.

I did feel a little twinge, like maybe I should chaperone the trip to the science center- deserved to, even- when I remembered that I hadn't gone when Adelaide visited with her first grade class (small children at home, remember), and that this particular trip had just so happened to occur within the time that our daughter was deathly afraid of getting sucked into escalators.

The science center has an escalator.  Two of them, actually, since that's generally how escalators work.  And apparently the mother who chaperoned had a heck of a time with Adelaide and one of those nefarious, child-sucking escalators.  Is it terrible that I'm laughing hysterically recalling that story, but still refuse to chaperone a trip to the science center/escalatorland?  Or does it just make me smart?

Since the science center was out, it meant I was going to see a play with Atticus and the entirety of the second grade.  Hey, a play sounds fun, though, right?  And my goodness, it's Elephant and Piggie's We Are in a Play!  We love Elephant and Piggie, and the entirety of the Mo Willems canon, as a matter of fact!

It's sweet how naive I am sometimes, right?

Let me just say that the play was great.  Charming, entertaining, maybe one or two songs too long, as the vast auditorium full of children, who had previously been entranced with the goings-on on stage all began to squirm in concert when the second-to-last song began.  But cute, and a great celebration of the books and characters we love so much.  

The truly terrible part was the bus ride.

Why did I elect to ride on the School Bus of Horror?  Why didn't I drive myself?  (Oh, yeah- I'd never done this before.)  It's hard to describe what the ride there and back were like, except to say it was difficult to breathe.  It was an unseasonably warm day, and apparently there's still no air conditioning on school buses (?).  On the way there the kids were asking if they could put their windows down to get some air moving, but I was worried about the boys around me (I was surrounded by boys, most likely because I was sitting with our own boy) losing a limb as, being second grade boys, they inevitably waved it out the window.

By the time we'd gotten back on the bus to head home, I no longer cared whether or not I delivered those boys back to their mamas with all their limbs or not.  So down the windows went.

Also, an equation I don't remember learning in any science class ever but that would have served me well that day is HEAT + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = A THICK MIASMA OF STENCH.

Oh, gosh.  It was so bad.  And the noise.  Another previously-unknown-to-me equation was BUS RIDE + 8 YEAR OLD BOYS = LOUD OBNOXIOUS SOUNDS COMPETITION.  

Atticus tried to warn me when we first settled in our seat at the beginning of our trip:  (whispering) "Mom?  Just so you know, that boy there and those two boys there are kind of wild.  Like, they're the wildest boys in our class."  "Wild" in our house doesn't so much mean Where the Wild Things Are but more "poorly behaved heathens who make you yearn for the days of corporal punishment." And when did second grade boys get so big?  It's hard to stink-eye a kid into submission when they're the same size as you.  Don't you worry, though, having two boys of our own and a brewing migraine, I managed just fine, thank you very much.  I probably don't have the reputation of Nicest Mom in our son's class, though.  This does not break my cold, icy heart.

A dear friend of mine and fellow introvert was similarly ensconced further back in the bus.  Toward the end of the trip we sent texts back and forth celebrating mile markers that meant we were that much closer to home and threatening to throw ourselves out the now-open windows into oncoming traffic.  I also sent Derek texts requesting he have water and ibuprofen waiting for me on my return.  You see, once Atticus and I returned, our family was immediately jumping into the car for a trip to Kansas, and I knew that if I allowed the field trip-induced headache to continue to grow, I would make everyone in the car miserable with my piss-poor attitude, plus possibly start puking.  Yay, field trips!

After all that, I am going on a field trip this upcoming Monday with Adelaide's class.  It's Pioneer Day at a park.  We have been instructed to bring bug spray and given specific instructions on what to pack in our tin cans so that even the lunch is period-appropriate.  What sedative would have been available to pioneer moms, I wonder?  The papers from school didn't say.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Books and Infuriating Books

Eight-ish months into my tenure at the library, things are good, things are comfortable but interesting, and I'm still learning new things every week, which I like.

This week, for instance, was the first time I had to suppress the urge to set a book gleefully on fire, and instead process it, as it is a new book that just came into the library and we need to do all the things necessary to get it ready to go on the shelf where it will hopefully NEVER BE CHECKED OUT.

I will not pass this opinion on to any patrons, though, because uuuuuggghhh integrity and ethics and garbage.

Still, though...

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

I can't imagine what it's like to hold so much hatred within one body.  It must be exhausting!  I do hope you're hydrating.

Yours sincerely,
One of the many you disdain

In other, less incendiary news, I survived our second book sale, but this time I also helped box up all the books that didn't sell.  This proved to be dangerous.
 I mean, they were free, and they were about to be homeless, and I only meant to take one!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Three Things

  • Last weekend our little library hosted an Easter egg hunt.  The weather was beautiful, the Easter bunny creepy.

I was a little surprised when Atticus told me that yes, he did want his picture taken with the Easter bunny- but he waited until Caedmon was there to get in the picture, too.  No sense in getting that close to something so obviously inbred without the support of your brother, right?

  • When I want to impart a message to our children, I might say something like, "Come here, guys!" or "Children, I have some important information I wish to impart!" or "STOP TRYING TO KILL EACH OTHER AND GET IN HERE!"  When Derek has something to say, he will sometimes say, "Kids, take a knee."
Sports-inspired parenting

  • I've been looking for solutions to my current problem:  I don't have a whole lot of time to read right now.  Of course I can eek out a few minutes here and there, but when I'm trying to plow through a tome of a novel, I really prefer bigger chunks of time, for mental continuity and so I don't have to keep flipping back, repeatedly asking, "Now who is Sophie, again?"  
One solution:  Read young adult and juvenile fiction.  It's quick, yet you can still find just as many high-quality books as in the adult genres.

This book is a few years old now, but my gosh, is it good.  I recommend this one if:  Someone in your life has dyslexia, if you've ever felt different or left out or not good enough, if you have children, or if you yourself were once a child.  Click on the link for a proper synopsis.

I know I just recommended a slew of picture books in a recent post, but this one, this one you have to find.  It is clever.  It is hilarious.  The writing is so good, and the illustrations so perfect for the text, you'll read it over and over again, to a kid or maybe just to yourself.  

The end.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Books and Caedmons and the Barkley Marathon

Caedmon didn't have school on Friday.  This meant we got to spend the whole day together, which is thankfully still good news to our youngest.

We had very important things to do.

He coached me on the finer details of Pokemon.  Again.
This is his "explaining important Pokemon stuff" face.

We read a big pile of books together.  Again.
As a big old parenthetical, the above is one of my most recent favorite picture books, along with

It's so cute, and so strangely funny, and really I just love anything illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Also Pig the Pug
because again, hilarious illustrations, plus it's about sharing.  Maybe your kids are perfect, but ours could perhaps use a reinforcing message here and there on the benefits of sharing.

And finally, They All Saw a Cat.

This is one is so conceptually brilliant you'll want to buy it to own yourself.  Even if you're an adult.  Adults are allowed to buy children's books, you know.  A cat moves along, walking around, and each set of pages contains an illustration depicting how he is viewed by different creatures, giving you a depiction of the way a cat might be viewed from the perspective of a dog, a mouse, a bird, and so on.  Good, good stuff.

Parenthetical book thought over.

Caedmon also came to work with me for a couple hours on Friday, where he was so good one of my co-workers plied him with candy.  At one point, after returning home, I told our youngest I was going to do some yoga.  He asked if he could join me, and I responded that of course he could!  Yoga for everyone!
As it turns out, Caedmon's not real big on personal space during yoga, so I got to go through all my sequences with a small boy rightnexttome.  It's definitely a different experience to push back into downward dog and have a little face appear under you, asking, "Are we almost done?  Is this one hard for you?  Can I tell you about Charmander's abilities, now?  Do you know what my powerfullest Pokemon is?"  

Just about the time I want to say something like, "NO MORE POKEMON TALK.  EVER," he hands me this.

And then I'm stuck.  Three more hours of "I have four EX's, but Atticus has more; he has seven, but my charizard is jfo;awenvoaiwrb."   Nonsense letters at the end there because that is what all it sounds like to me:  a bunch of nonsense syllables.  Then we got to thumb through his Pokemon cards and look for something- I don't know what and I didn't care.  

That must be how Derek has felt all weekend when I've given him Barkley Marathon updates (#gogarygo):  "Yikes, the race started at 1:42 A.M.," "Loop 1 took them 9 1/2 hours!"  "They're on Loop 2, and have had trouble finding the books in the dense fog."  Lucky, lucky Derek.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Actually It Was 6:45

This morning we began our day with a good old-fashioned fight.  It was all caused by the revelation that Caedmon eats his toast wrong.  Oh, you didn't know that there was a wrong way to eat toast?  Neither did Caedmon.  Neither did anybody, for that matter, except 7 a.m. Atticus.  Any-other-time-of-day Atticus probably could not care less how his younger brother eats his toast, but 7 a.m. Atticus cares.  Deeply.
See, what we all learned this morning is that Caedmon flips his toast upside down just before it enters his mouth so that it's jelly-side down as it hits his tongue.  When you think about it, this is insanely sensible.  Clearly the boy is a genius.  I may start eating my pizza this way.  Nevertheless, 7 a.m. Atticus's sensibilities were offended.  "That is not how you're supposed to eat toast," 7 a.m. Atticus insisted.  "You are eating it wrong.  Nobody eats it that way."  Caedmon pointed out that he eats it that way, and gave his jelly-to-the-tongue reasoning.  7 a.m. Atticus did not care.  He would not be swayed.    

The only reason this altercation stayed civilized is that I was present at the table.  They have flailed their limbs at each other's faces for less, I promise you.  It wasn't just me there, though; it was 7 a.m. me, and 7 a.m. me is more interested in getting enough coffee into her gullet to get her morning murder feelings under control than in refereeing such world-changing issues like Toast Up v. Toast Down.
It's... it's so BEAUTIFUL...

After I had shared my feelings on the matter, we all finished our breakfasts in resentful silence, THE WAY GOD INTENDED.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Three Things

  • When you go to enjoy frozen yogurt with Caedmon, he eats it so fast this inevitably happens.
On a related note, Caedmon- who is a self-determined expert on superheroes- helped me discover what my superpower is:  I do not get brain freeze, or ice cream headaches, or whatever you call them.  I will pretend I was not disappointed that my superpower couldn't have been something just a tiny bit... well, cooler.  (Pun not intended but nevertheless appreciated for what it is.)

  • Hey, remember when we didn't have to wake up and feel sick by what our elected government officials were doing "on our behalf"?

  • While all of our children are capable of independent reading (HAL-LAY-LOO-YAH), all three still enjoy being read to, particularly Caedmon.  He has a very subtle way of asking for this to happen.
I understand if you're having trouble focusing on the subject of this photo, which is supposed to be how our youngest spreads a blanket on our couch, assembles a pile of picture books, then pats the seat next to him invitingly, beckoning you to come read to him.  Maybe you're distracted by a photo-bombing Atticus in the foreground, or maybe you can't take your eyes off those pants of Caedmon's.  I do have an excuse:  I am a human being who sometimes gets a little behind on the laundry.  That morning, before school, Caedmon had wailed to me that he had "nooooo mooooore clean paaaants to wear!"  I dug those way-too-short, mess-of-holes jeans out and told him to put some long underwear on underneath.  Problem solved.  And it's better than that day last fall, when Derek got the kids up and around for school one day, allowing me and my bronchitis to sleep in.  Sweet, nice husband.  Sweet, nice husband who I discovered sent Caedmon to school in long underwear instead of real pants and didn't realize it until I sent him a picture of our son right after he got off the school bus in those long underwear.  I laughed, shrugged, and basically chalked it up to "Whatever, he's the third child and used to these kind of shenanigans."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Damages Incurred

If you don't count the weekend, today is the final day of spring break!  Adelaide has been singing something called "The Shark Song" on repeat for the past 35 consecutive minutes, Atticus keeps bringing Caedmon to the brink of violence by pausing outside open doorways, gesturing for his younger brother to precede him and then smirking before smarmily saying, "Ladies first!" and I am wondering what it feels like to be alone.  I can't really remember.  How did I keep my sanity for a solid decade while I was staying at home with these heathens full-time?  OH, RIGHT.  I didn't.

Other spring break casualties, other than my patience:  Atticus's noggin, which is currently sporting a nasty, bruised lump behind his left ear where he attempted to vault a bench but miscalculated and instead of smoothly landing beneath the dining table instead bounced his head off the edge; Caedmon's knee, which got caught on a nail, leaving a mighty impressive wound; Caedmon's nose, which was somehow the only casualty when he fell down several stairs, bouncing his head off each step,
and I don't even know what else.  Thankfully, as the above photo shows, our children have Wolverine-like healing powers, and usually 24 hours or so are enough to take the edge off of whatever damage they've currently done to their bodies.  Also seen above is five or so months worth of sunlight withdrawal, aka we are all pale, pasty creatures right about now.  Send help.  Send spring.  Send something.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Through His Stomach

For several years now I have speculated on what, specifically, our children's love languages might be.  Words of Affirmation?  Physical Touch?  Maybe Acts of Service?

I think I got at least one of Atticus's locked down, finally:  Food.  His love language is Food.

Never mind that this is not one of the love languages identified in the eponymous book.  I am telling you:  food is how this boy knows he is loved.

He hasn't exactly been subtle about it.  When his teacher gave each student the prompt, "I love my mom because..." his answer wasn't "she tells me she loves me every day," "she doesn't crawl away when I drape my sick and fevered limbs over her," or even "my shoulders were as big as my head at birth which made the delivery process even more of an unforgettable experience for my sainted mother."

No, his answer was, "Because she cooks for me," accompanied by an illustration of, yes, me cooking, done in Crayolas.  That's right, this isn't something I puzzled out after eons of observation and heart-to-heart conversations with our son.  He made this as clear as possible for me, reinforcing the idea by asking me every day after school, "Are we having something hot for supper tonight?  Can we have something hot?"  This might sound like a rabid affinity for Cajun or other deliciously spicy food, but all it means to him is he does NOT appreciate it when I say we're fending for ourselves tonight and he can help himself to yogurt or a sandwich or whatever.  Adelaide and Caedmon love those days.  Atticus decidedly does not.

He was certainly excited today when his sister decided to make a pie to celebrate Pi Day,

but what really got him going what the fact that I was making a new recipe tonight for supper.

Now, normally any announcement of new recipes is met with groaning on the part of our children, seasoned with a judicious amount of tearing the hair from their own scalps.  It doesn't matter how many times I reason, "All your favorites dishes were once new recipes," they act like I am trying to poison them when something unfamiliar is on the table (to be fair, there have been times when I thought poisoning might be preferable to the crap I've ended up with after all that work).

For some reason, however, the sound of BBQ Chicken, Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Quesadillas was perfectly suited to his 8-year-old palate.  He was so excited.  So pumped.

This excitement soon turned to anxiety however, which became obvious as he began to haunt the kitchen while I was crumbling the bacon, dicing the apple, shredding the cheddar.  He started asking, repeatedly, "Wait, if you don't like this, are you going to make it again?  Mom?  What if you don't like it?  Will you make it again?  What if I like it, but you don't?  What if everyone likes it, but you don't?  Does that mean you won't make it again?  Mom?  Does it?"

The explanation for his agitation is this:  I won't make food I don't like.  There have been times in the past when I made a new dish, one or two of the members of our family enjoyed it, but I did not.  This means we are not having it again, unless someone else wants to make it, in which case, be my guest.

To Atticus's immense relief, I loved the new quesadillas.  So did Derek.  So did Atticus.  Adelaide and Caedmon tried it, but ended up opting for their standard chicken and cheese quesadillas, because they have boring baby taste buds.  I did not say this to their faces.

Luckily for all of us, it's spring break, so it's easier for me to make sure I've made something "hot" most nights. This includes a new recipe for beef stew with homemade bread here in a couple days, because if it's going to snow during spring break, I am at least going to get soup out of the deal.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Three Things

  • I feel like I've had pretty mediocre luck with books lately.  I was thoroughly fooled by all the amazing blurbs on the cover of the The Rising ("I couldn't be more excited about this book," and "A classic in the making," etc, said by several well-known, decent authors) and picked it up.  Well.  Talk about bleh.  Thankfully I then found The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence.  
The problem is I'm having trouble putting to words why I liked it so much.  I didn't agree with much of anything the author had to say (via his characters) on a philosophical or existential level, and given the nature of the plot, there's a lot of both in there.  I really did enjoy the characters, though, from the protagonist who is hit by a meteorite as a child (and no, this novel does not fall within the fantasy genre) to the crusty, cranky widower with a penchant for Vonnegut.  I guess it's the same with some friends:  You have completely different viewpoints, to the extent that you sometimes look at each other and say, "It is so surprising to me that we are friends," but hey, you like the person.  Just as I like this book.  (Man alive, just when I think my book reviews couldn't get any more meandering and circuitous, I find a new way to do anything but get to the point.)  And here, a barely related image that I nevertheless find amusing.

  • Speaking of books, we can't get enough of these:  
Pardon the shoddy photography; I am, as ever, a poor photographer.  This is one of the Usborne Shine-a-Light books, a series that includes such titles as Secrets of the Rainforest, On the Space Station, and the above, The Human Body.  They take children through the subject matter by showing them pretty if rather standard illustrations,
but then have the reader shine a flashlight- or hold the page up to a light- and discover what's beneath the surface.
The reverse side of the page includes an explanation.  It is awesome.

  • The internet is constantly providing me with things that remind me of Derek.  I helpfully send these on to him immediately after viewing.  I am sure he appreciates this 100% of the time.

Comic by Poorly Drawn Lines

Sunday, February 26, 2017

And Then I Started Teaching Yoga

I had a professor in college who, if you were in a meeting with the organization she led, just a-brainstorming away and then raised your hand to contribute your idea, would say to you, "That sounds great!  That is a good idea for this reason and this reason and this one, too.  You are now in charge of making that idea happen.  I will check back with you next week to see what progress you have made."  And you would blink back at her and realize that you were now actually being forced to do something with your ideas, for once, rather than just yap-yap-yapping away, which really is exactly what college kids need.  This is one of the many things that make her a terrific professor but also make raising your hand in her presence slightly terrifying.

I'm thinking of this because last summer, when I interviewed for my job at the library, the director and I were discussing the current programs at the library along with potential future programming.  She mentioned the possibility of yoga.  I told her that I love yoga!

Six months later I was teaching a yoga class.

The circumstances were a trifle different this time, as I was first asked if I'd like to lead a yoga class, plus I'm teaching alongside one of my co-workers.

Teaching yoga has been... interesting.  Wonderful and delightful, but also interesting.  In the past I've pretty much done whatever the heck I want to do when practicing yoga.  Tight hips?  I think I'll do 45 straight minutes of hip-openers.  Tree pose getting a little boring?  Then I'll just practice dancer pose forever and ever amen just because I love it so much.

Well.  You can't do that when you have a dozen people staring at you, waiting to tell you what to do next.  Especially when you're trying to keep the knee problems of one, the back problems of another, and the hip replacements of the third in mind.  I don't exactly tailor my sequences to the needs of our participants, but you have to keep the ability level of the people you're working with in mind.  45 straight minutes of hip openers and no one will come back, unless you're me, of course.  So when I'm in Warrior II and would normally hold it for another ten breaths but can see that half the class is dying, I only make them hold it for another two.  Two and not one because sometimes you have to be a little bit mean.  I speak out of a place of love, of course.  (Or do I?)

As for co-teaching, here me now:  If you are ever asked to teach a yoga class (because take it from me, this does happen, apparently), and you have a chance to teach it alongside another person, DO IT.  Yes, teaching is rewarding and you get to choose what you're doing and how to lead the class, but what's even better than all that is leading four or five poses and then getting to just follow along for the next few- sure, demonstrating all those poses for your peeps, but also listening to Suzy's voice as she tells you to let your shoulders slump over your knees, or to twist just a bit further, or to hold that foot stretch longer than you ever would on your own, because she is flexible and strong in ways that you are not, and vice versa.  Marvelous, I tell you.

We began the class in January, and while I was at first worried that no one would come, I'm now starting to worry about space.  We are a small library, and each program we host requires some serious Tetris skills as we move furniture around to make everything and everyone fit.  Yoga is no different, as we average around one new person signing up each week, which I suppose isn't so surprising, as it is, after all, FREE, and as I told my mother-in-law, could also be called "yoga for people who have always wanted to try it but are too intimidated to do it at a gym."  Thankfully not everyone comes on the same day, so we tend to have one set of people with us on Monday, and another on Thursday.  Both days share the same favorite pose, however:  Corpse.  I've decided to believe that this is because it is so relaxing, not because it signals the end of class.

I'll just add yoga instructor and self-delusionist to my resume.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Thing That Lives in Our Chimney

Note:  Please excuse the abundance of the word "thingy" in this post, and feel free to replace it in your own mind with the proper term.  My vocabulary of plumbing/ventilation/construction-related items is abysmal.

When Derek was installing our (beautiful, glorious, spectacular) new hot water heater recently, he had to pry off a metal thingy that was covering a hole in the old chimney that goes from the roof, through the center of our house, and on down to the basement.  This was because he had to connect this silver tube thingy from the top of the water heater to that hole in the chimney for... ventilation?  I do know we majorly sweated over whether there was the proper amount of rise- I think it was a quarter inch per foot of tubing- from the water heater to this ventilation(?) hole; our new water heater is much taller than the old one, and for a while there was some question as to whether we were going to be able to make this work.  Derek's dad threw around fun words like "poison monoxide poisoning" just to make sure we grasped how important this whole proper ventilation thing was.

After Derek opened up that hole in the chimney but before he attached the new tube thingy, we took a moment to peer into the hole.  I suggested a picture be taken, but that Derek be the one to stick his hand in there to do so.  There was absolutely no question whatsoever that if I were to attempt the picture taking, I would have somehow dropped my phone in the chimney, never to be retrieved.

Picture my phone at the bottom of that chimney, wailing and gnashing of teeth from Derek, and yours truly sputtering, "What- But- I don't- How- I WAS HOLDING ON TO IT!"

So, yeah.  Derek took the pictures.

He first took the previous one, looking down, then the next pic, looking up.  Hello, 117-year-old chimney!  Hello, daylight!

When I looked at this photo later, though... what the heck?  What is that?  That thing?

Bird's nest?  Wasp's nest?  Alien cell waiting for the signal from the mother ship to activate and whir into action? 

Clearly it could be any of those three things, but a word to the wise, friends:  do not google "nest in chimney."  Most of the results are fairly benign, but a few will serve to further your belief that Australia is not, in fact, fit for human habitation.  Just trust me on this.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two Things and a Book Review

Well.  It would appear that our laptop has a virus.  This has made it impossible to access the internet from that device, which I need to get onto Blogger, where I do all my bloggy things.  Which as resulted in the lack of recent posts.  Derek suggested I type my posts out on the word processor on the (EVIL INFECTED) laptop, save it to a thumb drive, then publish it at the library.  The man is clearly a technical genius.  (Why did this not occur to me, you ask?  Because I am excellent at wailing in anguish when things like this go wrong, but problem solving, well... it's not exactly my forte.  If you need me to point something out in the fridge that NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE WITH THEIR FUNCTIONING EYEBALLS, HOWEVER, I'm your girl.)  Oh, except there is nary a thumb drive to be found in our house, so I typed this out on laptop, took a picture of it with my phone, and am now transcribing it into Blogger at the library.  Now that is dedication to blogging (happy, Mark?).

Because I can't use my beloved gifs on these pecked-out-on-the-word-processor posts, I guess I'll have to fall back on my old stand-by:  The List.

  • We drove down for a whirlwind visit to Kansas last weekend.  Included in this visit were:  The holding of babies, the baptism of babies, golfing, and visiting the church I grew up in.  Highlights included all those babies and being so lovingly embraced by the church that helped raise me, to the extent that I had old ladies talking to me through bathroom stalls even after I had closed and locked the door and was taking care of my business.  I think it's safe to say that Evelyn and I are now very close.  (But don't tell her I called her Evelyn.  She is the type that will tell you her life story as you pee but be offended if you address her by her first name.  I know this because, again, very close.)

  •  Our children are all still alive.  (Pumping my fist victoriously in the air, as these days they often seem to live their lives as if they're engaged in some sort of familial version of the Hunger Games.)  Why do boys seem to so enjoy throwing each other to the ground when they see one another?  This morning my normal "Separate!" edict wasn't enough; I had to instruct them not to so much as make eye contact with the other, lest it be construed as an act of aggression.  Then Caedmon stumbled down a couple stairs and Atticus rushed to his side to help him up.  SOMEONE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THIS.  Not to worry, though, we have Adelaide who is always happy to lend advice to those in need, which means I find myself frequently replying, "Daughter.  I appreciate your concern, but I do not need your help parenting.  So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good-bye."  Then she points out that she has read more parenting books than I have.  Which is true.

  •  This book?

It is good.  The kind of good where I lost time to it.  The author is a reporter who began having mild but rather random symptoms one week, which rapidly progressed to the point that she had descended into full-blown madness (her words).  They- and by "they" I mean a whole team of doctors and specialists- couldn't figure out what was wrong with her.  Nervous breakdown?  Schizophrenia?  Alcoholism?  (Yeah, you're not going to like the doctor who gave that last diagnosis.)  If you're a self-aware hypochondriac, maybe give this one a pass, but if you like medical mysteries that move quickly, induce empathy, and have (spoiler alert) a happy ending, check this one out.  I included the link below, something I would usually embed up there in the paragraph, but library computers don't allow the copying and pasting of hyperlinks.  *groans-wails-gnashes teeth-admits how spoiled I am*