It worked

Those of you that stop by here regularly might remember the bookstore incident. Here's a quick recap for those that have no idea what I'm talking about: I went into a major bookstore chain to buy a classic children's novel. I wanted to start reading bigger books with Logan a chapter a night. The lady at the first store I went to scoffed at the notion based on Logan's age. (He was not quite 4 at the time.)

We wanted to move into those 'big chapter books without pictures' (as Logan will sometimes refer to them as) for a few reasons. One, he had shown the ability to comprehend the stories with a little help in a spot or two. Two, it was something I had enjoyed as a child -my Dad and I read such great books together for years! Three - Logan could already read but feared the "reading to" special time would cease once he was reading to himself on a regular basis. We wanted to read him harder books to prove a point - reading 'to' goes on it just invovles harder books. Lastly, although Logan *could* read, he didn't really know it.

Or at least he didn't realize the extent to which he could. He'd play one of his 'reading' games on the computer without help and get each excercise right nearly every time. These are games where he hears a word and has to find it, or even games when he has a blank slate to write his own words in. He'd read signs to us. He'd read labels on boxes. He just never really sat and read a book.

I said to him one day, "You know, you can read." And he replied, "I can?"

Let me stop a minute. Time to catch up to today. Last month we read Wind in the Willows. Logan would sometimes loose interest and I understand that. It's a book written long ago by a British guy who didn't meet a topic he couldn't over explain in great detail with oodles of flowery language. It can get a little too much at times. However, Logan did follow the story. Just when I think he'd be off in another world, he'd pop off a question, "Why is Badger so mean to Mr. Toad?"

He relished the moment to read our book together. When he got his birthday book (Tom Sawyer) he was more excited than he'd ever been before to get a book (which, actually says quite a lot). He couldn't wait to finish up Wind and the Willows to start in on his new story - in fact, he often tried to get me to read them both in one night.

His excitement led to something else. At first it was subtle. Slow even. As we'd read about the exploits of Toad and company he'd interupt me, "Where are you? Can you show me with your finger where you're reading?"

Then it was his books. He has a handful of reading type workbooks he picked out at the store once or twice. He started dragging them out and practicing them - Sight Words, Rhyming Words, etc. He upped the time he wanted on his reading games on the computer.

Last week it all came together. We were reading another chapter in Tom Sawyer. Logan interrupted me, "Where are you?"

I pointed to the words I was reading. I took a breathe and readied myself to begin the next paragraph, but I never got the chance.

Logan was at first whispering and then getting stronger...louder. "Buh. Uh. Tah. But. Tah-ahh-mm. Tom. But. Tom. Was. . ." and he read. He read a complete sentence written by Mark Twain needing help only with the words "uneasy," "nevertheless," and "sullenly." Who can blame him.

It wasn't the first sentence he ever read. It wasn't the first sentence he had read that week, in fact. (That very morning he was playing his Clifford Reading game and read totally on his own the online book "Clifford and The Cat" which contains roughly four sentences repeated over and over.

The difference, however, was visual aids. As in, with previous reading attempts Logan had pictures to refer to. If he didn't know what the word "Clifford" was, he could glance at the illustration and make a good guess. But with Sawyer - he had nothing. He had just words on paper...and he did it.


Don't mess with me. . .

Logan was at his sleepover. I was heading out to pick up dinner. Bruce and Meg were headed out back to sweep sand off the patio. It had just rained hard - a rate of nearly one inch an hour - and things outside were a bit dishelved.

When I hit the driveway I realized I had forgotten something important. My keys. Megan had gotten a hold of them just moments prior and they sat somewhere in the house, which clerly was of no use to me. I called up to the door, "Can you toss me down my keys?"

But they were already out of earshot.

Humpf. Fine. I'll have to go back up the stairs and get them myself. I headed for the basement door in the back of our garage.


Bruce has this habit of locking the door between the two spaces the moment he comes home in the evenings after work. I assume his subconscious theory is that no one is going out again for the evening and if they do, they'll go through the basement to get there. Except, this is not always the case.

I turn and head for the front steps. Climb the 12 of them, reach for the handle of the storm door. Locked. What the hell?

I ring the door bell. I ring it again. And again. I obnoxiously press the bell and leave my finger on it for a REALLY long time. Nothing. They must be out back already. Fine.

I walk to the side of the house. I yell over the 8 foot wood fence, "Are you out back? Are you there? Can you let me in? I. Need. KEYS!"


I go back to the front door. I ring the bell some more. I'm getting really frustrated. I'm even starting to curse. That doesn't happen often, seriously. I knock. The back of my fist instead of the top. It's more than a tap but less than a forceful entry.

It does not matter.

Shatter. Tingling ring of broken glass falling to the floor in my front hall. My fist, apparently, through the lower third of the door. Not my intent. And I'm still not convinced I hit it hard enough to actually do that on a normal pain of glass - in fact I know I did not.

Regardless I reach in and unlock the door. I tip toe myself in my sandaled feet around the broken glass. I walk out into the backyard to find husband and daughter with brooms on the patio.

"You locked the basement door. You locked the front door. The lock is on the gate...and now the front door is broke..." I began to rant - but it was a nervous sort of rant. It was then that I noticed, and I turned my hand out to show Bruce as well, "And apparently I cut up my hand and I'm bleeding."

The bottom section of 30+ year old glass on our crappy front door is now totally removed. My hand has superfical cuts across the knunkles - which makes it hard to get a bandage on it. The only thing that fits the spanse is a giant gauze pad with tape -- and yet the tape ends up on the base of my fingers which really, really sucks. I'm attempting this morning without a bandage.

The cuts don't need it. Megan might. She's sitting here with me pointing to my cuts chanting, "You need tape on you. You need tape. Mommy, ok? You ok? Get tape."

I swear, I did not hit that door that hard.

But just in case, I'm off to the gym in a moment to maintain my might.


Hear that?

Here that sound? That is my sigh of relief and contentment.

I called a friend in Texas this evening as I drove home down the big road. (Blah, blah, no I could not find my headset and so I did the very bad, drive while on cell phone sans hands free unit.) She picked up, knowing it was me because she has that nifty caller ID thing working for her.

"And?" she asked instead of saying hello.

"Did you know there are offices where sane people work?" I asked her.

We chatted a little about our respective days with the normal and semi-normal people of the world. "I know," I added so as not to jinx myself, "it could all change and the freaks could begin to emerge from the wood work, but for now, I'm enjoying it."

She laughed in the way that told me she understood. "Really," she said settling into serious talk, "You just sound different today. You sound....can it be? You sound relaxed. You are in your car, on your way home from work and you sound relaxed."

I nodded and then remembered she wasn't next to me. "Yeah, I am. Of course it was just the first day."

And she reminded me that most people aren't nearly that relaxed a day in with the old bossman. True. She reminded me that not only did I sit through hours of overview and training but I also produced one sell sheet and the outline of a marketing plan. "You were productive," she told me.

Right. True. True.

"And," she said in a way that let me hear the grin spreading across her face. "And, it sounds like this new boss isn't going to be beating you over the head for years to come over packages two shippers lost."

Yes, I kid you not. The dual mishap a year ago was still an issue for the old bossman. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I heard "Everything better arrive this time." And each time I so very much wanted to say, "But I don't drive the big brown truck..."


Simple joy

We were supposed to go to the Annual Ice Cream Festival today. The weather had other plans. Frankly, I think the event went on despite of the torrential down pours. We just didn't join in the fun.

Instead we had our own soaking wet good time.

Constructing a patio requires a lot of sand, just not quite as much as we purchased. At least it would seem so right now. We will still have to repeat cover with sand and sweep" stage of patio building once everything has a few weeks to settle. This morning, however, a very big pile of sand still sat on tarp, covered by yet another tarp....that was covered with some fairly big puddles. The more it rained, the bigger those puddles got.

Let me back up. It started with a rabbit. A simple, brown bunny. The "Easter Bunny", as he came to be known in our house, was sitting quietly in our back yard twitching his innocent little nose. I saw him when I peered out the kitchen window. Being the good mom always on the look out for cheap fun, I rounded up the little people.

"Quick! Look!"

Logan could care less. Megan, however, was all about seeing a surprise. It was she who first murmured his name. "Ohhh, Easser Bunny!"

We stood outside on the nearly completed patio watching the little guy. We got the camera. We tracked him through my garden. "No nibbling! Just let me take a photo!" I silently pleaded.

He disappeared.

"Meg, you know what? The Easter Bunny is friends with Santa Claus. I bet he's off telling Santa you were a good girl!" I told her. I mean really, at almost two she's still bound to be gullible enough to fall for that, right?

Ha. Yeah.

"No, Mommy," Megan said. "Easser Bunny no say Ho ho ho. He not Santa friend." She wavered only slightly when Daddy backed me up. She'd drop the subject altogether until bath time tonight when she'd ask me, with a most curious yet dubious look, "Easser bunny is Santa friend?"

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself. A short time after my initial discovery of our guest, the Easter Bunny made a return visit. This time Logan was up for the wild life stalking. Daddy even joined us. The four of us stood on the patio watching the rabbit sit and try to fade into the lawn. We rolled carrots near him. (As I whispered to Bruce, "Do they really eat carrots?" I mean come on, what do I know?) The rabbit took little bitty half-hops. We took more photos.

Then Logan yelled, "He's going for the carrot!"

Bunny bolted. We saw him hip and hop around the piles of dirt created by the giant pit that began our patio project. We saw the Easter Bunny flee behind the remaining tree along our back fence. The kids busied themselves with collecting carrots from the lawn and pitching them towards the brush in hopes of getting the Easter Bunny a snack.

Bruce began to back fill the trench that separated the end of the pavers from the lawn. The kids were beginning to plot an adventure up the excess dirt pile to hunt down the Easter Bunny. I needed a diversion.

"Oh! I know!" I said out loud, more to myself than them. They all turned and looked. I recovered and continued, "Let's splash in puddles!"

They kids were still barefoot. It was perfect. I stomped and sang our way over to the tarp. To the puddles. Splash, splish! Splish, splash. In no time at all they were both soaking wet.

The rain started. Heavy rain, but rain without thunder. We'd keep on splashing. We kept on through two bursts of hard rain. We were drenched...and yet we were happy.

As the sun burned through the clouds late in the afternoon we finished off the patio. The new table and chairs went out. The flowers got planted. The solar lights were put in. The look was complete.

Some of the excess sand was even used to replenish the kid's sandbox. The tarp, however, was left out for at least one more day.

It's supposed to rain again tonight you know.


Life with Meg

Megan, at 22 months old, is already shown that she is a spitfire. She's stubborn and opinionated -- and, perhaps sadly for us, articulate enough to prove it at every turn. She's got a keen sense of what she likes and what she does not. (Very clearly stating "No! I do not like that. Put it away!" if you dare attempt to trick her.)

She worships her big brother to the point of mimicry. Sometimes this works out in our favor. For example, she's decided to potty train herself simply to be "like Logan Daniel" (as she's begun to refer to him on occasion. He's glad to hear less and less Brabee.) Although Meg has yet to meet a public restroom she's willing to make her acquaintance with (and sure, there are several adults who feel the same) she can easily spend a dry day in underwear at home or Grandma's house. Seriously, we've done nothing on this front. She woke up one day about two weeks ago and announced, "I want go potty! I pee in potty now!" And she did. . .and she has ever since.

Megan loves to be read to. She commands it - "Daddy, you sit in that chair and read me Dora book." She loves to draw, sometimes on things we'd rather she not. She loves to help. She loves to mother, particularly her brother. As we headed out for some child-sized shoe shopping today, Logan was meandering his way to the van. Megan, already half buckled in her seat, leaned a bit to his side of the vehicle and yelled sternly, "Woden Danul get in dis car now!" He did, by the way.

And speaking of shoes, her response to the trip is simply a snapshot of what life with Megan is truly like. I knew better than to pick out her shoes without her. Daddy sat on the bench waiting patiently. Logan, still in the same size shoe and therefore out of the shopping 'fun', played off to the side. Megan followed me to the toddler girl section.

"I like these shoe," she said and handed me a hideous pair of shiny black patent leather Mary Janes with leopard print detailing. I told her they would not go with any of her pretty summer dresses. She shrugged and said, "Not now. I put back here."

I showed her what I had in mind - simply Mary-Jane style white leather Keds. She approved. We put them on her, she took off happy. I paid. Bruce lifted her up to ensure a swift departure. She looked down at her feet as he moved to the door and said, "Hmm, I like these new shoes."


We headed to Toys R Us so Logan could spend his allowance money. He'd saved his regular $1 a week and the bonus he earned for the patio help. He had $8, a $3 off any purchase coupon and a lot of big plans. As we stepped from parking lot to sidewalk, Megan wiggled. She demanded I put her down.

"I want try my new shoe," she told me. I let her down and watched her run a few steps. She stopped. She turned and smiled at me as she said, "Yah. They work."

On the other side

We are now on the other side of 100+ degree heat indexes. Work on the patio can begin again. (Photo was taken on Sunday afternoon. Nearly 2/3 of the project was complete as of Monday evening. Yesterday was a non-work sweltering day.)

We are now on the other side of the beat-ya-up job. I've got six days of work related email bliss to relish in. (The below photo just yells "work" to me - something I do not have to do for the next six days - did I mention that?)

We are on the other side of Meg's reluctance to swim in the pool. I guess the water is warm enough now. She jumps into the water now - as long as someone is there to catch her. She puts her face in. She blows bubbles in the water. She splashes. She floats. She kicks. She's a little fish...or mermaid. Take your pick.

We are now on the other side of Logan's first Vacation Bible School stint. He's already started asking if this means school starts yet or if he can attend Star Club now. Star Club is the Pre-K/Kindergarden equivalent to Youth Group at our church. They meet once a week for crafts, stories, songs and snacks. Who knew he'd be so excited for it. (This photo is Logan in the tie-dye shirt they made at VBS as he writes in with his "school supplies". Who knew hours of enjoyment could be had so cheaply thanks to Back-to-School sales?)


I am offically old

Really, I'm a nice girl. I'm polite. I'm respectful. I even hold my tongue more than my temper would like me too. (Although, considering I have the temper to go along with my red hair, that's not saying a whole lot. I have lots of opportunity to hold my tongue.)

Last night, however, I had enough.

The neighbors - the ones that live behind us - put a pool in two years ago. Although our hill seems to end where our house finally sits, it picks up again in the yard behind us. They're property sits a good two feet higher than ours. That makes their pool often feel a lot closer than perhaps it is. Frankly, though, that's a minor point of no consequence.

The real problem is their college aged son. He likes to entertain pool side -- late at night. With music. With loud drunk friends. Late. At. Night.

Last summer it was every weekend - either Friday or Saturday night. The beat of the bass would dig deep into your core and eat away at your sleep. This summer they have been relatively quite. Except last night. And, then last night bled into this morning.

I fell asleep oblivious to their frivolity. Megan woke up just after midnight. She was frantic to find missing socks. Truth be told, I never put them on her feet last night and that is not a wise move when you've got a toddler nursing a sock obsession. After putting whatever pair I could match up in the dark on her small feet, I returned to my bed.

The bass was pumping loud.

The laughs were louder.

Then the talking.

"I think they've got the music up," I whispered in the dark without knowing if anyone would hear it.

"Yup," said my husband and then he added a nice little adjective to describe our neighbors.

Moments passed. I asked the time. 12:30. More laughter. More music. At 12:45 my husband went in the backyard - big, blinding spotlight on. He yelled over something or other about trying to sleep.

It was met with a confused "Huh?"

I had enough. I was tired. I had to be up in just a few short hours to get ready for work. I was feeling very much like letting my temper fly free easy. I located my shoes. I headed out back.

The old chain link fence in our yard is still up. It butts up nicely to their wooden 8 foot stockade. I climbed our chain link. I appeared over the top of their wooden fortress. I scared a drunk girl who screamed and leapt from her seat. There were four college students living it up around the outdoor fire pit. . .including the scared one.

"Excuse me," I said, calling upon my 'very pissed off adult' voice. "Do you think you could turn down the music and talk a bit quieter while you're at it."

One of the boys headed inside to abide. The other said, "Oh, is it bothering you?"

"Well, you know, it is one o'clock in the morning. Just because you want to be up all hours of the night does not mean the entire neighborhood does." Really. I get rather snippy when I'm over tired.

"No problem. You just have to tell us," he said, his voice betraying his plan to start up the attitude.

What I wanted to say was "Look you twit, don't mess with me. I'm older than you little boy." Instead I said, "Ahh, what does it look like I'm doing."

I climbed down. The music was low now. The voices were hushed.

When I returned to the house, I made note to Bruce that the neighbors to our left were also out in their pool.

"What's her face and the new boyfriend?" he asked.

"No. The kids," I said referring to the four hellions ranging in age from 7 to 12.

We both ignored the question we wanted to ask -- why are children that age in the pool at that hour. Instead Bruce decided to be funny.

"Did you yell at them too?" he asked me.

"No," I said after shooting a few eye daggers his way. "The chain link isn't up on that side any more. I couldn't get up over the fence."

The irony, of course, is that I opted to block out the remaining traces of both neighbors' noise with my iPod.


Forgive me muscles and other stuff

We, as in six adults and two eager children, have spent our day building a patio. What began last week as a giant 10 foot by 20 foot pit in my backyard, is now a giant 10 x 20 foot pit loaded with 4 1/2 inches of gravel.

For those of you with insane curiosity, that means hauling 4 tons of said gravel from our drive way, up the hill (seriously, its a mean hill!) of our side yard and then about half-way into the backyard where we dump it in the pit. We then raked it into place - smoothing it and leveling it with a slight pitch for drainage. Luckily the very noisily machine did the tamping. We also pulled up 2 tons of sand and a full pallet of pavers. (Second pallet still resides in my driveway.)

This also means there are very few muscles in the bodies of six adults that do not hurt like hell. Not to mention forget me is feeling quite literally fried with sunburned shoulders.

So cute when she's sad
Logan went to Vacation Bible School for the first time this year. Having completed one full year of preschool, he's now old enough for the program our church offers for a week each summer. The last day, the kids put on a little assembly for all the adults that can find room in the sanctuary -- which is a lot. There were 300 children in the program and easily an average of two guests per child.

Megan, still not old enough to attend VBS, sat with my parents and I during the performance. The kids started their first song. Megan knew it, of course. She had, by default, learned the songs as Logan practiced with the CD they sent home with him one day.

At the moment, however, she was restless and yearning to do what she normally gets to do when in the sanctuary - tour the stain glass windows on either side. I whispered in her ear, "Why don't you sing! You know the song. Can you do the train whistle?"

She shook her head. She pushed out her bottom lip, tucked her chin down and looked up at me with that sad little face.

"No. I too small," she sniffed. "I too small to sing with Brabee."

Is it mean to say it was hard not to laugh?

Part of our parental understanding of Logan's allowance is that sometimes we reward extra hard work with extra cash. We don't promise it. We just spring it on him.

When Daddy began digging out the pit last week, Logan was eager to help. He was actually a real contributing helper too. He wasn't simply there with kid-sized tools to be preoccupied. He wasn't getting in the way. He was making a dent in the process.

I told him when we went in, I was going to give him an extra dollar for his allowance bucket. He asked me why and I explained that it was because helping lug dirt out of the pit was above and beyond his normal chores so we'd give him a little extra allowance this week.

"A dollar?" he asked. I nodded. "What about 10 dollars?" he countered.

"Ahh, no. How about two dollars?" I countered, thinking to myself this was patio assistance really was a big task for a four year old.

"Hmm," Logan said as he pondered the offer. "What about $11?"

We settled on two dollars.

Today he was eager to start. As soon as Bruce got home last night, Logan was begging to get started on the patio - the materials having arrived earlier in the day. The moment he woke up this morning it was the first thing he asked - was it time?

He helped load wheelbarrows by putting handfuls of gravel in while we loaded them up. He helped empty the gravel into the pit by scooping out the remaining bits of stone clinging to the tipped over barrow. He used his small hand rake to spread the fill around. He entertained his sister. He tried to use the manual tamper to flatten the mass of grey. He carried Daddy's rubber mallet around when the men were putting the corner frame pieces in place.

He was earning his extra income.

I handed him a dollar first - his regular allowance. I handed him $3 next. "This is for today and for the help I know you're going to be the rest of the week as Daddy's working on the patio" I told him.

"How much do I have now?" he said, referring to the money he kept in the 'allowance bucket' until he had saved up enough to buy something. I told him he had $7.

He thought some. "I can buy a super hero with that right? They cost $5."

He's right. "But," I add, "If you wait a little longer and go shopping when you have $10 then you can get the three pack of super heroes." I gave him a few other examples of things he'd picked out at that price point.

He took that in and seemed to weigh his options. Bug mom for a trip to the store today or wait. "What about $11?" he asked. I thought he was counteroffering again. Trying to get more money from me. I told him I had no more money to give him today he'd have to earn his allowance and get paid of Friday.

He shook his head. "No, I mean what if I wait one more week. What can I buy for $11?"

I didn't have an answer for him. I had no idea. I told him as much. He grinned instead of arguing or pressing further. "What if I had a MILLION dollars! How can I get that?" he asked.

"Honey, Mommy would like a million dollars. If you find the job that can get you that, remember me, ok?"


A new beginning

Yesterday I did something that, truth be told, I've wanted to do for some time. I quit my job.

I've had the best of both worlds when it came to family-work balance. I was working in my career field. I was making the income we needed. I did it on my terms (part-time, two days a week) and I got to be home with my kids more than I wasn't. I had time with just grown-ups (and their tantrums) and time with my children (and their tantrums.) So, although I wasn't always thrilled with some of the things that went on (or the people that went on with them), I was content to tolerate it because the balance was so very worth my while.

That, however, was in danger. The balance was being pushed. The office wanted me more. More hours and not hours I could put in from home as I'd been doing. Real office hours.

I got frustrated one day. It's happened before in my career past. I got frustrated and I spend a few hours hunting for a job. I found a listing on an obscure web site. Part-time? Check. Marketing? Check. Similar wages? Check. Commutable? Check.

I applied.

Three weeks ago I went in for my first interview. It went very well.

I returned last week for the follow-up chat. It also went very well.

They offered me the job Monday evening. I, obviously, accepted.

I was nervous about talking to the little boss and the big boss. I prepared for the three different scenairios based on their personalities. I lucked out and got the best case. In fact, I got better than best case. At least for now, I will finish out my two weeks knowing I have a job waiting for me AND knowing I'm going to have project work to continue doing for my current company. The two firms, while both technical, are no where near the same. There is no conflict. I can do this.

See me? Here is my cake and I am eating it.



Anyone that said motherhood was easy, was clearly still high on the epidural. Motherhood is not easy. In fact, sometimes it can be down right impossible. There are days your not-yet two year old refuses to stay in her bed for nap (like today). There are days your four year old decides he can debate every little thing you utter in his direction, as well as some things you say not at all related to him. There are days when the kids fight like enemy combatants bent on total destruction. Other days when nothing at all goes right and everyone cries just because you looked their way. There are days when all of the above happen all at once. Days like that you just want to crawl into some far off hide-away and refuse to answer to your name.

Yet motherhood also has it's incredibly high points. And sometimes it has those more subtle special moments that you treasure because you're the mom and you 'get' it. You get why something seemingly silly or even mundane is so very sweet and endearing.
These are the perks of motherhood.

Megan has been saying "I love you" for a while now. She even signs it. When she does it, it's a sweet moment and we all hug her tight and tell her "I love you too Meg." At a mere 21 months we doubt she fully understands the concept of love. Really though, at 33 years old sometimes it's still a bit too abstract for me to get a complete grip on. However, she knows it's something that makes us happy and she knows she hears us say it to her and to each other often.

Yesterday, however, she tried something different. I was preparing dinner when Megan walked over to me and wrapped both arms around my leg. She began doing this a few weeks ago - the leg hug. She wraps her arms around me and then cuddles her head into that spot between the hip and the knee. She looked up at me - her big blue eyes sparkling. "Mommy," she said, "I like you."

And that meant almost more to me than all the other times I heard an "l" word. Like, she got. She understand that concept fully. I hugged her back. "I like you too," I told her.

She crinkled up her nose and made her eyes smile. And then she ran off to torment her brother.


I'm it

Shannon tagged me for a meme. I've not done many of them before, but why not. I promise nothing at all relatively exciting or mildly entertaining. I merely offer you a look into the mundane existance of my daily life. ;)

Five things in my closet:
1. Box of clips - as in writing and other sample work throughout my career. I really do need to better organize that stuff!
2. Coin box - spare change gets tossed in the box or one of the kids' piggy banks. When we've got enough it gets rolled and lugged to the bank for the vacation account.
3. Abyss of lost toys - Lord knows how that stuff winds up in there, but it does.
4. Shoes
5. Clothes

Five things in my refrigerator (I desperately need to go food shopping so finding five things is fairly easy- more than that could have been a struggle.):
1. Milk
2. Cheese
3. Pomegrante Juice
4. Yogurts of many shapes, sizes and flavors
5. Blueberries

Five things in my car (ha! Ha! HA!):
1. Umbrellas
2. Cabbage Patch Kid missing one sock
3. Old dead computer I need to bring in to be recycled
4. Gym membership card
5. sand bucket and associated toys
Thankfully I only need to list five.

Five things in my purse:
1. Wallet
2. Bits of two seperate rock collections
3. Misc pens that I've relocated from various places
4. Paper waste - gum wrappers, receipts, last week's church bulletin
5. Deck of cards labeled "52 Road-Trip Activities for Families" (Love that deck!)

If you read this and assume I'm a pack-rat, not quite. If you read it and think I'm
scattered and not "overly neat" - ahh, yeah, that's more like it.

So at this point I'm supposed to tag 5 of you. Yet, I just can't ever seem to put my head around doing that. I can never come up with five people I think would comply. How about you just surprise me. It's a meme, folks, consider yourself tagged. Leave a comment with a link to your spot on the web so we can all take a peak into your world.


So it begins

I don't recall when it happened - when the idea was born. I seem to recall it was some time when the weather was still blustery and the ground was too frozen to begin to peel away its layers. The man of our house decided to build himself a patio.

We've lived here for 8 years. I've been talking about how we ought to have something other than grass to rest a table on one of these days. Not only did he decide the time was now, he decided he was the one to do it. He bought books. He bought magazines. He picked up catalogs of stones. He read web sites. He began buying tools of all sorts months before he could even break ground.

The project, which involves a large 8 inch deep pit in our yard, a lot of gravel, sand and paver stones, was to begin a few weeks ago. I was none to thrilled with the plan. If the grand pit was not completely morphed into a patio on June 29th, we'd have had Logan's birthday party in a yard full of patio building paraphernalia.

Reality began to sink shortly before commencement of the pit digging. He placed a phone call to the paver people and post-poned the order's delivery. It is to arrive, instead, a week from today. Which means the grand excavation begins now.

Had you happened into our yard today you might have seen the Pied piper himself urging his father on with loud blasts from his plastic flute-thinga-ma-gigger. You may have seen a certain red-headed gal, retrieving small piles of fine white sand from her sandbox which she would proceed to dump into the freshly broken earth. You might even have seen a baseball capped me pause in my own digging to take a few photos.

Hey, we all have our own strengths - mine, clearly not hauling dirt filled wheelbarrows very far. Times like this I like to blame my lack of upper body strentgh on my genetics. I can't help it. I'm a girl.



I've been biting my tongue a lot lately. I should, really. It's the right thing to do because frankly, it's not any of my business.

But really, it's hard.

And it's starting to hurt. My tongue that is. All that biting you know.

It's simple. It is someone not quite related to me (but could, some day in the short term future, be engaged to be related to me...if you know what I mean.) She has a daughter. One older than either of mine - but a bit, not a lot. At least not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

Our parenting styles are polar opposites. Case in point, one night my relative, the girlfriend, my two kids and I had dinner together. Logan was being difficult about eating dinner. He didn't want what we were having (something he's had a many times before); he just wanted peanut butter. And I, being as stubborn as he is, wasn't about to get up and make him something different when I knew he'd eaten what was before him in the past - happily eaten it, I might had.

The protest started. A few well placed "humpfs", a generous "No fair!" and a big pouty lip. Having an audience always seems to heighten the drama for a young kid. I didn't say anything at the table. Instead I took Logan by the arm, led him down the hall and spoke firmly to him.

Looking him right in the eye I laid out his choices - eat this without a fight or there is no playing the game with girlfriend after dinner. We're leaving when I'm done eating and since it's nearly 7pm anyway, you're going right to the bathtub then right to bed - no stories. No fun.

Logan did not like his options but he settled on eating dinner quietly. As he took his seat and started to eat - quietly - my dear, slightly younger than me, relative nudged girlfriend with his elbow and then grinned at me with that sly shit-eating grin of his.

"So, what did you have to bribe him with?" he asked me.

I didn't even think. I confess to this fault. Sometimes my mouth just spits out words before my brain can register something coherent and controled. I was surprised by the question and responded with a bit of a haughty tone, "Bribe? We don't bribe our kids. I gave him his choices and he didn't like the other option."

Girlfriend paused in her chewing. She never looked up. My relative raised his eyebrows slightly and winked - giving me the "Thank you" message without saying it. Instead he tapped the girlfriend again and said, "See what I mean?"

I was mad at him for it. I don't agree with her methods (or, quite honestly, lack there of) but I didn't want to be used to embrass her or nag her. Instead of replying or admitting I noticed anything between them I busied myself the kids.

Then there was this past week. Another story. When we hear the story from girlfriend and relative, I simply smile polietly and nod at the right moments. It is later that I roll my eyes a little and whisper to my husband or a close friend, "Would you ever...?"

And then I feel guilty. Yet that feeling passes. I hear my husband clear his throat and measure his words. He's trying to find a nice way to say that he's not sure this pre-teen our family is bound to inherit one day is someone he ever wants to baby sit our kids. It sounds shocking to me the first time he says it and then I hear it for what's behind it - the same sentiment I'm feeling. The wonder of what this means for her. What she'll continue to grow into based on what she is like today. Wondering how the lack of any real displine is going to continue to play out. How a child just shy of double digit years can still throw a real temper tantrum and not be a bad influence on our kids in some way.

I nod quietly in the dark as we nestle into our respective pillows. And then I rub my poor tongue along the roof of my mouth.


In Black and White

Every year, since the very first year, I take a photo of my son around his birthday using black and white film. Even now, completly addicted to my digital camera, I fall back to print photography for the black and whites. I'm not quite sure why. Habit? Sense of control? No idea. I just do.

We take an entire roll of film. 24 pictures in shades of grey intended to capture the full essence of a boy through the years. We select a single 'winning' photo after great deliberation and that one joins the ones before it framed in our hallway - his age and the date marked below it. My daughter's photos hang on the wall across from my son's. It's a family tradition now.

The photos tend to be taken on our property - near the garden, next to a flower bed, up a tree. This year, however, I took my son to a grove of trees on the river bank. As a teenager, this was the spot my friends and I would hang out in. We'd carve intials of High School sweethearts one particular tree. Mine are still there in a heart - SR (me) + RS (the ex-idiot). This was not something I showed my now four year old. Perhaps someday when he's ready to carve his own initials into that poor tree.

I haven't selected a photo from this year's batch yet. I just can't seem to pick it. I waver. This year we've moving into a new frame. I'm not bound by orientation as I've been the last two years. Perhaps this is the problem because I can't narrow it down to just one. Anyone want to vote?

Here are my favorites currently in the running:

For an idea of what's already in our hallway, here is last years:
Three year portrait

And then Meg's first two photos: Baby Girl

Happy 1st Birthday girl (you'll have to scroll past the pig-tail display.)