Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Google Earth and Santa

We were playing around on Google Earth tonight, looking for Macedonia, and then touring Sao Paolo, Brazil  in street view.  Henry was really excited.

Henry:  "Let's google earth the North Pole."  

Can you imagine his disappointment as we zoomed down on a sea of blue?  

But Henry is still sitting here next to me, chewing on an apple. 

Henry:  "Mom, let's google where Santa is."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Restaurants and Kids

In the words of one of my kids:  "This is why I like fast food.  You don't have to sit here and do worksheets."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In the Car

I.  In the car on the way there: 

Henry:  "Mom, is it October, or Octover?"

Mom:  "October."

Henry, giggling,"Mom, did you say Octover?  It sounded like Octover."

Mom: "October . . . buh, buh, buh, October."

Henry: "Huh."

A few minutes later.

Henry:  "Mom, I really think Octover is easier to say."

II.  In the car on the way home:

Jackie:  "Mom, I really would like a puppy for Christmas.  I also want an iPhone."

In a chorus of voices, the kids all answer:

"You can't have an iPhone, Jackie."  They know we're not into buying a lot of electronics for our kids.

Jackie:  "How about an iPad?"

Collective groan.

Henry:  "I want an iPhone and an iPad too."

Morgan:  "Stop asking for things you can't have."

Jackie:  "Can I at least have a puppy?"

Henry:  "Yeah, and I really want a flying squirrel for Christmas."

"Huh?"  Little does he know he really could have caught one in our attic last year.

Henry:  "Or a sugar glider."  Which is some kind of flying marsupial (think opossum family).

Sugar Glider

Morgan informs me they all know about sugar gliders from PBS Wild Kratts.   I'm trying to remember how we handled the Christmas pet request in the past. . . . Fur Reals, Sea Monkeys, more Fur Reals. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

For You, Mom

Henry came home from school last week with a pile of pictures.   
He gave me a hug and said, "Mom, I drew these just for you."

Alligators Eating a Deer (notice the wound in the deer's side.)

King Cobra

Copperhead Snake

Black Widow Spider (black circle in corner is the moon)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Somehow I found this a striking contrast between education and lack of . . .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Found in our Compost Pile

I went to dump some watermelon rinds in the compost pile, and the leaves were slowly moving.  With a stick, I uncovered these two together.  The red eye in the picture is not edited--it really was that red.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Window Markers

Someone recently gave these to my kids--they are a complete hit.  Crayola crystal effects markers.  My kids  have washed and re marked the windows just about every day since they received them.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

This week I attended training in arts integration.  We studied Aboriginal culture and art, and created our own "Aboriginal" paintings.  With that we integrated poetry.  I started out wanting to paint and write about the effect of the spotted owl on the lumber industry in Oregon, but it soon turned to one of the most important people in my life instead.  

Aboriginal art uses symbols and dots to tell a story.   The symbol in my painting is a commonly used Aboriginal symbol.  You should be able to interpret it by reading my poem.

Tree Farmer

Dry, clean, and clear,                                                                 
The air wisps and waves over rolling hills and jagged peaks.
It dives and dozes in the summer morning coolness,
And traces the lines
Separating the earthy shapes below.

Soft as the whisper of a dragonfly’s wings,
It touches the tops of the grand Douglas firs
Drinking in the deep green,
And twisting down and round the scratchy trunks.
Until it breaks through the evergreen wall,
To the clear cut canyon.

The air weaves through drying brush piles,
But stops short, seeing
A sapling, peeking
From the sea of brown.
And then another.
And another,
The beginning of a new forest.

The man grows trees.
He grows children too.
The air gathers round the father and his children,
Who once carried dusty shovels
And burlap bags of saplings.
Later, staplers and papers to foil the deer,
Tin foil to protect from mice.

The air races round the children, their mother and father,
Faces lit by campfire,
Singing with an accordion,
Roasting marshmallows in the glowing coals,

The air cools to older youth.
With their father,
They wield long pole saws in the drizzling rain,
And then chainsaws,
Pruning and training to grow
Straight and tall, lumber.

It is his farm.
It is their farm.

But really it is his farm.
And now the air dips down,
Ruffles gray hair,
And traces wrinkles,
Lines of satisfaction.

Seventy, bent, but sinewy,
The aging man climbs through a stand of trees,
Rows standing at attention
Showing respect.

I will not spend my final years
In a rocking chair,
The thought flows,
And the air embraces
His trees,
His children,
And his memories,
And whispers strength into his ears.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Morgan (11) commented tonight,  "My friend really believes that mermaids are real."

Jackie, knowingly shaking her head replied,  "Isn't that funny?  I mean, some people say mermaids are real and Santa's not.  Can you believe that?"

Then in a sing-song voice, Jackie continues, "Santa brings us gifts, eats the cookies . . . "

Tonight Henry came down in his cute little red and blue Star Wars jammies.

Henry:  "Mom, can I have a cuddle?"

Me:  "Hmmmmm . . . "  I was busy on the computer.

Henry:  "Mom, I'm a good cuddler.  And besides that. . . I'm cute."

How could I resist this sweet kid?  Impossible.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bike Safety

Matthew took Henry on a bike ride the other day:

Henry:  "Dad, you'd better put on your bike helmet because it would hurt a lot if you fell down."

Matthew:  "Why is that, Henry?"

Henry:  "Because your hair is so little."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Daddy Daughter Dance

I am not a seamstress, by any means.  Nor do I want to be one.  My mother was an excellent seamstress, and she tried to encourage me to learn.  When I was in elementary school, I did participate in 4-H sewing.  I even competed at the state fair with a pair of awkwardly fitting, royal blue peddle pushers.  I probably have a participant's ribbon tucked somewhere in a box.  But sewing didn't stick, and my sewing today is limited to whatever I'm encouraged to sew by good friends here and there.  Sewing Morgan's blue skirt for a daddy daughter sock hop at church was this type of adventure.  Everyone was doing it, so I yielded to peer pressure.  With help, I think her skirt turned out pretty nice, and I enjoyed spending time with friends. 

I borrowed Jackie's pink skirt from a friend.  It was a little dirty, so I washed a few places in the sink with water just a few hours before the dance and hung it up to dry because I knew that the dryer would cause the felt to pill more.  

I was surprised that after a few hours, the felt not only wasn't dry, it was still soaking wet.   Being the smart woman I am, I handed Jackie a blow dryer and told her to hold it over the wet area, and I left to help Morgan get ready.   Little did I know that felt actually melts!  Jackie had accidentally melted some holes in the skirt by holding the dryer to closely.  Poor kid.  She cried and cried.  We could barely get her calmed down for this picture.  

I never understand if Jackie was more upset about having holes in the skirt for the dance, or if she was more upset about having put holes in my friend's poodle skirt.  But my friend was extremely gracious and forgiving when I gave it back.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Judge Not

The funniest thing to me about this video is that I'm more likely to be standing outside my own house and looking inside.  Is it possible that some of us spend more time judging ourselves than others?  And either direction isn't a great thing?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Part of our religion is to have a special family night every Monday night.  We usually have a brief moral lesson, sing a song, and play a game together, and, of course, have a treat.  We call this night Family Home Evening.  Often the children take responsibilities on those nights.   Sometimes they are assigned, and sometimes they volunteer.

This particular family night, Jackie wanted to create a game.  She went into a room, and when she came out, this is what she had created.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Henry's Drawings

These are pictures Henry drew during church a few weeks ago . . . 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Henry Loves Mom

This is the first of a few posts about Henry's adoration for me.  Lately Henry has been holding on to me more and more, and though I tell him daily that he's simply not allowed to grow up, it keeps happening.  He still sits on my lap all the way through church, and climbs on my back during family prayer.  But I know it won't last forever, so I'm holding onto every moment as if it were my last with a little boy who loves me more than anything else.

He still whispers every night during family prayer, "Mom, I love you, and I don't ever want you to die."

Tonight Henry brought me a bag of leaves he collected on our walk.  He said, "Mom, I wrote something you'll like on all these leaves."

I sure do love this boy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Henry's Digital Artwork

Henry's Mountains

Fighting Sharks (Morgan says this was all his but that she helped him a bit. I think "a bit" might be an understatement.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I just wrote a note to my sister about our Thanksgiving dinner, and as I wrote, I realized that my only truly successful dish today was the stuffing.

We spent most of the morning preparing our family room for painting.  We filled cracks and holes and sanded.  Preparing Thanksgiving happened mostly during the breaks I took when my arms got tired.

The kids really wanted to use our china.  They decorated the table with the china and homemade name cards.

So here's the rundown of our Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Turkey:  I only made a breast this year--since that's what we like anyway.  I used Pioneer Woman's brine recipe.   It was fine, but I think I like a simple salt and sugar brine just as much.  We expected the turkey to be roasted by 1:30.  It wasn't finished until 3:00.  
  • Stuffing:  This I did right.  I used Stovetop, and added shredded apple.  Yum!
  • Pie:  My hubby made our old fashioned pumpkin pie.  It was delicious.  I also made a chocolate mousse pie using pudding mix and whip cream. 
As you will see, things started to fall apart at some point:

  • Potatoes:  Sticky, starchy, gooey.  Whatever you call that mess when you overcook them.  The texture was more like poi. 
  • Corn:   Straight from a freezer bag into the microwave.
  • Carrots:  I glazed carrots, but they weren't that great because I used mini carrots.
  • Rolls:  I completely forgot the salt.  Henry tried to throw away the leftover rolls because he thought they were so bad.   Actually, I hadn't even planned to make homemade rolls.  I bought Sister Shubert's super yummy frozen rolls.  But Morgan begged, "Mom, you have to make homemade rolls!"
  • Gravy:  Lumpy.  I didn't really care. 
So there you go.  It wasn't so great.  And yet we loved it.  And we loved each other.  And that's all that matters. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011


It was a hard decision, whether to send Henry to kindergarten this year.  We debated for months about whether he was ready.  Whether he could benefit from one more year home.  Whether he would be too physically little for other kindergartners.  Whether he was too physically rough for other kindergartners. Whether he would be ready to sit still and behave as expected.  

Henry's preschool teacher suggested that he might benefit from one more year at preschool.  She said his attention span wasn't quite as long as the other children.  And he certainly didn't know his alphabet.  I wasn't too worried about that.  

With my first child, I pushed and pushed for her to know her alphabet, colors, numbers, etc., so she would look really smart when she started kindergarten.  And she was smart.  She read far above her level.  

My second child, Morgan, refused to learn her alphabet.  I tried to teach her, but she just stubbornly didn't want to learn.   When she went for her kindergarten evaluation, Morgan was picked out as possibly being a slow learner.  Boy was her teacher surprised when she shot ahead of the other kids and was reading on a second grade level by the end.  Once she decided she wanted to learn, she shot ahead.  

Part of that was just that she decided she wanted to learn.  Part was excellent teachers.  And a huge part was our regular use of this book:  

I can't recommend this book strongly enough.

We have always had a tradition of reading together at night.  Each small child in our family cuddles with me at night while we read, sometimes 45 minutes to an hour.  When they are interested, we work through this book.    

Morgan taught me a lot that kindergarten year.  She taught me about how much more kids learn when they are self-motivated rather than mom-motivated.  She taught me that she had her own time table, and that she would read when she wanted to.  I learned the great one liner:  "No problem."

When Jackie came along, though she did learn somewhat in preschool, I didn't try to teach her the alphabet.  I just enjoyed learning with her.  We visited museums, played in parks, read non-fiction--if it interested us.  She also went to school not knowing her alphabet well and learned quickly once she decided that was what she wanted. 

So here was Henry.  We agonized over whether to send him, and finally decided to give it a try.  

Henry was my first child to cry over going to school.  The morning of the kindergarten evaluation, we walked in with him already tearing up and hanging on my arm.   We were late because I had to coax him to the car.   I have always been good at just leaving my children and letting them learn to deal with being away from me, but this was the first time I felt torn.  Maybe because he is my last child.  

We filled out a few papers, and I sat and held him while he cried, and then the two teachers in the room with me encouraged me to leave, which I obediently did.  I noticed that one teacher, like a bouncer, escorted me out to the school lobby and kept me busy talking so that I wouldn't go back to check on him.  After a while, I could still hear his wails down the hall, and I decided to leave.  

I have worked enough with kids to know that they will stop crying, and usually faster if you at least act confident.  But Henry was pretty strong willed.  I got a phone call a couple hours later saying that he had only cried for 45 minutes.  !!45 minutes!!  That's a long time for a kindergartner if you ask me.  But I was glad he stopped, and I knew he would be fine. 

Henry had insisted that he didn't want to go on the bus.  As I sat filling out forms in the kindergarten room, I had to decide whether he was a car rider or a bus rider.  At the prodding of the teachers, I decided to make him go on the bus, as that was what I wanted to be the final result.  I imagined the teachers having to force him onto the bus and into a seat.  And I imagined him crying and trying to get off.  What a mess it was in my imagination. 

But when I met the bus that day, there came Henry down the steps, smiling ear to ear off the bus.  

"Henry, how was kindergarten?" I asked.

"Great, Mom,"  he exclaimed enthusiastically. 

"Henry, did you like the bus?"   

"Mom, I want to ride the bus tomorrow!"

So here we are a month later.  Any of you who might have been following my blog might understand why I was worried that he might get in trouble at school.   Henry has in the past, quite frankly, done some pretty crazy things at home.  But I guess that's over for now.  His teacher caught me at the open house, and said that he's the best kid in school, that she uses him as an example for the other kids.  My Henry?  What a surprise was that.  

Henry loves school.  He's thriving there.  And I'm glad I sent him.  

Kindergarten rocks.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Love You Mom

Each night before dinner, our family kneels down, and we say a family prayer together.  Well, everyone kneels except Henry.  Since he was big enough to climb onto my back, he has crawled on and lain on my back like a floppy teddy bear during the prayer.  I lean my forearms onto a kitchen chair to support his weight.

Normally, I expect our kids to be quiet during the prayer, but I just can't stop this one.  Every time we pray, Henry leans over to my ear in the middle of the prayer and whispers, "I love you Mommy, very much."  Sometimes he whispers, "I love you Mommy, and I don't ever want you to die."

First Tooth Lost


I sure do love this kid. . . . 

He came to me with this tooth hanging down perpendicular to his other teeth.  It was pretty annoying to him, so I took a picture, and then got a tissue and pulled it out.  

I learned this from the best.  I'll never forget attending a church activity with my Dad, who is a dentist.  I remember a small child running up to show him a loose teeth.  My Dad peered into the child's mouth, and before the child knew it, my Dad had pulled that loose tooth out.  In all fairness, I should point out this memory is from long ago . . . the accuracy may be questionable.  

I've blogged before about the tooth fairy's negligence in our household.  I don't know who was the tooth fairy this time around, but it wasn't me, and I don't think it was my husband.  I have some really kind older kids who have taken over tooth fairy duty.  Somehow a bunch of coins appeared under Henry's pillow.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


So, this may give an unfortunate view into my occasionally strange sense of humor, but someone gave me these flowers.  I don't know what I did wrong, but the next day they looked like this (below.)  I thought it was funny enough that I took a picture.  I hope you can find some humor in it too.

I did, by the way, photoshop some crumbs off the table.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fixing Bad Dreams

A wise mother and preschool teacher once told me to teach my children how to "fix" their bad dreams.   This has been a lifesaver over the years.  I even use it myself.  For example, if I dream a man is chasing me with a gun, I might then convince myself that the gun was really a marshmallow shooter, and that when the man gets closer, he's really my brother.  And then we giggle, sit down, and eat the yummy marshmallows together.

Early this morning, Jackie crawled into my bed.  "I need a cuddle, Mom," she said.  "I had a bad dream."

"Jackie, tell me your bad dream--let's fix it," I said. 

"Well, it went like this.  There were these kids who didn't like vegetables.  So they would sneak the vegetables in their socks, go outside, and bury them in the ground.  Eventually the vegetables grew up into a giant lima bean monster.  And he ate their parents!"  

At this point, Morgan was in the room and heard most of the story.  "All right, Jackie.  This is how you fix it," she declared calmly.  "The lima bean monster actually wanted to give the kids rides on his back.  Then his mommy called him home and he had to have dinner."

It turns out that a book from school inspired Jackie's dream. The story in the book is exactly like Jackie's dream, except that when the monster is just about to eat the parents, the children run up and eat him instead.  So they're eating their vegetables, and the parents are saved.  Win-win.

That seems like a pretty violent story to convince kids to eat their vegetables.  Move over Pinocchio.  Move over Little Red Riding Hood.  Here comes TALES OF THE VEGGIE MONSTER!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Some Beach Trip Pictures from this Summer

I think we've gone to the beach at least once each summer.  I can't remember a summer that we went to the beach more than once.   There's a reason for this.  I've had babies and toddlers in the house for 13 years.  13 YEARS!  And going to the beach with small children is kind of fun, but not nearly as fun as going with these older kids!  This was the first year that I really could enjoy being at the beach with them without worrying too much that someone was drowning, burning to a crisp, or eating sand.  

Part of the fun this year was that it was the first year we had a boogie board for each child.  And we went with friends.  I figured out this year that I could put a life jacket on Henry, and take him out.  We boogie boarded together with him under me.  My friend also watched him here and there while I went to boogie board alone.  


We went to the beach with some fun friends.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A few more Irene Pictures

All right, so you might think I'm proud of myself.  Sure am.  Here's a few more fun pictures taken by a nice man we did some work for.

Anika working hard pulling away branches.

I felled this tree.

The group that stayed until the end . . . we finally rolled out of town around 6:45 after working  all day.

This man was so grateful when we started on the three big trees in his yard.  

Can I pay you?  Nope.

I would be one happy woman if I could spend every day doing this.