Tuesday, December 18, 2012

school observation, again

Just got back from spying on Claire.  She did all right, especially considering she has a cold.  Yesterday she did great, so maybe I won't have to give her support in class.  Her teacher was doing a very good job, too.  Of course, she knew I was watching.  But back when I watched without the teacher knowing (that's a long awkward story I don't want to relate), she did a good job, too.  We're so fortunate the kids have always had good teachers so far (knock on wood).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good luck, kids!

Oh, boy.  I read through some more of Damon's social studies worksheets this morning.  I think Howard Zinn wrote the curriculum.  I wouldn't complain if he wrote half, and then someone with different opinions wrote the other half.  Then there could be a debate going on at school, and maybe even thinking.  "Don't believe everything you learn at school, Damon!"  "Okay, Mom."

Claire didn't do so hot on her goals last week.  If she doesn't reach her goals 4/5 days this week, she won't earn the gecko cage before Christmas break, which means loss of momentum and progress.  She probably needs more in-class support.  But, I have to have the permission of the principal to be that in-class support, and unfortunately, our school district superintendent, the guy who had my corner last year and helped me get Claire's aide in the classroom, is on paid leave and about to be fired, so if I have to go head-to-head with the principal again, it's going to be long (she avoids me like the plague) and probably ugly.  Going to the superintendent last year was effective, but it wasn't a good way to make friends, if you know what I mean.

But Anne's doing well.  Almost every day she gets of the school bus and says, "Today was a GREAT day!"  Although most mornings she begs to be home schooled...

Friday, December 14, 2012

(un)kindness begins with me

When Claire got up this morning Anne told her, "Your hair looks funny." 

I braced for a meltdown.  Claire doesn't deal well with comments like that.  But instead she replied, "Not as funny as your face."

I almost cheered!  This is a real breakthrough for her!  But then an hour later Damon was saying her name wrong to make her mad and she started crying.  I told her not to cry, but to say his name wrong back.

I hope the Lord will forgive me for teaching an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  I do plan to teach the higher law someday.  I just don't think we're ready for it yet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From Our Family to Yours

If you were our neighbor, you might have been getting homemade vinegar taffy from us for Christmas.  The kids and I made some last night.  The kids are naturals at pulling taffy.  Theirs turned out better than mine.  My Grandma Barbara would have been proud.

Vinegar Taffy
2 C sugar
1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c water

Butter two pie tins.  Sprinkle cocoa in pie tin if desired.  Put a foot or two of wax paper on the counter top.

Cook fast to cracking stage or 270 degrees (the pros don't use a thermometer.  I do.)

Divide between the two pie tins.  Butter your hands.  When the taffy has cooled just enough to handle, start pulling.  It should still be hot enough that your hands are almost getting burned.  (I wore rubber gloves because I hate burning my hands, but that presented its own difficulties.)  If you want to add peanut butter, this is the time to do it.  Pull as long as you can, then lay out on wax paper to harden.  Score with a knife to make breaking easier.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012


I was on make-out patrol at the Stake Youth Dance Saturday night.  (Translation: I sat in the hall playing solitaire and hearts on my laptop, wishing Jake were there to ask me to dance, while the YM and YW danced and giggled and ate refreshments.)  I found out later from two YW in my ward that I did a bad job--a couple had been in the primary room WITH THE LIGHTS OUT.  "But they were just playing the piano," said one girl when she saw my horrified expression.  In the dark?  I doubt it.  Some chaperone I am.

Toward the beginning of the dance I was feeling pretty hip.  All these songs from my high school days were being played.  Then one of my young women came out complaining, "Ugh, why don't they play anything cool?  We can't even dance to these songs."  So I started dancing, showing her how cool the music and I are (were).  "See," said one of the YM leaders, "Sister Henderson can dance to it."  "Yeah," said the YW, "because she's a child of the 50s."  Ouch.  I'm 33, people.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Angry Birds and Poetry

Damon and Anne like to play Angry Birds on the computer.  (We don't have smart phones or ipads or anything cool--we're so last decade.)  Anne has tried to convince Damon to launch the eagle.  I guess it's an effective weapon against pigs or blocks or something (I don't know.  I've never played.).  Damon refuses.  He says it's disrespectful, the eagle being our national bird and all.

Different topic:  I was in Claire's classroom for a little while yesterday observing her progress.  She liked having me there and didn't want me to leave.  When she got home that afternoon she told me, "I was sad when you left, so I made up a poem to help myself feel better:

If we went to the neighborhood of a hare,
then what would we see there?

A blueberry bush and a kitten,
a horse and a flea,
the the cutest little puppy
that you ever did see."

To help motivate the kids (Claire) in school, we've told them they can earn pet geckos if they achieve their (Claire's) goals--10 days of goal reaching to get the cage, 15 days of goal reaching after that to get the geckos.

Geckos were Ange-babe's idea (Thanks, Angela!).  The kids are excited.  I'm excited, too.  I just found out geckos can live 25 years.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Typical Dinner

I made tomato soup for dinner earlier this week.  While it was cooking, Claire asked me to lift her up so she could see what was in the pot.

"What is it?"

"Tomato soup."

"I thought it was spaghetti!  Why aren't you making spaghetti!  You tricked me!"  She ran away in a rage.

"If it smells like spaghetti, maybe you'll like it," I called after her.

Later the kids and I sat down to eat.  (Jake was still at work.)  Before the kids could get too far in their verbal abuse of the soup I said, "I don't want to hear anything except 'Thank you, Mom, for working so hard for us every day and making us dinner.'"

Damon and Anne dutifully thanked me.  Claire cried, "I can't do that!"

"Then just don't say anything, Claire."

"I have to say something to make myself feel better."  She dipped her finger in the soup, licked her finger and added, "Nice try, Mom, but it could have been better."  She didn't have anymore.

And I let it slide.  It was better than a melt down, so I'm going to call it progress.

Damon tasted the soup without eating it, but he didn't complain, either.  Anne had seconds and thirds.  I love that girl's tolerant taste buds.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rise of the Apologists

This bothers me.  It's one of Damon's school worksheets describing tragedies from American History where the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were denied.  I flipped the sheet over, hoping to find examples of other Americans proudly exercising their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Nope.  That side is blank.  I asked Damon if the school teaches about good things in American history.  No, he said, mostly bad things.  Okay, I said, do they tell you about Afghanistan, where women can either marry the man their families choose for them, or commit suicide?  Or that girls there are sometimes beaten if they try to go to school?  

Really? he asked.  That's too bad.

All right.  It's good to learn about the mistakes so we don't repeat them.  But it makes me angry kids aren't being taught about the successes and the triumphs, or at least that the tragedies are a result of human failings, not American failings.  American kids need to be taught to hold their heads high, not to be ashamed of the mistakes of their dead countrymen.  All countries have sad stories to tell, and many of them are a lot sadder than ours.  Shame on a curriculum that teaches we have a past to apologize for while ignoring the many triumphs of those who have gone before.  I've probably said this 100 times now, but no wonder people home school.

Monday, November 26, 2012

If you're ever in southwest Michigan

you might want to look up Kasey Hunt and have her take your picture.  She's good. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Picture Day

It's the most terrible day of the year, starting with deciding what to wear, followed by getting the kids to wear it.

"Anne, you can't wear that, it doesn't match.  Anne, you can't wear that, it doesn't match.  Anne, just put on the clothes I picked out.  Anne, you can't wear that, it doesn't match."

"Mom," says Claire, "I'm going to wear this," pointing to the old brown butterfly hoodie she's wearing with the different-shade-of-brown-that-doesn't-match leggings.

"No, you'll have to wear something I've picked out."

"No!  It doesn't matter what you look like, it only matters how you act!"

"You're right.  How you act is what's important.  But I'm not paying $75 for these pictures for us to look like homeless people...you just have to wear what I say on family picture day.  When you're the mom, you can pick out the clothes."

By the time we've got to go, I'm so worn down I let Anne wear the fuchsia headband that doesn't have a thing to do with the clothes she has on except clash. 

Then we get to the park where the photographer is waiting.  She tells Damon, "Put your arms on your sisters' shoulders." 

He does.  While she snaps pictures, he says, "This is weird.  I don't like this.  This is weird.  I'm not doing it."  And he puts his arms down.

Meanwhile, Anne gives the camera her favorite smile, the one where she sticks her chin out and hides her teeth and upper lip with her bottom lip.  Think old woman smiling with her dentures out.  She also tries to sneak her latest Goodwill Beanie Baby find into every picture.  Again, I'm too worn down to do anything about it.  Luckily Kasey the photographer is able to get it from her about half the time. 

I can't wait to get these pictures back.

Friday, November 9, 2012

holding my breath

Claire's teacher (whom I really like and who is a very good teacher) talked with the special ed teacher and got some ideas.  She suggested continuing on with the goal sheets I had been sending to school, adding a few more specific goals, and then asked about using a sand timer.  She would present it as a game and tell Claire to see if she could complete x amount of math problems before the timer ran out.  I told her that in the past timers hadn't been very effective (in the classroom, anyway.  At home with her tutor, timers worked pretty well.)  However, she was welcome to try it.  (I'm anxious for her to try anything so I can avoid another meeting with the principal.)  She tried it, and it was a success!  Claire came home so proud of her math worksheet (which was totally finished) and how she'd beaten the timer three times!

Oh, how I hope the timer keeps working.  It would save me so much time and heartache.  And I could focus on play dates for Claire (she spends almost all recess by herself and has said she wants to make new friends).  And maybe I could paint this dark wood paneling and hang the curtains I bought to replace these disgusting vertical blinds and...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

looking for the positive

"We are blessed with so very much. And yet it is sometimes difficult to view the problems and permissiveness around us and not become discouraged. I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness."  ~Pres. Thomas S. Monson

I'm not even going to comment on the election, except to say I can't comprehend it and Jake was right and I was wrong.

So.  Claire needs a little help in the classroom.  Her teacher doesn't deny this.  Last year, we were able to help her succeed with ABA therapy in the classroom (our private therapist provided the therapy.  The school provided their permission for the therapist to be there after many unpleasant meetings).  I called her teacher yesterday, asking if she would let me come in for about an hour every morning to get Claire re-trained. I told her that when Claire didn't need me, I'd be happy to do whatever she wanted me to do. The woman has 26 kids in her class.  I was sure she'd jump at the chance to have free help.   Alas.  First she has to talk it over with the principal.  Which means we'll probably be back to the ugly meetings, where I try to convince them that I know my child and that I know what works.  Why they are so against parents being involved in helping a child succeed is beyond me.  It makes me want to scream.

Heavenly Father has helped us in the past, and I'm sure He will help us again.  I've got to remember that.  It shouldn't be so easy to forget.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I threw away the pumpkins Friday.  It was garbage day.  The kids noticed on Sunday and were extremely upset.  I did not tell them two were in the compost bin because they would have dug them out.  They are notorious dumpster divers.  Damon organized a funeral.  It was a wrenching service with no bodies to bury and give closure.

I wonder how long I need to wait before throwing away the markers on our front step...

Claire told me I was the worst mom ever, but after church all was forgiven when I saw the card from my in-laws and remembered it was my and Jake's wedding anniversary.  Anne and Claire took Jake to a spa in the living room where they gave him a massage and a makeover to make him handsome for his "proud and joy" (that's me).  They also re-gifted a toy and gave it to me from him.  Then Anne told us to go to our room and have a love nap together.  What in the world?!!  I don't have any idea how she came up with the term "love nap."  I told her a nap at 5:30 would be a bad idea, thanked her and Claire for our romantic afternoon, and put an end to it. We're not opposed to love naps, but it makes us uncomfortable when a 5-year-old suggests one.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

yard and garden

We still had lot of tomatoes on the vine when frost struck (that was a while ago. This photo was taken today.  Obviously I have plenty of fodder for the compost bin.  That's next week's task):

Success: tomatoes and maybe garlic
Almost Success: basil, spinach, pumpkins and lettuce
Failure: Peppers, cilantro

We finally got our sign--sorry it took so long, Mitt.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Deep Thoughts

From Claire: Bad dreams are good, and good dreams are bad.  Because when you wake up from a bad dream, you find out it wasn't real, and when you wake up from a good dream, you find out it wasn't real.

From Phyllis Diller: Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.

Not a deep thought, just an observation from me: I dream of having a clean house, but I'm not sure I have the discipline to keep a clean house, even without kids.  And I'm not a very nice person when the house (or parts of it) are clean, either.  You should (not) see how I react when crumbs get dropped on a recently mopped floor, which is partially why my kitchen floor has not been mopped in a LONG time.  Nothing like the crucible of family life to show you how far you have to go to be like Jesus. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Linus Was Right

The Great Pumpkin really does exist.  We put out our 6 pumpkins Monday night.  (How do 3 kids end up with 6 pumpkins, you ask?  3 pumpkins+Mom carving+the dashed expectations of a spoiled child+it wouldn't be fair for just her to get a new pumpkin=6 pumpkins altogether.)  In the morning we found a bag of candy on our porch with a note from the Great Pumpkin!  We were pretty excited.  Thank you, Great Pumpkin!

This morning I went in to help with Anne's kindergarten Halloween Party (I guess they do let me volunteer a little in the classroom.)  Here's how I looked, except I was vertical:

Told ya I went a little crazy with my costume.  But I think it was worth it.  You wouldn't believe how many kindergarteners complimented me on it or asked if I was a real witch.  And it's versatile.  Damon says it looks like a vampire costume, and Anne says it makes me look like a zombie princess.

Learned some interesting things from one little boy: he has seen "a scary movie called Lord of the Rings," he has a girlfriend, and he would love to see someone getting killed in real life.  "It would be so cool."  It's wonderful, the variety of parenting styles there are in the world, and that my children get to interact with the product of those parenting styles.    

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

education espionage

I might be paranoid, but I think the elementary school doesn't like me.  Maybe I left a bad taste in their mouths last year over the fight to have Claire's tutors in the classroom.  I've signed up to be a volunteer in Anne's and Claire's classroom and in the library.  Only the library has asked for me.  When I go in to spy on Claire, I often see lots of other parent in there.  Hmmm.

Claire ended kindergarten last spring in a really good place.  She was almost indistinguishable from her peers and hadn't had a tutor with her in the classroom for about 2 months.  We continued her therapy at home over the summer, then ended her therapy just before school started. (Ah, I was so happy.  I felt like such a hero for keeping the tutors coming for so long.  And it was so nice to have them finally gone.)  This morning I went in to spy on her.  It was discouraging, agonizing, and depressing.  While the other kids hurried to finish their morning worksheet, she pressed on her desk with her hands and looked around the classroom.  She is the class messenger this week, so while I was watching she and another little boy left to make some deliveries to the lunchroom.  She seemed excited, and maybe being a messenger is distracting her.  I'll have to spy next week to see if she's doing better without a special job to look forward to.  If not, are we going to have to have tutors in the classroom at the beginning of every school year to retrain her?  Gah! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

making costumes

I've gone a little crazy with Halloween costumes this year.  Mostly mine.  Damon's and Claire's weren't too over-the-top, but when I post a picture of mine, I think you'll wonder what's wrong with me.  But this post is actually about false advertising.  My costume pattern says its EASY.  Easy for whom?  A team of expert seamstresses working together?  And Damon's says "One Hour!"  One hour to do what?  Find the fabric and notions in JoAnn's?  Or read the instructions?  Or cut out the pattern pieces?  It took me at least 7 hours to make, probably more.  If you can make a "One Hour!" pattern in one hour, I'd like to meet you.  You've got to either be from the planet Krypton or one of the X-Men.

Monday, October 22, 2012

another reason we seldom have dinner guests

We had Claire's former tutor, Jay (not his real name), over for dinner Saturday night.  Jake asked Claire to bless the food.  It went something like this:

"Please bless the food and please bless Jay that he'll be a member of our church."

I almost fell off my chair.  I couldn't even look at Jay after the prayer, and I sure as heck didn't mention our church while he was there.

History: Jay came to church for the kids' primary program a couple months ago.  And then he came again of his own volition after that!  We were so excited!  But it was Fast Sunday.  He hasn't come back since.  There's nothing like a few off-the-wall testimonies to scare away visitors.

There was another awkward incident after dinner that is too mortifying to relate.  I will tell you it involved another campaign poster by Claire, one that I was unaware of until it was proudly shown to Jay.

I think we can safely assume we've managed to scare Jay away from our church and our home forever.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Wedding

My youngest brother got married in August!  You can see how blessed [lucky, wildly fortunate, winners of the good wife lottery] Justin and Phillip are here  (Anj-babe is the 4th adult from the left, Swisserpants is the one in the wedding dress):

But unless you know Ang-babe and Swiss, you have no idea how incredibly blessed Phillip and Justin are.  No pressure, Lex.  Just don't ruin our perfect family.  Kidding.  Like I was telling my mom, I don't worry now that Justin and Phillip are taken care of.  Lex is too Lex to have to worry about.

Note to self: Don't stand like that.  If I had photo shop and knew how to use it, I'd photo shop my legs under my body, rather than behind it.  Talk about freakish defiance of  the laws of physics.

This was supposed to be a group hug.  As you can see, we don't hug in our family.  But it looks like we did manage to embarrass Justin, even if we don't know how to express affection.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


My hairstylist left for greener pastures.  Boo.  He gave me my best haircut ever last month, ask Lynsey.  Anne and I tried out his replacement yesterday.

Doesn't Anne look great?  But she really irritates Damon by holding up my old 4-H ribbon like she won it, because she didn't.  It's not even hers, he says.  (No, I do not have a shrine in my house displaying my 4-H ribbons.  My mom saved all that stuff and Anne has gotten a hold of it.)

Back to the new hairstylist.  Here's a picture of how I looked after she was done with me.

Or maybe it's the Russian from Rocky IV.  I can't really tell.  She gave me such a great scalp massage though, I might give her another chance some day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Presidential Campaign

I've probably mentioned before that Damon is a talker.  If he's not talking about interest rates, demographics, or how much money Jake makes (Jake considers this an intrusion of privacy and refuses to discuss it), Damon's talking about the presidential election.  Yesterday, his comments on the election prompted Claire to say,

"I hope Mitt Romney loses."

[Gasp! My child is an apologist and a socialist!]  "Why, Claire?"

"Because I want Dad to win."

[Sigh of relief...hey, why doesn't she want me to win?!]

"And then we'll all be famous."

Anne was on board with that.  Here's her campaign poster:

Anne gets confused.  She isn't sure if Claire has Jake running for president, king, or prophet, but she does know that when he wins, we'll all be wearing crowns.  And Barrack and Mitt (the colorless guys in the middle) will be upset.

Here's Claire's poster (Jack H! means Jake Henderson!):

Parents who think their children are brilliant are so annoying, but when their children really are brilliant, it's less annoying, right?  The guy on the left is Obama the donkey.  The guy on the right is Romney the elephant.  They're both saying "Boo." How does she know about party symbols?  I don't know!  She had no help or coaching with this drawing.  I love the hands on the bottom.  From left to right, they're clapping, handing Jake a trophy, a ribbon, and money.  So Jake could be a communist, a socialist, or a capitalist, since all three are after accolades and money.  But once again he's being crowned which leads me to believe that although there's an election going on, Claire and Anne are more interested in monarchy than anything else.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

life expectancy

Anne:  Mom, do people live to be 100?

Me: Yes, some people do.

Anne:  I hope I'm one of those people.

Me:  Me, too.

Claire:  I don't.

Me:  Why not?

Claire:  I want to die when I'm tired of being alive.

[Me: disturbed that a 7-yr-old anticipates being tired of life.  Still freaking out about it.]

Claire:  And I want to see Heaven.  I want to find out what it's like.

[Me: is Heaven Can Wait  on Netflicks...better have a family movie night soon.]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Continuing backward through time

There's nothing exciting going on 'round here.  Jake and I have been sanding, scraping, and re-staining (it's actually paint.  I don't know why they call it deck stain) the deck.  Lame.  So I'll keep blogging about the things I should have a while ago but didn't. [translation: I'll blabber on about nothing to put off dishes and laundry while I wait for the temp to hit 50 degrees so I can finish the deck]

I was called as 2nd counselor in the ward Young Women's organization a few months ago.  I can't believe how fabulous it is!  Maybe my bratty teenage memory is skewed, but YW's wasn't that great when I was a young woman.  Combined activities with the young men were good, but just YW activities were usually [yawn] working on Personal Progress.  The tedium of this was underscored by the fact that while we worked on our Divine Natures, the young men were off water skiing or hiking in the Grand Tetons.  I remember my nature becoming more envious than divine.

But let me tell you about this YW's group: we've been target shooting with handguns (fun!), indoor rock climbing (even more fun!) and are having a scavenger hunt through the mall next month (not sure if that will be fun, but the girls are excited).  I'm telling you, it's the life.  No wonder older women jockey to be Young Women leaders.  I should have been campaigning myself a long time ago.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Each life that touches ours for good

My Grandma Barbara died in September.  A few things about her:
-Valedictorian of her high school class (not unlike a few of her granddaughters)
-Loved my Granddad from the moment she first saw him (but he asked out her best friend before he asked her out)
-Had 6 kids, 26 grandkids and I don't know how many great-grands.
-Feisty and fun
-Served two missions with my Grandad
-Excellent homemaker
-During her last few days at the hospital, family members would take turns staying with her.  She told my Granddad he was the only one she missed when he was gone.
-Ate hot cocoa and toast every morning for breakfast
-Was a good sport, but usually got revenge, when we switched her and Granddad's dentures in the night
-Never had to dye her hair because it didn't go gray
-I cannot do justice to her on this blog
-We all miss her. 

Grandma and Granddad at the mountain ranch, July 2007

Lynsey, Grandad, and my Uncle Jack at Grandma's viewing

(above) All 26 grandkids at the cemetery.  We laughed and cried a lot that day.  You'd be hard-pressed to find a better family.  Grandma and Granddad deserve the credit for that.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

tae kwon do tourney, the campaign

Damon took first place in the blue belt 8-11 yr old forms competition last weekend.  I was so proud I almost cried.

Here's the link where you can see the sparring match that earned him a 3rd place medal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKfxoi9dX-o  (he's the one in blue)

Student Council elections were last week, too.  Damon lost.  He was a little bitter that some of the kids running made promises that would be impossible to keep, like guaranteeing longer recesses and lunches.  And he was annoyed that kids were allowed to run even though they turned in their speeches late.  Ah, well.  That's life on the campaign trail.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Well, at least Damon is making progress appearing normal consistently in photos.  He looks like he's tipping over, but I think we can blame that on the photographer.

So, here's the first day of school.  Damon, 4th grade, Mrs. Maker.  Anne, full-day kindergarten, Mrs. Housman-Schmitzer, Claire, 1st grade, Mrs. Rainier.

And how am I doing with 7.5 WHOLE HOURS to do whatever I want without interruption?  Pretty well.  We're wrapping up our 2nd full week of school, and I'm learning to manage my expectations.  I thought I'd have the whole basement painted by now, but I'm only 1/3 done--some projects take a lot of time even when no kids are around.  Plus, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping are still my constant companions, along with spying on Claire to see how she's doing (OK, but there's room for improvement) and making dinner (still eating a lot of sandwiches...I was hoping to have evolved farther by now).

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Jake and I watched Hoarders last night for the first time.  I looked around our house: a sewing project underway, loads of laundry waiting to be folded, junk mail piling up in the kitchen...I almost started crying.  I got up at 5 a.m. this morning--you're not going to catch me on cable TV, by golly.  Sewing project: done.  Laundry, here I come.

Friday, August 17, 2012

oh what do you say in the summertime

Last Saturday
Jake: Damon, you can't hit Anne!  You're a lot stronger than her.  Do you ever see me hitting mom?
Damon: No, but I've see you threaten each other with knives.


Me:  Claire, say that faster.
Claire:  Why do you always make me talk faster?  I don't like it.
Me:  Because talking slow might annoy kids at school.  I don't want them to be mean to you.
Claire:  If they are, they're just jealous.
Me:  Why would they be jealous?
Claire:  Because I'm so great.

Anne: What happens in the next life if you chop your head off?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

hearsay, but worth repeating

My sister heard this prayer recently:

"Bless those in lofty callings, such as parents and nursery leaders."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

the time has come

It's been 11 and a half years.  Jake and I decided it was time for bedroom furniture that we (I) picked out and paid for, as opposed to be being donated to us by parents.  Here's my craiglist.com find:
There are two really exciting things about this stuff: we've had it over a month and it still smells good (like cedar) and Jake has finally stopped chastising me for paying too much for it.  (It's worth $1000, not $1050!)
 I include this picture because I need window advice.  I like the convenience of mini-blinds, but I hate the look.  What should I do?  Curtains?  Woven wood blinds? Roman shades?  It will be another 11 1/2 years before we can commit to window treatments I like, and I want to be prepared for the day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown

My true calling in life is to be a pumpkin farmer.  Look at how my darling has taken over the garden.  I'm so proud of it.  I shouldn't count my pumpkins before they're carved, but I think we're going to have four come fall.

And here's a yellow squash.  It's the only thing we've been able to eat from the garden so far, unless you count the spinach.  We got about five leaves of that before the wildlife and the heat took the rest.  One good thing about the heat: I think it killed a chipmunk yesterday.  We gave it a burial and Damon accused me of being happy it was dead.  I wasn't glad it suffered, though.  I'm not a monster.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

moving out

Pet peeve: when a child of mine tells me or anyone else, "Then I don't like you anymore!"

Ignoring this phrase to make it go away has not been working, so on Monday I washed Anne's mouth with soap.  She packed some supplies and moved out.  I took some pictures when she wasn't looking.  Here she is digging a hole for her tent pole.

 Here's her Teddy bear, either tied to a tree for security purposes or being hanged.

Here's the tent, completed with a sheet and Damon's help.

It was a hot and humid day.  After a few minutes Anne got "tired and bored" and moved back in.  I haven't heard "Then I don't like you anymore" since.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fancy Nancy

This is Fancy Nancy.  She loves all things fancy and all things French.  Anne hates her. She tells me that every time she has me read a Fancy Nancy book to her.  Claire told me today (I don't know what prompted this--we weren't talking about Fancy Nancy or anyone we hated) that if you hate someone because they have something you really want, it's called jealousy. 

Last week, Anne told me she wanted to learn to speak French.  Damon immediately said, "I don't want to learn to speak French.  No one speaks French except people who want to be fancy."

That's probably true.  Unless French is your native language...

BUT, any time a kid wants to learn something, you should jump on it, according to my superhuman friends who home school.  And Jake has some French language courses from when he worked at PowerGlide in Provo, so I dug them out and we're off.  We've mastered "Parlay voo onglay?" and "oui" (pronounced 'we'--it means yes) in only three days.  I think we're off to a good start.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

eating crow

I wish I would have kept to my resolution to take the high road.  A few days ago I mentioned that the school was thwarting us at every turn in Claire's therapy.  That's not true.  Claire's best friend, one of the girls I requested to be in her class next year, is in her class next year!  I was so happy when I found that out from the little girl's mom I almost cried.  Thank you, non-confrontational part of my personality, for keeping me from sending an angry e-mail to the powers that be last week.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's fun to swim at the YMCA

I thought I was going to be a daily blogger for a few days there, but it turns out I only blog when I'm avoiding something I don't like and that can be put off.  Right now I'm avoiding making a grocery list and going shopping.

Last week was the beginning of summer break.  I bought a YMCA membership and the kids and I swam there a lot last week.  Damon and Anne and I enjoyed it.  Claire is still terrified of the water, even after 10 days of private lessons last summer.  At the Y I strapped plenty of floaties on her, more than Anne had on even.  Anne paddled all around having a great time.  I tried to convince Claire she could do that, too.  She screamed, cried, sobbed "You're torturing me!", and clung to my body or swimsuit like, well, like a drowning person.  (Don't worry--my swimsuit is very sturdy.  Not one of those flimsy things girls wear to showcase their hot bods.  No matter how hard Claire pulled, she'd never be able to expose anything.)  A swim instructor was so concerned she left her class of little kids to give me some tips on how to acclimate Claire to the water.  Sigh.  We're gonna keep trying, though.

Once we're out of the pool, though, Claire really shines.  The girls and I go in the women's locker room to shower and change.  Damon goes in the men's locker room where I hope he rinses off, and then he waits for us, dripping, in the hall.  He WILL NOT change in the locker room.  People would see him naked.  I remember how horrified I was when my PE teacher made us shower in the high school locker room, so I try not to make a big deal out of his shyness.  Even Anne hates getting dressed in the locker room.  She somehow manages to shove herself in a locker (maybe 8"x18"x8" small) and get dressed in there.  It's amazing.  But Claire and I are able to get dressed like normal people.  Claire's an interesting mix.  At the kindergarten program two weeks ago she was very nervous to have everyone looking at her.  She kept turning away from the audience to shelter herself.  But in the locker room she doesn't worry about it, and at the pool, she's not bothered a bit by everyone staring while she screams her head off.

Monday, June 4, 2012

state of being

Damon, AKA mini-Jake: likes money, especially saving it.  Worries about inflation, and believes the government should not allow it.  Sometimes asks if I've paid the credit card bill yet.  Gets upset if he doesn't get to bed early when he has to get up early the next morning.  Master Chung calls him a serious student of Tae Kwon Do, and believes he has the potential to be a black belt some day.

Claire: has a hard time going to sleep before 10 p.m. if I don't give her melatonin, unless she has had a lot of exercise.  Getting her to exercise a lot is difficult.  Is "excited and nervous" for 1st grade. (She met her 1st grade teacher and classmates last week.  From what I can pump out of her, none of the kids I requested are in her class.  I can't get a class list so she can start making friends over the summer because that is illegal.  I swear the school admin's primary goal is to thwart us at every turn.  %#&*@!)

Anne: says she doesn't sleep at night, but does an excellent job lying motionlessly and noiselessly in bed from 9 pm to 7 am with her eyes closed.  Really wants a cat for a pet.  Finally lets me listen to whatever music I want in the van.  We went through a rough patch where songs had to be "wild."
Wild= The Cars, J. Geils Band, Bon Jovi, John Cougar Mellencamp (sp?), The Beatles, The Police, Mad Outlet, anyone with a heavy beat and questionable lyrics. (I like some of their music, too, but I don't allow songs like "Angel in the Centerfold" in my car, which broke Anne's heart.)
Not Wild= Adele, Jimmy Buffett, most classical music.  If she grows up to be a porn star, it won't be my fault.  If she grows up to be a tattooed alcoholic searchin' for her lost shaker of salt, heck, it could be my fault.

Friday, June 1, 2012

a drop in the bucket

"(yawn) I'm tired," I said, getting into the van.  We had been grocery shopping.

"You can't fall asleep in the car," said Anne.  "You could wreck and have to go to jail."

"Anne," said Claire, "Even if mom goes to jail, there will still be plenty of other ladies in the world."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Good-bye, Peas. Hello, Neighbor

Look at those peas (the ones in the squarish peat pots on the front right). They were my last hope.

I put them in the garden.  I used taller toilet paper collars than last time, but to no avail.  The universe is against me.  I don’t know what ate them this time.  Deer?  Geese? (The tomatoes you see in back are doing great.  It it weren't for them, I might give up on gardening forever.)

I went to Home Depot with a broken heart (I really love peas from the garden) and bought plants to replace them: cucumber, sweet red pepper, and basil.  One of the basil plants I grew from seed got eaten a few weeks ago (I think by a goose: there was goose poop in the garden), so I was worried.  I got up at 2:30 a.m., took a flashlight, and armed myself with cayenne pepper.

"Are you looking for something?"

My neighbor across the street was in his driveway talking on his cell phone.  Odd.  "Yeah, the animal that keeps eating my garden."  This is the first time I've ever talked to him.

"You have a garden in your front yard?"  Like he hadn't noticed before.

 So what.  He had a used car lot in his driveway a few months ago.  And he conducts business there at 2:30 a.m.  I sprinkled cayenne pepper on the basil.  "Well, they haven't eaten anything yet tonight," I said.  I went back to bed, he went back to his phone call.  Nice to have met ya, buddy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

michigan beach

Saturday we went to South Haven.  It was a good day.  The kids' willingness to smile for the camera is matched only by my amazing photography skills.  Whoops, there goes Lake Michigan, pouring onto Canada.

Whoa, now it's headed for Indiana, or whatever is south of us.

Friday, May 25, 2012


"Aren't the kids getting too old for a sandbox?"

Jake asks silly questions sometimes.  My idyllic childhood included a sandbox, so obviously my kids need one.  "I played in one until I was 10," I told him.

"So Damon will play in this for one year."

Damon is nine already?  Sheesh, those years slip by.  "Oh.  Well. I probably played in it until I was 15.  And if the kids don't play in it, then I'll play in it myself."  And I have.  (Wow, am I awesome at castles and moats.)  The kids have played in it, too, including Damon--he was at school when we got the sand in and I took pictures, though.  So there, Jake.

Here's where I started wishing we'd put the sandbox in the front yard like the garden.

If there's some secret to getting your kids to pose in a non-weird way, I wish someone would let me in on it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

and the farmers take all

I teach CTR 6 & 7 in primary.  Last week's lesson was "The Priesthood Blesses Me."  The first comment (that pertained to the lesson) was, "Why don't girls get to hold the priesthood?"

"We get to be mothers and bring life into the world."

"And that hurts!  Boys are lucky."

I don't think I knew about the pain of childbirth when I was 6. "Yeah, but holding the priesthood is hard work, too.  When I was a kid, my dad was the bishop, and every Sunday he spent all day in meetings while me and my brother moved the sprinklers and fed the cows..."  I meant to explain that one was not better than the other, how the purpose of motherhood and the priesthood is to teach us selfless service and make us more like Christ, and how a few hours of pain are probably not any worse than five years in the bishopric.  When I was done with my lecture, I got blank stares and,

"I want to live on a farm."

So much for inspiring the next generation of mothers in Zion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Club

I love book clubs.  Especially when most members read the books, and even if they don't, they politely listen and ask questions instead of dominating the conversation with their personal childbirth experiences.  In Logan I was part of a great book club, and now I am again in Kalamazoo.  Last night we discussed The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Next month: A Three Dog Life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


In 2010 a general authority taught that parents should discourage their children from pairing off at a young age.  This was old news to me and my siblings.  We'd known since we were four years old that having a boyfriend or girlfriend before you were in college was the dumbest thing you could do with your life.  I'm pretty sure about the age because before kindergarten I broke the heart of a little boy in my Sunday school class when I wouldn't be his girlfriend.  I'm serious.  He cried, and I despised him for being weak.  Yes, I was cruel.  Luckily for the boys my age, that's about the time my looks peaked and I started going down hill.  I never broke any more hearts.  Now, my sister broke hearts all the way through high school, but that's another story.

This all comes to mind because Anne and I went to McDonald's last Friday.  She got a necklace in her Happy Meal that sings, "My best friend's brother is the one for me."  What?  Who decided this was an appropriate toy for a 5-year-old?  I'm disgusted, and I'm boycotting McDonald's.  They'll be sorry when they realize one of their most faithful customers, who used to come at least twice a year and spend $10, no longer comes at all.  Take that, Ronald McDonald.  I hope you cry your eyes out.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Damon at his baseball team photo shoot.
Anne giving a tour of the flowers in our yard.

Anne demonstrating how she helped me dig the sand box.

Now, if I spent half as much time cleaning every day as I spent digging the sandbox, I'd have a tidy house--for an hour. Which is why I don't. The sandbox will stay done forever. No matter how hard I work, the house will not stay picked up. "Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it is still snowing," you know. "Just train the kids to clean," Jake says. Just pull out all my hair while I crack a whip, he means. Okay, I'm done ranting. On a less frustrated note: Jake finished the sandbox for us on Saturday! As soon as I find the camera cable, I'll show you.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Field Trip Friday


Damon and the rest of the 3rd grade went to Lake Happiness (or something like that.  I know it had a ridiculously cheesy name).  He caught minnows and got wet, then came home and buried his mouse. Yikes, did that little thing stink by then.  In the morning I was too busy making lunches to preside over a funeral, so I left it in a box in the basement all day.  Big mistake.  I think my compost must be making progress, because yesterday it didn't smell nearly as bad as the mouse corpse did.  Then Damon and Jake went on the ward Father and Sons camping trip.  They took Claire's mouse with them so they could let her go, "free and in the wild," Claire said.  That's a Wild Kratts phrase, for those of you who don't watch PBS Kids every day.

Claire and her fellow kindergartners went to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and a farm.  She saw a butterfly, a horse, rabbits, goats, and a troll under a bridge.  She drew a picture of it for me when she got home.
Actually I think we've got two trolls there and a cat.  I thought the little thing was a goat, but it's not, Claire says.

Anne and I went to the Air Zoo.  It's a history of flight museum with indoor rides, like the ones at Disneyland--pretty tame.  I was about to lose my breakfast after our second time on the hot air balloon merry-go-round.  I hate amusement park rides.  Anne said it was the best day ever, until I talked her into seeing the Air Zoo 3-D movie (4-D.  The chairs moved and blew air at us).  She hated it and said she never wanted to go to the Air Zoo again.  So glad I bought the year-long family pass for $125.