{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol 12

Lately it has been sort-of hit or miss with {7QT} but I’m here today!  Check out other more motivated bloggers at Kelly’s!

ONE.

Happy Inauguration Day!  There are Americans who are happy, Americans who are sad, Americans who are angry, and Americans who are resigned today.  But the point is, this is how democracy works.  This is how America works.  And I still think we have the greatest political system in the world.  Sometimes we don’t like the outcome of elections, or Congressional votes, or laws that are made.  And that’s OK.  Because we are able to disagree civilly, and work together to come to a compromise.  We can air our grievances, and work to change things we don’t like.  We are free to speak out.  And that’s pretty awesome because there are countries in the world who do not have that option.

At any rate, one of the paramount aspects of our political system is a peaceful transition of power (another thing many countries in the world do not have – hello Gambia).  So, like him or hate him, ecstatic or morose (or, I guess, the negligible percentage of Americans who just plain don’t care one way or the other about him according to the media), President Trump is the newest leader of this great nation and the amazing people within.

TWO.

I got a new phone.  I didn’t want to, my Samsung Galaxy III was working just fine, thank you.  Except for that I couldn’t get picture messages and it deleted all my contacts on me.  Hubby wanted to graduate from a 2000’s-era flip phone to something a little more sophisticated, for work, you know.  And since we were on different carriers, two different bills, two different kinds of coverage, we decided to simplify the matter by just getting matching phones.  Which is our romantic way of celebrating Valentine’s Day early.  (Isn’t that how the Millenials do it anyhow?  Skip the flowers & chocolates, opt for Apple products?)

THREE.

My baby turned 2 earlier this month.  Supposedly, she is our last one (according to Hubby, but I could easily be talked into another!) so I am going through the whole gamut of emotions relating to that and all my babies getting older.  Of course, kids growing older comes with its benefits obviously: they can strap themselves in the car, put on their own clothes, and can generally follow directions.  But, baby-lover that I am, I miss those days of little bundles sleeping all day and cuddling while breastfeeding.   I am getting more sleep these days, which is a plus.  But….still.  Sigh.

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Princess Evvie turned 2!

FOUR.

………….I am whisper-typing this, in case the Universe decides to play a trick on me….but I *think* I can claim victory on the Spike Potty Training journey.  He has been a trooper since Christmas, with accidents few and far between.  He really does excellent when we are out and about in town, it’s mainly when he is at home and distracted by tv or a complicated Lego creation that he sometimes forgets to go until it’s too late.  Yay!

FIVE

In just a few short weeks it will be….SIX MONTHS TO EUROPE!!!  More on that later.  So excited!!  It is really feeling more real now that everything is coming together, tickets have been purchased, reservations have been made.

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Coming soon!

SIX

One of the hardest things about living so far away from family is that you are not available to help in times of need.  Two days after Christmas, my mother fell and broke her leg really badly.  She is extremely independent and lives on her own, so this has caused her to completely reorder her life (including her willingness to ask for and receive help).  She is now recovering from a successful surgery but will be unable to bear weight on the offending limb for a few months.  In the meantime, my geographically-closer siblings have really stepped up to the plate and helped her with transport and shopping and stopping by to check on her morning and night.  My sister has taken on the bulk of this, for which I am really appreciative, because it is next to impossible for me to drop everything here and go there, what with kids in school, a husband on back-to-back business trips, as well as financial concerns.  It is hard feeling so impotent when it comes to helping out.  Anyone have any experience with this?  When you are unable to physically be there for someone, how can you Be There for someone?  Aside from sending money, what are some things I could do, both for my mother and my siblings who are taking on the responsibility for caring for her?

SEVEN.

Listening to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive on audiobook.

41a2znogcclIt is forcing me to think differently about our society’s definition of “success” as well as how to take better care of myself.  Huffington’s main mantra: Get enough sleep.  So I am trying.  The goal is to go to bed earlier so I can get up at 6 with the kids before school after getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep.  So far, so good.  I am hoping that in the long run I have more energy and am more focused.  Generally, I stay up late at night to “get stuff done”(which, incidentally, is what my mother always did growing up – and subsequently was a zombie all day) and then proceed to hit a slump shortly after lunch, where the world looks bleak and I am too tired to function.  Yesterday after 8 hours of sleep I didn’t feel that slump, which was awesome!  Hoping that will continue.  I will keep you posted.

Have a delightful week!  We’ll chat again soon!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: New Year’s edition and 2016 catch-up

Happy New Year!  And happy Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, if you will.  Here’s a long-awaited update about what’s been going on around here:

One

Six weeks ago Junior and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to celebrate my sister’s graduation from a prestigious law enforcement academy.  We had a great time.  It was so fun to spend time with my oldest son while showing him important places in America’s heritage.  We visited George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon; went to dinner at a happenin’ farm-to-table restaurant called Founding Farmers; had a tour of the Capitol building; saw aviation history at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; practiced our espionage skills at the International Spy Museum; and attended a delightful performance of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre.  Junior and I got to spend time with his grandmother who we don’t see very often, and my awesome sister who I miss being away from very much!  It was a great long weekend.

Two

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Spike channeled Garth on Thanksgiving.

Three

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For my birthday, Hubby got me a new chandelier for our two-story stairwell.  Before it was a flush mount (read: boring) light fixture that I didn’t feel did the space any favors.  We got this chandelier at a really great Black Friday weekend sale and Hubby put it up before my early- December birthday.  I love it.  It really adds a new level of style to the steps!

Four

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Bellie performed in her 3rd annual Nutcracker.  It is a lot of rehearsals and late nights, but I really love being able to watch her and relive my glory days as an amateur ballerina!

Five

We had a lovely and relaxing Christmas.  Of course I entertained all sorts of ideas about crafts to do and cookies to make, but I only really got around to making a gingerbread house with the kids.  And I guess that’s enough!

Six

We spent the new year at dear friends of ours’s cabin up near Yellowstone National Park.  It was lovely.  The snow made it just like a wonderland.  We spent our time cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, drinking hot cocoa, and just enjoying each other’s company.

Seven

New Year’s Resolution:  Become an Ultimate Book Nerd.  Our library sponsors the challenge: read 50 books in 50 weeks.  My friends and I are doing it together!  I am pumped!  I am hoping I can do it!  I will keep you appraised of my progress.

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Hope everyone is settling into the New Year in a lovely fashion!  Check in with Kelly to see what more awesome people are resolving to do this year!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Halloween and the Couch that Smelled of Pee, or Scary Adventures in Potty Training

Hello!  We survived a scary week of Halloween being on a Monday.  It was rough,  and I can imagine even more so for my children’s teachers – having to get through an entire week of dealing with candy-addled youngsters.  I salute you, teachers.  Your courage and fortitude is beyond my capabilities.

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What is scarier than kids hopped up on candy??

Here is what else has been going on around here:

ONE

I realized that I am becoming a Bah-Humbug Halloween mom.  This is so extremely sad because, generally, I love Halloween.  It’s one of my favorite holidays, and not for the whole pseudo-occult-scary-zombies-and-skulls-everywhere reason.  I just like to dress up.  But this year, the day before Halloween, as I was rushing around trying to find all the pumpkin-carving tools and laying down newspaper on the table while trying to remember where I put the battery-operated tea lights, it occurred to me that THIS IS JUST TOO DANG MUCH WORK.  And, of course, the kids are running around in crazy anticipation of things to come (i.e. candy) like wolves who get a whiff of a wounded elk two miles off.  Of course, I suck it up and remember that this holiday is for them, not me, and power through.  But I lament the fact that I can’t seem to find the joy in Halloween any more.  I will need to work on that (and don’t even get me started on Christmas!)

TWO

Hubby and I met 16 years ago at a Halloween party at his college fraternity house.  I was a cowgirl….he was a  – flasher [because what other Halloween costume can you make up with things you already own – a coat and boxer shorts (luckily he was a G-rated flasher)? – excited to try to explain that one to our kids later…] but it always makes the Halloween season special for Hubby and me.  I like to try and go out to eat or something to celebrate our Anniversary of Meeting.  This year, we did something different and went to a sip-and-paint place (you can bring wine in and everyone in attendance gets instruction about how to paint a specific picture).  I had been there once before with my girlfriends, but I was pleasantly surprised how my analytical, science-minded husband really took to the creative experience.  He was really excited about his painting afterwards and talked about the experience for DAYS.  It was really a fun date night.

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He’s a better artist than me…his steps had WAAAAAYYYY more structural integrity than mine.

THREE

Yeah. So…my couch smells like urine.  I am so done with this “potty training” stuff with Spike.  He turns 4 in a month and I am pretty sure he will still be peeing his pants then.  We have tried everything.  Pull-ups are glorified diapers, people.  I have never successfully used them to potty train.  So we are just going the underwear route, along with a “potty timer” so that he has to at least try to use the toilet every 45 minutes.  This works well, except for when ha! Mommy forgets to reset the timer, or, he has the urge to go between timer dings.  Apparently I need to give him VIP-escort to the bathroom whenever I read his mind that peepee is coming, or no cigar.  Grrrrr!  Junior was a pain to potty train as well.  Bellie, on the other hand, was a breeze.  (She was so embarrassed about pooping in her auntie’s bathtub that she instantly decided poop would never again go anywhere but the porcelain throne.)

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Quit your smiling, McQueen! This isn’t fun.

FOUR

I ordered my Christmas cards already!  I am totally on top of things.  Of course, they will still probably not be mailed until the day before Christmas, but it’s the intention that counts, right?

FIVE

That is how many baskets of clean laundry I have in my living room that currently need folding.  Ugh.  Sounds like a Friday Fun-day activity.100_9805

SIX

We are hardly ever out and about after dark around here and the other day I had to run Junior to karate with the other kids in tow.  The sun had gone down and it was getting darker and Spike worriedly asked me if we were still going to be able to find our way home in the dark, or if we were lost.  It genuinely concerned him, and I was glad I could put his mind at ease:-)

SEVEN

I hope everyone remembers to vote on Tuesday!  Hubby and I were having a conversation about the upcoming election and he remarked, “I don’t think the country has ever been more divided in an election before.”  Of course he is not a history major, but I had to remind him of the election of 1860…

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…at least we’re not to the point of secession – at least not yet.  God Save Our Country!

And God bless you all in the coming week!

Be sure to stop by Kelly’s for more fabulous Quick Takes!

 

 

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash: Vol. 11

Well, here we are approaching the last full week of October!  I can hardly believe it.  Time is flying so quickly.  Linking up with Kelly again for this week’s 7QTs.

~ONE~

My computer is boasting a sticky keyboard this week.  Thanks to Evvie kindly spilling my coffee all over it.  And I am too lazy to unscrew it and take the back off and clean inside it, so I am still using it while having to pressssssssssssssss (see?) really hard on some keys to make them work.  It’s an occupational hazard, I guess.

~TWO~

We went to a local corn maze extravaganza on Friday night.  The kids had a BLAST.  Hubby and I (who are more antisocial homebodies) tried to keep those completely fake smiles plastered in place while freezing our hinies off as the kids insisted on running in four different directions while we we kicked ourselves for not bringing more than one flashlight.

~THREE~

I had the opportunity to volunteer at my older kids’ school on Friday.  Since the public school system in Idaho is so poorly funded, classes like art and music have been cut.  In my town, the elementary schools greatly rely on parent volunteers to teach “FAME” or “Fine Arts Mini-Experience” once monthly so that kids can be exposed to art history and music appreciation.  I have been volunteering with this program for four years and I really enjoy teaching it.  I am always really impressed with how well-mannered and inquisitive the kids are.  One of the major highlights of this lesson (in which the art discussed was Grant Wood’s American Gothic) was showing the kids the different parodies that have been made of the artwork.  I think the overwhelming favorite was a Star Wars-themed one where the farmer traded his pitchfork for a light saber.

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courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago, artic.edu

~FOUR~

We babysat an 11-month-old baby girl yesterday.  She was sweet, but a big girl!  She was the same size as 21-month-old Evvie, and weighed much the same.  Evvie has always been at the low end of the size spectrum.  She’s growing, just seems to be petite.  It was interesting to watch Evvie interact with a younger baby.  Mostly she was just jealous because I was giving attention to another baby!   The parents sorely needed a break, Hubby works with the dad, and they are new to the area and don’t know a lot of people.  I sometimes forget how vital it is as a new-er mother to have other friends who are also traversing the journey of motherhood along with you.  It sounds like this mom is very lonely for other mom friends.  I am always so happy to recommend MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) to moms looking for that kind of connection.  Just being able to check in a few times a month with other parents who have kids the same ages as yours and who can commiserate with the ups and downs of parenthood along with you is such a blessing.

~FIVE~

I recently had a friend diagnosed with breast cancer.  They caught it early and her prognosis looks good, but she will still be in the throws of chemo for the next several months.  She is young (36) and is married with two young girls.  I have offered to help with whatever she needs, and I know she has many other friends doing the same.  I have never had a friend go through this before, and am unsure what would be the most meaningful way to help.  Any suggestions from anyone who has been there?

~SIX~

One of the best things about having kids get a little older is that you can pass on chores to them that you do not relish doing.  Having Junior clean out my car this weekend was SO AWESOME!  Of course he is not as thorough as I would be, but he vacuumed.  He threw away trash.  He put little trash bags by everyone’s seats to encourage them to throw garbage in there instead of on the floor.  It warms a mother’s heart!

~SEVEN~

I recently discovered Overdrive from my library and have been having so much fun listening to audiobooks while I clean and do the dishes.  It makes those chores go soooooooo much faster.  I recently “read” (listened to?) the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier…started out as a read for a book club but then I really got into it, even though I am not usually into the young adult/fantasy genre.  But I absolutely loved the narrator.  I love when you get a good narrator who does all the voices believably.  The three books were a really good listen.  Now I am listening to Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.

~~~

That’s all folks, Have a lovely week!

 

{7 Quick Takes} Bison, bears, and bathrooms in Yellowstone

A couple of days behind on this one, but better late than never right?  Linking up with the lovely Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum and the gang…

ONE

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    Even if they are just walking through the parking lot, it is still never a good idea to pet a bison.

Last weekend we took advantage of the post-Labor Day crowds and took the family to Yellowstone National Park to camp.  We are so lucky to live a short drive away from the park, so weekend mini-vacations there are easy.  We have friends who are storing an RV trailer in our yard that they are graciously allowing us to use, and we took that when we went.  Otherwise we would have had to bring tents to augment our itsy-bitsy slide-in pickup camper.  And no offense to tent-campers out there, but I am not brave enough to risk sleeping in a tent with four kids who smell like hot dogs and marshmallows  in Bear Country.

TWO

Did you know that in Yellowstone, there is this lake that straddles the Continental Divide?  Its significance is that one side of the lake drains into the Pacific Ocean and the other side into the Gulf of Mexico.  And if your son just happens to surprise you by suddenly urinating into it (which I am sure is totally legal in a national park…)his pee will likely travel both of those directions as well.  Keep an eye out for those “teachable moments”.

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This location holds a new meaning for us.

THREE

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2016 may be the year Old Faithful finally becomes female.

“Why is it called a “Guy”ser?  Where are the “girl”sers?” – Bellie gets feminist at Old Faithful.  Maybe Hillary will change that if she gets elected.

FOUR

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Looking up from the lobby fireplace.

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I love how they’ve incorporated natural logs everywhere

I love, love, love Old Faithful Inn.  Every time we go to Old Faithful, I drag the family in here to see the awesome log everything in this awesome old hotel.  I love going into the lobby and just looking up the several stories to the roof.  And that fireplace is just fantastic!  We stayed there once, and I thought I was in heaven.  It is just a fantastic piece of history and one of the biggest log cabins in the world.  We watched Old Faithful erupt for a second time from the front balcony.  Low crowds, a huckleberry mocha, the soft sounds of my kiddos fighting over a muffin.  It was lovely.

FIVE

I am so proud to announce that my oldest three are now JUNIOR RANGERS.  They worked so hard.  How, you may ask, does a child become a Junior Ranger?  Well, it involves many hours of study (i.e. completing fun activities in a workbook), going on a nature patrol (i.e. walking from the visitor center to the boardwalk by Old Faithful) and listening to a ranger’s talk (we watched a bear spray demonstration).  The kids had a lot of fun doing this.  My favorite thing was Spike’s drawing in his workbook of animals one might see in Yellowstone.  He drew two turtles and a dinosaur.

SIX

We are the champions!  We did UNCLE TOM’S TRAIL.  With kids.  With no injuries.  And we’re not even that in shape.

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The way down is easier. Across from the falls of the Yellowstone.

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The gorgeous Yellowstone Canyon.

So, I had forgotten that there were SO MANY STEPS.  I really wanted to get close to the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River and I figured Uncle Tom’s Trail was the best walk to take.  I had forgotten that it has like one million and eighty-two steps down the canyon wall (those scared of heights may want to reconsider).  Which isn’t that bad going down, but is really, really a joy going back up!  The last time we had done the trail, Bellie was a baby in the backpack (carried by Hubby) and Junior was about three.  He ended up falling on the metal grates of the stairs at the very bottom, skinning his knee awfully badly and not wanting to walk anywhere anymore.  So our friend Eric offered to carry him all the way up those million-plus steps.  Our friendship with Eric was solidified and written into the annals of friends-going-above-and-beyond history.  I am pretty sure we still owe him big time for that.  And as far as Hubby goes, babies in hiking backpacks are not a piece of cake going up and down that staircase with, either.

However, this time all went well.  No injuries, no kids losing their motivation halfway back up again.  Heck, I am super-proud of myself for not losing motivation halfway back up again.  It was tempting to stop at one of the landings and say, “that’s it, I can go no further.  Bid fond adieu to my mother for me.”  but I kept going.

The view really is to die for.  Well, not literally (there are always some really unfortunate fatalities in Yellowstone Canyon every season), but it is just gorgeous.  If you are into self-punishment (or just enjoy the stair-climb machine at the gym) Uncle Tom’s Trail is for you!  It is worth it.

SEVEN

You gotta love the worldliness of Yellowstone.  There are people there from all over.  We were following a family from France on our way up the Stairway from Hell Uncle Tom’s Trail.  There were Germans in line next to me at the restrooms.  And a very nice group of Chinese tourists wanted to join us for lunch in our camper.  They were very intrigued that there were four children.  They also found blonde-haired Evvie positively enthralling.  And she’s not even that blonde!  (On an earlier trip, we were on a trail and there was a family ahead of us with a toddler who had platinum blonde hair.  A large group of Chinese tourists surrounded the family and started touching the child’s hair and gestured that they wanted to take pictures with her.  So they began taking selfies with the little girl as though she were one of the Jolie-Pitt kids.  We felt relieved that our dishwater-blonde kids were wearing hoodies.  It would have taken us forever to get done with that walk around the hot springs!

It’s a good learning experience to be able to explain to the kids how things are different in other countries and in other cultures.  For example, the Chinese tourists were interested in the size of our family because in their country they had a one-child policy until just recently.  So families of our size are not seen there.  And blonde hair is likewise rare.  Even explaining how toilets are different (prompted by the kids seeing the following image in the restrooms in Yellowstone:)

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If there are footprints on the seat, someone probably ignored this sign.

was a good opportunity to discuss that the U.S. is not the only nation on earth and the way it is done here is not necessarily the way it is done elsewhere.  Not good or bad, either way…just different.

 

Have a fabulous week!

{7 Quick Takes} Thoughts on Hamilton, “pretend school” and memory

Hello, gentle readers…hope your week has been lovely.  Linking up again with Kelly to let you in on what’s been happening around here…

ONE

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I am sort-of behind the times, but just recently discovered and immediately jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon.  I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Amazon nearly non-stop for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I was a history major in college and I always thought, reading about Alexander Hamilton, “what a stud!” first, but then, “this guy was the epitome of the American Dream”.  He rose from illegitimacy and poverty to become one of the most influential of the Founders.  He had such a fascinating, nuanced life and that’s why this musical really excites me.

Plus, the hip-hop?  That’s pretty darn revolutionary for a Broadway show about an 18th Century Federalist.  It could have been a tired, classical story about an interesting guy, but Lin-Manuel Miranda does such great things with his writing that it makes the early days of America fresh and exciting.  And relatable.  Which is a complaint I think a lot of young people have about the study of history.

(Why do I  have to learn about this?  What does it matter to me?  These people in the past are nothing like me, they have nothing in common with me.)

Miranda took it a step further and cast people of all ethnic backgrounds as the central (historically Anglo-Saxon/white) characters.  And it is brilliant.  The story transcends race and gender and solidifies the fact that no matter our backgrounds or ethnicity, ALL AMERICANS have a right to the heritage of our nation.  And that is just fabulous.

Plus, the music is super-catchy.  If you haven’t, I encourage you to check out the soundtrack (even if you’re not a musical fan…this one might change your mind!).  If you’re waiting to see it on Broadway, it is probably going to be a long wait – it’s basically sold out into 2018!

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Alexander Hamilton (left) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) as Alexander Hamilton

TWO

The older two started school Aug 28th.  I had to laugh at Bellie (1st grade) when she came home after that first day.  It was an excited, breathless, stream of consciousness about eating lunch at school and riding the bus with her brother and seeing her friends and she loves her teacher and she got to help in the library and she used her new pencils and she loves her teacher did she tell me she loves her teacher?  And Junior (4th grade) came home and grunted “fine” when I asked him how his first day was.  Haha, the difference between boys and girls.  (Or 1st and 4th grade?)

THREE

I attempted to begin homeschooling my preschooler on Tuesday.  I had tried to get him excited about the prospect (We did not enroll him in “away from home” preschool this fall because A) at almost 4 he is showing a stubborn lack of interest in being potty-trained and B) I really don’t want to have to shuttle anyone back and forth to a 2-hour preschool when it takes me 1 hour round-trip  to get there.  This is my one year to be free from that!).  Anyhow, I told Spike that I was going to teach him at home.  He responded, “I get to go to pretend school?  Yay!”  Initially, I thought, that’s cool he calls it “pretend”, I know it is real, and it will be awesome.  Well, it turns out he really thought we were only going to “pretend” we were at school.  I barely got through the morning prayer and the pledge before he got sidetracked and started throwing a fit about playing with his Lego car.  I tried to lovingly refocus him, I attempted to move onto something I thought he would enjoy (coloring), I finally resorted to giving him a time-out.  He sat on the steps screaming, “I hate pretend school!  I don’t want to do pretend school any more!”  So I decided we would probably just take a break for the day.  I don’t want him completely hating it if I push it on him.  I vow to try it again next week.  I will keep trying for a bit but if it appears he is just not ready, perhaps he might not be.  I will keep you updated.

FOUR

The baby has some weird skin thing going on.  It looks like a rash or maybe psoriasis, is mostly on her chin and around her eye.  It looks very dry and red and patchy.  The only thing I can think of is it appeared around the time the kids were doing swimming lessons last month.  So perhaps a reaction to the chlorine or something?  It has been a couple of weeks since we’ve been swimming, though, so I don’t know what is going on.  Junior had some weird eczema around that age that eventually subsided, but this appears different.  I hate skin conditions in kids…one thing can look very much like another thing.  Something serious that needs treatment can appear just like something else that only needs to be washed with a gentle soap and moisturized.  It could be a reaction to some kind of detergent or it could be an allergy to some kind of food.  In that case, it can take months to figure it out while removing and adding stimuli to the child’s life.  Gaaah.  At least it doesn’t seem itchy or bothersome to Evvie.  She just looks somewhat ghastly.

FIVE

Our garden is overflowing and I couldn’t be more irritated.  I know that sounds totally awful, but it is true.  I love the idea of gardening.  I like having fresh herbs and lettuce to pick when I am making a salad or cooking and need just a little bit of parsley instead of running to the store.  But…but…even when you plant just one, little, teeny zucchini plant you somehow wind up with 5,634,592 zucchinis that you need to figure out what the heck to do with!  I have at least 3 friends who begrudgingly took one or two to make zucchini bread.  Hubby’s been cubing it and sautee-ing it with butter and Parmesan cheese (yummy actually, but not when you have it served for every meal for every day for a month!)

We have tomatoes and plums and really hard, not delicious pears strewn all over my counter.  The fruit is not so bad: the kids eat it constantly.  Unfortunately, those children still in diapers (I’m looking at you, Mr. I Hate Pretend School) tend to bless me with delightful pants to change after consuming all of that fiber.  Hubby was raised with the Depression-Era mindset (I am pretty sure he is actually a vampire who grew up in the 30’s) that you use EVERY LAST available piece of food for SOMETHING, no matter how ugly it is, how full of worms it may happen to be (yeah, our apples didn’t do so well this year), or how bad it tastes.  If it is not rotting or full of mold, you better dang well figure out some way to cook it, freeze it, or preserve it.  Of course, since Hubby is at work all day, this generally gets “intended” my way….and I honestly have tons of things I would rather be doing.  Hence the resentment over my bounteous garden.  I am blessed.

SIX

I have to go to the library today.  My kids love the library.  I love the library.  But I hate going with my kids to the library.

SEVEN

I am reading this fascinating (although a little technical) book: Permanent Present Tense: The Incredible Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. by Suzanne Corkin (2013).

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I became interested in this subject because a new nonfiction book about the same thing was recently published:

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My library hasn’t acquired this new book yet (Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich, who is the grandson of the brain surgeon who operated on H.M.) but a search led me to the other one.

Permanent Present Tense tells the story of Henry Molaison, a 27-year-old epileptic who underwent an experimental surgery in 1953 to remove part of his brain in order to relieve his seizures.  It seemed to work somewhat, but tragically included the added side-effect of Henry never being able to create any long-term memories.  His life really was in “permanent present tense” as he forgot everything after about 30 seconds.

As a result, for the next half-century, Henry agreed to be studied by neurologists to discover the intricacies and nuances of the brain.

Fascinatingly, only Henry’s long-term memory of things after his surgery was affected.  He could remember things from before, and his intelligence and personality remained the same.

Henry passed away in 2008, before that, he was only referred to in scientific circles as “Patient H.M.”  He contributed greatly to our understanding of how the brain works, most importantly memory.

I have always been very fascinated with the brain and the history of how brain injuries and mental illness have been treated.  In the first part of the 20th Century, lobotomies were considered appropriate and acceptable treatment for a wide range of conditions, among them depression and schizophrenia.  They were used, with some success, on patients with epilepsy, but up until recently doctors were not sure precisely which areas of the brain were able to be removed or damaged to yield results without damaging other brain functions (such as memory).

I’m only about half-way through but am engrossed.  I feel devastated for Henry and his family to have to have enriched science and medicine through their loss, but it really did open up a whole knew era of understanding about the brain.  Alternately, the book calls into question the lengths we as a society are willing to experiment on human “guinea pigs”(drug trials, for example) to further our goals to find treatment for disease.

{7 Quick Takes} Weekly Mismash, Vol. 9

A day late on these, but better late than never, right?

Linking up with Kelly et al again…

{ONE}

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Helping me clean the bathroom before Grandma & Grandpa get here.

My in-laws are here.  This is always a little bit tough for me.  I am just so used to my own routine, my own way of doing things and it is challenging to have visitors who come in and “move my cheese” so to speak.  They are good people and they love my kids.  And since my father is no longer around and my mom doesn’t isn’t super-involved with the whole grandmother thing, I appreciate that my children have the regular opportunity to get to know their paternal grandparents.  We live so far away from family that we are not able to see our relatives very often.  I really need to focus on the good, rewarding things about their visit and downplay the frustrations.  Nevertheless, it is hard!

{TWO}

School starts here in a little over a week.  I will have a fourth and first-grader this year.  Where does the time go?  I feel like my summer went way too fast, but we actually did A LOT this vacation.  Of course I always intent to accomplish more – like work inch by inch throughout my storage room decluttering.  Ha, with a curious toddler and boisterous older kids…like that is a realistic goal!

{THREE}

I am going to attempt to do home school preschool for Spike this year.  He could technically go to real-live-preschool because he is three but….*he is not potty trained*.  That, and I have a strong aversion to driving the 1 hour round-trip to a brick and mortar preschool twice a week.  So I am going to see what I can do at home.  I am excited but worried that I will lose my motivation right away.  I attempted the same with piano lessons for my older two and never went more than two weeks!

{FOUR}

And while we’re talking about piano lessons, I should mention I am going to try to jump on the homeschool piano lesson bandwagon again.  I figure if I confess this here, you all might keep me accountable to actually setting a time and sticking to it.  I’ll let you know how both teaching endeavors go.

{FIVE}

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Love. This. Mystery.  Broadchurch starring David Tennant is my new favorite Netflix show.  It is a BBC drama-mystery (surprise surprise…I love me some British television) but I just think it is so well-done.  I finished watching the second season and I think both the acting and the writing are superb.  Obviously the content is somewhat disturbing (especially for me, as a mother) in dealing with the murder of a teenage boy, but the complex emotions and relationships between a community are presented so realistically and grittily that I truly was gripped.

{SIX}

Visiting the set of Antiques Roadshow Salt Lake last weekend was fun but we waited in line a long time.  I went to the actual event with Bellie.  I’ll admit, there weren’t many kids there (and, hey, there weren’t many in the under 50 crowd either!) but she did really well.  My great-grandmother’s pocket watch turned out to actually be worth less than I thought it would be, but the appraiser was super-nice and made a point of telling Bellie how lucky she was that one day if she was very lucky, this priceless family treasure (that, monetarily wasn’t worth very much but who cares?)would someday be hers.  I thought it was cute that he involved her in the appraisal.  But no, we did not get selected to appear on camera.  Unless they decide we are cool enough to feature in the “Feedback Booth” section at the end.  Will keep you posted on that one!

{SEVEN}

My baby girl said her first real sentence last week!  She’s barely 19 months old, so I figure that’s pretty OK.  Her big brother fell asleep in the car and she said, “He is seepy”.  Which, aside from the fact she needs to work a little on her enunciation, I believe counts!  I am just loving this age.  She can repeat most of the words we say, although Grandma and Grandpa haven’t been in the same room when she’s said their names.  Both sound kind-of like “Gumpa”…

HAVE a GREAT week!

{7 Quick Takes} Weekly Mishmash, Vol. 8

Hello all!  I am feeling better, after starting a new, supplemental medication…I am feeling more like myself.  I am hoping this will prove to be sustainable for the long-term.

This week has been crazy, per usual!  Join Kelly et al with the link up for more craziness, awesomeness, and excitement!

{ONE}

Swimming!

The kids started swim lessons this week.  I actually only signed Bellie and Spike up for class, Evvie and Junior and I just hang out in another pool while the lessons take place.  Like most children, mine love water and the pool has been one of the most fun activities they have had all summer!

{TWO}

Olympics viewing!

We have a tradition of watching the Olympics as a family, and Junior (especially) is really intrigued.  We are having a blast watching swimming  (and Michael Phelps again making history) and gymnastics. Going to see the Olympics in person someday is definitely on my bucket list.  Hubby and I honeymooned in Greece two months prior to the Athens Olympics in 2004, which was close, but hopefully we can actually attend some events at one in the future!  Ultimately, we aren’t a very “sportive” family, we don’t watch much football or baseball or basketball on TV, but we are really impressed by the historic precedence of the Games and athletic ability of all the athletes.

{THREE}

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Meet Joshua the Bunny, the newest addition to our family!  We adopted Joshua (or “Josh” as the kids call him) from a local rabbit rescue in June.  He is just the sweetest guy, so good with all of the kiddos and really friendly and cuddly.  We had been a rabbit-less household for several years, following the death of 10-year-old Cosimo in 2012.  Cosimo, a little white and brown-spotted dwarf rabbit of some sort, and I had been companions since I got him as a singleton in Duluth, Minnesota when I was young and thought defying the landlord to keep a pet in my apartment despite the rule that NO PETS were ALLOWED made me a rebel.  Cosimo got caught under the radiator one day and we thought he was going to be stuck under there forever, but luckily Hubby (before he was Hubby) came to my rescue and rescued the bunny.  [This is how I knew it was True Love.]

Anyhow, we are all really enjoying Joshua and hope he is having a great time acclimating to our home!

{FOUR}

Da Kilt

I was looking through boxes of keepsakes my mom had saved and discovered a trove of baby and toddler dresses from my youth (cue 1980s music).  Luckily, I think some of the dresses can be seen as “vintage chic” now and Evvie will be able to wear them.  Including this completely awesome kilt ensemble that my parents brought back from a trip to Scotland for me in 1982.  (That’s me pretending to be a Scottish lassie above).  It is still in excellent shape and I am so happy that Evvie will be able to wear it soon!

{FIVE}

100_9366The $60.00 Fire Pit

So, one of the things I had really been wanting was a fire pit so we could sit out in the evenings and just relax.  In June, resourceful Hubby made my dreams a reality by creating this fire pit using mostly stuff we had just lying around and the borrowed skid-steer of a friend for earth-moving.  Ultimately, it only wound up costing us $60 for a welded, forest-service style fire ring.  We have some landscaping to do in terms of plants and mulching, but I am just glad that for now we just have a place to roast marshmallows and drink hot cocoa on cool summer nights.

{SIX}

100_9365Sometimes your oldest son’s bike helmet is missing.  And sometimes, just sometimes, you find it in the fridge next to the beer.

{SEVEN}

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I am heading to Antiques Roadshow Salt Lake City on Saturday!  Super Duper Excited!  (I am a PBS nerd…no other excuse)  I applied for tickets back this spring and they are awarded on a lottery basis…and I was randomly selected.  Obviously not everyone who attends ends up being taped for the show, but ticket-holders do get to have two antique items appraised for free with the Antiques Roadshow team of experts.  I am bringing an antique Elgin pocket watch from 1902 that belonged to my great-great-grandmother.  Hubby wants me to take his 1969 vinyl commemorative recording of the Armstong moon landing.  I am such an history and antique nerd so this should be just like Christmas!

K, all, hope you have a great week!

{7Quick Takes} Weekly mishmash Vol. 7

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Just trying to keep the summer from getting away from me…

I’m having a tough time with Summer.  I always tend to start out the summer vacation with great gusto (“Let’s paint!  And go to the library!”), but end up in a puddle of motivation loss by about day 3.  I think the kids seem to sense that they are treading on emotionally-fragile Mommy ground (with their mother one ridiculous kid-bickering-argument away from GOING INSANE) and it only serves to ramp up their noncompliance with the rules and their inability to help with housework.  Gaaaaaah!  Anyhow, here’s what’s been going on at Crazy Town:

ONE.

Massive Monster Meltdown on Monday (how’s that for alliteration?).  We got to town for Bellie’s t-ball game and she suddenly gasps and announces, “I forgot my shoes!”  To be fair, I had reminded her to grab her mitt and water bottle, but, silly me…forgot to remind her about bringing shoes.  (And six-year-olds have a lot on their minds so I should never assume shoes are a given)  Now, I know a parent with a more “tough love” approach would have just said, “sad” and made her play the game in her stocking feet, but we had a little bit of time to kill so I ran to Walmart and grabbed some cheaply made slip-on Frozen sneakers off the shelf.100_9233

Shoes?  We don’t need no stinkin’ shoes!

Trying to get out of there instantaneously, I was pushing that shopping cart like a bat out of hell and making my way to the register without pausing for anything.  The 3-year-old, Spike, had other plans.  For some reason every single Paw Patrol-themed item Walmart had for sale was on an end-cap at the exact height of my preschooler.  And, being a preschooler, he wanted every single item.  So, I arrived at the check-out with said preschooler under my arm while he proceeded to kick and scream “I WANT IT ALL!!!”

After paying (which is not the easiest feat while wrestling a 35-pound tornado and a baby who is trying to press the buttons on the credit card machine) and congratulating myself for getting the purchased shoes and kids to the car, I attempted to buckle Spike into his booster.  He wasn’t having it.  He wasn’t having it so much that I am pretty sure I almost popped a blood vessel from yelling at him (not my proudest moment).  Bellie had about 5 minutes to get back to her game, and I finally was able to wedge Spike into his seat and buckle him.  Victory.

Not so fast, momma.  We begin to exit the Walmart parking lot and Spike has unbuckled himself and proceeds to thrash around and scream, “I don’t want to be strapped!  I don’t want to!”  So I come to an abrupt halt on the side of the road (I am pretty sure the drivers behind me were shooting me CMD looks – “Crazy mini-van driver”) and, my patience wearing very thin, I swatted Spike’s behind, threw him back in his booster and strapped him again.

Two seconds down the road later, the little monster is unbuckled again.  We repeat the previous paragraph.  Except this time I am screaming, “YOU NEED TO STAY BUCKLED IN YOUR SEAT OR YOU. WILL. DIE!!!!!!  IF WE GET IN AN ACCIDENT YOU WILL FLY THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD AND YOU WILL DIE!!!!!!  HORRIBLE HORRIBLE THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU DON’T STAY STRAPPED AND YOU.WILL. DIE!!!!!”  I have gone completely off the rails this time and we are in a residential neighborhood and I am pretty sure people are on their phones calling Child Protection or the Behavioral Health Center and telling them a mom in a minivan is losing her mind and could you send somebody quick, perhaps with tranquilizers?

Well, this scares Spike into a stupor (although I don’t think he has much of a concept of life or death or flying through the windshield but I think the kid is terrified that he has made his mommy absolutely unhinged) and we proceed to the game in silence.  The other kids are also maintaining a shocked quietude but probably thinking, “I’m glad I’m not the one who ticked Mom off.”

I hope Bellie learned her lesson about not forgetting her shoes next time.

TWO.

After that disastrous day, I took Junior and Bellie to the circus that was in town.  (As in, a professional circus.  Not the circus that is my home.) I hadn’t been to a circus since I was a kid myself and it was fun.  The kids really enjoyed it.  They perform it outside at a racecourse in town, and the most hilarious thing happened during one of the acts.  There was an animal trick show with a camel, two horses, and two miniature ponies.  All was going well until the ponies decided, “Heck, we’re tired of this performing-for-treats stuff.  We want to fulfill our dreams of being racehorses.” And they broke free from their ring and started hoofing it down the track.  They made it almost all the way around before a couple of handlers thwarted their thoroughbred dreams and wrangled them back to where they belonged.  But it was very entertaining.

THREE.

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Yay!  We spotted some more animal feces!

The whole family went for a hike last weekend.  It was nice, but at the beginning Bellie and Spike were complaining about being tired and not wanting to walk.  The incentive I came up with?  Poop.  I told them to keep an eye out for horse or elk poop on the trail.  I am proud to report that this was the motivation that kept them going.

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It’s always a good idea to stop, kick off your shoes, and take a break half-way through a grueling 10-minute hike.

FOUR.

Potty-training is stupid.  This is what the 3-year-old says and I am inclined to agree with him.

FIVE.

Brexit.  I am intrigued by this.  I don’t know if it is good or bad, but if the pound stays down I am kinda wishing I was going to England this year.  Needless to say, being a nerdy historian, seeing echoes of the isolationism that happened prior to WWI.  Just curious to see where this all leads…

SIX.

I am pretty sure that if I could find someone to grocery shop and cook for me I would probably be in a state of bliss most of the time.

SEVEN.

Someone in here is poopy so I should probably go figure that out.

 

Have a great week!100_9260

{7QuickTakes}Weekly mishmash, Vol. 6: School’s out for the summer edition

Today is Day One of summer vacation in this house.  So far, so good….but it is only 7 am.  While I listen to the sweet silence of my children getting along for the last few minutes before all hell breaks loose for the following three months, you can read along and hear about what we’ve been up to lately.  (Stop at Kelly‘s for more cool happenin’s)

ONE

As we walked through the garden the other day and I attempted to weed, Bellie and her little brother were inspecting their plots.  Noticing that a few areas had teeny tiny sprouts growing, Bellie said, “Be careful, Spike!  Don’t touch them!”  Spike paused thoughtfully, then said, “Right.  Because we don’t want them to grow back down.”  It made me think of the Wizard-of-Oz when the Wicked Witch of the East got crushed underneath Dorothy’s house; her striped legs rolling back up under it like a party horn.  Definitely hope that doesn’t happen to our vegetables!  The kids do like to “see” with their hands.

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 dusty, dusty garden patch

TWO

Bellie was making a card for her friend’s birthday party and wanted to know how to spell said-friend’s name.  “P-A-I-G-E” I said.  “What?” she said, incredulously, “I don’t think so.  Isn’t it  ‘P-I-G? [she says, trying to sound it out] ‘”  Now, she is a newly graduated kindergartner and I generally encourage her to use “kindergarten spelling” where she sounds out words and comes up with the spelling herself, but I think on this occasion I will just spell that one for her!

THREE

Little Evvie is getting to be quite the explorer.  Running off during school programs, deciding she’s had enough at church and marching down the aisle.  Making friends of other similarly-aged babies and deciding to join their families at library story time.  Also the bathroom and kitchen drawer spelunking.  I have been trying to avoid putting those annoying child locks on the drawers but I think I might just have to pretty soon.  Especially after every single one of my feminine products found their way on to the floor of the living room and Spike is joining in the fun by adhering them to my bookshelf and asking if “these things are airplanes because they have wings”.

FOUR

They just cut the alfalfa field behind our house.  Mmmmm…one of my favorite smells.  I love how everything is so green around here right now – we just got done with several weeks of unseasonable rain and it has made our normally-desert dry neck-of-the-woods a verdant paradise!  At least for a little while longer.  Since we have moved some of our trees to the opposite side of our yard and put up a bird feeder, we have seen so many more birds in our yard and I love it!  We showed the kids a robin’s nest in one of our pine trees and I always forget how brilliant blue the eggs are.  I love early summer.

 

FIVE

I am trying to come up with a system for Kid Media Time this summer.  Ugh.  I hate hate hate hate hate having to deal with this.  I would be content if our tv and computer just broke (well, not my computer, I need some sort of lifeline to the real world!) and the kids would be content to just be kicked outside and play in the dirt all day.  And I guess a Media Moratorium is a possibility for the whole summer, but I fear a mutiny and occasionally rain and 2nd-degree sunburns necessitate a day or so indoors.  Being “SOOOOOOOOOOO bored”.  My issue is that I find difficulty policing the actual time spent on media.  The computer isn’t a big deal.  Junior gets an hour/day based following completion of household chores.  It’s the TV.  Because the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say “Children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one or two hours per day, and that should be high-quality content” I am trying to only allow another hour or two for television/tablets.  My kids obviously do not like the same TV shows, being vastly different ages.  So what happens when Paw Patrol is on for Spike, but Junior is in the same room passively watching it?  Do I count this against Junior’s Media Time?  Does each kid get his/her own quota for time?  Or do I just say TV can be watched from 8-10 am and each person gets to pick a show?  What happens if we watch a movie in the evening as a family?  I would love to hear readers’ thoughts on this; particularly what worked or didn’t. 

SIX

As my shoulder saga continues, I think we may have made a discovery:  I HAVE BAD POSTURE.  After holding babies (incorrectly, I wager) for nine years and lugging around car-seats and other miscellaneous child-rearing paraphernalia akin to a pack animal, my normal posture resembles that of a hunchback.  I have to constantly remind myself to sit up straight, shoulders back.  My chiropractor recently tried using this kinesiology tape on my shoulder, mainly to remind me to keep my posture healthy and it has made a difference!  So going forward we will see if this makes a lasting impact.

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It’s a good look for summer.

 

SEVEN

Hubby and I are set to celebrate anniversary number 12 on Sunday and I am so excited for the gift I am going to present to him!  Twelve years of marriage is traditionally celebrated with linen or silk apparently but what the heck do you get a guy that’s either of those things?  I thought silk boxers but they sound somewhat impractical and hand-wash only.  So I got him this gorgeous handmade fly box for when he fly fishes.  It is customized with his favorite run and the “river” is inlaid with turquoise.  I really love it, I hope he does too!  Thanks Mike at Snake River Nets for the fabulous box!

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Ta ta for now, have a great weekend!