Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick, Before I Miss a Month...

I realized that if I posted something really quickly I could get at least one post in for December. What can I say? I've been busy. Maybe bullet points would be best:
  • Back in November we got a dog. Yes, a dog. I'm still in shock. Especially because it was my idea. (Not the idea of getting a dog originally, but the idea to cave in at this particular time and with this particular dog was mine.) The kids are thrilled. Dave (shockingly) loves her. I am surviving. (She just came to lick me... maybe she's trying to remind me that she's cute and not so very bad....) :)
  • Cantico performed at The Grotto festival of lights on Friday Dec. 2nd. It went well, despite the fact that our harpist's employer was in a car accident and home an hour later than expected, leaving said harpist with several children and a gig she was going to miss. She ended up making it 3/4 the way through the performance, but with some creative order changes to the program we only had to substitute piano for one song.
  • The Cantico Concert was on Saturday, Dec. 10th at The Old Church. I directed, Dave sang. It was fantastic. Dave's mom flew out for the weekend to be there for it. I. LOVE. MY. CHOIR!
  • Finished out my Christmas music stuff by accompanying a fabulous local violinist for a fireside on the 11th. 
  • Hosted Christmas at my house- finding extra beds for my parents, their dog, three sisters, one spouse, and a baby. Had a fabulous Christmas with a full house of guests
  • Took my parents, sisters and brother-in-law to experience Portland food carts and Pok Pok.
  • Went with my family and all of our guests (except the dogs) on an overnight trip to Seattle for a friend's wedding reception. Threw in Pike's Place Market, the Underground Tour and torrential rain on the way home, just for fun.
  • Firmly resolved to fit a nap into my New Year's Resolutions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Recant

I take it back. I am not peaceful. I am not calm. Pee-pee is the enemy. My sworn enemy for life. I don't care how cute you are-- DO NOT MAKE PEE-PEE ON THE CARPET IN MY HOUSE OR IN YOUR UNDERWEAR!!!!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Another Day

Today was a fairly happy, peaceful day. And I'm not being sarcastic as I write that. It was a nice, laid-back, fairly normal day. There are lots of lovely, happy and interesting things that happen to me-- things like reading a good book, searching for great choral music and eating delicious cupcakes-- I just don't choose to write about them on my blog. Instead I write about poop. If I ever become a freelance writer and write a book, it will probably be called "Flush: Close Encounters with Poop" or maybe just "A Narrative History of Poop and Diapering." Haven't you always wondered how people dealt with diapers in the 1800's? If you lived in a one-room cabin and it was freezing cold outside, how on earth did you dry your laundry? The answer is you probably didn't wash it in the first place. But what if you had diapers? They would have to be washed. How would you dry them? On a clothesline in the cabin? What if they froze first? Would you duck under the clothesline to set the table? But now I digress. Back to my happy day.

Addy had playgroup today. It was at a house in our neighborhood, so I walked her over. Jackson and I came back just in time for me to rehearse with someone I am accompanying for a musical number. Toward the end of the rehearsal my phone rang, but I ignored it-- I was in a rehearsal and trying to concentrate. Then my cell phone rang. I ignored it too. My phone rang again; my cell phone rang again. After several rounds of this, I decided whoever it was really wanted to talk to me, so I picked up the phone. It was the mom from playgroup. Addy was really fussy and pulling at her ear. So I ended my rehearsal, went to pick Addy up and took her to the doctor.

Sure enough, Addy had an ear infection. The doctor wrote a prescription for an antibiotic and I went to Target to get it filled. I drove through Taco Bell to get Jackson and Addy lunch, made a list in the Target parking lot while they ate it, and felt quite pleased with myself and my high level of organization.

We went to Target, procured the necessary items (as well as several more, as typically happens at Target) and started to make our way toward the checkout. Jackson was looking at some Legos and started to dance around a bit.I should have made him stop and taken him to the bathroom right then and there, but we only had one item left (night-time diapers, ironically enough). We went to get the last item and I got distracted looking at shirts for Addy. At this point Jackson realized he needed to go and told me he needed to use the potty. So we made a beeline to the front of the store to the bathrooms.

Jackson insisted he could go potty by himself and wanted me to stay outside. I'm all for fostering independence, but for the sake of safety went into the bathroom with him and let him go in the stall by himself. A minute later peeked under the door to see how he was doing. There was a puddle in front of the toilet and a teeny bit of poop on the floor that he was about to step in. I opened the door and saw poop smeared on the potty, in his underwear, on his pants, on the floor and even on the bottom of his shoes. He still didn't want me to help, but that wasn't an option at this point. So I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning up poop and pee from his shoes and the bathroom stall.

As I finally restored Jackson to some semblance of cleanliness, I pondered my options. I had a full cart of groceries and household items I still needed to pay for sitting outside the bathroom. I had left the diaper bag in the car. Jackson's underwear and pants he had been wearing were now reasonably clean and poop-free but completely wet. Somewhere in the new mommy introduction class i took at the hospital they skipped the part when they reviewed your options for checking out of Target with a half-naked four-year-old. Should I leave him in the bathroom and go buy a pair of undies and pants so I could finish my shopping? I didn't really feel comfortable sticking 'naked boy' in the cart, but it would be a bit awkward walking around Target with a boy who was only wearing tennis shoes from the waist down. The diaper bag was in the car, so I decided my best option was to take him out and get him some clean underwear. We marched out to the car with Jackson buck naked from the waist down except for his tennis shoes. Getting to the car was a laborious process because he kept trying to hide (so people wouldn't see him naked).

We got to the car, got clean underwear but found that the diaper bag did not have a clean pair of pants. I was sorely tempted to just leave (even with an hour's worth of Target stuff in our cart back in the store), but I remembered that Addy's prescription was still in the cart and we had already opened a box of fruit snacks we were going to buy and eaten a few packs (all by me, of course-- love those fruit snacks). :) So I got a new cart, sat Jackson in the cart basket and set his jacket over his legs so people wouldn't see that he was only in his undies. We went in, took our cart through the checkout and then left. Although I never did manage to get those night-time diapers.

And I managed to stay quite calm and composed through the entire thing, with nary a curse word muttered under my breath. Acceptance, right? "There is nowhere I should be or anything I should be doing besides exactly what I'm doing right now. I am right where I need to be." Even if that is trying to figure out how to get poop off of 4T sweatpants in the Target bathroom.

Did I mention that we got a dog? At least she is housebroken-- well, mostly-- which is more than I can say for Jackson.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tranquilizers Please?

One of the unfortunate side effects of only posting twice in a month is that nobody reads your blog anymore. Sigh. That would be more disappointing if I were actively writing posts.

Tonight was one of those nights when I wished it was legal to give your kids tranquilizers. Long day, even longer evening. I was awakened this morning just before six by a certain three-year-old who had wet his bed-- soaking completely through the night-time diaper that he had on to drench everything. After stripping the bed, replacing the sheets, showering him off, re-making the bed, and getting him clean pajamas, I went back to bed. Dave got the older kids off to school and let me sleep in.

I woke up after nine and realized that Addy was supposed to be at playgroup at nine. So I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes and raced her over to playgroup, getting there a half hour late. When I dropped her off I was really impressed with the mom doing playgroup that day. I had never been to this friend's house for playgroup before and she totally went all-out. She had set up some play tents, had dress-ups out for the girls to play in and even had a few extra kids there. Hmmmm, maybe I should consider stepping it up a bit when it's my turn. It wasn't until I returned to pick Addy up at 11:30 and she had a party bag and foam crown that I connected that it was a birthday party. We had received an invitation to a birthday party (that was planned to coincide with playgroup so all of the playgroup girls could come) and I had totally spaced it. No RSVP, no gift. Yikes. Good thing I got *so much* work done on the computer while Addy was gone (while Jackson sat on my lap sticking his hand in front of the computer screen, pushing buttons or pulling on my arms). The party was a rousing success, as evidenced by the ginormous fit that Addy threw when she had to take off her princess dress to leave.

The afternoon was punctuated by Jackson screeching and ended up with me giving in to pleas from Jared to zone out to Plants vs. Zombies (which the other children watched, entranced, for some time). I succumbed to Camryn's request for me to buy eggs so she could make cookies, which resulted in a trip to Target with four kids to buy said eggs and the forgotten birthday present. Trips to Target with four kids are always exciting, so we tried to keep it short.

The minutes leading up to dinner ended with mass pandemonium as Camryn mixed cookies, I made frozen Ravioli, Jackson incessantly whined for milk (which will lead to him not eating his dinner), Dave madly tried to finish something on the computer for work and Jared argued with Addy (yes, the two year old) about where to put the plates on the table. We had dinner and a short family night/calendering session. Did I ever mention that it is really hard to write neatly on a calender when two different kids are climbing on and off your lap? We frosted cookies and had only two of them bite the dust and end up frosting-side down on the floor. Eventually I retreated to my computer, hoping the kids would eventually fall off to sleep by themselves-- which they didn't. I finally gathered enough courage to face putting them to bed whilst Dave still worked on his presentation for tomorrow.

I have been working on a series of house projects over the past week or so and they are starting to build up in varying degrees of incompleteness. I have ten things that need to be returned, five things to buy, a car that is six weeks late for an oil change and an overdue library video. The Cantico concert is in less than a month and things are piling up for that as well. How do you fit a 7-foot piano, 20 singers, a harp and an oboist on a 25x12 foot stage in an aesthetically pleasing and artistically functional way? Unfortunately, they didn't cover topics like that in my music major classes.  

I have been trying to work recently on counting my blessings, but something about that phrase really rubs me the wrong way. (Am I allowed to say that during November? Will lightning strike me dead?) I'm not saying that I'm not thankful or don't think I need to be thankful. It's just that that particular phrase "Count your blessings" seems to come with a whole subtext for me. Something along the lines of: "Count your blessings. It could always be worse-- and probably will be soon if you don't start showing some gratitude. Don't you realize how easy you have it? Poor you, to have to struggle with central heating, plentiful food, automatic washing machines and four beautiful children that you chose to bring into this world. Tough cookies."

I guess my trouble is not so much with counting my blessings. I am grateful. It's that I feel like in order to truly "count my blessings" I can't-- or don't have the right to-- to acknowledge that I struggle and things are hard, even though I am very blessed. I feel like "counting my blessings" is equated with me saying, "My life is easy and everything is smooth sailing. Any difficulties I have are so minor compared with my blessings that they hardly even count." Which may be true, but isn't what I need to hear-- or have it in me to say-- after an exhausting day caring for four children.

Last week I was thinking a lot about God and how he shows his love for us. I get irritated by children's books and such that say things like, "I know God loves me because I have a nice home and good parents." Does that mean that God loves the children less who are born into poverty or have abusive parents? I don't think God is like that. I have a good friend who is going through a lot of major difficulties in her life right now, yet more than probably anyone else I know right now, she knows that God loves her. It got me to thinking that frequently we equate God's love for us with the level of ease or comfort in our lives when actually those things are completely decoupled. Did God love Job? Then why did he let terrible things happen to him? Did he approve of King Herod more than Jesus (as evidenced by Herod's wealth, power and ease)? No. Negative things are part of being human and mortal. Pain is a way for us to learn and grow (and not one that I particularly like, I might say). But pain is not evidence of my--or God's-- failure.

It is much easier for me to accept difficult things when I don't start thinking, "What did I do wrong to deserve this?" and instead think, "This is temporary. With God's help, I will learn from this and become stronger."

So back to being thankful.... If I can decouple God's love for me with things being easy, then maybe it is okay for me to decouple being thankful from having to feel like things are easy. Maybe it is okay to say, "Today was a really hard day-- and I'm thankful my kids are asleep. I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to grow-- but I'm even more thankful that they have temporarily subsided." :) And maybe it is okay to say, "I am abundantly blessed and tremendously thankful-- and my life is difficult and hard (at least for me) and challenges me to my very core." Being thankful doesn't mean having to ignore the painful and the ugly and pretend they aren't there-- they still are, no matter how grateful you are. For me being thankful is not letting the painful and ugly crowd out the beautiful and sweet. Letting the pain overshadow and drive out the joy is just as untrue as pretending that the pain isn't there in the first place. So maybe I need to add to my goals-- along with peacefuly coexisting with pee-pee-- to learn to peacefully, thankfully coexist with discomfort, but to see it and acknowledge it just the same. 

Enough pontificating. Off to bed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Only the Elect... It's Election Day!

Today is Election Day-- which is reason to celebrate, even in an off year, right? Right???

Well, even if you're not excited about the opportunity to fulfill your civic responsibility to weigh in on who would be the best judge you've never heard of in District 57A, I think today is the perfect opportunity to make my one political post of the year. I personally have regressed from being very politically active and having strong political opinions to a persistent waffling between disillusioned, disappointed or just plain disheartened. But even being disheartened and disillusioned require effort, so I have subsided into just plain apathy.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe in fulfilling my civic responsibility to vote. While I typically do a night-before crash course examination of the candidates the night before, this year I picked up my "Voter's Pamphlet" guide to the candidates several weeks early so I had plenty of time to peruse the half-page blurbs informing me of why I should vote for each person. I was richly rewarded for my studiousness with an exciting array of candidates to represent me in Congress (and this was only the Primary, people!).

Candidate #1: I will call LuLu. She is an "Independent Media Consultant" (which instantly brought to mind the quote from Father of the Bride: "That's just a fancy term for unemployed!"). She says I should elect her because she "supported our government's efforts to find and punish the 9/11 masterminds." Who were all hiding in Iraq, right? She assures me that she will "vote to bring home... [our] troops as soon as our ground commanders agree it is safe." Um, maybe she is worried about all of the soldiers from bad neighborhoods? I know Iraq can be scary, but have they ever been to East L.A.? Besides, she promises that she can balance the budget in five years or less. Take that!

Candidate #2: I will call DeeDee. Her occupation: IUOE, since June 1, 1994 (not June 10, in case you were wondering). And you couldn't be wondering exactly what an IUOE is because everyone knows that. (If you are so uninformed, Google will tell you it is International Union of Operating Engineers.)
But she expands upon this by giving an extensive occupational background, complete with punctuation inconsistencies and some excellent grammatical examples along the lines of "Since November 1982, I became a Construction Corporation Vice President." (That's a looooong process.) But just in case you are biased against construction or IUOE, she is sure to include that she worked for TG&Y Department store from 1972-1974. (That alone got my vote. I used to have my pictures taken there when I was a kid.) Before 1972 she helped the elderly clean their homes.

Instead of pointing out how she can use her cleaning experience to "clean out" the crap on Capitol Hill or use her TG&Y experience to "sort through the junk" in all of the bills coming to her desk, she asks me to vote for her based on the fact that her parents will be married 60 years in April and she and her husband have been married 25 years. She is quick to point out that she met her husband while working on a project together but they began their relationship "2 years later, long after the job was complete." (Phew!)

Candidate #3: Starts by using the "Occupation" space to promote his physical/mental/fitness program "Get Energized" for "governments, businesses and public," complete with a phone number and URL for his website. His program prevents illnesses or diseases and slows down aging. (Did he mention he's in excellent health? Yes, he did.)

He is the most experienced of all of the candidates, with a background that includes "speaker, inventor, ... coach, manager (had an Award), supervisor, social worker, counselor, machinist, mechanic, welder, truck driver, logger, firefighter and beekeeper." Regardless of the fact that he could put his skills to work welding congress together and putting out governmental fires, I don't know if I could really fully support him without knowing that he kept bees or was a manager-- who had an award. (If you aren't already convinced, he has governmental experience in "Tank Army.")

This guy is bold. He claims, "No one better than me could help/rescue this state and nation." (So does he mean that there is no one better than him to help out there or that anyone who is better than him wouldn't be able to help?) But you can't claim that he pussyfoots around issues. Oh no, he gives a long list of (creatively punctuated-- I've tried to replicate it) promises including:

To defend this country from weapons of mass destruction,
Economy: I have a plan to create a few thousands jobs in Oregon and a few millions jobs in the USA.
Budget: balance it in a few months.     [Now take that, Miss "I'll balance it in five years"!]
Health Care: to all, cut cost of drugs.
Car Insurance is a Street Robbery. If no accident - 50% money back. [I'm not sure what this is, but if it's money back, I like it!]
Crimes: harder punishment
Elect US Judges/Attorneys,

There is still more on his platform, including teaching children respect for parents, teachers and the elderly and helping to make peace in the MiddleEast. What can I say? He's got it covered.

There are two more candidates left to go, but this post is too long already and I voted over a week ago. I just wanted to celebrate the diversity and options we have available to us as Oregonians as we choose representatives to carry on our tradition of a democratic republic. Hooray for America!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Commemoration

I looked at my blog today and realized that it has been exactly a month since I wrote a blog post. So I decided to commemorate the occasion with this not-a-blog. The end.

(I really do have lots to write about, but whenever I am conducting Cantico my blog posts get few and far between. One of these days I'll catch up... soon... honest.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Out of Practice

Dave used to travel a lot for work, but recently he hasn't had to travel very much, except for an occasional short trip to the Bay Area. Last week Dave had one of these one-night business trips (which by his company's standards, hardly even counts as a trip). I had the kids by myself for Monday and Tuesday. I'm a little bit out of practice on this business trip thing and I had a hard time on Monday, so I decided to make some plans for Tuesday to make things easier on me. The YMCA didn't have any Childwatch spots available, so I decided to take the kids to "Pump it Up" (one of these inflatable bounce house places) after school so I could read a book while they played. Then we would go out to dinner on the way home and I had a babysitter set up for the evening.

I took the kids to Pump it Up and settled in to read my book-- or at least tried to. They were playing really loud music-- so loud that it was hard to concentrate on my book (and, as the mother of 4 children, I'm pretty talented at blocking out noise). Jared felt a need to race Jackson up the slide which incited screeching and screaming in Jackson and protests of unfairness from Jared when I tried to mediate between the two of them. The two of them argued incessantly in between time-outs.

Addy discovered that the drinking fountain was WAY more fun than any of the bounce houses, so she spent her time seeing how wet she could get her clothes. I made Jackson go to the potty as soon as we got there, but about 1 hour into our excursion, as he was walking between bounce houses he stood in one place with the ever-so-slightest knee squat and a slightly pained expression on his face. "Jackson!!" I called, "Stop. Let's get to the potty!" But it was too late. He had pooped in his underwear. I took him to the bathroom where he got put in a pull-up. (I admit it. The underwear got deposited in the Pump it Up bathroom garbage. There's only so much one can handle. My belated apologies to the staff for the smell....)

After I got Jackson sufficiently cleaned up, he sat on time out for the rest of the time we were there-- which, of course, incited more screaming. I finally gave up and decided it was time for dinner. I had bought a groupon for Baja Fresh, so I decided to stop there to get something moderately tasty/healthy for our dinner. We ordered my Baja Bowl and four kids meals and we sat up to eat. The tray our food came on got stuck in the center of the table. Someone bumped it and it sent Camryn's plate flying off the table, Mexican Rice scattering everywhere. I dove to save what I could of her Taquitos and in the shuffle, the tray got bumped again. This time Jackson's plate went flying off the table. At this point, I realized that we didn't have enough time to finish eating and still get home in time to meet the babysitter and for me to make it to my appointment, so we packed all of our food in to-go boxes and got in the car. The babysitter was waiting at our house when we pulled into the garage. She came to help get the kids out of the car. As she opened the passenger sliding door, the door handle broke off.

I think this may be the part of the story where I start wildly tossing kids out of the car, saying "Please take them!" as I drive off, screeching around the corner. Or start scratching my head at exactly what part of "Pump it Up" and "Baja Fresh" combined with four kids sounded fun. Or ponder how exactly to break it to my husband that business trips and I don't get along so well anymore.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Funny Things the Kids Say

Here are some funny things that the kids have been saying recently:

Jackson:
  • "I'm wary firsty." (He's never just thirsty. Always very thirsty.)
  • "Cubumber" (for cucumber)
  • "My birthday is in bohbember."
  • "It's too louder!"
  • "I! don't! want! dat! eeder!!!!" (I don't want that either!-- even if what you were suggesting wasn't an alternative at all....)
  • "Is it tomorrow yet?"
  • "Is it still today?"
  • J: What time is it? Me: 3:30 J: Why?
  • "When will we go to Disneyland?"
  • J: What day is it? Me: Monday J: Why?
  • (when saying a prayer) "Thank you for this days."
  • "Am I a big kid?"
Addy:
  • "Nammies" (jammies)
  • "Skake" (fruit stick)
  • "Snock" (snack, usually meaning fruit snacks)
  • "Nominoes" (dominoes)
  • "Tock-tock" (Tic-Tac)
  • "Bunnies" (bunny crackers)
  • "Oh no!"
  • "Color!" (meaning to draw)
  • "Where's Addy?"
  • "no, no, no, No, NO, NOOOOO!"
  • "nigh-nigh" (Night-night, meaning either nap, bed or blanket)
  • "No want go nigh-nigh!" (I don't want to nigh-night)
  • "Where's Jared Camryn?"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lost in Translation

Last weekend Dave and I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico for his Grandfather's funeral. While it was sad to be mourning his grandpa's passing, it was not unexpected --since his health had been declining for some time. The happy part of funerals is that they are one of the few occasions where everybody comes. All of Dave's siblings were there and all but one of his cousins (who is currently serving a mission).

One of my favorite experiences was in the evening after the funeral. We went out to dinner with Dave's immediate family for New Mexican food. I think the waitress or the cooks forgot about us because we ended up waiting for about 45 minutes before we got our food. Once we finally got it, our patience was rewarded as we were treated to delicious sweet corn cakes, charro beans, fresh guacamole and some of the best fresh corn tortillas I have ever tasted, all finished off with deep-fried sopapillas.

As we sat forever waiting for our food, we kept downing chips with spicy salsa and ever-increasing amounts of water, in somewhat futile attempts to limit the heat build-up in our mouths. After drinking at least 4 glasses of water and waiting for what seemed like forever, I needed a bathroom break. The waiter pointed me in the direction of "Los Banos."
I thanked him and rushed off to take care of my business, thinking, "Wow, there's something I actually remember from high school Spanish." I practically ran into a huge heavy wooden door. I glanced up at the sign above the door, which read "Senoras."

I rushed into the bathroom, barely noticing the shiny red and black tile decor and bold flower arrangements. After I finished, as I exited the stall to wash my hands, I saw two urinals, each with an air freshener stuck in the bottom. "That's odd," I thought, as I washed my hands, "that they would turn a men's bathroom into a women's bathroom and just stick an air freshener in the old urinals instead of taking them out." As I washed my hands, a man opened the door to the bathroom and started to walk in, only to apologize profusely and make an embarrassed exit. It was only then that I realized that maybe-- just maybe-- I wasn't in the women's bathroom after all and it was my turn for an embarrassed apology. 

Sure enough, when I walked into the hall, the sign across the way said, "Senoritas,"
and the sign up above the door from which I was exiting said not "Senoras," but "Senores."

Oops. I guess the only plural form of Senor I covered in high school Spanish was Senors. Or maybe I don't remember that much from high school Spanish after all. 
Anyone could mistake this for "Senoras," right?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Toward a Peaceful Coexistence with Pee-Pee

If you read my facebook status updates, you will know that WAY too much of my life right now revolves around pee and poop. Let's just say that potty training with Jackson has been a process-- a loooong process. This has caused some worry for me regarding Jackson starting preschool. There are few entry requirements for his preschool (no, we don't go to one of those uppity preschools with an application process and letters of recommendation), but being completely potty trained is one of them. (Um, how exactly do you define "completely"?)

Jackson has been getting better and better at using the potty. He usually goes without help pretty much whenever he needs to. But he has a bad habit of waiting too long to go and then not quite making it. This results in a perpetual wet spot on the front of his pants and several changes of underwear and pants each day. He usually doesn't have "puddle on the floor" type of accidents, but I still have not been able to get him to successfully keep one pair of pants dry for a single day.

The bright side of things is that he has never had an accident at preschool. Maybe it is because he really likes preschool, but he has never peed his pants there-- although he has had a fairly big accident within minutes of coming home. I keep thinking that one of these days his "staying dry at preschool" skill will transfer over for general usage, but it hasn't happened yet.

We have tried a variety of different methods, consequences and bribes in our quest for the elusive dry pants. I tried to think of a "natural consequence" for wetting pants and the most logical was something to get clean again. Since Jackson really likes baths that didn't seem like a good option, so I went with cold showers. (This probably sounds harsh, but I was getting desperate--we've been doing this for months now). But even after days of consistently enforcing a cold shower after he wet himself, there was still no difference. So I resorted to bribery: jelly beans for staying dry between trips to the potty. He liked the jelly beans, but it still didn't increase the frequency of dryness. (Did I mention that even when he makes it to the potty he doesn't have the best of aim, so we perpetually have toilets, floors and bath rugs that are generously sprinkled with pee-pee? I'm beginning to wonder if the makers of Clorox wipes have him on their payroll....) So I finally decided that I just needed to give him time for his body to learn and in the meanwhile to work toward a peaceful coexistence with pee-pee.

(This next paragraph contains graphic descriptions that may not be appropriate for those who are not parents or have not had to potty-train....)
This morning I woke up in a less-than-great mood. I consciously chose to have a slow morning and went upstairs to get dressed about 10 minutes before Addy had to be at playgroup. I went in to my bathroom and something didn't smell right. There was a discarded pull-up and a big pile of runny poop in front of my toilet and splattered on the walls. I scrambled to clean it up, muttering thanks for the invention of paper towels and Clorox wipes, and then got dressed and went to get Jackson's clothes from his room to get him dressed. There was another discarded pull-up on his floor, along with several poop smears on the carpet. More Clorox wipes and 10 minutes later, the mess was cleaned and Jackson was dressed. But by this time Addy had pooped and needed a diaper change, but at least she'd had the courtesy to keep it in her diaper. We were 40 minutes late for playgroup and I was 15 minutes late for my appointment that was during playgroup.

After a streak of whatever plans I tried to make not working out (Childwatch at the YMCA was full, tried to read a book but kept getting interrupted), we settled into the afternoon while Addy was down for her nap. But, before long, I heard Camryn yelling, "Mom! Jackson either barfed or pooped on the floor!" Sure enough, Jackson had another bout of diarrhea and not quite making it to the potty in time. This time there was runny poop in a pile in front of the toilet, squished into the bath rug, splattered on the side of the tub and a big puddle of pee-pee to top it all off (like a cherry on top). After more paper towels, Clorox wipes and scrubbing the rug out in the toilet, I admitted defeat and succumbed to feelings of defeat and futility and an afternoon of simply existing-- and trying to forget about the existence of poop.

This is AFTER I cleaned off everything I could....
But, having shirked my responsibilities to write this blog post, Addy has now emerged from the playroom with green marker covering her arms, hands and chin. I think that's my cue to go....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rant Invasion

Okay, I need a good rant. Today has been a downer day. There hasn't been anything terrible, it's just one of those days where you wake up feeling "off" and things never quite get into place. Sundays tend to be hard days for me (the day of rest, right?) and yesterday was no exception. Maybe I'm still trying to recover.

I didn't have to teach Sunbeams at church because we had Stake Conference, but I replaced teaching wiggly 4-year-olds with playing a Mack Wilberg arrangement on the organ for a choir number. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mack Wilberg, he is the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a famous choral arranger. A good chunk of his work is originally for orchestral accompaniment (which doesn't cut down easily to only two hands)-- and if it's not, the keyboard part is really hard because he enjoys inflicting pain on accompanists. :) Which would be fine, except: A) I have enough pain inflicted on me already by potty training right now, 2) Organ requires more brain-power for me than piano (the whole playing an instrument with your feet thing...), and, Third, I have two tiny helpers who love to push "transpose" buttons and add an unwritten pedal part while I practice organ. Yay.

Grumbling aside, the number went fine and it was even a teensy bit fun to get a chance to blare loud organ music in the middle of a church meeting. So after I finished playing, I sat down with the fam and prepared to *enjoy* the rest of a two-hour church meeting sitting on the 4th row with four kids (something akin to *enjoying* a triple marathon with no water in the summer in Arizona). Within five minutes of this, the nice lady sitting in front of us (with her teenager-- so she must have some acquaintance with kids in her distant past...) turns around to Jackson (aged 3) and says to him, "Can you please be quiet so I can hear?" Um, okay? For starters, Jackson was being quiet and good- at least for him. He was not being completely silent, but he was being fairly quiet for a three-year-old. And maybe she could have addressed me instead of my partially verbal toddler?

The rest of the meeting was peppered with dirty looks from the lady sitting in front of us, even though we took the two younger kids out whenever they were being truly noisy. I suppose in certain circumstances or situations this would be understandable, but for goodness sake, we were not in a concert, we were in a Mormon church meeting! We are a church where big families are common and it is customary --and expected-- for you to bring your kids with you to the service.

Anyway, I was stressed out from having played the organ and not in any mood to tender indignant looks from the lady in front of me. I really wanted to just go home. It's hard enough to get a family of four dressed in Sunday clothes and to church in the morning. I didn't feel the need to be made to feel completely unwelcome (even though I was playing a difficult organ piece as a free service) because I accidentally forgot to gag my children before I came. I (barely) managed to make it through the rest of the meeting. Yes, I know. I had a very uplifting meeting. I couldn't focus on the talks. Between taking Jackson out to the potty and trying to silence any happy peep out of him and Addy (who is the world's loudest happy baby), I was a bit preoccupied. Every time one of my kids made a sound I winced and waited for the dirty look.

As we got up to leave at the end, the lady sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I just had a feeling that I needed to tell you that it really does get better. I had five kids myself and I know how hard it can be. You have a beautiful family and your kids were just fine." I (who do not cry) almost burst into tears. After spending the whole meeting thinking, "Why are we even here? We are just bothering other people. I'm not getting anything out of it, the kids aren't getting anything out of it. What's the point? We should just go home.", it was nice to know that there are people out there capable of having some empathy. It's not like I don't know that my kids can be bothersome or annoying in a meeting (or on an airplane or whatever other public place we happen to be in). But for goodness sake, they are children. They really are trying and so am I, so please try to have some compassion and patience.  

As for today's trials.... Jackson peeing his pants. And pooping his underwear (after weeks of no poop accidents). Not making it to the YMCA to exercise. Feeling fat. Jared absolutely going ballistic because I couldn't understand that he was TOTALLY JUSTIFIED and didn't make Jackson upset ("But mom... it wasn't my fault that our friend didn't bring another ball for our game on the bouncer and that Jackson only likes games where everyone has a ball...") and so forth. Round up the usual suspects....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten Years Ago Last Week: A Jared Album

I was planning to do this post for a while but -- in typical form-- am getting around to posting it a week late. Sigh, mommy-hood brings out the promptness in all of us.

Last Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary of when I became a mother. Yes, my oldest child turned 10. Here is a photo tribute to my oldest child, Jared. Jared, I love you and I am proud to be your mother!



Gotta love the cinder block walls in married student housing!



















Monday, August 22, 2011

You Can't Hide... Or Can You?

We just got back from being out of town for almost a month, going on three different "trips." Obviously, I have a lot to write about, but I just wanted to write about two things before I forgot.

It's always funny to me how small children try to hide things (usually unsuccessfully) from their parents. (Kind of like when I ask Jackson if he is wet and he insists he'd not but there is a huge wet spot at the front of his pants.) This morning Jackson was throwing a tantrum and got up from where I put him on time out, so I took him up to his bed. He didn't WANT to stay on his bed and was very upset at me. I went out of his room to look for something and when I came back, Jackson was "gone." He had hidden by sitting next to the armchair in his room and putting a blanket over his head. He held very still, certain that if I didn't move, I wouldn't notice the huge Jackson-sized bulge under the blanket next to his chair.

The other funny example of this was when we went camping with my parents. We were setting up the camp kitchen (my mom is a SERIOUS camp cook-- don't mess with her pop-up tables, camp cookers and multiple organized holders of cooking gadgets). We had just set up a pop-up table with a rack for hanging stuff on top and gotten everything on it organized when Addy pushed on it a little bit too hard and the whole thing fell over. After one huge-eyed look of panic, Addy immediately lay on the ground and pretended to be asleep. I guess maybe she would thought she was just taking a nap in the middle of the dirt and some nearby squirrel had pushed the table over. :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

About Last Thursday (or It Could Always Be Worse)

In the intervening week-and-a-little-bit since my last post I have been meaning to fill in with a post about the rest of my day. Thanks to a google search and some tinkering I was able to re-attach the vacuum belt and clean up the cracker mess.

After my adventures in vacuum repairing, I piled the kids in the car to run some errands and then took the car into the shop to get it checked. (It had been making a groaning, screeching sort of sound when I braked and sometimes a bit of a thunk-thunk-thunk throbbing noise. Probably not good signs....) Sure enough, our tires needed to be replaced (which I already knew-- what I didn't know is that they were almost worn down to the core) and our brakes needed new rotors. Dave was out of town in California which seriously limited my alternate transportation options. The good news was that they said they could for sure do all of the work that day by the time they closed. The bad news is that I would be stuck with three kids without a car for three hours.

I decided this would make picking up Jared and his friend who was going to come over to play after scout camp a bit difficult. So I got on my phone and canceled the play date and got someone else to get Jared after camp. Now I was only left with three kids and two or three hours to burn. I loaded the younger kids in the stroller and headed for the park which-- thankfully-- was within walking distance of the shop. I found myself grateful for the dismal cloudy day that was not too warm and didn't require sunblock.

We had a lovely time playing until Jackson needed to go potty and I realized there were no bathroom facilities at this park. After quickly scouting my lack of options, I found a way to resolve the issue which may or may not have involved having Jackson pee on a tree. We went back to our lovely afternoon of playing in the park. Jackson and Addy rode in the swings and threw tanbark at each other while Camryn happily played with them. All was well... until Jackson had to go to the potty again. Except this time he had to go poop. I loaded the double stroller with the urgency of a captain loading lifeboats and we charged off at hyper-speed to the nearest store with a restroom. We made it into the Target parking lot when Jackson suddenly jumped out of his stroller seat and announced, "Mom! I need new pants!" So close and yet so far.... Did I mention Addy had a poopy diaper too?

We headed to the family bathroom at Target where I surveyed the damage. Luckily I had a pull-up, diaper and wipes in the basket of the stroller (I had accidentally left the diaper bag in the car). I'll spare  you the details of that delightful 15 minutes spent in the removal of poop from Jackson's posterior (and legs, and shoes-- getting off soiled underwear isn't a tidy proposition). I admit I just threw the underwear in the garbage and didn't even feel guilty. After I got Addy's diaper changed and I had my fill of poop to last me for the next century, we grabbed some snacks and a couple of slurpees and headed off in the stroller again. (I had actually been to Target enough in the past few days that I didn't have anything left to buy. Now THAT is scary.)

We headed off on a walk to the local toy store to burn some more time. I didn't realize we had so many things within walking distance of the car shop. I also realized that while I had driven that street hundreds of times in the past 5 years, I had never once walked down it. We spent a good hour at the toy store and survived with only one destroyed item in the process (maybe it was just Addy's way of getting me to buy her a book). We finished with yet another round of snacks and were heading back to the park when I had another "I need to use the potty"-- this time from Camryn. So we headed back to the toy store, used the potty and began to head out again when I finally got the call that the work on the car was done.

Being car-less wasn't as awful as I had feared. If you took out the pooping-in-the-underwear incident, it was almost downright enjoyable. Nevertheless, it was nice to have my stylin' ride back.

So if you are wondering why I haven't been blogging much this summer, this is my long and circuitous answer.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Since My Last Post

Since I clicked "Publish Post" on my last blog entry, the following has happened:

  • Jackson and Addy dumped an entire box of bunny crackers on the living room carpet. 
  • I made attempts to have Jackson and Camryn help clean it up
  • Jackson threw a tantrum and got sent to his room
  • Camryn and I finished cleaning up the crackers
  • I got out the vacuum to get the rest of the crumbs
  • Jackson yells from upstairs that he needs to go potty.
  • The vacuum isn't sucking anything up. The rotor brush isn't moving.
  • I take the vacuum apart and try to figure it out
  • Jackson yells from upstairs, "I need new pants! I'm all wet!"
  • It looks like there is a belt that is supposed to attach the rotor brush to the motor and it isn't connected. How do I fix this? Oh wait, no problem. I learned that in Motherhood 101 (yes, that is sarcasm). At least I have google.

Camp Crazy

This week has been like riding down the river of craziness. Jared and Camryn have had camp this week-- which should make life easier, right? Right? Right????? What it means is 7:15 drop off and 4:15 pickup for one child with 9 am drop off and 12 pm pick up (for only three days) for the other (half of them being while my husband is out of town so I don't have another parent to help).

Yesterday morning set some kind of record (exactly which one I'm still figuring out...). I drove to the church three times before 9:00 am: once to drop Jared off, another time in an unsuccessful bid to get him his lunch (which he forgot) and one last time to drop off Camryn. Both younger kids woke up drenched with wet beds. In the midst of all this, Camryn asked me (at about 8:15) if she could make breadsticks if she cleaned up the mess. It was an easy out to get one child off my back, so I said okay. But both of us forgot that she had her last day of Activity Days camp at 9:00, so her project was stopped mid-stream and the "I'll clean up the mess part" didn't exactly happen how it was supposed to. The kitchen was left looking like this:




Jackson continues his streak of remarkable talent in mess-making. His prodigious talents (just for this week) include spraying a newly-cleaned toilet and floor with pee in 30 second or less, unintentionally partially thawing the outside freezer by leaving the freezer door open, and spilling birdseed on the floor followed by accidentally watering the hardwood through the screen door (while attempting watering the plants on the deck) within 60 seconds of each other.

Dave had a one-day business trip on Monday, meaning he left at 4:00 am and got home at 9 pm. He had a meeting on Tuesday night so he didn't get home until 9:00 pm again. Wednesday morning he was off at 4 am again for a two-day business trip. We have had a diet of Taco Bell interspersed with Papa Murphy's pizza and fruit roll-ups. Despite a conscious attempt to use childwatch at the YMCA, hiring a babysitter, and even overt retail therapy at Target, I feel like I'm flying down river rapids on a log without a paddle. Perpetual peepee accidents, cold cereal and milk dumped on the floor, markers on the wall, bananas smooshed through hair, scattered toys, no matching kids shoes to be found (despite buying 4 new pairs on Tuesday), spilled birdseed, "Mom, can I use a pillowcase for a sewing project?," poop out the diaper and up the back of Addy's shirt, earrings dumped out of my jewelry drawer and scattered all over the floor, Jackson jumping from the slide to the lovesac whilst buck naked on his lower half, "Can I use Alka-seltzer to make an explosion with an old film canister?"... this is my life at present. I find myself turning to my computer keyboard for escape-- like some kind of lifeline to the outside world or grown-up version of a pacifier.

On Tuesday we had a pizza and movie night. The kids settled in to watch "The Princess and the Frog" while I succumbed to the blessed oblivion of zoning out on the internet, planning summer travel or wasting time on Facebook-- it really didn't matter as long as it didn't involve screaming children. Suddenly Jared looked up and pointed out, "Mom, you're not watching the movie!" I shrank in my chair and made some half-hearted attempts to look at the screen. "Um, sure I am. It's about a frog, right?" "No, mom. You're not watching it at all. Close your computer!" After some hemming and hawing and a few attempts to send one last email or smuggle some glances at a travel guide, Jared got visibly upset with me, so I turned off the computer, put my books away and watched the movie. It was actually really nice. Hard to do, but nice.

So for now I'm just trying to survive getting sucked into the vortex of summer.... the endless swirl of activities, messes, children and chaos. And tell myself that I will survive all of this fun. Really.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Not-A-Post

I haven't written a post in almost a month. I haven't really read any other blogs in that same time period. I apologize to my dear blog readers (assuming I have any left...). I have lots to say but am having a hard time translating that into blog posts. The daily realities of life with four kids are combining with the perpetual debate of how much of my daily grind I want to write for the whole world (meaning my mom and five of my friends :] ) to create a lack of creativity. The solution is to stop analyzing and just write.

I'm sitting on a beautiful Saturday morning, er, afternoon at my computer with a list of useful productive things I could do as Addy plays in the bathtub (strike one against my parenting-- even if I can hear her making happy noises so I know any damage being done is to the bathroom and not her) as a result of her earlier mega-poop. Jackson is back inside after I heard him screeching at other kids in the front yard (mother of the year award for me, yes). Yes, I could finish weeding the yard, folding the 6 baskets of clean laundry in my upstairs hallway, make lunch for my kids, plan our summer trip or make a dish to take to the potluck tonight. I could spend time pondering a momentous decision, entertaining myself or doing something useful. I could even write a real blog post. But instead, I'm sitting here writing not much of anything-- which I suppose is a slight upgrade from wasting time on facebook.

Luckily, Dave just finished working so now I can end this lame post. But now the ice is broken and I can start writing again. Even if it's lame. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Camryn's Crayon Cookies

Today Camryn asked me if she could make cookies. I had someone over and was getting tired of being interrupted every two minutes so I told her she could. She got out the "Great American Cookie" cookbook (the one full of pictures) and decided on "Crayon Cookies." Aside from asking me how many cubes of butter it took to make a cup and how to fill a pastry bag with chocolate, she did the entire process by herself-- Kitchenaid mixer and all. She added the ingredients, mixed the dough, divided it into 8 different bowls (so she could make it 8 different colors like the recipe said), rolled it out and shaped it like crayons, melted chocolate (to use to draw the "wrappers") and decorated them. At one point she asked me to do the chocolate decorating for her, but we quickly found that she was just as good or better at it than I was. 

Here is a picture of her fantastic work: (Blurry pictures courtesy of my cell-phone camera... the cord to charge my regular camera is still missing).
Camryn's Awesome Crayon Cookies
In the midst of all her fabulous initiative and creativity, she neglected to attend to the clean-up part of the project. Our kitchen looks like it was hit by a major hurricane. I guess on tomorrow's docket is "How to clean up from making cookies." Still, not too bad for an eight-year-old.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Personality Flaws

[Another unfinished blog draft found in my blogger draft folder.]

If you ever get in a conversation with people about personality flaws you know that there are some things that are universally acknowledged as being negative. Things like being violent, abusive or excessive knowledge of Star Trek trivia. And then there are those "personality flaws" that people admit to but in a "Yeah, I say it like it's a fault, I'm actually kind of proud of it," sort of way. The kind when people "admit" to it and you outwardly nod your head sympathetically but internally secretly think, "Sheesh, I wish THAT was the worst of my problems." Like when someone admits that they are "OCD," but in a "See, I'm OCD so I could never be as absent-minded or disorganized as you are or have my house as messy as yours. But I'm not judging-- I'm just OCD." We say it's bad but then wear it like a badge of honor.

I have one of those. Yes the dreaded P-word.... perfectionism. Yes, one of those annoying people who admits, "Yeah, I'm a perfectionist," so you can internally think, "Yeah, poor baby. I wish my problem was being too perfect." And honestly, I've worn it like a badge of honor for most of my life. C'mon, we say it's a fault but how harmful can it be to continuously strive to be better.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The World Revolves Around... the Potty

I haven't posted in a while. I'm recovering really well from my deviated septum surgery, despite a really scary drug interaction the Friday night after the surgery. For all of you who want to know but don't have the nerve to ask, no, I did not get a nose job along with my septoplasty. I have the same old pointy schnoz that I've always had. Darn. (Besides, if I was going to undergo the knife, I can think of some body parts that would get much higher priority than my nose. If I wasn't morally opposed to cosmetic surgery.) But I digress. My mom just left on Monday after being here for three weeks. She was able to help with the surgery, help me organize our junk room into a play room and generally make my life awesomer. It was fabulous. I'm having serious withdrawal now that I'm having to be a responsible adult again. :(

We (meaning my mom) started potty-training Jackson while she was here. He is plenty old enough at 3 1/2 , but I'm not nearly old enough. Or maybe I'm too old. At any rate, I don't do poop and this is killing me. He's got the pee-pee thing down pretty well, but this sitting-on-the-potty-for-an-hour-and-then-pooping-in-your-underwear thing is getting old. Really, really old. Maybe those in the 7th circle of hell are really just condemned to an eternity of perpetual potty-training. (Deep breath.) I can survive this. Really. I can.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Post-Surgery Update

Rockin' the hospital gown. Why hasn't this taken off as a fashion staple? I think the tent look suits me....
I'm back home after my surgery. (Which was actually septoplasty with a turbinate cautery, not a septoplasty with a turbinectomy as I had previously thought. In case you were wondering-- I thought you were). I woke up bright and early this morning to head to the hospital. Last night my mom told one of her friends about my upcoming septoplasty. Her friend warned her that she'd had that same surgery and the recovery was awful-- they pack your nose with gauze and your head feels awful for days on end. So on that happy note, I headed off this morning with some pretty low expectations for my day.


 
Hangin' with the ice pack post-surgery. It kind of looks like a polar bear mask with a red nose.
I got prepped for the surgery and they gave me some Versed to help me relax. Dave asked me if I felt anything and I told him I didn't and then (apparently...I don't remember anything) clonked out about 30 seconds later. I woke up what seemed like about 15 minutes later in the post-op recovery room with no memory of being in the operating room whatsoever. I asked the nurses about 5 times whether the operation was really over already. I was a bit woozy after the operation, but overall I really didn't feel half bad at all. It helped that they didn't pack my nose. (The doctor said they try to avoid it when they can because people-- and I quote-- hate it with a purple passion.) Instead, I have a moustache-style device to hold a gauze pad under my nose. It looks awkward, but I'll take it over having my nose packed full of gauze. 
Sportin' my moustache-style gauze-holder. I've never had a bandaid that I put on around my ears before....
So after a calm, relaxing day-- including a medically-induced nap-- I'm back at home watching movies and dinking on my computer. I may not be feeling so great when the local anesthetic they used on my nose wears off, but for now at least I'm liking my excuse to sit on the couch and be a bit lazy. Kind of like my experience having my wisdom teeth out, it's kinda nice every once in a while to have something that forces you to stop everything and take a break. Even if that break involved hospital food. (Honestly, it wasn't so very bad....)

Pickin' at my deluxe hospital meal. Actually the fruit plate was pretty awesome.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My First-Ever Turbinectomy!

Tomorrow is my first-ever surgery. I am having a septoplasty and turbinectomy-- which sounds like I'm having a septic tank fixed and a turban removed but actually means that I am having a deviated septum in my nose corrected and an enlarged lower turbinate reduced-- with the end result hopefully being that I will be able to breathe normally for the first time in years. I was supposed to have this surgery 11 years ago but I procrastinated it because I didn't want to take time off work and I was afraid of going under general anesthesia. So hooray for ending the procrastination and finally getting around to doing it. I haven't been able to breathe clearly through my nose for years, so I am excited to get this over with. I think.

It isn't a major surgery (although I've heard that the only minor surgery is one that happens to someone else) but I'm still a bit nervous. The general anesthesia thing still doesn't excite me-- although it is much more exciting than the alternative. I tend to underplay things in my mind so I'm sure tomorrow I will be hating life and feeling crappy, but hopefully in a week or two I will have be feeling more normal AND be able to breathe through my nose for a change. Here's hoping.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Father Son Campout

Last night Dave took Jared and Jackson camping at the beach for a church Father/Son Campout. I told Jared to pack a change of clothes into a bag and he did-- along with a package of hot dogs and a half-open bag of giant marshmallows. (I wish I had a picture of the stuff in his bag amid the pajamas and socks...)

Today they are playing on the beach before coming home. These photos are brought to you courtesy of emails from Dave's Blackberry. (Isn't technology amazing?) I love how Jared is dressed in his swimsuit on the gray, freezing Oregon beach. At least he's prepared for the best.... :)
 



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Know It's Been a Bad Day When...

You know it's been a bad day when, you drive down the street and stop when you realize your son's shoes are still on the hood of the car where you set them five minutes earlier....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Mommy-Son Date

A while back Dave got called out of town unexpectedly. I already had a babysitter set up for our Friday night date and wasn't looking forward to the prospect of going out by myself. I decided to see if Jared wanted to go out for a "Mommy/Son" date. He wasn't sure if he liked this idea. He was initially just hoping to just get a Slurpee as bribery for (back from when we went tubing during Spring Break) taking Jackson in his tube while I dealt with a meltdown from another child. (I'm seeing a pattern here of using Slurpees for snow-related bribery.) 

I gave him his choice and he finally decided to go with the "Night Out with Mom" option. He decided on dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, but first we grabbed two cupcakes to save for dessert at the "Sweetest Thing" cupcake stand before they closed. Jared got his favorite, Pepperoni Pizza, while I got a Pear/Gorgonzola concoction that had salad greens on the top.
Jared looking appropriately "gourmet."

Pear and gorgonzola pizza.
After dinner, we got a chocolate to munch on at Leonidas and then strolled around the shopping center. Jared even humored me enough to let me go in Gymboree and buy a couple of things for the younger kids. We finished off the evening by browsing at Borders for a while, finally selecting a Sudoku book for Jared and a crossword puzzle book for me. Jared was super-excited to find a huge book of sudoku puzzles for only five dollars. We ate our cupcakes in the car before heading home.

Jared decided that he actually liked this concept of a night out with mom and bragged to Camryn the next day about how fun it was and how many cool things we got to do. He even suggested that Dave and I alter our Friday night date schedule to only every other week-- so we could take turns on the off weeks taking him or Camryn out for dinner instead. I told him that was a really good idea but Dad and I still needed our time together. We settled on an alternate arrangement of planning to do occasional parent/child dates.

I thought spending some one on one time would be a "good idea," but I was surprised at what good company Jared was and how much fun we had. It's really fun to observe as your kids get older and become people with opinions and interests and things to say. Maybe it's just that I'm grateful that I haven't gotten to the stage where my children are embarrassed to be seen in public with me, but I really loved having the chance to spend an evening with Jared.

Bring on the Power Tools!

Okay, power tools may be a bit of an exaggeration. But I need to brag about my latest home improvement project -- and it did involve the use a battery-powered drill in its completion. That counts, right?

So I typically have kept all of my necklaces in the jewelry drawer of my dresser. This drives me crazy because they often get tangled, it's difficult to see/remember what's in there, and so on and so forth. So I decided I needed a new method of jewelry storage that kept my necklaces both neat and visible. Enter Target and an battery-powered drill....

After checking out several necklace tree options and rejecting them because they didn't hold enough necklaces (or were just plain ugly), I settled on the idea of creating a place to hang necklaces on my wall using several dark-wood finished key rails from Target. I bought four of them at $3.99 each. 


I waited until Addy was down for a nap. Then, getting a step stool and engaging the ready help of my handy-dandy four-year-old, I set to work.


I eyeballed where I wanted the rails to go on the wall (I even brought out the level as a nod to my engineer husband, but did not go so far as measuring out exactly where it would be centered on the wall. Sorry, Dave.), marked out where I needed the holes with a pencil and then (gulp) drilled pilot holes into the wall, followed by screws holding the rails in place.

I repeated this process four times and got the following result: neat, tidy, visible and attractive necklace storage.
 As you can see, the dark wood even matches the finish on the mirror and dresser that are next to it.
Jackson proudly displaying the result of "our" effort. All for a grand total of $16.96 and one afternoon spent on a step stool with a four-year-old.

Poetry for Mother's Day

Jared's Mother's Day poem: (I think he has me pegged...)
Karen
Fun, Loving, Inspiring
Mother of Jared, Camryn, Jackson, Addy
Lover of relaxation and choral music
Who feels proud every time I make a new recipe
Who needs everything to be clean and organized
Who gives love and activity
Who fears a screaming Jackson
Who would like to see her children playing nicely once together
Mom

Moonstruck by Bunk

A while back Dave and I headed to Portland for a date (as we often do) because I had bought a Groupon for a ballroom dance lesson. Since we didn't have long for dinner, we ran into the evening outpost of Bunk Sandwiches on SE Water Ave. (it is open from 3 pm until late... there is a different daytime location on SE Morrison). 
The Bunk outpost on SE Water Ave.
Bunk is a Portland sandwich shop that uses high-quality ingredients to make some gut-busting bread and meat combinations. Or to use their own tagline, "With a name like Bunk, things are only bound to get better." They lean toward heavy-duty, meaty creations. This is not the place to get a delicate bite. Nor is it the place your cardiologist would recommend.... But for sheer oomph and greasy goodness, oh yeah.

Pork Belly Cubano Sandwich
We sampled the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the Pork Belly Cubano. And wow.... um, wow. With ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard, I wasn't sure the Cubano was going to be ringing any of my bells (I'm not a huge fan of mustard or pickles), but wow. I'm a convert. Even with the pickles.
Pulled Pork Sandwich with Kettle Chips
And just in case you weren't stuffed by the piles of deliciously greasy pork with apple cabbage slaw, they have Whoopie Pies (made by Sugar Pimp) and Pie Holes from Pie Spot. In our case, we got dessert first while we were waiting for our sandwiches. The Whoopie Pies (despite Dave's entranced expression in the picture below) were not amazing, but the Pie Holes from Pie Spot definitely are.
Whoopie Pie from Sugar Pimp
Dave having a tender moment with one of the Whoopie Pies.

We went to our ballroom dance lesson (where the instructor insisted on trying to teach me how to start cha-cha in a different way on a different count, even though I took four years of ballroom in college) and had the slightly awkward experience of changing partners and dancing with the different random people who happened to be at a new ballroom dance club on a weekend. Afterward we found ourselves at Moonstruck Chocolates on NW 23rd, enjoying some fantastic truffles. Much less awkward, all around.