Friday, November 30, 2007

Mother Earth and Me

Last Sunday, an older mother watched me with my boisterous four. "They are so precious," she whispered. "Enjoy them while they are young. Right now you are their whole world."

My eyes teared up. Partly, because I knew she spoke the sweet truth...their whole world. Wow! Who wouldn't love to be so important to anyone? Isn't that why we fall in love and have families in the first place? To create our own little planets of love, happiness, togetherness.

But the other part of me was thinking, Wait! I don't wanna be a world! Worlds have to spin and rotate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Without stopping. Worlds have to nourish and nurture and sustain and support. Worlds have to be solid and constant, beautiful and productive.

It's very tiring being a world.

My mom compares mothers to air. Kids can't live without you. You're vital to their growth and progress. Yet, most of the time they don't really even notice you're around.

Who wants to be air? Invisible. The only time you're acknowledged is when you change direction or get steamy or smell bad.

No wonder our planet is known as Mother Earth. I can totally relate to her. She has Exxon Valdez spilling crude oil in Prince William Sound. I have Wesson vegetable oil spilled in my pantry. She has hurricanes and earthquakes. I have 3-year-old twin boys. She has Mount St. Helens. I've been known to blow my top once in a while, too.

Like Mother Earth, I feel that I am giving all my natural resources so generously and freely. But somehow it's never enough. I'm being gouged and drained and pulled in unnatural directions. And just when I think things are finally going smoothly, there is a great tectonic shift or a climate change, and I have to regenerate and start growing all over again.

But our wise old earth mother has been around a long time. She offers up gold and diamonds and pine trees and wildflowers to her most ungrateful children. Even in the face of war and chaos, her waterfalls shimmer and her oceans wave.

Mother Earth faces each season gracefully. She doesn't try to be spring-green in December. She holds her bare branches proudly and looks elegant in her silvery winter coat.

So, even though, most of the time I feel too small and too weak to be anyone's whole world, I will look to Mother Earth with her dignity and splendor. Even though I would feel much more comfortable being a small country like Luxembourg or, better yet, a town too small for a traffic light, I will think of her sunsets and rainbows and peonies.

And I will roll up my stormy sleeves and I'll put on my sunshine smile. I will remember my greatest blessing is to be my children's whole world.

If Mother Earth can do it...I guess I can, too.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


We've got a few "white elephant" parties this season. Y'know...the ones where you bring some funny gift and play the round robin game and hope you don't get stuck with the fuzzy dice/New Kids on the Block CD/Chia Pet at the end.

In the past I've given some good ones. My favorite: a box of really nice chocolates all wrapped up pretty with a big bite taken out of every one.

At one party I attended, a wife donated an 8x10 framed photo of her husband. He is quite handsome, so it went around several times.

Another guest came empty-handed and then "lifted" a few items from the hostess' family room, wrapped them up (quietly, in the powder room) and popped them onto the gift pile.

Also, there was a plastic Abdominizer that went around for several years.

But this year I'm fresh out of ideas. What are some great White Elephants circling around in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fantasy vs. Reality

My Christmas Fantasy:

Mom, Dad and kids all decorating the tree. White Christmas playing softly in the background. Everyone sharing laughter and fond memories as heirloom ornaments are hung in a tasteful arrangement.

Afterwards, everyone sips hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy cane swizzle sticks in the kitchen. Perhaps served by a maid, who also cleans up.

My Christmas Reality:

Dad harbors secret OCD tendencies with regards to Christmas tree lighting. Stringing lights takes a very long time and no one else is allowed in the room. Children banished to the family room get hyper and start running hysterically to the hip-hip/technofunk carols featured on Sirius Radio.

When finally allowed into living room, children begin to bicker over ornament posession. Tree is decorated in three major "clumps" 3 year old, 6 year old and 8 year old eye levels, respectively.

Dad and youngest kid refuse to participate at all in ornament hanging, preferring instead to sit on the couch and, helpfully, point out the places where "You missed a spot..."

Kid #3 falls into his hot chocolate and ends up wearing his candy cane swizzle stick.

Older children sharpen theirs into lethal weapons.

Oh, and I am the maid.

The tree is done...

I guess reality's not so bad.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Thanksgiving Leftovers

Brad is "Da Man" when it comes to road trips. The eight-hour drive was a piece o' cake for me, since he would rather watch 24 successive hours of Lifetime tv movies than let me have a turn at the wheel. Also, now that we have GPS, I don't even have to pretend to read a map! With the kids strapped in place and their favorite music/movies playing, all I had to do was eat cashews and read, read, read. Who says road trips are tough?

Wonder Twin Power...Deactivate!

We stayed in two little cabins on a mini pond right in the middle of Ohio Amish farm country. The living quarters were "cozy" and the temperatures very chilly. So the cavemen stepped it up and warmed us up every day at the firepit. They would sit out there for hours at a time, wearing their designated "fire clothes". S'mores, anyone?

Jake found his inner caveman as well...indoors.

Tango was a "bonus" freebie included in our stay. He had only three legs, so we nicknamed him "Tripod." Tripod felt the need to follow Christie and I on our Thanksgiving morning run. Stie denies it, but she is a dog LOVER and worried more about our little puppy followers than her almost-dead running mate. Tripod was milking her sympathy by trying to lose another leg via an Amish buggy or minivan...whichever came first.

Hannah & Emily were the lone little sisters, who represented all their girl cousins paddlin' their own boats and...

shoppin' with their moms!

Highlights of the trip included a visit to the cheese factory, bowling, movies, shopping, playgrounds, paddleboats, eating to bursting and staying up at night playing "Black Magic" and "Blurt!"

Our li'l turkeys did a whole lot of gobblin'...and we loved every minute!

(Christie has a better camera and a little more photography experience, to see the trip from her lens, click here!)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Calling All Booklovers!

If you love to read about readers, enjoy books about books and stories within stories...The 13th Tale is a must-read! I fell into this one head-first and did not want to come up for air all weekend.
Diane Setterfield writes so beautifully and so timelessly. This is a new release, but reads like a classic. It's a mystery and a ghost story in the tradition of Rebecca (another must-read). Get it and enjoy!!

Back to "Normal"

Well, what can I say?

Our Thanksgiving get-away was everything a Turkey Day should, food, and fun.

I will post photos soon. Til then, my family and I will fondly reminisce about our Amish Thanksgiving in the Ohio River Valley. Complete with crazy cousins, fire-starter fathers and a three-legged dog named Tango.

Thanks JCMC&H for another great set of memories! We love you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

If April Showers Bring May Flowers...What Do May Flowers Bring?


And, we're off...on a long journey to unknown territory where we hope to meet up with some friendly natives. (Of course, we're bringing our own wild turkeys!)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Best Thanksgiving Ever

Over the years, I have had a lot of great Thanksgiving dinners. When I was little, I loved getting together with the cousins at Grama's house. She always set such an elegant table and I have fond memories of sleeping over the night before to "help" her get things ready.

As I got older, I enjoyed helping my mother host the big day. Mom also made everything pretty and always inspired a spirit of gratitude as we were encouraged to share our blessings and to sing, laugh and play together.

In my adulthood, I have spent Thanksgiving on the beach in Hawaii, eating deep-fried turkey in my in-laws' Arizona backyard, around many lovely tables with dear friends and sweet family. But my favorite Thanksgiving dinner of all time was actually the first one I made all on my own...

The year was 1990 and I was a 20-year-old newlywed. We lived in the most decrepit basement apartment Provo, Utah had to offer. Our shower was painted blue. The upstairs neighbors were ex-cons and alcoholics. The furniture was an eclectic mix of hand-me-downs and cast-offs. Our favorite pieces were our 1970's waterbed (thanks, Aunt Mary!) and our 1500 lb. console television with accompanying "floating" remote control (thanks, Grampa Jiggs!).

Brad and I both worked and went to school full-time. We wanted to complete our college degrees without student loans or help from our parents which meant we were very, very poor. So poor that Brad worked all-night shifts at a phone center. So poor that I'd actually beg the ex-con neighbors for use of their washing machine to save the cost of the laundromat. So poor that we ate store-brand macaroni & cheese and hand-me-down food storage.

When our first Thanksgiving rolled around, we were excited to be included in a family reunion at a winter resort. Four days off work and school, turkey in a fancy restaurant and all-night games and goodies with the family sounded like such a treat. Still, we were a new little family ourselves and needed to start our own traditions, too.

So, two days before the big day, I spent an entire month's grocery budget on a huge turkey and all the trimmings. I made Jello and rolls and stuffing and potatoes and gravy and salad and pie. There was no dishwasher, of course. So, I would cook and wash and cook and wash and cook and wash.

It was my first turkey and I remember being terrified, but excited. I also remember that my feet were killing me by the end of the day. How did Mom manage to have everything hot and ready at the same time? How did Grama get her gravy lump-free?

I pulled out my wedding china and candlesticks and set a romantic table for two. And when my handsome new husband walked through that door, I felt like the original domestic goddess. Everything tasted delicious, which was a good thing, since we would be eating turkey in some form or other for the next six weeks. I don't know that my cooking was so great, but just the fact that we weren't eating corn-dogs was a blessing all its own.

(Our first Thanksgiving...please note the Brillo-pad perm, the console-tv-as-dining-buffet, the Peruvian mission souvenir wall-decor, and the multi-color sweater vest which was my favorite go-to outfit of the day...)

If you had told the two of us on that November night in 1990 that someday we would live in a great big house with a sunny, yellow dining room and four happy, hyper, healthy children and a mini-van and a backyard and our own washer and dryer and four bathrooms without blue showers and a dishwasher to boot, I think we would have been excited, but not too surprised.

And, I think, if you had told us to cherish our first little folding-table, basement-dwelling, budget-busting, newlywed-Thanksgiving as one of our happiest, most grateful moments, we would have giggled and rolled our eyes.

But, you would have been right...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Picking up the Pieces

My sweet mom came and left after a whirlwind week of emergency TLC. Nothing is better than having your mother take care of you.

She did all the usual good things. Like locking every single door in my house and car at all times, making improvements in the guest suite, taking the kids out for one-on-one shopping trips and lunch dates, playing games, reading books, and applauding the show-off variety show which is on 24/7 at our house.

There was a little naughtiness, too. Like keeping me up WAY past my bedtime with all her juicy stories, trying to lure Em off the straight and narrow, and laughing at the grandkids' impertinence. But, hey, that's what Omas are for, right?

Thanks Mom, we love you to pieces!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bring on the Bird

I thought Thanksgiving couldn't be any more delicious. Then, last year, my dad taught me how to brine my turkey. I can't begin to describe the difference it made! Delish...
Here are his step-by-step instructions:
  1. Use a fresh turkey (not frozen).
  2. Line a clean bucket or trash can with three large plastic bags. (I used kitchen garbage bags).
  3. Fill with 2 1/2 gallons water, 2 cups salt, 1 cup sugar, 1 head of garlic (separated), 1 sprig thyme and 1 bunch of parsley.
  4. Let turkey swim in the sea. Secure tightly.
  5. Chill overnight. (If you live in a cold climate, like me, the garage is fine.)
  6. Thanksgiving morning: rinse bird completely, stuff with one sliced yellow onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 sliced apples and a stick of butter.
  7. Cover with tent of aluminum foil and cook at 325 degrees, until internal temperature is 165-170 degrees.
  8. Remove foil after 1.5 hours, to allow for browning.
  9. Allow to rest 30 minutes before carving.
And...since I am feeling generous, here is the recipe for my mother-in-law's most divine creation (besides her oldest son, of course...) the traditional sausage stuffing. It is remarkable.

Sausage Stuffing
Cook 1 lb. pork sausage, saving drippings. Set meat aside.
In pan with sausage drippings, simmer: 2 cups chopped celery, 2 small onions, chopped, 2 large carrots (grated), 2 cans chicken broth and 1 stick butter. Cook til all vegetables are soft. Cool.
Add one box stuffing cubes, 1 package hamburger buns (torn) and 1 can cream of chicken soup. Stir in sausage and rubbed sage. Keep warm in a CrockPot or a low temperature oven.Serve hot with turkey.

This stuff is so delicious. Seriously, if I were on death row this would be my last meal. I'm already salivating in anticipation...Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lime Disease

So the bad news is that Luke's test came back positive. But the good news is that we caught it early. Amoxicillin three times a day for 21 days! Yikes. Luckily, this child loves taking medicine.

The doctor says he should be just fine and he is definitely acting healthier and up to all his old tricks already!

SuperOma is here and just having someone witness the chaos that is my life always makes me feel a little more sane. really aren't going just live in a zoo!

Lisa-Marie requested a Lyme Disease poem. But my heart is just not in it. Here is my lame attempt:

Ticks, ticks... they make you sick.

Please keep my little guy in your thoughts and prayers. And eat a slice of Key Lyme Pie in our honor!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top Ten Reasons It's Great to Be the Oldest

Adorable oldest me on the monkey bars
  1. For a brief, but lovely period in the early 1970's, I was an only child.
  2. I am the only one who has a baby book.
  3. I was first to walk, talk, go to school, read, get my ears pierced, go to middle school, drive (barely), date (rarely), graduate and leave home. (Hallelujah!)
  4. I actually remember what my parents were like in their twenties.
  5. No hand-me-downs.
  6. Bossing people around is on the job description.
  7. Now that I'm over the hill, I have all these cool and cute younger sibs to keep me hip.
  8. My parents actually bought me my dream car (yellow VW bug) my junior year! (They didn't know better...)
  9. Babysitting privileges.
  10. Six brothers and sisters who wanted to grow up and be just like me!

Top Ten Reasons It's Not-so-Great to Be the Oldest

  1. Two words--Good. Example.
  2. Being the first to get gray hairs, wrinkles, and turn 40.
  3. Actually, Mom and Dad in their twenties were not that fun. Really just hyper and kinda uptight and unmellowed. The youngsters had a much calmer set of parents.
  4. No cool big brothers to teach me about guys and no cute big sister to give me her hand-me-downs.
  5. Three little brothers and three little sisters who witnessed every faux pas of my painful adolescence, including reading my journal and mocking me as I totalled the dream car.
  6. Other people in my life (i.e. college roomates and husband) surprisingly do not enjoy being bossed around as much as my little sibling-slaves.
  7. My wedding pictures (circa 1990) look completely hideous and old-fashioned in comparison to all the newlyweds.
  8. Two of my brothers accompanied me on my first date. (Or was that just an old episode of the Brady Bunch? Actually it was both. For reals.)
  9. As soon as I moved out of the house, all the pesky, annoying and boring little people turned into cool, fun and interesting people.
  10. Now, no one wants to be me. I am the one who looks up to them...literally and figuratively!

This post is dedicated to Josh, Micah, Amy, Heidi, Peter, and Marta. We're's hard to beat this crazy gang! Love you, guys...

p.s. I want to thank Celia for inspiring this "theme post"...for more words of wisdom from oldest siblings, read her blog, or Brooke's, or Heidi's.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bedtime Story

If You Take a Preschooler to a Public Restroom
If you take a preschooler to a public restroom,
he's going to want to do it "by himseff."
When you let him go by himseff,
he'll probably touch every surface in the stall.
After he touches everything, he will realize he needs your help.
So he'll probably yell for you to come.
After you've helped him, he will want some "pwivacy".
When he's finished, he'll want some toilet paper.
He'll start flushing.
He might get carried away and flush everything he can find.
He may even end up flooding the floors as well!
When he's done, he'll probably be locked in the stall.
You'll have to coach him through the unlocking.
He'll finally crawl out along the sticky floor.
After he crawls out of the stall, he'll need to wash his hands.
So you'll lift him up to the sink.
He'll get so excited he'll want to turn the handle.
He'll use the cold and hot.
He'll pump the soap.
When the washing is finished, he'll want to dry his hands
with a paper towel.
When he looks for a paper towel, he might notice the paper towels are gone and he has to use the air dryer.
Looking at the air dryer will remind him that he's scared of loud noises.
So, he'll wipe his hands on his sticky sweatshirt.
After he dries his hands, he will want to hold yours and help open the heavy swinging door.
You'll walk out the door with him and pass the drinking fountain.
Looking at the drinking fountain will remind him that he's thirsty.
he'll ask for a drink of water.
And chances are if he asks for a drink of water,
he's soon going to need to go back to the restroom!

*Illustrated by Felicia Bond*
*"If You... "series by Laura Joffe Numeroff*
*Potty version original to the gabblog*

Friday, November 9, 2007

News from the Patch

Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and positive energy! Still no word on the Lyme results. My li'l punkin is hanging tough.

Plus, thanks to this sinful dessert (yum, Kelly!)...I have found temporary solace. Try it for yourself this weekend. It's an orange vegetable... healthy, right?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Hate When That Happens

Don't you hate it when your perfect day runs away from you?

You wake up with energy and excitement and a schedule full of activities. You put on your gym clothes and skip the shower...excited to work out while your little ones are in their gymnastics class. You get the big kids off to school and clean up the morning mess.

Then you take a look at your fourth child--who looks sicker and sicker by the minute and realize you must call the pediatrician about the strange rash and dark circles around his eye.

Of course, they don't answer the phone the first few times you call, then they put you on hold for 15 minutes and when you finally speak to someone--they don't have an appointment until tomorrow. So you take the appointment and decide to wait it out. Thirty minutes later you start getting that desperate mommy feeling, call them back and BEG them to see you. She says OK drop everything and come right now.
So you put on some clothes, swipe on some lipstick, do the ponytail and head out the door. You wave a fond goodbye to the shower and know you will feel slimy all day long.

Turns out, the doctor is not too worried about the face rash (excema)...but is alarmed by the circular rash on his leg and sends you to the blood lab to test for Lyme Disease.

You hold your little guy tightly as they tie the rubber tube around his arm. He makes it through without a wimper, but you are ready to burst into tears.

After tucking the twins in for a nap, you head down to the computer to Google Lyme Disease. You spend 30 horrifying minutes looking at all the worst-case-scenarios and imagining all of them happening to you. Right now.

As you are engrossed with the folks on, the phone rings. It is your oldest son's special ed teacher, calling to say that he may/may not have punched a girl in the stomach. The two of you discuss the possibilities, causes and consequences. It ends on a positive note, until you walk into the kitchen to find this...

and this...

and this.

After 45 minutes of time-outs, clean-ups and go upstairs to find this in your master bathroom...

and this in your children's bathroom...

If each of these small tragedies happened on separate days, you might have been able to laugh and even write a humorous post on your blog for posterity.

But not today. And, as you look at the calendar and realize:

  1. In the next 11 days, your children have a total of 2 full days and 3 half-days of school.
  2. Your husband will be out of town for 5 of those days.
  3. There are only 38 shopping days left til Christmas. do the only thing you can possibly do--call your mother, burst into tears and beg her to fly cross-country to help you.

And, because she is the wonderful person that she is, she drops everything and agrees graciously to come. And, because your husband is equally wonderful, he goes directly to and books the flight.

So, although the perfect day got has a (sort of) happy ending.

And, in the meantime, I would love to hear from anyone who knows anything about: Lyme disease, wall repair and getting Nestle Quik out of carpet.

A Wild Time

What do you do when it's Election Day and there's no school and you're feeling like you are trapped in a cage with a bunch of wild animals? Go to the zoo and see all the other caged wild animals! If you can't beat 'em...
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 5, 2007

Making a List...Checkin' it Twice

I knew I had officially turned into an "old lady" when I realized that I looked forward to Christmas cards in the mailbox more than presents under the tree!

Does anyone else love getting them as much as I do? It's so fun to see red and green envelopes mixed in with the bills and junkmail. Plus, I love to catch up with my friends from long ago. It's fun to see how many states in the Union are represented on the address labels, to ooh and ahhh over photos and read the newsy letters. We hang them up in the kitchen and feel surrounded by our loved ones all season long!

I love sending cards too. From the time I was 11, I remember spending my babysitting money on my own boxed sets and sitting on the floor, listening to KSFI FM 100 Christmas carols while I addressed them. (To whom? I have no idea...) It just feels like such a fun and easy and happy way to spread holiday cheer.

So...if you would like to be on my Christmas card list this year, please email your address ("real names" would be helpful, too!) to and I will send a little holiday cheer your way. If you are already on my mailing list, of course you are getting one--like it or not.

This is what you will receive: one handwritten card, one family photo, no Christmas letter. (I used to think it was kind of narcissistic to write a family newsletter...that was before I started writing the complete-18-volume-illustrated-leatherbound-matched-set on narcissism, aka The Gabblog!) I will probably not have it in your mailbox the day after Thanksgiving (unlike Stie who has already stuffed her envelopes, I am sure...) but I will get it there before 2008 rolls around!

Can't wait to start addressing those envelopes. See you at the mailbox...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Real Good One

Dan in Real Life has gotten some mixed reviews...but I LOVED it! The beautiful Rhode Island beaches, the cool soundtrack, the great cast, the whole story. I just loved that it was REAL and human and funny and sweet and about a happy family (for a change). I laughed out loud and cried so much I had to bite my lip to keep from sobbing...embarassing. Did anyone else see this? What did you think?

Friday, November 2, 2007

dear diary

taking a page from one of marta's adorable diaries... here's a look back at my week...

i love the taste of: mini-sized twix, twizzlers, snickers & skittles. everything tastes better when it's miniature...especially when a miniature person willingly shares it with you!

i love the smell of: chlorine while i watch my toddlers taking lessons in one pool and the active adults 65+ aquasize class in the other. i enjoy feeling like i am smack in the middle of these two ends of the lifespan spectrum. i have a lot to learn from each. both age groups are well-beyond vanity and know that having fun and moving in the water with your friends are a lot more important than looking hot in a swimsuit.

i love the feel of: having my eyebrows groomed by someone else. (however, i do not love the self-conscious feeling i get every time the wax girl says, "just the brows, right?" i wanna laugh and say, " yeah...let the mustache and chin hairs keep growing"...but what if she's not kidding? do i have a mustache? when did i get this mustache? why has no one told me i have a mustache? and am i even spelling mustache correctly?! help!)

i love the look of: surprise in the target check-out lady's eyes when she looks at the twins in their full-check-out-glory (i.e. tantruming because i refuse to buy them each their own pack of watermelon bubble yum and full-size cans of red bull)., not that look of surprise....i love it when she says, "gee, you really have your hands full" (like i've never heard that one before...) and i respond sincerely, " and you haven't seen my oldest two!"....that look of surprise!

i love the sound of: the seatbelt buckle clicking. after i have hustled my darlings through the target (still tantruming) and the parking lot (having several close calls with four-wheel drives)--threatened, cajoled, counted to ten (four times!), bribed and offered to help the two independent parties get into their booster seats. after being rejected numerous times, i finally start the car, adjust my sunglasses, buckle my own seatbelt and wait. and wait. then "mom, i can't dooooooo it! help!" so, i take off the glasses, unbuckle, unlock, open the door, get in the side door, climb over the shopping bags, reach into the third row and right then, click! "never mind, mom!"

i am thankful for: a little sister whose dear diary is much better than mine...and capital letters...i can't stand writing like this! i don't know how you do it, min! just know...imitation is the most sincere form of flattery...xo

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hurricane Halloween

GNN--November 1, 2007: Hurricane Halloween made landfall yesterday leaving in its wake a trail of trash, tears and tantrums. As far as the eye can see devastation and destruction abound.

Survivors are stunned.

In the calm before the storm, parents tried to prepare by carving up garden vegetables...

hoping their children could use them for shelter.

Some people scrambled to put on as many clothes as they could fit upon their little bodies...

others geared up for battle,

while others hoped a little magic would work!

One clown thought the whole thing was a big joke.

But no survivor will ever be the same again. Hurricane Halloween has changed their lives forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...