Sunday, December 30, 2012

Veggie Tales

One of our neighbors gave us a whole bunch of butternut squash from his garden.  I left the bounty on my kitchen counter and one day found them like this:


I love having teenagers.  They keep life interesting.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Errors Around Town

I don't know why it makes me so happy to find these, but it really does.  It's like I'm a part of some secret club or something.

I wonder how many people have noticed this at the Neurologist's office.  Maybe it's some sort of test?

More fodder from our local dollar store.  "Faith is inspiration for the uture".

One of my kids brought this home from school.  No pancakes for me, thanks.

 Only one YOUNG WOMAN can attend, so choose your favorite.
 
Made in China?

And as proof that I am well-known for my odd pastime, a friend sent me this find from a lesson at church:
I appreciate her sacaficing her time to snap a secret picture for me.  
(Hey!  I AM in some kind of secret club!)

And my oldest boy also sent me this picture from his mission in Texas with the following note:
 "This is in the ads that come every week...So, this one's for you, Grammar Queen!"



Grammar Queen.  Hmmmm.  I could get used to that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scary Christmas


I was Christmas shopping in Salt Lake City when I came across this.  You couldn't get me within 10 feet of that bin!  Because we all know that toys come to life when we're not looking, and I'm pretty sure that bear jumped in there when he thought the coast was clear.  But I caught you leering at me, Lotso.  I think it's clear that he's waiting for some poor, unsuspecting Christmas shopper to come along and reach into the bin for another 'favorite plush character' and he's going to show them who's boss.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Born To Be A Scout

 

I got a phone call right in the middle of one of my rare meetings in Salt Lake City.  Since the kids are under strict instruction not to call unless there is something major needing my intervention or assistance, I stepped into the hall to answer it.

"Mom?" said Hubba's trembling voice.  "We got a phone call from mydenleadersandthey......" Followed by uncontrollable sobbing.

I didn't really understand what he said.  I only understood that he was upset and inconsolable.  "Hubba, is everything okay?  What happened?  You need to slow down and take a deep breath.  I can't understand you very well."

He barely gasped in a weak attempt at a deep breath, resumed crying and told me his sad, sad tale.

"Mom, one of my den leaders called and they are sick or something and so they (SOB! SOB!) CANCELLED SCOUTS TONIGHT!  So we don't have a den meeting and we don't have scouts and I have to miss out on scouts this week (SOB! SOB!) even though I put my bobcat patch on myself since you forgot to sew it on and I pinned it on instead (SOB! SOB!) with the pin they gave me with it that is supposed to be for you but it was still on the card and I used it because we're supposed to have our patches on the uniform!"

(This kid is seriously a genius. Why haven't I ever thought of doing this?)

I took advantage of his pause in the stream of words for a breath to tell him that it would be okay to miss a week of scouts.  Just one week.  His den leaders didn't get sick on purpose.  They probably needed to cancel so none of the boys would get sick, too.

"BUT MOOOOOOOOM!" he continued. "We are supposed to meet every week and pass off our requirements and I've had my uniform on since I got home from school, even my hat, even my neckerchief, and I didn't get them dirty at all (SOB! SOB!) and then they got sick and we don't have scouts tonight and..."

Long story short, I was able to talk one of his siblings into working on some requirements with him at home.  This appeased him, but barely. 

I walked back into my meeting with a smile on my face - because Hubba's phone call totally made my day.  When this kid does something, it is never done half way.  Every week at church he gets excited to see his Den Leader and remind her of the day and time they will be meeting that week, as if she would forget.  He sometimes wears his complete uniform on random days, down to the socks and belt, just because it makes him happy. 

It makes me happy to see how much my boy loves being a Cub Scout.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Whole-Hearted

photo from here

I went in for my TEE test yesterday.  They gave me some milk-of-amnesia kind of sedation, took some good pictures of my heart and found... nothing.  I mean, I have a heart!  But it's healthy.  As in: there is no hole!

Yes, you read that right.  I do not have a hole in my heart.  A couple of weeks ago they found one.  But yesterday it wasn't there anymore.  How do you explain this strange phenomenon?  Perhaps the initial bubble study they did was misleading?  I don't know.  All I know is that I have a healthy heart and one less worry.  If this is the work of a miracle that has occurred due to your prayers and positive thoughts on my behalf, I am indescribably grateful!  Whatever the reason, I do not have a hole in my heart and I am breathing a huge sigh of relief at this news.

So, now I'm back to square one.  What caused the stroke-like symptoms a couple of weeks back if my heart is fine?  I will be visiting a neurologist next week in hopes that we can figure it out.

Until then, thank you so much for your love and concern.  It means the world to me that I have such awesome friends and family.  Thank you for the phone calls, the emails, the comments, the prayers and worrying and good karma and everything.

Seriously, THANK YOU.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bless My Heart


I debated whether or not to write about this, but this is where I keep a record of what goes on in my life.  So here it goes.

I do not enjoy having experiences that serve as a reminder of my mortality. 

Take last Tuesday, for instance.  I was lounging on a beanbag in the front room, enjoying a movie with the family before bedtime.  At some point I noticed that my ear felt funny.  I reached back and touched it, fascinated by the lack of feeling in my right ear compared to my left.  I tested my hearing by plugging each ear.  It was fine.  The outside of my right ear was just numb.  Weird.  I figured I must have been laying on it funny and turned my attention back to the movie.  After a while my right arm started to feel tingly so I changed positions and shook it out.  I realized that my ear was still numb and that my jaw was a little numb as well.  My arm went from tingly to... I don't know.  Not numb, just weak.  I stood up and walked into the other room and realized my right leg also felt weak.

I continued pacing around the room, exploring these awkward sensations on my right side, when I remembered that something like this happens to people who are having a stroke.  Don't freak out, I told myself.  You're fine, this will pass.  I didn't want to scare anyone.  I kept it to myself, waiting for the feelings to pass.  They didn't.

When Allen and I went to bed I casually mentioned what was going on.  "But I'm fine," I told him.  "I can talk fine and my face isn't drooping and I can comprehend everything."  He asked me a whole barrage of questions and asked if I thought I should go to the emergency room.  "I'm just tired," I answered.  "Let's see how I am in the morning."

Allen got online and googled my symptoms.  He thought I might be having what is called a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, something like a mini-stroke.  I insisted that I felt totally fine except for the weakness and that I just needed to sleep.  So that's what I did.

In the morning my arm was still a little weak but all other symptoms had disappeared.  I called my OB/GYN office and asked the secretary and nurse for recommendations for a good regular doctor and they gave me a few names.  "So, are you sick with the flu or a bad cold or what?" the secretary asked.  I described my symptoms from the night before, emphasizing that I felt fine now, and she said, "Don't call a doctor.  You need to at least get to the Instacare.  Like, right now.  And the nurse here is nodding her head, too, saying you need to be seen today.  Like, NOW."

Because it was the day before Thanksgiving, Allen was home.  I told him what they said and he told me to get going.  It was so strange to be driving myself to the Instacare, feeling perfectly fine.  I got there about 15 minutes before they opened and sat outside their inner door waiting for someone to arrive.  I told the woman at the front desk what my symptoms were, she went back and spoke with the doctor on call, and he came into the waiting room to talk to me.  "You need to just go right over to the ER," he said.  "They'll probably put you at the front of the line."  "But I feel fine right now..." I started to argue.  "Better safe than sorry," he answered.  "You don't want to mess with this kind of thing.  It could be a sign of something much more serious."  They graciously erased my visit from their computer so we/our insurance wouldn't be charged for it and I headed around the block to the ER.

He was right, I was immediately admitted and put through a whole barrage of tests.  Seriously, every test you can imagine, I am pretty sure I had done on me.  Four blood draws for blood work.  An EKG, chest x-ray, CT scan, and MRI.  Everything came back looking good.  The doctor on call as well as a neurologist came and conducted some strength and touch tests.  All good.  My final test was an echo ultrasound of my heart - with bubbles.  This was where they discovered a hole.  Apparently this hole is likely a PFO or Patent Foramen Ovale.  It is something we all have when we are in utero but it usually closes itself after birth.  Some people have them their whole lives and never know.  Then some people have weird things happen (like me) and find the hole in their heart that way. 

The other possibility is that the hole is an ASD or Atrial Septal Defect.  I will need to have another test (called TEE) done next week to see if this is the case, and to find how large the hole is regardless of which kind it ends up being.  The TEE gives a clearer picture of the heart since a typical echo ultrasound has to see around the ribcage.

Because Thanksgiving was the next day the doctors allowed me to go home rather than admit me to the hospital and keep me under observation for a couple of days.  The neurologist made sure to emphasize that if I had ANY symptoms again I needed to come immediately to the ER.  "You don't mess around with this!" she reprimanded me.  "No questioning.  Just come in!"

So here I am, a mortal being, a little bit nervous and a little bit scared and a huge bit hopeful that this will be no big deal. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Moustached for Movember


This year Allen's company decided to join in with others all over the world in raising awareness throughout the month of November... er, MOvember.  They start things off clean-shaven:
 


and keep their moustaches growing throughout the month.


I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled Allen is to be sporting a moustache.  You can sense his excitement in the look on his face here:


I asked Allen why he was doing this if it drove him nearly insane to have an itchy lip for a month.  That was when I learned it was more than just a contest to see who could grow the most stache-tastic fuzzy upper lip.  They grow these bad boys in order to raise awareness around the often ignored issue of men’s health.  They raise funds by seeking out sponsorship in their moustache-growing efforts.  The funds raised here in the US support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives.

Allen has not asked for any sponsors, or even any donations.  This is where I come in.  While the growing of a moustache may be limited to Allen's ability (for which I am entirely thankful!) I can still do my part by supporting his efforts and helping to raise funds and awareness.

Regardless of whether you think his moustache is awesome looking or if you prefer the clean-shaven look, would you consider donating to a great cause?  There are not many things I have a deep hatred for, but cancer is one of the few.  Every dollar helps to further research, change established habits and attitudes men have about their health, educate men about the health risks they face, and to act on that knowledge, which increases the chances of early detection, diagnosis and treatment.

All you have to do is click on THIS LINK to donate to Allen's fundraising efforts.

Every dollar makes a difference.  Thank you!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Like Father, Like Son

"Mom, why are you taking my picture?"

"Because you're reading a book on HTML for fun!"

"It's actually really interesting."

No biggie.

Just a bit of light reading to relax and unwind at the end of a hard day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Play With Your Food


Some days my kids are sick of sandwiches and quesadillas.  On those days I make them play with their food.  It's a simple concept, and one that I love.  I cut up a variety of fruits and veggies and put them in bowls.  I throw in a bowl of fish crackers, some almonds, maybe some cheese and a bowl of ranch.  Then they go crazy and create something on their plate.


It can be anything they want.  The only rule is that any food that goes on their plate must be eaten.  It's a great way to get them excited about eating their fruits and veggies.

This day we had a few variations of Pacman.



(Pacman under water, in case you were wondering.)

Sometimes I'm not sure what they've made but they get really excited about it, eat what's on the plate, then start again.

Some kind of Pokemon, I think. They sang a song about it.


 ("It's obviously a crying man, Mom.")

We had a Star Wars theme going on for a little while (of course we did).

(Something about invasion of the Death Star and a Tie Fighter)

 (Tie Fighter)
It's fun to see some of the things they come up with.

(Little Mermaid)
 (A fruit tree)

 Then they start getting really creative...

 
 (That's exactly what you think it is.  ElemenoB refused to be in the picture, but this creation is all her doing.)

("A man falling off of a cliff onto sharp rocks")

(A rather violent scene created by my sweet, non-violent Thumbelina)

Before we know it the bowls are empty, their bellies are full, and lunch is deemed a success.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Not About The Twinkies




I've heard all sorts of remarks since Friday.  Most of them have something to do with the world being okay in the absence of Twinkies, welcome to a less obese America, less incidence of type-2 diabetes, things like that.  I can understand how people see Hostess as a company that makes Twinkies and other such treats and their thinking that the world will be just fine in the absence of unnecessary junk food.  It's a lot easier to think of Hostess in terms of Twinkies and Ding Dongs and not to think about the 18,000+ people who have lost their jobs.

I started shopping at the Wonder/Hostess Bakery Thriftshop in Provo over 20 years ago.  I loved being able to get inexpensive bread, bagels, tortillas and even a few treats.  (Remember my chocolate waxy donut obsession?  Yeah.)

Over the years I got to know some of the people who worked at the 'Bread Store' (as we call it in our family).  Most employees would come and go, but the one constant (minus a few years when she worked in another store location) was Peggy.

Peggy came to know what I would be looking for when I'd come in.  She'd let me know when they had something fresher in the back room.  She'd say things like, "Did you want wheat tortillas?  I think we've got some in back" or "We'll probably get in some more of that bread you like on Monday."  She'd ask how my pregnancies were going, how old my babies were getting to be and ask about my plans for the holidays.  I'd ask her what she had been up to and thank her for her help, care and concern.  Even though we never saw each other outside of the Bread Store, Peggy became a friend over the years - almost like family.

So the first thought I had last Friday after reading the news of Hostess closing its doors for good was what's going to happen to Peggy and everyone else at the Bread Store?  I worried that it may have already closed that morning.  I had to go and see her, see the store one more time.

I was amazed to see how many cars were there as I drove into the usually empty parking lot.  The line wrapped all along the back of the store and people's carts were loaded.  I walked to the back office and peeked in.  There was Peggy.  "Hi there!" she called to me in her usual friendly manner.  She walked over and I asked, "How are you doing?"  She told me that for now she was just staying busy.  It was still such a shock to her that the place where she had worked for 26 years would abruptly be closing its doors.  There were other regular customers there to say goodbye, so I wished her good luck and grabbed a couple loaves of bread and a box of chocolate Zingers (I bypassed the Twinkies and do not regret it) to purchase before leaving.

I could not stop thinking about my friends at the Bread Store for the rest of the day.  Saturday morning I had to go back.  I wasn't sure how to compensate for the loss I felt - it didn't seem rational to be so distraught over someone I only saw every couple of weeks when I'd go to buy bread.  But it makes sense, really - 20 years of seeing someone that often, someone who took the time to ask how I was doing, someone who watched my family grow, how could I not feel sad about losing that small connection?  I brought my camera.

Again, I walked to the back office and saw Peggy.  I asked her if I could take her picture.  She agreed, but only if I was in the photo with her.


"This is like losing members of my family," she said, giving me a hug.  And then, as if validating her words, there was a constant stream of others who came bearing well-wishes.  The people who knew Peggy like I did.  The ones who came to say goodbye.  The ones she knew well enough to say things like, "We've still got some fruitcake!  It's right over here".

 
Or, "You missed out on the Twinkies, they were gone by noon yesterday".   

I gave her another hug, wished her all the best, and walked to my car.  "I'd say see you later, but I guess I won't.  You take care!" she called after me.

That's why for me this is not about Twinkies.  It's about people who are suddenly looking for a new job.  It's about mothers and sisters and uncles and grandpas who find themselves in the unemployment line just in time for the holidays.  It's about losing people who, in a simple and kind of crazy way, became like family.

It's about 18,000+ real people with real lives.  Like Peggy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sixth Grade Science Fair


photo here

Are science project assignments fair?  Is life fair?  I don't know.  But here's what I do know.  When a kid, out of necessity, is stuck doing a science project on her own, it's going to be lame.  When there is no abundance of materials at her disposal, only what she can find in her family's small apartment, it is not going to compare to the intricate machines with buttons and switches or the 3-fold presentation boards that outline the details of how things operate.  I'd be willing to bet that any kid who completed their science project completely on their own has never won a science fair.  But as the saying goes, winning isn't everything.

I was in the 6th grade when the assignment was given to me.  I don't remember too many details of what was expected, only that we had a month or so to have it ready. This was in the days before the internet (1983, Baby!) so I headed to one of my favorite places to search for ideas.  I crossed the street, cut through Victor Park and entered the familiar doors of the Henderson Library.  I asked the woman behind the counter if she had any books on science fair projects and she expertly turned to her card catalog system and found what I needed.

 photo here

(As a side note, I was always so fascinated by the library card catalog system.  I love the ease of access we have with the internet, but there's something awesome about pulling open a little drawer filled with index cards and flipping through each one until you've found what you're searching for.)

She directed me to the section of the library where the non-fiction books were housed and showed me which area held the books I could browse through.  Each book brought greater disappointment as I realized I could never make anything I saw in there.  I had no idea that there were stores that sold the kind of materials these projects called for.  But even if I did, it wouldn't have mattered.  We did not have money to spend on such things.

I left the library feeling defeated.  I was a good student who always turned things in on time but this project was impossible.  I had no one to help me and I had no idea where to even begin.  I felt sick each time the teacher mentioned our projects and reminded us that the date they were due was fast approaching. 

The morning our projects were turned in there was a happy, excited buzz about the classroom.  Each student's desk held their completed project - everything from intricate marble tracks to re-creations of the invention of electricity to graphs and charts detailing the dissolving of nails in various types of soda.  I placed my backpack on my desk so it wouldn't look quite so empty.

Our teacher, Mr. Sylvester, gave each student some time to present their project to the rest of the class.  He went down each row and when I saw that my turn would be coming up I asked to use the bathroom.  When I returned the students in the row behind mine were sharing their projects.  I had momentarily escaped the shame that I knew was inevitable.

When class let out at the end of the day, Mr. Sylvester walked to my desk and asked to speak with me for a moment.  I was painfully shy and thought I would burst into tears, fearing that I had disappointed my teacher.  He asked if I was still working on my project.  I told him no.  He asked if I had forgotten to bring it.  I shook my head.  He explained that the Science Fair wasn't for another week so I still had time to get something done and bring it in.  I nodded.

I walked the two miles to the Civic Center Library, hoping I could find something different in their larger selection of books.  I told one of the librarians that I needed ideas for very simple science projects, things I could make without spending any money.  She found me a book with projects that were so simple in comparison to what the other kids had turned in (each one took less than 20 minutes to put together) that I was too embarrassed (or maybe it was proud?) to make any of them.  I also doubted that I had the materials needed for some of these simple machines.  However, I checked the book out, thinking maybe I could combine a couple of the ideas to produce something acceptable.  As much as I tried, nothing worked out.

On Thursday Mr. Sylvester asked me if I was working on my project.  I nodded my head, telling myself it wasn't a lie when I was truly thinking about what I could do.  "Do you think you'll be able to get it in by  tomorrow?" he asked.  I shrugged.  I hadn't found anything.  Mr. Sylvester was a kind man.  One who saw past the shyness and understood some of my life circumstances.  "You just have to bring in something, Gerberta," he told me.  "I can't give you a grade on nothing.  But if I know you've tried your best and brought in something that shows you're trying, you'll pass this assignment.  You're a good student."  I nodded again.    

That afternoon and evening, I scoured the book for something I could create.  There was a system of spool pulleys connected by rubber bands that turned with a popsicle stick crank on a piece of foam board.  We had rubber bands from my brother's paper route and thread in my mom's sewing cabinet but no empty spools and definitely no popsicle sticks or foam board.  I debated carefully unwinding the thread from my mother's spools, hiding the thread, then carefully re-threading the spools later.  I searched outside for a stick that could fit into the end of a spool, with no luck.  I accepted defeat and for the first time in my life I tried to think of a way to avoid going to school the next morning.

Morning came and along with it came dread.  I couldn't stay at home because I would be found out.  I couldn't escape to the library because they would know I should be at school.  I could think of no other place to hide.  I walked into my classroom, avoiding eye contact with Mr. Sylvester.  At lunch time he approached me.  "No project, Gerberta?"  I shook my head, trying to look at the ground to hide my tears.  "The Science Fair isn't until tonight, you know.  You could still bring something after school.  Couldn't you go home and make something before the Fair starts?  You could make something simple - even a spool of thread on a pencil can be a simple machine.  Do you think you could do that?"  I nodded, despite knowing I could not bring in such a mediocre thing which required no effort.

When I got home after school I looked through the book again.  Mr. Sylvester was so good-hearted and kind to me.  The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint him.  I turned each page slowly and would search the apartment for anything that was even close to the needed materials for each design.  Each page brought a fresh wave of discouragement until I found the instructions for a pinhole camera.  It was simple, yes.  But I could bring my lamp and set it on the table, too - that would make it look a bit more exciting.  I started to feel like this could actually work out.  I went to the kitchen and found that we had a cylindrical box of oatmeal that I emptied into a Tupperware container.  I covered the open end of the box with a square of wax paper and held it in place with a rubber band.  I grabbed a ruler, found the center of the bottom panel of the oatmeal container and drilled a hole into it with the end of a sharp pencil.  It was finished.

I ran to my room and pointed the tiny hole towards the light bulb on my lamp as I looked at my wax paper screen.  Sure enough, my light bulb appeared upside down!  It was almost like magic.  And I can't tell you the pride I felt at having created it myself!  On the inside of a cereal box I neatly printed out an explanation of how the camera worked, along with a simple picture that I copied from the book.

The Science Fair had already started so I grabbed my creations and my lamp and hurried toward the school.  When I walked into the crowded gym some of my enthusiasm waned.  There were parents and teachers walking from table to table as each excited student showed how their project worked.  I wasn't sure where to go.  I looked around and spotted my teacher.  He saw me and smiled, showed me to an empty table and helped me get situated.  It wasn't long before the judging was completed, the winners were announced, and we all found our way back home.

I don't think it will come as a surprise that I didn't win any awards that night.  But I can guarantee you that there wasn't any child there who was more bursting with accomplishment than I was with my silly little pinhole camera.

That was the day that I realized that I could do anything.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Random Thoughts

 This is possibly one of my best finds, ever.


I don't understand green Skittles.  They taste the same way I imagine Lysol tastes when I smell it.  The yellows aren't my favorite, either.  But at least they don't taste like Lysol.

That's why I can always count on chocolate.  No matter what else is thrown in to a piece of chocolate - caramel, nougat, nuts, rice crispies - I know it will all work out just fine because there's chocolate, too.

Don't even suggest chocolate-covered green Skittles, though.  Who wants to ruin their chocolate with Lysol?

Speaking of chocolate, though - Toblerone was already some good stuff.  Then they went and made their stuff even better.  When I saw their newest bar on the shelf in its beautiful blue package (Crunchy Salted Almond, anyone?) there was no question as to whether or not I would buy it.  The question was if it would stay in its wrapper before I made it to checkout!

The new self-checkout lines at our local Sam's Club are the best thing, ever.  The only way to make them better is to allow you to pay with cash.  I think they should implement that change immediately.

We had a really great discussion at church a couple of weeks ago on acceptance, including others, and judging.  It has made me think a lot, every day since then.  Because I am totally guilty of unfairly judging others.  Not out loud, but in my head.  I hate to admit that, but there you go.  One of my big, huge weaknesses.  It bothers me that I do it.  So I've been trying to decide what it is that flips on the judging switch in my brain.  I think I've got it figured out.  I think that when others have something that I am lacking, something that I want or wish I had, I tend to judge them.  Why?  Is it because I am somehow elevating myself by bringing them down?  I haven't figured out that part yet.  But the good thing is that I'm aware I do it and I tend to stop myself now.  I want to be better.

I have probably judged you at some time or another, and I am truly sorry.  It probably just means there is something about you that is AWESOME.  So own that.

Today I am feeling hopeless and uncontrollably emotional.  I am in a daze.  I am trying not to feel this way but I can't help it.  I am one tiny voice in a sea of millions and this morning I realized how very alone that feels.  I hate to admit it, but I'm very, very scared.  And I'll leave it at that. 

What is a mid-life crisis, exactly?  I mean, I've heard of them.  I'm just not sure how to define one.  Is it when you start thinking that you can't wear R2-D2 t-shirts and Converse for the rest of your life?  And is it that thought that you need to grow up or the sadness that envelops you when you realize it's probably true that causes it?

Is it something brought on by major, unexpected changes in your life - like the death of a dear friend?  Or does it just creep up on you as you age, gradually building up in some recess of your brain until there's no more room to contain it and it slowly seeps out in the form of self-doubt and worry and fear?

I have no answers to these questions.  And I don't suppose you do, either.  But somehow it feels good to throw them out there.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quick Quips


Little O: I know that song!  That's the song Mom songed me when I was a little baby!
 
Little O comes into the living room in nothing but his underwear.
Me: Hey, where are your clothes?
Little O: I think it is Naked Day at the kids' school.
Me: What?  They don't have Naked Day at school!
Little O: Why not?

Hubba asked me to check his math homework.  I loved this:

Me: It is time for bed!  Go to bed!
Little O: Look!  I builded a spaceship!
Me: Well, I built you and you need to go to bed.
Little O: What?  You didn't build me!
All-a-Boy: Who are you, Obama?
 
Part of a letter Cowgirl sent to Allen-the-Younger on his mission:

Me: You are growing up so fast!
Little O: Mom, I don't wanna grow up so fast.  I'm not finished being a kid.
Me: (heart melting) Well, stay little.  I like you this way.
Little O: But I can't.  We all get bigger and bigger and then I'm a dad and I'm not your sweet boy anymore.
Me: You will always be my sweet boy, Little O.
Little O: (He grabs my cheeks with his little hands and looks into my eyes about a half inch from my face) Pwomise?
Me: I promise.


Little O: Mom, why did you called yourself A-Bird-Dog?
Me: I never called myself that.
Little O: Yes you did.  On the phone.
Me: You mean Gerberta.
Little O: No.  I mean A-Bird-Dog.  But I like 'mom' better.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Finding The Wall

Colville, Washington.  A fabric store, described as a 'hellacious place of child torture' from when he was young.  And an alley created by a store fire next door.  These are the hints we had to help us find the place where this picture was taken:


As we slowly drove down Colville's main road, we found what we were looking for.  A fabric store with the remnants of a mural flaking off of its outer brick wall.


I couldn't help but notice the ghostly faces staring back at me from the cracking, withered paint.

 
It reminded me of how Jason would often threaten me with a haunting by the ghosts of yesteryear if I ever shared his recipe for Chunk-a-Poo cookies

Despite the fact that the wall's colors were all but weathered away now, we tried to duplicate the shot that Jason had of himself.




I have always felt silly trying to pose and make it look natural.  It's definitely not my forte.  But it was fun to have a little alleyway photo session in the middle of our trip.  Despite the fact that our photos are not nearly as vibrant as Jason's, we were excited to have found another of the places that represented a memory of a day in the life of our friend.
  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

 Still no spook alley, but plenty of Jack-o-lanterns to welcome the trick-or-treaters.

Halloween!  My favorite holiday.  Here are the costumes my crew chose this year, from the wee-est one to the high school senior (I think it's a safe bet that Allen the Younger dressed like a missionary).

Here's Baby X, in perfectly appropriate attire.  It's a miracle the hat is on long enough for this picture.  He sure makes a cute little devil, doesn't he?


This was another option for X.  He loved flapping the wings and saying 'bock-bock' for about 3 seconds and then he was done.  But I had to include the picture anyway because, well, he is the baby after all. 

Just try finding a cuter cowboy.  (Hint: impossible!)  The hat's from the dollar store, in case you wanted one.  
 


 Amelia Earhart.  Her favorite part was getting new boots to go with the outfit. 

Pretty much every year, this is what Hubba wants to be.  Unfortunately, his old pajamas got holes in the knees.  This new set is even better, though - not only did it come with a hat and gloves, it glows in the dark!  He kept making faces but I eventually got a sorta-smile out of him.
 Then he said, "Now do a scary one!"

Princess wanted to be a trash can (?) until we pulled out all of the old Halloween costumes.  When she saw All-a-Boy's old Jedi get-up, she was sold on being a Padawan.  (See the braid?  She's not a full-fledged Jedi yet.  She couldn't believe that almost no one noticed this.)

Cowgirl wanted to be a robot.  Then a pirate.  Then Penny Pingleton from Hairspray.  Or any of the above.  Once we found the shoes there was no turning back.  

All-a-Boy chose to be Han Solo.  His costume was nice and simple - except for finding riding boots.  He was happy with it until he went to school and everyone kept asking him if he was a pirate.  Do people not watch Star Wars anymore?

Thumbelina had no time to think about what she wanted to dress up as, let alone put it together.  She was busy making purses and a robe for some friends up until the very last minute.  Five minutes into the neighborhood Halloween party, she put this together for the night.
She made it even cuter with accessories the next day at school, but I forgot to snap a picture.  Either way, she's cute.


ElemenoB.  The crazy cat lady.  She came up with this one without my help and put it together with the help of her friends' younger siblings' stuffed cats.  At one point her friend's little brother walked up, took his cat from her, and walked away.  It's okay.  She had more cats.



I dressed as Stargirl, complete with her pet rat, CInnamon, perched on my shoulder.  Nobody knew who I was supposed to be.  I kind of liked it.  Most people would say things like, "I thought that was a tame kitten there" or "Oh.  You have a rat on you." (followed by nervous laughter).  If someone actually asked me who I was dressed as I gave them a treat and suggested they should read the book.  If trick-or-treaters asked who I was they got chocolate instead of fruit snacks.  If they KNEW who I was, they got a bag of popcorn and a whole package of candy.  Only one person knew, and only because she googled it on her phone when I told her my rat's name was Cinnamon.

You should read the book.  It's my favorite.