Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Skadi's word of the week


Definition: Messed up.

Common Usage: Trashy, Trashed


The Tivo recorded a glitchy Dora the Explorer that kept fading in and out.

Skadi: “Change this mommy, this one is all trashed.”

The Tinkerbell DVD has seen better days…

Skadi: “No, we can’t watch Tinkerbell, that DVD is trashed.”

At bed last night.

Me: “Look at that cute little tushy!”

Skadi: “No mommy, I am not a little trashy.”

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Things I Like Part One: Books

The first book I ever learned to read was called “Cat and Dog”. It isn’t terribly pc anymore, the dog threatened to do all sorts of things to the cat, including making a “catcoat”. But I loved that book and read – I mean memorized it and would “read” it to my parents over and over. My love for reading, like many people I know, has thrived over the decades.

I know I have blogged many times about books and reading. I thought I would start a post series on things I like. Here is post number one – books.

The last few months my need to read has accelerated. I believe it to be pure escapism. When I am laying in bed in the evening, it is easier to escape into a book than lie there thinking about “stuff”. I think about work, which isn’t a bad thing. But it isn’t like I need to think about work at that time of night. I think about my kids. Are they sleeping well? What are they dreaming about? Will Skadi wake up tonight? How many times will I have to put her back to bed? Are the kids breathing? Did they get wrapped up in their blankets too tightly? I better go check on them.

Then my main reason for escapism lately, I miss my mom. Please God be taking care of her. Is she watching over us? Were there things left unsaid? How is Rick doing? What is the life celebration going to be like? Am I going to be able to hold it together in church this week? Why? Why her?

And then the inevitable… Will I get the same cancer? What can I do to make sure I don’t? Do I need to go to the doctor? What if it is genetic? Can they do genetic testing? What if my kids get cancer? What is up with that funny two toned mole on Leif’s finger?

The thought process above? That is why I have been inhaling books lately. Check out my list if you don’t believe me.

In September 2009 I finished “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck after 3 months of reading. Loved it. I moved on easily to “Shanghai Girls”, similar genre and era, but told from the opposite perspective of Buck’s book. Loved it as well.

After I finished “Shanghai Girls” in January, I hit a stride that is still going strong.

“Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger’s” (blogged about previously.)
“Embroideries” by Satrapi
“New Moon”
“Stones into Schools”
“Breaking Dawn”
“The Help”
“Garlic and Sapphires”

I read them all between February and now. This is a lot for me. I know people who are fast readers. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a slow reader. Very slow.

I have three books started right now:

“American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads” – I picked it up off my mom’s bookshelf while I was in Colorado shortly after her passing.

“The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters” – a book recommended to me by an online friend and it fit straight in with my favorite genre, historical fiction, particularly of the North American west.

Then my sister sent me my mom’s Kindle. Before I register it in my own name (and lose her downloads) I decided to read the books on there that I am interested in. My mom raved repeatedly about “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” shortly after she read it. It was on my Amazon wish list. I am 14% complete with that (Kindle fulfills my analytical analytical nature for quantitation) and certain that it must be spectacular for my mom to rave about it since it opens up talking about a widower who lost his wife to cancer at a young age. Bitter, not seeing the sweet yet, though I know if my mom did, I will too.

I am loving the Kindle so far. I have the Kindle ap on my iPhone, but I rarely use it. Only when I am stuck somewhere, by myself (i.e., no kids in tow begging for games on the phone), and bored of Fruit Ninja or Skeeball or Cribbage. Kindle for the iPhone is fine, but I am not wow’d.

I am wow’d by the real Kindle.

AB and I have opposite bedtime rituals. He showers and crawls into bed in complete darkness, with no distractions (yes, I like to talk, but I curb this) and falls asleep (hopefully). He struggles with falling asleep. I get into bed and read. I grew up reading myself to sleep. We have gone around about this a few times, I don’t like to get up and sit downstairs and read. I like to read in bed. And the reading lights are all too bright for him to sleep.

So like my preteen self, I hide under the blankets with my book and reading light until AB starts to snore. Kindle is a serious enabler here. At 8 ounces and with no pages to flip against the sheets I can read and read and read. Once AB is snoring I can carefully come out of hiding and resume being 38 and not 10.

I have a stack of books in waiting – my next book club book: “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven” which I am really looking forward to. I am envisioning a book something like Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony”, which I read in college and loved. I also have “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner” sitting on my bedside table.

On the floor, waiting to move on deck is “My Life in France” by Julia Child followed by a good 10 other books I have picked up in the last few years, but not yet cracked.

Things I like? Books are up around number one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bean Speak

Skadi's new preschool teacher has a tendency to call the kids, "darlin". I am not positive if it is just girls, or boys too. I haven't heard it out of Leif, so I am thinking just the girls are darlin'.

Skadi: (to me) "Come on darlin', come in my secret fairy house."

Me: "Why doesn't Leif crawl in there with you."

Skadi: "Because brothers are not allowed in secret fairy houses."


Skadi: (at bedtime) "Darlin' I want you to read the poop book to me."


You get the idea, we have all been Skadi's "darlin's" this weekend.


We have switched from doing Friday lattes to Friday mini doughnut day. Ok, the kids have switched from ordering Friday hot chocolates to doughnuts... I am still a latte person. That's not to say I don't WANT a mini doughnut and if I have been good during the week I might partake. You know you get the third one at such a discount if you order three...

Leif: "YAY chocolate doughnut for me!"

Skadi: "YAY pink doughnut for me with sprinkles!"

Leif: "YAY chocolate doughnut for me!"

Skadi: (sounding very seriously) "Leif that sign right there says I am sorry there are no more chocolate doughnuts, you have to have a pink doughnut."


Me: "Leif, can Skadi read?"

Leif: "No."

Me: "So when she tells you what a sign says, why do you believe her?"



Me: "Yes, Leif, they do. She was just teasing you."

Skadi: (Giggles)

Leif: "That is SO mean Skadi!"

She so has his number.


Skadi is a very apologetic child. Anything done on accident she is quick to apologize for. The things done on purpose, you may NEVER get an apology out of her short of threatening time out. She is so apologetic sometimes, that I have been telling her she doesn't have to apologize ALL the time, only when she hurts someone. Because she will apologize for touching you.

Me: (After stepping on the side of her foot.) "Oh, I am so sorry Skadi, are you okay?"

Skadi: "Well it hurt an awful lot, but you don't have to say you are sorry."

So far, explaining to her when to use sorry? Not so successful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On kids and sports

I remember pontificating one time, okay, maybe more times than once, that I thought kids were overscheduled and that *my* kids would only participate in one activity at a time outside of school (Spanish lessons, music lessons and Tumblebus aside since those are extracurricular through school, during their time). If there was more than one activity they wanted to do, then they had to make a decision.

This week my son has two tennis lessons, one soccer practice and swimming lessons.

In my own defense, tennis is ending this week and soccer is just starting. So there is really only one week where this craziness of three sports has taken hold.

Swimming lessons are every Saturday morning. Leif could kind of care less about swimming, but his sister is a fish. It would be easy to let swimming fall off Leif’s schedule, but both AB and I feel that swimming is an ultra-important skill that our children must possess. Our family cabin is on Puget Sound, about 100 feet from the water. There are boats and watercraft of all sorts during the summer. Not to mention that AB grew up swimming and it was his sport of choice. Oh and did I mention that we are hoping for a trip to Hawaii this coming year and want the kids to be able to swim... like in the ocean.

Then you toss in there the sibling factor… Skadi lives every day of her life looking forward to Saturday swimming lessons – this IS her one activity. She knows all the swim teachers and they know her... well. Since she was in parent-tot she was a little swimming star. The teachers love teaching Skadi because she does anything they ask. (This is the one time every week that Skadi does as she is told.) Check out the picture from the one session where her teacher decided to pass her up - way up. She did quite well, but it looked pretty funny in the picture her standing there with a 6, 7 and 9 year old and she was 2.5 and in a swim diaper.

We opted to put her back with kids her own age and the teachers promised not to let her stagnate - so far they haven't!

We did the divide and conquer thing one session where I took Skadi to swimming and Leif stayed home with daddy. And it isn’t that it didn’t work… it just wasn’t ideal. We like being together as a family, even if it is just for an hour of swimming lessons with mom and dad on the sides watching the kids perform.

This was really that turning point when we realized that one activity a week wasn't going to work for long.

Tennis. When I was five years old my mom put me in tennis lessons and I wore the cutest little white skort and went to Mike Cedar Park for my lessons. One of the older boys in my lesson made a snide comment to me – he made fun of me for having Kool-Aid in my water bottle. I responded in the manner that most girls that age would – I stuck my tongue out of him. My mom saw too. I thought I was going to be in so much trouble, but she thought it was hilarious. I played racquet sports off and off through my life. Mostly racquetball, like my mom and stepdad, but I also dabbled with tennis. Leif became strangely intrigued with tennis after playing it on the Wii. A few months ago he started asking for tennis lessons and I scrambled looking for options.

See as a working mom, you are terribly limited in summer sports activities. No one wants to teach summer sports on the weekends! I finally bit the bullet and signed Leif up for four lessons over a span of two weeks as an introduction to tennis.

I sort of expected he would take the class, realize he wasn’t Andre Agassi (not that he knows who Andre is), and move onto something else. Instead Leif has declared that he “loves” tennis and it is “even better than baseball”. And not terribly surprising since the kid loves sports, he isn’t half bad at it. He was sporting his wicked backhand today. Yes, he knows what a backhand is now.

This is where mommy guilt stings. Because I can’t justify to continue taking off at 9:30am Monday and Wednesdays to go grab Leif from school (where he misses ultra-important calendar work) to drive across town for a half hour lesson, then drive back, deposit him back at school and run back to work and get there by 11am in order to further his tennis interest. Can I? I keep telling myself he is only 5 and 11/12th. There are going to be plenty of summers when I am clamoring for camps and such to enroll the kids in. He will probably get his fill of tennis then.

Soccer. Oh soccer, the most beloved of Leif sports. We do soccer through the YMCA in the summers as well as indoor soccer in the winter. And this year, given Leif’s enthusiasm over soccer, we have registered him for the competitive league that starts this fall. I think this officially makes me a soccer mom putting Leif in this league. Leif is all about soccer and during every recess at school he can be found on the soccer field. Daily he begs me to allow him to wear his cleats to school. Today he wanted to "just bring them in case" his teachers decide he can wear cleats on the playground. The boys cheer when he arrives in the morning and direct him to which team “needs help”. Leif very willingly complies because like his father, he likes to help the underdog. Not doing soccer? Not really an option unless I want one unhappy little boy.

I know people who slam sports, who think it ridiculous that we spend time running our kids around for sports practices and events. To each their own. Both AB and I were raised in families that prided physical activity. AB and his brothers were diehard swimmers. I was lucky, my mom worked at the YMCA and so I was able to take every single class I wanted to (hello disco dancing!) and my mom was lucky that she didn't have to pay for childcare.

I played volleyball and basketball from 5th grade through 9th grade, competed in track and field and competed in gymnastics through 10th grade, until I got an afterschool job instead. I ski both downhill and cross country, played tennis and racquetball (2nd in State Juniors in Wyoming), softball (which I absolutely despised though), swam and most recently ran (which I really need to get back to).

My parents taught me I could do anything and enabled me to pursue my interests. I wasn’t great at every sport, but I enjoyed them (except for softball) and learned the value of physical activity.

So when I run home from work on Monday and race to fix a quick dinner to eat on the run to soccer practice that starts at 6:15pm… yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s the best we can do right now as working parents who are striving to enable their kids’ dreams. Not every child dreams about sports.

Mine does.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June Goals Update

So you may recall that I took a low-key approach to getting back to my monthly goals. As the month is nearly 2/3 over, I thought I would update.

My plan was to copy my routinely used recipes onto recipe cards and put them in some sort of filing system. I bought a cute little cupcake binder with divider tabs (that I later discovered were all dessert oriented - lame). This weekend I picked up an inexpensive recipe box as another option. Those tabs were only slightly more useful lumping together "main dishes", for example. No breakfast tab, go figure.

I thought I would start this by keeping a stack of recipe cards on the counter. (Done) And then when I make a recipe from my scary folder of recipes, I would write it on the card as I made it. Slowly but surely this way I would work my way through the scary recipe folder.

It is the 22nd and so far I have written...

TWO recipes!

My Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe. Or I guess I should say Pioneer Woman's Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe (which is to die for).

As well as my puff pancake recipe.

Yay me!

Ok, so I suck.

This Friday when AB and I sit down to watch a movie on our brand new TV, I am bringing my scary recipe folder and cards over and I am getting busy.

But really, somewhat like my March goal with the cross stitching, a huge part of the goal is to set up "the system". Get the recipe cards, storage options and all and get them ready to fill so that when I have a recipe that is deserving of its very own card, it has a place to go! (Do not ask me how much of The Orange Tree I have cross stitched.)


Decide on a color scheme for the front entryway/office/dining room part of the house. I didn't say act on this. Nope, no painting. Just decisions. And convincing my husband that *my* color scheme trumps anything that he may come up with in retort (because he never likes mine right off). Because he will do this. He fancies himself somewhat of a designer - but don't tell him I told you this.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aunt Annie's Alligator

I have lucked out - both my kids went through a "Dr Seuss's ABC's" phase. This was one of my favorite books as a child. I can recite it by heart.

But what I really love about this book is hearing Skadi's running commentary on every page.

Me: "Barber, Baby, Bubbles and a Bumble Bee"

Skadi: "Yeah, but bees sting."

Me: "Camel on the ceiling"

Skadi: "I want a camel on MY ceiling!"

Me: "Goat, girl, goo goo goggles"

Skadi: "I am a girl!"

Me: "Jerry Jordan's jelly jar - "

Skadi: "He made a big mess, look it's on the floor!"

Me: "Many mumbling mice - "

Skadi: "I don't like mice, turn the page." (This used to be one of my favorite pages!)

Me: "Nine new neckties, a nightshirt and a nose!"

Skadi: "I have a big nose!" (At this point I argue with her about the size of her nose. It is small.)

Me: "Painting pink pajamas, policeman in a pail, Peter Pepper's puppy, now papa's in the pail"

Skadi: "That's so silly, why are they in pails?!"

Me: "Rosy's going riding -"

Skadi: "NO! Say Skadi's going riding!"

Same thing with Young Yolanda... but by then I have remembered...

Me: "A yawning yellow yak, young Skadi is riding on his back!"

Skadi: (giggles)

Me: "A Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz as you can plainly see."

(This is where there are problems...)

Skadi: "What is a Zizzer? Does he bite? Why does she have long hair? Is she going to eat those childrens next to her? Why is she bigger? Does he bite? Why does he have teeth?"

It's a miracle I made it out of there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I was chatting this evening on FB with a friend from high school. One thing we always had in common was a love for music. He told me what he was listening to right now - Sam Cooke - and because I am not a naive young teenager anymore afraid of not knowing something, I admitted that I wasn't familiar with him. My friend then typed "American Idol".

And fear set into my heart. Must change the subject.

And a whole new type of nervousness kicked in... the "I can't admit that I have never seen American Idol" type of nervousness.

Nope. It's true. Never seen American Idol.

I blogged recently about how AB and I have dropped off the face of the planet with respect to TV.

Thanks to Facebook I knew to set the Tivo for Top Chef - though I am certain that Rachel or Vanessa would have clued me in. I also knew that a new season of Entourage would be starting soon.

AB says we don't watch TV because we have a crappy CRT TV.

Yes, we do have a 12 year old or so CRT TV, but the thing works. And plus, we never watch it.

My mom was an avid TV watcher. And she admitted it proudly too - she loved watching TV. When I was a kid our evenings were filled with watching TV. Cosby Show, Different Strokes, Mork and Mindy, Dallas, Charlie's Angels... you name it, we were there.

After my mom passed away we opted to do a few things in her memory. One was to plant some roses in our garden and get a stepping stone to create a living memorial to her.

The other was to bite the bullet and buy a new TV. This one pleased my husband greatly. But really, last I saw my mom she said to me, "I don't understand, high def TV's just AREN'T that expensive anymore!" I didn't tell her we just never watched TV, though I think it was obvious when I hadn't seen any of the HGTV episodes and admitted to having never seen a long list of shows she watched.

So really, it was an appropriate thing to do.

AB researched what "we" wanted. And then one night a little over a week ago we sat down and placed the order for the top of the line, 50" Panasonic Plasma TV. And a blu ray. And a new receiver with DVR. And an articulating mounting arm.

We are going to get back on the TV bandwagon one way or another!!

We thought that was going to happen this weekend.

I came home over lunch today to receive this nice, nifty new TV from the shipping company that drove it over to our little town from "the west side".

They unloaded it, brought it in, unpacked it.

Then the driver sat shaking his head.

"It's broken," he announced.

"What?" I asked.

He beckoned me to the other side of the TV and there before me was a massive crack across the screen.

"Wow." I said.

"That's a shame," the driver said.

"Wow," I said.

The driver picked up his phone and called the distributing warehouse to tell them it was refused for the crack. He pointed to the number for me to call at the same time. I did, and told them it was refused.

They quickly credited the account, but told me since it was a third party seller fulfilled by Amazon I would have to go reorder it online, they could not simply replace it.

That... has proven more difficult than I anticipated since it appears that cracked TV may have been the last one on earth like it. Or at least the last one on earth for what my husband deemed to be an appropriate price to pay.

Ok, so back to the point. Appears our foray back into watching TV? Delayed.

But someday? I will know who Sam Cooke is, or what the flap is about Cougar Town, and I can even see myself delving into Pawn Stars. (Which is about as appropriate as my mom's love for "Ice Road Truckers".) Maybe I will return to getting my Adam and Jamie fix? Big Love was supposed to redeem me this past year and make me love TV again. Top Chef will make me want to go cook. What is going to make me want to waste my time in front of the TV instead of on the internet?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The really weird things my kids say

Skadi: "See I am happy now, I am not sad anymore. Instead I am just looking outside and thinking about how weird the trees are!"

Me: "Ok, why are the trees weird?"

Skadi: "The purple trees are weird mommy. We have lots of weird purple trees."


Making his Daddy Proud

Leif: (While shopping for Father's Day Cards) "LOOK MOM! PRINCE NOVAMA! PRINCE NOVAMA IS ON THAT CARD! THAT FATHER'S DAY CARD HAS PRINCE NOVAMA!" (Seriously like top of the lungs in the crowded Father's Day aisle. I see people craning their necks to see what he is pointing at.)

Me: "Leif, it's President Obama, we have President's, not Prince's and that probably is NOT a good card to get your father."


Leif: (speaking to me) "Hey babe,"

Me: "Hey babe? What happened to mommy?"

Leif: "You're a babe!"

Me: "You should know that I may choose to remind you of this when you are 16."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The dreaded sleepover party

When I was in first grade my parents invited all the little girls in my class over for a sleepover.

A few went home, my parents called their parents when the girls didn't stop crying.

At least one wet the bed - or the floor - given that we were all in sleeping bags on the floor.

Who knows when we all went to sleep.

And my parents made pancakes for what seemed like hours the next morning.

When it was all over they sighed that it would never happen again. And it didn't. My sister never had her sleepover party.

Sure we would have sleepovers, but these were individual girls and never a sleepover party.

So why I didn't just immediately say "no way Jose" when Leif started talking about a sleepover party, I have no idea. I did say, at the time, well you have to pick 3 kids at the most IF we did that. Trying to play to the notion that he would only get three gifts. Is it awful of me to do that?

What I really should have said was the thing that my friends told their daughter, "nope, you can have a sleepover when you are 7, we can start planning it now".

Leif's proposed guest list has included two of his close female friends. I told him that I was pretty sure that their mommies were not going to allow them to spend the night with four little boys.

"No mom," he replied, "we are big boys."

"Well that just bolsters their case," I told him.

Nope. I didn't think way back when the topic first came up. And so now we are feeling a bit stuck. And yes, I do get that I AM the parent and can just say no. And we tried that.

"Leif," I said, "daddy and I just don't think you are old enough to have a sleepover party."

"I really think that I disagree with you,"he replied, or something like that. His exact words are evading me, but AB and I both sat there looking at each other wondering if he was 5 going on 17.

Yes, I could just say no. But it is hard when he has his heart set on something so strongly.

I have been working to entice him away from his plans for weeks. After the party at Coach Brett's (that was always a very exciting thing when he was littler) a week ago, that he had loads of fun at, I pushed the issue. "Are you sure you don't want a Coach Brett birthday party?"

He looked at me like I was an idiot.

I suggested Rollerena, which was the leading candidate last October thru December, despite the fact that Leif isn't so hot on rollerskates. At the time I was a bit turned off by the notion, but somewhat entertained as I heard "Skateaway" in my head as I whizzed around the rink.

Rollerena is no longer a candidate, despite my mentioning a few times, "but they have air hockey!"

Friends have made suggestions, what about the Children's Theater? The Court Club?

Then I hit on an idea.

"How about Chuck E. Cheese?" I heard myself mentioning to AB one evening.

"Fine," AB said.

So today Aunt Tara and I packed the kids up and headed to Chuck E. Cheese to test the waters.

This is a huge accomplishment for me. I don't do Chuck E. Cheese. See this happened while I was in Colorado and for some reason it hit me then like a ton of bricks. And I never set foot in Chuck E. Cheese again and I cringed whenever anyone suggested taking the kids there.

So it was a huge step forward for me to walk through the door and get my and the kids hands stamped (so that when a child leaves, they make sure it belongs to the person the child is leaving with). Right there? Big red flag, that I am sure is supposed to make me feel better...

We got a pizza, we spent our 35 tokens (about 6 put into games that didn't work). And I told myself I could do this. I can do this. I can host a Chuck E. Cheese party and no crazed gunman is going to come in. Really.

We left after the kids redeemed their 60 tickets for a pink plastic ring, a tiny rubber snack and three lollipops. Total ripoff.

But I told myself I could do this. I can bite the bullet and send out Chuck E. Cheese invites.

Then tonite we set to talking about the options.

And Leif says, "no, I really just want to have a Wii sleepover party with three boys."

Ok. Fine. Done.

I am getting off cheap this year. The cost this year will be a mere one sleepless night.

(Wondering how much I can pay Aunt Tara to hang out downstairs with the boys and get them to bed while I snuggle in my nice bed?)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010



Ken Yokum to birt.

Love, Cate




Can you come to my birthday?

Very sincerely, Cate




AB has a habit of saying, "well I want a pony" whenever the kids ask for something unreasonable, which is most of the time.

And for the record, he does not want a pony. Neither of us really cares for horses and most definitely has no desire to own a horse.

Skadi: "I want that toy!"

AB: "Yeah, well I want a pony."

Skadi: "Daddy, you do NOT have long hair."


In the car on the way home.

Leif: "Mommy, I have been waking up at night and I am SURE that Mina is checking in on me and tickling my feet!"

(Mina is the Elf that checks up on the kids every Christmas and reports their behavior to Santa.)

Skadi: "Me too! Mina has been coming to my room too and tickling my feet!"

Noted that it is nearly 6 months till Christmas... I am thinking Mina may pop in for a visit!

A most difficult topic

One of the single hardest things in dealing with my mom's death has been in regards to my kids. Death is just not an easy subject to get, like at all, for the younger set.

When AB and I told Skadi that grandma died, she looked at us and said she wanted to go play with her dollhouse. We didn't expect much more, but still felt the need to say it to her.

Leif was a different story. He knew for months that something was up. We said daily prayers for grandma, we talked about her being sick and late in the process we admitted that grandma probably was not going to get better and was probably going to die. He sobbed and sobbed one evening that he didn't want grandma to die.

Neither did I, sweet boy.

When my mom died we sat Leif down and told him. His first response was an angered, "I wish she would have washed her hands." Because no matter how many times I have tried to explain the difference between a communicable disease and non-communicable disease, he just hasn't gotten it. "But my teacher said that handwashing prevents diseases!" He tells me. I can't caveat it because that isn't what his teacher says.

And I am resisting the urge to talk to the teachers about specifying the difference between diseases we catch through germs and those that arise from different sources. Because I see how this can quickly become complicated to 3-6 year olds.

Leif has handled it quite well to this point and tends to tell us that "but it is okay, because she is with God and she isn't in pain." And at Sunday school the other day when Skadi started talking about grandma dying, he was quick to explain "well she had this disease".

When I had kids I never gave it a thought that my mom would not be here to share them with me. We live far away from family, but somehow my mom always made it closer between webcam sessions, visits and little packages that would arrive for every holiday and some non-holidays as well.

I lost my grandfather when I was 13 years old. At that age I well understood the concept of death and that my grandfather had been sick for a decade with congestive heart failure and diabetes. No one was terribly surprised when he passed away at 72.

Surprisingly it has been Skadi who has been stuck on the topic of grandma passing away the last week. Nearly every time we have been in the car she immediately starts asking questions.

And not all of them are easy to answer.

"Where did grandma die?" (This one is easy, she died in Colorado at the hospital.)

"Where is grandma now?" (She is in heaven with God.)

"Like Jesus?" (Yes, I guess like Jesus. Though Leif reminded us that grandma did not die on the cross like Jesus did.)

"Where is heaven?" (Umm, way way high up in the sky, where she, God and Jesus can watch over you.)

"Is she on top of the clouds?" (I believe she is on top of the clouds.)

"Can we visit her on the airplane?" (No.)

"When is she coming home?" (She isn't coming home.)

"When will she come see us?" (She isn't going to come see us anymore.)

"Why not?" (Because she died, like how flowers die and turn brown, or like if you step on an ant and it is dead. Realizing of course that now she is going to think that grandma was stepped on...)

"Did grandma die?" (Yes honey, grandma died. Here we go again.)

My stepdad picked up some materials from Hospice to help with explaining death to kids this age. I get the whole keep it simple thing. But I suck at that. I tend to take things to a complicated level - more complicated than it needs be level - very quickly.

I ordered about four books today from the extensive list that Hospice provided after studying the Amazon ratings trying to find books that jive with our beliefs. Customer ratings can be a wonderful thing... or they can really suck up your time and make you a neurotic consumer.

This evening I asked Leif to say prayers. For the second night in a row he declined. "I don't have any prayers tonight," he told me.

"Sure you do," I said. "Think about prayers about keeping everyone healthy, or helping us all be happy, or being with grandma in heaven." I listed the options off.

"I am tired of sad prayers mommy," he mumbled to me half asleep.

"Then how about a happy prayer," I said and quickly tried to come up with a happy prayer. What exactly is a happy prayer? I have my own belief on the things that we should and should not pray for. And I am not sure what it stems out of. But in the moment I could only think of one thing that so violated my thought of what prayers should be about.

"Pray to God that you get some nice things for your birthday," I said to him.

And he did.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Getting back to it

That is my goal for the month of June. I need to get back to working out every morning. I need to get back to eating well - okay, so I always eat "well". What I really mean is that I need to work at eating healthy and not snacking. (I truly do not know why those Cheez-It Duos beckon me like they do.)

I have added only one June monthly goal on top of this.

And I think it is an easy one. A good one for easing back into life as normal.

I need to organize my recipes.

I love recipes.

I tear them out of magazines, I print them up on the computer, I have e-mails from friends with recipes. I really love recipes.

What I don't love is the big vinyl folder that I keep them all in. I flip through page after page vaguely remembering if the recipe I am seeking is on a printer page or on a half magazine page with or without a picture. No organization whatsoever.

I also have a big binder of recipes sorted in pockets by type of food. It was a good organizational tactic, until I got the vinyl folder for "everyday" recipes.

Oh and did I mention there is a drawer in my coffee table with recipes?

And I also tried the journal book with the names of recipes and online sources. (Flop.)

Bookmarking is a good option... if I know exactly what I am looking for.

So the plan is that when I make a recipe that I have made more than once and know I will make again, to pull out a recipe card and write it up on the card as I make it. Then I toss the sheet of paper and file the card in a recipe binder that I bought today.

I bought a cute little cupcake recipe binder, only to get it home and realize that all the tabs are for desserts.

And well, desserts? I have a repertoire of like 5.

My mom's rhubarb custard pie, my mom's chocolate cake, nectarine pie, the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle bag and my great grandmother's sugar cookie recipe.

I don't need tabs for those.

AB suggested I just "cross them out and write over them". My sister in law said I could print up little labels on the computer and then cut to fit the tab so it looks neater.

Guess who is more in tune with me? Yes, it bothers me that the tabs are wrong, therefore I need a solution that isn't "cross it out"!

So there it is. My monthly goals for June. Exercise. Quit snacking. Pay attention to portions. Consider rerererecommitting to Weight Watchers.

And deal with the disorganization that is my vast collection of recipes.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Critic for a day

I haven't been wow'd by a meal in a long time. I think the last really fabulous meals I ate with my family (i.e., excluding last week's trip to New Mexico) were in Seattle. We ate at Wild Ginger on our trip for Mother's Day and had a most fantastic sushi dinner in Belltown with the kids in a tiny little place that our concierge assured us was kid friendly. It wasn't really from first appearances, but they were good - they entertained and fawned over the kids while AB and I ate some truly awesome sushi.

Unfortunately, I don't usually hold high hopes especially when we eat out in town. Tonight was no different.

Right now I am reading "Garlic and Sapphires, A Diary of a Critic in Disguise" by Ruth Reichl. I really, really enjoy Ruth's writing. This is her third novel I have devoured. As I read, I think about a life on a different planet as a food critic.

So here I sit - living out my little food critic fantasy.

This evening we went to "Fat Olives", the new Italian joint. We passed two families leaving when we walked in wearing our standard clothes, not dressed up. I thought seeing families leave was a good sign.

We waited only a few minutes for the table for 5, which was really just a card table looking thing with a high chair perched at a corner.

Ever try to feed a three year old - or any small child for that matter - at a corner of a table?

As we headed in my sister in law pointed to the small print at the bottom that expressed disdain for crying children. Ok, so it cited the bad acoustics, and then asked that any small children be removed outside while dining. I guess I just think that if you are going to have a whole menu page devoted to pizza, then instructions on how to deal with your children are probably not hitting the target audience. And really, this are is like huge on kids, people like it here because it is a great place to raise kids. Kid unfriendly restaurants are just a bad fit.

I believe that the attitude tossed our way by the waitress was probably thanks to the kids. Or maybe that we weren't dressed up. Or maybe both. She was hurried and short with us.

The selections weren't abundant, and there was a little concern at the table when at 6:30pm two of the specials were nearly gone - one serving of pork shank left and three of the lamb. We ordered a small pizza for the kids, I ordered the house calzone, AB ordered the pork shank and my SIL ordered the lamb.

I asked for milk for the kids, which they did not have milk. Yes, seriously. We ordered instead a bottle of apple juice for them to split.

A few minutes after ordering the waitress came back and informed AB there was no pork shank left and handed him the menu.

Over the years we have had opportunity to eat some really fabulous meals and we have spent the last decade or so refining our cooking. AB cooks meat quite well and will only order meat in a restaurant when it is a type he doesn't cook. So the waitress repeatedly recommending the rib eye or the pork tenderloin was going nowhere fast. He finally settled on a clam and mussel Alfredo sauce dish.

The food arrived and was fine. The lamb was done nicely and tasted good. But it was a boring dish. No pizazz on the lamb. It was served with asparagus and potatoes. Both prepared fine. But for AB and me, this is a routine weeknight dinner that we can whip together in 45 minutes... blindfolded.

AB's pasta was lackluster, he felt the sauce didn't match the seafood. Though he said "it is fine". My calzone was good, though I have to admit that I far prefer the calzones from the restaurant near work. The best dish at our table was the 12" pizza that the kids had. They ate it well, each tackling nearly two pieces.

The food was fine. But at the price we paid, we would be hard pressed to go back. Except maybe for the pizza. But I wouldn't go there to eat the pizza... we would pick up and bring home.

One star of five.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

These are a few of my favorite songs...

My music tastes tend to change with the wind. I can tell you what my favorite songs are now, but who knows if they will be my favorites in another week.

Same with books.

Lately I have found myself gravitating to the "oldies". Going back to the music I listened to growing up. I think this probably has a lot to do with my mom passing, but the songs that are hot on my iPod, weren't necessarily her favorites.

When I think of my mom's favorite music, I think of things like Mamma Mia and other contemporary musicals. These were her favorites most recently.

My music tastes as a kid reflected my parents. That's one of the advantages to having young parents... I KNEW who Ted Nugent was back when he actually sang instead of pontificated. (I suppose if at 3 years old you think that knowing the words to "Cat Scratch Fever" was an advantage...)

As I got older and lived further away from my parents, our tastes diverged, though my mom and I often compared notes. When I discovered Greg Brown recently, she was the only one on FB who jumped up and said, "he is one of my favorites right now".

My parents fell on the Stones side of the fence - not the Beatles side.

Me? Well this is one of my top played on my iPod right now.

Leif's first song he declared as a favorite was "Yellow Submarine". This was when I fully understood that 50% of his genes do come from his father.

When I was in high school I picked up "Tangled up in Blue" for my mom. Her copy was worn out.

I couldn't find a good video that wasn't a cover, but one of my favorite lines ever:

"I like the smile in your fingertips, I like the way that you move your hips, I like the cool way - you look at me. Everything about you is bringing me misery."

Another top song right now on my iPod.

One of my favorites now is an old song that I despised as a child... after all it was country and by Kenny Rogers of all people (everyone say "ewww" like an 8 year old little girl). Then I found this cover and the world changed.

Something about this one though just screams "like".

Next on my list of most played?

"Domenik the Donkey" (thank you Skadi) and "Who Let the Ghosts Out" (thank you Leif). We just won't go there. And yes, there is a reason that the play number of these two horrible songs is exactly equal.

My mom went through a Johnny Cash phase too. I don't know that "Long Black Veil" hit her favs, but it is getting loads of play in my car.

I haven't been able to touch some of my mom's favorites with a ten foot pole yet - "Me and Bobby McGee" for example. I suppose it is easier for me to skirt around the edges right now.

When I was at my mom's shortly after her passing going through the computer I went through her playlist. The song that blew me away on there was this one:

I went through a big Terence Trent D'Arby phase when I was what... about 14? I played this all.the.time.

I guess at 14 (or whatever I was) I was too absorbed in myself to note that my mom had fallen for this song too.

The funny things that we discover after the fact.

Oh and this one? I can listen to. Because my childhood memories don't include my mom singing along to this one.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The little sister

This evening Leif rode his bike all the way to the middle park. With us all in tow of course. When I was a kid it was probably fine for me at that age to venture that far out.

But I guess I am just one of those overprotective mom of a less than confident little boy.

There was little whining along the way, I suspect mostly because he had a target in mind.

The coveted middle park.

The park where we quite often run into other children his age, and most often from his own school.

This evening was no different. The one little boy who lives on the park, who is not my favorite child, but I am learning to tolerate as I see that he may have less confidence than my son and his actions and the things he says that make me cringe are most likely stemming from trying to appear cool to my son.

Two other boys showed up who are also the same age as Leif and know him from school. Two boys that I far prefer and at least one of them I know his parents through work pretty well and am confident that they share similar parenting values. The boys were instant chums and split up for a quick game of soccer where the boys argued over who got to be captains and who got to be on my son's team. In talking with the other parents, they admitted their kids were not much for soccer, or for that matter any sports. Which is fine. AB and I enjoy sports and Leif has easily glommed onto this.

After soccer the boys went to the playground equipment and played and chased each other and enjoyed each other's company.

There was one other person in the park this evening.

One very lonely little girl.

Skadi stood around, refusing to join the soccer game (which didn't hurt my feelings any - those big boys can be a bit rough). She wouldn't go near the boys.

Instead she came and stood by me and said, "those boys are mean to me".

What she really meant though was, "those boys have stolen my playmate from me".

On a normal day a trip to the park is usually a solo venture for the kids where they play together and run around together.

My baby got her first taste this evening of not being included with the boys.

This maybe a harsh realization as she moves up to preschool this month and suddenly sees that her brother does indeed have a life outside of playing with /tormenting her.

Skadi moped around the park a bit, whining about the mean boys. AB finally went over and took over Leif's place being "the grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge" and coming up with wacky riddles for her to cross the bridge. AB didn't once ask her a math problem - it was a nice evening for Skadi in that respect. (Leif made up for it later though when he quizzed us the entire way home... what's 1600 times 1600 mom? Well then what is 2,560,000 times 7? We may be introducing the concept of a calculator sooner than normal.)

It's one of the tough lessons growing up. Realizing that siblings have their own friends.