"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Use the force ... and stop that crying

Mom can tune out the noise. It's not really noise after all, it's just family life happening.

For dad, noise is kryptonite.

Mom can breathe and count to ten.

Dad can forget he ever learned to count.

Mom can multitask. Empty the dishwasher, whip up dinner, clean a spill, correct a math problem all while making a talking teenager feel loved and understood over a day's problems.

Dad ... rainbow wheel.

Time away from the family makes mom miss and think about them more. There's eagerness in the return. She's ready to tackle it all again.

Dad steps in from his quiet work space. He knows that when he walks through that door, the young will smell fresh meat and their hungering neediness will strip him of all he has left to give.

We're as different as night and day but when it comes to parenting, we're on the same page, right? Unless...

This mom draws from Gospel Truth, calming an argument with, "What would Jesus have you do? How would you react differently if He were standing here right now? Would you say that? Would you do that?" It's the perfect recollection of how one ought to behave.

But, THIS dad was recently caught drawing on George Lucus, stopping a disagreement with, "No crying, no fighting. I want you to behave. When you are around me, I want you to think before you act ... 'Would Darth Vader like what I am doing? How would he feel if he were standing here beside me? What would he do? What would he say?' And if Darth Vader wouldn't tolerate your actions ... then you should stop what you are doing and change your behavior in my presence, too."

I guess, there you have it. Forget about making home a bit of heaven, just think of this as the Death Star.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another day, another dollar ... or pool excursion ... whatever.

A Saturday morning's work earns an afternoon's pay in fun.

Really, it seems that there are so few relaxing Saturdays. They all seem to get full of stuff. I miss the days when we could just wake up and say. "What would everyone like to do today?"

But once in awhile, it happens that we have a Saturday where I can get everyone to complete a list of chores companionable so that we can soak in some quality family time. In this case, quite literally.

It's moments like everyone working together, whether it's to clean a bathroom or build an awesome train on the community pool water slide that make my heart flutter. Even if part of that fluttering is nervousness knowing that my youngest boy is flying under the radar in the height requirements.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

National Western Stock Show

I've said it before. We aren't country western. Yes, we live in the west and out in the country. We own some chickens if you can call them livestock. I like Taylor Swift for her clean lyrics and good girl reputation though the kids claim she has love issues. I'm on a first name basis with the folks at the local Feed and Seed because once in a while I need some chicken meds. We all own a pair of boots but you would too if you could see our muddy season. I do have a freezer out in our barn chocked full of poultry we raised ourselves and steaks from a neighbor's steer. But ... that does not mean we are country western folks.

Every year, our 4-H group gets tickets to the Stock Show and Rodeo. For not being a country western family, we sure do have a good time amongst the tractors, farmers and bull riders. I even lost our dad and found him checking out the Fords and Dodge Rams, a moment of weakness I told him we'd pretend never happened.

Being a ballerina gal, I know I look at things a little differently. I just love anything that takes a full effort backed by those who are willing to give it. It's the artistic side of me. I see art in football, the way the players move, sidestep and jump in relation to one another play after play. I see art in the way a sky looks painted in a sunset. I see art in the athleticism of driving with kids screaming in the back seat whilst hucking goldfish at my head. Life is full of beautiful stuff.

I think one of the most beautiful things is our country's foundation built by people willing to work the land with their hands to make it theirs. Horticulture, agriculture, animal husbandry are dying art forms in our world today. To plant a seed and make it grow into food to feed nations leaves me feeling amazed. When I first moved to rural-ville, I picked up James Mitchner's "Centennial". I was in love with every word about Colorado's beginnings from fur trappers to gold mining, cattle ranchers to railroads. It made me look at a sunset here just a little bit differently.

So, though I am not a country western gal even if it sounds like I should be down at our local Stagecoach Saloon singing karaoke on a Friday night, I do come home from the rodeo loving where I live every time. It's a land where hard work is an art form and we're proud to be a part of the beauty that is Colorado country.

(And there's nothing wrong with being a little bit country -- those kids seem very clean cut, polite and probably have less time to get into trouble. We're just a little more rock'n'roll.)

Rodeo Clowns, need I say more?

Yeah, we're poultry snobs.
These pigeons were back again this year and Celia is still trying to figure out which poultry category they should be in ... and who would eat them. Wouldn't they kind of be like eating a carp -- not to mention their pea sized eggs!? Those won't make a souffle.

Really bugged by the nose ring idea.

Cattle show intensity at the arena with Dad

This takes true talent or stupidity. I'm not sure which. Bull riding -- it all happens so quickly so I've added a few quick thoughts of my own.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Even little changes ...

Are cause for great excitement. A new haircut. A pair of glasses.

And a little girl turned big enough for church nursery on Sunday, whether she likes it or not.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekend violin recital

I was a hard mom ... once. Then I got more kids and went soft, or distracted, or something. In the beginning, I wanted every child to play a musical instrument. I marched my first right down to the music store as soon as she could walk and bought the smallest violin and enrolled in the best lessons available.

I remember standing over Celia and insisting she play a musical selection over again until she got her intonation correct. I remember her tears. She was five. We played a game where we opened the bedroom window in the summer evening light so that she could fill the cul-de-sac with music to be heard by the children playing down below. Sad, huh? Like I said, I was a hard mom once.

I tried piano with the rest of these wasters and got my patience handed to me on a platter.

I'm just kiddin'. I'm still a little bitter that it didn't stick. They are just all good at different things.

She kept at it, though. Maybe it's first child syndrome. Maybe it's those headphones blasting Beethoven through my tummy every time I lay down to rest my feet when I was carrying her. Don't laugh. I was over zealous and I know it. There's nothing to knock your new found motherhood's high and mighty ideals off their pretty pedestal like six individually strong willed personalities.

Still, just as I sat long ago, a second grader on a field trip to hear the downtown symphony, perched on the edge of my seat as the music spoke to my inner self, I soaked in her musical talent Saturday night.

She's simply beautiful.

Green room warm up

So glad Janie had her camera. She captured Celia beautifully as I actually sat riveted on my seat in the foyer with this girl who was adversely affected by the silent awe and felt she needed to add some singing... and squealing when silenced.

I couldn't help but think as I sat there coloring programs while watching my oldest in all her grace, that one day I will be in the front row cheering section and the days of foyers and crayons will be just a memory.
Bitter sweetness for sure.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I made a mistake. I don't admit it often so certain folks should soak that in.

First, we moved to the country. Then we got a dog. The dog ran away every day for a year regardless of our attentions. The dog got a new home. That's the short version.

On my oldest's twelfth birthday, I went on a visit to a friend's house. That friend was dumping a large rabbit hutch. The light in my brain turned on saying "Take the hutch, give the girl a rabbit for her birthday!" The light must have been a distorting black light because in the long run ... I made a mistake. There, I said it again.

Don't get me wrong. Thumper was great fun and a great guy. There couldn't be a better rabbit out there. We loved him. We had adventures with him. But as all things with novelty are, the last little while has seen him just hanging out in a rabbit hutch staring out through the bars at the kids who used to play.

What to do. What to do. Suggesting Craig's listing him brought oceans of tears. Thoughts of a "disappearing rabbit trick" whilst kids were at school just seemed wrong. But ongoing captivity wasn't right either. And then a solution opened.

One day during a visit with another friend and conversation over kids and pets, I mentioned my rabbit predicament and concerns over childhood emotional well being. Her eyes lit up and she informed me that her niece works for an organization that takes in rabbits, pairs them with a companion of the opposite sex and re-homes them to "forever families".

Could this be? Match.com for rabbits? Did I laugh? Yes ... but later in privacy to spare my friend's enthusiasm.

Now to sell it to the kids.

There were tears .. at first. Then there was a family night lesson on "Fulfilling the measure of your creation ... and that means rabbits too." There were still tears -- but lessened. So, we followed with bedtime tuck in conversations about how it would feel to be denied the opportunity of finding an eternal companion in this life ... and that means rabbits too.

And we let that sit and sink in for awhile.

Tears were wiped, children made honorable decisions and I'm pleased to say my mistake has been made right as we delivered Thumper into capable hands and watched him snuggle up to a bunny just right for him. It felt good and the kids left feeling good. It's been a few days now and our dad reminds us, "You know you've made the right decision when you still feel good about it days later -- now stop cluttering our lives with more pets."

I agree whole heartedly .... now. That's good advice and hopefully I won't make that mistake again cuz I'm notorious for falling in love with all things little and bringing them home without asking for a second opinion. Now go get that chick catalogue that came in the mail yesterday, kids, cuz spring's a comin' and we've got an empty hutch ...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink

It's amazing how hooked on the stuff we are.

I guess basement flooding comes with the territory in old houses and winter (or crummy remodels of old houses -- take your pick).

We survived a double flood at the beginning of year last year. I'm getting tired of flooding but having been there and done that, I will say that this time around I am much calmer. **sigh**

A few thoughts are rattling around my brain, though.

First of all, having the water shut off until a plumber can repair pipe damage ... this would be a good time to actually have water in those big empty blue barrels down in the basement. They've moved from house to house with excuses over being too heavy when they are full and such a pain to drain. So, in my time of need, there they sit ... full of useful air ... taking up space ... not a drop to flush at least one of my toilets... which isn't at all more of a pain than filling them would have been. I'm just sayin'.

"Pack it up -- we're headed to a hotel". (That screech your hearing is the sound of the needle falling off the record). How in heavens name have we gotten this soft?? I once spent two weeks in a North Carolina blizzard with no water or electricity, heating snow on a wood stove to survive in a house with ten other people. So, hold on there "So Cal" and stand back while I show you how it's done. (I jest cuz I do recognize that his sentiment was meant to ease our discomfort. However, the raucous of children overly excited at the thought of a hotel on a school night, accompanied by the visions of a certain mother trying to calm them enough for sleep to actually occur and still make the a.m school start times .... I'll take the lesser of the two discomforts).

No one has cared a smidgen about doing a dish or having clean laundry until just this second. And now it's all "Where's my favorite shirt ... what do you mean I can't wash it for school tomorrow?"

Paper products are a mom's best friend.

The boys have declared this a national holiday. Full license to neither flush a toilet nor wash hands.

Those of you who mocked the truck load of diaper wipes I got on sale that day to add to our food storage?? Weh- he -- helll ... I'll bet by tonight you'll be willing to trade anything for that baby fresh scent like a con in the pen bartering for a pack of cigs. Feel free to see me then and maybe we can work a deal.

Just kiddin'.

Note to self: Pushing off a shower for an evening soak in a bubbly tub may quite possibly result in a promise left empty much longer than desirable.

His 24 Hour Fitness membership paid for itself on the way to work this morning.

Who's laughing at the middle school post-P.E class shower-ers now? Not my kids .. well, maybe still just a little.

And why is it that the same children I couldn't force a tablespoon of water down yesterday (for example, "I hate water with dinner, I want Milk!!") are suddenly behaving as though they've been dumped in the Sahara and every glass might be their last?

We have got to work on our crisis skills around here.

And, I'd really prefer not to celebrate January Basement Flood every year.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening...

...or morning. Whatever.

On a -6 degree morning, we call this the Trail of Tears. But chores must be done.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow day

Growing up, a snow day received every bit of excited anticipation as Christmas. Those first flakes falling in the cold night darkness, that sleepless wonder as to whether or not the joyous news of cancelled school would be revealed in the early morning light. Announcements on the radio or local television of school closures brought that self satisfying "We Win!!" feeling. The school board foiled again by our champion and heroine, Mother Nature.

We'd wrap our tennis shoes in saved grocery bread bags and duct tape readying for North Carolina's rare snowfall. Our Dad's need to see just how far his front wheel drive would get him, would eventually strand him somewhere down the snow covered road, sending back a willing playmate. The ill preparedness of the county transportation department meant no one was going anywhere and a rare day with a dad who was suddenly available to hurl a snowball or two with us kids.

There were snow forts built, luge runs made, games of "mountain man animal tracker" and "Jedi's on a Republic snow planet". There was even a trip down the side of the mountain in a runaway canoe once -- another story for another day.

That first flake in the darkness never fails to make my heart skip a beat. Maybe I'm a snow romantic. Maybe there's still something childlike deep down inside. Colorado is rarely unprepared, for the most part, and so a snow day is something to be revered. It's a little piece of magic accompanied by a feeling that for today at least, "We win!!".

Friday, January 7, 2011

Toy makers of America

.. or China -- you have no idea how much I wish this toy were fully functional. Now that would be genius.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I don't know why teenage boys are hooked on this stuff. Must be the marketing. They're a smart company and apparently starting them young.

I've got a six year old with an aversion to washing his hair. But recently, requests for the Axe bottle left in the shower by his older brother will do the trick. Yesterday, I pulled out a random shampoo and handed it to him. Not good enough. I had to go back in for the real deal.

I handed it to him and he gave me an explanation. "See the bottle, Mom?":

"First it makes my hair smell good. Then it'll make Sophie sit by me on the bus."

Okay Axe people, I've got a few questions. What have you done to my six year old boy? Should there be a rating on your bottle? And who the heck is Sophie?

A smart mom would give you the axe.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Paving the Road -- January

I always make New Year's resolutions and I always find myself disappointed at the end of the year that I fell short.

I wrote back here, about how one seemingly little detail changed my entire outlook. Just one thing making a huge difference. Paving the driveway just made everything cleaner, more enjoyable and so manageable.

Scientists say it takes three weeks to form a habit and so, I want to tackle one goal a month in the hopes of paving the driveway of my life and gaining that same peaceful feeling. Knock off some rough edges, no more dirt and gravel chewing and churning. Starting off the year right, here's my new monthly series.

January always gives momentum to goal setting, so I am tackling my biggest goal first. If I can do this for a month (or at least get better at it) I'll be well on my way.

Before the Christmas break, I went into the elementary school as kids waited in the car. I stood at the secretaries desk, waiting for whatever it was, and read the following quote on the school wall and fell immediately in love.

"Watch your thoughts, the become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

I came back to the car and told the kids I'd just seen the most inspiring idea and started repeating it to which they all chimed in reciting along with me in a rather sing song fashion ending with a "blah, blah, blah" and an eye roll to finish.

"Hey, this is golden stuff!" says I.

"Yeah, yeah, we know." says them.

And it is. Gosh, I walk away from so many gatherings, meetings or conversations where I wish I'd not said that one thing. Maybe if I hadn't thunk it in the first place, I wouldn't be second guessing myself or coming away with regrets. This month, I'm going to watch my thoughts and if I can't stop myself there, I'll work my way backwards and at least hold my tongue until I can change what's building in my noggin. I want to be the kind of gal who never says (or thinks) unkindly of anyone and always gives the benefit of the doubt. I want to be great at holding confidences, keeping loyalties, and handling situations with grace and poise. And that starts with retraining my thinking and making sure that what comes out of my mouth is positive and building.

Who knows, maybe it will be contagious, and I can get the whole family to help me pave a road of gold.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The start of a new day

Off to school, a quiet house, and taking it all down always makes me a little melancholy. I don't know why. I just know I'll miss the warmth of the lights, the fullness the greenery adds to the house, and the faces of sunny friends smiling at us from our kitchen windows.

Time for new beginnings, though, and the the start of a brand new day.