Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dear World

Ahem.   In the last month I have been snarked at three times.

1)   While picking up son from spending the night here, the mother of my son's friend said, "Wow, your kids don't look neglected at all.  They're not dirty."   I looked at her and waited for more fascinating remarks, but she merely gathered her son and they left.  Hmmmm ... be sure to come back soon!

2)   Our much adored neighbor asked me one night during Hell Hour, "She's always screaming.  Every time I see her she's screaming.  Does she ever stop?"   Why yes, she does have periods of time when she is not screaming.  Like during her 20 minute nap.

3)  I let my darling two year old walk by herself in our school parking lot.   Full of cars.  Yes, I was watching.  No, there was not even a close call.  Cars were frozen still.  It was a straight line from where I set her down to the playground.  Again, all cars frozen still.   And I caught holy heck from another mom who watched my toddler toddle alone.  My public shaming ended with, "You should pick her up.  She's worth it!"   I know she's worth it.  She wanted to walk and I thought it was safe enough.   No one has yet died under my supervision (ok maybe a beta fish  - RIP Ruby!).   Or been hit by a car, bit by a dog, stabbed in the eye with scissors/pencils/drum sticks, or shoved a bean/peanut/eraser up their nose.  

Enough!  These remarks are not helpful.  Keep them to yourselves!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2005 - 2010

In five quick years:

Still as sweet, quick and kind as ever.  This girl is a jewel.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Community Gardens

There is a beautiful, massive community garden which borders a playground in our part of the city.   The produce is donated to Friendly Houses.  It is a good thing, and I take Emmeline there to wander amongst the plants and play.

Chloe tagged along recently and photographed these flowers:

And, my little spy captured me playing on the playground with Emmeline.  Cute.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mila's Daydreams

Dear Readers:
If you want to see the most darling baby pictures EVER, here you go!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Well, a third of summer is gone. When asked how my summer is going, I hesitate how to respond. I love having my kids home, but summer is without a doubt high season. The kids eat, sleep, read, play, attend the occasion camp. I grocery shop, cook, drive, clean, grocery shop and cook more. The volume of food eaten in our house has boggled my mind; to the kids' merits they have been great about making what they can when needed -- the scrambled egg waffle sandwich is their new BFF.

We have taken some fun road trips. Take our jaunt to Mt. Rainier:

Our klassy campground had a cooler for elk and deer, in case we needed to store our kill.

There were many hours in the car ... many, many, many

You might note there are no pictures of Mt. Rainier here. That's because after driving allll that way the elusive mountain was completely socked in with near zero visibility. We made it into the national park lodge and couldn't see a darn thing out the windows. We hope to have better luck in Yellowstone National Park where we are headed next!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I'll be in my studio, studio ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rain, rain go away

Little Emmie wants to play,
rain rain go away.

We broke the state record for rain in May and April, and are about to do the same for June. Flowers are bent over, grass is soggy, pools are empty. It feels like late October, and our daily highs are in the LOW 60s. In JUNE.

Climate change, evident every day here in Oregon. Readers, are your climates changing?

Monday, June 14, 2010


If not careful, this is what can happen when you live in a house with four sisters: you fall prey to Spa Day, complete with painted, glittery fingernails. (No female here has ever atually been to a spa, but we hear stories.)

He doesn't look too put out, does he?

I aint no Betty Crocker

Hubby came home from work, hungry, and glanced at the banana bread made earlier in the day: "All right! Meatloaf!"

Chit Chat

Emmeline is quite the talker now. A recent conversation:

me: "Emmeline!"

baby: "Mama"

me: "Love!"

baby: "Yes"

HOW CUTE IS THAT????? Brought tears to my eyes!

Friday, June 4, 2010

mea culpa

I shall post. Soon. And not because I have to, but because it is almost FATHERS DAY and I never got my mothers day post published. Seriously, I do not know how busy moms keep their blogs current. Just ... can't ... keeep ... up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ode to my Oldest Son

My son is great. Probably all moms thinks their boys are great; I am no exception.

He is agreeable, even when his Itouch gets baby finger marks on it, there is no hot water left for his shower, or it rains, hard, the entire track practice. Little does he know how far this trait will take him in life.

He is kind. Kind in the very depth of his soul; kind to infants, kind to brothers and sisters, kind to other kids -- especially if they have problems. As a first grader we applied him to a private school which had one opening for a boy, and he was given the spot over 50 some other little boys after he ran to help another boy who had fallen during PE. Apparently he helped him get up, showed him what to do, and cheered him on. The teachers were impressed with his empathy then, as they are now.

He is funny. Hysterical, actually. He has a big, loud voice and laugh (which he puts to good use just as the younger kids are trying to fall asleep ... what a great sound to hear as they drift off!). He has matured enough to see the humor in small things like a certain younger brother using his hair brush every day. His motto: Don't worry, be happy!

He is interested in the world. He cares about people. He is cute. He is a straight A student.

We are lucky, lucky, lucky to get to live with this boy. He is a jewel.

We love you, buddy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mattell wins

Today we went to the consignment store where I sell our things which don't get completely destroyed.

We went in to look at their toys. You know, toddlers outgrow interests quickly, and they are happier when busy.

I pulled out an alligator xylophone. Nope. I showed her a LeapFrog alphabet toy. No thank you, Mommy. I showed her a cute pull along doggie. No.

What did she go for? Ready? THE BASKET OF BARBIES.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring in Oregon

We are lucky to live within a long but reasonable drive to the Columbia River Gorge. Hundreds of waterfalls, stunning scenery, inspiration.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tiny Presents

We are huge fans of indoor play parks, my Emmeline and I. We usually hit three to four a week.

Last week I actually ran into someone I knew. This never happens because I am the Old Grandma Moses of mothering, and allllll the moms I know have kids ages ten and up.

Anyway, one teacher from our kids' school was there with her daughter. We had become friends before she got pregnant and when baby was born they were over-the-top happy. I smiled & gave her a big box of (slightly used) baby items (because I would never need them again, hahaha).

After that, for her more babies did not come. They tried, and tried, and tried. Tried everything and then some. Still, nothing. I remember we huddled under the school breezeway one rainy, blowy day during recess and she spilled her story to me.

She looked good, when I saw her, slender and put-together. Her daughter looked good, too, enjoying the balance beam. She was startled to see me -- and more so when she saw Emmeline. "Wait. You had another baby." Not so much a question as just a blurt. I introduced Emmeline and saw emotion in my old friend's eyes. "We're thinking of adopting, actually. We're happy with one but another would be so nice." I told her that was great and mentioned how darling her daughter was. "You know I would love to have more. I just can't seem to."

And with that our kids ran in different directions and we stopped talking. Emmeline was ready to go, and I said goodbye to my friend while struggling to tie Emmeline's shoes. It was not a very personal parting.

I pray I always remember what a gift my children are. Let me remember the magical moment when they were each born, and how the time continuum stopped as I memorized each tiny face and fell so, so deeply, completely, and forever in love.

These children of ours are gifts. Not everyone is lucky enough to be given them.

Let me remember.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How to be cute in a swimsuit


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter briefly in photographs

My apologies for this bad layout. Don't have time to fix ...

Emmeline's comfy spot

The hunt is on

Oh thanks, I didn't see that one!


Dear woman whom I passed on the street:
We walked by one another today, you and I. Me, carrying Emmeline, and you, walking with a small child with a teeny, tiny bundle of a baby wrapped to your chest.

We made eye contact and you stared at me, defiant. Or angry, or defensive. Maybe you thought I was judging your appearance: long-to-the-waist multiple braids of brown hair, set off with beads of many colors within the braids; loose, flowing, unisex clothes; Birkenstocks. Your child was indistinguishable as a boy or girl.

You probably glanced at me, fresh out of our SUV, in a white blouse and tidy blonde pony tail carrying toddler in white (!) cordouroy dress with pink tights and pink shoes, and thought I was not someone you would befriend.

But I wasn't judging your clothes, or your hair, or your somewhat grimey child. What caught my eye was the exquisitily tender manner you held the child's hand, and gently, subtly corrected his path as he wandered too close to the road. I watched the child glance at you full of awe, love, and wonder. I saw at the same time how you never stopped touching your newborn's back and legs. The three of you were so beautiful in that moment, so loving. I hoped I sometimes look like that.

So, I wasn't judging you. I wish I had turned to say your kid is amazing, and good job. You seem to already know.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Skill Set of an 18 month old

1.   Do hand motion to "the wheels on the bus"
2.   Sing in the car -- ee ii ee iii ohhhhhhhhhh
3.   Climb out of crib

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Extreme Caution: Family Habitat

Yo, spring break moms, how's it going? Long week much? Rain, snow? Most years we stay in Portland. This year we had enough free tickets and hotel nights to actually GO somewhere. And, Palm Springs it was.

Extreme excitement.  Hyperactivity.  Lots of discussing suitcases.  Purchasing of sunscreen. Purchasing of swimsuits. And shorts. And watershoes.

I will shield your eyes, dear reader, from my thoughts on traveling with a still nursing on demand toddler (one word: waterpark), three hour lay overs, and how cranky retirees in Palm Springs do not find chirpy, expressive Emmeline cute. At all.

Rather, let's focus on the highlights, shall we?
Palm trees!!  82' heat!!!

Yes, we DID see a rattlesnake on the path!   How funny would it be to put something like that above our front door -- EXTREME CAUTION ...

Very neat palm oasis

Later at the zoo!
Emmeline's favorite?  The giraffes.  We viewed the badger, a first for us all.   I will never consider the Corgi the same; they look so alike!


How are you all spending spring break?   Cleaning closets?   Washing comforters?   Visiting interesting places?  

 Do tell!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ten Books about Large Families - borrowed from anonymous author

Ten Circles Upon the Pond -- a MUST READ!

Spencer’s Mountain by Earl Hamner Jr Anyone who lived through the 1970s will have watched The Waltons and seen the adventures of those seven kids on the mountain. Published in 1961, this novel was the basis for that long-running TV series. Hamner grew up in rural Schuyler, a village in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Heart-warming trials and tribulations. It was also made into a 1963 movie with Henry Fonda.

The Gathering by Anne Enright
Winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, this novel features an Irish family with nine children. Veronica, the narrator, examines her family’s troubled past following the funeral of her alcoholic brother, Liam. Not many laughs but acclaimed by the critics.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp
Published in 1949, this memoir was written by the world’s most famous nun prior to Mother Teresa. She went on to become a baroness and her story became the legendary musical and movie, The Sound of Music. Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray, a drop of golden sun…. you know the rest.

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West (aka Andrew E Svenson)
A series of books published between 1953 and 1970, the cheerful Hollisters were a mystery-solving family of five children, their parents, a family of cats, and a dog. Jerry West is a pseudonym. The Hollisters was based on Svenson’s own real-life family of six children, who were raised in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

Eight is Enough by Tom Braden
Published in 1975, Bradon released the autobiographical book, Eight is Enough, which inspired a TV series of the same name starring Dick Van Patten. The book focused on his life as the father of eight children but the TV series had little in common with his writing.

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth, Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Published in 1948, this memoir tells the story of time and motion study and efficiency experts Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Gilbreth, and their 12 children. It became a movie in 1950. The title refers to Frank’s jokey reply to the frequent questions about why he had so many kids. A sequel, Belles on Their Toes, was published in 1952.

The Kennedys: The Third Generation by Barbara Gibson & Ted Schwartz
Rose and Joe Kennedy Sr had nine children and, of course, their siblings formed the basis of America’s most powerful political family but how can one family be dogged by so much tragedy? Joseph Jr (killed in WW2), John (assassinated president), Rosemary (botched brain surgery), Kathleen (died in plane crash), Eunice, Patricia, Robert (assassinated), Jean and Edward.

The Trolley Car Family by Eleanor Clymer
Clymer, who died in 2001, was a writer of children’s books and is best known for The Trolley Car Family, where the father loses his job at the struggling trolley car company. He ends up with his trolley and drives it into the country at the end of an old line where his large family begins a new life. Published in 1947.

Franny and Zooey and other short stories by J.D. Salinger
The Glass family, where there are seven children, is frequently featured in Salinger’s writing including the novel Franny and Zooey, as well as short story collections of Nine Stories and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Timing is everything

Like many many internet families we have been hit with germs this month.  Again, and again.  And again.   Lady Irony has also been dancing around:   remember when Nolan couldn't take upper level math because of his cognitive skills test score of 93 (read about it here!) ?  This week he took the placement test for next year.

Now, Nolan is not a complainer.  So I stared at him extra long when he mentioned early in the week he wasn't feeling well.   I felt his neck extra long when he said he felt bumps in his neck.   Still he looked chipper and didn't slow down.   He did have a bit of a cough, though.

Well, the day he took the placement test he came home very tired.  And dark under the eyes, and coughing.  And feverish.  Guess what?   He had walking pneumonia.  That's right, the day he took this high stakes test he was in dire need of antibiotics and a soft bed.  
Emmie has been fighting her share of germies although you wouldn't know it:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Needed: Bubble wrap for Eight

Today it was my heart's desire to wrap my kids in emotional armor to protect them from the jabs,  insults, &  pain childhood inevitably encounters. 

I can't.   I can't stop wounded feelings, hot streaming tears, or crushed spirits.   I can stir up brave smiles, mature reasoning and thick skin, but that is all.  I can only support.  The battle is theirs, as it was once each of ours.    

Hang on, lovies.  You'll make it.

and if you need us to we will kick some butt

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Got your bullet proof vest on?

  • I think I am never going to sleep for more than four continuous hours again, ever.  By the time Emmeline is sleeping though the night I'll probably be in menopause and Lord knows no one sleeps through the night during that.  Or so I hear.    And I know, all moms (maybe some dads) are sleep deprived when their kids are little; that doesn't make it easier.   Being 41 is not helping either.

  • Emmeline is in a phase I describe as "screaming and climbing."  Enough said?   Out in public people stare because she is so loudly bleating one note, "AWWWWWWWWWWW".   She knows many other word combinations; in public she can only make one LOUD resonating vowel.   And, I constantly remove her off chairs or tables.  Dinnertime is hysterical.

  • A man recently asked me if Emmeline was my first baby.  Hahahahahahahaha.   Wait, since absolutely nothing about me screams Glowing, Lovely, Young First Time Mom, that means my toddler management looks very amateurish.   Rats. 

  • It's almost 10 pm and one kid here still needs to build a bridge for school tomorrow.  

  • It's time to decide if the kids get "school lunch" or not for the last part of the year.   It comes out to about $110. a week.   For lunch.   You see the problem.   Yet ... the lure of not making five packed lunches a day is strong, sucking me into the quagmire.   Budget lunch from mom, or all organic, catered lunch at school?   Organic, catered lunch from mom not an option.

  • I'm 41 now.  Did I mention that?   With my advancing age I'm bound to start repeating myself so beware, beware, be a very wary bear.   When one acquaintance heard it was my 41st birthday he shreiked, "What?  I'm older than you are?  No way!"    Thanks.  And gee, if you are atleast 42, and I had a baby recently, did you really think I was older than you?  Really?  Like, what, 43?  44?  97?

  • We are in the market to upgrade our piano.   Found some great ones, but moved too slowly and they sold.  Anyway, charming piano teacher remarked I should just get a really, really good piano now, because in four years oldest will leave for college, and then Emmie can start taking lessons.   People, let me just confess right now:  I am NOT up for more years of the Indian War Song and Fur Elise.  
         There are limits.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chicken, no rice

"Why does Emmeline smell like Old Spice?" was the reasonable question from husband.

The answer:  herbal, organic shampoo.  Smells like rosemary and mint, which is great in the kitchen but frankly, gross in the hair.   Reminds me a little of a chicken dish.  During a burst of organic focus I bought non toxic baby soaps and shampoos ... and now we can't wait for them to run empty!

Myself, I have always used whatever shampoo and conditioner I can find on sale.   My latest find:   L'Oreal UltraPure Shampoo -- a coupon for $2.50 off and phosphate free.   Not until I started to wash my long hair with a big ol' glob of shampoo did I realize what I had really bought:  more shampoo with rosemary and mint scent.   Yuck!   Now Emmie and I both stink!


Two girls, one teaching, one learning 

Two girls, one showing, one watching

Two girls, both loving

Note to Suzanna:  I love you, love Emmie

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our brownies have secrets

No way.  OMGosh.  Readers, it has come to my attention there is alternative way to prepare brownie mix.
Wanna hear it?  Are you sure? 

Ummm, apparently one can puree a whole can of black beans, stir into dry mix, bake, and voila.  Brownies.  Made from smushed up beans.  Oh, yes, we tried it:   tasty enough, but we knew they held an entire can of beans which kind of ruined it (longtime readers might recall my kids consider beans evil).

Beans and brownie mix; who knew?

Thank you, Francisco Jimenez

Recently I re-read Francisco Jimenez's book The Circuit then continued to read for the first time his subsequent books.  Readers, if these books have escaped your attention, they are inspirational and worthy of room in your bookcase.  

In other news, Emmeline is perking up after seemingly endless sickness.   First the stomach, then the ear, each bug taking its time to fully arrive and leisurely leave.  

Tiny rocks and toddler fingers

The bigger kids and dad took a quick trip to San Francisco.   Alcatraz was a huge draw.  They did not have RiceORoni.

Our spring break is soon.   Trying to decide if we should use our air miles and free hotel nights from work to go to southern California for three days ... or, wait until school is out in June and travel to Arizona for five days.   If you knew how wetcolddrizzlydiscouragingboringslow Oregon can be over spring break the dilemma would be clear.  Survive March?  Longer vacation?   Which will win?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

School days

Readers, in case you are wondering what seventh grade math is like these days, here:

A painter has exactly 32 units of yellow dye and 54 units of blue dye. She plans to mix the dyes to make two shades of green. Each gallon of the lighter shade of green requires 4 units of yellow dye and 1 unit of blue dye. Each gallon of the darker shade of green requires 1 unit of yellow dye and 6 units of blue dye.

 Make a graph showing the number of gallons of the two greens she can make.

List three possible solutions.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BIG NEWS ... not mine

I love to read the posts at Lifenut .  Gretchen is a supremely talented writer and mother to seven.   Peek on over there to see her BIG NEWS!!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oh Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Blog Gone?

'With it's depth cut short and its wording grown long,
 oh where oh where can it be?  La La La'

Yes, I do I realize the dog/blog play on words is probably only cute to someone (me) who sings nursery songs all day long.  It's the best I have going tonight...wit deficit.

Anyway, a lot's been going on dearest readers who have dwindled to almost none, because I am too busy to post and no one wants to visit sites no one updates.   No worries; I get it.

We had company, some of us went to San Francisco, Nolan was in nine performances of a musical, and I went to my first experience of high school conferences.   And kids and baby have been sick off and on -- hey, did you know the aftermath of nursing a runny nosed toddler looks a little like one's bosom is covered in fish scales?   I'm looking good these days, peeps, I'm looking good.

How to charm the world in animal print:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Emmie fancies felines

Emmeline discovered the outdoors, and in attempt to make up for lost time she asks to go out a lot.

Ohhhh a pretty kitty!   Kitty come play?   Play with me?  Here I have your bowl.  Sorry I dumped the food  out first, just couldn't stop myself.   Down?  Come down?

Wisely, kitty is unsure of the small toddler

Oh no, kitty going away!   Kitty bye bye!  Wait for Emmie?

Oh, the kitty ran away.   Mommy, you might want to put that camera down because in three seconds I am running through this hedge! 

Saturday, January 16, 2010


It is hard to write about the trials of daily life when the tragedy of Haiti is heavy on my heart.   To acknowledge starving newborns and babies crying for their mothers, dead, is almost more than I can wrap my brain around.  

Lord, help these people.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The 15 month old

Dear readers of my Mommy's blog:
I am Emmeline and am 15 months old.  It's tough work, and I take it seriously.   There is a lot of do, and a lot to learn.  On top of that I have to follow other people's schedules which sometimes make me cranky since I like to be in control of things myself.   How do you guys have this place figured out?  

 Hey, there is a DUCK water spout over here!   That's genius!


Oh, that duckie was cold on my fingers!   I liked, it though!   What more can I do out here?

ps can you tell my mom to not fiddle with her blog while I am awake?  She should instead be enriching my mind with trips to the mall songs, play dough, books, finger games, interesting foods and exotic animals. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Great Mascara Debacle of 2010

Dearest readers: Take note when health officials say to throw out old mascara and make up in general after two months. Why? 'Cuz you can get a nasty EYE STYE if you use long lost mascara you found under the seat in your car while looking for infant daughter's missing shoe.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Let's hear it for overalls

Over the weekend one of my daughters and I delved into the evil world known as Shopping for Jeans. A world known to make confident, grown women shirk and grimace. A world with only one equal atrocity -- shopping for swimsuits. A world of heavy sighs, material tight on thighs, waists too big whilst pant leg too narrow.

First of all, who are these jeans supposed to fit? Really, how many women have coltish, long legs like that? And Lord save us all from the Skinny Jean. Pure and utter evil in denim. There were even some with neon zippers at the ankles! Who do designers think looks good in those? Listen, if gorgeous young teens with high butts, athletic legs and flat stomachs look wrong in them, they really are Bad Jeans. The only worse pant I saw was from the "Not your Daughters Jeans" rack. Come on. You might think after having six full term babies I would embrace a built in tummy control panel in my jeans. But no. Not jeans like this: the rear pockets were spaced so high on the jeans and far apart from each other my rear looked ginormous, truly huge. Made me actually giggle aloud in the changing room. Note to designers: pocket placement is important. Pockets wide apart = appearance of wide hips. Also, big, glittery flap on widely spaced back pockets = complete failure of cute butt attempt. And while not really mandatory my hind side be cute, it does need to be covered. Chant it with me now, readers: No More Low Rise Jeans, No More Low Rise Jeans, No More Low Rise Jeans ...

Gorgeous daughter and I shook our heads in dismay. New jeans were not to be ours.