Friday, December 4, 2009

Sunny With A Chance Of Showers.

So I’m just going to jump into this post as if I’ve been posting regularly for the past several months and that I haven’t been slacking at all. Guilt free. Forget all the Halloween and Thanksgiving photos and delightful stories because I’m going to pretend like I was already on top of that and you have been laughing and crying (tears of joy and amazement, mostly) all along this Autumn journey with us.

So yesterday we had one of our little friends over and the house was full of dress-ups, dolls, barbies, sugar and spice and everything nice (you get the idea). It was a non-contested girl day and to enhance the girlyness—word?—of the day we were baking a pink cake with white frosting and a Cinderella topper for Grandma (isn’t that the kind of cake that most grandma’s would want?). The girls then, delicately and with much pomp and dressed-up circumstance, decided to take their barbies outside for some girl-time on the trampoline and the slides. They were aptly prepared for the crisp weather with sleeveless slips and see through pink ballerina skirts. I’m not sure they were wearing shoes—it didn’t seem important at the time. I was taking laundry down to Lily and Canyon’s room and as I was cursing the lego-strewn floor and clearing Lily’s bed of 432 books I happened to glace out the window. Alice was pulling her panties off and lifting her dress and as I was pondering what was happening and trying in vain to open the window fast enough—saw her pee, delightedly, all over the sidewalk. The stream, of said pee, was strong enough to put a race horse in the gates to shame. The other girls seemed just as delighted with this not-so-feminine turn of events. I then saw the other girls starting to hitch up their dresses. I ran to the other room, thinking, somehow that it would be faster to open that window. I opened the window and yelled “No! No! No! No!” over and over again. It was like it was in slow motion as I watched my newly-potty-trained-princess, Jane, hike up her skirts and also pee a stream that was other-worldly in its quantity and velocity. Their laughing and giggling, apparently overshadowed my frantic screaming. And then just when I think that they couldn’t be acting more like their brothers and cousins—they surprise me my taking it one step further, even defying any little boy I’ve ever known—as Jane gloriously begins to splash in the newly made puddle as if she’s in a spring shower with her galoshes. Mind you…she has bare feet.

I finally came to my senses and actually went outside to stop the peeing. Jane got plopped in the bath and I think I made it pretty clear to the other girls that they should use the toilet to pee. Ok, I’ll admit, I used some pretty strong language—I think the words NEVER and EVER made it into the exclamation. I thought we were never going to live through the Canyon-peeing-wherever-he-deemed-appropriate-even-right-outside-the-entrance-to-the-Logan-Temple-at-Marty-and-Bonnie’s-wedding-Scare of 2005. But this has topped it.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…yeah right.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poet Laureate

Last week the little girls and I went to the park. It was beautiful, sunny, warm and we stayed for hours. Our faces were red with sun and play and the girls went on several adventures. As they came back from one of their adventures, Alice came to me with a bouquet of dandelions gone to seed. She handed it to me and said:

"These are for you. They're not flowers--they're wishes."

I love living with poets.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Fall in Northern California

Pizza Margherita. And yes, that's an ice-cold diet coke.

Fall is an interesting time of year round here. Even though I’ve lived here over a decade, I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to it. It’s very different from the orange fire mountain autumns I grew up with, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. To me, fall here seems warmer than summer, I think because the marine layer is less likely to blanket us each night and the “shorts and sweatshirts” (coined by my Aunt Linda) evenings of summer turn into shorts and tee shirts evenings. But I love it. There’s so many things to love about fall here. The way the light changes, subtly at first and then forcefully as the sun shines at us more from the south. The light patterns on the hardwood floor in our south facing family room elongate a little more each day. For the first time in months I close the bright white curtains and the light filters softly through giving the house a cool glow. Another thing I love about fall here is the harvesting of the vineyard grapes. They do it at night, all night long, under bright spotlights and humming motors. There’s something about harvesting the grapes, at their peek, in the coolness of night. But the smell of fermenting grapes left on the vine, while a little strong when you’re pregnant, can be an earthy complement to the coming change of seasons. I also love the sparkling ribbons they tie to the grape vines every few feet—to ward off the birds (so I’m told), I’m not sure if it works, though, because I see all kinds of animals partaking of the steamy purple grapes. But the effect of the hills sparkling is our version of a sparkling snow covered hill.

But the very best thing about fall this year, are the long-awaited tomatoes from our garden. We planted over 20 plants and we have a veritable jungle of the red-candy goodness. The kids go out there and pick and eat them like they’re berries. Jane and Lily especially love them. So yesterday I decided to do something with these…and I was craving a pizza so I made a pizza margherita with fresh basil and steaming tomatoes. I sent Canyon out to get me ‘three large red tomatoes’ and he obliged and it was so hot outside, nearly 100 degrees. He came in with gloriously large red tomatoes and as I cut them open tendrils of steam wandered off the cutting board into the air above the mozzarella and basil. Real steam. These were HOT! So to add to my ever growing list of fall favorites: steamy tomatoes—right up there with fermenting grapes.

Post edit: I realized after reading this again that some people might think I'm pregnant. I'm not, just remembering the smell of the fermenting grapes when I was pregnant and recalling how my sister-in-law, Trieste, would get absolutely sick at the briefest smell of the vineyard in fall. She wouldn't even come over to our house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

On Bedtime Routines.

It is 7:00 pm—the time that we officially start the bedtime routine. For the little girls it’s bath. For the big kids it’s homework—but…it is 7:00 pm and my kids are all playing, for lack of a better title: “Going on the airplane to Nana & Papa’s with a stop at a hotel in-between, because, lets face it, hotels are fun.” I haven’t the heart to break it up. Mainly because they’re downstairs and I’m upstairs and it’s quiet up here. I can barely hear their slight screaming. I’ll just turn Neil Young up louder and finish folding laundry. And then maybe sit still under a ceiling fan and contemplate the universe [nap].

Is it bad to neglect the bedtime routine on a school night?

P.S. Do you know how hard it is to clean up an entire 'cup of noodles' off the kitchen floor? I'll give you a hint: it's definitely not easy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ask a Parenting Expert.

Dear readers,

As you know I am a next to 'perfect' parent so this information isn't meant for me (you understand). However, many of you may be struggling with raising your children.

You know things like:
  • making your 9-year-old cry everyday when you say the most harmless words, "time to practice piano."
  • your 2 and 4-year-olds simply saying 'no' when you ask them to do things.
  • also, hearing the phrase, "I don't want to be your friend anymore." more frequently than you would like.
  • yelling at your children.
  • not really knowing what you're doing.
  • a 2-year-old that poops in her pants, but it's ok because "it's just a baby poop mommy."
  • a 7-year-old boy who refuses to cut his hair.
  • exactly four children who refuse to eat anything that requires 'time and effort' on my (I mean your) part.
  • this really high pitched screaming that only dogs should be able to hear, but unfortunately for me (I mean you), is somehow heard on a frequency that is heard throughout the neighborhood.
Like I said, I don't really know why it's so hard for some of you. I had to call some friends to get some examples of less than exemplary behavior. I know what you're thinking, quite a coincidence that the examples are all the same ages as my kids. I know, weird isn't it? Purely coincidental.

Anyway, my mother-in-law is quite a childhood development expert and is going to be participating in a teleconference. I don't know exactly how this works except that it's sort of like a podcast/radio interview that you listen to over your phone. She will be covering things like:

Participants will learn:
1. The 10 times that children are most likely to misbehave
2. Why what we say is not as important as how we say it
3. How to be Kind and Firm at the same time
4. That “inviting” cooperation is better than demanding compliance

I don't know about you, but those seem to be things that would be interesting to know, if in fact you had children who misbehaved. I'm not going to mention any names, but Sadie, this might be good for you and the Ceej. It might be time for him to start using a spoon (I was specifically thinking of Kind and Firm).

Here's the link to hook you up. You can thank me later.
Oh, yeah...and it's free.

Grandma Laurie's Sage Parenting Advice


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What We've Been Doing.

Not necessarily in this order:

Playing Little House in the Prairie with our BFF Amy.

Playing with our new chickens Gabriella and Zena and our new baby chicks. This one is Princess Leia.

Playing outside.

Folding Laundry.

Eating cupcakes with our cousins at Baby Luke and Leia's baby shower. (a.k.a. Elise & Isaac's twins)

Alice & I on a trip to Logan for said baby shower. We had a wonderful and amazing time.

This is candy for those of you who didn't recognize it.

Enjoying the garden. I guess all that work was worth it.

The first day of school--it wasn't as painful as I thought. Actually it was pretty painless.

Enjoying our new chicken coop that our summer teenager, Jed, built. Jed was the best helper, au' pair, babysitter, chicken coop builder and golf cart wrecker we have ever had!
Canyon, on seeing the chicken coop: "Mom, I was thinking about the coup and I think it's good that it's camouflage because I think that a fox will come over here and think, 'Oh, there's just a little forest over there.' and then leave without eating the chickens."
I don't know if that's how it went down but we haven't lost a chicken since even though I have seen a fox lurking about the property.

We are happily settling into schedules but miss our summer days and especially summer nights. I guess though, in retrospect, summer wouldn't be so special if we didn't have school to attend to all the rest of the year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Dream.

While summer is quickly soaring by and all the regrets of things left undone are settling in, there is, at least one thing that we’ve accomplished this year. A summer tradition arching way back into time to the summers of my youth that Lily and Canyon have whole-heartedly embraced: sleeping outside on the trampoline. It only took one night a few weeks ago to get them hooked and we haven’t looked back, they have slept out there nearly every night since. I’ve been more than a little impressed as we’ve had a coldish summer so far and the fog bank reaches our house most nights which means that it’s cold. It hasn’t stopped them and I keep explaining that it’ll be even better when we actually have a warm night. After the first few nights of sleeping out there, Canyon promptly told me:

“Mom, I think the big dipper is going to stay. I’ve been watching it for the past few nights and it hasn’t even moved. It’s probably going to stay at our house for a while.”

Yes. The big dipper isn’t going anywhere. So they trudge out there every night with arms loaded with sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights and books. We go out with them and watch the meteor showers and sometimes even cheat while naming the planets and stars with my new iphone ap: My Universe. How very unromantic, I know.

So it was one of these nights, out there, while laying under the stars that I told them about Shakespeare. We just happen to live backed-up to a vineyard and out past our eucalyptus tree across the acres of tidy green rows of grapes is the white vineyard ‘castle house’ where fairyland exists. We have often been enraptured with the vineyard. We sometimes walk there in the evenings and ‘trespass’ by the green and manicured tasting lawns and marvel at the restored 100-year-old Victorian “castle house.” But this year, this year—fairyland is actually there—and we didn’t even have to imagine it. Oberon, Titania, Puck and others have been frequenting the vineyard—every weekend from 7:30-10:00 for an excessive fee. While we didn’t have it in us (or in our pockets) to actually attend this backyard Shakespeare festival—we would lay on the trampoline and listen to the applause and laughter of the obviously delighted audience. I explained who Shakespeare was to the kids and promised them that next year I would take them. But somehow, as we lay there at 10:30 all snuggled up in sleeping bags and exclaiming at meteors—and we heard the cheering for the final curtain call, I realized that we’re not quite ready—eyelids already drooping and something just as magical, if that’s even possible, as Shakespeare’s play: a real midsummer night’s dream.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Alice's Birthday: or 'Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.'

Here's the breakdown of Alice's birthday. I think the pictures tell it all.

Yay! Alice is four now.
By the way, in case you couldn't tell--the soft Princess Leia doll was a HUGE hit.

Also, notice how very dirty and tired all of those little campers are.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lake Tahoe

There’s something magical about…

sleeping all together in a cozy little tent-trailer—
the stars seeming so much closer and brighter—you can almost touch them
swimming at seven in the morning in crisp (that means cold), very clear, and glassy water—underneath rainbow colored hot-air balloons
listening to bears all night long—
listening to teenagers all night long—I prefer the bears.
opening your favorite present on your fourth birthday—an enchanting and painstakingly detailed (thanks Jill) Princess Leia doll—
having cupcakes and cobbler and watermelon and and dutch oven potatoes and Fred Flinstone steaks from your steer (seriously…they were HUGE)
spending all day in the sunshine, burning feet on hot golden sand, cooling off in the lake, climbing the pier pole, jumping in, kayaking and having as Canyon said after spending the day in the kayak, “the best day of my life.”
very dirty feet and not caring much about it—
homemade ice-cream with Ranger Pat—
lots of bug-bites and sunburns—
and some night swimming with a bunch of middle-aged—but extremely giggly girls—
catching, boiling, and eating crawdads with Uncle Jeremy—like a little piece of lobster heaven right in our camp
holding baby Jed and visiting with Aunt Laura and Uncle Bill who were very accommodating personal shoppers and who happily provided cupcakes to a four year old who didn’t believe that cobbler counted as a ‘Birthday’
like I said…magical.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th of July.

July 7, 2009

Our 4th of July was packed with adventure. Enough adventure to last us a whole week. It began with Lily & Canyon’s first swim meet. They have been on the swim team this summer and have been practicing really hard. We were finally around for a swim meet and so were able to go. Lily was great and really enjoyed it as did Canyon. It was a little stressful for me, though, making sure that they were in the right places at the right time. We had a couple of close calls, but we made it to the starting block for every event. I am really impressed with how they run these summer leagues here. Growing up, our swim meets seemed so much more serious. In fact, I remember that in my first swim meet I got disqualified for breaking my stroke (on breaststroke) as I was pulling off my goggles that had come of during my start. Not the best way for a little kid to get started. In the meets here, there is practically no disqualification under the age of 10 and even then, only if it’s pretty obvious. Therefore, the meet was really fun to watch as the little kids pretty much did whatever they could to get across the pool. Canyon even had one of the older girls in the lane with him. He didn’t need her to be in there for safety, but was nervous…so she just swam along beside him offering encouragement. The key to these meets is for everyone to have fun and they give ribbons to everyone in every event. It was great! Canyon was so excited to get his ribbons the next day. I’ve been so proud of the kids, they have done so well with swimming. They haven’t complained about the hour-long practices everyday and they have truly enjoyed it. Plus, the bonus is that they are such better swimmers now.

Lily, getting ready to start the 50 free.

Canyon and his emotional crutch and biggest crush of his life so far: Alexa.
(I just wish she could go to school with him)

Saturday night we had our annual 4th of July party. We had a BBQ and played volleyball until it got dark. The food was amazing and I had asked people to bring dessert and we were about to delve into the amazing things people brought when our neighbors brought over three Cold Stone ice-cream cakes. Yes, three. We ate so much, I think everyone was going to burst. The kids played and played outside and were verifiably (is that a word?) dirty by the end of the night. Volleyball was, as usual, a blast and we played until we couldn’t see the ball anymore and then afterwords we all bundled up in the back of the barn to watch the fireworks (somehow it’s always cold on the 4th of July). There was no end to Jane’s exclamations of “Wow!” She especially appreciated the fireworks that were pink or purple. There’s something about the 4th of July that’s so great. I think part of it is that it’s the only major holiday that takes place in the summer and there’s just something magical about summer and summer traditions.

We are now readying to embark on our next summer tradition: camping at Tahoe—this is our absolute favorite and I think that my kids look forward to this even more than they look forward to Christmas.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Our first family photo in, like, forever.

Me, Lily, Alice and Papa in the park.

I’m embarrassed about the amount of time that has gone by on this blog…unattended, lonely, deserted, abandoned while I have been having the time of my life! After the insane whirlwind of the last week of school we headed out on a week long vacation across (as Lily so astutely pointed out) five states in 48 hours. Not a small feat for those of us fortunate enough to live in the west. I’ve never really spent any time in the east, so I shouldn’t judge it—but I definitely think I’m a western girl and I love, love those wide open desert skies, rugged mountain peaks and coldness (yes, cold—I know we don’t have the balmy Atlantic) of the wild Pacific. We drove across California, through Nevada (with its big skies and green desert), to Utah to stop one night and then through a corner of Idaho with its beautiful farm houses and lilacs everywhere! to our destination—Wyoming. We stayed in Jackson Hole with my parents, Sadie and the Ceej and we had a fantastic time. Dustin had never been to Jackson Hole and fell in love with it. He has been trying to figure out how we can just drop everything and move there (I’m never going to leave California though, he’ll have to go without me). We went to Grand Teton National Park and oohed and aahed our way through the green valleys nestled oh-so-close to those sudden peaks. There were wildflowers everywhere, animals everywhere, and the kids were as happy to be there as we were. We went on some hikes and were so happy to see that Alice was able to maintain her hiking enthusiasm even after her virgin hike in Yosemite. She was amazing and hiked some serious three mile terrain without even pausing for breath as she talked and talked and talked (mostly about the pale blue butterflies that were everywhere). Canyon and Lily are coming into their own and hiked ahead with Papa; too serious of hikers to stay with Alice and I. Jane was content to ride in the pack on Dustin’s back and even got a few naps in.

We also took a ferry across Jenny Lake and did some more hiking the next day. The mud was a bit hazardous, but when Alice finally gave up on trying to keep her shoes clean…we were ok. We decided that we have to go back, but next time we’re camping. Oh, and we got to see a moose. Yes, a moose, up close—a few feet away. Jane wasn’t all that impressed. She wondered why everyone was so excited about a horse.

Dustin & Alice on Jenny Lake

The Moose

We went back to Logan and had a great time. We went to Summerfest, listened to some great music, were obsessed with baby CJ, and pulled off a great Retirement party for papa which included playing with the Scott girls who had so dutifully hidden their arrival for a whole day without seeing Papa. We had a wonderful time and after a long 12 hour drive home and we finally pulled in the driveway, Jane shrieked (as if she suddenly realized we had been driving all day) that she wanted to go back to Nana and Papa’s house. Canyon was still sullen the next day because he was sorry to be gone. We could’ve stayed another week—but are happy to be home and in the swing of swim team and summer library visits. Aaaah, summer…I love it!

The trooper: Alice

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lilies and Strawberries.

The strawberries.

It’s a good thing that Lily’s birthday is in May because I don’t thing there’s one thing that this girl loves more than strawberries—and so we always manage to have some on her cake. She declared that this year’s cake is her ‘favorite’ and I was happy—with the help of the strawberry field down the street—to oblige. She is turning into such an amazing little helper and the wit that accompanies her voracious reading habit is quite sassy. She was pleased with her birthday ‘swag,’ which included a new watch, books (of course), and a Stanford hoodie (thanks to Erika and Kim—my mom team who pulled off a last minute Stanford Bookstore run for me). I can’t believe that in a year she’ll be in double digits—it seems like she was, only just yesterday, the continually nursing baby (happy for me, though, because while she nursed—I read Lord of the Rings). How fast the time has gone and those quiet days of one baby are gone and our life is a whirlwind of adventure.

Happy Birthday Lily.

I love this picture of Lily laughing at her little sisters as they sing, sing, sing.
Jane was certain that it was her birthday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finding Myself.

One of the hardest things about becoming a mother is losing a part of you that you’ll never be again. After Lily was born, it wasn’t the all-night feedings, the nursing difficulties, the sleep deprivation or the constant worry that shocked me. What shocked me was the inability to be what I had, up until then, always been. I had to finally resolve to become a different sort of person, a version of the old me, true—but at the same time—different. As I slowly embraced the new me of motherhood, I also grieved for the old me and while this process gets easier it never really goes away. Now that I’m officially a mother (I suppose that having four kids does that to you), I have almost forgotten what that old me is all about. Almost everything that I do now, involves my kids in some form or another and I complacently allow my old habits and sensibilities to fade slowly away. Sometimes I worry that when my kids are gone, will I be interesting? Can I be defined by something other than Lily, Canyon, Alice or Jane’s mom? I found out this past week that yes, I can.

I found myself again.

Born to schoolteachers, my siblings and I had the fortunate opportunity to ‘grow up’ at summer scout camps. We spent our summers swimming, sailing, boating, tying knots, hiking, and basking in creative outdoor time that began and ended with the rising and setting of the sun. We were dirty, happy, sunburned, and tired. We fell asleep every night, exhausted, as our mother read ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ And we believed in Laura’s life on the prairie…because we were living it. We grew up to become scouters and counselors and we began to teach our unique skills to twelve-year-old boys who were as eager to learn as we were to teach. We learned about hard work, service, and we had a great time. We saw the sunrise over the lake every morning and every night we pondered the milky moonpath on the still water and seemed so close to the stars that we could almost hear their conversations. I loved it. It defined who I am. It gave me confidence and self-awareness.

I was asked, this year, to be on staff at BSA’s National Camp School to train camp Aquatic’s Directors. It is something that I did a few times before I was married and even early in my marriage, but not something that I thought I would go back to. With Dustin’s encouragement I decided to go and after I gathered up a village to help with the kids—I packed my bags and went to Camp Tracy in Salt Lake’s Millcreek Canyon for eight days. I have never been away from my kids for that long and was nervous and emotional to leave. I went, I taught, I rowed, I canoed, I had fun and developed relationships and, guess what, I wasn’t Lily or Canyon or Alice or Jane’s mom—I wasn’t even Marty’s sister (Marty was also there…which is another delightful aspect to this story)—I was me. I had a wonderful time. I was exhausted, yet fulfilled. I came home to a family who missed me and appreciated me. Dustin did a great job with the kids all week. I know that it had to take a great deal of patience and sacrifice for him to work and be solely responsible for the kids after hours.

This was a great ‘break’ for me—an opportunity for me to realize that I can hang on to the old me without feeling guilty. You might read this and say ‘duh.’ But this past week was truly revealing to me and I hope that this revelation will help me to be a better mother and a better wife…because there’s a little bit of the old me still in there and, when it’s time, she’s coming back out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Remember when I was being so smug about how warm it was here in California, and I was talking about spring and warm grass and flowers and blossoms and oranges, remember that? Well, it is officially spring now because it is so cold and windy. It'll be like this now until summer. FREEZING. So, now that the rest of you can enjoy a true spring, with snow melting and all that, we'll bundle up and layer to get out into the off shore gale force winds. Hope you have a great warm day. We'll be huddled in the house around the heat vents.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yosemite & Canyon's Birthday

Dustin made it to Yosemite on his bicycle with nary a glitch. Our only complaint, Uncle Dean, is that they charged the cyclists $10 to get into the park. What’s up with that? It seems that they should be rewarding the environmentally conscious who choose to bike in. Besides paying for 10 sag cars and several camping spots. Some of the riders, rather than pay the $10, waited for a sag vehicle got in and rode across the entrance in the car, got back out and continued their ride. This did little to dampen the weekend, however, and we had an amazing time—as we always do in Yosemite. The weather was beautiful and the blossoms and wildflowers were everywhere as well as hundreds of waterfalls. We only encountered two bears, though, which is a little disappointing—but otherwise saw everything we wanted to see. The kids and I hiked to the bottom of Vernal Falls and I was excited for Alice to be on her first ‘real’ hike. She did amazing…I only had to hold her hand and remind her that she was hiking just like Heidi and Peter do with the goats. Jane did well enough in the backpack, but was itching to get out and hike on her own (something I was not willing to commit to). The kids loved playing on the rocks and in the caves, wading in the creeks, making bark ships to sail down the Merced, and eat as much trail mix as they could inhale. We were sorry to leave, and, as always happens when we leave, we regret that we don’t come more often.

We were back in time to properly celebrate Canyon’s birthday on Sunday. Canyon, for the first time, has been counting down the days to his birthday for several months. I have been nervous because I was afraid, with that much anticipation, that I could not live up to his expectations. He had a great day though, and I think was happy with the peanut butter brownies, new legos, books on his new facination—mummies—and from Glen, tickets to see the King Tut exhibit that’s coming to San Francisco this summer. He was happy to announce to anyone and everyone that he’s seven and “so glad that I’m seven now.” We are happily settling in to post spring break mode and gearing up for the next great adventure that is summer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Remember that nice warm weather we've been having? Apparently now that it's spring break nature has decided to be windy and cold. We had to work out in the garden yesterday with LAYERS! We will be going to Yosemite...and hope that it's better weather there. Dustin's riding his bike there and we'll be driving. It'll take him three days and me...3 hours.

Have a great Easter!

<--- Those are Alice's feet next to some of many hundreds of mushrooms we had this year. And yes, those are also almond blossoms--our version of snow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

On Astronomy

We hosted Papa Scott’s sixtieth birthday this weekend and among other nice things, which included fantastic tacos, spicy salsa, pineapple upside-down cake, and grown men singing aloud to Paint Your Wagon, we had a fire on the patio to sit around when it got chilly and the brothers played guitars well into the night. It was a crisp, clear, and dark night—so the stars were especially bright. The moon was a sliver of a crescent and, in my astronomical naiveté, I asked Lily to show me some of the constellations. Ask your eight-year-old daughter about constellations, you ask? Yes. In case you didn’t know…she wants to be an astronomer. She doesn’t just want to be an astronomer the way that many eight-year-olds would say when an adult asks the inevitable ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ question. She wants to be an astronomer and she studies it now. She’s working on a star chart and she has a moon chart that she updates every night. If you need to know what the moon is doing, ask her. There are terms flying around our house that I don’t even pretend to understand, like ‘waxing gibbous’ and ‘waning crescent.’ I once asked her to explain it to me and she broke apart an oreo and we had a ‘moon phases’ lecture in the middle of lunch.

So I asked her as we were snuggled up listening to the guitar music and warmed by the fire to tell me about the moon tonight. She looked up and told me what phase we were in and then announced that this phase was her ‘lucky moon.’

“Why is it your lucky moon?” I asked

“Because this is what the moon looked like on the night I was born.”

I had no idea what the moon looked like on the night she was born. In my defense…I was a little preoccupied—but so impressed that she had found a chart and figured out somehow what the moon was doing when she entered this world. While I may be no astronomer, I am a lover of words and ideas and this ‘birth moon’ idea that she had come up with satisfied me like a well-written poem. It made me realize how out of touch we are with the natural world. All those people that came before us that structured their lives around the cycles of the moon and if you asked a woman in as little as a hundred years ago, she would remember exactly what phase the moon was at as each of her children were born.

I found this in Lily's papers. It explains everything.

Lily’s fascination with the night sky has brought a fresh perspective to our family—and we have been able to spend time looking out in the night. Counting the stars and even going to the observatory to see the moon, planets and constellations brightly through a 36” reflector telescope. We listen to nerdy astronomers excitedly explain the ‘seven sisters’ constellation and bemoan to each other that looking at the moon through the 36” telescope is a ‘such a waste.’

So I suppose we might be turning into those nerds as we excitedly wait for the night sky to fill in with a million dots of light—but I’m happy that we can enjoy something that’s so much bigger than our lives and LOVE that I can learn about it from my daughter.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just Doing our Part to Stimulate the Economy.

Disneyland. Enough Said.

The Girls

The boys

The End.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Emily's French Bread.

Just before hitting that blast of heat.

In anticipation of the apology that I owe you for that last ‘rub it in your face’ post—and due to a frantic EMERGENCY phone call from Marty asking for my bread recipe…I have decided to post my ‘infamous’ French bread recipe in the hopes that you all will forgive me. So whip these babies up, make yourself a cup of soup, and wrap yourselves up in fleeces and blankets by the fire while I go outside to read my book in the sunshine (I think I got a sunburn today). This is especially for Marty and Bonnie and John (via Brooke) as a congratulations treat.


¼ cup hot water
2 cups warm whole milk
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
some honey (a lot or a little, depending on your taste: maybe ¼ cup)
a pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
6 ½ cups of flour (ish: ish means more or less if necessary)
oil for greasing


In a bowl, combine the water and ¼ cup of the milk. Sprinkle the yeast and the pinch of sugar over the liquid and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy.

In a mixer combine the remaining milk, the butter, the honey, salt and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until creamy. Add the yeast mixture and the remaining flour one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl sides. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled deep bowl and turn the dough once to coat it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

Flour a smooth work surface, half the dough and role out half of it into a rectangle. Roll the dough up—like a tube—and use a knife to slash divots in it (is that a word) place on a greased cookie sheet and if you want to be really fancy sprinkle the cookie sheet with cornmeal first. Repeat with remaining dough. Then cover loosely with a cloth and let rise again (It usually takes less than an hour, but—as we’ve already determined it’s a lot warmer here) until it’s doubled. Another optional, but fancy, step is to lightly brush with egg white (this browns it real nice).

The rectangle size-ish.

The tubes: slashed and ready to burn.

Doubled in size and ready to bake.

Bake in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes until the loaves are golden brown. Then slice, put some yummy butter (watch it melt), pig out, and wake up in the morning ten pounds heavier.

I guarantee you’ll love this bread and impress anyone who tries it. Good luck! If you are having any problems with this recipe…don’t call me.

Golden brown...smells so good!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Not to Rub it In....But...

Yes, that's Alice and Jane in our backyard. And yes, those are bare legs, green grass, and a sunset.

And, yes, that's our Almond tree--in full bloom.

Sucks to be you!

(did I mention it's February?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life is Good

A conversation with Lily as she’s cleaning up the hundreds and hundreds of UNO cards littered across the living room floor by two adoring younger sisters—on her watch.

Lily: (with attitude) You know those t-shirts that say ‘Life is Good?’

Me: Yeah.

Lily: They should make t-shirt’s that say ‘Life’s unfair.’

Friday, February 6, 2009

On Sleeping.

So I had mentioned in the previous blog about Jane and her crib climbing adventures. We put a stop to it by just removing the crib altogether. Alice was still using the toddler bed and so armed with a gift certificate to IKEA we went in search of another toddler bed. Alas, unbeknownst to me the toddler beds at IKEA cost more than $125. I just couldn’t see myself spending more for a bed that was hopefully, oh so temporary. In the mean time we tried a little toddler bed of our nephews. Jane was so excited about it during the day…however, as soon as the sun went down it became her worst enemy.

We were all in tears every night (and by we I mean Alice, Jane and I) as we searched for a bedtime routine that would be reminiscent of the ol’ crib days. Ah, the nostalgia for the crib. One night Jane finally hopped in Alice’s tiny toddler bed with her and slept peacefully all night (I was in such shocking awe that I, unfortunately, didn’t get a photo of it). So my problem was solved. We brought the mattress up from the guest bed downstairs, plopped it on the floor, threw some semblance of a quilt on top and—ta da—we have ourselves a bed.

Here are two views of the new bed; with the little kitchen, the Trieste grow chart and the other with the reading chair & table.

Don’t get too excited yet it’s taken a few ornery-mom nights to get them to settle down, but I finally found the formula: bunny books in chair, lights out, ‘Little House’ for at least a chapter. It seems to be working. And, bonus, we get to learn things from Mary and Laura like ‘children should be seen and not heard,’ and other classic phrases of the like.

The book routine; it's delicate, like mixing a cocktail. Ahem. At least I think it is.

The only problem now is—we don’t have a bed for Nana and Papa. We’ll have to remedy that soon because we are BEGGING for a visit. (wink, wink)