Thursday, August 27, 2015

Things I Forgot

I'm sitting on our couch watching the rest of the sunset. It really was a stunner, and I admit I've gotten super spoiled having a front row seat of the sun sinking into the bay every night. But as I was reveling in the view, I realized I've forgotten to tell you a few things.


First off, missing from my reading list was Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, which was incredibly entertaining, plus...books because bookstore. All the books. Oh the happiness. I confess though that the true draw for me was the rumor floating around the internet that the cover glows in the dark. Sadly, my plastic covered library edition failed the glow-in-the-dark test. I was really hoping to give the Man a good middle of the night shock.


Second, the best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else, right? So I'm making Littles teach Tiny from his phonics book. This makes sense because Tiny has started asking us to pray that he can learn how to read. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure God is not going to miraculously make that happen without Tiny putting forth some kind of effort, but I don't feel like providing the umph behind the effort when Tiny is still three. This may, however, backfire on me, as Littles is still shaky on some of his phonetic spelling and I have had to work hard to keep a straight face over his versions of "six" and "hill".


Third, twins are fun. The Man found them standing on the coffee table this morning either hugging or wrestling. He wasn't sure which. Although, in a side note, when they do wrestle, Bee always wins. Is this Bruiser being a gentleman or is this Bee asserting dominance?


Fourth--and I feel like this should've been first because it is super important--Littles discovered Calvin and Hobbes. He did not come up to breathe for two hours and there was lots of giggling. It may have been my proudest moment. Possibly ever.


Anyway, now that we're all caught up, I'm done for the night.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What's (Been) On My Bookshelf (Lately)

I thought I'd give all you lovely readers out there an update on my book life--just in case you're looking for some new reading material. However, it's 8pm and I haven't stopped moving since 5.30 this morning, so we will make this fast and furious. Also, the Man is in the kitchen threatening to cut a slice out of the cake I made for Bible study tomorrow, so accept the fact that I am distracted by his impending lack of self control, and just hang in there with me.

So, drum roll, please. What I've been reading...lately...ish.


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: best fiction read I've picked up this year. I know it's all over everywhere--and I hate to be a lemming--but sometimes there's a reason behind the popularity, and in this case it was totally worth following the crowd.

Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer: still powering through this book in my spare time. It's not that long but I got side tracked and needed a break from dissecting what I liked and didn't like. Definitely a thought-provoking read on vocation, but prepare to wade through a lot of humanism, if that's not your thing.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: I do love this classic, random "Magic" references aside. I just finished reading this with the big boys, and Littles was especially entranced. I loved getting to talk with them about Mary's change of character. At the beginning, they disliked her so much they didn't want to read the book at all, but by the end she was one of their favorites.

What Women Fear by Angie Smith: I just picked this up last week for our new Bible Study. I'm only a few chapters in but I'm so enjoying being back with Angie Smith's warm narrative voice. Her writing always challenges me spiritually, and so far this book has been true to form.

Simply Tuesday by Emily Freeman: I pre-ordered this book several months ago, and I rarely pre-order. But I found it in the mailbox on my way to a meeting I was more than a little nervous about, halfway through a week that had really thrown me for a loop, and, wow, was I glad I preordered. Sunday, I was walking the twins around the lake during the sermon (they rarely make it more than halfway through the service), and I was reading while I walked and found myself crying as I read and walked and pushed fifty pounds worth of twins up and down a dirt path as her words repeatedly hit home.

Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary: I made Littles take a break from Beverly Cleary (he kind of went overboard for a while), but now we're reading Dear Mr Henshaw together and having a great time. Plus, I'm really enjoying not having to bust out a Yorkshire accent every other line.

Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Brown: seriously, this is now on my "suggest to everyone" list. Vulnerability, shame, courage. These are the things we need to talk about, learn about, think about. Go get this book.

And I know I'm missing a few here and there but for the most part, this is what I've been doing in between the laundry and the homeschooling and the cooking and the diapering. And sometimes during the laundry, the homeschooling, the cooking, and the diapering because not reading? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ode(ish) to My Dead Hard Drive

My hard drive decided that it was too good for this world last week. It crossed the pearly gates of technological heaven with all my data accompanying, so whoever told me "you can't take it with you" was clearly lying. The dumb hard drive really did take everything along on its journey to another world. So I'm reinstalling Pages and iPhoto while I mourn the loss of all my documents and photos--and suddenly I find myself very glad that I've been uploading the best ones to the blog the last few months so at least I didn't lose everything.

In the meantime, here's what's been happening: homeschooling, all the kids with all the happiness, beach breakfasts, for real pull ups by Littles (I'm talking about the exercise, not the diaper--just for clarification sake), lego prodigies, and...oh wait. I think that was really it. Next week we start Classical Conversations, and then I might for real have some fascinating news for you. Oh, wait (again), I'm not a homeschool blogger. Snap.

Pictures for you! From the new phone (yay!) and then I'm out:

Twin baths are the best.

Her helicopter (that she made all by herself) is too beautiful to look at.
I'm not going to lie: I thought the flower as a propeller was pretty genius.

Beach breakfast--no dolphins in the water but we saw seven (count them: seven) trash trucks.
Bruiser declared his day made.
No explanation for Little's face up there. Too much apple bread?

Wasn't this a great blog? Everyone give me a round of applause and next time I might actually write something interesting. It may even be time for a book update!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Those Days

There are days, and there are days.

There are days when you have to throw a load of laundry back into the washer--and the clothes are still warm from the dryer--because in the two seconds it took for you to get them out of the dryer and procrastinate on folding, the cat jumped into the basket and decided it looked like a litter box to her. Those days bring me a little bit closer to a new rug made out of cat fur. Kidding.

Plotting something nefarious.

There are days when you go to make beans and rice only to discover that the can of kidney beans you could've sworn you bought at the commissary last week is no longer in the pantry--so you decide that you must've just forgotten and make sausage and veggies and rice instead--only later to come upon Bruiser systematically emptying the canned foods shelf of your pantry straight into the trash can. Those days you just have to laugh. And fish a few things out of the trash can.

There are days when your daughter refuses to nap until you change her into a different dress and then continues to refuse to nap (LOUDLY) until you fix her hair for her. Because, you know, the house might catch on fire while she's napping and she wouldn't want the hunky firemen to see her at less than her best. Or so I assume. Those days you get a little nervous about the teenage years.

There are days when your husband uses the word "nerd" as a verb. Those days are awesome.

I know, right?

There are days Tiny wakes up the twins halfway through nap time by kicking on the wall because he doesn't want a nap and I miraculously manage to get all three of them back to sleep. Those days are a mix between mind-numbingly mad and mind-blowingly awesome.

There are days your replacement cell phone is supposed to come in...and it doesn't. No comment.

There are days when an emergency mid-week commissary run means a loaf of bread and three bags of coffee. Those days you should also pick up a bottle of super expensive Italian lemon juice because of course.

This picture is indicative of so much about that kid.

There are days when you get back from your run and stumble upon a flock of ten wild turkeys swaggering across your front yard in the pink dawn light and can't decide whether you should just stand there with your jaw dropped or get a better hold on the dog's leash--and those days just feel like a perfect metaphor for life.

There are days, and there are days. Thank goodness for all the crazy and the ability to laugh, even if sometimes the laughing part doesn't show up until after the kids are finally in bed and my feet are propped up and the Man has swept up the carpet of rice that has taken over under the dining room table. The crazy part is pretty much always in effect.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Food Stories...Because Four Kids...

Sometimes you need to take a break from your regular program... This is that break. Welcome, to the world of food with the Friz Four.

She likes tea parties. With raisins. She forces her brothers to play along.

Back when we were living in OK, I was nursing the twins before bed, having left the boys finishing dinner (the Man was either TDY or at work) when I heard an explosion from the kitchen. Turned out, Tiny had decided to microwave a corn muffin...to oblivion. There was nothing left but a piece of charcoal that vaguely resembled a corn muffin, smoking gently on the turn table. Our microwave smelled like smoke for a month.

Who? Me?

This morning I found a half-empty bag of English muffins on the stairs. Tiny informed me that he and Littles had breakfast in bed. Last night. After I'd put them in bed. We'd had early dinner last night, and I'd given the twins second supper before bed (cereal, for the win), but both the boys had turned down my offer of food. Evidently they reconsidered and decided to do breakfast twelve hours too early. I refuse to go looking for crumbs in their sheets. Good thing they make their own beds.

He's mastered that eye roll almost a decade early.

Bruiser finished his pancakes yesterday and flipped his plate upside down, placing it squarely on top of his head and declaring, "HAT!" with gusto. I blame the influence of his cousin James who also likes to use syrup in place of hair gel.

And he has lots of hair to syrup.

We had a vanilla candle on the table last month sitting in a bowl of coffee beans, whose coffee did not cut it for my sophisticated palate (that's a joke). Bruiser and Bee, however, had great fun crawling on the table and snacking on straight caffeine. Bruiser, especially, couldn't pass the table without saying longingly, "Bite?" Yes, we start them young.

Food makes Bee happy.
She is a woman after my own heart.

You know that story of the girl who always cuts her roast in half before she cooks it and gets in a fight with her husband about how she's doing it the right way when it turns out that she does it that way because three generations ago, her grandmother's pan was too small to fit a whole roast? Well, thanks to Blythe, my kids are going to think that meats should always be defrosted in the microwave or oven (both of which are off). That cat has a taste for raw meat and will chew through whatever plastic covering is in her way. She also likes to go fishing in the trash can. And chases loose blueberries and grapes. She's an odd one.

Grilled cheese: part of every kid's healthy lunch menu.
Just not mine. Because cheese is gross.

Speaking of the pets, this evening I found what I thought were blood streaks on one side of Trigger's neck. I was freaking out before I remembered we'd had ketchup for lunch. Sharing is caring. So much so that Bee and Bruiser like to take a bite and then offer one to whichever pet is nearest. Blythe is particularly quick to lick Bee's spoon off for her. And Trigger is helpful about cleaning the floors while we eat. He picks out the vegetables though.

This is how Bruiser does raisin tea parties.
Dump them all!

One of Little's self-set school goals was to learn some cooking skills this year. We're planning to do blueberry muffins tomorrow as he has already mastered the finer points of making tea and french press coffee (yes, he even grinds the beans). Today, however, he informed me he wants to learn how to make stove top popcorn. Hot oil, exploding kernels, and a five year old? How about no.

That's a smile, but it could be a grimace
at the thought of Littles burning the house down.

Anyway, just a few fun food favorites for your Friday (you know you like that alliteration--but it only works if you don't read this post until tomorrow).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Keep On Keeping On

For those of you following along with me as I stay engaged our last five months here, I felt like that post deserved a follow up so that you could see that I'm doing my best to follow through. Follow along. Follow up. Follow through. Wow. I wish I could say I did that on purpose, but I'm pretty sure it was the 5.30am alarm speaking.

Anyway, this weekend, drumroll, please, the Man and I finally hung pictures in the upstairs hall. All the other pictures were put up the week we moved in (we're thorough like that), but we were waiting to do the hall once we finally got some updated family pictures...that actually included the twins. Then we got family pictures and had to find frames. Then, of course, I kept forgetting to print the actual pictures. Anyway, it's August. We leave in December. But I'm going to enjoy my hallway with every fibre of my being until the boxes arrive.


Plus, the Love Chapter on the wall every time I come up the stairs is a good kick in the pants. Love is patient...love is kind...it is not rude...it is not irritable... 


The little leaf thingies are actually Japanese coasters I've had hidden away for years. I'm pretty sure I stole them from my mom (thanks, Mom!). They've always been too pretty to spoil and so I haven't gotten to really enjoy them. Saturday I hot glued flat head tacks to the back. I'm sure someone, somewhere is rolling over in his or her grave, but I'm loving getting to see them every day, far out of reach of the four pairs of wonderfully grubby hands that would love to rip them, spill on them, and potentially stick them in someone's mouth. Which would then prompt me to have to reread the Love Chapter before I did something I might regret.

In other news, this kid started kindergarten today! And in case you can't read my fabulous handwriting, he told me this morning that he loves "math, whales and dolphins, baseball, bikes, and going to the beach." The Man tried really hard to convince him to put "Dad" on the list to no avail. Five year olds are cold.


At any rate, I'm enjoying to the full every last day that we have here: watching sunsets over the bay, exploring new farmers markets that have chicken tikka masala naan wraps (amazing), and finding new places to keep art supplies accessible to the boys while still out of reach for the twins. Sadly, Bee has discovered she has serious table climbing skills. But, you know, you can't have it all.


Happy August, everybody.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Braving the Drainage Grates

I just finished reading a book by Brené Brown called Daring Greatly, and it deserves to be talked about much more than I'm going to talk about it tonight, but I told myself I would only write while the zucchini bread bakes and since it's one of those quick breads...well, this is going to be quick. In fact, it seems there's just enough time for a story.

So here's the story. The book I just read is all about vulnerability and bravery and risk. Naturally, it was not applicable to me at all since I never struggle with fear or trust or feeling ashamed of who I am in the least. Cough, cough. But that's not the story.

That book, right on the top. Not the one Bruiser is reading.

The thing is, I have this child, this amazing, wonderful, hair brained, crazy child who sometimes (occasionally) struggles with fear. In fact, he has been known to have nightmares before he even falls asleep. Although, come to think of it, that may just be him stalling at bed time.

So, it took him a few months to come around to the idea of getting into the ocean. We had to give him numerous pep talks. And possibly bribe him with marshmallows. But we got there. This week he told me that sharks can eat your bones off, so I suppose his fears were well founded.

This week I discovered that he was scared to walk over drainage grates. Which I kind of get. What if it's not stable? What if it slips and you fall in? What if your favorite toy that you didn't even know you were carrying somehow drops out of your pocket and disappears into the great unknown? What if something with slimy tentacles reaches out and grabs you?

Anyway, when he told me he wouldn't walk over the drainage grate, I told him to walk around it, but being a good mother, I also demonstrated (and got his brother to demonstrate) that there was really nothing to be scared of by walking over it several times myself. Then we kept going to wherever it was we were headed. I thought that was the end of it.

I know. She's adorable.

But today we pulled into the library parking lot and were heading in to exchange books, and this unnamed child was dawdling by the car, so I called out to him to come on so we go in. Instead of running towards me, he asked shyly if first he could walk across the drainage grate in the middle of the parking lot.

I promise I checked for cars first. And I also made him hold his brother's hand. But I've never been so proud of him. And I didn't even have to offer copious amounts of sugar to get him to do it.

Lovely, isn't it?

There was no reason that he had to rise to the occasion, nothing to force him out of his fear, but he knew that he didn't want to keep on letting his fears limit him. And so, instead of waiting until he was backed into a corner with no other option but to face his fear, he attacked it head on.

May we all be so brave. Here's to you and here's to your drainage grates. Walk on over them. Grab hold of your brother's hand if you need to, but walk on over them with gusto.

But before you do, go read Daring Greatly. Just don't accidentally drop your copy into the drainage grate while you're crossing.