Friday, July 26, 2013


A new family moved into the empty house down the street- the husband happens to be the brother of Wonder Daddy's good friend, and we'll be going to the same church on Sunday.  How's THAT for cool?  Plus, they have a little boy (4) who has fallen in love with our Mimi (also 4) and insists on giving the girls hugs when they leave.  As soon as enough morning has passed, the girls are begging to go and play in the "cul-de-square" (because it's just the end of a street, NOT a big round cul-de-sac.)  There are a few other kids on our street, but playing with them never works out.  An older girl lives just across from us, but we only see her outside once or twice a year.  There are some little boys, but they're too young to come out and play by themselves.  There were some great kids at the far end of the street, but they moved away.  So now Caleb is here, and the girls are ecstatic! 

Last week, we found a tiny clearing by a stream running through the woods at the end of our street.  It's really just about 30 feet away from the concrete, but seems like a different world!  I send the girls out with their walkie-talkie and they play for hours, setting up house down there.  (Ernie read The Boxcar Children one morning last week- I think it influenced her!)  Unfortunately, we found out last night that sometimes homeless men sleep at the park on the other edge of the woods.  It's a ways away, with thick brush and brambles and no path in between, but still...makes me pause about sending them down there alone!  Sad, because it's such an amazing spot.  They have instructions to come home immediately if they ever hear or see another adult out there.

I was on such a roll, getting ready for our recent visitors, that it left me itchy to get all those other projects that have been put off around the house.  We've lived here 5 years, and I've been either pregnant or caring for a baby/toddler for all those years.  Now that the girls can play by themselves, and Cocoa is still taking naps (and can also play for a while if the mood strikes him) I want EVERYTHING done.  NOW.  If you could see my search history, you'd laugh. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon googling how to take apart a sink faucet and replace the cartridge inside- our faucet's been leaking for years so I ordered replacement parts last week.  I was just barely strong enough to take apart what I did, but when I came across a huge metal nut that wouldn't fit in my monkey wrench, and the channel-locks and the needlenose pliers couldn't grip, I had to put it all back together and get the house water turned back on before my parents came to babysit.  NOBODY wants to babysit in a house with no water, haha. 

 Today I started teaching myself to "belt."  It's a kind of singing that's like yelling...but nicely.  I'm not very good at it yet, but I recorded a song for practice this morning that sounded almost decent.  I like the beginning, but around 1:50...see, that's where I started doing new things.  And new things don't don't always sound as comfortable as old things.  I'm going to re-record and see if I can get anything worth keeping around as more than an "oh that was an interesting exercise!" 

The garden is looking decent this year.  Wonder Daddy reminded me that every year it gets a bit better, but it still bugs me that it's not exactly what I want it to be.  I have four garden beds out front- one bed is lush and full and dark green.  The three others (with the same plants, water, light, fertilizer, and timing) are anemic and yellow.  Pity.

We've reached the Perfect Weather season for Seattle- 70's and 80's in the daytime, cooling to the 50's and 60's at night.  Blue skies, lots of green trees and lakes, and a slight breeze.  We're a Mediterranean climate (drought in the summer), so weeds have slowed down.  Evenings last till about 9:30, and sitting on the porch chatting and watching kids play is one of the finest events of the year.  Every summer the kids get so mellow, and the house is so darn peaceful, I always want to grab onto this and make it last as long as we can.  Is there a way to make this keep going until, say, Christmas?  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Losing it?

So guests arrive in about three hours.  I've been doing the obvious things to get ready- making beds and cleaning sheets, buying enough food for 50 people, getting through all the laundry... And pressure washing the patio, painting the trim in the master bedroom, and now I've whipped up a slipcover for the ottoman my kids are pulling apart string by string.

I couldn't think of a better use for this old crib sheet, could you?  I always loved this print!

(Someone come sit on me- I think I'm losing it!  We are so excited to see Daddy's family!!  The kids think they're getting here late tomorrow night :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Ready for Ernie's Baptism

In the LDS church, kids can make the choice to get baptized when they turn 8.  Ernie announced last year, January (she was 6), "I'm getting baptized next year!"  She's INCREDIBLY excited.

Our friend, the Berninger, offered to take some portraits at the Seattle Temple to help celebrate for Ernie!

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Elizabeth Temple

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday, July 6th

The 6th of July...the day our PTSA MUST make a decision about where to host the website next year, and the co-op school's website, and the other parent committee's website...and wondering if the gals who offered to run the committee websites will stick around if we don't choose the host they want....

and the day is done and gone, and we didn't make a decision, which means the decision is DONE!  We stay with BlueHost, where all our e-mail history is, we don't go with GoDaddy (who use proprietary info formats that don't play nice with other folks) and the world keeps turning.

Life's easy, when you just go along with entropy, eh?

Anyway, got to sleep in a bit this morning while the kids watched cartoons, and Daddy got up to make pancakes.  He totally spoiled me, and made the super-fancy recipe on the back of my GF flour bag.  DELICIOUS!  I made a quick fruit salad with canned peaches (only one jar left on the shelf, we'll be canning this year!), raspberries from Mom's garden, and blueberries left over from the grocery store.  Yum!

I needed to run errands, and took Cocoa with me- we dropped off my nephew's curriculum with my sister and picked up Daddy's orbital sander, then swung by the music shop to get the books I ordered a few weeks ago, and finally made it to Costco.  I went in for diapers and peanut butter, and came out with new dishclothes, clothes hampers, yoga pants, and a pizza for dinner.  Sounds about right, eh?  (Oh, and diapers and PB.)

Home for lunch, Daddy made us all grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and then put Cocoa down for his nap.  I made it through about five loads of laundry that needed folding, and then...I think I just kind of ran out of steam and started "researching" things on the internet while the girls cleaned their playroom.  Daddy promised them that if they finished their weeding yesterday, and cleaned their playroom today, they would get to see a movie this afternoon.  Cocoa was still asleep, and he let me go in his place.  We saw Monsters University, it was ADORABLE.  Pixar has such finesse- a more gauche studio could have taken the storyline and made it squirm-worthy, but Pixar has good taste.  We all loved it!

Home for dinner, Daddy cooked the pizza (he made all three meals today, AND cleaned the kitchen while I was gone.  This man is awesome!)  He took Ernie out for a bike ride around the neighborhood, while I played outside with Mimi and Cocoa.  We all ate popsicles, because that's what we DO in the summer, right?  Daddy came back, the two littles had a bath, and we got everyone ready for bed.  I helped the girls clean their room, and found a few bushels of clothes, books, and toys under their bed...sigh.  SIGH.  Mimi just lets it all hang out, she doesn't care.  Clothes drop wherever she is when she gets ready for bed, plastic ponies are all over the dresser.  But Ernie, she stashes it all under the bed and says it's clean.  Something we're working on!  (For both of them.)

I made myself a smoothie for dinner with the leftover fruit salad from breakfast, and now it's time for bed!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday, July 5th

My husband amazes me- even after a late night like the 4th of July, he's setting his alarm clock for 6:20 so he can meet his buddy for a run, on his day off!!  Anyway, he got his run in and then had a doctors appointment with his naturopath.  (It's funny, sometimes I think I'm the crunchy one in this family, but my husband switched to a naturopath at least a year before I did- he met his doctor through work, and liked him so much he switched to his practice.  That man likes to TALK- his appointment was at least two hours today.  The thing about naturopath doctors is that they want to fix what's wrong, not just put a bandage on your symptoms.)

I tried to weed the garden while he was gone, but Cocoa climbed up on the garden wall next to me and did a faceplant into the strawberry patch above the wall and caught his forehead on the cinderblock wall on his way down and I scooped him up and carried him inside and told the girls this is why we don't climb on the wall and I wondered why he ALWAYS hits face first when he falls.

This is why I can't do chores.  My son always lands face first.  I bandaged him up and we cuddled for a while.

When Daddy got back, I made a little bit of lunch and Ernie and my husband got ready for a bike ride he promised her.  Cocoa and Mimi wanted to go too, so he pulled out my bike and the trailer and we all suited up for a family ride.

I have to say, when we got the bike trailer two summers ago, we had rosy plans of wonderful family bike rides.  Ernie was scared of bike riding, and Cocoa was too small to ride in the trailer, and then last summer Cocoa screamed if we put a helmet on his head and Ernie still wasn't riding, and....oh phooey.  But today?  Now that Ernie learned to ride a bike YESTERDAY, and we found a helmet that doesn't come down to Cocoa's shoulders?  OH GUYS, we took a two-mile family bike ride, and everyone LOVED it.  Ernie has plans of biking all over the neighborhood, and I'm over the moon that this is going to be the summer we get to ride together.  HOORAY!!  We went up hills and down hills and around bushes, and she rides like a pro. So happy, so proud!!

After our bike ride, I made a real lunch for everybody, and Cocoa took his nap.  I finished weeding the strawberry patch and the garden beds, and then took over pressure washing the patio from my husband.  Turns out, there are some jobs I'm better at.  That's a nice feeling, knowing that we both have strengths :)  Caulking, painting trim, and now pressure washing: Totally my thing, he's rotten at it ;)  There are some things that strength and height don't help with, hahaha.  Some things, you just have to be SHORT, with tiny hands.  We borrowed my sister's little electric pressure washer (yes, Dad, you were right: it's AWESOME and perfect.)  It's totally woman-sized.  My husband had to hunch over to get it close enough to the patio to clean anything, but I just held it at arms' length.  See?  Short is GOOD!  Plus I loved that there were no gas fumes, and if you stop pulling the handle lever, it shuts off.  Easy peasy, and I pushed a ton of goop off the patio.  I had no idea that it was caked in dirt and moss- it was pretty gross.

I put the girls in charge of pulling weeds along the raspberry/blueberry bed, and that took them a LONG time.  Wonder Daddy measured and cut and installed some bead board and did some general re-arranging and cleaning in the garage.  I love these long weekends!!  We've gotten so much done and we still have Saturday coming.  Hooray!

I made a pot of rice for dinner, with a pan of roasted cauliflower and our favorite honey-lime shrimp.  Everyone was SO HUNGRY, it was a pretty quiet dinner :)  We all finished fast, except for Cocoa- he sat there scooping rice and shrimp and cauliflower off his plate for another half hour.  Silly boy.  The girls finished up their weeding, J helped me put all the patio furniture back, and I cleaned the kitchen.  It was such a gorgeous evening- sunset is when I wish I could throw a party and have everyone there.  It's still light and warm, the chairs are in the shade, and everything looks and feels so wonderful.  Just makes me feel so blessed to be in this gorgeous spot, with this amazing house and yard!

Thursday, July 4th

Great Independence Day over here!

In the morning, I thought maybe we could bike down to town and watch the parade.  The two little kids in fit in the trailer, and I love to bike around town, and Daddy loves to bike just about anywhere, and Ernie...shoot.  Ernie has flat out refused to get on her bike for the past two years.  We found a much smaller bike, one that she could sit on and keep her feet on the ground even with her knees bent, and I showed her how she could walk around the driveway on it, and then take longer and longer steps till she was gliding around the driveway.  MAYBE she'd use her pedals to use the brakes, but mostly she'd drag her feet to stop.

But, we can hardly GLIDE to downtown, can we?  No.  We can't.


I told her my big idea, but then added that she couldn't ride her bike.  She frowned for a minute, and then went outside and learned to ride a bike.  Just like that.  TURKEY.  I'm so proud of that turkey.

Anyway, we all went up to a park to meet my sister's family so Wonder Daddy could play tennis with them, and we let Ernie take her bike to ride the paved park loop for the few hours we were there.

After the park we went to my husband's grandparents' home to mow the lawn and pick raspberries- somehow, even though the plants were loaded and we picked everything that was ripe, we came home with about a cup of berries.  Strange.  (My kids LOVE raspberries!)

Home for Cocoa's nap, and I did some weeding in the yard.  Wonder Daddy mowed the lawn and took care of some weeding in the the back.  When Cocoa woke up I made a quick cole slaw and we made our way up to my sister's home for a BBQ- there were a ton of people there, and HUGE quantities of food!  (Are we surprised that Mimi chose a hotdog bun, tortilla chips, and red Jell-O?  No?  OK.)

The kids were sad that we weren't going to light off any fireworks (they're illegal in our town.)  I talked to my niece separately: "We HAVE sparklers at home, but we didn't bring them.  Look at all these kids running around- would you feel safe if I gave everyone a sparkler right now?" She looked...and looked...and thought...and finally turned back, slowly shaking her head "Nooo...."  "Yeah, neither did we.  So no sparklers, sweety!"

A group of folks down by our lake sponsors a show on a barge every year- one of our friends who sponsors this lives on the lake, and invites everyone to come and watch.  It was too late for most of the kids, but we thought Ernie could stand staying up late this year.  First time!!  She and Daddy walked down around 9:00, and came home around 10:30.  Late night for her, but she LOVED it.  I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, at home while Mimi slept and Cocoa watched Curious George (I turned down the chance to go with E in my husbands' place, so I couldn't feel TOO sorry for myself, but still!) until I realized we could see all the big ones from our front window.  I scooped Cocoa up and quietly carried him to the front room and sat on the couch.  "Fireworks" I whispered.  With huge eyes, he pointed and whispered "Bireworks."  And kept whispering that until he fell asleep in my lap.

What a beautiful day!  Happy Independence Day :)


Thursday, July 4, 2013


The kids and I did chores/dilly dally-ing in the morning.  A little more dilly-dally than chores, or I would have been at Zumba at 9:00.  We made it out the door around 10:15, for swim lessons.  Cocoa had a rough Tuesday, so I planned on keeping him by my side all day Wednesday.  I packed our swimsuits and a swim  diaper for him, and all the girls gear, and we made it to the y.  With no swim diaper.  Oops.  I suited him up anyway, with the regular diaper and hoped no one would notice the watermelon strapped to his bum.

Cocoa wasn't a big fan of the water, but he liked sitting on the edge and kicking his feet.  Eventually, he let me pull him into the water by his hands, swirl him around, and then plop him back on the side.  We had to stop when his diaper exploded, leaving a baseball-sized pile of engorged diaper stuffing on the edge of the pool.  I wrapped him in a towel and we hit the showers while the girls finished up their swim lessons, with their aunt keeping an eye on them.

I dropped the girls off with their cousins for the afternoon, at Ming Wai's request (their cousin) and took Cocoa home for his nap.  He slept about 1:00 to 4:00, and then woke up to EAT.  1 bowl of pesto noodles, 5 spoons of peanut butter, and two glasses of milk later, and he finally said he was done eating.  I packed up Ernie's new white church outfit, and picked up the girls from their cousins' house.  

We all went to the temple, to meet The Berninger.  She offered to take a portrait of Ernie before her upcoming baptism- an hour and a half later, she had a full card in her camera and Ernie was totally happy that she got to spend time with her Berninger, at her favorite place, and with ALL her favorite statues on the temple grounds.  

We drove by McDonalds on the way home for 1 large fry, 1 cheeseburger with extra pickles, and a ten-piece order of chicken mcnuggets.  Happy kids ate their dinner at home, and then insisted they NEEDED brownies   for  dessert.  Turkeys.  After brownies, they all got ready for bed and Daddy got home from work.  By that time, it was about 9:00 PM!  Way late for bed, but it was a good day.  We read scriptures and listened to their prayers, and the girls were asleep before I got down there to tuck them in.

(This picture of my dinner on Tuesday has nothing to do with anything except I ate the leftovers for lunch, and it looks like Cookie Monster.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mt. St. Helens


Wonder Daddy suggested that we all needed an outing this past weekend- Mt. St. Helens is about 3 hours away, and we'd never taken the kids.  The volcano blew up a little more than a year before I was born- I remember driving south through Washington to Oregon as a child, and seeing gray ash heaped along the side of the road like snow.


The mountain used to look like Mt. Fiji, in Japan.  It was perfectly symmetrical, with a beautiful blue lake at the base.  Before it blew, it was bulging as much as 9 feet per day- the entire side of the mountain blew out.  The 600 degree (F) cloud of gas melted the snow cap and the run off triggered a mudslide.  The area directly around the mountain was almost sandblasted- more than 30 years later, it's still not much more than rock, and is a national monument.  The area outside that, all the trees were blown down.  Outside that, the bark and branches were stripped off, but the trees stayed in the ground.  Some timber was salvageable for harvest, but a lot wasn't.



The privately owned lands were re-planted- companies like Weyerhauser use them for tree farming.  Trees are planted, thinned, and harvested over about a 40 year period (and then re-planted.) Douglas fir is mostly what's grown here.  Since no one had ever studied what happened after an event like this, scientists have been amazed at how quickly the land recovered.

Ernie, age 8.  You can't imagine how much she soaked up that day.  My little sponge!

Mimi, age 4.  She is SO.FANCY.


Mimi and Cocoa, age 4 and 2.  She will hold a pose forever, if there's a chance I'll take a photo.  He's kind of hoping there's food involved soon.


Wonder Daddy.  The MasterMind.



It was a nice drive down, and we enjoyed being in an air-conditioned car this hot weekend.  Local temperatures are in the 80's, and most people don't have AC around here.  The kids spent about 2 hours exploring the visitors center, then we drove farther up the road to get a better look at the volcano.  We saw a cyclist walking his bike back down the hill- he had his 2nd flat tire of the day and only brought one spare tube.  BUMMER!  I can't imagine pedaling a few thousand feet up, and not getting the rush of coasting back down.  We drove him a few miles down the road to where he was meeting his buddies, and then hit the road back home.  We stopped for dinner at a burger joint we'd been to before in Castle Rock- I had consigned myself to having a milkshake for dinner (aw SHUCKS, right?  They only had 40 flavors) but they had gluten-free buns.  Happy Mom, right here :)

We got home just in time to let the kids play outside for a while and then tuck everyone into bed.