Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Don't Call Me Dude

After giving birth to my first child, I started referring to myself as "Mama" whenever I cooed at my baby. I don't know where Mama came from, since I'm not Southern, I never called my own mother that, and I'm not married to one of those husbands who's nicknamed me Big Mama, lucky for him. I guess I just liked the sound of it. Mama loves her little girl, I'd whisper as I held her in my arms.

As the years have passed and I've added more chicks to my nest, each has settled on her own favorite name for me. My eldest daughter prefers a simple Mom. My 10-year-old and one of the twins have chosen Mommy. My other 4-year old calls me Mother. Can you believe that? MOTHER! Like she's the little English child I've sent off to Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies.

The nerve! Calling me "Mother"!
I'm nothing of the sort.

Dinner last night: fair food

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Five: Karen

Welcome to Friday's Five, my weekly feature that asks a fabulous follower 5 random questions.

I'm chatting today with Karen, an aspiring novelist who blogs at A Peek at Karen's World. She writes about books, movies, rock concerts, professional baseball games, and all the other fun stuff that Californians get to enjoy! She's a warm, friendly, and generous person who just returned from Paraguay, where she volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

1. Technically this is not a question, but . . . please tell us a little about your recent trip to South America. Oh, wow. Where do I begin? About a year ago, while dealing with a very difficult personal crisis, I decided that the best way to get through it was to find something to get excited about. I'd been getting monthly emails from Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program for years, but never had the money, time, or courage to join one of their building projects. I finally decided to go for it. To make a loooooong story short, I ended up on a team bound for AsunciĆ³n, Paraguay where I spent 9 days working and getting to know the city and some of the people. It was hard work, but so worth it. And I came away with some wonderful new friends in the process. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to finish the house we started building for this amazing mom and her four kids, but we walked away knowing that we'd given everything we had and that we could be proud of the job we'd done.

After our build in Paraguay, a few of us made a side trip to Buenos Aires. Despite the fact that it's winter there and actually COLD, we had a great time, ate way too much, and learned that it really would have been useful to study Spanish in school.

2. When and how did you become interested in blogging? I originally started blogging to keep up with some of my friends back in August of 2007. I moved, they moved, and blogging seemed like an easy way to stay connected. (This was in the days before I was sucked in by facebook.) About a month or so after I started my blog, I realized that I longed for the time I used to set aside to write regularly, because writing has always been a passion of mine. I branched out from my regular "How I Spent My Weekend" posts and started talking about things that were more interesting (to me, anyway), like politics and entertainment and stories of things that happened when I was 12. 

Once I discovered entire networks devoted to bringing bloggers together? It was all over. I was hooked.

3. You're a movie buff, so tell us: what 3 movies should we see before we die? Only 3?? How about 300? Okay, fine. Three it is.
It's a Wonderful Life
When Harry Met Sally
Stand By Me

4. What's the best and the worst thing about living in California? The best thing, hands down, is the weather. I've lived in places that have this crazy thing called "winter" and I have to say I'm not that big a fan. Okay, yes, snow is occasionally pretty, but why do I want to be bundled up and still freezing, when I can drive around town with my sun roof open in the middle of January?

The worst thing? Traffic. It doesn't matter if it's 8am or 11pm, there are some places that will automatically take an extra 30–40 minutes just because the roads are crowded.

5. What did you have for dinner last night? I'd love to say something exotic and yummy like sushi, but I had leftover fried chicken and a bowl of watermelon.

Thanks, Karen! I first saw It's a Wonderful Life when I watched a remake on TV starring Marlo Thomas. I thought it was such a great movie, and then, of course, later discovered the original classic with Jimmy Stewart. And what do you mean, you're not a big fan of the freezing temps of snowy, icy winter? Why, that's just crazy talk.  Speaking of crazy talk, see you all back here next Friday when I interview another fabulous blogger!

More Friday's Five . . .
Friday's Five: Karen (Karen's Journal)
Friday's Five: Quadmama (Buried in Laundry)                          Friday's Five: Stephanie (Steph in the City)                   
Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)                                    Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)                                
Friday's Five: Francesca (Three Bay B Chicks)                           Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Dianna (The Kennedy Adventures!)                    Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: TwinMama (Bringing Up Twins)                           Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)                                         Friday's Five: Lana (The Kids Did What?!)
Friday's Five: Lisa (Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy)                            Friday's Five: Helene (I'm Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cycle

I was just a kid when I first came across a creek where salmon were spawning. I remember the peacefulness of that day—the sun was shining, a soft breeze was blowing, and the air was quiet except for the sound of insects buzzing and the water gurgling. The fish were at the very end of their lives, discolored and barely moving, with many already floating dead. It was sad and beautiful at the same time.

These salmon are a bit livelier, having just arrived to their spawning area. After about 4 years at sea, they've returned to where they were born and are ready to lay their eggs.

The fish basically move in place, with just a little splashing and a few tiny darts as they hover over the bottom of the shallow river where their eggs will be buried.

If you look closely, you can see lots of battle scars from close calls with predators, rocks, and fishing nets. They've escaped death, only to die here.

Dinner last night: barbecue chicken, green salad

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, August 23, 2010


If you ever want to get back at me for any reason, just point nonchalantly toward my head and casually mention, "Hey, Kim, there's a daddy long-legs in your hair." Then sit back and laugh heartily as I FREAK OUT.

I try very hard to hide my fear of arachnids whenever my children are around. I certainly do not want to teach my daughters to shriek and cry at the mere sight of an insect. Or a mouse. Or my pasty white legs in shorts.

If one of my girls happens to show me an 8-legged monster scuttling across a wall, I'll very calmly call to my husband, "Hey, honey, I've got work to do in the kitchen. Would you mind taking care of this spider for me?" which he knows is code for GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW BEFORE I LOSE CONTROL IN FRONT OF THE KIDS.

Yes, I see, sweetheart. Just a little ol' spider spinning his web.
No big deal at all. Let's go now. Quickly, please.
Mommy needs to go to the bathroom and scream into a towel.

Dinner last night: ravioli

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Five: Karen

Welcome to Friday's Five, my weekly feature that asks a fabulous follower 5 random questions.

Every so often, I come across a blogger with whom I just know I could become fast friends in real life. Karen from Karen's Journal is one of those bloggers. She's an elementary teacher who writes from the heart, and her honest posts about various past experiences, her disabled son, and her faith have touched me. She's not just Miss Serious, though—she vlogs, hosts give-aways, and participates in fun memes and link-ups. She's a faithful commenter on other blogs, which has paid off in a quickly growing readership at her own site.

1. How old is your son and can you inform my gentle readers a little about Fragile X Syndrome? My son is 21 years old. He will be 22 in February. If you were to look up the definition of Fragile X it would say that it is the most common form of inherited mental retardation. This syndrome is carried on the X chromosome, and there are two parts. The gene on the long arm (I think) is pulled; it looks like it is going to break, hence the name.

2. What's your favorite room in your house? I like my son's room the most. There is just a sweet spirit in there and it is about the only room in the house that I had something to do with decorating.

3. This may be a silly question, because we all know blogging has a way of taking over our lives, but—besides blogging—what keeps you busy? Housework keeps me busy, and when I am working (teaching 2nd grade), correcting papers and planning lessons takes all of my time.

4. What's the name of a really good book that you've read? I will have to say the Scriptures because that is really all I have been reading.

5. You knew this was coming . . . what did you have for dinner last night?! My mom and my niece were here, so Tom [my husband] cooked. We had chicken, rice, salad, and cantaloupe.

Thanks so much, Karen! Much of my free time is also spent on housework. Not so much on the actual work as thinking about how I should be cleaning the house. I spend a lot of time planning to sanitize the toilets and organize the closets, but I never seem to get around to following through on those plans. I also spend a lot of time prying into other bloggers' lives, so come back next Friday when I interrogate my next victim!

Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)
Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)
Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Slow Down, World. You're Spinning Too Fast

You'd think that after an entire summer of chasing my four little savages about the Alaskan countryside, I'd be relieved to send the older girls off to school . . . but I am already missing my loud, messy, crazy daughters.

10 years old and headed for 5th grade; 12 years old and ready for junior high
Guess which one used her own money to buy non-prescription fashion glasses
so that she could look like her big sister?

Dinner last night: honey chicken, rice, corn on the cob

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Walk in the Rain

It's been unusually wet and chilly this summer. IN ALASKA, that is. I hear that temperatures are hellish in the rest of the country. Come take a stroll with me in the woods around my house and you'll cool off real fast.

 The elderberries are still bright red, but starting to shrivel.

The forest floor is covered in soggy moss, ferns, and . . .

 . . . mushrooms. HUGE mushrooms.
Mushrooms that are bigger than my dainty clown foot.

Dinner last night: spaghetti and meatballs, green salad

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Princess and the Pauper

There's nothing like a crown to boost a girl's confidence
or a thumb to soothe her soul.

Dinner last night: big green salad, garlic toast

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday's Five: Quadmama

Welcome to Friday's Five, my weekly feature that asks a fabulous follower 5 random questions.

Today I'm talking with Quadmama from Buried in Laundry. She is a former TV news anchor and current full-time mom of 4 little girls. Quadruplets! Her posts include anecdotes involving her children, as well as her outlook on parenting as she learns from trial-and-error what works for her and her husband in raising their daughters.

1. How old are your children and what styles of shoes do they like to wear? My girls are four-and-a-half. They love shoes. They get excited about new shoes, regardless of the type. However, their favorite style is dress shoes.

2. If you heard from a friend that she was expecting multiples, what must-have baby item would your recommend? Just one must-have?! A wagon. It won't get much use before about age one, but my Radio Flyer All Terrain wagon was such a wonderful thing to have. I could easily take my daughters to a store by myself by just plopping them in the wagon. Plus, it came in handy for trips to the zoo and other outings. We had a quad stroller, but it was so heavy and not very easy to push. I ditched it as soon as I got my wagon.

3. You write great stories about your daughters. Can you talk a little about your decision to not post pictures of them? I've heard stories of other moms of multiples who have had pictures of their children used by "fakers." I've become very aware of what information I put out there about myself and my family. I just don't want their pictures to fall into the wrong hands. Every now and then I'll post a group picture taken from an angle where you can't see their faces. I enjoy reading other blogs with pictures . . . it certainly makes the blog more personal . . . but it's not something I feel comfortable doing.

4. I only have two 4-year-olds, and our house feels noisy and chaotic a lot of the time. I can't imagine how you're able to take quiet moments for yourself with four! How do you cope when you start to feel "buried in laundry"? I have a great husband. He knows that when he leaves for work I'm on my own, so he's pretty receptive to me squeezing in a work out or taking a walk when he's home. I'll also turn on my MP3 player when I'm making dinner or cleaning up just to have a little distraction.

5. What did you have for dinner last night? Tacos made with Hubby's "secret" ingredient (barbeque sauce to season the ground turkey).

Thanks, Quadmama! My husband would love it if I'd squeeze in a work out or two. Like that's ever going to happen. But I do plan on squeezing in another interrogation of an unsuspecting blogger, so see y'all back here next week for another round of Friday's Five!

Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)
Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)
Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

She's Big-Boned Is All

A recent visitor to our home took one look at our sweet Daisy Doodle and proclaimed, "That dog is getting fat." We are now taking her for long evening walks.

Dogs have feelings, too, you know.

Dinner last night: southwestern eggrolls

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Contrary to All Appearances, My Kids are Not Cocker Spaniels

When my first child was a little over a year old, my husband and I planned a trip that included a 2-day ferry ride. Although I knew that I would be with her at all times and that the ferry’s railings were virtually impossible to slip through, I was overcome with a feeling of dread when I thought about my little girl toddling about the ship. I could not stop visualizing my child somehow falling over the side of the boat into icy waters below. So I bought a safety strap and attached it to her whenever we stepped out on deck. She never ran away from us, and I didn’t really even need the strap, but I felt better knowing I had a good hold on my daughter. I don’t recall any sideways glances or snide remarks from fellow passengers; I suspect seeing a little girl on a boat harnessed to her mother provided them a sense of safety as well.

safety strap disguised as puppy tail
Years later, when I walked with my little twins through a mall, people weren’t as understanding. One guy attempted humor, joking about my children being dogs. Hilarious. A woman muttered “leash,” perhaps hoping to shame me. Sorry, but ever since the incident when my daughter disappeared at Sea World and I started running around like Shirley Maclaine in Terms of Endearment screaming at the top of my lungs for someone to help me find my baby, I have no shame left.

Evidently some people believe it's inhumane for a mom to place a safety strap on her toddler. I suspect that these people are not parents, or maybe they are the proud owners of a single well-behaved child whom they can control by verbal command. I, however, am the frazzled mother of two disobedient preschoolers, and if you want to talk inhumane, just drop me in the middle of a crowded public place without my safety straps.

I'll be the sweaty, stressed-out woman chasing after two mischievous ragamuffins.

Dinner last night: kalbi ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Three Rs

I enjoy sauteed mushrooms on a steak or burger. I love a tasty pizza with mushrooms nestled in warm, bubbly cheese. I prefer my salads sprinkled with slices of fresh, raw mushroom. But even I, a confirmed mushroom lover, have my limits. And this unusually cool and rainy summer is pushing them.

Mushrooms of every size, color, and texture are sprouting up in the soggy ground. And they are not pretty.

This tiny thing hiding in the grass isn't too bad.
It almost looks like a little button mushroom.

These toadstools are a bit scary with their poisonous red color.

This flat fungus is downright disgusting . . .

. . . and this slimy cluster is positively revolting.
Make that repulsive.
Also, repugnant.

Dinner last night: chicken pot pie, without mushrooms

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Five: Stephanie

Welcome to the return of Friday's Five, my weekly feature in which I ask a fabulous blogger 5 random questions.

Today, I'm visiting with Stephanie from Steph in the City. Steph is a middle grade/tween novelist and longtime blogger. She started blogging on MySpace, where she was one of the top 10 most popular bloggers, and eventually moved her site over to Blogger, where she regularly publishes thought-provoking posts. Stephanie's house was one of the many Nashville homes flooded in May, and she and her husband are still in the process of restoring their residence.

1. Congratulations on your recent wedding! You know that we old married farts want to hear that married life is sooo much better than single life. So, tell us, how has this first year of marriage been treating you? Married life is better than single life . . . for me, anyway! I think all of us function differently, but I personally am better in a stable, loving relationship. I wasn't very good at being single and I DEFINITELY wasn't good at dating!

2. I was very sorry to hear that your home was damaged in the Nashville flood, and from what I understand, the destruction throughout the city was quite massive. To tell you the truth, I only knew about the devastation from your blog and one other Tennessee blogger that I read. Any thoughts on why the flooding was mostly ignored by the media? Or was it just me not watching enough TV news? The day after Nashville flooded, two major news events happened that took attention off of us. One was the big oil leak in the Gulf. The other was a Times Square bombing scare. Plus, there was no looting, no whining about not getting help. We just brushed ourselves off, picked up a bottle of bleach and and a pail, and got to work. Plus, floods make for boring news. It wasn't like Katrina, where they could show exciting hurricane shots. The dam broke, the water came in, the water went back out. If you lived in Nashville, you couldn't get away from flood coverage. It was 24/7 for those first few days. But the rest of the world was watching the Gulf.

3. You are a novelist, so I'm presuming you spend a lot of time offline working on your books. I'm really glad that you still take time to write your blog, and I'm curious about what you receive from the process of blogging that keeps you posting? I love to write. When you really get down to it, that's what writing is all about. Blogging allows me to post something that hundreds of people read every day. I get instant feedback from a percentage of those people. The only difference between blogging and being a published author is money, when you get down to it. You're still sharing your words with others.

4.  At the risk of sounding like a doofus, I'm going to admit that the only place I've visited in Tennessee was Graceland. I literally drove straight to Memphis, toured Elvis' former home, and then left the state. I would love to go back some day and explore Tennessee. Any recommendations on must-sees? Normally I'd suggest Opryland Hotel in Nashville, but it was flooded! You have to get to the Smokies, if you get a chance. It's beautiful there! Memphis is my least favorite part of Tennessee (and many others agree with me). Graceland is fun and so is Beale Street, but the city in itself just doesn't have the beauty that East and Middle Tennessee have.

5. What did you have for dinner last night? We have been working on our house so right now we still don't have a stove or kitchen sink. I've been washing dishes in the bathtub, no lie! Last night we grilled out hamburger steaks (the flood didn't get our grill!) and I microwaved some packaged Bob Evans macaroni and cheese. It works out pretty well. Tonight, I'll go home to a construction zone as the guy is going to be there the rest of the week finishing our cabinets . . . that's my life! But I'm just glad to not be hanging drywall at this point.

Thanks, Stephanie, for taking the time to chat . . . now get back to work. You've got a book to write, a blog to update, and a house to renovate. As for me, I'm going to take a nap and rest up for next Friday's Q and A!

Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)
Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)
Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

A sad thought popped into my mind the other day. I will never again be able to make an anonymous prank phone call. Technological advances like caller ID and *69 make it too risky. I would be mortified if someone called me back to ask if a middle-aged mother of four had just demanded the release of Prince Albert from his can.

When my sister and I were teenagers, we were Queens of the Prank Call. We were not mean or crude. Oh, no. We prided ourselves on our cleverness and professionalism. Our goal was not to humiliate or scare, but to elicit good-natured laughs from the other end. Once, a victim actually chuckled, "Good one!" We floated on Cloud 9 for a week after that high praise.

Our creative process was simple. We'd flip through names in the phonebook until we came across something unusual, then plan our spiel. For example, we found the name Sixberry. We called the residence, I asked for Mr. Sixberry, and then kindly introduced myself as Mary, a consultant for the Sesame Street Children's Television Workshop. I continued, In an effort to improve our broadcast segments involving mathematics, I am calling this evening to inquire whether adding one berry . . . to five berry . . . would indeed result in . . . SIXBERRY. Click.

Those were the days. Candy tasted sweeter and prank phone calls seemed funnier.

Dinner last night: husband cooked! tater tot casserole

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

We have a love–hate relationship with soccer in our household. My 12-year-old loves it, and the rest of us hate it. Maybe hate is too strong a word, but come on! Soccer games are 1-1/2 hours long. With crazy rules like you can't touch the ball with your hands. I may have mentioned it once or 12 times, but I played basketball in high school and college. So did my husband. You might say that we think highly of the game of basketball, especially since it is the greatest sport ever played by humankind. We naturally assumed that our eldest daughter would become a star basketball player. Instead she decided to become a star soccer player. The nerve of that kid.

Now that she's about to enter 7th grade, my daughter is looking forward to participating in school sports. Unfortunately for her, but quite happily for us, Alaska junior high does not offer soccer. They compete in cross-country running and skiing, volleyball, track and field, and BASKETBALL. That's right. We'll win her over yet.

Dinner last night: Kalbi chicken and veggie kabobs, rice

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just Beachy

The weekend's weather was grey and drizzly, with temps in the low 60s. Perfect for going to the beach. Quit laughing.

The sky was overcast, but the fireweed was blazing.

Wet, cold sand is still sand. And sand is fun!

Speaking of fun, let's throw rocks into the ocean.
Okay, now it's time to go home and drink a warm beverage.

Dinner last night: leftovers