Friday, January 29, 2010

All My Love, Aunt Afton

This is my niece, Ella Pearl. She was born on September 30th, 2009 and died two days ago, on January 27, 2010. She was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder.

At her birth, she'd already beat the odds. Only about 5% babies with Trisomy 18 even make it to a live birth. About 50% of those babies don't make it past their first week. Ella lived 119 days, amazing and blessing her family and friends daily.

I was able to meet Ella in October and wish I was able to travel for her funeral tomorrow.

To paraphrase Eliot's dad in the video 99 Balloons, a defective heart, respiratory problems and DNA that placed faulty information into every single cell could not stop God from revealing Himself through a child who never uttered a word.

And now, because I had to watch 99 Balloons to get that wording, I can not see through my tears to continue writing and am in desperate need of a tissue. But I need to point out that Ella was blessed with a living angel of a mother and her dad is pretty awesome too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And That's How Trifle Was Invented

Other than one big, sad thing, I had a lovely birthday yesterday. I made my cake and thought that a raspberry filling would be delish. Unfortunately, I added too much and when I frosted the rest of the cake it oozed out the middle and the top of the cake started sliding off. It was a mess, but a delicious mess.

Looking at this cake last night, and again this morning (now that it's completely fallen apart), I totally get the inspiration behind trifle. Another flash of insight: my cake plate, turned upside down, becomes a trifle dish. Hmm.

A friend dropped off a fun gift bag filled with all kinds of goodies including this bacon dark chocolate bar. Bacon! (it's yummy!)

Later, Robert and the boys surprised me with some gifts they'd bought for me. Normally, I would have not expected the boys to buy me anything, but after an educational Christmas, I decided the kids needed to learn the joy of giving. So I asked Robert to take them all to Fred Meyer, give them a few bucks with the stipulation that it had to be spent on me.

The boys were super eager to give me their gifts and I provided a 100% genuine response of glee and giddiness upon opening them. It was so sweet to see the little things they picked out for me.

Robert got me an iPod dock a few weeks back, so I didn't expect throw pillows for our bed with our initials on them!! I hesitate to tell you how awesome I think these pillows are for fear of sounding sarcastic. But I'm completely sincere when I tell you these pillows bring me so much joy. Just the thought of Robert choosing throw pillows...and they've got our initials! Oh, this will keep me happy for years!

Isaac, I was told, spent the most time choosing the giant Hershey Kiss and spa bath packets. I soon realized Isaac's motivation behind the giant Hershey Kiss when this morning he told me that it was so big, I'd probably need to share it with him. He's probably right.

Jonah got me the Jelly Bellies, right away asking if there were any in the bag that I didn't like and that he would happily take the undesirables off my hands. He also chose this nifty little back massage doohicky. Fun! I asked him if he would use it on my back every day this week. He said, "No, I have homework."

Ethan got me the iTunes gift card and said, "See? Money."

Oh, so that's how it's done. Well, I will have to remember this for next December.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wimpy Movie Trailer

I was wondering how they'd pull this movie adaptation off. Looks
pretty good, doncha think?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Time to pull out my own horn and make a little noise.

I got an honorable mention in a "first 200 words" contest. Per the title, I submitted the first 200 words of the novel I started during Nanowrimo 2009. The venue was not, I will admit, highly competitive, but still...honorable mention. And I was the first honorable mention too! (Not that the honorable mentions were ranked, necessarily.)

Here are the comments I got on my submission:

Great example of revealing a ton about the story and character in 199 words. Surprising twist at the end. Will an agent turn the page? You bet! Unanswered questions include: how did she die and why is she hanging with a grungy character? Even though the challenge of the protagonist is uncertain, it doesn’t matter in this case because the voice is so clear and edgy. "Stream of consciousness” writing works in this case.

And here is the submission:

It was as good a day as any to try and outrun the police, January decided. She’d been pulled over 6 times in 18 months (once on her birthday) and been issued 2 warnings and 4 tickets: speeding; talking on her cell phone while driving; speeding and talking on her cell phone (that one was expensive); and speeding and driving with a suspended license. It was as if the cops had nothing better to do than to pester normally safe drivers who happened to be in a rush, or who had to coordinate last minute dress details for the Spring Formal on the run.

January had always wondered what it would be like to hit the gas and lose the cops before she could get another ticket, or have to sit through another Saturday of all-day driving school. Well, this was it! The flashing lights were in the rear view mirror and the driver was accelerating. She only wished she were the one behind the wheel and not this shaggy low life with a loaded gun on the front seat and a bag of pot in the glove box.

Just another one of the downsides of being dead, January thought.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Baseball Already?

I signed both Isaac and Jonah up for Little League today. I've requested they be put on the same team, which will make this whole baseball thing possibly bearable.

After the sign-up, we went over to Sports Authority to get a left handed mitt for Jonah (which is actually a right-handed mitt) and some balls. We'd bought a couple used bats at the "shed sale" during sign-up, so the boys are all geared up.

And then the sun came out.

My neighbor commented that the boys were so cute playing ball together in the open space behind our homes. I said I'd give them 5 minutes before someone came in the house crying. (Isaac was crying after 5 minutes, but he didn't come in the house.)

Ethan is not playing baseball this year, but was a champ helping Jonah to get used to his new mitt. At first Jonah was afraid of the ball (can't blame him) but after taking a couple hits to the arm said the ball was nothing to be afraid of and he was quite used to being hit.

Isaac's got a way to come, but I have no doubt his skills will catch up with his brother's. Eventually.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Who is Martin Luther King?

"Why do we have Monday off? Is it Valentine's day?" Isaac asked.

I explained that it was Martin Luther King day. "Do you know who Martin Luther King was?" I asked him.

His answer inspired me to ask all my boys what they knew about Martin Luther King. Here are there responses:

Isaac, 5 years old
Martin Luther King is a guy who is dead. He wanted to change the rules. He changed the rules so that brown people and white people didn't have to go to different schools. He changed the rule that said brown people and white people couldn't ride on the same bus. I know a song about Martin Luther King with sign language. (He proceeds to sing, "Freedom, freedom, let it ring. Let us live in harmony. Peace and love for you and me...)

Jonah, 7 years old
Martin Luther King wanted everyone to have freedom and justice.
He had a friend who was white. And one day his mom said he couldn't play with him anymore. And it wasn't fair that he had to go to a brown school and go sit in the back of the bus. And if there were no brown water fountains, he would have to be thirsty.

Ethan, 12 years old
He's the guy who made it so black people wouldn't have to be treated poorly. He had a lot of different people helping him.

I tried to get Ethan to say more, but he got distracted and walked off. At any rate, I think it's interesting to see what information kids pick up.

I also noticed that evidently, "brown" is the new "black."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Be a Boy: Finding Your Favorite Shirt

(Dedicated to Andrea, for her patience and mad canning skills.)

It's your favorite camouflage-dinosaur shirt that is two sizes too small and has ripped off cuffs, and you can't find it anywhere. You've worn it twice this week and need to wear it again tomorrow. It's not on the floor where you left it last night. What do you do?

1. Check your dresser drawer. Pull out every clean, folded shirt that is NOT your camouflage-dinosaur shirt and throw it on the floor.

2. Next, check your laundry basket--it's that thing in the closet your mom always seems to be blabbing about. Go ahead and dump it out into a neat pile on the floor. Dig through the pile of dirty clothes doggy-style, quickly scattering everything all over the room and mixing it with the clean stuff.

3. Yell for Mom. Do not try and find her; just keep yelling until she answers that she's washed your favorite camouflage-dinosaur shirt and that it's in the dryer.

4. Go to the dryer. Open it. Pull all the clothes out of the dryer and onto the floor until you see your camouflage-dinosaur shirt that is two sizes too small with the ripped off cuffs.

5. Put the shirt on, grab your backpack and make run for the bus stop before your mom sees your bedroom and/or the laundry room.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New for the New Year

This year I didn't make any goals or resolutions. I know what I need to do, so I'm just going to do it. I did, however, partake in some mild home decorating.

New Mantel Decor
I needed a little something for my bare mantle and found these ceramic bowls at Goodwill and thought they'd look nice in a grouping. My interior design motto is "I don't know what I'm doing and hopefully something looks better than nothing." The blue bowl is hand thrown and has the initials JSP scratched in the bottom and because of this I will assume the bowl was made by Johnny Cash actor, Joaquin Sequoia Phoenix. The orange dish just says "Italy" on the bottom and has a firing number in pencil written under the glaze. The green vessel says nothing on the bottom, which to me says: Made in China for a florist to purchase at a dime a dozen. But I still like it.

Table Runner
Also new this January is a table runner I purchased from Fred Meyer. The folds have not flattened out yet. I don't care. I moved this lovely stick-filled vase onto the table from it's previous spot on the mantel. I think table runners are supposed to be longer than the table, but this one said 72 inches which seemed like a tremendously long length that would surely hang generously over the edge of my table, but it did not. I'm not super good with numbers.

And in the Bedroom...
Finally, the piece de la resistance: New bedding! The old stuff was 10 years old which for some might be nothing. But it was cheap to begin with and I was getting tired of it. Here's a picture of what it looks like in good light with all the extras. The funny thing about this bedspread is Robert does not like it. He asked if it was reversible. It isn't. He wanted to turn it over anyway. It's staying the way it is. I love it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Be a Boy: Shopping for Clothes with Your Mom

When your mom says she needs to buy you new clothes and asks you to go with her, your first response will naturally be a primal one: fight or flight. In an effort to save yourself, you might feel a rise in adrenaline. Maybe a sweat will start to break out as you look for the nearest exits. You might consider playing dead.

The bad news is you can't get out of clothes shopping with your mom. The good news is there are a few strategies that when used correctly, just might make this clothes shopping trip the last one you ever have to go on.

Don't Wear Socks
To avoid having to spend minutes trying on shoes you don't really want anyway, simply don't wear socks. Make sure you have long pants on so your mom can't see you're bare ankles. When your mom asks you to sit down and try on a pair of pinchy, fussy dress shoes, just kick off one of your sneakers and wait for her reaction. Trust me; it will almost make all this shopping torture worth it.

Insist on a Mom-free Dressing Room
Under no circumstances should you allow your mother in the dressing room with you. She will plead and beg and tell you she's your mother for crying out loud, but do not give in. Even if she loudly proclaims that she used to wipe poop off your bare bottom and should be able to watch you try on a shirt and pants, hold firm. This little tactic will set you up perfectly for the next weapon in your arsenal.

Do Not Undress
Taking off your clothes is such a pain. Don't do it. You should be able to get every article of clothing your mom wants you to try on over the stuff you are already wearing. Plus, when you open the dressing room door to show your mom how well the new button down dress shirt fits over the top of your Old Navy skull and crossbones t-shirt, the look on your mom's face will almost make up for the poop-on-the-bare-bottom comment she made earlier.

Self-induced Nausea
If clothes shopping with your mom does not bring on the heaves, then having your nose in your iPod Touch/Nintendo DS/et al during the car ride to the store should do the trick. Don't look up, whatever you do, and no cracking the window for fresh air. If you still don't feel sick when you get to the store, bring your device with you into the store and keep your head down in concentration as you walk from department to department. As soon as you feel the least bit queasy, complain loudly and often that you feel like you're going to throw up.

The trick is to make your mother as miserable about shopping with you as you are about shopping with her. If these tips don't get you out of all future clothes shopping trips, it should be a long, long time before you are subjected to another.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Timing Is Everything

This week we went up to Mt. Hood to do some sledding. The drive is 90 minutes if you go the right way, about 2 hours if you don't. Do not ask me how I know this.

The boys all had a spetacularly good time and could have stayed much longer than 2 hours. But if you don't get off the mountain early enough, you could get stuck in traffic and it might take you one hour to go six miles. Do not ask me how I know this.

This winter has so far not produced the snow of last winter, where we had 3 solid weeks of snow on the ground and one solid week of missed school. On the one hand, I was thankful we hadn't had the inconvenience of snow, but on the other, I really missed the super convenience of having the boys simply go out the back gate to satisfy their need for sledding.

(According to Robert's doctor, the landing that followed this shot resulted in a cracked rib.)

I'm glad that we have this beautiful winter wonderland so close to our home. The drive up to Mt. Hood was lovely, especially as we passed through Sandy. Pictures would not have done the scene justice. Mostly because they would have been taken through a dirt splattered windshield.

The result of our trip to the snow: Success. We got up the mountain, we played, we got down the mountain and didn't get stuck in traffic or held back for hours by police looking for a gunman on the loose (the scenario we would have encountered if we'd gone 3 days earlier). We had a great time.

Of course the next day it snowed at our house. Timing is everything.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Food We Ate

Last night marked the first annual New Year's Eve Appetizer Dinner. It may be that in years to come I will add more sophisticated fare, but for now, I tried to stick with things the kids would actually eat. Bonus: some of the appetizers were even prepared by the kids. Ethan helped with the crescent roll-wrapped Little Smokies pictured above.

This is some spanakopita from the freezer section at Fred Meyer and devil's tongue with the wrong wax peppers, but still delicious (recipe from Angela).

A little cream cheese and home made tomato jam with an assortment of Costco crackers.

My famous artichoke dip, tortilla chips and ants on a log (Jonah and Isaac helped with those.)

Fruit dip with apples and green grapes.

Pinwheel sandwiches with turkey, Monterey Jack, cream cheese and a few green onions. Can I get away with calling carrot sticks and celery crudités?

The dinner was a smashing success. The kids had a great time picking from all the finger foods and we hardly used any silverware, although the dishwasher was full of plates. Nevertheless, I believe a tradition has begun.