Some Of My Favorites of 2010
January--analyzing my children
February--funny things my kids say
April--my love for Zinabu
May--family time
June--remember this?
July--remember this???
August--starting school
September--and who could forget this?
November--this will forever make me laugh


Girls Gone Wild (Well, the married-with-children-and-just-grateful to-be-out-of-the-house-version)

Topics Covered:
Husbands and sports
Paint mistakes on the wall
Home buying horror stories
Home buying remorse
Childrens' eating habits
Eyebrow tattoos (I learn something new every day)
More kids
Funny neighborhood kids
Being highly emotional
Hiring a lawyer
Weird people and evil people
Having a dog
Nebraska, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, and everything in between
Being a mom
How good we all are at losing things
Getting together again soon

I am the luckiest!!!


We Had Ourselves A Merry Little Christmas
Just try to resist the cuteness!

Carver with his new bass guitar. A huge score off of Craigslist. Seriously.
If you ever need a musical instrument, start there.

Lily grinning about her new horse book. Carver is polishing off
homemade cinnamon rolls.

OK. Admittedly, this picture needs a lot of explanation, but I won't
go into all of it. It's David's "flaming" dessert. Aren't you jealous
you don't live in a house where your husband serves sugar on fire
to your children?

We had a very full day and a lot of joy. The only thing missing was snow, which the rest of the country seems to have in abundance. Today we are cutting back on treats and pajamas (which we've had in abundance) and we'll go play and run and say good-bye to 2010 with joy. Tomorrow night I get to meet Deirdre and Bridget for dinner in Denver, which is so exciting I can hardly describe it. I'll be sure to post photos. I hope you are full of joy, too, and that you look forward o 2011 as much as yours truly.


I would write to tell you about our glorious Christmas day, but I am busy with a) listening to Carver play his bass guitar, b) I am sprawled on the ground with a stomach full of almond toffee and I STILL can't stop eating it, and c) yesterday was a bit of a blur and I'm not entirely sure I wasn't abducted by aliens at some point. But I think you get the general idea.


Merry Christmas to all... and to all a good night.


My friend Pam is a portrait artist. She was working on this sketch (which was due today) and, as she put it, stupidly left it sitting out on her desk. Her daughter Penelope decided to "help." And this was the result. Aren't kids the best?



He loves games.
I love games.
It's a match made in heaven.
He is also very smart. Very. He can beat me at chess. (Embarrassing.)
His favorite game is Sorry. He cackles with joy when he sends me back home. And wins.
David just taught him Yahtzee. It's going to ruin him. Turn him into a gambler.
But we'll have fun on the way.


Bring It
Christmas vacation has officially begun. The kids are flying high from too much frosting at their various school parties, it's snowing outside, David is home, there is pizza strewn all over the counter, Adam Sandler's Happy Chanukah is being played, the dog is spinning in circles, and we have two whole weeks stretching before us with nothing on our calendars except a national holiday.

Thankfully I have almost all of my shopping done. However, I feel Lily will be sorely disappointed on Christmas morning. Take a look at her list that she has written out on the white board in her room:

The column on the right says:
Pets I want
pet store bird
small dog

The column on the left says:

I admit I scratched my head over "rodent" and practically fainted at "duck" and "pig." She is quite the dreamer, wouldn't you say?


Just So You Know...
we are on the brink of insanity here. If we can make it to Saturday, we will survive.



I may have alluded to the fact that cooking is not my forte. Parallel parking, yes. Cooking, no. I can do it but I don't love it. It doesn't help that my kitchen looks like this at 5pm. I was discussing this with my mother and she said, "Cathy, there is nothing you've ever made that hasn't been delicious." And I had to look deeply into her eyes to make sure there was no early-onset dementia going on.


Our Weekend...
...was perfect. It will go down in history as one of my all-time favorites. We drove 40 minutes to a little mountain town where we stopped for our annual plate-sized donuts, then bought the permit to chop down a Christmas tree in the Pike National Forest. We tried a different spot this year, with great success. It took us a while to settle on the right tree because we had a few good ones to choose from. Carver chopped it down, and David and I (well, mostly David) hauled it to the roof of our car and drove it home. This year the kids decorated the tree entirely by themselves. Carver stood on the ladder for the highest branches, and Lily and Zinabu took care of the bottom. David and I sat and watched them, just delighting in their joy. Our tree is very kid-friendly. It's not color-coordinated or fancy or something that would win an award. But to us it's perfect. Every ornament the kids have ever made is on our tree--in fact, the kid-made ornaments take up most of the room. After decorating, we went out to dinner but gave ourselves plenty of time to come back home and watch It's A Wonderful Life together. It's David's all-time favorite movie, and he watches it every Christmas season. If you want to see David cry, feel free to join us next year during the viewing. We wanted to start the tradition of including the kids, so this was our first year. Other than having to pause the movie every 10 minutes to explain to Z what was going on, it was a huge hit. It was one of those days that you look around at your family and feel so thankful you belong to one another.
In the car, headed up the mountain pass.

Finding our spot in the woods.

On the hunt. The Santa hats are vital.

In front of the tree we chose right before cutting it down.
I think David was trying to tell me something important.
Bless his heart.

Not helping at all. Being a boy in the woods.

Next year, I think Carver might be tall enough to help put the
tree on top of the car.

Mama and Lily. Mama looks tired. Lily looks like she could
climb 50 trees and run 20 miles.

Getting ready to bring the tree home.

David takes a well-earned break with hot chocolate
and the rabbits.

Lily decorates.

The finished product. All 12 feet of it. You can't
even see the bottom third because it's so tall. Love it!


Tonight, at my 59th orchestra concert of the season, I couldn't figure out why the guy next to us was giving me weird looks. Carver was onstage, my mom and Lily and David were listening to the music, and Zinabu was next to me, quietly looking at his book.

Then I glanced at the book. Oh yeah. Zinabu brought his snake book. The book with every snake in the world, facts about the snakes, and illustrations of their deadly attacks. The illustration was currently showing a viper attacking a farmer. Biting his neck. The farmer in agony. Deadly venom being pumped into his bloodstream. Awesome.

So take that, everybody. We like to go to music concerts and look at crazy venomous snakes and how they kill people. I dare you to sit next to us.


Wordless Wednesday


There are some people I know who are choosing to avoid the stores this holiday season and, instead, have a "homemade" holiday. As in, they're making all their gifts. I had actually considered this idea a few weeks ago. Then I remembered 2 very important things. Number 1: I hate to knit. I HATE it! I taught myself a few years ago and I discovered it was an activity that I could actually fall asleep while sitting up. It just plain bores me to tears. I wish it didn't, but I'm being honest. Number 2: I can't sew. I've tried. I've practiced. I've persevered. And I broke my sewing machine. Sewing and Cathy do not mix. At all. So if you hate knitting and you can't sew, what does that leave you with? A hot glue gun and ..... ? You see my dilemma. If we were living on the prairie 150 years ago, my family would all be dead.

However, it is incredibly delightful to witness the creativity and passion of those women more able than myself. Deirdre and Carrie, to name a few. Feel free to follow along as they count the days until Christmas and see what they come up with.

As for myself, we will be buying items for our kids and each other. But that's not to say we all need to go overboard in the consumerism department. Everything in moderation, correct? First and foremost, how do you plan to give to those less fortunate this holiday season? Do you have a favorite charity? A family you know that's suffered a job loss and is not expecting to have a Christmas this year? Do you give to the same place or try to find a new organization to support each year?

If you're still looking for that one place to donate to, may I make a few suggestions?

Water For Christmas. Your money goes to help give clean water to people who are without. $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. When was the last time you blew $20 on something? How insanely blessed we are in this country to have so much and take something like water for granted. Go to Tesi's blog to read how her son shared with her that fetching clean water was part of his job--at age 3.

Ethiopia Reads. Pretty basic stuff here. Donate books to Ethiopian children. Get them reading. Give them a chance. Had Zinabu not been adopted by anyone (that just gives me chills and I need to excuse myself for a moment to get some Kleenex) I would want him to have books. Books and books and books.

Pamba Toto Jewelry. My friend Colleen is in charge of this organization, and it is amazing. If you have a problem with faith-based charities, I implore you to give this one a chance. Rescuing orphaned children from the slums of Kenya's Mathare Valley, she and her team arranged 2 group homes for the kids to live in and receive an education, health care, food, and a family structure. The beads they buy for their jewelry is 100% fair trade, and they make sure they support local craftsmen/women. It's beautiful jewelry going to a wonderful cause.

Mosquito Nets. Something else we take for granted. Screens on our windows. Bug spray. And living in a non-malaria infested country. This here's an easy one. A no-brainer. Go for it.

Thanks for listening.



It's 9:05 on Monday morning and it has come to my attention that a shower may not be in the cards today. Which is especially pathetic considering I've been up since 6. A good part of my morning was spent digging through our depleted pantry and trying to come up with 3 lunches for the kids to take to school. (What is the nutritional value of pickled ginger, by the way? If they ate that with some crackers, does it count as a sandwich?) Lots of driving to school, which included trying to answer Zinabu's question of what time of day the roads on the north side of the neighborhood are busiest (someone help me!), and then a ton of paperwork/bill paying. I'm supposed to leave here in 30 minutes to help in Lily's classroom, and because I am choosing to blog rather than devote time to my personal hygiene... well, you get the picture. I just opened a bill from a doctor that we thought was covered by our insurance but it is not, and that just took the wind out of my sails. I also opened a letter from our sponsored child in Uganda, and he writes that he wishes he could hear from me more. GUILT!!!! My Christmas photo cards should be arriving in the mail any day now, which means having to do the work of mailing them out. It could be worse, though. I could be David, whose schedule is 6,000 times more awful than mine.

Trying to keep some perspective.



Lily and best friend Bailey

Last week was Lily's Orchestra concert. I am well-seasoned in these, since Carver has been playing bass for 3 years. But it was Lily's first and she was very excited. Her orchestra teacher at her little elementary school is a saint. Truly. Can you imagine taking a bunch of boys and girls who are just learning their instruments and making an actual song come out of them? It boggles the human mind.

Turns out the piano accompanist that had helped in past years was no longer available, so they desperately needed a piano player. In stepped my mom. And then, there was no bass player. Could Carver possibly help them by playing in the concert? Sure! So Zinabu and I sat in the audience and half my family was up on stage. I'm not sure who had the most fun... mom, Lily, or Carver.

This week starts complete insanity around here. Between David's school, Carver's school, and Lily and Z's school, there is something going on every day of the week--morning, noon, and night. I don't mind, because it is just a season, and all the events are incredibly fun and exciting. We won't see much of David until winter vacation, but knowing that is just 2 weeks away, we can handle it. We will carve out time next Saturday to drive to the mountains and cut down our tree. But other than that, he is swamped. The man is a gem.

After weeks and weeks of illness, we have gone 5 whole days without anyone being sick. It's very thrilling. Gosh, do you think we might last another week too? Is that just way too much to hope for? I like to dream big.


The Post In Which I Tell You About A Difficult Conversation

The Scene: Our Kitchen
Date: Yesterday
Time: Way too early. About 6:15 am.

Me: DAVID (in a hoarse whisper)
David: What?
Me: How much do you love me?
David: Huh?
Me: How much do you love me?????
David: Is this a trick question?
Me: No. How much? A lot? Like... really a lot?
David: Why?
Me: THERE IS A MOUSE IN THE MOUSE TRAP AND IT'S STILL ALIVE! I just checked the trap and his little tail is stuck in it and it's looking up at me with big brown eyes and I CAN'T STAND IT!
Daivd: _________
Me: Well? Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeee?
David: I'm not even dressed yet!
Me: Please, honey.
David: Will you remember this at 9:00 tonight?
Me: Absolutely. I'll never, ever, ever forget.
David: Fine.

(Unfortunately, an animal was harmed--fatally--in the telling of this story.)


Wordless Wednesday


Family holiday photo: take 1

Take 2

Take 3

Take 4

Take 5

Take 6

Time to give up.


I'm back.

We survived another trip away. This time only 3 things went majorly wrong. I will not be a whiny Wendy though. I'm grateful for so much--family most of all. Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving.


How To Kill Your Husband
Today I am taking part in what I am sure will turn into a murder. David wanted oyster stew this week. The man got a wild hair and started craving the stuff. Him mom always made a pot of it during the holidays, and he just wanted to eat it again. David asked me to pick up the ingredients at the store today, but he told me he'd be happy to make it. I wasn't to worry about it. He's so kind.

Turns out I had a little more time on my hands today than I was expecting so I decided to be nice and make the stew for him. It was then that I ran into an ethical dilemma. Make the stew and give him a heart attack in a bowl, or throw the ingredients away and suffer his disappointment. I made the stew.

I am an enabler. And possibly worse... a murderer. I need to go sit down.

A stick of butter.
Heavy cream.
Bacon fat.

This will not end well.


Even More Thankful
Yesterday we spent the morning at David's school putting together Thanksgiving dinners for students and their families. There is a wonderful organization at the school that raises money throughout the year and helps the kids who are living in poverty. There is a food pantry at the school, funds for clothing and school supplies, and money for these kids to pay for extra curricular activities. David is very proud to work at a place that cares deeply for its own.

This year over 100 Thanksgiving dinners and food items were organized and set up in the gym. We went to help with the loading/delivery process. Families could come to the school and pick up a dinner, or staff was there to help deliver the food to those that needed it. I brought my camera, but my kids were working too hard for me to capture them together in one shot. Did they groan and complain that we were going to donate our time to this on a Saturday morning? Absolutely. But once we got to the school and they saw how they could help, they got down to business and worked with joy. I was a proud mama.

As the morning drew to a close, we took a dinner with us to deliver. David had the address, which was a pay-by-the-week motel. Picture something very sad and then multiply that by 100 and you'll get the idea. David knocked on their motel door and the kids unloaded all the food from our car to hand to them. A family of four was in there, and David knew the students. By name. My kiddos were very quiet as we pulled away, as the severity of the situation sunk in. David and I had to blink back tears for the drive home.... Life is hard enough without the added burden of poverty and despair.

If you have not read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich yet I implore you to do so. It will radically change you. And be thankful for everything you have. Which, unfortunately, is something I am still working on.
Driving to the high school on a beautiful Saturday morning.

Carver and Z take a quck break in the process to run on the gym floor.

Lily loading up a cart to make another delivery.


Our Thankful Tree

Once we turned the calendar to November, we began our thankful tree. I love watching it grow. I love what my kids say. I love that they don't try to impress anyone with their ideas--like a Miss America pageant contestant hoping for world peace. My kids are thankful for things that are close to them and make them feel good. Like dogs and snowboarding and... bread. Not bread in the I'm-thankful-we-have-food-to-eat sense. But bread in the I-love-carbohydrates-and-things-slathered-in-honey-and-butter sense. Very real.


Wordless Wednesday


This was what I came home to last week. When we leave our house, we keep the dog in the kitchen eating area and close the doors so he can't roam the house. We're pretty strict about where he's allowed to be and what he can and can't do. However...

He managed to jump up onto the table. And then couldn't get down. He was up there for a good 2 hours until I came home and found him. (You'd take a picture, too. It was hilarious.) Have you ever had days like that? Where you look around and think, "How did I get here? Where do I go now?" I do. And often. This is one of those days. We've been sick, sick, sick. I'm way behind on every chore and piece of paperwork you can name. I'm supposed to be training for a half marathon and I've completely lost my desire to run--not to mention the giant setback of our stomach flu. I'm not ready for winter. I'm not ready to be a mom of a 7, 9, and 12 year old--but there's not much I can do about that.

How did I get here?


Laughter and Joy and Zinabu is Now 7

Without my knowledge of how it happened, nor without my permission, my baby turned 7 yesterday. Z, you bring so much laughter and joy to us. Thank you for calling us your family and for loving us with an open heart, even when it was so tough at first. We love you.


Hooray for vacation. We took advantage of the Veteran's Day long weekend and drove to Breckenridge for a family getaway. We were in much need of one. Breckenridge slopes open for the season this weekend, and David and Carver were hoping to get a few runs in. I was looking forward to just being together as a family, staring at the gorgeous scenery, and sitting in a hot tub. (I am very easy to please on vacation.) Here's what's happened so far.

It is 5 degrees.
Carver got the stomach flu.
David got the stomach flu.
The entire city of Breckenridge lost power last night.
I scraped the car up against a cement post in a parking garage. I am afraid to even begin to think about how much that's going to cost. (A lot.)

I bet you can't wait to come to Colorado next summer and vacation with me.


I've Got A Golden Ticket
Don't you want a Golden Ticket? If you're reading this, consider yourself an honorary recipient. I'm thinking about next summer. The summer of 2011 when we are having a blog/reunion/campout/whatever here in Colorado. I'm a tad jealous after reading about another blog par-tay. I won't name names, but Bridget and Rebekah know who they are.

I've done some research on my end, trying to find a campground that would suit every one's needs and wants. Some of you tent it like Eagle Scouts, others of you think living out of a suitcase is roughing it. I thought the Y family camp had the best options, but I didn't like the idea of some of us in cabins, some of us on the other side of the property in tents, and others everywhere in between. It's pricey, in high demand, and overwhelming to think about booking all that--not knowing how many of you are coming and how much space we'd need, etc.

So here's the deal. Please come. All of you. No restrictions. We'll figure it out. I have a friend who has a teeny tiny cabin where we could gather, so we'd all be on the same property in the mountains. But if some of you were willing to come without kiddos we'd have more room for more people. Not to say that kids aren't welcome. Absolutely. But I'm also being realistic. As in, there-is-only-one-toilet realistic. And if all else fails, everyone can come to my house. We have more than enough room--it's enormous, and that's one of the reasons we moved in with my mom. To take advantage of her space.

So if you want to come, start telling me now what weeks WON'T work for you. I'd love to shoot for the first week of July, but I'm open.

Now go admire that Golden Ticket.
Why am I okay about the fact that I am eating Japanese noodle soup at 9:30 in the morning?

Because my youngest often goes through the day with no underwear.
Because my oldest told me at the very last minute that his science project needs to measured by meters, not inches.
Because my middle thinks she is getting a horse for Christmas.
Because my husband will be gone for 15 hours today.
Because the dog has maple syrup in his fur.

Do I really need an excuse?


Want to be a part of a conversation I have almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of my life? Apart from the cyborg voices (which are actually hilarious), and even though I don't have fur on me, this could be me and any stranger on the street. Enjoy.


Zinabu is now free of his troublesome teeth. Remember how his permanent teeth grew in behind his baby teeth and his baby teeth didn't fall out? We went to the dentist this week and finally had them pulled. Tell me if this happens to anyone else besides me, but when Zinabu had to go through something rough, his past and his Ethiopian circumstances come screaming back to me. It's as if he's been through so much already that any additional difficulties seem overwhelmingly unfair. He was very scared to go to the dentist, and he reverted back to his coping mechanisms: staring at a spot on the wall, blinking back tears, and shrugging off my hands which just want to hold him. I hate seeing him go there because it brings back a lot of yucky memories for me and him, not to mention the crappy way he must be feeling. I was able to squeeze his little ankle through the procedure, and he did FINE. He was FINE. The dentist was great. The teeth came out well. And he got a toy from the prize box. But whoa, Nelly, it was a long afternoon.


Assignment: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

1. God (if you count Him as the author of the Bible, then I have to include it)
2. Judy Blume (very funny to write that right after God)
3. Anne Lamott (seriously love that woman)
4. Jane Austen
5. C S Lewis (I still remember my 4th grade teacher reading The Magician's Nephew aloud to us and I hung onto e-v-e-r-y word)
6. Michael Pollan
7. Jimmy Carter
8. Betty Friedan
9. Whoever wrote "What To Expect The First Year" because I pretty much lived on that book after adopting Carver. I had no idea what I was doing.
10. Robert McCloskey
11. Beverly Cleary
12. Jim Wallis
13. Flannery O'Connor
14. E B White
15. J K Rowling (you didn't think I'd forget her, did you?)

Can you tell my favorite genre is children's literature? It just brings back so many warm memories of feeling safe and secure in a book, being caught up in a good story. To this day, few things delight me more than re-reading Ramona The Brave or Charlotte's Web. It's soothing. And other author's on my list helped me define my life choices, philosophies, and faith. It was hard to stop at 15, though. I think 75 might have been a better number.


Whew! Photos found. Thank you, David, for remembering to take a picture while I was sick. A skateboarder, a cowgirl, and a knight. The end.