Guess who is turning 12 tomorrow?

Guess how I feel about this?


To the coyote that ran by me at Carver's school while I was walking to my car. Thanks for scaring the you-know-what out of me. Next time, steer clear of me and stick to the field behind the school. Thanks.

What is it with us and animals???



When David is gone, we all feel his absence. Especially at bedtime. Silly us... we started the tradition of reading aloud to our kids at night when they were babies. You know, the crazy dream of spending more time with them. Fast forward 12 years and we still read aloud to them, one at a time, at night. When David is gone and it's just me, it's a little zany. It takes forever to get those kids read to. I've considered scrapping it. But then I feel guilty. And guilt is just mother nature's way of telling you what to do as a mom.

But when David is around, he is full-on dad. And the kids soak him up. It's hard that his job takes him away from us often, but he is so good about doing as much as he can with the kids when he's available. (Like a 7 mile mountain hike with Lily yesterday.)

Can you tell Zinabu is particularly fond of him?


A Note From My Mom, Examined

Even though we live with mom, we're usually passing each other throughout the day. We've invented this hi-tech system of keeping tabs on one another. It's called "paper and pen." My notes to her usually read something like, "Sorry the breakfast dishes are in the sink. I'll clean them when I get back." or "Sorry the kids woke you up while they were dancing." Her notes to me are adorable. Case in point:

a,) I am a grown woman, but she cannot write a note to me without smiley faces.
b.) She always, always, plays with the dog. Even though she doesn't have to. She loves him.
c.) She tells me where she's going so I'm not worried.
d.) She says, "hee hee." So cute.
e.) Cannot resist drawing a heart when she signs "Mom."

It's hard to guess my age based on this note. She keeps me young!


You Know You Have Great Neighbors When...
they call your daughter and ask her to babysit their puppy for an hour.


30 Days

Jayme certainly wins the award for going the extra mile on the "30 Days" challenges. Every month of this year, she has challenged herself in a new/different way. Currently, she is taking her kiddos to 30 parks in 30 days, which I think is utterly brilliant. Getting exercise AND exploring your city. It's a win win.

I have not been doing challenges every month--unless staring at your depleted pantry and trying to come up with some kind of dinner that includes kidney beans and crushed pineapple counts. I've done a few challenges, and of course they've been wonderful. Nothing like mixing up your life a little to keep you on your toes.

I spent one month reading only non-fiction. It was hard. You know I love to read and you know I love me my stack of books next to my bed and you know I can have 3 or 4 different fiction books going at the same time. But I wanted to stretch my brain a little and I limited myself to just non-fiction. I avoided most parenting books because they usually make me feel like I've done everything wrong and my kids are doomed and have no chance at life. However, I picked up How To Raise A Drug-Free Kid and found is to be very helpful and resourceful. If you live in a bubble and think your kids are never going to have to deal with being offered drugs (in any form) then you don't have to read this book. The rest of you, I highly recommend it. Very practical and it gives you the courage to have "those talks" with your kids when the time is right. I also read Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture and despite a lengthy history of the manufacturing business, I appreciated reading the facts and statistics about what I already suspected and know to be true. I never, ever, ever shop at Wal-Mart, and this book confirmed my theories. Rounding out the month I finished some foodie books, including Michael Pollan, and a book on the spiritual journey of Paul the Apostle.

Another month I was determined to cut down how much meat we were eating. To be honest, I don't think we eat that much. David will have to defend himself on that one, but as for me and the kids, we were eating a portion of meat with dinner every night. I challenged myself to go completely vegetarian, while I made 2 or 3 vegetarian meals for the family each week, leaving 4 or 5 meals with meat. And I have not looked back. I don't miss the meat at all. It's been 2 months now. People immediately ask me "How do you get your protein?" quickly followed by "How do you cook vegetarian for yourself and something else for your family?" My response is, "I get plenty of protein. Please don't worry about me." and "I make a main dish for my family and a large vegetarian side dish for me and the family to share. Plus lots of salad and fruits and grains." It's not hard at all. If anything, my kids are eating better because they'll try what I make for me and end up really enjoying it.

Suddenly, we are moving closer to October--which means November is right around the corner. And last November was when I participated in 30 days of Nothing. A total spending freeze on everything but food or emergencies. I want to do it again, and I hope you start thinking about if you could do it, too.

It's a lot easier if we're in it together.



Zinabu's Track and Field Day
Yesterday was Zinabu's track and field day. Lily's is today. They split the kids between upper elementary and lower elementary so they have lots of time to do all the events. This is one of the best days of the year for my kids because they love ditching their schoolwork and running around. We were a little frazzled getting out of the house yesterday, and my arms were full of extra sweatshirts and coffee and papers, so I left the camera sitting on the kitchen table.

Nice one.

So without further ado, I give you Zinabu's track and field day.
Here is Zinabu running the 50 meter dash.
That Ethiopian DNA makes him fast!

Oh look! Here's Zinabu at the giant parachute.
Don't you love the way he's laughing with his friends?

Zinabu and Sadie doing the sack race. I hope he
marries Sadie when they grow up. She is the sweetest little
thing. Aren't they darling?

Now this one is my favorite. All the kids trying to get
marbles out of the buckets of water with their feet.
Zinabu and his classmates, grinning and playing.


I am, quite possibly, the world's most unmotivated person today. Someone needs to get over here and slap me. I'm in some kind of funk and cannot seem to care much about anything. Not exactly where a mom should be.



Too much, do you think? A tad overboard? Believe it or not I use every single box. I need my tea--especially when it's cold. But even during the rest of the year, I love a cup of tea. (I'm drinking some right now as I type.) I cannot guarantee you that my library books aren't delinquent or that my children are wearing matching socks, but I can certainly guarantee you a cup of tea if you need one. It's all about priorities, darlings.


Safety 101

Carver is 11... soon to be 12. As he grows older he is entrusted with more responsibilities. Which is good for him, but worrying for mama. Every day when I look at him, I see the 2 year old boy who spent his day giggling. It's hard to keep up with how fast he's growing.

We live on a beautiful, secluded street. It's a loop, so the kids have the freedom to ride their bikes around the loop (if they're together). Carver has the option to ride his bike by himself around our neighborhood. We've talked about what to do if you get hurt or lost. We've talked about not talking to strangers or getting into their cars. We've talked about calling home if you meet a friend and want to play. But we've never talked about what to do if you meet a bear. Which turns out to be the one thing we should have talked about.

Who knew?

The other day Carver rode his bike around our loop and stopped at a neighbor's house. He rang the doorbell but no one was home. He turned to go but stopped when he heard a rustling sound. A bear (Yes, a bear. I did not say squirrel or fox or rabbit or raccoon or hedgehog or big dog or giraffe or flamingo or beaver. I said bear.) walked out of the bushes and stood between Carver and his bike. The bear sniffed Carver's bike and rooted around for a little bit, then strolled on down the driveway and across the street. Carver then picked his jaw up off the porch, wiped the cold sweat off his brow, grabbed his bike and booked it out of there.

He was shaken up. I was floored. I tried not to overreact but praised him for his cool head and quick actions. Then I went inside and fainted. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This motherhood stuff is not for sissies.

The bear is a bit lost. Yes we live in Colorado and yes we live in a woodsy area, but we also live pretty far from the foothills and are smack in the middle of a city. I'm hoping he finds his way back to the mountains to hibernate. Since Carver saw it, the bear has been on our back porch twice. Now, when anyone wants to go outside, we have to do a bear check. It's reeeeeeaaaaallllly fun.*

(*that's me being sarcastic.)


Recently Overheard

Zinabu's teacher relayed this story to me. I shared it on Facebook, but in case you missed it (you know, since Facebook should not be the way people share stories anyway. I'm still trying to figure out what Facebook is really good for). Zinabu's teacher asked the kids during the first week of school to get to know one another. She told them to turn to the person sitting next to them and share something about themselves that the other person wouldn't know. Perhaps a talent or a favorite hobby, or even a fact about their family. Something they wouldn't know by just looking at each other. Zinabu, in all seriousness, turned to the kid next to him and said, "I'm brown."


Our Weekend

Long run on Saturday morning. My trusty water bottle and ipod.
Grocery shopping, with help from Zinabu.
His big request at the grocery store. His own lemon to eat.
Enough said.
At our friend's cabin. Lily pushes Bailey in the hammock.
Dear friends.
Kids playing in the woods. They were all in heaven.
Me with Lily's best friend, Bailey.
Kids fishing.
Me and my love.



What a week. What a week! I swore when I became a mom that I would NOT be one of those parents that kept their children super busy, meanwhile spending most of my days running around all over town in our car. And now I know better. Sometimes, it cannot be helped. When you have three kids, there are just going to be times when you're taking them places. A friend's house. Music lessons. To and from school. It adds up. With Carver in middle school, my afternoons are shot. I pick up Z and Lily and we play on the playground for a while, then I take them home and leave again to go get Carver. I bring Carver home and then throw food at everyone and take whoever to whatever activity they have. And we're not even busy! We're not. We're not signed up for everything under the sun. Plus school meetings and David's evening commitments and the occasional run to the store because we've run out of toilet paper (AGAIN!) and suddenly it's my bedtime. I want my kids to have the best childhood ever, so we won't do anything that takes away from that. Any sport they play or activity they participate in is because they love it. But that means me being the taxi driver. Which is ok. That's the season I've suddenly found myself in. I just wish I could look inside their brains and see their intelligence expanding as they're exposed to all these fabulous opportunities, because my brain is shrinking. I'm losing brain cells by the thousand every... single... hour.
Which is why I'm dreaming of this. London. Just a year and a half until we go. And I need every bit of that time to plan our trip. There's just too, too, too much to do there and we won't have enough time. But what I'm losing in brain cells this year, I hope to regain during our trip across the pond.
photos by Jason Hawkes, with me slandering them with hot pink writing


Recently Overheard

Zinabu said: "Mom, we're all so talented. Ababa (his word for dad) is talented at working, Carver is talented at fixing things, Lily is talented at working with animals, I'm talented at playing with my toys, and you're talented at.... at... (long pause)  I can't think of anything you're talented at, Mom."