I am practicing...
taking deep breaths
believing in love
enjoying my kids
not worrying about the IRS and their mean letter to me
organizing closets and rooms and projects (because that's what makes me happy)
cutting back on sugar and flour (guess what? my pants fit!)
running again
saying yes to just about anything my kids want to try
and smiling more.


A Quick Update
It has been a bad, bad, bad, bad week. Money woes. A bad diagnosis. Kids are sick. David is sick. Paperwork piled up to my eyeballs. Exhaustion.

Things were just starting to look up when the bear came to our house tonight and ate Carver's rabbit. I didn't even know bears ate rabbits. Holy Meatballs, Batman! I am the woman that hates to fib to her kids at all--they don't even believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy because I can't stand the thought of telling them something untrue. And yet right now I am trying to concoct some sort of fable about how Fred the rabbit is suddenly not with us anymore.

Help me!


Book Review
I'm still getting over the "Great Sombrero Debacle" of 2011 (see previous post) but I can still scrap together a couple of book reviews.

This is one of the toughest books I've ever had to read aloud. It's just so heart-wrenching. We've owned this book for a few years, and it has since won the Caldecott Medal of Honor. This is the true story of a boy who grows up in slavery, and as an adult his wife and children are sold away. With nothing left to lose, he seeks the help of the Underground Railroad and packages himself up in a crate and ships himself to freedom. I love this book for its truth, its realistic portrayal of the horror of slavery, and the consequences of families being torn apart. This is not an easy read. Zinabu does not like this book. His own words were, "That book makes me too sad." I think Zinabu is also especially sensitive to the fact that he sees Henry, the main character, through the lense of his own adoption. So if your children are adopted, try to gauge their ability to process this book, let alone even handle it altogether. Parents should preview this book before reading it aloud.

This is one of those books that I love for the illustrations alone. You will LOVE them. Clean and fresh with tributes to the 1950s. This book is about a first grade boy who goes to school with his imagination. His pirate friends accompany him all day long (my favorite is when they bust out the doors to recess). The text is written in "pirate-speak," so get your Jack Sparrow on and prepare to sound like a landlubber gone wild. A current favorite of Zinabu's.


Let Me Explain

One of the hardest things for me as a mother is letting my kids go--be it a new responsibility, a choice, a special freedom, or celebrating their birthdays. It's certainly bittersweet. You have the joy over their growing up, but you have the loss, as well--letting go of the way things used to be. When you really think about it, motherhood is one of the cruelest jokes ever. You bring a child into your life and you spend the next few years falling deeply in love with them and doing absolutely everything for them and with them. Then you spend the rest of your life slowly letting go of them and watching them move on. I mean really... whose idea was this? And why does it have to be so painful?

Well, now that Carver is 12, Lily is 10, and Zinabu is 7 ("and a half," he always yells!) they are allowed to ride their bikes anywhere in our neighborhood. Carver and Lily can go anytime, but if Z wants to ride along, they all have to stay together. I'm slowly getting used to the idea that they'll be out of my sight and earshot for long stretches at a time, and I admit I think I finally understand why some parents buy cell phones for their children. So far, my kids have handled the responsibility just fine.

Yesterday there was a garage sale at the bottom of our neighborhood. My children were elated. Carver and Lily went first, and when they saw the cheap loot they came back for Zinabu. They took their own money and had... a... ball. Here is what they came back with:

3 sombreros
1 fishing rod
2 fishing nets
1 fishing tackle box
1 cowboy hat
1 outdated cheap camera that uses film
1 giant ship replica that's supposed to be mounted on the wall
1 dart board
1 hunting vest
1 basket of dried flowers
1 basket of Christmas decorations
1 life vest
1 pink flamingo yard decoration (which was a gift for me since they thought I would {LOVE} it)

So with their freedom to ride their bikes where they want, I also now am struggling with their financial decisions. My kids came home with tons of crap, and what am I supposed to do? Praise them for their ingenuity? Applaud their "good deals"? Celebrate their finds?

David did not help. He offered to reimburse them for the sombreros.


What To Do
It would have been nice if the world had really ended today. My to-do list is a bit too long. And nothing gets done on the weekends because with 3 kids that means 3 different interests or things they want to do. Gone are the days when we all go to the playground together. Sometimes I make them, but usually they want to veer off in completely opposite directions. There are times, when I am stretched to the fullest, that I consider bribing them to want to do the same thing. I don't, but I am oh-so tempted.


Summer Plans
Our summer calendar

I am a big believer in kids being kids, free-play, and never being over scheduled. However, the summer looms before us--its vast days with NOTHING on the agenda, repeat, repeat, repeat--and I go a little goofy making sure each kid has enough to do so they don't all wind up in Juvenile Detention (thank you, God, for making fireworks illegal in our county). They have their favorite day camps, and Carver is going back to sleep away camp this summer (I will need only 2 boxes of tissues this time around), plus a sport here and there--and the summer feels a little more well-rounded. I am trying (read: pulling my hair out with insanity) to find times that we can do several overnight trips to various places like museums, cultural centers, and parks. It's not as easy as I thought it would be, but I'm trying. I want my kids to be able to do everything, but sadly we lack the crucial resources like 10 day weeks and a million dollars. I'm still combing the summer guides for ideas. I have to remember that my kids don't know the difference between the symphony series in Vail or the jazz band performance at the local park. While I, personally, would rather go to Vail, my kids will be just as satisfied with outdoor music in a parking lot. Basically, I need to back off of trying to make our summer perfect. It won't be. Check back in with me the second day they're out of school and we will have already failed in multiple ways. We're so good at failing in multiple ways. Yay us!

And here's a quick update on my French lessons. I'm terrible. I can't seem to retain ANY of the words. I listen on my iPhone and practice the vocabulary, but the next day--poof! They're gone. I'm not giving up, though. Maybe in 10 years I'll have mastered the art of, "Where is the bathroom?" and "How are you?" Setting the bar high, aren't I?


Off They Go
These are the letters
that are going in the mail
to eight of the sweetest women
who helped me through
and life.

In about six weeks, these eight women will be coming to Colorado to visit me. I am so excited I could bust!


Funniest Game Ever
We love to play games around here. Usually card games, but board games too. Lily got the game Headbandz for her birthday. Instant classic. Completely hilarious. (Except for David, who doesn't like vague guessing games, apparently.) My mom had to guess she was a pair of scissors. It took a while.


One Photo Every Hour
I took up the challenge from Julie, to document a day in my life with a photo every hour. I chose yesterday. A typical Thursday. Prepare to be utterly bored.
6 am. Up, dressed, and time to take the dog out to pee and then feed him.

7 am. Making 4 breakfasts and 3 lunches. I grab half an English muffin with jam. You'll be
 glad I didn't document everything I ate all day because I wasn't a winner in the food department.

A little bit before 8 am. Drop off Lily and Zinabu at school. I love, love, love this photo of Lily.
She looks like royalty.

9 am. Pulling into the garage. I have taken Carver to school and then played fetch with the dog.
I am back home to catch up on dishes, email, and bills. No time for personal hygiene. A week or so ago I found this Virginia Woolf quote and stuck it to my dashboard. It reminds me to quit comparing myself to other people. I am really bad about doing that all the time. Also, I need to dust my dashboard.

10 am. Back in the car. I spend a TON of time in the car these days. I am headed back to the elementary school because it's my day to work in the library. Note my iPhone. I am addicted to podcasts and cannot drive anywhere without NPR or some kind of podcast. I especially like podcasts on budgeting, economics, and money. I am freely admitting to you that I am a nerd. Also, I had to find some quarters for parking downtown later. I dug through our coin box in the kitchen and all I could come up with were 2,000 pennies and a couple of Chuck E. Cheese tokens. I found one quarter in my van and hoped the parking meter police were on vacation.

11 am. I've been here almost an hour and I've hardly put a dent in the piles. It is the end of the school year. Library books are all due this week. It is a disaster. However, I know the Dewey Decimal system pretty darn well, if I do say so myself. We have a great selection of books at out school. The kids are always drawn to the science and non-fiction books. Books about shark attacks and rats and the planet Neptune.
 They're little sponges.

11:45 ish. Before I leave I stop off in the cafeteria to say hi to the kids.
Lily, upon learning I'm not staying, gives me this face.

Still 11:45 ish. You ALWAYS wash your hands after working in the library
and visiting the cafeteria. After all, as you can see by the sign,
germs are EVERYWHERE!

12:30 ish. I am so glad I had my camera because I cannot think of one time in our entire marriage that
I met David for lunch on a work day. Never, ever, ever happens. Because he has jury duty and
was downtown with an hour and a half lunch break, I met him at Chipotle for yummy burritos. And
although it looks like David is participating in the Gay Pride parade with his purple badge, it
actually says "Juror Div. 20." He HAS to keep it on at all times so that no one talks to him about the
murder trial. It was fantastic having lunch with him. I wish we could do that more than once
every 15 years.

1:00 pm. I get home to this look. He needs to pee again.

2:00 pm. I think ahead to dinner and realize I still have time to start a loaf of bread in the bread machine.

3:45. Carver is out of school. He is excited to show me the pillow he's making in his Home Ec. class.
He said, "I wish I had a sewing machine. Sewing is so cool." 

4:45ish. Zinabu was playing here.

5:45. Dinner. Dinner is usually sacred at our house. We always sit down together, no matter what. That's why this photo is so funny. I hadn't run the dishwasher that day, so we dug out the camping plates. Lily looks like she's eating a jar of jelly for her meal, which she practically was. Zinabu left the table to get a vitamin. Carver was mad at me about something and was actually outside pouting, not wanting to come to the table. Good family memories, yessiree.

7 pm. I am cleaning up the dinner dishes (finally) after helping with homework and interrupting arguments
and picking up lost pairs of socks. A hummingbird landed on the feeder outside the kitchen window and
I was able to photograph it before it flew away.

8 pm. Carver and I talk in the kitchen for a little bit before he gets ready for bed.
9 pm. David and I are trying to plan a weekend in California this summer. He has to go for a
conference and I could fly out by myself and fly back with him. But his flight back is on a little
shuttle plane. You know how I feel about flying and I don't do small planes. At all. We are
at an impasse.
10 pm. I get a wild hair and whip up some sweet potato muffins for tomorrow's breakfast.
They were super yummy.

10:45ish. I get in bed. This is what I see when I lie on my side. One of my books about England.
I got through 2 paragraphs before zonking out.


Lily's Mystery Diner Menu
For those of you who asked.

Each girl had a menu at her place setting, and it looked like this:
Fluffy Pillows
Little Logs
Rolling Pebbles
Squishy Fruit Soup

Fairy Bread
Rabbit Snacks
Heart Fruit
Red + Yellow
Little Italy
Old McDonald's Lunch

Cake for a Cup

I brought out the appetizers first, then moved on to dinner when they were ready. The food is as follows: fluffy pillows = a pink marshmallow. (I know... sugary and not really an appetizer but c'mon. It was a birthday party.) Little logs = pretzel sticks. Rolling pebbles = Kix cereal. Squishy fruit soup = applesauce. Fairy bread = mini muffins. Rabbit snacks = carrots. Heart fruit = strawberries. (I cut them into heart shapes.) Red + Yellow = mandarin oranges. Little Italy = little cheese pizza pieces. Old McDonald's Lunch = chicken nuggets for the meat eaters. Obviously, Cake for a cup was cupcakes.

For the most part, I made these up based on food I had in my pantry and what I knew I could buy but that every one would like. If you choose to use a menu like this for your own parties, just plan the food then come up with interesting names for it. Lily's friends are all in 4th grade and some are approaching the "I'm too cool for anything" life stage. But they all LOVED this dinner. It was a lot of fun.


Wrap Up
Wow. The past four days felt like 400. I can't remember a weekend where I was more sleep deprived and more over committed and more crazed about keeping David off his feet and out of the hospital.

First and foremost, I'll start with an update on David. He saw his surgeon last week and the doctor was stumped about the blood clot. David did everything right, is healthy as a horse, and had no underlying risks that would have led to complications. The doctor did say that since he's been practicing in Colorado, he's seen more blood clots post surgery than in any other place he's worked. So maybe it's the thin air. Who knows. But David felt better knowing it wasn't his fault. His leg was still very bad on Thursday and Friday... and for a while on Thursday night (during the sleepover) I was afraid I would be taking him back to the ER. But he's good now. He did a great job staying off his feet this weekend and there is a remarkable difference in how his leg looks and feels. Unfortunately, not only does David have delinquent veins, but he has delinquent and stubborn blood. The doctors put him on blood thinners to stop the clot from growing. A normal person's blood thickness (for lack of a better description) is at a 1. The doctor's want David's blood to be at a 2 or a 3. Last week he got to 1.4, then 1.7, and then he regressed to a 1.6. Go figure. So they upped his meds even more and I continue to give him shots in the stomach both morning and night. Poor guy. To add to his annoyance with life in general, he has jury duty today.

Lily's slumber party was a roaring success. I base that on how terrible I felt the morning after. The worse the mama feels, the better the party. Right? The girls came over about 6:00. The table was set and Lily was pretty excited.
Table is set and ready
The menu
Beads and cupcakes--perfection

Dinner was a mystery. We pretended it was Lily's Diner, and the menu was in code. The girls didn't know what they were getting until I brought it out. Cupcakes were yummy and devoured.
Lily's best friend forever and ever
Chocolate frosting on Evelyn
After dinner, the girls made necklaces and bracelets with all the beads we had on hand. They watched a movie and danced to music. And had more energy than I knew what to do with. They stayed up extremely late. And yes, I was that mother who wound up standing outside the room they were all in and told them to shut up and go to sleep. I slept about 3 hours that night.

Friday was prom. We went. Enough said.

The rest of the weekend was amazing. We were blessed with 80 degree weather and sunshine. We rode bikes and went to a friend's cabin in the mountains and played basketball and dug in the dirt and had company and planted flowers and grilled and laughed and decompressed.
Carver eating outside before he ran away from the bee
What a complete ham
Lily and our neighbor's dog. Lily is such good friends with all the dogs in our neighborhood
they come to our house when they hear her voice.

I hope your weekend was just as amazing.


Book Review

At some point in the future you can thank me for telling you how to explain our nation's electoral voting system to your children. A task not for the faint-hearted. Enter the book Grace For President. It takes place in an elementary school as two students run for president. Their fellow classmates get to vote as "states" and are alloted as many votes as their corresponding states get in the electoral process. The book is seriously brilliant. Not to mention the African American FEMALE Grace who is the center of the story. Absolutely wonderful story. Five stars!


I Am Awesome

Guess what I did? I scheduled Lily's slumber party extravaganza for Thursday night (we have no school on Friday). She has a volleyball game on Saturday morning and this was the only night we could have her lovely sleepover. I made the invitations and sent them out. Then I looked at my calendar again for Friday. Friday is prom. And yes, I go with David. We usually don't get home until very, very late. Two nights in a row where I will be up way past my bedtime. Not to mention I need to go shopping for a dress.

Should I take a picture of the bags under my eyes on Saturday morning?


Flying Kites and 10 Years Old
Friday was kite day at school and I was there to help Lily. She was very determined. The weather conditions were perfect--warm, sunny, and breezy. The only problem was the 100 other children running around trying to fly their kites too. There were quite a few tangled strings.

Today we celebrate Lily's 10th birthday. Happy birthday to my sweet girl!