Saturday, December 25, 2010

Peace Love Joy

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Friday, November 19, 2010

10 years flew by...

people always say it.  "don't blink.  they'll be grown before you know it!"  for those of us still responsible for "helping" very small children in the bathroom or still changing diapers, that comment seems oddly out of place.  almost as if they're standing on the edge of a well and i'm at...well, the bottom of it looking up.

but it's starting to apply.  ethan turned ten just a few weeks ago.  it was one of those birthdays, for him and us, that really put time into perspective.  i feel like he's 6 or 7 maybe, but 10?  that's pushing it...

this summer a house on our block went up for sale.  i prayed diligently and specifically for a boy ethan's age to move onto the block.  "God, i know this is annoyingly particular, but ethan needs a buddy."  ethan is all about relationships and people.  he loves and likes and cares deeply for those around him.  while leaving his buddies in chicago was difficult for him, he also has the gift of making friends very easily.  but he was still missing his colorado "nathan".  nathan was (and is) his buddy three houses away in chicago and they'd been friends since they were six weeks old.  they spent every waking moment together, those "than" brothers.

let's just say, we hit the buddy jackpot.  God answered this prayer 10 fold.  the sweetest freckle faced kid named sam moved in and has become ethan's best bud.  he's this charismatic, funny guy who's always got a smile, is kind to the "littles" and the other "middle", is inclusive and optimistic and active and respectful.  he has an older brother our sam's age as well, jackson, so it was really a double jackpot.  the kicker is~they're from illinois!

we celebrated ethan's birthday at the airplane restaurant.  it sits near the airport and is housed in an old WWII plane.  sammy d. came with us and ev stayed with friends, so we were still a swarming party of 7.  add a new wii game, a gift card, an ice cream sundae and a new best friend and you've got a pretty darn good tenth birthday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...and i can cry if i want to...

so, here are the pictures of ev i promised.  her birthday was celebrated after a nap, before daddy went to work and with a surplus of the kids' friends in the house.  we sang, she cried.  i made a homemade vanilla cake that was amazing.  sam said, "mom, this cake tastes like a sugar cookie."  my love affair with homemade sugar cookies will be reignited the second the thanksgiving turkey is gone.  here's the link to the recipe:

we gave her a tepee that i purchased at a craft fair earlier this fall.  it's a fabric, pvc pipe contraption that's just big enough for her, a sibling and the dog that inevitably gets "invited" in.  i'll just have to remember to do tepee checks.  there's no telling what will end up in there!  then we ate a roast beef dinner with brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes and ran off to church, where she got to be the "birthday girl" in her class and be loved on by all those wonderful nursery friends and teachers!

whew.  5 months straight of kid birthdays and then christmas.  wonderful family planning on our part, huh?  july (audge), august (liv), september (sam), october (ev) and november (ethan).  once the forth of july hits, it's celebration station around here.  and while it can be lots of work and planning and coordinating, i love it.  we do a homemade cake (each kid has their favorite), a dinner out or if they want a party with their friends, dinner in.  and a gift.  it's good for us to have a policy:  i think the kids know what to expect and there aren't any lofty expectations or delusions of grandeur.

i was walking through bed, bath and beyond the other day, when an innocent looking enough child pressed one of those buttons on a horrid machine that started a christmas carol.  i could have run from the store with my hands over my ears.  birthdays.  i'm still on birthdays.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

birthday interrupted...

ev was two on saturday.  unbelievable.  someday, i'll be saying "ev is twenty-two".  even more unbelievable.  she, however, is telling everyone she's three.  mainly because she can't put up just two fingers.

we haven't technically celebrated yet, as daddy was working on her birthday.  so, we're postponing it until wednesday.  but, be sure it will be celebrated.  she must have her "happy cake"-my favorite reference in her constantly growing vocabulary.

evelyn asher is:  very busy, a total ham, a master at drawing curly q's, brushes her teeth 25 times a day minimum, calls her siblings "jabba" (all of them), loves to "read", eats any and all fruit, has a remarkable memory and can already do a somersault.

evelyn:  "giver of life".  you embody every bit of your name, ev.  everyday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

mutt with a bug mug...

evidently, clark wonky david aloysius grizzwold was bitten by something this morning, while sunning himself on the deck.  he does have quite a talent for catching and eating bees, but i also saw some seriously thick spiderwebs in the vicinity.  we're hoping it's not one of colorado's "bad" spiders and watching him carefully.

Monday, October 11, 2010

cristobol colon...

while today is technically fall break, we did an impromptu history study of christopher columbus. i can vividly remember the image of him that i created in my imagination as a kid. a finely dressed, aristocratic sort with expertly honed leadership skills, his hair blowing in the wind, as he stood at the bow of his ship, scouting for the first sight of the new world.  the "in fourteen hundred ninety-two, columbus sailed the ocean blue" columbus.

as an adult, i have conjured up a completely different version of him. he was the captain of santa maria (the only one of the three ships that wrecked). the captain of the pinta, martin alonso pinzon, sailed off on his own back to spain (starting to wonder about chris' leadership ability) and martin's brother, vincente yanez pinzon, had to stomach columbus the entire way back to portugal.  there even seems to be some controversy surrounding how the pinzons, financially astute men, acquired their wealth.  sketchy.  it is even reported that columbus murdered martin upon their return to spain.  seems miss taylor left that part out in the second grade.

he was 41 when he set off on his first voyage, which lasted 7 months long. he made 3 other voyages that lasted about 2 and a half years each. christopher columbus died 2 years after his final voyage and is buried in present day Dominican Republic.

there you go. your very own impromptu history lesson for today.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

jib jab #2...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

jib jab...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

halloween hysteria...

undoubtedly, this time of year is our favorite. and whether in the midwest or the wild west, fall is just plain wonderful. very early on in the season, usually when i have to make an impromptu stop at target for diapers in mid-september, the kids start "halloween hysteria". they dream up and concoct ideas for their costumes, nag me to take out the orange and black bin with our decorations and beg me to buy candy corn. "not yet!" i tell them. but this year, i think i was the one starting the hysteria!

i made a therapeutic stop at starbucks and then walked around good will. one of my favorite things to do alone. besides making some excellent .99 book purchases, i found three halloween costumes for the girls for 5 bucks a piece: a ghoulish black/white cheerleader for liv, a gorgeous black and purple satin bat for audge and a sweet, little white kitty for ev. i also found an old mechanic's shirt with the name "eric" on it for sam. ethan is still undecided, but we have a tux shirt and bow tie, so he's leaning towards being a waiter. when i told him we could put body parts on a tray, he was more than in.

so halloween hysteria is in full swing. and yes. i bought candy corn. they're on the top shelf of my stash cabinet in the kitchen. ssshhhh.

Friday, April 30, 2010

le drain french

we had to have a french drain installed on the north side of the house. it sounds quite lovely, no? no. it's messy and labor intensive and if not for jim, the most amazing contractor in the world, way too expensive. last friday night, marcus called me while i was at ladies' night out. sigh. there was water on the basement floor which seemed to be coming in from the ground. thankfully, it was in the tile part of the basement. i called jim while leaving the restaurant, marcus shop vac'd the water and jim was already at our house by the time i pulled up. after cutting up some of the drywall to see what was going on, it was determined that there was too much water being poured down one downspout. So after some gutter adjustments, an impermeable layer put down under the rock and perforated pipe channeled in to the lawn and away from the house, we should be ok. jim laughed when i told him i had visions of jackhammer's busting up the tile floor and excavators in the back yard. marcus and i exchanged thankful glances when jim said "it's not so bad".

to say he's become a trusted friend is an understatement. jim is simply the best: his work is impeccable, he's one of the hardest working people i've ever met, he loves brach's chocolate covered peanuts washed down with a real coke, he kisses my dog on the head, he brings candy bars and cookies for the kids, he's always thinking about marcus' sleep schedule when he has work to complete here. we are so blessed to have found him. and he dreams about our projects right along with us. next up: the laundry room and next year, the deck. (i've promised photos of the new kitchen add on's...have to do some after's still!)


in keeping with tradition and genetics, audrey wakes up and asks for pancakes every morning. i, too, would wake with the carb-crammed circles on my mind. and, until now, had been making 3 at a time in my fry pan. we did have a square pan once that made 4 at a time, but the non-stick became un-stuck and it scrammed. my most recent purchase of an electric griddle has been life-changing. 8 pancakes at a time. it's too good to be true. i can do an entire batch in two rounds. sigh. it truly is the little things in life. so, tomorrow morning, darn near day break, i'll start my coffee and then the griddle with a little smile on my face. and a big smile on audge's.

our homemade pancake recipe (regular and vegan):

1 1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/4 c. milk
1 egg
3 T. butter


1 c. flour
1 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt
1 c. rice, coconut or almond milk
2 T. apple sauce or oil

Thursday, April 22, 2010

rants and raves...

With all due respect to the Board, Principal Burditt and President of the East TCA Ms. Terrazas,

We are utterly disgusted with the amount of trivial busyness and nonsensical expectations of the PTA and presumably some staff at the East campus. In the last two weeks, we have received the following requests: a green t-shirt for the 3rd graders in the Spring Concert, a red/white t-shirt for the 3rd grade Field Day to the tune of $8 (cash only) which requires a trip to the ATM and then a store to break the $20 bill with 5 children in tow, a royal blue t-shirt for 1st grade Field Day, a luncheon for the 3rd-5th teachers, a note sent home regarding Teacher Appreciation week with a daily task for the entire week (see below), a separate email requesting food for a teacher luncheon on Thursday May 6th, in addition to what we'll be doing each day as a class. This on the heels of two field trip volunteer forms and volunteer forms for two Field Days with requests for hundreds of filled water balloons, just for starters. Here's a taste of Mrs. Goble's 1st grade class expectations:

Mon.-Students are being asked to appreciate their teacher and tutor by making/buying cards for them.

Tue.-Students are being asked to bring a flower to school for their teacher and tutor.

Wed.-Students are being asked to bring a healthy snack to school for their teacher/tutor.

Thu.-TBA crafty idea to appreciate the art teacher, in addition to providing food for the teacher's separate luncheon.

Fri.-a small party, a luau possiblty. Snacks and volunteers needed.

(This is all being asked of us at East, while we juggle what has been going on with our 8th grader at North-a separate teacher's luncheon for the 8th grade teachers, the Dinner Dance volunteer/baking requests, and a request by a teacher to supply 100 post it notes by the very next day or they would be penalized.) This teacher later apologized for being so insensitive to families for her last minute request.

This insanity has to stop! I really thought that TCA took the core value of respecting family time seriously and after mothering 5 children and attending several different schools in Illinois and Colorado over the years, I can say TCA states this nicely on paper but does not walk the talk. There are lots of wonderful things going on at TCA and all these things require many parents to volunteer time and resources. But the frequency of these events is where the issue lies. I have never seen teachers so appreciated, and, at the same time, received so many employment opportunity emails for teacher openings! Is what we're doing creating the atmosphere we strive for, appreciating the individual teacher for their particular God given gifts they share with the children with whom they are entrusted or are these great big broad strokes for all to see? Are we sending our children a message of overindulgence and overconsumption delivered in a frenzy of activity by parents whose job is big enough and important enough just to be parents. I know that this was not the intentions of the founding families and I fear this school has gotten too large to manage within that original framework.

I can remember when taking flowers from the garden at home and wrapping them in tin foil was a heartfelt way of a child showing a child's appreciation for their teacher. Very Charlotte Mason like, indeed. This is an out of control machine at work and I cannot be the only parent taking issue with it. I recently overheard a woman talking about how she shoved a piece of paper under her daughter's nose the morning of, while she yelled "write something to appreciate your teacher". Her daughter cried and the retelling of this story ended in an eruption of laughter from a group of moms. I felt like crying myself at the thought of this poor child walking away from that particular TCA experience with nothing valuable learned. I know another mom who just this week had volunteered to make 35 chicken salad sandwiches for a teacher luncheon at North because no one else was volunteering. She has a terrible case of bronchitis and woke at 5 a.m. to get the sandwiches made and ended up with a broken ear drum later in the week. She complained how she just had so much going on with 4 kids in 4 different classes and said "no rest for the weary".

This "optional" system feels very much like big government and does not respect or really promote the family's right to appreciate as they see fit. The letter we received states that participation is optional. We can say no to all of this and not participate. But children are quite sharp, as you know. Might they feel as if they aren't keeping up or following along or fitting in if they don't participate? This whole approach is about the parents, not the children's outward expression of appreciation. Don't we know intrinsically how to appreciate someone in a healthy and authentic way? This system is not about the task of teaching our children those values whatsoever. This system does not take into consideration the financial resources that go into each of these added shopping trips and supplies. This system does not take into account the fact that as TCA parents, we have already dedicated much of our time to helping in the classrooms and commuting to possibly several different campuses daily. We thought we were getting something different, and, while there are many wonderful aspects of our school, it's just like any other school in most other regards. "More, more, more" in an already overconsuming culture, who's "busier, busier, busier" with people moving at a mind numbing pace in a school and a world where "keep it simple" is just a trendy catch phrase.

taking the road less frenetic...

i cannot be the only one. i refuse to accept that. the only mom who is disgusted and disenchanted, disheartened and in total disbelief in "the system". i am referring to the notorious pta, of which i am sure you are well acquainted with.

the only way to believe this is to read it. with your own eyes. so, i am literally cutting and pasting an email i received from a room mom and then i'll add the "extras". without further ado...

1. We'll need a parent to hand out leis at the classroom door that morning
to the kids and teachers. (Leis will be provided by the pto)

2. We'll also need a parent volunteer to come in and take a photo of the
class with the teachers against a beach backdrop that will be provided by
the pto. This parent will also need to have the photo printed (2 copies)
We'll be giving them to the teachers
on Friday.

3. Could someone donate the 2 frames - probably just for 5x7 sized photos

4. Students will be asked to bring a card to school that day to give to the
teachers. They will also be allowed to wear
Hawaiian shirts that day.

1. Students will be asked to bring a flower to school for teachers and
tutors. We'll need a parent volunteer to stand at the door and collect the
flowers into 2 vases.
2. A
Keva Juice cart will be there. If you want to help with the cart, email
Miriam Shambach at They need 4 volunteers total.

1. Students will be asked to bring fruit or
healthy snacks for their
teachers. A parent volunteer will be needed to stand outside the classroom
door to collect their snacks and should be put into some type of cute
basket, bowl, gift bag, etc.

2. Can someone donate the 2 baskets, bowls, gift bags, or whatever you think
would be cute? You can incorporate the Hawaiian theme or just do something

1. Teacher appreciation luncheon - I don't know anything about this. I'm
sure we'll be getting an email asking for help with this as well.

2. Specials/Staff day - Most classrooms will have been assigned a Specials
or Staff person to do something special for them. We will need someone to
make a card for whichever specials teacher or staff member we are assigned.
The kiddos can all sign the card and then maybe a couple of kids can be
asked to deliver it. We can do anything we want for this person, so if
parents want to send in small gifts as well, that would be nice.

1. This is the biggie. This will be the day our room can come up with a fun,
creative idea all our own! I think it would be fun to do a luau at the end
of the half day. Does anyone have creative ideas? I'll send out a separate
email about that when we've decided what to do.

still with me? there's more. first off, multiple that by two for ethan and olivia's classes. then add this:

a green t-shirt for the 3rd graders in the Spring Concert, a red/white t-shirt for the 3rd grade Field Day to the tune of $8 (cash only) which requires a trip to the ATM and then a store to break the $20 bill with 5 children in tow, a royal blue t-shirt for 1st grade Field Day, a luncheon for the 3rd-5th teachers, a note sent home regarding Teacher Appreciation week with a daily task for the entire week (see below), a separate email requesting food for a teacher luncheon on Thursday May 6th, in addition to what we'll be doing each day as a class. This on the heels of two field trip volunteer forms and volunteer forms for two Field Days with requests for hundreds of filled water balloons, just for starters. and then add this: a separate teacher's luncheon for the 8th grade teachers, the Dinner Dance volunteer/baking requests, and a request by a teacher to supply 100 post it notes by the very next day or they would be penalized.) This teacher later apologized for being so insensitive to families for her last minute request.

so. how am i? i'm heartbroken that my children are being sucked into this frenetic pace of life that has become the norm. it's this huge machine in motion, it doesn't stop and no one even hears the deafening noise coming from it. if there is one thing i have always had, it's a God given perspective to earthly reality. and this ability has left me feeling like an alien most times, on a completely different planet.

i'd love to know how often these women get quiet and look around at their life. what state are their marriages in? what is their prayer life like? how often have they actually cooked dinner this month instead of pulling through a drive through? how many times have they snapped at their kids "just a minute" while phoning and emailing and shopping in preparation for all the hoopla? to be the best wife and mom i can takes lots of work. it takes saying no to invaders of my space. it does not influence people and win friends. but that's just not my goal.

i know very few balanced people. i know even fewer balanced moms. i think "balance" is nice idea in theory, but it's not practiced and becomes the faux mantra of already overwhelmed people trying to justify what is going on around them, rather than standing up and being "that mom".

i just emailed the entire school board, principal and president of the pta. i am "that mom". and i am so okay with that.