Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh, What a Busy Day

A must-own-book is the really thick, big, Richard Scarry collection. It provides hours of story telling and picture flipping. It is interactive and timeless. I still get a warm fuzzy when I see Papa Rabbit tuck in his little baby rabbits.

I found another book that could be placed in the same category. I didn't realize this and began to read it from beginning to end---not to be done with this book, I got a bit sleepy.

But, the pictures, rhymes, and concepts penned by Gyo Fujikawa are art. I would recommend checking this book out, Oh, What a Busy Day.

Most of you already know about Fujikawa, but she was one of the first illustrators to include children of a variety of races. She died at age 90, in 1998. Here is the New York Times obituary. An interesting person, someone to know about.

I just made the connection that she wrote and illustrated Baby Animals, which is a Golden Book Classic.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shsss....Don't Tell

I am having an affair. We meet, my lover and I, every morning for coffee. We sneak in a second clandestine meeting sometime during the afternoon...near the toaster oven, and one last embrace occurs right before I go to bed.

I am not the only woman seeking out this lover, this comfort. We girlfriends are many. We whisper his name. We giggle and squeal with glee as we find out we have the same addiction, the same crush. We know it is bad for us. His name is Mr. Nutella.

His smooth cocoa goodness is too good, too tantalizing. Resistance never wins. I tell myself to hold off, to savor and balance. I examine my growing love-handles, but I throw all caution to the wind and spread his hazelnut protein on to my lightly toasted potato bread. At first I was happy with one piece of toast for breakfast. Now I need a stronger fix and insist on two with my morning coffee.

I keep telling myself I’ll cut back, that this will be the last of it. But he and I both know I’m lying. He knows I’m weak and he plays upon this. He convinces me that he is a legitimate source of nutrition. He encourages me by claiming he’s very “European”...a staple at the British breakfast table. I’ve always been a girl swayed by art and style, and so I indulge. I tell myself I’m being Parisian. I am a skinny, French woman who can pull off a scarf and look fashionable---something out of a 1940’s romance flick.

I no longer keep it from my husband. I announce, “I need a fix!” He knows where I’m off to. The kids are in bed, quick, a spot of tea and a bit of toast and Nutella. My jitters subside, and I can relax, rest, and soon fall asleep. The chocolate kisses me good night, and I sleep like a babe.

Summer is coming and so there is tension. I want to look good. I don’t want to be a stay-at-home mom who slowly expands as I climb toward 40. I want to be fit. I want my thighs to love me back. But I also want instant gratification. And so instead of buying the small jar, I reach for the 20 oz. tub off of Winco’s top shelf.

Nutella makes it onto my monthly grocery list. It is now as common as rice, toilet paper, ground beef, and bananas. It has moved from treat to necessity. It controls me, not I it. And somehow I feel no guilt, shame, or desire to free myself from its addictive powers. Instead I dream of one day saving up my proofs of purchase and owning a tacky t-shirt with the letters N-U-T-E-L-L-A. This I will wear with pride, blazing across my chest.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Photo/Book Review....A Two in One

I really do not like baseball. I went once, to a game, and it was an endurance test. I got the whole American culture, ate my expensive hot dog etc. But I think the game is a bit boring and slow. My boys think this too, especially my second. They played t-ball this spring, and my 2nd made sure that when it was their teams turn to be in the field, he was on the bench tasting all the snacks.

My husband and I are glad, since I just don't think I could watch years and years of baseball.

However, my boys do like the book Baseball from A to Z. So that is a book pick for your summer reading. The pictures are great, even if the explanations of a knuckle ball are a bit lacking.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

99 Strong----Make that 100

Do you think I'll hit 100 followers? When I first started my blog I would be so envious when others had 25 followers. Then I wanted 50. Then....I didn't really care. I'm serious. I do want followers. I love comments. I like to see who is reading, and I get giddy when I get a hit from Japan or Germany, but I only want followers who really follow and read.

So, I am happy with my troop of 99 readers. (My daily average is more like 27.)

Thank you.

I wrote this prior to hitting 100! I hit 100 followers on the 21st of June---the first official day of summer. I'm not sure why 100 is such a blog marker, but it is. So, thank you!

Whoever you are.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Nigel, Uncle Nigel. He's adventurous and tells excellent stories. He's English, in that conquer-Africa-smoke-a-pipe type of way. He takes his nephew on a safari looking for the elusive mountain gorilla. When the nephew complains about scary alligators and wild elephants Nigel poo-poo's it and informs him to have a bit of gumption. However, Nigel is a bit clueless to all the very real dangers and adventures his little sidekick is having.

There is great humor and wit in this book, and it is an excellent out loud read.

Elise Broach is fast becoming my favorite children's author. She is creative and original. And she write young adult novels. I think I might have to try some of those out next. Anyone have any recommendations?

Last year my son was given When Dinosaurs Came with Everything. I loved it and still do. It is both entertaining for children and adults. I could relate to the frazzled mother as she went on her errands and her son kept receiving a dinosaur with everything: hair cut, doctors, theater treat...

And her solution to the problem was brilliant. That story's mother is my hero.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hoping For 11 More

Eleven years of marriage. For some reason it seems a bigger deal to hit eleven, than it did to hit ten last year. I think I was suffering from baby brains, our youngest was four months old---it was all a blur.

A good marriage really is like a fine wine---as good as our first years were, these last few have been the best, and I have a hunch the next eleven will just keep getting better. I guess we are getting better at loving each other.

Here is a look, through pictures, at our relationship.

The Dating Years

This dance was our first "public" appearance as a couple.

Our first apartment. This was the beginning of our "selfish" no kids years!

Our youth work era.

I was so sore after this little spelunking trip.

I remember thinking that holidays were seeming a bit empty without kids...then came the first little boy.

We both hated and love our basement when we finally got it finished. I think we had some good fights over our remodel project....good because now we hardly fight at all. I think we got it all out---over drywall and plumbing.

Baby Number Two:

Yep, someone is missing from the family photo...someone refused to participate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Potatoes and Pacifists

I'm a pacifist. There I said it. The secret is out, not like it was a secret, but I'm officially out of the closet. This was much easier to do when I lived in Oregon's Quaker Mecca. Not so easy since the move to the farm. I don't want to offend people, people who I enjoy, call my friends, but who do not hold this belief or conviction. At our church(which we love), I think we are the clear minority in our belief of non-violence. (If not the only ones.)

But this move from majority to minority has been good for us. My husband and I discuss, debate, and still stand firm in this call of Christ to be peacemakers. Yet, I have really valued my relationships with friends who's husbands are in the military. I value them and hope to continue my relationships and conversations with them. I hope they have felt my support as their husbands have been deployed or been away for training during this time of war.

I totally get that it doesn't really make sense. That it seems unpatriotic. That it goes against the American heritage that I am benefiting from. I didn't always feel this way. It was a conclusion I came to in my early 20's. Maybe my parents thought/hoped it was a phase. (I actually have relatives who have fought in every war our country has been in...starting with the Revolution. I did my college senior thesis project on one of our ancestors who was captured by the English and taken to a prison ship. My whole thesis was to show that a sense of community and a belief in God helped those prisoners survive. The interesting things is that this ancestor was actually trying to avoid the war and moved his family "west," but was captured in the middle of the night, while sleeping in his bed. Maybe it should be another blog post. It is quite interesting; we have his diary account. Pst, this is what writers would call a really bad tangent.)

I want my three sons to know there are many ways to be heroes. I think my husband is a hero. I am proud that at 15 he registered as a conscientious objector. (Right after the 1st Gulf War began.) I hope my sons do the same. Of course, this would have been easier if we were surrounded by a community of friends who agreed and championed our version of heroism. In our old church there were classes for young people to take, classes on pacifism. This makes it a whole lot easier when convincing the draft board of your religious conviction. Way more convincing when you are an active member of a traditional peace church.

Right now I'm planting seeds, presenting the option of non-violence---looking for tools I can use to teach my sons the value of peace vs. war. That is why I love the book Potatoes, Potatoes. It reads like a fable, but the truths in it are undeniable. My sons sit quietly and take in the narrative. The mother, the lead, has two sons. They live in a walled garden, snug in their cottage. The armies of the East and West wage war all around them. As the two sons age, they become curious. They are drawn and captivated by the shiny medals, sharp swords, and handsome uniforms. They leave their mother, their home, and their potatoes. At first it is all good, but slowly they are exposed to the reality of war. Their armies are dying, both by combat and by starvation. Both sons know where there is some food, plenty for all. They lead their armies to the walled home of their youth. This is where the climax takes place---the big scene.

We have had many good discussions from this book. We are starting to talk and apply conflict resolution in our own family. When the boys fight, I ask them who is going to be the peacemaker and not throw the next punch? I've started to hear them resolve things on their own. The other day my oldest announced, "OK, I'm done. I'm going to be a peacemaker."

My goal is to present another option to my boys. When they get older, they will have to come to their own conclusions, their own convictions. I trust the process. I do not fear the outcome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where Art The Sun?

Where Art The Sun?

Did I really just turn up the heat? In June?
Oh this is not right.
I've tried to remain positive, ignore the gloomy skies,
But I give up! Its bad. Its depressing.
There is rust in my orchard. I've purchased a second flat of basil.

Will the berries ever ripen?
Will my legs ever need to be shaved again?
I want my annual crop of freckles.
Where the sun?

My boys are still wearing their long sleeves.
They are still playing inside.
We are going crazy, dear Oregon. Crazy!

I've just had a request for a fire.
They say they are cold.

I dream of a timeshare, somewhere hot and sunny.
What color is the sky, beyond the clouds?
I can't remember.

It is like a long marathon,
But we've all passed the finish line
And we just keep running, running

There is promise.
Surely this won't last.
Surely, it'll be nice.
There is hope for Saturday.

Come quickly Lord Sun,
Or I might just give in and start

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Girls Are Yucky

The were captivated, mesmerized, perplexed. What was on my toes? Fingernail polish. It was a first. They liked it. Red was a good choice. Maybe next time I could paint them blue. My middle announced that some color was better than no color.

Another morning I came out with something quite---unusual. What was on my legs? They touched, stroked, and pulled. Tights. What are those? My middle scrunched his nose, “Those are weird to me.” My oldest laughed and ran off to play. My 15-month-old couldn’t pull himself away from my legs covered in this strange, elastic substance.

They yank on my hair; I’m the only one with any long enough to pull. They run their fingers through it as they snuggle with me on the couch. I can tell in their eyes that I am beautiful.

This is my world. This is what it means to be outnumbered. All things girl are quite foreign, and I love it. I love being the center of their worlds and their introduction to all things womanly, female. I take my role very seriously.

That is why I play catch, soccer, wrestle, and enter their worlds of: transformers, pirates, and wild, flesh eating lions. I want to represent balance and exploration---adventure.

They’ve both picked out their future wives. My second keeps changing his mind, but so far he seems attracted to blondes. My oldest appears loyal and true. He has not wavered in his choice of future sojourner. (We happily approve of his choice.)

However, the true sign of normal male development happened on the playground today while I was volunteering at my son’s preschool. My oldest was swinging from the monkey bars with three other very athletically inclined male peers, when they were rudely interrupted, “Yuck! There is a girl,” my red head shouted and took off running, running for his life. I could tell he’d discovered “cooties” as he led the other boys off in a sprint toward the far reached of the playground.

The girl was not ruffled or dazed. She just went off and found her like species. And so it begins, the years of girls being icky....except for me. I still remain the acceptable women in their boy worlds---after all I am mom. I feed, clothe, transport, teach, guide, read, and play with them. They’ve stopped saying they plan on marrying me, but secretly I hope they find some daughter-in-laws a bit like me---I think I’m a pretty good catch.

The problem is that once they decide that girls aren’t yucky, they will find me terribly annoying. But then that too is a phase. I’ll just wait. And soon they’ll realize, once again, just how amazing I really am.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Writing A Book

So we are in the thick of it! And loving it! Right, Melanie? I am. But, my house is a mess, my pilates is lost somewhere in Netflix land, and my other writing projects are not calling my name. Editing. That is what I do. This anthology project is slowly taking over my life. At night I dream about titles. I'm sure I have the perfect one, but by morning it is either totally cheesy, or I've forgotten the brilliance to a night of slumber.

Plus I have these three little boys who like me. Tomorrow is my oldest son's last day of preschool, party to follow. Swimming lessons start up soon. We are in the middle of t-ball. 11th Anniversary coming up. I've taken on organizing a float for the parade on the 19th of June. All this rain has produced weeds one might find in the Amazon. Work, work, work.

Life is full, and it is good. All this to say, sorry you don't get an exciting and creative post this morning.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Call Me A Slacker!

OK, for my blog post today, I'm linking you to another blogger. She and I share a bond, a bond of driving to Northern Idaho. Actually, there are quite a few people who take that trek and once we find each other we are instantly closer than we were just moments before. We all share the same knowledge of I-84, of that certain play place, that nasty restroom with the fly enjoy her post. (Yes, I realize she's driving a different route, but in a way, it is all the same)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Love This Bear


We are all loving our dear friend Bear. We are in the lair with his good friends Mole, Wren, Badger, and Hare. Really, my boys and I are getting quite attached. Then when I discovered that the author of these books, Karma Wilson, is from Montana I knew why she had captured these mountain creatures so well. She must see them outside her kitchen window on a regular basis.

This winter I recommended Bear Stays Up. It is a Christmas book that I like reading any time of the year. The cuddly nature of Bear and his blue quilt gets me feeling cozy and ready for a cup of cider...even in August.

Then I discovered Bear Wants More!

It is the perfect spring read and puts a friendly spin on a hungry spring bear. If you missed my Friday Photo featuring a hungry bear close to our family's cabin you must take a peek. I wouldn't want to discover any of these fellows on a spring hike. (My middle son told me that once our youngest wakes up from hibernating, then he'll be old enough to play with.)

This last week was the buy-one-get-one-free Scholastic book fair at the local grade school. I was happy to buy Too Many Toys by David Shannon and get Bear Feels Scared for free. Or was it the other way around?

All this to say, check them out or buy them. Serious! Or if you want to buy me the ones I don't already own...send them my way! (Currently I only own Bear Feels Scared and Bear Stays Up.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


This is it! June 1st! All you writers! Did you do it? Did you write? Did you submit? Do you love it? Are you excited? Are you waiting to hear? Did you say a little prayer? Did you jump up and down five times before attaching your documents to Is there garlic around your neck? OK, so these might be the types of things I do when I send off a submission and not your common practices....but send them in! Don't forget. Melanie and I are getting very excited by what we've been reading so far.

June 1st has been etched in my mind since we signed our contract with Barclay. Melanie! We should be celebrating, popping open a bottle of bubbly!