Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Country Road, Take Me Home

It's that time of year. We call it Break Up. Snow is melting. Ground is appearing. Mud is taking over.

Yes, indeedy. This is the road that leads to our house.
Ya'll come visit real soon.

Dinner last night: cheeseburgers, french fries, salmon pinwheels

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And So It Begins

Remember what it's like to be in sixth grade? I don't. I think I played trumpet in the elementary school band. I faintly can picture my teacher, although for the life of me I can't recall his name. Mr. Holmes? No, that's not it. Hopper? It started with an H. Or was it an S? The only thing I clearly remember is telling myself that when I grew up I would never treat my kids the way my parents treated me. Oh, how the worm turns.

My eldest daughter recently celebrated her twelfth birthday, and not only am I still reeling from that bit of news, but I am—on an almost daily basis—trying not to alternately laugh and then cry at my preteen's requests, such as:

1) She would like to start wearing eye shadow and mascara. As in makeup. Cosmetics. On her lovely, young face.

2) She has informed her father and me that next year for her thirteenth birthday the "only" gifts she wants are her very own personal cell phone, email address, and Facebook account. Well, okay, then.

3) She wants to play the radio at all times. In the morning, before I've had my first cup of coffee. In the car, with all four girls jibbering and jabbering over the music. In her room, blasting down through the floorboards. My 12-year-old responds to my protestations with, "You just hate music." It's not so much that I hate music, but that I love silence.

I don't think she's listening when I explain to her why she is not allowed to play on the computer all day, talk on the phone all evening, or spend every weekend at various friends' homes . . . she's too busy making her mental vows to never be as restrictive with her daughter as her mean ol' mom is with her.

Dinner last night: tuna noodle casserole, peas

Friday, March 26, 2010

Make Up Your Mind, Kid

My daughter is an artistic genius, I tell you. While all the other three-year-olds are mindlessly drawing happy faces, my little Edvard Munch is thinking deep thoughts and sketching the grim faces of this world.

Have you ever seen such a realistic depiction of life's harsh reality? She's captured my expression beautifully.

Notice anything else?

I'll give you a hint . . . it involves the hand she is using to draw her next masterpiece . . .

She's drawing with her RIGHT hand. I'd accepted the fact that my daughter is left-handed, and then she goes and pulls a switcheroo. Wait a minute . . .

Perhaps I spoke too soon.

So which is it, girly girl? Left or right?

Only Mr. Grim Face knows, and he's not talking.

Dinner last night: beef barley soup, sweet corn muffins

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At Least It's Not a Moose

If I were a better blogger, I'd carry a camera around my neck at all times. Then maybe I could snap a picture of the red fox that I saw running through our backyard or the coyote loping across a field near our house or the black bear digging around in our neighbor's trash last spring. Lo and behold, I actually had my camera in the car the other day when I spied this wild pheasant in someone's yard. Too bad I don't know how to focus.

Blurry, but colorful.

Dinner last night: jerk chicken, rice, steamed carrots

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cheese on Wheels

My daughters couldn't stand it anymore. The sun was shining, snow was melting, pavement was showing—why, it's practically summer. The girls grabbed their rollerblades, scooters, and skateboard, and hit the driveway. Sometimes literally.

Remember roller-skating at the rink to disco music? Now it's roller-blading outside while listening to Lady Gaga on your iPod.

My 9-year-old can't be stopped. First, the pogo stick. Then the ice skating. Lord, have mercy, now she's teaching herself to skateboard.

This kid feels the need for speed.
Watch out, Daisy Dog. She'll run you over.

Oh, dear. I've seen pictures of little country children running around barefoot and shirtless in their denim overalls . . . but what kind of horrible mother lets her daughter wear oversized gloves and play shirtless in her snowbibs?

Dinner last night: beef bolognese

Friday, March 19, 2010

Name Dropping

The other night, we rented 2012. Let me clarify. My husband and I rented 2012; my girls are much too young to watch such an intense movie. My 12-year-old didn't even put up an argument, instinctively understanding that her mother was protecting her from horrific nightmares about the world ending. Anyway, in 2012, the president of the United States is played by Danny Glover, and watching him refuse to board Air Force One reminded me of the time that we were getting onto a plane and there was Danny Glover sitting in an aisle seat in first class, just as normal-looking as you please, wearing a baseball cap and working on a laptop. My daughter, 8 years old at the time, was wearing her favorite pair of neon green socks pulled way up over her kneecaps and walking slowly through the plane tapping on armrests and staring at people straight in the face, just like excited 8-year-olds aboard a real jet aeroplane tend to do. Mr. Glover smiled at her and said hi there, and she smiled back and whispered hi, having no idea that SHE JUST CONVERSED WITH DANNY GLOVER.

Danny Glover was not my first brush with fame. When I was a teenager, my family went to eat breakfast at a tiny little restaurant in tiny little Skagway, Alaska. While we were waiting to order, I recognized Charles Martin-Smith sitting at one of the tables. At the time, I had no idea that his name was Charles Martin-Smith, but I recognized him from movies I had seen and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to convince my parents in hisses through a plastered smile and clenched teeth that the bass player in The Buddy Holly Story and, for crying out loud, the guy from American Graffiti was RIGHT THERE. Eating pancakes! They did not believe me. Oh, the sweet victory, when on the way out of town we drove past huge spotlights and big cameras set up on the side of the road . . . he was starring in the Disney film Never Cry Wolf, which was being filmed just outside of Skagway.

Then there was the time I saw Brigitte Nelson walk past me in a Las Vegas hotel . . . a heavily-tattooed Axl Rose riding his motorcycle sans helmet in the lane next to me on the Pacific Coast Highway . . . Halle Berry in Florida. Oh, and we can't forget Sterling Knight at the mall.

How about you? Ever surreptitiously stare at a movie star as he tried to eat his morning meal?

Dinner last night: ham steak with pineapple sauce, baked potato, green beans

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shoveling Kids

(click on arrow to play)

Dinner last night: white chili, cornbread

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Road Trip

I love the privacy and peacefulness of living in the woods, but I grew up on the water and I've been missing it. Last week was Spring Break and the perfect time to pack up the kids and hit the road.

Can you tell that our minivan has a DVD player? In my defense, I only let the kids watch movies in the car when we're on a road trip; they're not allowed to watch videos if we're just driving around town. Poor things.

Yay! We're getting closer. I'm feeling better already.

I'm so happy to smell the ocean air that
I don't even mind the squawking seagulls.
They'd better watch out, though . . .

. . . this eagle won't hesitate to swoop in and steal their food.

Speaking of eagles, my 9-year-old possesses the eyesight of one. She found a starfish at the beach. It's a gift. If there's a starfish laying around, this kid'll find it.

Dinner last night: chicken enchiladas, refried beans, corn, green salad

Monday, March 15, 2010

That's a Lotta Snow

Spring Break comes in all shapes and sizes, so you skinny sunny vacations shouldn't make fun of our big fat snowy holiday. It's not nice.

Don't let the SPRING in Spring Break fool you. It's still very much winter up here, as you can see by the height of the snow behind my 6' husband and my crazy daughter. Those are snowmachine tracks on the mountain in the background; here, let me zoom in for you . . .

Alaskans love to etch-a-sketch in the snow.

Dinner last night: homemade chicken noodle soup, toasted English muffins

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just in Time for Spring Break . . .

I hope you all are enjoying your sunshine and your green lawns. It's 7:30 in the morning, and we just finished snowblowing our driveway AGAIN.

So you go on ahead and take your kids to the beach or the park or wherever it is normal families go during Spring Break. I'll be right here stuck in a snowdrift, plotting my revenge. Oh, yes. I will make you pay, and pay dearly. When I arrive in New Mexico this summer with my daughter's soccer team, I'm going to put on a pair of shorts. And I'm going to take a picture of myself. Then I'm going to post it.

Dinner last night: chalupa in the crockpot

Monday, March 8, 2010

Don't Ask the Question Unless You Really Want the Answer

My daughter and I slipped out of our pew in the middle of church service yesterday to head towards the lobby. Just as we were exiting the auditorium, a well-intentioned man smiled at my 3-year-old and whispered jokingly, "Are you leaving already?!"

My daughter didn't break her stride as she shot back, loud and clear as a bell, "I have to go poopy!"

I'm a toddler and
I tell it like it is

Dinner last night: southwest chicken over rice, pineapple upside-down cake

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Make Yourself at Home, Why Don'tcha

If you hang around this blog long enough, you're going to hear about moose. A moose highway happens to run behind our house, and the skinny-legged twig eaters are constantly zipping past our family room. I knew we had a problem when, a few days after moving into our home, I was unpacking a box in the living room and heard a slow clop clop clop coming from outside. What the Sam Hill? Is someone riding their horse up my driveway? A mother moose and her calf meandered over to the large picture window and shot me the evil eye, then hung out ON THE DECK until they were good and ready to move on. I think they were sending me a message, and it wasn't Welcome to the Neighborhood.

They are so common around here that I honestly don't even think to document most of the moose sightings. If I did, I'd be spending all my days photographing the moose eating our lilac bush or the moose trying to hide behind a skinny birch tree or the moose who gave birth in our yard or the moose napping underneath the girls' swingset. Frankly, they don't impress me. In fact, they annoy me.

The nerve. This rude cow just laid her fat butt right down outside my bedroom window and stayed there for hours. Daisy barked herself hoarse and the twins worked themselves up into a tizzy shouting, "Moose, Mommy! Moose!" Yes, girls, I see the moose. Yay. Isn't this exciting. Woo. Yes, she's taking a nap. WHICH IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING.

Dinner last night: Italian sausage soup with cheese tortellini, biscuits

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finally, a Place to Smoke Cigars and Sip Brandy

A funny thing happened on the way to Lent. On day 2 of "40 Bags in 40 Days," I was organizing the bookshelves in my bedroom. These are the only real bookshelves in our house, partly because we have twin toddlers who pull everything off from any surface they can reach and partly because most of our books are still sitting in boxes out in the garage from when we moved to this house three years ago.

I was culling and dusting and re-positioning items, when I realized that I barely have enough books to fill two shelves. The rest hold DVDs, framed pictures, and objects d'art. I sat back on the floor and thought about that awhile.

I've always loved to read. Prior to kids, my husband and I had large shelving units in our home, overflowing with books. We were usually the exception among our family and friends. Most homes I've visited do not display books; this has always secretly surprised me, especially when I know the occupants are college-educated and were required to read all sorts of books to get through school. Did they just throw them away? Are they hidden in a secret room?

I've come to realize that bookshelves look cluttered, and most people don't like the mess. Many people who do read for pleasure use the public library and don't buy their books. And, of course, in the past few years the Internet has eliminated the need to keep reference materials such as encyclopedias or a dictionary/thesaurus or a collection of famous quotations on hand. Even knowing all I do about clutter and frugality and wasted space, as I sat there on my bedroom floor looking at my measly collection of books, I realized that I LOVE BOOKS. And I've missed seeing some of my favorites. I've been wanting to re-read Cold Sassy Tree, but haven't bothered yet to check it out from the library or buy it, because I know it's stored somewhere out in the garage. So I made a decision right then and there. I'm going to go find some bookshelves and make myself a library.

We've got this really wide hallway that has been sitting empty. It connects the "old" part of the house with the new addition (built prior to our buying this home). I've never quite known what to do with this space, but I think it makes a perfect library. The fact that I found these bookshelves on clearance confirmed that I was making the right decision! I went through all my boxes of books and got rid of a lot, so there's plenty of room to add new ones, and—once the twins are a little older and not so destructive—I will incorporate a few of my favorite things, like my carousel music box and my grandmother's vase and the kids' pottery.

The library decor is far from finished. I have a beautiful Tiffany-style lamp, still in its box, that's been waiting a good year or more for the right spot. I also will hang more art on the walls to go along with the picture you see there, which was painted by my dad. Until we replace the carpet with hardwood flooring, I will lay down a pretty rug. I know, I know, you're not supposed to put rugs on carpeting, but this is MY library and I'll do as I please. Even if everyone else thinks it's messy and a waste of money.

Dinner last night: macaroni and cheese

Monday, March 1, 2010

Saturday with Sterling

My daughter's been 12 for less than a week, and already she's changing. After never expressing the tiniest interest in boys, she asked me this past weekend to take her to the mall so that she could meet Sterling Knight. If you're like me, you're thinking, "Sterling who?" Even though we don't receive cable TV, she knows that he is a popular Disney actor and singer, and took a deep breath to calm her nerves before explaining this well-known fact to her clueless mother.

Obviously, if I have never heard of this young man then he is not famous. Sonny With a Chance? Please. Now, Lawrence Welk re-runs on PBS . . . there's some talent for you. I'll bet you any money this Sterling kid can't play an accordian, tap dance, and sing at the same time. Grandpa? Is that you? Next I'll be lecturing my daughter that she should be listening to a real singer like Perry Como, instead of that hippie named Elvis.

I may be a pop culture ignoramus, but I'm also a big sucker, so my girl succeeded in convincing me to drive her to the mall so she could say hi to this Knight character. She assured me she would use her very own birthday money to pay for his autograph and picture, but I had to promise to take her 45 minutes early in case there was a line. Her instincts were correct. At least 150 restless adolescents were already waiting, and the line that quickly piled up behind my daughter was UNbelievable.

Maybe this guy IS popular.

I left my daughter in line with a couple of friends who had also shown up, and went shopping for awhile. Just as I was returning to the meet-and-greet area, I heard a murmuring from the back of the line . . . the rumbling grew and grew in volume, then morphed in pitch, until it was a cacophony of screams and laughter. Here he comes! I was ready to take a picture. The only problem? I have no idea what he looks like, so I just started snapping pictures of the entourage and hoped he was in there somewhere.

Later, when we reviewed my shots, I found just one picture in which you can actually see the person I was supposed to be photographing.

I was greatly amused watching shoppers who just happened to be passing by with no clue as to what was going on. Reactions ranged from "This must be the line to the restroom" to "OMG! It's Sterling Knight!!" *thud* as they fainted to the floor.

My daughter asked me in all seriousness if she should try to get his phone number; I kept a straight face as I told her that this event was more like a job for him and he probably wouldn't be giving out his "digits" to strangers, even those as beautiful and charming as she. She nodded, "You're right, Mom. He'd probably give me the number of his agent."

The future Mrs. Sterling Knight.

Dinner last night: curry chicken, noodles, cinnamon carrots