Thursday, December 31, 2015

you might think

With all the posting to social media--facebook, instagram, selfies, us-ees, etc.--you might think I'd have one picture to post from yesterday morning of the visit to the pedicure ladies with Jessie, Shilo, Whitney, and sweet little Meredith tagging along. 

Just one picture of us all four sitting in the comfy chairs, soaking our feet, being tortuously tickled, and gently massaged.

Or a picture of our eight lovely softened feet with shiny new colorful toenails.

Or a shot of us walking on the sloppy sidewalks in our flipflops headed into the local Zupas for warm soup and tasty sandwiches and delicious desserts.

Or a picture at any time of us laughing and talking and enjoying the morning together.

But we were too busy having a good time to remember to take any pictures. 

We'll just have to do it again and try to remember to photographically document those moments next time.  Or we'll just laugh and talk and enjoy it again and forget the pics.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

and then it was almost next year

The pie time is long gone. 

So many goings-on, so few blog posts.

That's how blogging goes I suppose.  And here I am, ready to post again.

The pie time began as always at the start of November and reached critical mass on the day before Thanksgiving.  I totally overdid it this year and vow to never again make 13 pies for Thanksgiving.  Never.

After Thanksgiving (and Stu's birthday, of course), the Christmas plans commenced.  Cookies were baked, gifts for neighbors were made ready, cards were created and sent out, cheeseballs were mixed and rolled, a tree was chosen and decorated, parties were planned.

In some amazing, never-before-heard-of-news, I finished my shopping and wrapping of Christmas gifts by the weekend before Christmas.  Well, except for the making of bracelets for all of the girls in my family and the additional shopping we kept doing right up to earlier this afternoon.  Yes, in another never-before-heard-of-thing, we were still shopping this afternoon.  Crazy.  I know.  But we realized on Christmas eve that we should have definitely bought model rockets for launching by all four of the adult men children, not just the two who have children who would find rocketry appealing, thus a trip back to the hobby shop this afternoon.

The clothes I bought for everybody in an unheard of burst of black Friday online shopping were all acceptable, except for that one sweater that the drummer thought I gave him already last year but it turned out that last year he'd exchanged a too-big one I bought for the one I bought this year.  So now he has two maroon cashmere sweaters.  Or perhaps he returned this year's sweater for a different one that I'll try to buy for him next year. 

The girls all seemed pleased with their bracelets

Not the actual bracelets I made because none of my girls has turquoise as her birthstone.  And those aren't my hands.
and Leo and Calvin loved their Hulk hands.  As did everyone else who put them on for a bit of Hulk-type smashing action.  Because hello(!) Hulk hands.

If only I'd been able to find the matching Hulk head.  And we should seriously have had video of the Hulk hands action on Christmas eve around the tree.  Totally appropriate reason-for-the-season stuff going on there.

The grandkids proved their intellectual skills by figuring out that the note cards they each received with one of the letters W G I S S T E N could be arranged to spell SWINGSET, which is the gift Jack and I gave to each family, to be assembled in their back yards as soon as weather permits.  Yet another never-before-thing this year is that we gave no Barbies or princesses or similar toys this year.  That was hard.  But swingsets and Hulk hands more than covered the absent Barbies and princesses.

We must have had a major snow storm on the 18th because I have this shot of Jo and Gus on the bench on the deck basking in the sunlight with deep snow in the background.  

JoJo loved/loves her Christmas squeaky ball even if it no longer squeaks, and Gus was thrilled with his pajamas that match Jr's pjs.  Yes.  You can get pajamas that match your dog's pjs.  Who doesn't love the internet really?  Still trying to grab a photo of the two of them snoozing in their jamms.

We've had several family get togethers this month including one with most of my family last Sunday and another planned with Jack's family tomorrow night.  Sadly, my parents were not able to join us for dinner and fun times last weekend, but hopefully we'll have Jack's mom with us tomorrow.  And then the five oldest girls and I will enjoy a sleepover and pancakes for breakfast on Monday.  Here are a few shots of the chaos that was my family party--

My younger brother and his daughter, son-in-law, and two sons

my older brother, smiling(!) holding his curly-haired grandson

speaking of smiling--

brothers--mine, Jack's, our boys

my kids--

he'll probably hate this picture

he'll probably hate this picture

She's barely in this picture

They are such serious men
Jack and me--both totally posing

Is it just my family or do all men look so serious in pictures? Also, I could post many more photos of blurry images, bunny ears, frowning and face pulling, but do I need to share those?  I think not.  Besides, I still have tomorrow's party to capture more of those moments.

Other brief thoughts--Did not love the mice that moved in just before the family party.  Definitely relieved they seem to all be dead and gone.  [don't judge me.  mice in the house is not allowed.  no good.  very bad.]  Also did not love the stomach flu the day after the party.  Barfing sucks.  Nearly overwhelmed seeing Stu working hard to (successfully) avoid a hospital stay over Christmas.  Definitely relieved he is perking up.  And totally love the new ping pong gaming and slot track racing going on downstairs now.  Looking forward to more family time tomorrow, pancakes on Monday, and pedicures with my girls later this week.  And a new year is coming.

Monday, November 2, 2015


The pie time is here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

post halloween

Trying to get a shot of Jessie's bunch--my robber girl with her sweet bag of loot, a distracted Batman, a posing angel, some minecraft character I don't know, and a worn-out darling devil.

Stu and Shi's bunch--Shi with a princess who I don't think was created by Disney, with a princess who was created by Disney, and their funny little monkey.

And this adorable little pink-eared sweetie with the Drummer's wife.

Jessie facetimed me last night while we were outside--Jr, his friend Joe, Jack, and me--massive quantities of frightening children--not tiny children or even small children, but older children, teenagers, and parents of tiny children who were being kept out way too late.  Dozens and dozens of visitors to Jr's  scary space.  I couldn't stop laughing--it was hilarious--as noted by Jessie.  Over and over. 

She is probably right, I do love Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2015

ah halloween

Most of the time, I feel like I'm a good mom.  My kids are good people.  They're raising good people.

And last weekend I showed I've still got my mom skills by getting both tiny girls to go to sleep in my arms even though their parents all insisted the girls don't believe in sleeping anymore. 

But Halloween comes around each year and leaves me feeling like a lousy mom.  It goes on and on.  The costumes.  The decorations.  The makeup.  The visits to see the grandparents to show them the costumes and the makeup.  Those visits went on and on (but I'm sure they are not so bad for my kids and grandkids now that I'm on the receiving end of the visits.)  The parties and the parades and more parties.  The candy.  Okay, I kind of like the candy. 

Really, nowadays, Jr does all of the decorating.  He looks forward all year to the party and the decorations and the scaring people.  I just get to sit back and watch him frighten teenagers and moms and dads of little kids.  I never realized how much I could enjoy seeing somebody get a good scare.  So that's good. 

But I always feel like I'm letting him down a little.  My idea of Halloween decorations when my kids were little was to stick a picture of a cartoon black cat on the front room window.  Okay, we also carved pumpkins.  And I always managed to put together costumes my kids seemed to be okay about.  I'm kind of relieved I'm not a mom today.  I don't have that creative genetic material in me that allows you to come up with great costumes once you get past the cute kitten and bunny stage.

I think Jr may be a bit disappointed that he can't get me to dress up for his annual Halloween bash.  I'm sorry for that, but costumes and I don't really get along all that well.  We don't understand each other.  I have bad history with costumes. 

There was that one time when a local radio station ran some commercials on TV for a contest where you could win money by calling in at certain times and the woman in the commercial was a housewife wearing curlers and no makeup and a housecoat with a bunch of kids around her and she'd say, please, just give me the money.  The radio station next ran a contest where if you went to the airport dressed up in a costume when the Jazz arrived, you might win playoff tickets.  So I got this great idea that I should dress up like the radio station's commercial and went to the airport in my curlers and no makeup and housecoat. 

It seemed like a sure thing. 

It was not.  Oh no.

Humiliating.  That's what that was.  No Jazz tickets and dragging my little kids through that huge airport.

I should have learned my lesson about costumes right there.  But, you know, why would I, right?

Tonight for Zumba, the instructor posted on Facebook that we should wear costumes to class.  I did not wear a costume.  There was one girl with a zombie face and another two girls dressed like kittens. 

I'm pretty sure the last time I could have gotten away with dressing like a kitten was when I was five.  But those girls pulled it off.  It reminded me of a story the drummer's wife told me a few years ago.  She said in Jr High, they were supposed to dress up like fruits or vegetables for Halloween--maybe it was for a party, maybe school, I don't remember.  Anyway, she came up with what she thought was a great idea, dressing as a particular vegetable like an eggplant or something?  All of her friends dressed like kittens.  She pointed out to her friend that they were supposed to dress like fruits or veggies.  Her friend pointed out that boys don't like clever girls.  They like cute girls.  And girl kittens are cute. 

Sigh.  Those girl kittens at the gym tonight were pretty cute.  But still.  Costumes are so tricky.

There was the time a few years ago when we were invited to a singing party.  A singing party.  But somehow in my mind, I got it confused with a costume party.  It was not for Halloween, but amazingly, I found a great costume that went along with the singing we would be doing.  Neither Jack nor Jr had a costume.  But I did.  A great 1970's maxi dress.  No mistaking it for anything I'd have worn after 1980.  But wear it I did, to that singing party.  Can I tell you what it feels like to go back to a Jr High nightmare when you're in your 50's?  Perhaps you can imagine.

So.  Costumes.  Not for me thanks.  You simply can't trust them.  They can go so very wrong in all kinds of ways and you could find yourself in the huge airport in curlers or in a 70's maxi dress at a singing party.

So.  Sorry Jr that I don't love Halloween as much as you do.  But you get it.  The costumes.  The decorations.  The excitement.  Me?  I totally get the candy.  And the laughing off my fool head when teenagers and parents of little children are terrified by you and your antics. 

I love that Jr loves Halloween as much as he does.  I really love that he has a job that pays well so he can buy all of the incredible decorations he loves.  I love that he has a fog machine and robots and tombstones and skeletons, lots of skeletons, and things that make scary noises when you walk by them.  I love that he and Jack have made a life-sized coffin and a witch that stirs her cauldron.  I love that his friends come over and he is the director of the decoration placement all over the front yard.  I love hearing kids scream and other kids say he made them cry last year but they're back for more.  I used to worry about the kids whose parents kind of forced them to come get candy from the bowl up on our porch, but nowadays I realize that being scared a little when it's really safe may be a good thing for kids because they see they can do somewhat hard things and be proud of themselves (and get lots of candy).

I tell myself I'm a good mom for supporting Jr's love of all things Halloween. 

But me?  I'm looking forward to getting out my apron (my own form of comfortable safe costume) and using one of my best mom skills by baking pie.  After all of the Halloween chaos, I look forward to the easy as pie, calm part of autumn that is November, which gives me a moment to catch my breath before the chaos that is Christmas, which Jr also loves, second only to Halloween.

Sorry Jr.  But did you hear we're going to have a big snow year this year?  No costumes, just deep white powder and that crunchy slippery surface we both love.  It's coming as soon as we get through Halloween.

Monday, September 28, 2015

a bit of perspective

Jack and I spent last week in Yellowstone with Stu and his family.  It was awesome.  Lovely.  Brilliant.  Beautiful.  Inspiring.  Fun.  Entertaining.

I was going to blog about the trip last night after our eight-hour drive home, but I was too tired.  Today I'm glad I waited.  I had a post in my mind that included talk of doing work/working while on vacation in the most amazing place on earth.  Also words about numerous calls and texts about issues with Jack's mom.  Perhaps more words about sickness--colds and other more worrisome ailments--while on vacation.  And maybe even other words about the way vacations can seem chaotic and frenzied.

But today, with the perspective of a day apart from all of that, the things I remember are these:


ice cream at Old Faithful



family hikes to waterfalls

mud pots, hot springs, and geysers, including the ever-dependable Vixen geyser that gives a swell performance every 3-5 minutes, ending with the sound of hot water flushing, draining down into the earth

Jack and I exploring Mammoth, the perfect example of the ongoing change in Yellowstone.  Also a great closeup of my sunglasses frame.

and the animals, oh the animals--seriously who doesn't love a baby bison?  Just ask Ellie.  She loves baby bison.

and the birds--ravens everywhere along with geese, ducks, swans, and so many others.  Did you know ravens talk in more than just cawcawcaw?  Yes, they have a warbling throaty sound too.

 and elk, elk, elk--close, far, bugling madly

because we were very lucky and because we got up early, we saw a bear go over the mountain

and because we were even luckier, we watched a black wolf run across a valley with a magpie nagging and pestering him (or her)

 (not the badger we saw but a good internet representation)
we came across a badger--she (or he) about to cross the road as we rounded a bend but changing her (or his) mind and turning back up the mountain, scuttling under logs and around sage and disappearing before we could get a good picture to share.

we were literally on the range where we said give me a home, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play, because they were playing--tag, I think


 and this, this is the way my face looked and the way my whole self felt for almost the whole glorious time.

Monday, September 14, 2015

a little fire, a lotta party

A couple of days ago, Jessie asked if we were going to celebrate her birthday on Sunday.  I said, "of course.   Dinner?  Dessert?"  She said she'd like pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions and brownies with ice cream for dessert.  And I said, "of course."  And I thought, whatever she wanted, she could have for her birthday.

Yesterday morning, I got up early to start the pot roast cooking all day in the oven.  I poured a little bit of oil in the big pan, tossed in the roast(s) and turned on my gas stove.  I seasoned it and thought I should lift the slightly uneven-bottomed pan to spread the oil around the roast so everything would brown evenly. 

And that is when I learned that hot pan + oil + gas flame = FIRE!!!  Sparkly little flickers that quickly flashed into a ball of flames under my stove hood.  YIKES!

I let go of the pan, took a step back, then reached back to turn off the burners, and by then, the flames were gone, leaving a bit of sooty blackness behind on the cabinets by the stove and the wall behind it.

Again.  YIKES!

After catching my breath and surveying the situation, I relit the burners, finished browning the roast, peeled and cut up the potatoes, onions, and added them, the carrots and a bit of water to the pan, covering it all and setting it carefully into the preheated oven.

At some point before the completion of these tasks, but after the flames were gone, the smoke detectors started beeping so I opened a window and the door even though there really wasn't any smoke to be seen.  And then I scrubbed off the sootiness and then sat down to think about what had just nearly happened.



After such an intense beginning, it seemed only right that the party later in the day would be a little chaotic, but in a much less frightening way.  Almost everyone came over, everyone who came laughed and talked and enjoyed the others and the food.  After the dinner eating was done and cleaned up, and after the singing and cake and ice cream serving was completed, I tried to get a few pictures.  As I said, it was chaotic, which is why these pictures seem totally appropriate.

Sweet Gwen slept through the eating.  Jack had to take a breather and go outside to eat his brownies and ice cream.  But it was all good and so nice to have almost everyone together.


And tomorrow is my girl's birthday.  I hope she has a great day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

if you had a day off

Wouldn't you want to spend the morning with this darling girl?

I had to lay her down for a minute to go to the bathroom.  I'd forgotten about being a mom with that dilemma.

She is a moving, smiling sweetheart.

And oh my those baby toes.

She was my sunshine today too.

Sweet Meredith was very excited to see me.  Obviously.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

i saw the eye doctor today

Hahahahahahahahahaha...I'm so funny!

Seriously.  I visited with the eye doctor today.  He gave me three options:

1.  Steroid injection into the styes.  [Read: benign-sounding term for a shot--with a needle--into my lower eyelid--hello(?) right by my eye.]  I explained another eye doctor tried that last time I had one of these monsters and I ended up with a huge black eye and the little white bump that won't go away.  He acknowledged the little white bump is a scar from the steroid injection so it's likely that scars are my body's response to steroid injections.
2.  Lance those monsters.  Whaaa???  [Read: pull back my eyelid and, well, I can't even bring myself to type the words he used, it makes me feel a little sick to think about it, but realize that if number 1 is bad, number 2 is worse--way worse.]  He acknowledged this would be "pretty uncomfortable", which in non-doctor speak means he won't feel a thing but it's going to hurt like hell to me.
3.  Continue the steroid drops twice a day for a month and come back if the monsters are still there and we'll engage in further discussion about number 2.

He assured me these monsters "almost always" resolve given enough time.  I asked what he'd do if we were talking about his mom's eyelid and he paused, thought for a brief moment and said he'd go with number 3.  So we are.  I decided right then to avoid needles and other sharp cutty things around my eye from here on out.  I may have fallen for that needle thing once before, but not again.  No way.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

donut falls

Yesterday morning, Jr, his friend, Joe, and I hiked to Donut Falls.  I'm pretty sure I've been there before, but it was years ago. 

We had this idea that it would be good to be out in nature early in the day.  And it was beautiful.  

Yeah, I still have the stye-Popeye thing goin' on

Even if it was crowded like a mall, like a massive family reunion of many separate families, lots of kids running everywhere with nobody holding anybody's hands and people scrambling up the falls making it impossible to get a good shot of only Jr climbing to the donut

It still felt really good to be outside moving around.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

my weekend plans

All day on Friday, people kept asking if I had plans for the holiday weekend and I said we would be around since we just got back from Washington.

I knew this was the six-year anniversary of Stu's liver transplant, which makes this weekend always somewhat emotional, but I had no idea I'd get to spend happy time with all of my kids and all of their kids.  But we did.

Love them all so very much.