Sunday, September 30, 2012

Land Ho!

This is a pic of Mukilteo from the ferry.  The fog delayed the ferry by enough that I was able to drive right on instead of waiting  the the 29 minutes until the next ferry.

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After spending all Saturday buying a bunch of  used furniture and moving things into the cabin, I went back by myself today to do some serious work—and to spend quality time with my best friend (me).   I didn’t get home until after 10 tonight, so I will blog more about the change from a wooden tent to a cozy getaway another timer.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


What happens when Wesley has a moving van ramp and his bike.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Read Me Another One!

Look who I caught being cute and quiet— letting Dwayne and I sleep in until almost 8am! 

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Breaking News

Kyla officially tied her shoes—both of them ON THE CORRECT FEET even—for the first time today. Then she learned how to double time them this afternoon.  I had two goals for the summer, neither which I did: 1) teach Piper to ride without training wheels and 2) teach Kyla to tie her shoes.  Piper decided to teach herself to ride her bike. And as for Kyla, I think I showed her once this summer and then actually started teaching her a few weeks ago.  And today, she figured it out for herself. 

Kyla had her well-child check-up today.  She’s two inches shy of 4 feet tall (68%) and 47 pounds (63%).  It seemed to takes years for my preemie baby to get out of first quartile, and here she is, big and strong.  And so, so confident in herself. 

My Little “Star”

I have been working on getting some basics for the cabin, and it only took one night of sleeping on air mattresses to realize the first thing I wanted were good mattresses.  (Bed frames can wait, though.)

So I went to a local store that I hadn’t visited before.  The owner makes his own mattresses and the cost is pretty close to wholesale.  (I got 5 excellent mattresses—high quality foam, etc, for $2000; 4 twins, 1 queen.)  Wesley and Piper were with me when I chose them, and they enjoyed playing on with the owner’s dog and then pretending it was naptime on the sample bed we were building.

They were cute enough that the owner asked if I would bring them back later to be in a commercial for the company.  Wesley, with his eyes squeezed tightly shut and his mouth in a weird huge grin, got cut in editing, but Piper is in the commercial.  It’s supposed to air during Opera reruns starting today. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

List of Books Read in 2012 Thusfar

I’ve been keeping track of the books I’ve read since January 1, 2012, and have only listed ones I’ve finished and actually read (somehow, usually books on CD haven’t “counted”). I’ll update this list as I finish something new and you can access if, if you choose, but clicking on “2012 Books” under LABELS (to your left).

44. Grace (eventually) : thoughts on faith / Lamott, Anne.  Kind of a follow-up to #32 on the list.  I find her very worth reading.

43. Mothers who think : tales of real-life parenthood. A wonderful collection of essays about all aspects of motherhood—and adulthood—that are varied and all extremely well-written.   I got to walk a few miles in other mother’s moccasins. 

42.All new people : a novel / Lamott, Anne.  I tried reading a few of her novels until I could get through this one, but I’m just going to stick with Lamott’s memoirs for now on.

41.Let's pretend this never happened : (a mostly true memoir) / Lawson, Jenny.  Funny, funny, funny with a lot of other "f” words.

40.Operating instructions : a journal of my son's first year / Lamott, Anne.  Very worth reading, especially for parents and liberals.  I try so hard to follow other political views, but , ahhhh, it feels so good to read someone whose political views are unabashedly similar to mine.  And is still a Christian. 

39. The Language of Flowers / Diffenbaugh, Vanessa.  The author, who is a foster mother, wrote this novel about a young woman aging out of foster care.  She is as screwy as any system can make you, but it’s ultimately a story of….redemption.  Or close enough.

38. A Gift of Thought / Sarah Wyndes (Kindle publication only).  A sequel to #21 on this list, but not quite as fun.

(#24.) The Case of the Missing Marquess, by Nancy Springer

(#25). The Case of the Left-Handed Lady

37. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets

36. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan

35. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

34. The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye 

A fictional detective has a much younger fictional sister, who at 14, is very clever, very resourceful, and very alone (spell her first name backwards).   I listened to the first four Enola Holmes books on CD and read the last two.  The series is marketed to young adults, and I thought they were great—especially amidst my current Sherlock obsession—and I can’t wait for my kids to read them when they are older.  Like Victoria Thompson (#31), this author is really good about incorporating interesting and dreadful details of living in old London.

33. The Enchanted Wood / Enid Blyton.  Any book over 200 pages I have to read aloud to the kids counts on this list.  A huge kid pleaser, it’s a bit annoying for adults.  Okay, this adult.

32. Traveling Mercies / Anne Lamott. I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without reading Lamott.  This is memoir within a collection of short essays about how an unconventional woman becomes and unconventional Christian.  I have 20 passages marked in the first 80 pages for discussion at our next book group.  This author will be showing up on this list again. 

31.  Murder on Sisters’ Row / Victoria Thompson.  This is the latest in the “A Gaslight Mystery” series.  It takes place in ninteenth century New York City and is well-researched to include details of class, corruption, social ills and niceties, and Teddy Roosevelt, all within the context of a good old fashioned murder mystery.

30. The Housekeeper the Professor / Yoko Ogawa.  Neither my good reading friend, Karin, nor I remember why we both had this on hold at the library.  Perhaps we both read the same review or heard about it on NPR.  The story is beautifully told and somehow restful to read.

29. This I Believe.  Compilation of 75 essays from NPR’s popular “This I Believe” personal essay series.   

28. This I Believe II.  The obvious sequel with an insightful introduction.

27. The Sense of an Ending / Julian  Barnes.  2011 Man Booker Prize winner.  I can’t articulate quite why this short book obsessed me so, but I felt hopeful and melancholy when I finished it and had to ease back into the real world.

26. Dead end in Norvelt / / Gantos, Jack.
25. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady / Springer, Nancy.
24. The case of the missing marquess / Springer, Nancy.
23.Half the sky : / Kristof, Nicholas D.,
22. The Reading Promise / Alice Ozam
21. A Gift of Ghosts / Sarah Wynde This is a debut novel from my favorite writer of Fan Fiction (short stories about shows/characters written by talented--or not--fans). Sarah is talented and this novel was the perfect four-hour summer fling.
20. The Fault in Our Stars / John Green
19. The Hound of the Baskervilles / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
18. Girl Land / Caitlin Flanagan
17. Mighty be our powers : / Gbowee, Leymah
16. One small boat : the story of a little girl, lost then found / Kathy Harrison
15. I speak for this child : the true stories of a child advocate / Gay Courter
14. Radical : taking back your faith from the American Dream / David Platt
13. Another place at the table : a story of shattered childhoods redeemed by love / Kathy Harrison
12. Outlander / Gabaldon, Diana.
11. An abundance of Katherines / John Green
10. To hell with all that : loving and loathing our inner housewife / Caitlin Flanagan
9. A Matter of Class / Mary Balogh
8. Justice: What's the Right Thing To Do? / Michael J Sandel
7. Wench / Dolen Perkins-Valdez
6. Clockwork Angel / Clare, Cassandra
5. Think : straight talk for women to stay smart in a dumbed-down world / Lisa Bloom
4. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk / David Sedaris
3. Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us / Daniel H. Pink
2. I'm Half Sick of Shadows/ Alan Bradley
1. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother/ Amy Chua


[Red denotes non-fiction.  My New Year’s Resolution was to read one non-fiction book each month.]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Patchwork Skirt

september 176Aunt Julie made this patchwork twirly skirt  for Kyla’s birthday. (Isn’t the gray trim extra cute?)  She wore it today with Kyla-style, pairing it with a printed top and striped leggings.

Goin’ Campin’, Goin’ Campin’

Our annual family camping trip was last weekend.  It was really odd—we had sun and warm temperatures almost the entire weekend.  I almost didn’t recognize my siblings in shorts and sunglasses.

We spent a lot of time at the lake.  Piper and Kyla, wearing their floating vests (not really life vests), swam all the way out to the outer limits.  And, thankfully, back again.

The bobbing heads in the back are Uncle Brian and Kyla.  Kyla kept vacillating between being Brian’s Girl and Sandi’s Girl.  Brian, very generously, did a lot of swimming with her.

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Wesley loves to run, splash, sit, and “swim” in the water.  He seems to have enough sense to not go out past his neck, but I wasn’t going to bet on the common sense of a 2-year-old.

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I love the love on Dwayne’s face as he plays with Piper.

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And I love the look on this face, too. 

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I love this shot of Keith throwing Parker up! 

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It’s  a toss-up when it comes to deciding which kid is most fearless, Kyla, Piper, or Wesley.  Another way of looking at it is which kid has the most common sense.  Parker wins.

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We had the best campsite—lots of trees, paths, logs.  Piper discovered she could climb this snag first, so Kyla just had to do it faster.

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We celebrated three birthdays (Kyla, Parker, and Dwayne’s).  The birthday girl got some loot!

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And Julie made Oreo cupcakes.

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And then we all went home, cleaned up, and fell asleep.  The End.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I’m Getting Ideas….Bad Ideas

Just found an online gallery of oddly shaved heads.  Dwayne’s mohawk is due for a change before the cold weather hits.  Hmm, what should I do with clippers and a blank canvas?


Monday, September 10, 2012

Piper’s First Day of Preschool

A brand new preschool, with no Kyla leading the way.  She was so excited, and I don’t even think I went all the way inside the door with her.  Toodles!

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Sunday, September 9, 2012


Dwayne just got a big bonus and it has been fun planning what to do with it. Until we got back from camping today and had a thick envelope from the IRS waiting in the mailbox, saying we owe them almost $7000 from our 2010 return.


It should be noted, albeit briefly, that I do the taxes in our household.

After a few hours of pouring over our 2010 tax file, I finally found that instead of inputting $654.05 on Form 1099-B, I put in $6540. Take that, throw in some interest, maybe a pinch or two of penalties, and there goes the extra block Dwayne was going to get to finish up the outside walls. 

Sorry, Baby!  I love you.  Um, happy birthday?

Bare Back

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I really like this photograph because I am not carrying any of three children.

(From Wolf Haven, on our way home from camping.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Can-Do Attitude


When Dwayne’s parents were here a few weeks ago, I took off Piper’s training wheels with visions that I would have time to help Piper learn to ride her two-wheeler.  Well, we practiced for about 5 minutes and never got back to it.  And she really didn’t like it.

Later that week, Piper came to me with a wrench and said she had put her training wheels back on her bike.  I didn’t think I heard her right, but I checked, and I had to adjust one of the wheels, but she had done it and done it well.  [I am completely bewildered how she figured out the nuts and bolts and wrenches, but no adult admits to helping her.]

Tonight, as I was packing up the car for camping, I asked Piper if I should pack her skuut (balance) bike or her pedal bike.  She wanted her skuut, and I packed it with all the other gear.  In the meantime, she had gotten out the correct size wrench (that must have been dumb luck!) and was trying to take off her training wheels from her pedal bike.  She finally asked me for help to loosen them and she took them off.  Then she wanted to learn to ride in the [cramped and cluttered] garage.  I suggested we would do better on the driveway or street. 

The first time I let go, she went about 5 feet.  The second time, 10 feet.  The third time, 20 feet.  The next time, halfway around the island.  In a few more tries, she learned how to start herself going downhill.  A half-hour later, she started herself on the uphill. 

I give equal credit to lots and lots of hours logged on the balance bike and Piper’s “Of course I can do it—it’s never occurred to me otherwise” spirit.  How does one bottle that and where can I get some for myself?

* * * * * * * *

Just so you don’t get an completely unbalanced report of this child, she did quite deliberately, right in front of me, eat yet another cookie she was told very clearly that she couldn’t have.  She was very much taking advantage of the 20 or so people over for a little afternoon party this afternoon.   She has completely fallen apart several times the last few days, staring the exact minute Kyla went off to Kindergarten without her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy First Day of Kindergarten, Kyla!

This is MY kid! (Okay, she’s Dwayne’s, too.)   I’m so proud of her!

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring on Labor Day

This is just what we do on weekends and holidays.  Work on the house.  I finally finished all the @$&*# deck railings just as the weekend began…

(This would be the “middle” picture.  It’s done now, but seriously.  Name me a worse painting job than a second story deck with 1”x1” railings every 4”.)

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….so that we had time to throw Kyla a birthday party, completely repaint the master bath (mold problems—now completely taken care of and looking pristine), and then complete the first layer of bricks for Dwayne’s Fricking Big Wall.

This is the part of the walls and stair Dwayne had completed last year. 

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Looks big?  A drop in the bucket, my friend.

In the last few months, we build both sides here…

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continued the inside wall down and around….

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and continued…..

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all the way to the other stairs.

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Every single brick is about 80 pounds.  We hauled yards upon cubic yards of gravel (to give a good, level foundation) and lots of rocks to stabilize each brick once it’s in level.  Dwayne lays each one down—because this calls for perfectionism and I don’t qualify—and I do as much as the heavy lifting as I can between calls of “Mama-duty”. 

And did I mention this is the 3rd time building this particular wall?  So not only are we building this, we are also digging out the sand we had originally laid, and carting back uphill all the small blocks our younger and naïve selves used seven or eight or nine years ago. 

I really, really hate this project, though I will be the second to admit how great it will look if it ever gets done. 

The only thing worse than building walls out of 80 pound brick down a large, steep hill is painting deck railings.  But I’ve griped enough about that.  Besides, the next time the railings need painting, the kids will be old enough to do it, and the time after that….we’re getting Trex.

Thank goodness Labor Day is over for one more year!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Best Part of Labor Day Weekend

My parents and local brother (and SIL) came over for dinner and play this afternoon.  Both Grandma and Grandpa jumped on the trampoline with the kids, Parker found the stash of balls and the foam bat, and we warded of the chill with a fire in the fire pit.  It was perfect. 

Thanks, Papa, for reading to the kids by fire light.  They loved it!

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Piñata Party

Kyla is 6 years old today.  Six.  And she finally had a birthday conveniently on a Saturday.  Kyla's 6h 036

We invited all her playgroup friends (we’ve been together just shy of 6 years now!) with families and made the most of a beautiful September day.

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We made it special with a piñata.  At first, Kyla couldn’t decide between the T-Rex, the butterfly, or the princess.  The good news?  We got to whack a princess with a stick.

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All the kids got to take lots of whacks before it finally opened up.  And no kid took a broom handle in the face!   That’s pretty good for 14 kids, include four 2-year-old boys. 

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I put very little candy in there, but Wesley dove in, took 3 lollipops and walked off before anyone noticed.  Luckily, it was caught on camera.  (With so many kids of different ages, I had whistles, gliders, tattoos, etc., and the rule was to get just one of everything.  This worked great…except for Wesley who just took the suckers and left everything else.)

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Check out this awesome cake my friend, Elizabeth, made.  If you look carefully, you can tell it is a simple round cake, cut a certain way and flipped around a bit.  Pure genius.

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Kyla like everything about her special day.

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There was an “after-party” for those who didn’t have to get home for naps.  We opened up the air-rockets Kyla got and did our best to send them to outer space. 

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The kids stood back and took running jumps on to the air pump and then tried to catch the rocket before it landed. 

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Aubrey impressed us all with how high hers flew!

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To get a  rocket out of the trees, one first throws Wesley’s yellow bat up after it.  To get the bat of the tree, one only needs to throw a basketball up after it a few times to bring everything back down.

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The day couldn’t have been much better, either the birthday or for her mother.