Thursday, February 28, 2013

2013 Booklist

8. Speaking Among the Bones (A Flavia de Luce novel) / Alan Bradley.  This is the 5th in a series that I am on the library hold lists long before the book is published.  A day’s read if one ignores one’s duties enough.  I adore Flavia, who is now almost twelve.  The last sentence in the book is the best/worst I’ve read in a mystery.   Unfortunately for my sanity, the sixth book isn’t scheduled to published until “early 2014”.  You’re killing me, Alan Bradley.

7. Radical: Fighting to put students first / Michelle Rhee.  I read a book about Ms. Rhee last autumn and got a lot out of it, including a radical crush on Michelle and her philosophies.  I bought Radical when I went to see her last week at a Town Hall lecture (thank you, Seattle Public Library!). There were pickets and protests and hisses and everything.   Since leaving the Washington, D.C. district, she has started StudentsFirst, a union of sorts for students.  She’s considered controversial, but I support her positions.  I definitely want to teach again when the kids are all in school, but she inspires me to move to the inner city and work harder than I ever have in my life to be the best teacher any kid has ever had.  I’ve already said it: she’s inspiring.

6.  All There Is: Love stories from StoryCorp / Dave Isay (editor).  I put this on my Hold list when I got on my This I Believe essay kick last year, one of NPR’s great features.  Forty minute interviews between lovers, friends, and family are written up in short essays.  It’s a excellent peek into the love lives of  representative slice of America. 

5.  American Dervish / Ayad Akhtar. We picked this novel for book club and I loved it.  I learned more about Islam, Jewish-Muslim-Christian tensions, and the Koran through this piece of fiction than I’ve ever gotten out of a deliberate study.  Ah, the power of story.  It brings up some great discussion topics, not only for book club, but even for Dwayne and I.   Unfortunately, this is the author’s first book so as much as I would like to grab from the shelves all his other brilliance, I will have to wait. 

4. Blueprints for building better girls / Elissa Schappell.  Meh. A collection of short stories that I didn’t realize were about the same women until nearly the end.  If you decide to read this book about anorexic girls with more issues than food, know that Elizabeth, Bender, and B are the same person.  Maybe now you will get more out of this than I did.

3.  The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron.  Another audio read, I found this is the section of previous Newberry winners.  Lucky, a ten year old orphan, is trying to find her Higher Power, a concept she has heard about while eavesdropping on the different “Anonymous” meetings her in small, small town.  Hey, it won a prestigous award—always worth reading.

2.  Predictably Irrational: the hidden forces that shape our decisions, by Dan Ariely.  This was an audio read for me and both the reader and subject were fascinating.  It’s in the same genre as Freakomics or anything by Malcolm Gladwell.

1.  World without End, by Ken Follett.  Our book group read Follett’s Pillars of the Earth a few years ago and decided to tackle the sequel, giving ourselves December and January.  It’s 1,050 pages about life in a English town and priory in the 14th century.  I love his historical fiction—I can read a history book about Martin Luther’s protests of certain Church practices, but fiction makes the fact more real.  The author uses a few prototype characters no matter what century he’s writing in, but overall, I’d say my enjoyment of the novel was just about worth the 4-5 other books I gave up reading to get through this one. 

[Red denotes a work of nonfiction.] 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why I’ll Be Off-Line For a Day or Two

Flavia de Luce is back for the 5th time.  Life is so good.

A Conversation

Me:  Mom came over today today help to me out.  I was able to go to TWO grocery stores by myself.

Dwayne: That was like a whole day at the spa for you!

Me: You know me so well….

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

5 Down

Last night, the title for this would have been 4 Down, Dwayne to Go. But this morning took care of the last man standing.


Two Saturdays ago:  Piper gets sick (over her siblings); no kids wake up, Piper is fine the next day.

Last Saturday:  We return from the cabin Friday night to go to two birthday parties Saturday morning.  Kyla starts us early by getting sick about 4am.  I’m sick by the morning.  We lay around on the couch all day, sleeping and crawling to the bathroom.  Kyla is fine by dinner time. 

Last Sunday:  Time for Mama to get better because Wesley gets sick.  Starting about 10am, he throws up 1-3 times an hour until bedtime, and then is okay.  Mama just held him all day and did a lot of laundry when I could.

Monday:  Hesitantly optimistic.  I’m not feeling great, but  I’m upright and moving.  Make a quick trip to the cabin to get all the food we left in the refrigerator of Friday when we had planned to be back hours later.   Piper throws up for the first time  just I as am getting ready for bed.

Today:  I drag Piper’s mattress out to the kitchen so she and I could sleep next to a sink and a easy-clean-up floor.  That comes in handy about every hour during the night.  Come morning, she is weak but more energetic and no longer needing the bucket and towels.  Kyla is losing ground so I keep her home from school to rest.  Dwayne becomes unbearable nauseous and actually stays home from work and sleeps until midafternoon. 

Tomorrow:  Please, please let us all be back on our feet—not on our knees—again! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wesley’s Room: Fini



I mentioned before that I thought I should add red trim around the closet to complete the room.  Here’s the before:

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And then with the trim (and dinosaurs, for good measure):



Lots of dinosaurs!  Dwayne’s parents sent Wesley some $$ for his 3rd birthday, so I used it to get dino stickers.  Kinda fun!


Of course, Wesley begs every night to sleep with one of his sister so his bedroom doesn’t get that much use.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Boot Bench!!

I posted earlier about a boot/shoe bench I was building for the cabin out of scrap lumber leftover from making bunky boards (for the four kids’ beds at the cabin) out of 3/4” birch plywood 4’x8’s.  I had an image of what is should look like months ago, but I’ve done enough projects to know that my head and my hands don’t always connect.

I started here:

bookshelf 001[4]


Quickly turned it into this:

1-31 Boot bench 1


Got sick/tired/distracted by Downton Abbey and it took me two weeks to turn that into: 2-14 boot bench


And after coats and coats of paint (cheap paint over expensive primer is still….cheap paint on plywood), it actually turned out just as I had dreamed.  And, yes, I daydream about such things as boot benches.  It is sturdy and rustic and practical and useful and cost me all of a gallon of cheap red paint and the use of my garage for a month to park the minivan.


I can’t say much for the architect, but the engineer and general handywoman did a great job making somewhat sketchy measurements fit perfectly into its spot.


Now you will have to excuse me.  I need to go ice my shoulder.  I may have patted myself a little too much over this project. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Bright Day at the Beach

I love Kyla’s purple coat, orange corduroys, pink boots, and flowered shirt…

…as much as Piper’s polka-dot, striped sweater, flowered corduroys, and plaid jacket delights me.



Hey, it’s a big stump to climb!

Hey, my sister climbed that tall stump, so I need to do it, too. 
We had the best day at the beach so far this winter!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snuggly is NOT Good When…

….one child gets sick in the middle of the night and vomits over her siblings.  R&K, your daughter slept soundly through it.  We’ll see how she is in the morning. 

Poor Piper….

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Not Done Snuggling Yet

A friend spent the night (parenting advice—have a sleepover, call up a babysitter, and let her put all four kids to bed while you go out with your buddies!) and they all elected to sleep on the floor in Kyla’s room.  Friend seems to enjoy more personal space than the ones with Dwayne’s genetics.  I like how Wes and Pipes are holding hands almost two hours after falling asleep.

2-16 snuggles II

Piper’s is Fully Five Now

After her joint birthday party with her brother last week, her V-day party at preschool on Wednesday, her birthday on Thursday, and cupcakes for her birthday at preschool on Friday, we were finally able to wrap up her birthday this morning with a  family brunch at our house. 

Grandma knitted her this sweater. 

2-16 Pipers party 6


I’m not sure if Piper could tell you which she likes better:  birthday presents or birthday cake.

2-16 Pipers party 1

2-16 Pipers party 3


We made a T-Rex cake pan that I found at a thrift store last week.  The tail was about 1/2” think and the head was closer to 1 1/2”.  (Maybe that’s why it was so cheap? I’m definitely going to get my $3 out of it over the next few years!)  I ixnayed the frosting after so much sugar this week, but we had ice cream with it, which is a little bit better after a big brunch and long walk.


Can you tell I let Piper decorate her own cake?

2-16 Pipers party 5


Piper, I don’t have the words to tell you how much I love you, but I will try to say them every day anyway!

2-16 Pipers party 7

Friday, February 15, 2013


This is how he looks when he is explaining something to me.  And looking kinda cute.2-15 wes

More Snuggles

These three are part ferret, apparently.

2-15 snuggels

Thursday, February 14, 2013

When We Were 5…

Piper is our sweetheart baby who turns 5 today!  2-15 pipes


Here’s our traditional wrapping paper we made—Dwayne drew it from her favorite “I Can Read” book, The Dragon Egg. Totally cute, huh?

2-14 Piper's 5th!


To prolong us staying in bed a few more minutes, we let her unwrap her presents in our room.

2-14 Piper's 5th! 1


That afternoon, we went to the zoo.  My goal was to get one picture of all three kids.  I mean, one good picture of all three kids.

This was the closest I got.  Should have combed Piper’s hair.

2-14 Piper's 5th! zoo 5

But a special treat was in store for us—the lion cubs were out!  They were born in November, and they just started going out 2 weeks ago.  We got to watch all four play and frolic.

2-14 Piper's 5th! zoo 7


All the best tree climbers wear this to scale branches.2-14 Piper's 5th! zoo 8


2-14 Piper's 5th! zoo 10

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Day!

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This is my friend, Jen.  She does triathlons and reads more books than I do.  Her church had their winter retreat outside of Leavenworth, and Jen invited us along for some time in the snow.


I’ve got lots of pictures that I want to record for my own memory—consider yourself warned!

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The bell reminds us to come in and eat!  And maybe play a game or two…

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…before going on a hike to find the really good sled runs.  It’s called the gravel pit, which I imagine makes more sense in the summer.  In February, it should be referred to as “Scream Like a Girl” run.


My little mountain goats.

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Jen is the only one who made it down with out crashing each time.  The kids were by far safest in her lap!

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That body would be Dwayne, after Screaming Like a Girl.

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Sled? Sled?  Who needs a sled when you are wearing snow pants!!

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Wesley is totally tuckered out for the ride home!

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Luckily, a hot chocolate tea party was waiting for some worn out kids.

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Thanks for the great day, Jen and Good Shepherd!