Friday, November 28, 2014

National Swearing Day

The first year we were married, Dwayne dubbed the day we hunted, bagged, and set up our own Christmas tree as “National Swear Day”.  And it was true—my unflappable husband was truly flapped by a bad tree stand and other circumstances.  His job is to make sure the tree stands true for a month—he get’s to bow out of lighting, decorating, watering, and cleaning up after the tree.  But he’s found enough hassle in his part to continue calling the day after Thanksgiving as National Swear Day.

I’ve come to suspect that Dwayne actually enjoys NSW.  Every year, he is the one manipulating the family into choosing bigger and bigger trees.  Last year was a complete debacle. But this year was perfect.  First of all, we finally found “our” tree farm.  (Note to self for NSD 2015: JP Landscape Tree Farm
29726 NE Cherry Valley Road, Duvall, WA 98019). 

Although the weather vacillated between “downpour” and “deluge”, we got out at the farm, were immediately greeted by the farmer under a warm shelter, given a quick lesson on the different species they grew, and were told that “all Frasiers are $25 this weekend.”  The Fraziers were getting too big to sell, meaning many were getting over twelve feet.  Dwayne’s eyes gleamed at “over 12 feet” not at “$25”!  We didn’t go far into the DSCN1870field before Dwayne spotted three perfect trees and then let the kids pick.  We cut, carried, and then handed it over to the staff to do all the actual work.  The kids and I then got to pick up our s’more bags and roast marshmallows over the roaring fire unfazed by the rain.  The farm dog politely greeted everyone, while we snacked, sipped on hot chocolate and wrote and posted letters to Santa. 


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It felt wrong to get the perfect tree so cheaply, so Dwayne buy some mistletoe and snowman nutcracker to assuage my guilt.







And by nightfall, we were ready for the season!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Denise Gets Her Mudroom

Our split-level house has some “flow” problems, and this time I’m not talking toilets.  The kids and I always enter through the garage into a very narrow hallway.  A few years ago, I built a shoe bench that had just a half inch clearance to close the door.  The kids don’t actually put their shoes away, but if they did, the bench is getting too small for their growing feet.  Even if coats and shoes were put away, it was still a bottle neck for getting us out of the house each time. 
It just wasn’t working.
Dwayne and I have had “build a mudroom in the garage”  and “organize the workbenches” on our house project list for years, but over this last year, it started shooting to the top.  So after Jim and I caught our breath after finishing Kyla’s room, the sledge hammers came out again. 
Oh, in case it wasn’t clear, our garage was in worse shape than the house.  This is 90% my fault, but as I don’t take care of the garage until the kids, house, estate, and cabin are in shape, you can see for yourself how often I can get to it.
The garage before:

We had two workbenches, which are just places to put 1) all the new tools we buy for projects, 2) but all the old tools on until we put them where the belong, and 3) piles of things Mama is supposed to fix.  We cleared those out and put everything in the middle of the garage.
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Then Papa Jim attacked and our new area was framed and wired. Dwayne and Jim decided to make it bigger than I first imagined, but they were 100% correct!

Jim made a “wood shower curtain” to hide the water heater and furnace.  Then it needed to be dry walled. Dwayne tiled the new room and Jim put together a new workbench out of the old ones.

I always enjoy the interior design.  I painted it my favorite orange, put up brick wall paper over the hiding wall, and made a bench (for $15!) with scrap wood and some cheap planks.  I love the old wardrobe I found on craigslist—perfect for storing extra coats with small interior drawers for each kid and myself.  I used wood trim to better hide the dirt around white doors.  There’s the perfect spot for an upright freezer (as soon as it starts working…Whirlpool).  And the cats have their bed and food in here now to, a good compromise between house and garage.  I LOVE how this turned out!
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I’ll have to post pictures of the garage later, but I have a place for everything now, thanks to some serious garage clean out and good pegboard. 
The kids still don’t put their shoes or coats away in the REALLY CONVENIENT AND OBVIOUS hooks and baskets I specially designed for them, but at least I have the perfect mudroom… if not the perfect children. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wesley’s Newest “Thing”

He builds something and then stands on his head.  The End



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wesley, or How to Feel Better About Your Own Children


Yes, yes, that is Wesley on top of the counter, with his roller blades, getting candy out of the candy basket.  And, yes, I stopped to take the picture.  In fact, since he got up there on his own, I let him get down on his own. 



Wesley was mad that I didn’t buy him a new costume (which means he hasn’t saved the marbles to buy one), so he drew a costume on himself.  Since he wears shorts no matter the weather, he has more skin to show. 



He is perfectly fine hanging off branches.  Wearing shorts.



Swinging upside down on the beach over wet rocks.  We will never, ever get his IQ tested.  We’re going to push sports instead.



He made an obstacle course which centered on turning over the slide and jumping from the top, over and over.  Usually, he starts on the window sill, jumps to the top of the bookcase, scrambles to the slide-on-its-side, over the to bar, and then swings from the pull-up bar.  Since he had a friend over, he may have played the gentleman and cut the obstacle course down to one stupid stunt. 



Kyla has a plaque from a neighbor hanging over her bed that reads “Do Not Disturb the Queen.”  So Wesley insisted on a “Do Not Disturb the King” sign for his door.  This is his sign.  In one of his sweeter moments, he asked Piper if she wanted a “Do Not Disturb the Princess” sign.  She declined, not so politely, because he doesn’t know how to spell so well.  It’s no wonder he calls Piper the “mean sister” and Kyla the “nice one”.  He’s not entirely wrong.


Another Wesley story.  He’s my only kid who actually eats bananas straight from the fruit bowl.  One morning, I was out of eggs when I was making pancakes, so I put in a banana instead.  Wesley was on his second pancake before Kyla sat down. She exclaimed, “These are so good, Mama!  Are they banana pancakes?”  Wesley throws down his fork, screaming, “I hate banana pancakes!  These are so yucky! I won’t eat them!” and runs off to his room. But it was a pretty good morning, because he usually throws that tantrum as soon as I announce what’s for breakfast (unless it’s cereal).  He’s definitely a kid affected by hunger and he looses even the little smattering of brain cells he had.



I’ve had a surprisingly number of people comment how handsome Wesley is.  I don’t actually see it most of the time.  I think it’s because I see him yelling, screaming, pouting, crying, kicking, and generally being unpleasant.  (A friend who takes Wesley often said this weekend when she visited us at the cabin, “I’ve never seen this side of Wesley before” during a particularly uncooperative walk on the beach.  I replied, “This is the Wesley I live with.”)  But the boy does eventually fall asleep.  Not usually in his own bed, but by 8pm, I’m not picky. And then  he’s kinda of heart-stopping. 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Pillowcases are rarely used for pillows, it appears, in our house.  But they can turn happy children into happy penguins!  If you look closely, you can see that Piper has a chick at her feet to keep warm.  That is such a Piper-touch.  Penguin Wesley is in his turtle shell.  Wesley is confused.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

The World’s Biggest Leaf Pile

I love photojournalism.  You would never know Piper had tantrums before and after this darling photo of her enjoying her first solo leaf blower experience. 



Fortunately, kids don’t usually fall apart at once.  Kyla loved making the World’s Biggest Leaf pile for her and Wesley to jump in.


It’s hard to see Wesley in this shot, but he’s on the high dive, just about ready to jump!



They “stick” the landing! (No problem if you don’t get the pun. It’s not very punny.)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What Your Kitchen Looks Like the Day After Your Husband Forgets Your 40th Birthday


I had already forgiven him, but this was still pretty sweet to come back to!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthday on the Beach

I’m 40!  That would be a bigger change if I hadn’t considered myself “almost 40” since I turned 39.  School gave us a four-day weekend with Veteran’s Day on Tuesday, so we got to spend some time at the cabin.

I love taking pictures of the kids at the beach. I got two shots in before Piper borrowed the camera and used up the battery.

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But thanks to Pipes, there’s a picture of me on my birthday!  I’m talking to my mom, thanking her for giving birth to me. I’ve thanked her every Nov. 10th since pushing out my own children. 



In the afternoon, friends came over and we spent the afternoon at Double Bluff beach.  In spite of hanging out there dozens of times, I’ve never walked further than 100 feet down this gorgeous beach.  I played the Mom Card and insisted we actually walk—which turned out to be a marvelous adventure.

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I love this shot of Wesley’s long shadow.  I insisted he wear pants on a chilly November day at the beach, but he still kicked off his boots as soon as he hit the sand and rolled up his sweats. 






In between insisting they can’t walk another step and wanting to go back, the kids were enthralled finding jellyfish, crabs, shells, climbing over a “tree bridge” and getting themselves soaked and sandy.


And I have some really wonderful girlfriends who texted, emailed, or voice-mailed me birthday wishes—even though I’m not on Facebook.  Thanks, beloveds!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Harvest Moon


There are a lot of things about heading to the cabin that can be stressful—packing up clothes and food for the 4 of us (Dwayne packs his own clothes and is usually there just one night), cleaning up the house, remembering all the things the kids will need for therapy and tutoring for 4 days, their favorite audiobooks, the coats and boots they should have worn to school that day but didn’t--you know, all those things that fall under the role of “Primary Care Giver”.* Then there’s Wesley, asking “Can we go now?  Now? Now?”.  Snacks and water have to be ready in the car when I pick up the girls at the top of the neighborhood to manage risk of tantrums and fighting.  Ideally, we get to the ferry quickly enough that we only have to wait an hour at 5pm on a Friday, again still keeping the sibling peace for as long as possible.  So when we get on the ferry against a beautiful sunset backdrop and off the ferry with an incredible harvest moon rising close enough to grab from the car deck, it feels like a really great end to a hectic day and a good omen for a four-day weekend at the cabin.



*I just finished a book that could be categorized “feminist non-fiction”, and she points out that one parent is unquestionably the one in charge of scheduling all dental appointments, and the other parent simply isn’t.  The parent who does is certainly the PCG. In our house, Dwayne is in charge of all his own vision and dental appointments, and I take care of me and the kids.  If you know us at all, that is not even a little surprising.