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Archive for November, 2011

If you’re not a homeowner, let me tell you something about homeownership.  It sucks.  If the water heater goes out, sucks to be you.  There’s no landlord to call.  You better hope that you find a really awesome youtube video or a very informative guy at Home Depot.  If your heater won’t heat the house higher than 63 degrees, it sucks to be you.  You better hope you know an honest heater repair guy.

Let me tell you about owning a piece of forest.  It sucks even more.  I guess if you own 60 acres and a mule, then it probably sucks less.  If a tree falls on the back forty, who cares?  Free firewood!  But if you only own 1.65 acres, each tree is like a mini heart attack.  Each tree could fall on something you care about:  the house, the car, a kid, the transformer.

We have two dead trees on our property, and one more which might be ours or might be the neighbors.  Since we’ve moved in, Dave’s been talking about being a lumberjack.  It wasn’t very helpful when all of his engineering friends came over and thought they were lumberjacks too.  There were talks about angles and hypotenuses and trajectories and laws of physics and gravity.

Now that it’s turned cold and there are things that us Californians aren’t used to, things like ice and snow and sleet, people are talking about things which we have no knowledge of.  Things like water spigot covers and tree hazards and freezing pipes.  Our neighbor had trees felled and they came over and gave us a quote for $1600 to cut three trees down!  Yes $1600 to cut a trees down.  I figured they could fall and hit the house and our insurance deductible would be less than that.

We woke up this morning to a fire in the back yard.  I called the neighbor to make sure she knew that there was smoke billowing from the forest.

Her:  Yes.  A tree fell last week and we’re burning the branches.

Me:  I heard that tree fall!  It made a loud crack!

Her:  Really?  We didn’t hear it and it came feet from the house! By the way?  Are you going to take care of that tree in the front? It looks hecka (except she didn’t say hecka because that’s very NorCal) scary!

I relayed the conversation to Dave.

Dave:  I’ll go cut it down right now!

Me: Don’t you have homework to do?

Dave:  I take my procrastination seriously!

Me:  So, it’s not that I don’t trust you and I’m not confident in your lumberjack skills, it’s just that I’m a big fan of gravity.

And I thought that ended the conversation.

Until I heard the chainsaw fire up.

Please excuse the terrible pictures.  I didn’t dare venture from the confines of the house.  I thought about taking all the kids to the movies but then if Dave ended up sawing through a limb no one would be here to call 9-1-1.

Marshall:  What is Dad doing?

Me:  Cutting down the tree!

Marshall:  I didn’t know we needed firewood that bad.

Nate:  I hope he doesn’t die.  I like him.

And then the chainsaw stopped.  I wondered if there were emergency tree surgeons willing to come finish cutting down a tree on a Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend.  I also wondered how much that would cost us.  I figured at least a 50% mark up.  I wonder if they’d take some banana bread in trade.  1600 loaves of banana bread.  Totally doable.  Maybe I could barter with my R2D2 hat.

Dave:  I’m going to run to Sears.  It looks like I need some chain grease.

Me:  You’re going to leave the tree like that?!?

Dave:  Yes.  One of two things will happen.  It will be like that when I come back.  Or, it will fall while I’m gone and the work will be done.

Me:  Or it will fall and take out the transformer and we’ll be without power and there will be a live power line wriggling on the ground and we’ll start a fire.

Dave:  Come on, it’s too wet to start a serious fire.  And if the tree takes out the transformer we’ll just call PSE and tell them a tree fell.

Me:  And we’ll get a big bill for taking out the power line.

Dave:  Only if we admit to it.

Me:  I think it’s rather obvious you were trying to cut down the tree.

Dave.  Rouge lumberjacks.  Happens all the time.

And he made the final cut.  The tree didn’t fall.  It was a little anticlimactic.

And then Dave pushed on it.

Nothing.

Then he started to cut some more with the chainsaw.  From inside we saw the tree swaying back and forth.  I started fervently praying protection over the house, the cars, Dave, the driveway (I had been praying before, but this was a little frantic, like incessant doorbell ringing or stalkerish calling).

The scariest moment was when the tree finally decided to cave to gravity. TIMBER!!!

I think I’ll have to go out and buy him a red and black plaid wool shirt and a pair of suspenders. All of the kids ran outside and the neighbors came out of their hiding places.

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the elephant and the mummy

We left cubscouts with two crying preschoolers.  They were upset because they didn’t get a second cookie.  Or maybe it was a third or fourth cookie. I tried my favorite parenting technique.  Distraction.

Me:  Shhh.  I’m looking for a wild animal!  Be quite!  I’m trying to find the resident coyote.

Nate: I don’t like the coyote.  He scares me.

(I’m pretty sure that Nathaniel has never seen the resident coyote, because if he did, he’d cease to be afraid of him.  He is easily mistaken for a scraggly mutt rather than the ferocious beast with blood dripping from his razor sharp canines.)

Dave:  Nathaniel what do coyotes eat?

Nate:  Birds.  These things that are long and round and worm shaped.  And they are worms. Rabbits.

Dave:  Are those things big or small?

Nate:  small

Dave:  Are you big or small?

Nate:  small

Dave:  But are you bigger than a bird or a worm or a rabbit?

Nate:  Yes.  I am much bigger.

Dave:  See you don’t have to worry, a coyote will not eat you.

Jake:  Don’t’ forget they eat dead animals.

Dave:  That’s right.  If they found a squirrel that was run over by a car they might eat that.

Nate:  What about a boy who was run over by a car?  would they eat that?

Me:  No, if you were run over by a car we would take you to the hospital.  We wouldn’t leave you in the middle of the road.

Nate:  I still don’t want to look for a coyote.

Me:  Okay, what should we look for?  A cougar?  A rabbit?

(take in mind that it’s already dark, because up here next to the North pole, we don’t get much sunshine)

Nate:  I want to look for an elephant.  A cute and cuddly elephant with a trunk.

Jake:  Elephants don’t live in Washington!  This is not their habitat!

Nate:  Maybe he is a lost elephant. He could be looking for his mommy.  Let us look for the lost elephant.

Jake:  Elephants would not be lost in Washington.  They live in the jungle.  This is not a jungle!  This is the forest!  Elephants DO NOT live in the forest.

Nate:  Maybe he lived in the zoo and he is lost.  Baby elephant!  Baby Elephant!  Are you lost?

Jake:  (clearly deciding he can’t argue with him and is going to give up)  You know what you’d have to look for it this was the desert?

Me:  What?

Jake:  Mummies.

Me: Mummies?

Jake:  Yes!  If you saw sand and pyramids, there’s definitely mummies near by, and you better watch out.  That’s something to be scared of.

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Out of the blue yesterday Dave said the sweetest thing to me.

Him:  I was thinking yesterday how thankful I am for you.  I’m in charge of one thing.  Going to work.  You’re in charge of so much.  Our finances, grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, the children, teaching the children, the car, the house, cleaning, laundry and all the household stuff and probably a lot more.

I was incredibly thankful and rather humbled that he verbalized this to me.  Because honestly, this last week was tough.

Our water heater went out and I was in charge of that too.  Dave had days and days of long meetings at work which made him incommunicado. While I spent the day calling plumbers and boiling water I grumbled.  I grumbled that if June Cleaver was ever in charge of the water heater or if Mr. Cleaver took care of it. I silently bitched that I wished I was the husband instead of the wife.

With a cursory glance with feminist era colored glasses, the role of the husband is definitely the easier one.  He has one hat.  Provider.  And I have so many.  My hats could dance circles around his hat.

When I really thought about being the husband, I am so incredibly grateful that I am not one.

Yes, he’s the provider.

Every day he gets up, earlier than he wants to, and goes to work.  On the days when he’s not feeling a 100%, he still goes.  On the days when its 30 degrees outside he goes.  On the days when a little body attaches itself to his leg and begs him to stay home, he still has to go.  Every day.  If I don’t want to do my job, I don’t have to.  I can cancel all my plans and reschedule them for tomorrow or next week.  It’s not the end of the world.  I can call in sick, and some one will step up to the plate and make a pb&j sandwich so that the younger guys won’t starve.  I’m not saying that my job is any less important, but that the amount of dependence on my job is much less.  Let’s be honest, most times a well-qualified nanny could replace many of my duties.  If I up and decided to stop grocery shopping, I’m sure that Dave would start ordering our groceries online and have them delivered.  If I never restocked the toilet paper, though someone would have an uncomfortably awkward time, it would get done.  Even if an 11-year-old had to walk to the store, I’m sure we wouldn’t be out forever.  Yet if Dave decided to stop working, our means of existence would completely change.

But it’s so much more than just being a provider in monetary means.  By providing for us, day in and day out, without lapse and without complaint, Dave provides a sense of security and safety.  I know, that in the event that Dave lost his job, we’d be okay.  I know that he would take care of us. We might develop a love for beans and rice, but we’d be well taken care of.  This blanket of security that he has laid over our family gives me such a sense of peace.  It calms my over-anxious heart in times without renters, in times of a bad economy, in times of more month than pay check.  The silent, reliable example of hard work ethic is one that will shape our sons into being good providers for their families.  It gives our daughter an example of what she should expect from her future husband.

While providing so well for us, he gives me the freedom and ability to become a better wife, mother and person.  Each day that he goes off to work, I am thankful. I am grateful for the opportunity and I don’t want to squander it. Each day, I try hard to make the sacrifices which he makes for us, worth it.  And in that one thought, that one sentence, I realized that all of my hats could never even compare to his one hat. Each responsibility, each job, every call to the plumber, every trip to the grocery store, every toilet I clean, I do because I am so thankful for his provision for me.  There is no greater gift that he could ever give me.  I am so blessed to be able to stay at home. I am so blessed to be provided for so incredibly well.  I am so very, very appreciative to have a husband who strives to love and care for me as Christ loved the church.

I am so thankful that I am the wife, and not the husband.

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around here

While driving in the car, I noticed that Nathaniel had his eyes closed.  All parents know that there is nothing worse than a car nap.  Usually it results in cranky and angry children.

Me:  Natey!  Natey!  Are you asleep?  (which he clearly is trying to do) Don’t go to sleep!  We’re almost home!  No sleeping in the car!

Nate:  I’m not asleep!  I’m watching a movie on the inside of my eyes.

Mike:  Are you watching Cars 2?

Nate:  No!  It’s not a real movie!  (said in the ever favorite DUH tone) It’s an imagination movie.

***

At Mike’s 9-year-old physical

Doctor:  What do you like to do for fun?

Mike:  I like to use my imagination.

Doctor:  What do you mean?

Mike:  You know, your imagination.  It’s in your brain.  You make stuff up there.  It can be fun.  (talking to her in an incredulous tone as if he can’t believe she made it through med school)

***

Mckayla posted this on facebook:

Home alone!  Making fish sticks for my brothers.

Dave replied:  Safety fail.

Mckayla:  Why is making fish sticks unsafe?

I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and surmise she was just being humorous.

***

At church on Sunday I reminded Marshall that we sing during worship.

Marshall:  I’m saving my voice for the Christmas program.

***

The pet girl had a make over.   She has been renamed Snooky.

Now we don’t only hide the scissors, but also the markers.

 

 

 

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This ones for the kids

 

There are many things I knew I was giving up to be a mom.  Things like the dream of living in a small one bedroom condo in the city across from the theatre.  Or sleep and a vacation home in Barbados.  Okay, I never had a vacation home in Barbados but I’m pretty sure that Barbados is out of the picture.  Let me tell you about some of the unknown sacrifices that I willingly (and mostly happily) make for you.

in no particular order

Going pee first.  Yes, my sacrifice to you, is that I will hold it so you can go first.  You might not think it’s a big one, but it’s paramount.  It might be right up there with getting a good night’s sleep, well when I’ve really got to go. Today I realized that it is one of the unspoken rules of motherhood.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve had 4 cups of coffee and a Big Gulp and you’ve already gone 8 times this morning, the moment I have to go, you amazingly have to go too.  As we rush into the bathroom and I do the potty dance, crossing my legs, squeezing my knees together and practicing some kegels like my life dependeded on it, I let you and your small bladder go first. This involves laying of toilet paper and paper toilet seats or even lifting the seats.  It may involve wiping your adorable hiney.  And let me tell you, the sound of you tinkling doesn’t make the situation any easier.  I’d like to knock you out of the way and pee like a race horse, but I don’t I let you go first.  You’re welcome.

The last bite.  Who knew that being a mom would be like constantly being surrounded by a pack of vultures.  The moment I sit down to eat in peace, there one of you.  The cookie I tuck into the back of the pantry seems to be sniffed out as if you are all part blood hound.  When I’ve slowly savored every bite of my dessert one of you looks at me with sad puppy dog eyes and there goes the last bite.  I fully expect to be reimbursed when you all become my grown children.  I want cheesecakes and chocoloate fudge brownies and tirimisu.  I’m resolved though that by that time I’ll be giving the last bite to your children.  Maybe I will institute a no family Tuesday afternoon where I will eat all of the last bites.

Watching a tv show all the way through.  Unless it’s animated, I have given up watching anything worthwhile while any of you are around.  For the love of the silver screen, why can’t you guys be quite and sit still?

Personal space.  I knew I’d loose my personal space, but I didn’t quite understand what this meant.  It means being woken up with a nose literally milimeters from mine.  It means fingers under the bathroom door while I’m just trying to find a moments peace.  Or being used like a jungle gym, security screen and even a human shield during a nerf gun fight.

The bikini.  5 babies, two of them sharing my womb together have greatly scarred my belly. I know there is the picture going around that there is beauty in my scarred belly.  It’s a testimony of my love to you.  I willingly sacrifice everything I have to be your mother, including my body.  Though it may be figuratively beautiful because it symbolizes my love for you.  It symbolizes the bond which no one can break.  Yet, it will never be bikini worthy again.  No amount of dieting, stretch mark cream or lotion can resurrect it to its prebaby beatuy.  For all of our sakes, the bikini must be sacrificed.  Also, see the abandoned dream of a vacation home in Barbados.   What is Barbados minus the bikini.

I’m sure that there are more, hundreds more.  Just know that I love you.  Even with all of the millions of ways that parenting sucks, I’m still glad I’m a parent.

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21 days of travel (to be completely honest, he was home for a short 16 hour respite 5 days in)

9,000 miles

3 countries

2 continents

1 lost tooth

1 birthday

1 Halloween

and he’s finally home!

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Around here

Nate:  I have lost my pet!!!  I have lost my pet!

Me:  What kind of pet are we looking for?

Nate:  She is a little girl.

Me:  We will find  her.  What does she look like?

Nate:  She is a girl.  She has a little little house and she has a little door and she is little and lost.  (don’t you love the descriptive qualities of a 4 year old.)

Me:  Okay, lets look for a little girl.

Mckayla finds a polly pocket on the floor.

McKayla:  WHO CUT THIS POLLY POCKET’S HAIR!!!!

Nate:  It’s my little girl!  You found my little girl!  (and he tucks her into a little house).

McKayla:  DID YOU CUT HER HAIR???

Nate:  Yes,  I did not like her hair.  It was too big.

McKayla:  She was a collector’s item (I did not know that polly pockets had entered collector’s item status)!  Now she is just a doll with a mullet.

Nate:  No.  Now she is my pretty pet.  I am going to put her in her house and tape it shut.

****

blood curling scream!

Nate:  We have scary bugs in this house!!

Me:  (wishing Dave was home) Where is the scary bug?

Nate:  I don’t know, but I found it’s cocoon and its HUGE!

Me:  Bring it to me.

Nate:  No way!

dreadfully I go see this huge cocoon which is inside my house.

Me:  This isn’t a cocoon.  This is a fig seed.

Nate: I don’t believe you.

Me:  See, here’s a fig. Eat it and you will find the seed inside it.

Nate:  (with a look of disgust)  There are cocoons in our food?!

****

Jacob:  Mom!  There are salt crystals all over our steps!!!  (our front porch iced.  i think he’s been listening to too much 6th grade science)

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