Thankful Tree

Thankful tree

I love Pinterest.  I love all the ingenious (and sometimes not so ingenious) ideas.  I also hate Pinterest because I should be doing all these great ideas, or at least some of them.  Why don’t we ever playing outdoor bowling with our old water bottles and glow sticks?  I am a failure as a mother.  You see where this leads?  It’s never good.

I don’t think I did anything that I pinned for Halloween. No giant spiders made of Styrofoam balls, no cookies made with various candy pieces to look like Haunted mansions, no spooky decorations made of pipe cleaners.  It was rather anticlimactic and depressing around here.

I’ve decided to get on the ball for Thanksgiving.  We made a thankful tree.

The directions I found used butcher paper, but I knew that if I waited to go buy butcher paper, I’d never make the tree.  I cut apart paper grocery bags and taped them together in a tree shape.  First thing I’m thankful for:  God is an artistic God.  So, glad he’s in charge of the trees not me.  Otherwise all forests would be incredibly spooky looking.  Note to self:  Next year put up the thankful tree October 1st.  It can add to the decor.

Once I taped up the tree  trunk and the kids helped me attach the limbs, I cut out leaves from construction paper.  Again, glad I’m not in charge of leaves.  Knowing how much of a procrastinator I am, I cut out all the leaves for this week today.  Our tree is rather unique.  It has maple leaves, oak leaves, and hand leaves.  I am storing the leaves on my fridge for easy access.

Each of us picked a leaf and wrote what we were most thankful today for.  I love what they all picked, completely on their own.

thankful leaves

McKayla (not pictured):  My family

Marshall:  I’m thankful for candy.

Mike:  I’m thankful for pets.

Jake:  I’m thankful for books.

Me:  I’m thankful for a Merciful God.

and Nate’s:

thankful leaf

I can’t wait to see how full this tree looks on Thanksgiving!

I have this looooong list of possible topics I should blog about.  I keep a little file on my laptop of the funny things my kids say and do.  It’s a list I don’t share on facebook, because I need to hold back some material if I ever decide to write a blog.  Every time I add something new I think about actually logging into wordpress and writing something and then more pressing things require my attention.

Things like repeatedly feeding the masses of hungry mouths that seem to be hungry the moment they leave the table.  I think I might start teaching my children to expand their culinary skills outside of pancakes, waffles, and quesadillas and scrambled eggs, and then I will stop cooking all together.

It’s also possible that the lure of cleaning my house and doing the monotonous job of laundry always pulls me away.  Never mind, no one would believe that.

Or maybe it’s the latest book I’m reading that is so much more enticing than actually putting finger to keyboard.  I started pinning the books I have read in 2012 on Pinterest.  Currently, I’ve read more than 60 books.   I had no idea that I read so much.  Before you get all jealous, you should go check out the list of books,  but be sure not to judge me too much.  I guess it was the year of zombies, vampires and smut.  I’d like to say that’s not typical, but obviously it is.

Without further ado, enjoy the hilarity.

We’re classy

We only have two rules for what you can wear for church.  (1) A shirt with a collar.  (2) No holes in your pants.

Sometimes, these rules lead to an exciting outfit combination. I know you love those black and gray plaid pants combined with the red and white shirt.  This was also paired with rain boats.  It was stellar at Sunday School.


For whatever reason, Boy Scout of America has decided that every registered person in scouts NEEDS a magazine.  Dave and I each get Scouting magazine and both Marshall and Michael get Boy’s Life.  They come bundled together in a shrink wrapped package monthly.  I disperse them throughout the house (aka in various bathrooms).  Personally, I never read them (it might have something to do with the 63 books I’ve read this year).  It turns out that I’m the only one in our family who does not.

McKayla:  Yes!  The new Boy’s Life magazine.  I love Boy’s Life.

Dave:  yeah, it’s a pretty good magazine.  Lots of girls read it.

McKayla:  I always read the “Scouts saving lives” section and then if the guy is cute I’ll go add him on Facebook.


Continuing on the scouting theme:

Marshall:  I’m really glad that I’m in scouts.

Me:  Me too.  Why are you glad?

Marshall:  They’re teaching me good life skills.  If I decide to be homeless I can totally pack a backpack full of all the necessary essentials.  Really, everything a homeless guy needs is right here on my back.

I’m not sure if Boy Scouts of America wants to go with the slogan, “Teaching Boys how to survive being homeless for over 100 years!”


McKayla:  Can I invite some people over this weekend.

Mike interjects:  Yes, as long as it’s less than 2.

(this still cracks me up.  We were all so surprised by his quick wit)


Recently Nathaniel and Jacob have started playing Lego Harry Potter on the xbox.  I don’t think they have any concept of the rules of the game, the object or how to actually win, but they have a great time doing it.  For those of you who don’t know, the XBOX Kinect has voice commands.  Theoretically, you can control the whole system with your voice.  I can browse the internet by saying, “XBOX BING ‘The Walking Dead'” and lots of movies and games will pop up at the sound of my voice.  We frequently browse and turn off our system with this method.

Nate:  Mommy!  Mommy!  Hurry come quick we can’t get off this level.

Me:  Who is the expert at Xbox?  Definitely not me.  (I was thinking he’d go to Marshall or Michael)

Nate: “oooooo  I have an idea!”  He runs into the other room. “XBOX!  GET US OUT OF THIS LEVEL”


Me (during some reading to the boys):  What are skills?

Jake:  I know!  They’re like bones, bones in your head.

Nate:  No, those are skulls.  It’s like nails.  They are long and twisty (he proceeds to turn in a circle) and you need a skill driver.

Maybe I should have their hearing checked.


All the planning, shopping, coordinating, talking, planning, phone calls, stress, and cajoling culminated tonight.

I meant to take McKayla’s dress to the cleaners, not because it needed to be cleaned, but because I don’t iron.  Let me rephrase that, I detest ironing. I never iron anything.  I hang all of our clothes at it comes out of the dryer.  If for some reason I miss that window, I will rewash.  Last year when we moved from California to Washington we spent a few days living in a hotel while our massive amounts of crap was loaded into a semitruck.  Jacob saw the ironing board at the Holiday Inn Express and said, “Hey Mom!  They have the sewing machine board here!  Where do they keep the Sewing Machines?  What are you going to make us?”  yep, my kid had no idea what an ironing board was, nor an iron’s primary purpose.  The whole point here, I don’t iron.

Alas, I forgot about the cleaners.  This morning she brought me the dress waded in a ball and asked me if I could iron it for her.

“Um, no.”

house work.

Thank goodness her dad loves her, and his mom taught him how to iron.  Also, thank goodness her dad remembered to pick up the boutonniere.

McKayla:  Oh my gosh!  Look at these pins!  This looks dangerous!  

Dave:  Do you want me to show you how to pin it on him.

McKayla:  No, I’m good, I’ll watch a youtube video. 

Half a dozen girls came over this afternoon to straighten and curl their hair.  Put on makeup, paint their nails and do all those other things that teen age girls like to do.

getting ready

We then loaded all the girls into the minivan and drove over to McKayla’s boyfriend’s house for pictures and limo pick up.

teenagers and pins

This poor, poor boy.  I’m sure he was thinking:   Please don’t stab me!  Please don’t stab me!  After she said, Oh, I totally forgot how to watch that youtube video. 

And then when he pulled out the corsage, she said, “What!  I have to pin you and you just get to put that on my wrist!

growing up

I promise they aren’t mouth breathers, McKayla just kept up a nonstop banter with this poor sweet boy.

Let me tell you, trying to get a dozen teenagers to take a picture was a little bit like hearding cats.  At one point one of the dad’s said, “Okay, I’m going to count to three, I’m going to say ‘blink’ you’re all going to blink and then I’ll take your picture.  It took about three tries of that before it worked.

ah, to be young again

Though this isn’t the best picture, it’s my favorite of the bunch.  I love how happy all of the girls look.  It may have been snapped mid conspiratorial conversation or joke, or right before McKayla and her friend broke out in a coughing fit.  Fun, plague, basically the same thing.

first date

I’m pretty sure the boy is saying, “Oh my gosh!  This boutonniere is stabbing me in the heart!”  And this boy is the nicest, sweetest, most polite kid ever.  He’d probably go home with a huge hole in his chest and never mention once how miserable he was all night.


I overheard one of the girls saying, “I can’t believe we got a limo, that’s so prom.  I think party buses are for homecoming.  This is so classy.”  I didn’t know that there was vehicle protocol.  Let me tell you, I’m so glad that they got a limo not a party bus because as we were driving home we saw a teenagers but hanging out of a party bus.  What a recipe for disaster.

Also, one of the girls texted McKayla and said, “Now that we’re getting a limo, I need to make sure that their won’t be any alcohol and drugs.”

McKayla read it to me and laughed, “I’m not quite sure who she thinks would be doing any of that.  None of us drink or do drugs.”  She forwarded the text on to everyone and said, “Are you all leading a secret drug and alcohol life I don’t know about? If so, don’t tell me about in the limo.”

teens in a limo

After they left, Dave and I decided to get frozen pizzas, ice cream and a redbox movie for the boys and go out to dinner.  There is something very, very nice about having a responsible 12-year-old kid.

Just as we were leaving the house, McKayla called and asked us to go home.  One of the girls had forgotten her purse at our house.  Could we please drop it off at the restaurant.

Me:  Well, you’re dad and I were going out to dinner, do you think you could add our name to the wait list. 

Her:  Sure, it’s dead here.  You can get a table no problem.

Me:  Awesome!

A few minutes later, we got a second phone call.  Someone left their id at home.  Could we pick that up and deliver it too?

Me:  We’d love to.  Maybe we could sit at your table…

When we got to the restaurant, Dave took a picture of them eating them from behind a booth.

Me:  What are you doing?

Dave:  If we were spying, this is where I’d do it from.  I’m just keeping them on their toes.  

And that is why I love him!  It might also be because he cracks me up.  He posted the picture on facebook with the caption:  “I don’t think she’s seen us yet, we were able to get a table within line of sight!”

Our friends our hilarious.  Some of the comments (okay, all of them because i don’t want to loose them):

  • you are a mean, mean father!
  • OMG you guys are the best parents ever
  • I wish my parents loved me enough to spy on me during my dates.  You guys are awesome.
  • high five!!
  • (McKayla’s) -_-
  • She looks SO happy
  • (McKayla)  I was eating a cheeseburger (at a mexican restaurant.  What a gringa)
  • No, looked like you were kissing.  You could east easier if that guy let go of your hand.
  • No, necking at the table!
  • McKayla, seriously put away the phone you’re on a date.
  • (me) Part of me wants to say, “why are you on Facebook at the table?!? How rude!” but then if you’re texting, facebooking, etc there is no chance of physical contact…
  • Chanel…win   Mckayla, we love you.  Oh, and I’m on the other side of the restaurant from your parents.  –there’s nowhere to hide.
  • Also, tell your parents to enjoy a date too–they are also on fb at the table 😉
  • This bush is not comfy and I can’t see in the windows…Does it look like rain?
  • Gosh darnit!  I’m at he wrong place!  Stupid apple gps!
  • Best post ever!
  • epic!
  • Seriously?!  You’re stalking your kid?
  • Your dad says that’s just mean.

(That was some wonderful entertainment while Dave and I waited for a table at a completely different restaurant in an entirely different town.)

I handed out all of the requested items and then pulled out my camera.

Me:  Say Cheese!

The boyfriend gave an adorable smile.


What I absolutely love about that kid is he got us a table right next to them.

Him:  I thought you guys were going to eat with us?

G.I. Joe House

I have lots to tell you dear internets about my bunny, but for fear of turning my blog into a “Chanel’s bunny” blog, I will save it for later.  Just know that she is probably the cutest thing, the most expensive animal ever, and a cat bully.  This one though, is for all of those random visitors that come to my blog for the GI Joe house. 

Dave and I instituted an only “gifts of time” allowed for Christmas for a few years.  The kids all had to make everyone gifts.  Dave and I only gave the kids things that we either made or consisted mostly of our time.  We gave Mckayla (13 at the time) a new bedroom.  We helped her paint her room, replace the bedding, I think we even painted some furniture.  It was shockingly purple.  We made Marshall (10 at the time) a bike ramp.  Which was hilarious.  As dave was building it, I kept telling him, “This ramp is a baby ramp! Make it bigger!”  And being the amazing husband that he is, he did.  It was huge.  I think at the tallest it was 3 feet.  Marshall rode it once (on Christmas Day) and biffed it so amazingly hard that he never rode it again.  We moved it here, to the land of rain, but it was cannibalized for the treehouse.  I can’t remember what we gave the twins, but Mike got the most awesome present ever.

For all of you who don’t personally know my Mikey, it’s important that you know how much he loves anything to do with the army and war.  He has always loved G.I. Joes, little green army men, any type of gun.  He has dreams of enlisting.  I am trying hard to encourage the Army Corp of Engineers,  “But Mom, I don’t want to be a General or build things, I want to be in the front lines!”  When we moved here, the first time we went to the library, he said, “Oh mom!  I love this place!  They have a huge World War II section!”  He knows the call numbers for every war and whenever we visit another library, he immediately bee lines it to them.

For Christmas that year, I wanted to make him a GI Joe house.  Gi Joes are like barbies for boys except larger.  I think Jem was made for GI Joe, if he wanted to go on tour, hang out with short mini skirts, sparkly hair and groupies while he was on leave, then definitely a perfect match!  So, I was looking for an old beat up, FREE Barbie townhouse.  For a few months I searched high and low.  I went to garage sales, thrift stores, perused freecycle and craigslist.  There was none to be had.  I enlisted every one I knew to keep their eyes out for one.

My mother-in-law didn’t find the townhome, but she found something even more amazing.  She found me this beauty:


Oh, but it gets better.  It came with windows, curtains, wall paper and working doors.  It was priced something incredibly ridiculous like $5.  I needed it.  Who cares about GI Joe! I have a box full of my old doll house furniture that my Grandma had diligently saved for me.  I was mentally planning where I was going to put the fireplace and divan.  Yes!!  I now had a house for all this miniature furniture from the 1960s.

Dave:  This is even more awesome than the Barbie townhome!  We can camouflage it, board up the windows, put in some mortar damage.  Mike’s going to love this!

Me:  (absolutely horrified):  WHAT!??  We can NOT desecrate this!   I have a whole box full of miniature furniture.  This is too pretty for a boy.  Maybe one day we will have a baby girl who will love dollies.  This will be perfect.

Dave:  We are not saving this for a hypothetical child.  I promise, if we have for some reason have a baby girl, we can change it back.

And of course, we don’t have a baby girl.  But I still have a box full of dollhouse furniture without a small home…

So we began the sad, sad, job of destroying a perfectly good dollhouse.

We went to the hobby store and bought camouflage spray paint.  Incidentally, there are directions on the spray paint bottle on how to correctly camouflage something.  It’s an exact science.  Who knew?


I’m rather lucky to be married to a spray paint master.

gi joes house

Me:  Maybe we shouldn’t camouflage it, If we just paint it green and he doesn’t love it, I can always take it back and paint the trim white.  It won’t be the perfect yellow house, but sage green is nice.

Dave:  What are you talking about?  He’s gonna LOVE this!  This is awesome!!!

Please notice the beautiful bay windows.  Does GI Joe need bay windows?

gi joes new baseWe boarded up the windows with small sticks  Dave drilled small sniper holes in the windows.  We pulled off shingles, all the while I complained.

Me:  Shouldn’t we do a better job painting the trim?

Dave:  Do you think that GI Joe would be spending a great deal of time on the trim while he commanders this colonial era home as their new base of operation during the apocalypse or World War 3?  The bad paint job is realistic.

gi joe home

Dave really wanted to knock holes in the walls, splatter red paint around to mimic blood and gore, make gunshot holes in the walls.  I finally drew the line.  We stuck some army decals, American flag stickers and little army men on the walls.  I went through all of my doll house furniture and found a few pieces I was willing to part with.  We spray painted them boy colors and added them to the home.  And called it done.

It was by far the best present ever.  He absolutely loved it.  Actually, everyone loved it.  I think Mike convinced Marshall to play army with him for a few weeks.  Now, three years later, Mike has outgrown playing with army men.  He has moved on to staging full scale wars in the front yard with the little green men.  He has built a complicated trench system among my flowers. Yet,  sometimes I will find a full scale army staged in his room, complete with the home base command center but mostly the house is used as storage for the army vehicles and men that are too precious to part with.  Thankfully, it still sees much playtime among the twins.  Eventually, when it has been completely outgrown, I will move it into the attic to await my first grandson.  The girls will just have to wait.


Every morning

I'm not a morning person!

I have been trying hard to wake up at the crack of dawn with the teenager. It’s hard to get up at the crack of dawn when it seems that you’ve just fallen asleep.  It makes for a tired mama.  I have reverted to taking a nap a few times a week to compensate for the lack of sleep.  I am learning that I am treasuring the few minutes alone with her.  The tv and computer aren’t on to distract us.  No one is texting her because they are all busy getting ready for school.  There are no younger siblings demanding my attention.  It’s sweet uninterrupted small piece of the day we can share together.  I find that the days that I sleep in and miss her, I really do miss her.

Every morning Nathaniel stumbles into the main part of the house, rubs his eyes and in a sleepy voice says, “Good Morning.”  Usually this is followed by a dramatic run to the bathroom.  What makes me laugh is that he passes the bathroom to come say good morning.  This is also terribly contradictory to all of his other brothers whom I have to say good morning to about a dozen times before I am able to elicit an intelligible response.

He’s always the first to child to wake up on his own.  He is always in a sweet and chatty mood and hungry.  By the time the last person is up, he’s had second and third and fourth breakfast.  The whole time with a non-stop barrage of happy chatter.

Maybe, like me, he cherishes the moments of quiet and solitude in an otherwise noisy home.  Maybe, he enjoys the one on one attention with whoever else is up with him.  Or maybe, he’s figured out that the best jobs are had by the kid who wakes up first.  He gets to lick the beaters all to himself on the mornings I make muffins and breads.  He gets to help decide what breakfast will be if he’s early enough.  If he preemptively feeds the bunny and cat, it’s less likely I’ll force him to brave the chilly morning and feed the chickens.

While Nathaniel wakes up happy and cheerful first, Jacob could not be farther from the opposite.  He is definitely not a morning person.  More often than not, he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.  I frequently tell him to go back and see if he can wake up on a better side of the bed.

Jake:  But I only have one side of the bed!

Me:  Then maybe you could lay on your bed upside down and try that!

He is also usually the last to awake.  It usually involves crying.  On the mornings that I find him in my bed, if I lovingly prod him, he will open his eyes and say, “I’m not ready to be up yet.  I just need to cuddle a little bit longer.”  I have learned that a minute of cuddling to fill up an empty love tank will prevent a terrible melt down later in the day.  On the busy days I will roll him closer to Dave and escape the bed like a ninja.  I have become rather adept at sneaking out of the middle of two boys.

Most mornings Jake stumbles out of his room, clutching both of his special blankies, rubbing his eyes and looks around.  Almost every morning he cries, “Am I last again!  Why do you start the morning without me!” He then demands that I stop whatever I’m doing and hug him some more.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, he will wait patiently for me to pick him up and hold him for a minute.  If I’m in the restroom, he’ll wait by the door talking to me.

Jake:  I’m awake mama, can you hold me?

Me:  Jake, I’m in the restroom.  I don’t talk to children when I’m in the restroom.

Jake:  I know, but I’m awake.  Can you hold me?

I think what would make him happiest would be if he could spend all morning laying on my lap rocking back and forth.  In the inconvenient rush of the morning, I try to tell myself that this will only last so long.  He won’t want to be held by his mama forever.

Out of the blue in the car:
Jake:  We should get a pig.

Me:  What would we do with him?

Jake:  Your choices are: We could ride him, or we could use him as a sofa, or have him for dinner.

(personally, I’ve always wanted a pig sofa.  NOT.)

Dave: Would he come sit at the table with us.  Generally speaking, your mom doesn’t allow animals at the table.

Jake:  No, we’d get the meat out of him.  Yum!!!

Me:  Where would we put him?

Jake:  Under a tree, with a stone on top of it.  And a cross.  He’d need a cross.

(Yes, I was thinking pig pen.  He was thinking grave yard.  Angel of darkness, pig graveyard, maybe I should be worried…)

Me:  No, where would he live when he was alive?

Jake:  I don’t know.  It doesn’t really matter, we’re just going to eat him.  Maybe the chickens would like to share their home with him.


Nate:  listen to me whistle.

Dave:  That’s a nice whistle.  Maybe you could practice until you are very good and then you could whistle while you work.

Nate thinks for a moment:  No, I think not.


Me:  Jake!  Get down!  My couch is NOT a jungle gym.

Jake (dejectedly):  I wish it was.

camera bag

Mckayla’s elective this year is photography.  I love all of the last minute surprises.

Oh, Mom there’s a $40 Photography fee.

Me:  Of course there is. 

Oh, Mom, I need a film camera for photography class. 

Me:  What? Do they even sell film camera’s anymore? 

Thankfully, Dave doesn’t get rid of anything and still had his camera.


At 5pm, right before a large cubscout parent meeting being held at our house:

Oh, mom.  I need a camera bag.  By tomorrow.

Me:  How about that one in the closet?

Mom!  That’s MASSIVE!!!  I need something smaller.

Me:  Of course you do.  I guess I could make you one.

That would be wonderful!

So I cannibalized the massive camera bag.  I took all of the foam insert pieces out and rearranged them into the smallest configuration possible to fit the camera.  I sewed a slip cover for it and then asked Mckayla if she’d like the actual bag out of felt or material.

camera bag

Her:  Definitely felt!  Can you put something cool on it?  How about a camera?

The wonderful thing about felt is that you don’t have to do all of my least favorite things about sewing like hemming and ironing.  I found a simple canvas bag and used its general construction as a pattern.  I measured and cut and sewed and then, because I obviously can’t measure or  cut accurately, did the whole thing over again.

When I was finally done with the purse, I added a long handle so that Mckayla could wear it like a messenger bag.  If you look real close, squint your eyes and tilt your head sideways, you can see the whale decorative stitch I used.  I’m a little bit worried about the felt holding up to the abuse of a teenager, so all the seams are double reinforced and the whale stitch did just the job.

camera bag

The final step was constructing the flap of the bag.  I cut and recut the flap a few cetnimeters at a time, maybe a dozen times until I was satisfied.  I thought about using velcro, but settled on a button.  I went through my grandma’s button box until I found the perfect size and shape button.  I sewed the button on, cut a whole in the felt and called it done.

camera bag

Then I went to town decorating the front.  McKayla and I poured over the internet until she found something she liked.  Dave had the ingenious idea to leave the top portion of the camera decal unattached in order to make a small pocket to carry film.  Sometime around 1 am I finished it.

camera bag

Mckayla:  This is so awesome!!!!  All the other kids are going to have store bought cases and I’m gonna come to school with this!  They’re going to be so jealous!  I’ll tell them that could have one too for $20.  You could have a nice little side business, selling kindle covers and camera bags.

Me:  What?!

Her:  Okay, what do you want $25?

Me:  That would make my labor something like $4 an hour.  That seems totally worth it.  I’m only making this one.  Consider my camera bag making days are over.  I’m retiring.



There were rumors that Homecoming was going to be the first Friday back to school.  Oh the mental anguish of a teenager.

Her: How will I ever get asked?  No one knows me?!?

Me:  Well, except for the 4 bajillion friends you have on facebook.

Then Homecoming turned out to not be Friday but later, giving teens time to give not-so-subtle hints and plan extravagant proposals for Homecoming dates.  The extra time did not stop the  worrying and fretting though.

And then it happened, she was asked.

And she rejected the invitation.

I heard no one’s asked you to Homecoming yet.  I bet you’re getting nervous.  It probably means I don’t have to do any of that stupid silly stuff everyone has already done.  Do you want to go with me?”

“If you can’t even ask me nicely, I don’t think I can go with you.”

There were rumors that boys were testing the waters and asking probing questions.  There was still lots of fretting and worrying though.  What if noone followed through?

Then there were lots of neutral and ambiguous texts and facebook messages like:

What’s your favorite kind of flower?

So, what would be a really cute way to ask a girl to homecoming?

and my favorite:

I think you already know exactly how you want to be asked, and anything less than that would be a let down. 

Today, sometime around lunch, I received an excited text with pictures of the flowers and “Homecoming!!!!! :)”

I can’t even begin to tell you the mixture of emotions.  I am so incredibly happy for her.  I’m relieved that he’s her friend, a boy we’ve only heard good things about for months.  I’m glad that he went out of his way to make her feel special.

This is just the first of a new chapter for her.  First flowers from a boy, the first dance, the first dating scenario (because we are NOT calling this dating people!  We are calling this friends going to a dance!) and the first time a boy is going to come over to our house for dinner.

Him:  You’ll have to give me the heads up.  Are your parents super strict?  What should I wear? 

Her:  Dinner is a formal affair.  Dress shirt, tie, or polo would be fine.  You must gel your hair back.  Absolutely DO NOT make eye contact!  No touching.  EVER. 

Me:  That poor boy.

Her:  I know.  I don’t even know why he asked me. 

growing up

But I can’t help but feel a little bit sad. This whole growing up thing is happening so very, very fast.  There is so much talk about college and growing up and leaving:

Her:  I’m pretty sure I’m going to go to college far away and very rarely come home.  I feel like I’m going to want to go to Thanksgiving at my boyfriend’s house and then vacation over winter break. 

Me:  That would make me so very sad.  Who will do all the complaining on the holidays if you’re gone?

Her:  Okay, if I pick a college close by will you do my laundry for me?

Me:  Is this supposed to be a favorable situation for me? 

Her:  Yes.  I will still be close enough to come home for dinner and laundry regularly.  Won’t you be happy to see me often?

Me:  Maybe I can install a coin-op washer/dryer and you can invite all of your friends to do their laundry here. 

Secretly, I pray often that she will stick close by.  Don’t leak that to her though, she will probably take that as a clue to start looking at study abroad programs in Zimbabwe.  I don’t know how I would survive if she went away and married a boy and they settled far away.  Already I have regular crying fits about my sisters possible, potential, not even close to being conceived unborn children.

Me sobbing to Dave: I’m so sad.  I’m never going to feel my sister’s pregnant belly.  The likelihood that I’ll get to hold my minute old niece is so very slim. 

Dave:  Is your sister pregnant?

Me: No.  I’m just talking hypothetically here.  I guess I could visit for her whole third trimester so that I’m there when she goes into labor.  But then, if I’ve been there for three months I’m pretty sure she will be sick of me and ask me to go home.  Really, my only hope is that my sister decides to go back to work after her baby is born.

Dave:  So, you’re hoping she marries someone who can’t provide for her to stay at home?

Me:  No, maybe she will love her job.  Maybe she’ll find it incredibly rewarding and want to go back.  If she goes back, that’s my only hope. Then I could convince her to send my niece to me every summer.  Free babysitting!  How else will I get to know my niece.  Otherwise I’ll just be auntie chanel who sends really cool presents and crochets her crazy dolls and sends frilly dresses because lets face it, I suck at calling people, I can never mail a birthday present on time, and I hate to skype.

Dave:  I’m sure this pretend niece will love you wherever we live.

Me:  I’m pretty sure I’m screwed.  I should start selling how much I love it here in the land of Big Foot.  Maybe I can encourage her to move here.  She can move into McKayla’s room when she goes to college.

I can’t imagine a grandchild thousands of miles away.  Honestly, I really can’t imagine a college age kid.  It’s hard enough reconciling this teenage kid with my baby girl.

what a cutie

Last week Mike came running inside and said, “I SAW A TIGER!!! A TIGER”

Me:  You saw a tiger and left your brothers outside in the driveway?

Mike (running to the door and screaming)  Nate, Jake hurry come here!  There’s a TIGER out there!!!!

Dave:  We don’t live in the jungle.  There are no tigers here.

Mike:  Really, I saw a tiger.  It was as tall as my waist and it was orange with black stripes.

We assured him we believed that he did see something, but it most assuredly was not a tiger, possibly a golden retriever or maybe a plain old cat.


He spent the rest of the day mumbling about how he couldn’t believe we didn’t believe him about the tiger.


Yesterday, Marshall was sitting on the front porch reading a book.  He was all by himself.  Amazingly, sitting very quietly.  He came running inside, quietly.

HURRY COME QUICKLY!!!  (don’t you love how well my kids use adverbs)  BUT BE QUIET!


We all ran outside, but there was no evidence of a bobcat.

Me:  What did it look like?

Marshall:  It was tan and about twice the size of Frank.

Me:  Wow!

Mike:  WHAT?!? Why do you believe Marshall but not me?

Me:  Because Marshall had more believable observations.  He chose an animal that lives on this continent.


Last night Dave and I dropped Mckayla and a friend off at the movies and made a short trip to Home Depot, aka where we deposit Dave’s paycheck to build a tree houset.  I received a phone call from home.

Marshall:  Mom, there’s a bobcat sitting in front of the bunny hutch.

Me:  WHAT?!

Marshall:  There’s a bobcat sitting in front of the bunny hutch.  What should we do?

Me:  Okay, first make sure everyone is inside and then go get my camera and take a picture.

Marshall:  Everyone is inside and we already took a ton of pictures.  We wanted to make sure you guys believed us this time.

Me:  This is why I leave you in charge!  Good job.  We’re almost home.

When we got home we drove around the backside of our circle drive to sneak up on the bobcat.  If you have ever heard my van, you will know that sneak is really a rather generous word.  It squeaks and hums and clicks and is generally noisy all around.  I have decide to be optimistic about my noisy van.  I figure it gives all the bicyclist and pedestrians ample warning that there is a car behind them.   So as we circled the driveway, we expected to find nothing on our front lawn but a scared bunny.

What we were shocked to see a rather large cat at the bunny hutch.


Just pretend we have a nicely mowed and weedless lawn.

This bobcat was fearless!  It didn’t even budge when we got out of the car.  When Dave was about 5 feet away from him, he finally decided to saunter off to the tree line and then just hung out at the edge of the grass until we went inside.

I’m sure that when the bobcat found our house he did a little happy dance and thought “Yes!  This house has trapped all these chickens and a bunny for me to eat! Heck Yes!”

bobcat stalking

As the bobcat circled the rabbit hutch the chickens were all along their fence noisily clucking away and craning their necks to get a better view of the bunny slaughter.  Personally, if I was a chicken I would have been absolutely quiet and hid inside my house.  Alas, chickens are incredibly dumb and ours exceedingly excel at being terribly stupid.

Let me tell you something about my bunny.  She thinks she’s vicious.  When we introduced her to Frank, I was sure that we’d have to watch Frank carefully.  I was holding onto Frank for dear life, the bunny’s dear life.  What I didn’t anticipate was the bunny reaching out and taking a swipe at the cat.  Dave jokes that the bunny told Frank, “I smell dead bunny on your breath.  I shall avenge my kin!”  Which may be true because the wild rabbits all come and hang out by the hutch.  I imagine long conversations taking place concerning our cat.

Like the chickens, if I was a bunny, I’d run up the ladder and hide in the top, windowless portion of the hut and pretend I didn’t exist while a bobcat stalked my home.  Alas, our bunny has a bravery verging on stupidity.  She decided to put herself right on the fence and taunt the bobcat.  They were nose and nose for awhile.  I really wish we would have gotten a good picture of our small 5 pound bunny taunting a full grown bobcat.

ready to pounce

Imagine here a small bunny shaking his little bunny tail saying, “neener, neener, neener!  You can’t get me I’m in this well built chicken coop!”

I’m sure the bobcat has been casing this joint for awhile.  Him and the bunny have probably been playing this game for quite some time.  What the bunny probably didn’t know was that the bobcat can dig.  A few times we needed to go out and scare the bobcat away from the hutch in order to stop the digging.  Eventually the bobcat decided to settle in and watch the bunny show.

bobcat patience

I called animal control who put me in touch with Fish and Wildlife who informed me that they don’t do anything for bobcats because they aren’t dangerous.

Me:  But he’s not afraid of us and I have small children.

Him:  They are completely safe to humans.

Me:  Not to bunnies though.

Him:  Yeah, probably not to a bunny.

We finally convinced the bobcat to go away.  It involved duct taping Nathaniel to a tree with a steak and hiding Marshall behind a bush with a taser gun.

I kid.

I think he finally was annoyed with our paparazzi-like behavior and the constant shouting at him to stop digging by the rabbit.  I’m really hoping that he went off to kill the most annoying chirping squirrel in the world who lives in my front yard.


While he was off, Dave and Marshall went out and retrieved the bunny.  We then went to Petsmart and dropped a small fortune on a indoor bunny cage.

Dave: Tomorrow we should make sure the chickens are safe.

Me:  Whatever, I don’t really care if he gets a chicken, just as long as he takes all the evidence and leaves nothing behind.  He can leave feathers, but I don’t want to deal with any blood.

Dave:  Should we leave him a little note offering up Pooper McPooperson first?

Me:  On second thought, maybe we should bobcat proof the coop. 

It’s happened.

Yesterday evening we left all of the boys home and went to McKayla’s “Meet your teacher night” at high school. First off, let me tell you, I think a sadist made her class schedule.  She goes from one end of the first floor, to the other end of the third floor, then down to the second and back up to the third. Then way out to the photography class which isn’t even in the main building.  I think the art department might be the bastard step child of the high school.  Then back to the gym.  I’m pretty sure she spends the entirety of her passing periods running at full speed.

While Dave and I reinacted her day, we left the boys with clear instructions:

  • Don’t kill each other (always a good blanket instruction)
  • Clean the kitchen as a team (otherwise lots of yelling ensues, I’m pretty sure lots of yelling ensued anyways
  • When you are done you may watch a movie.

I called about half way through her schedule to check up on them.  The phone was picked up and there were no sounds of duress in the background, which is always a good sign.  They were all doing well and settling into a riveting rewatch of Jimmy Neutron.

When we opened the door I found this:


Someone put dish soap in the dishwasher. This can’t compare with Dave’s childhood dishwashing fiasco, which includes waste high bubbles that amazingly get deeper and taller with every telling.  Maybe modern Dawn Soap doesn’t have the bubbling power of the 1980s version.

It was entertaining and funny and most importantly it was being cleaned up when I got home.

At least the floor was washed, albeit with someone’s feet, but it was washed.  Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.