Saturday, February 27, 2010

My husband and I have been camping together for a long time. At some point along the way, we agreed upon the following division of labor: Sawblock packs the equipment, I pack the food, and we each pack our own clothes. As our family has grown, my packing responsibility has grown as well--I am now responsible for packing clothes and personal items for four* people, toys and books, as well as all of the food for the five of us. At times, it is too much for me. It's a lot to keep in my head, and even with my myriad lists, the responsibility is crushing. What if it rains all weekend and I forgot to pack the rain coats? What if it's in the 100s and I only packed one pair of shorts for each boy? I pack with the constant, nagging fear that I'm forgetting something essential.

My husband, his Dad, and our two oldest boys are ice fishing this weekend. Hubby was responsible for packing clothes and equipment for three and half of the food for five. I noticed this morning that he forgot a few things, like eggs for the French toast, condiments for the brats, and carrots (but that could have been an intentional omission--Sawblock doesn't seem to be quite as concerned as I am about our children eating vegetables every day). My first thought was, "oh no!" But then, optimist that I am (always looking at the silver lining), I thought, well maybe now Hubby will have a little more compassion when I'm whining and complaining about how difficult it is to pack for camping! See, Hubby, it's not as easy as it looks.

*Yes, it's true, Code-man and Logo are old enough to pack their own clothes, but left to their own devices, they would forget such essentials as underwear or toothbrushes, and so, even with a list to work from, they still require close packing supervision, which falls to me.
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Speaking of "oh no," I was watching some short track speed skating last night (can you see where this is going?), and who was skating, but Apolo Anton Ohno, in the 500M final. Apolo was in fourth place, and then he scooted up into third and I was cheering for him (go Ohno!), but then he dropped back into fourth. As the skater in fourth was making his move I was moaning, "Oh no, oh no, OHNO!" He couldn't hear my warning and the other skater accomplished his pass. Ohno finished in second, but got disqualified for shoving another skater out of the way. One of the Canadians, who finished first, also shoved someone out of the way but was not disqualified.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Code-man's 7 layer bars

Press about 2/3 of a tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough into the bottom of a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until half-baked. Remove from oven and sprinkle with ~ 1/2 c. slivered almonds (toast them first, if you prefer), ~ 1/2 c. shredded coconut, 15-20 caramels cut in 1/4s, ~1 c. mini-marshmallows, and ~ 1 c. mini-chocolate chips. Crumble remaining cookie dough on top. Place back in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cookie dough looks done and the marshmallows are melty and lightly toasted. Yummy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I think Bubby was born to be a construction worker--he has natural talent. This morning, when we were playing outside, Bubby was moving snow using his loader, just like they move dirt at construction sites. He would move 3 loads from here over to there, and then move a load from here to somewhere else, then go back to there and spread the snow around, and then take a load from there to here, then take a load from here and move it 2 inches to the right...the only thing we were missing was 2 other guys to stand around drinking coffee with me (we were missing the coffee, too). That, and Bubby wasn't taking breaks every couple of minutes.

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Speaking of construction zones, I feel like I need to be wearing a hard hat lately when I walk the older boys to their bus stop. Our driveway, on the uphill side, is shaded all the time, so it doesn't melt the way the rest of the driveway does. Even worse, the run-off from the house heads down the hill, gets to this shaded portion, and freezes. So right now, we've got a slanted patch of ice, the width of the driveway, and about 15 feet long. Getting down without falling is challenging, but fun; going back up toward the house is pretty close to impossible. The other night when Logo and I were bringing the garbage and recycling bins back up to the house, I thought I was going to have to send Logo in to get Sawblock to come and get me in the truck. I just could not manage to navigate up that icy patch with a 96 gallon cart in tow. Eventually, I made it, with help from Logo standing above me on a dry patch. I'm sure it would have been quite comical to watch, as from a kneeling position, I attempted to shove the cart toward Logo, demonstrating Newton's third law of motion* quite graphically. This morning I told the boys they were going to have to go to the bus stop on their own until the driveway melts--I was only half kidding!

*For those of you not "in the know", Newton's third law states: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Swarm v Mammoth

Final Score:
Swarm 15
Mammoth 5
Yes, we really were that close. And by the way, what's with all the Gajics on the Colorado team?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Whoops! I don't know what I did, but that last post published without my permission. must have been a slip of the fingers...but I don't know which ones.

Last October or so, I was feeling frustrated by the lack of help I was receiving from certain children around supper time. I would ask, "who wants to set the table," and they would groan in response. You would have thought I was asking them to clean their rooms or something. So I set up a supper-time chore rotation. One child is responsible for setting the table, one clears the table, including putting away any leftovers, and the third takes the garbage and recycling from the kitchen to the bins in the garage. I was expecting resistance from these children of mine, just based on their past reactions to being asked to help with any of these activities, but it's worked extremely well. No complaints--they just do their jobs. I think the difference is that the expectations are clear, consistent, and applied equally. Now the only one groaning is me (internally, of course), because it's a little difficult to keep Bubby on task sometimes, and it's frustrating to try to get him to do something that I can do so much faster by myself.

Buoyed by the success of the supper-time chore rotation, I recently implemented Saturday morning jobs, as well. It took me a long time to actually put this into practice, because I was concerned that they wouldn't do a very good job. But then I realized that even if they don't do a very good job, something is better than nothing, and these particular chores are ones that I haven't been able to get a handle on consistently since Bubby started taking one nap a day instead of two. I also had a hard time coming up with an acceptable division of labor.

So now each of them needs to clean their room, which consists of picking everything up off the floor and putting it where it belongs, and clearing off their desk and dresser (Bubby doesn't have a desk or dresser, so his job is easier). Then one kid is responsible for cleaning the downstairs bathroom, one cleans the upstairs hallway bathroom, and the other cleans up the family room and vacuums the basement and the stairs.

The kids are doing really well with these jobs. Yes, there's some grumbling, and they need lots of guidance (which means more work for me at the front end), but I'm sure they'll get better at each of their tasks as they gain more experience. But beyond that, my boys are experiencing what it means to be a family--we share in the fun and good times, and we also share in the hard work of keeping everything running. They now have the opportunity to experience the pride of a job well done, with the accompanying self-esteem boost. And they're learning that if they make just a little bit of effort to keep things neat during the week, the Saturday jobs are much easier--all great life lessons for my little ones to learn.


This Thursday, our family is responsible for providing lettuce, tomato, and onion for a taco dinner for 120 people. Anybody know how much lettuce that is? I think my perception is probably skewed because I like lots and lots of lettuce on my tacos. I think I probably put more lettuce than meat on my tacos. We always end up needing more lettuce for our family taco nights than we have prepared for the meal. I just don't know. I'm trying not to have anxiety about this, but I am, in general, an anxious person. I tell myself, we can buy extra--iceberg lettuce is on sale this week for just $1 per head. I hate to waste it, though, and I don't think we can return unused lettuce, even if it's unopened.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Warning: This post contains graphic content

Speaking of graphic warnings....the other night Sawblock and I were watching the Olympic games, and Apollo and that RJ (or is it CJ?) kid had just won gold and bronze in the mens' 1500 M short track speed skating event, when Mr. Costas said, "we must warn you, the video we are about to show may be disturbing to some people," and then less than a second later, there's poor RJ (or CJ) bleeding out all over the ice in August--he cut himself on his skate during a race, knicking his femeral artery, and almost died. Bob! That was not enough time for me to cover my eyes, let alone get myself out of the room. I'm disturbed, all right! That was really not something I wanted to see. graphic content is not quite that graphic. We're having poop issues in our house (yes, I said it: poop), so I've been looking at the labels of a variety of stool softeners, fiber supliments, and laxatives lately. I've noticed that they pretty much fall into two categories: those which produce a "result" within 6 to 12 hours, and those which produce results within 1/2 to 6 hours. But all of them, all of them, say to take them (or give them, in our case) at bedtime. Are they crazy? I am not going to give my kid, who normally sleeps for 11 hours at night, something that's going to make him want to go poop in 1/2 to six hours, right at bedtime. Seriously, what's up with that? They say to stop use and contact your doctor if there's no bowel movement in the prescribed amount of time!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Some pictures taken in the past couple of weeks:

Working on Pinewood Derby cars.

Ice fishing.

The Winter Pokey at Logo's concert, "Seasons Greetings." Logo was "put your warm hat in..." Hot Air Affair.

They actually launched!

Night sledding

Monday, February 8, 2010

Facing the demons

Some months ago, I admitted, in this space, to being the victim of parking anxiety. While I have not yet taken on the parking challenges presented by THE MALL, I am thrilled to report that on Thursday, I successfully parked the Suburban in a straight-in/non-pull-through spot (I only had to back out once to get myself satisfactorily centered in the spot). And later that afternoon (you're not going to believe this) I parallel parked! At the school. Yes I did! It was easy--much easier than the straight in spot was.

Friday, February 5, 2010

40, continued

A few weeks ago, I asked my husband what we could give 40 of to my brother in honor of his 40th birthday. We brainstormed, tossing out a few inferior ideas, and then Hubby said we could give him 40 personalized bottle caps. Brilliant! My brother enjoys brewing and bottling (and drinking) his own beer. OK "enjoys" is perhaps a bit of an understatement. Anyway, I thought he'd like the idea. So I did some research and confirmed that, yes, you can get anything on the internet.

So we gave him 40 bottle caps that look like this:
And one magnet (to grow on). Isn't that just the niftiest gift ever?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


It's my brother's birthday today. Happy Birthday, brother.

I am so geeked about the gift Sawblock and I got for him. I've been restraining myself for weeks (yes, weeks) wanting to brag to y'all about this gift we came up with--actually, it was Sawblock's idea. One more day! I'll tell 'ya tomorrow, 'cause I don't think he's opened it yet.
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It was MOPS day again today. One thing I can be sure of, MOPS meetings always make me think. Today our subject was "Finding the Hero in your Husband," so, of course, after the speakers were through, talk at our table turned to husbands, and I found myself, once again, reflecting on what a great husband I have. It's true he's not perfect, but neither am I. I don't think I would want a perfect husband, because that would make me feel that much more inferior. He loves me unconditionally (even though sometimes I don't see how he could), and he does his best to make me feel valued and cherished and protected. Every day. I don't know if it was luck, skill, or destiny, but my hubby most definitely ranks at least in the top 95th percentile for husbands. Love you, hunny. Thanks for being my hero.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A new goal

I was with my sis in law on New Year's Eve, and we started talking (as people will do at that time of year) about Goals For The New Year. I used to make goals every year--it was fun. One year, my goal was to make pasta; the next year I vowed to make homemade ravioli. One year, my goal was to make paper; another, to learn one-stroke painting. One year, my goal was to make a pie crust and get it into the pan without breaking it. I finally managed to do it in late October of that year, and promptly vowed never to make a pie crust again. Years later, pie crust no longer intimidates me. As you can tell, my goals were never very elaborate or difficult, but they were something to work toward, and always something I'd never done before.

Sometime between the births of son two and son three, I stopped making annual goals. I stopped because...I was too tired to even think of a goal to accomplish, let alone actually take steps to achieve it. I stopped because...I was too busy. I stopped because...I knew that when push came to shove I would put the kids' needs before my goal, and it's just plain disheartening to set a goal and then not be able to accomplish it. Why bother, I thought. From time to time I would reflect on that time of setting fun goals for myself in my life and mourn its passing, but I never took much time dwelling on it because, well, because life happens, and then I'd be off dealing with the next kid-induced crisis.

The consensus from my conversation with Chip seemed to be: we're too tired, too busy to set goals for ourselves, but even if we did set goals, they would be kid related, because at this point, for better or worse, our children are our lives. I think both of us didn't necessarily like it, but were forced to admit this truth's hold on us.

For some time, I've been trying to streamline my supper planning and preparation process, since I don't have as much time or energy to devote to that anymore, and a few months ago it dawned on me that it would be a lot easier to plan meals if I just used a rotating schedule. My kids' school uses a 5 week rotation for their lunch menus--it works for them, why not for me? I mentioned this to Chip, and she, the supportive and loving sister that she is, jumped on it. She immediately broke through the biggest obstacle that was preventing me from going forward and told me that she would make it her goal to make sure that I accomplished mine (isn't she great?). Unfortunately, back on my own, and out of Chip's enthusiastic circle of influence, I've constructed at least 10 more barriers (or, perhaps more accurately, excuses) as to why a rotating meal plan is not going to work for our family.

Don't worry, though! I have a new goal, but don't tell my husband or my kids :-) My goal is to make at least one vegetarian supper a month this year (not including January, because I didn't think of it in time). This is more than a goal, though. This is a declaration that I am a woman, beyond the demands of motherhood or matrimony. This is an acknowledgement that my wants and needs are at least as important as those of my children and husband. This is me, not defined by my job or status, but by my thoughts and feelings and dreams, breaking free.
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