No Xmas Cards

Are you flooded with catalogs already?  I am. It starts in October and turns to a deluge. Toys. Puffy vests. Plaids. Glitter. Shiny. It’s like a war-boy’s death approaches, all this chrome in my mail box.

After my fifth sample Minted card with foil-pressed letters, I’ve decided not to do Christmas cards this year.  They’re too precious.  Too ostentatious.  Gold foil??  I’d be delighted to receive such a beautiful card.  I love getting pictures of people’s gorgeous families, and especially love the ones where someone is not thrilled about being in the picture.  But I ‘m not wading through gallery choice of gold foil and glitter and the staging the perfect picture of my kids this year.

I’m not putting on our annual Solstice Spectacular, either.  Last year I tried to go small for the holidays and it still felt like too much.  Maybe it’s a bah-humbug kind of year, but I actually just have hope that it will be calm and lovely instead of garish and rushed and overdone.  Maybe.  There’s always a chance I’ll give up and lay down on a shelf in Target like the priest in the window on Easter morning in Chocolat.


What are holiday cards for?  Well-wishing for the season and new year?  Plus a little piece of something beautiful and peaceful?  Well, here you all go.  I hope you are well this holiday season.  I hope you find moments with your loved ones that make all the external noise disappear.  I hope you have time for hot chocolate and that you experience the joy and wonder that my kids do at the first snow.  And as for a little piece of something pretty, this is what caught my eye looking through this year’s pictures so far, in no particular order.  Enjoy and happy, early holidays.

Let’s Go For a Ride
Out for a run
First snow
Sunset with a beverage
To the Parthenon!
Big Sky Country
Sky Over Yellowstone in August




A girl and her millipede, out for a walk
Phi and Ox-Bow, somewhere over Louisiana
The Best of New Orleans
Just passing through


Traditional Crafting
“Did you see the famly of Ammonites on the Beach??”
May you find what you’re looking for this season and new year.


A Child Was Here

Is that a Jawa? Sticker? On the bathroom wall? With a whale, a pony, an alligator and a travel-size carry case? And all the toliet paper is gone? Yes.

It is pretty clear, at any given moment, that this is the house of children.  Every day, though, I come across something that makes me say “Evidence!” in a British accent to myself.  Warning—to those of you compulsive cleaners, this may be a trigger.  If so, come on over and pick something up.  No one will stop you.

IMG_8721 (2)
Someone was here, and it wasn’t me.
“I’ll just throw my sweatshirt wherever. Never mind what, or who, it lands on.”
“I’m looking for this one book.”
Everyone needs a fort
SOME things tend to order in this house.
“Well, did you look in the bathroom?”
“Mom, don’t touch my collection.”
Dinosaur. Royalty.
Taking our cues from Ramona
And more forts.  I think we might even be hosting a squatter.

Forced Vacation

First day of summer vacation over here and the kids are enjoying being together.  It’s the honeymoon phase and I hope it lasts and lasts.  They are playing “Amoeba”, each in their sleeping bag, “eating” stuffed animals (followed by the requisite “pooping” of animals out the side zipper, of course), and occasionally “shedding” of the skin to make offerings to the Queen Amoeba.  Other than getting their sleeping bags down an hour ago, they are entirely self-sustaining.  Oh, joy!

I am enjoying this far more than I should.  I was ignoring the approach of 100 some days of unstructured time, but my body was not.  Three weekends ago I got a cold that flattened me.  Two weekends ago I had an allergic reaction that flattened me.  Last weekend I threw out my back and, wait for it, it flattened me.  I’m still recovering.  One of these years I’ll learn how to sit on the sofa and give myself enough time to recover.  It was not this year.  Instead of lying low, I took a bunch of pain-killers and muscle-relaxants and planted the last dozen seedlings and buried a big, dumb, baby crow that fell from its nest.  Yes, I reinjured my back.  Yes, I got another two dozen mosquito bites and had another allergic reaction.  Yes I got flattened AGAIN.

Somewhere in there, I also had an eye appointment.  One that I was pretending to be just a regular check-up.  It wasn’t just that.  A few months ago my neurologist saw something in my right retina that called for the expertise of an ophthalmologist.  I dutifully made the appointment, found someone to watch my youngest and went.

The first test, the field vision test, is the one I failed.  It doesn’t have anything to do with the technician saying that the test is a common one they do for patients with MS.  She said that so casually while adjusting the computer, but she must have excellent peripheral vision because she suddenly turned to my wilting, punched-in-the-gut self.  “Oh.  Wait.  You DO have MS, don’t you?”

“Um.  No.  Not really.  I mean, yes.  Sort of.  It’s like a precursor. It could turn into MS.  But I’m fine. Technically…..Um.”

“Oh.  Well.  This is a field vision test. It’s a good test for everyone.”

So I did the test and I knew I was failing it when I did it.  There is a semi-circle on the outside of my right eye’s field of vision that is a bit of a blank.  I have to go back in two months to do that again, but I know the results will be the same.  The excellent news and what I should be focusing on is that both retinas and optic nerves look great.  Instead of celebrating that though, I took my dilated eyes and deflated self to the bakery and have been eating my way through the last week.

I’m a planner.  I’m sitting here, thinking about my “comeback” because that’s how I always think about these things.  Which might be part of the problem. I’m all about getting Deliberate, Inspired and Going (thanks Brene Brown!), but sometimes I should just sit the hell down and eat a donut. Someone go get me a donut!  That is going to be my new way:  Demanding donuts, Asking for help.

I actually sent out a rare but critical distress beacon to my best and brightest earlier this week and accepted someone cleaning my kitchen, bringing me tea and chocolate, helping me parent with virtual shots in the arm.  Only another mom knows you can’t pick up a damn thing off the floor and that you might be nonchalant about it but the disgusting mess in the kitchen is filling you with rage at your own incompetence and the slobs you live with.  Only another mom picks up your antisocial daughter and entertains her and feeds her lunch and drops her off several hours later while you do absolutely nothing.  Moms to the rescue.

As long as I’m spilling my guts, lets talk about boot camp.  I haven’t been going (and yes that is partly why I threw my back out, ‘cuz no back and ab strengthening is going on here) because I don’t know what to do with my daughter.  She’s overwhelmed by the kids’ room, and she can NOT be in the gym with me anymore, not just because of her walkout stunt–but also because it is now a gym rule.  Great!  I could go at 6:15 am, (which would require me to go to bed a half-hour after the kids and therefore forfeit almost all the time I get with my husband) but get this—the kids who used to sleep in until 7 are getting up at 5:45 these days and my husband is either working or working out then, so there’s no one to watch them anyway.  (BTW, whats-her-name with the three kids under three and the stupid six-pack and the “what’s your excuse” thing, STFU.)

Anyway.  Today is Day One.  Day one of summer vacation, day one without massive doses of Bendaryl, Demerol, muscle-relaxants, or other pharmaceutical help (hopefully).  Day one of ruling from this sofa, and so far, so good. Now, I have to go, because the Amoebas are trying to eat the cat and he’s too sweet and dumb to stop them.

Emboldened, Part II: “Clean Up That Shit”

Recent small victories and the insightful questions of my fellow moms-in-arms has got me thinking.  About travel, about summer, about technology, about time, about the future.  My thoughts on Travel came easiest.

What’s next?  This house.  There’s a list around here somewhere called “The 30 Week List”.  It is a list of stuff we wanted to finish before I was 30-weeks pregnant.  With our first child.  Who turned seven last month.

Too many friends moved away this last year.  I watched and helped so many of them pack up and I saw some of the things they did to make their home “saleable”.  Like fixing the creaky floors and the drooping door frames.  Fresh paint and working receptacles.  I looked around my own home and wondered why we don’t do those things and not move? We could live with functioning drawer pulls!  We could use the hairdryer on the living room window plastic without needing an extension cord to the bathroom!  So I vowed that 2015 would be the year to do all those things that have fallen into disrepair, and all those things we never got to on the 30-week list.  The next time the winter Solstice Spectacular rolls around I don’t have to be disappointed that somehow, the bathroom still has mold and flaking paint.

I just sent out inquiries for quotes on fixing things.  Other projects:  Tearing the linoleum from ’54 off the basement stairs and rehabbing the wood underneath, finding/replacing the missing/mismatched drawer pulls in the kitchen, replacing the sliding screen door the kids walked through, hire, what, the fifth electrician to finally restore power to the back wall of the dining room….

Week One:  Thank God For Google Image Searches.  I found the unfindable….four matching pewter tone drawer pulls for the kitchen, plus two extra.  I have been looking for these for nine years, hoping they would magically reappear in that unstocked bin. La!  I should get them in four to six weeks, because I don’t even know who pays $35 for three-day shipping.  I can continue to pry the drawers open from the bottom with my toes, thank you very much.

Week Three:  Drawer-pulls installed.  Several contractors contacted and I am overwhelmingly disappointed in lack of call-backs, general respect, and reasonable time-frames or estimates. So.. I scraped, sanded and repainted the bathroom and the basement by myself.  Started pulling up the linoleum on the basement stairs but had to stop for the buzzing in my hands.  All in all, a big week.


Week Five:  Summer with two children home at all times looms. Plans for The Refinishing are in my calendar but even I know that is just a pipe dream.  Then I heard about The Minimalists and their one-month challenge (Thanks, Kaisa!):  Oho!  I could revive The Purge!  I always feel like we’re drowning in stuff. So, the challenge is to get rid of as many things as the day number, i.e. get rid on one thing on the first, two on the second, three on the third…..Their rules are that it has to be gone by midnight.  I’m a bit more relaxed about that.  If it is out of the house in a bag for drop off, either at Goodwill or to a friend or Habitat for Humanities ReHome store or wherever, that’s good enough for me.  You can make it a competition and see how long you can go.

I’m good through Day Four right now.  Gone are some running shoes culled from my pack, some rude kitchen magnets I’ll never be able to use again anyway now that the kids can read, never-worn winter scarves and a size 3 winter jacket.  It is easy so far.

The thing I’m stuck on right now is the National Geographic magazines.  I have a few from the 1980s, and then almost a complete collection from 1996 on. (Yes, that is almost 300 issues, I know.) They need to go and I’m almost ready.  I have never once referred to them in the time I’ve been collecting them.  I certainly didn’t read the vast majority of the ones since my kids were born.  But here’s the thing.  I just read “Station Eleven” (Emily St. John Mandel) a dystopia set after the collapse of humanity, brought on by a virulent strain of swine flu. My thought is this, “What will I read after The Collapse?!?”  I’ll have almost thirty years of Nat Geo!  Me, getting the smarts, holed up in my basement!!”

 Okay.  But here is what Reason has to say:  “1. If they only way you’re going to read your National Geographic back log is when humanity fails, uh, get rid of them.  Also, 2. My kids are germ-magnets.  They lick things and wipes their noses on their hands.  We’ll never survive.  In fact, we’ll probably be Patient Zero.”

Sigh.  Fine.  Time to haul them to Half-Price Books for $0.37 total.

Yes!  That IS the holographic 1988 issue!
Yes! That IS the holographic 1988 issue!
There’s only, um, 300 I think