Fist-pump for our Demise

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown started it.

I had not read the book, a library book picked out by Carter with many others on our last trip to the library.  I walked into the living room and saw Carter, a strange expression on his face, his backpack in hand, all packed up and ready for our family vacation.  We were moments from leaving for the airport.

I asked him what was wrong.  He proceeded to tell me about a book – the dead bird book.  There was a dead bird.  Some kids found it.  They buried it.  They brought flowers to its grave.  They were sad and they cried. 

Carter looked at the floor, his backpack drooped.  Carter is not one to get emotional.  He is rather stoic about his emotions so I knew what was to come was important.

I told him that the book sounded sad but nice, that death was a normal part of living, that everything dies.  I may have said something about how good it is that there are books written for children about death. 

“I know everyone dies,” he squeaked, and then proceeded to list off people and pets that have died.

“And you and poppa will die too!” he nervously stated.

Oh honey.

I told him that, yes, we would and asked him if he knew what would happen to him if we died and he was still living with us.

He shrugged and said no.

I then told him about the plans Husband and I put into place years ago, a living will (is that the correct term?) legally passing on Cody and Carter’s care into the hands of some good friends of ours – friends that the boys know and like.  Perhaps like too much.

For upon hearing this, Carter’s face lit up and he gave a great fist pump.

This came to mind:

Image result for meme little boy with fist

To curb his enthusiasm I asked him if he realized that both Husband and I would have to die for this to happen. His enthusiasm dampened. 

Although only slightly.  

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Ten days without kids.  Oh yes, this happened.

Our vacation started off as a family vacation. 

Family Travels

We flew up to my hometown to spend time with my mom.  It was a whirlwind tour of Washington and some the places and things we loved when we lived there just three short years ago. 

My childhood home:

Perhaps this is why I am drawn to photographing old barns.  This is the pasture just beyond the backyard.

Family Pasture

Ferry rides:



The ferry even had a button on the elevator to take you straight to the sun (or the sun deck if you are one of those more traditional people).

Hurricane Ridge:

Hurricane Ridge Collage

On our way to the ocean, we made a quick detour to explore Hurricane Ridge.  Beautiful wild lupines, snow in the shape of a heart, and trees.

Ocean’s edge:


With arms outstretched and in a full on run, Carter met the water’s edge and simply kept going.  My soul soared.


For years, my parents treated us to a couple nights in cabins on the edge of the ocean and it is to this place we returned.  So many memories.


Sunset.  It is as though the sun turned liquid and dripped down the canvas of sky to overflow tidal pools.


I took well over a hundred pictures and I still can’t capture the essence of the beach, of how our boys embraced it, of how the wet firm sand under bare feet can keep you walking and walking with no destination.  How it empties your mind and fills your soul.


Lavender Festival:

We missed the Sequim lavender festival by a week but that did not stop us from popping into our favorite lavender farm, Fat Cat Farms, on our way back from the ocean.


Friends and Seattle:

We spend our last night in Washington with friends in the Seattle area.


The next day Husband and I acted tourists, riding the Great Wheel of Seattle (Ha!  Does anyone actually call it that?)



Then Husband and I went home leaving Cody and Carter with their grandma.

And for ten days we had no kids. 

By day we worked, Husband out of his home office and me in my classroom getting set up for the new school year. 


But by night we went out.  We dined in restaurants without kids menus (gasp!).  We dined in bars.  We simply drank in bars without dining.  (We discovered a bar that has the most delicious chocolate-peanut butter brownies, that I happen to know to pair well with a nice rich stout).   And all this was done no matter the day of the week.


Today the travelers have returned.  This morning I tidied up their room, made up their beds with freshly washed sheets, vacuumed the house, and cleaned their bathroom.  None of this they noticed nor did I expect them to, but it was my mother way of welcoming them home. 


I am back to being yelled for from across the house – “Momma!  Can I….(fill in the blank with most anything, really).”

Laundry is going, and there are crumbs on the dining room table. 

Back to reality.  And it is good. 

(Although I will really miss having brownies and beer for dinner with Husband).

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Passing More than Just Gas

While cleaning out Carter’s school backpack to make it usable as a carry-on bag for our trip to Washington, I came upon this:


In case you need a translation: I passed a note Lol – cute, maybe cat, face.

I laughed.  Then I asked him who passed him the note.  He told me it was some girl who sat next to him.  I wondered aloud why she gave him the note.

Carter paused and then looked at me with a half smile.  “Well momma” he signed, “it started because I farted.”

“What?!”  I was confused.  How was one passing related to the other kind of passing.

He proceeded to tell me that in the first note she passed him was a request for him to stop farting.

I was shocked.  Was he purposely farting loudly in class?  Was he the class farter?  I could see him doing this at home but not at school where he tends to be a bit more reserved.

He stressed to me that it was a quiet fart, an accidental one. 

I asked him what he did with the first note and he told me that he just passed it back to her.  It was then that this second note arrived.  Apparently she was proud of herself for succeeding in passing notes in class.

The things one finds out when cleaning out their child’s backpack. 

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Wait! Weight?

So I have a weight problem. 

Although in the grand scheme of things, gaining 5 pounds may not seem like much of a problem at all, it makes me cringe and try on fifteen outfits before settling on one that walks that fine line between frumpy and, well, almost not frumpy.  Ugh.

You see, I am forty-something and I have never had issues with my weight.  My body size has been pretty constant.  So constant in fact, that when we were packing to move from Washington to Arizona a few years ago and I came across one of my old prom dresses – I could still fit into it.

How do I know this?  Well, standing there in the garage surrounded by moving boxes, I flung off my shorts and top (and bra – well it was a strapless dress!) and slithered into it.  When Unsuspecting Husband came strolling around the corner and was confronted with the sight of me in a late 80’s peach and lace poof, I took his complete silence as evidence that he was knocked breathless by my beauty.  Bam!

This “weight problem”, I’ve noticed, is reoccurring and seasonal, rearing its ugly head about two weeks into summer break.  And it is more than just my muffin top (I wrote about that in 2012, blaming it on the migrating porn-star sized breasts I gained from breastfeeding which I tried unsuccessfully to eliminate in a flurry of home workouts). 

I have started referring to my muffin top as my “water waist”, blaming it on the extra water I drink in the summers here in Arizona.  (Never you mind the extra margaritas, poolside beers, larger more bacon centric breakfasts, lunches consisting of more than a half a sandwich and a piece of fruit that I shove down my throat during my short teacher lunch, and the more numerous dining out dinners that take place during summer break.  No, that daily extra glass of water is clearly to blame).  But as I said, it is more than just the muffin top.  It is the thighs and tuckus too. 

The cause of the problem is multifaceted.  It is not just that extra 8 ounces of H2O (and maybe, to a lesser extent, the other summer consumptions listed above), but also the antiquity of my summer wardrobe .  My shorts are all at least five years old with ridiculous sizes of 2’s and 4’s.  I also do not meet my step goal during the summer days.  I do not rove around a classroom all day but instead hang out with my boys and sit in front of my computer screen lesson planning for next year. 

How did I “solve” this problem?  Well, about halfway through writing this post, I had to stop and take Cody and Carter shopping for long pants and lightweight jackets.  (These will be needed for out upcoming trip to Washington.)  I despise clothes shopping, regardless of whether the clothes are for me or not.  There was a sale.  Some of the shorts and dresses were cute.  We had to walk past them in order to get to the boys section.

I may have accidently bought myself some new clothes.  I realize this does not solve my weight gain but it makes me feel good.  The clothes actually feel good on me and I feel good in them. 

So, I will continue to drink that extra glass of water and perhaps I will drink one less margarita and eat one less piece of bacon (Ha, yeah right!), knowing that when school starts up again I will easily surpass my step goal just by walking around the classroom, my calorie count will decrease dramatically, I will stop drinking that extra water, and things will get back to normal.

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Someday People

Some people display pretty rocks and shells in a cute dish in their bathroom.

We are not some people.  We are someday people.


These rocks and shells were lovingly collected and put in a Ziploc bag by the boys the last time they visited their Grandma – almost a year ago.



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Fire with all the Works

I think it would be safe to say that on the third of July, we were in the very small minority of people living in Phoenix, AZ, to have a backyard fire.  On purpose.


The sun was still out, the moon whispering to us about the night that had not yet arrived.


Cody and Carter were eager to light off fireworks but there was too much light left in the sky.  (The decision was made to light off our small cache of fireworks on the third and to attend a firework show on the fourth).  It was Carter who begged to have a fire in our firepot.  And so, to kill time, I gave them the go ahead. 


It was, of course, too warm to actually sit around the fire so we stood at a distance and admired.  Our dog, Sasha, decided to take a cool dip in the pool instead.  Smart girl!


Dark finally arrived.  The fireworks were enjoyed by most (the exceptions being the dogs who were more unhappy about being stuck in the house and separated from us, than the actual noise and flash of the entertainment). 

The fire fluttered to nothingness as the last of the fireworks faded.  

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Simple Sunday – Simply Pie

Yesterday we celebrated Summer Pie Day.  It is not a real holiday but one made up and eagerly anticipated by our family (and dare I say, friends).  Simply, we invite family and friends to come over with a homemade pie and we eat. 


As I do each year, I try a new recipe. 


I made this delicious berry crumble bar.  It called for pearl sugar, something I had never heard of and, I found, is rather difficult to track down.  I called half a dozen places in town, panicked about it to Husband, who ordered it same day delivery from Amazon.  Planning ahead would have been a good thing in this case.

Pearl Sugar

My berry cobbler was nice eaten warm the day of, but even better cold the day after with an accompanying cup of dark coffee.  (For those of you wondering, this was the first year we opened up Pie Day to cobblers as they are just so berry good!  I realize they are not true pies, but it is my made up holiday so my rules.)


The boys participated in Summer Pie Day as well.  Carter, who usually makes chocolate pudding (not at all a pie), made his pudding but asked to put it in a graham cracker crust.  For added flair, he topped it with whipping cream and sprinkles.


You may notice the costume change.  While licking the spatula, Carter ended up with a shirt streaked with chocolate.  Also, note the body armor in the second picture with the finished product.  He took time out from planning and executing a Nerf gun war to make his pie.

Cody Pie 2017

Cody, not one for pies, made pigs in a blanket.  Carter, sporting his body armor and 80’s headband, made for a good helper.

Husband, pressured by the boys (“But Poppa, it won’t be Pie Day without your peanut butter pie!”), made his usual.


Soooo good!

My favorite moment of any Pie Day is the lull in conversation as the guests dish up and begin to sample all the tasty hard work we all gathered together to share.  And so another Summer Pie Day has come and gone, slices of leftover pie waiting in the fridge to be eaten.

Lastly, I must apologize for the various collages, boarders, and colors.  I am trying out a new photo editor, Fotor, and got a bit carried away.  Care to share what photo editor you use?

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Eating your Fractions

To keep their brains in somewhat of a school mode, I conduct a summer school of sorts at our dining room table.  Monday through Thursday for an hour or two in the morning the boys work on maintaining their reading, writing, and math skills.  We also do science experiments (which they LOVE) and typing practice (which they LOATHE).  Friday is Field trip Friday so we go to the local zoo, botanical garden, science center, museum, or whatever event that catches our interest.

On Monday the boys worked on simplifying fractions.  Good times.

First they watched a Khan Academy lesson about equivalent fractions.  It made good use of visuals, and of course, was free.  Win, win.


Then I gave them their task – Scrumptiously Simplified Fractions – one of many wonderful resources by Teaching with a Mountain View that I came across while prepping for next school year (i.e. working for free).


Eagerly they sorted out their 1/4 cup of M&M’s by color. 


Following the directions, they created fractions based upon the color, using the total number as their denominator.  After simplifying their fractions they then added a couple of those fractions together, creating different color combinations.


Lastly, they got to eat their fractions.


Yes, you get to eat your fractions now, my crazy-haired child!  Overall it was a success.  For Cody it was a good review and for Carter, it was just beyond what he had done with fractions at the end of third grade. 

Chocolate and math, a winning combination!




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Simple Sunday – Missing Piece

Husband left this afternoon on a business trip.  It is not long, less than a week, but it is unusual and the boys and I feel its strangeness.

He had been gone perhaps an hour.  The boys and I finished the chapter book we had been reading together.  I cleaned the kitchen.  Carter laid out a large blanket in their room and set up their disco ball while Cody picked out some music.

Cody came through the kitchen pushing a chair load of stuffed owls, invited guests to their dance party arriving by chair chariot, as I was loading the dishwasher.

cody:  Momma, it feels odd with Poppa gone.  It feels like a piece – if you were to think of our family as a puzzle – a piece of our puzzle is missing.  And Poppa is that piece.

He says all this without stopping, without missing a stride, simply saying what he feels, as if he did not just drop some beautiful poetry and walk away.

Happy Father’s Day Husband – I agree with Cody, you are a piece of our wonderful family puzzle and without you, life would not be as it should.

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“Where’s the Tequila?” Asks My 11 Year Old Son

What do you do when it is 108 degrees out and the weather forecast is predicting 120 degrees in just a few days time?  You practice making sweet sun tea.


Cody and Carter researched sun tea and found a recipe they wanted to try.  It was simple enough and would have gone swimmingly had the new sun tea container spigot not leaked causing me to madly pour our newly made tea into several random glass containers.  I spilled a good portion of it on the pool deck, inadvertently feeding the same ants Husband has been trying to kill all summer.  Ooops, sorry about that.

Once Husband tightened the spigot and our tea had steeped in the backyard, we poured it back into the cute sun tea container and were ready to give it a try. 

Cody insisted we drink the tea in small Dixie cups so we labeled our cups for reuse and each had some tea.  Carter hated it, but had informed me earlier that he did not like any sun tea (this, regardless of the fact that he had never had sun tea before), so his reaction was no surprise.  Cody loved it and Husband and I thought it was pretty good (a bit too sweet , but not bad). 

Husband went back down the hall to his in-home office and the boys and I entertained ourselves with making sock puppets.  At some point, Cody decided to see if Husband wanted another 5 oz cup of sun tea so he when off down the hall to ask him. Cody came back into the kitchen asking, “where’s the tequila?” under his breath several times. 

I was shocked.  Why was Cody looking for the tequila?  Husband would never drink while working nor would he ever ask one of our boys to pour him a shot.  I was trying to process what was happening and thinking of what to say, when Cody located the tequila bottle on our kitchen counter (no judging – it is summer and hot and margaritas make for a nice pre-dinner drink).  He let out an exclamation of joy and reached toward the bottle. 

Sitting next to the bottle was Husband’s sun tea Dixie cup.  Husband had told Cody that he would love another cup of sun tea, and had told him where he could find his cup.

Apparently my mind does not jump to the simplest nor the most innocent of answers.

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