Thursday, December 31, 2009

yesterday, goodbye

Of course that is not the lyrics to a Chorus Line's What I Did for Love but that's how I remember this song. It's one of the downfalls of public education, I suppose. Mrs. Potter taught me a repertoire of songs in the 70s, sappy ballads that I didn't understand but who can really resist belting out: Goodbye Michelle, it's hard to die. When all the bird are singing in. the. sky? I certainly can't.

Look! I brought you some jazz hands. You're welcome.

2009 was sweet and joyful; heartbreaking and disappointing. If you'll bear with me - and feel free to gag at the sweet sentiments - I've come to the place of knowing that if I was sad for a time this year, it's because I opened myself up and cared deeply for other people. I was engaged. And as painful as it was, I would do it again. I won't shut down. I won't let it shrink my world.

So, farewell to 2009. I'm ready to put her to bed and flirt with new opportunities.

Happy New Year, dear friends.

Monday, December 28, 2009


That thud overhead? Don't be alarmed. I'm pretty sure it is the boys - Zack and his cousin, Austin - playing in my room and I am pretty sure because if not, I have to entertain notions about vampires playing baseball upstairs or, Scary Thought #2: there's an intruder. I pick little rambunctious boys for the win, but I am unwilling to verify said theory because that would require rising up out of this chair.

And the chair is a nice place to be.

The sun is shining through my window and the mutts are huddled together, snoozing the first of many snoozes today.

If I had a cup of tea, I could probably justify staying here all day.

Yet remarkably, no one is buying this nonsense. I need to take the tree down, and plod my way forward; no more milking 'I'm sore from yoga' today.

And it feels good - this calm - on the last week of the year, counting down to something juicy and sweet, around the corner.

Tired, and hopeful, Monday just might be my favorite after all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve ramblings, the Insomniac Edition

Well hello there. Dawn has not broken yet my brain just might be for I cannot sleep. This happens with some regularity; three a.m. rolls around and some switch in my brain gets flipped on and my mind races, typically with PLANS for the day or alternately, I think of zombies and Stephen King movies and run-on sentences.

(It's foggy here. I'm shutting the blinds.)

And because it is Christmas Eve, aka my Mom's birthday in these parts, my to-do list coupled with a sinus headache made the coaxing back to sleep thing impossible.

So here I am, packaging rum cakes and sharing my incoherent thoughts with you, dear reader.

I like the new Monica Gellar show. I find it funny. Don't judge

I am still searching for the perfect rum cake pan. I will know it when I see it.

I miss last year's snow. I just do.

I inherited my Mom's making-crafts-until-the-last-minute-for-Christmas gene. It makes me feel mentally ill and yet, I can't stop myself.

I am brewing up a Deep Moments with Stuart Smalley sort of post about forgiveness, which sounds meek & mild, and baby Jesus worthy but I am not there yet.

Speaking of not being there yet: We are church-less these days. We've been invited to several Christmas Eve services today. I don't feel ready. I feel broken.

I am thankful for my family, and my smart girls, and my sweet and exhausting dogs. The quiet, where there will soon be frenzy; the promise of a new year.

And maybe a nap later today.

I still believe in Christmas miracles.

(Merry Christmas! ox)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

best dad ever (a little love from Zack)

Zack crouched at the end of the table, stealing glances at Greg while he unwittingly posed, watching football.

Zack worships Greg. It is something to behold.

(It makes me ache when Greg is working long hours, and is far away. It makes me glad Christmas is nearly here.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


And just like that, the month rolls on.

My in-laws came to visit, and then we all went to visit a certain bearded fellow, much sought after this time of year.

I didn't expect my kids to really sit with him, but they did. They talked him up, poor guy.

I wish these days were longer, so I could get through work each day, keep the house clean-ish, do what I need to do to stay healthy and sane AND write, but I make no promises on this 24 hour plan.

Y tu? How are you holding up this December?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I guess that makes me the angry elf

I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands. Buddy the Elf

I live with Elf. We call him Bubby, for copyrighting purposes, but you get the idea. He is Smiles and Urgency and Squeals. Overly fond of syrup. He is wearing me out.
Now, don't get me wrong: Living with a perky elf has its advantages. He will get up early with a spring in his step, ready to take on the day. He loves people. He loves smiles. He has more energy and exuberance than he knows what to do with and I thank God for giving me such a cheerful little guy.

But at 6 am, sans coffee, I find myself shushing. When I am overwhelmed by laundry and dirty floors, I find myself growing irritable, which I am pretty sure makes me the angry elf in this scenario. (My apologies to Will Ferrell and the greater Elf population.)

So I am forcibly letting go (try that oxymoron on for size) of some of my neurotic 'I have to do Christmas this way' notions, for this little Elf is on loan, for a limited time engagement.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I don't do Black Friday

The lines. The fighting. No, thanks.

I'm taking advantage of this week off and my ever better tootsie and heading to the gym here in a bit.

This is not to say I won't be venturing into stores here soon; I'm just putting off the inevitable and more trips to the craft store, which makes me shudder.

I took the kids to Michaels last Sunday, prepped and ready. I warned them that I would be there for a while. I warned them that crafty people, post-Halloween, can be surly and insane. I said there will be long lines, and I could very well be named Line Leader again. Still, they insisted they wanted to go.

Soon there was whining over little stuffed animals - please, no more! my house is littered with little stuffies - and why can't I buy this and how much longer and I thought we were going to Craft Warehouse and can't we go there now and Christmas is too far away.

And I found it's hard to be creative when you want to gnaw on your children.

I grabbed some 'necessities' and took my place in the long line, ignoring my kids' antics and wishes to buy crap point of sale tchotchkes. I think there was deep breathing. I know there was regret. And just when I was ready to blow, the kindest of elderly ladies wandered back from the line and handed me an extra coupon she had been carrying around with her. Just for some nice mommy like me.

I didn't correct her, of course, and if she read my mind, she didn't let on as she touched my hand and whispered, 'God bless you'.

And if a Christmas miracle in Michaels doesn't put me in the holiday spirit, I don't know what will.

I'm thankful for little reminders.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

smart girls' club

I am lucky enough to be part of the self-proclaimed Smart Girls' Club. (I don't remember how we came up with this name, but let's just say it's better than the inappropriate moniker we tried on for size before settling on one slightly less offensive, despite its elitist undertones.)

Truth is, I've always surrounded myself with smart girls. Witty women. Smart, sassy sisters. It's just how I roll.

roommates, smart girls
Christine, Alisa & Sheila

The blond on the left? Supersmart and celebrating her birthday today. If you can look past our bad taste in perms and the sad sprout growing overhead, you can see it in her eyes: Her future was bright.
Rimsky-Korsekoffee, early 90s
Sheila, me & Christine

So, here's to you, Mrs. Parker. Thank you for everything I took from our time together, and the way you continue to inspire me to be more.

Happy birthday, Christine!
PS: I looked high and low and tore apart my craft room this morning, searching for our Hans & Franz pictures from camp. (Mentally ill, who?) No luck today, but soon I will embarrass us properly put those girlie men to shame.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

on (not) writing and other miscellany

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
Stephen King, On Writing
It's true. I took a job, and two dogs and my days were no longer all my own. There were new demands on my time and body and the first thing to go was the reading. Soon, I lost interest in writing, and although it bothered me when I'd fall into bed each night, I also didn't see any way to do it any better.

So, I let it go.

And waited for a new season to unfold.

Want to stir the pot and watch fur fly? Decide you don't want to be Facebook friends with your best friend's ex after all. Never mind that it is an New Media relationship of little consequence. Just announce that you aren't comfortable reading his status updates and he'll get real offended like. Because you are mean. It would be funny if it wasn't sad, the anger so frightening.

I went to an acupuncturist for the first time on Sunday evening. On paper, I'm a wreck. On paper, I am pathetic or so it seems to me. We broke down my broken body, and got to work, my body covered in needles. It's my last resort I've been holding in my pocket, for when it gets to be too much. I have high hopes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

of skates and blood

I have a new itch.

Well, at least I have been entertaining insane fantasies about joining a roller derby team ever since Whip it!

(Would that be a Roller Derbier? Roller Derby-ist? As you can tell, the learning curve is steep: I'm not even sure what the girls in the helmets are properly called. All I know is that they looked like they were having way too much fun, spinning around the track and taking out some aggression in cute little outfits. What's not to love?)

I'm not quite ready for rolling just yet, as I wait for my foot to heal so I'm stuck on the sidelines. (Quick update from the delinquent blogger: Stress fracture, left foot. Big drag.)

Holly, Stephanie and I chitchatted while a gaggle of our own skated their little legs off at Oaks Park before we made a pit stop for November 11th, part two: Dinner and Augusten Burroughs.

You know I had to pick the one with the bulldogs. Aren't they darling?

Now Shana will try to claim that she's his soulmate, as did half of the audience last night, but secretly he has always been one of my favorites, call that what you may.

(You'll be pleased to know we didn't rush the stage, ask for a vial of his blood or his number. Something tells me he wouldn't bat an eye, considering he was incredibly generous, and I think he is used to his somewhat creepy fan base.)

It was a might nice first Friday night, indeed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The rain? Made an appearance. (I forgot my goggles.)
The boy? Donned his wear, and marched, and made it through. (He was miserable; I won't lie.)
The brave men and women that serve our country? We enjoy our freedoms, because of you.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


It's been brought to my attention that I sound all too gloomy here these days, and I guess it is true.

I feel differently now that I let summer go; funny how changing my mind has lifted my mood. I'm moving on and making plans and if anything, I am frustrated I don't have enough time each day to get to everything on my newly revised plate.

It was crisp and sunny out when we dusted off the bikes and went for a spin around the neighborhood, through a spray of red leaves, autumn's glitter.

We stopped off to visit Stephanie, a brisk layover before it grew too dark to ride back home, the three of us running with the moon at dusk, the smell of dinner and woodstoves in the cold air.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

letting go

Twenty five seconds into this meager first attempt at creating a mixed movie of some of the footage we took in Hawaii, walks the woman I was while away in August: Light, and goofy, unencumbered.

As it should be, while away from all earthly burdens, under the sun with my guy.

Not a day has passed that I haven't thought about this footage, how light my spirit felt while we walked the pathway to a picnic dinner on the beach, the dancing that followed.

The end of summer gave way to a gloomy fall and though the initial grief has passed, I still find myself quieter and more solemn these days. This isn't to say I don't have joy in my life; I do. I cultivate it. But I am more sorrowful and slower to laugh, and instead of just accepting this little phase I'm going through, I keep pushing myself to be that girl in the video again, amid the dead leaves and broken households and lonely nights when my husband is too far away from us.

That is what is breaking me. I'm chasing a lightness in me that has passed, as the days grow shorter and the wind howls outside in window.

The last of the yellow jackets has stumbled into my kitchen, passing the dogs on their way out, rummy and lethargic. It juts around the windowsill, in short jerky moves. My kids are afraid it will run them down, but it is no longer a thing of speed. Whatever spunk that carried indoors won't take it where it wants to go, peckish and neutered and dying.

It bounces off the ceiling light until I catch it, and put it out so we can both let go of summer, and days spent in the sun.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

taking my Lego alter ego on the road

I am up early with a puking puppy. (Yes, I have now managed to mention vomit in two consequent posts; my mother must be very proud.) I lead a very glamorous life.

It's dark and the rain is keeping my state Evergreen. I think I'll put on some coffee and work on a short story that I keep meaning to write while I send you over for shelter on The Porch, Women's Colony style.

I think it will make you giggle.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

hover craft

So I was preoccupied.

(World, who?)

My boy was sick, and lonely and begged me mercilessly to play Lego Indiana Jones forever and ever amen, until I gave in to his Vidiot* ways while the rest of the nation worried and wondered about a boy in a balloon.

Now by the time I had tuned in, said little boy - and I am loathe to give them any more publicity on my meek little media machine - had been 'found' and all was well or so it seemed.

I have to say I found the whole story to be suspicious because I watch enough NatGeo/Science/Nerdilicious-ness channels with my hubby to question whether that homemade balloon and basket combo could hold a boy.

Or maybe I was incredulous because I am pretty sure that if a Mylar balloon could be transformed into a functioning hover craft, my kids would fulfill their Up fantasies and they would be on your favorite cable channel right now, floating over Disneyland.

I'm just saying.

My gut feeling grew while we watched the family interviewed, not by Larry King, but by my girls on GMA. I was gazing at my laptop, typing away (pretend to be surprised) when I heard what can only be described as puking sounds on TV. Let's face it: Any mother worth her weight in diapers can recognize that distinctive heaving cough.

I watched, disgusted, as the little boy wondered off camera - alone - to vomit while his parents continued to make goo-goo eyes at the camera. Until one of the anchors suggested they check on their sick child.

I knew right there that something was wrong with this story, wrong with these people.

And I hated the way they had exploited their children and foiled a kind nation just to taste a little more limelight.

*Vidiot = VideoGames/Idiot. It's a term of endearment for my gaming offspring, coined by my Dad, after Wii marathons at his house. Or an insult, when on Lexi's lips.
**Does anyone else use this term or is it this family specific?

Monday, October 19, 2009

patch, pumpkin

Cooler temperatures?
Gourds galore?
I love this time of year.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

I may have went a little overboard with the camera.
And Happy birthday to my little sister, Lori!

Friday, October 16, 2009


We don't live in a pineapple, under the sea;
But look what she found: Gary! It's he!

(For my girl, she who loves all creatures.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

boy's best friend

I'm a rotten mother, prone to worry. I'd much rather be strong.

When Zack was a bitty, bitty boy, a doctor once said - while he was very ill - that she didn't think we'd 'lose him', something that hadn't even crossed my mind at the time.

It was the beginning of many lab tests and doctor visits and I've always thought it traumatized him. I know it did me.

So when he woke up this morning, one side of his neck swollen and red, with dark circles under his eyes, it hit me again: I wonder when I will stop seeing him as that fragile 2 year old? I wonder if it ever goes away, after you dodge the proverbial bullet.

We had medical insurance when Lexi was a baby, but it didn't include vaccinations during her well visits, a policy hiccup that put shots nearly out of reach when we were narrowly living paycheck to paycheck. I sought mobile clinics, rows of mothers and howling babies and strollers snaking around a silver motor home parked in a vacant lot. It was the best way to get cheap shots.

I remember when Lexi was one, it took two nurses and my able arms to hold her down, her chubby little thighs lodged between the nurses'.

She was always the picture of health. Strong, vibrant.

My boy will be home for a few days, as his body fights what the doctor believes is an infection in his lymph nodes.

We snuggled in bed this afternoon, watching a week's worth of Spongebob in one sitting. Jake curled his body around Zack, his boy, licking his puffy neck while Zack caught up on some sleep.

Somehow, watching my big teddy bear of a dog stand guard eased my mind.

Friday, October 09, 2009

2nd Story

6:23 am.

My fantasy, sleeping in - sleeping in until 7 - dashed.

Fourteen pounds of brawn between me and my unidentified offspring, creeping into bed with me. Fourteen pounds of puppy dog, making up for all the months she played mute, Jo-Jo the shirker not doing her part.

5:07 pm.

We arrived at our designated depot, birthday girl in hot boots in tow. We laughed through dinner and drinks before taking our shifts at the Bagdad, while Jen saved our seats and 2nd Story took the stage.

Five storytellers took the stage and took us on an adventure: Near tears, and howling with laughter. Five ladies, out on the town, celebrating 39 years and waiting on the good that is surely on its way.

Monday, October 05, 2009

sniffles: the mama milton approach

So someday my boy in the Bat-Former jammies - we mix and match pjs these days - may or may not complain in therapy about my alternative medicine leanings, but for now he's a willing guinea pig participant in my antics.

I've plied him into drinking some kombucha, where few others will tread; he loves magic socks.

And now? He's running around, moonwalking and singing and chasing the dogs.


Here's another little something something we brew up when we are under the weather, plucked right out Nourishing Traditions. Easy and soothing and good on a sore throat.

Coconut Chicken Soup

  • 1 quart chicken stock (I used homemade bone broth; you could use canned, if you don’t have any fresh stock)
  • 1/4 teaspoons chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1. Bring stock to a boil, and skim any foam that rises to the top.

2. Add coconut milk or creamed coconut, lemon juice, chile flakes and ginger. Simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and garnish with cilantro.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


First my well went dry, and I had very little to say.

And then I hit the wall, and had to admit I'm a teeny, weeny bit depressed. (Cue the dark paneling and bad polyester pants.)

Now I'm just putting one foot in front of the other, and looking up.

I may not be prancing, but I'm back.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

likes, September Edition

Finishing a book I've been carrying around for weeks...

(It reminds me of The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. Really.)

Sucking Butterfingers out of my teeth, at the end of a good movie.

Warm feet, compliments of one lumbering puppy.

Good friends + good wine and this woman's laugh.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I find myself with front row tickets to Heartbreak, the saddest show in town. I'm watching a family dissolve, up close and personal, and not just any: They are people I love and I find no comfort in philosophy or psychology.

I cry for my friend, and her boys, and my people, the community of friends that are family to me.

I cry easily and unexpectedly these days; I'm cracked, and fragile.

And when I stop sniffling, the joy is sweeter. It really is.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I heard him scurrying, collecting books on the loft bed before dawn, unable to sleep.

Both kids bounced out of bed this morning, anxious and curious to see what the day would bring.

Lexi walked with a friend to the bus stop, making strides further her own way - which is right and good.

And Zack wore a hole in the carpet, disgusted with this new late start school schedule.

They pulled away, one at a time and I loaded up the dogs and headed for the lake, to walk in the mist and fog and dream about what this year will bring my way.

Friday, August 28, 2009


As in, I'm old enough to be attending my 20 year reunion tonight, post-perm, circa 1989.

I'm headed up the mountain to toast twenty years, and then we are off to the coast to spend time with my family over the weekend. See you on Monday!

(PS: Mrs. G is running one of my posts over at the Women's Colony today, in the family room - a groupie's dream come true.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I said yes, before we even took the trip. I said yes to snorkeling on an unknown shore, being brave and all and pretending to not be afraid of drowning.

There was some hyperventilating (on my part), and a lot of nudging and pleading (that would be Greg) especially after the warnings before we got in the water about being dashed on the lava rocks and/or coral, but I launched myself off the back of the sailboat just the same.

I know this is a given for many people, but for me, somewhat water phobic? It was a huge thing.

greg and lisa on the boat
Lisa and Greg, post-snorkel, mid-burn (and coached to play tourist)

I'm glad I took the plunge.

Monday, August 24, 2009

one less: Gardasil

I've been fumbling around on this page all morning, trying to collect my thoughts and decide whether or not Lexi should complete the Gardasil vaccination series we began last month, in light of some medical concerns about the safety of the vaccine.

What caught my attention? The mention of autoimmune disease, namely RA and Guillain-Barre, two diseases I know too much about to ignore.

So I am left to wonder: What would you do? Would you continue with the series or would you stop while you're ahead?

(I'm leaning on postponing any further shots; I am curious to hear my rheumatologist's take.)

Recent Blogher post

Dr. Timothy Johnson and other doctors answer questions on ABC's blog

CDC report

CNN report

Another recent ABC report

Friday, August 21, 2009


Hawaii Volcanoes national park

Beauty finds a way, even in the lava fields. Thanks for reminding me, mighty Ohia tree.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

while the heart breaks

The words came over me in a rush as my chest tightened and the tears fell. I sobbed the first of many shared sobs as what I counted as a dear family friend broke the news to me: He had asked my best friend for a divorce - left her - while I was swimming with turtles on what felt like a second honeymoon.

Days have passed and still, I walk around in a daze, watching my inner circle grieve in the wake of his decision, one I am certain he will come to regret. I feel duped, tricked. I look at their beautiful boys and weep.

I feel restless, of no use, while I stand here and watch and seethe and toss and turn and wish it just wasn't so.

middle school hair

Breezy new hair for my soon to be 6th grader.

Sixth grader. Still hard to believe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

one toe in

I have been home approximately 72 hours, not enough for my sleeping habits to right themselves and travel debris is scattered throughout the house but my longing to blog has come rushing back; the desire to sit quietly with my thoughts and my laptop, sipping tea.

School begins in a mere two weeks, and I plan to make the most of them: Playing with the kids, the dogs, babying my peeling sunburn. And spending time right here, with you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

summer break

I have pretty much taken a break from blogging, and reading blogs all summer, but it's time I make it official, if only to ease my conscience.

Our niece is flying in from Boise next week - hopefully after our little heat wave waves good-bye - and then we are off to Hawaii. I know how August will go from there, slipping through my fingers as I get the kids ready for school, continue to train myself as a new Zumba instructor and work with our newest addition to our family, an English Springer Spaniel named Jake. (We are bringing him home in three weeks.)

I look forward to writing again here, sharing the last weeks of summer when I return, catching up with old friends when the days become shorter again, and I find time to sit down.

See you around the bend.

Google images; wish I had a swing like that for reals.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the good, the bad and let's not talk about the ugly

  • Good: The kids are at The Super Fun Camp all day, all week. I CAN DO ANYTHING in their absence.
  • Bad: I am not doing much; loafing. Well, being domestic and loafing. And The Super Fun Camp all day, all week is not overnight which has brought on an unexpected tearfest from the little people I claim as my own. I better start saving my pennies now for The Super Fun Sleep in a TeePee camp now.
  • Good: My kids are becoming quite accomplished swimmers; they make this landlocked mama so proud.
  • Bad: We are finishing up 4 weeks of evening lessons tonight. I'm ready for dinners, not on the run.
  • Good: I have spent countless hours with both of my kids, my friends, my friends's kids and surfed numerous VBSs, just the way I love to spend these long summer days.
  • Bad: My Google Reader IM'd me today, and is threatening to break up with me. I think it's in cahoots with my neglected blog.
and finally,

  • Good: I am becoming a certified Zumba instructor this Saturday. Me. A fitness instructor. This boggles my mind even as I look at myself in the mirror, at the body that isn't quite there yet, and still I can't see waiting until I "arrive". I love love love the music, and the people and somehow chasing this down mid-way on the fitness journey seems like a great example to my daughter, now that we are starting to have more body image talks.
  • Bad: I am having an untimely neuropathy flare-up, creating severe burning pain in my feet. I am putting on my brave face, and hoping I can dance my way through it. The pain will pass. Also: The lovely trainer has a visible sixpack. This is not bad in itself but somehow it leaves me slightly more neurotically nervous.
What about you dear reader? Or are you off, chasing summer down like me....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

a study in distraction

I was making waffles and sipping coffee when I noticed the recycling on the counter. Being the natural procrastinator that I am, I quickly chastised myself to take it to the garage because this waiting around stuff is silly. See also: my 20s.

So, I circle around the bin, passing cork boards recently recovered in the Post-Staging, Cleaning Out the Storage Unit 2000-niner - wuzzah - and it occurs to me that I should buy the gooey blue stuff and hang them today, before the Monroes come to dinner - should we have strawberry shortcake? - and shouldn't I be tacking up the medical paperwork to said boards of cork for camp next week, the way God intended.

(The cork boards were the first thing my realtor told me dump. Boo hiss and the destruction of any semblance of organization in the Casa Milton.)

I head straight to my laptop next because it occurs to me I don't know where the bus depot is exactly - darn identical strip malls - or how much we owe to make good with the camp, when I smell the burning waffles.

It's a wonder I ever get anything done.

Now, what was I doing?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

spectator season

I went in search of lumbar support, leaving the lawn and the decomposing goldfish crackers and staking out a chair.

It takes a ninja to land a chair. Thankfully, I had Zack.

We had swam all afternoon, and by we, I mean they, while I read and sweated and regretted leaving my suit at home.

I provided exotic milkshakes from the local burger joint but as Zack curled up in my lap during Lexi's lesson, I wondered if I had worn them down completely. Lexi swam lap after lap and I wondered how much longer my boy will snuggle up with me in public; truthfully, I wondered how much longer my boy will snuggle up with me when it was scorching hot out, but that's another matter.

These days are long, and I stretch them until the seams scream.

We tuck playdates, and Vacation Bible Schools, and camps and dinners and walks into long lingering days, always on the go.

But the hours, the moments? They are terribly intimate and fleeting, a boy resting on my leg, the two of us alone in the world, his sister gracefully moving through the water at our feet.

I bear witness to these days of their youth; I watch the babies I held just years ago - mine and the other children I love in my life - run and race and play in the bark chips.

And though I am active, I am thick in this season of watching, a season that both soothes my spirit and breaks my heart.

spring at the river

Monday, July 13, 2009


I woke to angry birds.

Maybe they weren't angry, but they were loud, persistent. I guess they had a lot to say this morning, at 5 am.

A truck backed up, joined the choir; plastic trash cans pulled across the pavement provided the back beat.

I shuffled into the kitchen, ground my beans and tried to siphon off some of the energy outside my door.

It's a wild shot on a Monday, but that won't stop me from trying.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

of death and hamsters

I asked after our geriatric rodent, as one might, innocently. Snickers seemed slower to me these days, and he had surpassed his life expectancy some time ago.

Still, I didn't expect to be hushed when Greg came into our room with a funny look on his face.

I didn't know that Snickers was dying last night until I had spoke too soon and then he was gone.

All morning, I waited for Lexi to remember how he was panting last night, for her to discover him for herself. But as she creeps towards her teens, she's prone to sleeping later and later and by the time she got up, I was actively keeping her from him.

I knew she'd be crushed - she'd understand - but she'd be crushed and I didn't want to dump her off for Orchestra camp, teary and miserable.

Then, she was invited to spend the day with one of my best friends, to grocery shop and cook dinner with her friend Quinn, and I kept the news to myself.

She will swim tonight and then I will tell her and we'll bury his little body in the hole Greg dug last night, knowing he'd be away when the time came to say goodbye to our girl's sweet little friend.

snickers returns

Friday, July 03, 2009

here's to independence

And bat ears.

Courtney has commandeered my blog because clearly I have been neglecting my computer. She says: Light 'em up and play it safe and enjoy this weekend.

(And also: When can she expect all the bells and whistles to stop? Because at 14 pounds, she's not really grasping all this patriotic fervor. She's bitty and unsure of the backyard now that our neighborhood sounds like a war zone. *sigh*)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

where you come for your creep

Summer began beautifully.

An anniversary.

Vacation Church School for my kids.

A dandy cold.

If only I was so cute. No, when I catch some silly summer cold, I take to my bed. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness while I read to the colony of zits that took up residence on my cheek like it's 1989 and I'm contemplating colleges.

At least I've had some creepy companions until I rose from my tissues.
Part bodice ripper - at least according to the reviews I read, after listening to A Reliable Wife in short order - part Gothic tale set in the never ending white Wisconsin winter, I loved this story from beginning to end. Ralph Pruitt places an ad for a reliable wife and opens up his world to the enchanting Katherine Land, reawakening past demons and holding my attention with spellbinding prose.

Remember when I raved about Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects? (Just smile and nod for the nice lady if you're new around here.) She came out swinging with her second novel, Dark Places, and proved you can too impress your readers after your first book is a huge success. Most reviews I've read are quick to point out that the protagonist is dark and unlikeable, but I'm tired of the Oprah book club approved, cookie-cutter Plucky Pollyannas. Show me someone steeped in tragedy and give me the truth: They damaged and altered, and I don't mind it a bit.

And that leaves me with Knockemstiff, a collection of overlapping short stories based on the resilient and troubled residents of Small Town America. After each perfectly crafted piece, I would pause and read the back flap again and sigh. Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, quitting high school to work in a meat packing factory and later spent 30 years working in the town's paper mill. The stories are bleak, and full of longing and desperation. Beautiful. I can only hope he has many more tales to spill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

fifteen years

Fifteen years ago tonight, I sat on a patio - my belly full of good food, and most likely wine - in southern Oregon, under twinkling lights that gave way to stars, my last day as Lisa Wheeler.

We had friends there, sitting at that long table, me in a little sand-colored skirt in an age before blogs and digital cameras, no evidence of that long ago warm summer evening, except for what I hope to remember long after youth leaves me.

I'm okay with that.

I knew he was the one for me, even as a naive bride. I knew he was the one for me, even before I had any idea how right we were for each other.

I'm just thankful I had the sense to say 'I do'.

Sometimes I get it right.

greg and lisa (we don't sing)
Happy anniversary, Gregor. I love you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

soggy day at the zoo

Ah, spring in the pacific Northwest. One never knows how to plan, especially for an outdoor concert, but you can rest assured that it will pour like it's November if your kids played with your enormous umbrella the day before and forgot to put it back in its proper place, the trunk of the car.

No matter. These elegant, massive sea creatures didn't seem to mind.
zack the bear
Not even grumpy bears could keep us away from the zoo.
give us a break
Despite the obligatory eye-rolling shot, we were in good spirits -wet, as in I could still wring my jeans out when I got home around 10:30 wet - but happy.
soggy zoo  concert
And the rain turned to spittle just as the B-52s took the stage and we danced danced danced with the throngs in Portland that won't let a lot a little precipitation deluge spoil the first day of summer vacation.

Friday, June 19, 2009

underground like a wild potato

It may be raining, but we Miltons are hearty. We'll be shamelessly singing along; there could be dancing.

Summer vacation is off to a great start...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the eye

I hate it when I'm rattled.

My brain has been shaken, not stirred, and all goodly thoughts have fallen out my ears, leaving me humming little dittys like 'Shoo Fly', meaningfully.

I long for a calm inside myself; the ability to let things slide, and to remain steady as kids - mine, the neighbors', random kids at the park - scream and race and hassle and beg and whine and run.

Perhaps it would be better if I didn't join them in the shenanigans and played the adult, the parent, the reasonable one.

So I packed up the kids, plus one, and we went to the park for a impromptu 5th grade party - because 4 days of celebrating at school wasn't enough - and I spread out my cheerful polka dotted blanket and read.

I read while Zack whined about being left out.

I read while Lexi rolled her eyes at me, the only parent that showed up for this supposedly supervised shindig. (I knew there was something fishy about this plan.)

I read while the ice cream truck sent children into convulsions.

I read, and I nodded and I kept my voice clear and low and detached.

I soaked up the sun, and laid my weary head down on a picnic table. The hours passed.

We packed up the car and I breathed a sigh of relief: Goodbye to the school year, and welcome waffles for dinner because it is hard to be crabby when eating gooey syrup and fluff.

Monday, June 15, 2009

laptops for flat tops

With my husband on the road more than to my liking, I am keenly aware of the toll it takes on a family.

I can't even imagine if he were in peril, fighting overseas for months at a time, missing life as we know it and not having a dependable computer to keep in touch.

(I nearly lost my mind when I couldn't get online twice this week and that was to monkey around on Facebook. I'm unworthy.)

So, when someone asked if I would spread the word about a laptop/webcam giveaway for soldiers' families, I said I'd gladly pass on the information:

Actually, click HERE
All-American Direct is running a national campaign through 2009, giving away TWO laptops/webcams every two months to a deserving home that has an immediate family member serving in the armed forces overseas.

You can snag all the contest details over at: http://www.allamericandirect.com/military