Focus

November 10, 2014 by Rieshy
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For reasons that I cannot presently remember I decided to cut back to 2 cups of coffee a day.

Today was the day.  I tried to relish my first cup, to truly be, "present in the moment" as I sipped my (nectar of the gods) french roast.  I burned my tongue.  Seriously?  I haven't burned my tongue since I first began drinking coffee at the ripe old age of 5.  My children call me Asbestos Woman.

That's been the high point of my day.  I am also out of chocolate and didn't have time to go running.  So I decided to go outside and breathe while my boys took a break in their fort.

I saw.

  
Not exactly the authorized storage facility for those tools.


 Is any child's play place complete without a rusty can o'nails handy?


I headed back inside so my head could explode in quiet.  Luckily I turned to take a couple more shots.

My kids helped me plant this tree when it was small enough to fit in my car's back seat.


Happy mistreater of tools that they are, I love that they have the time and place and imagination to build in fresh air.  

I made tea, my head didn't explode, they cleaned up the tools, my 13 yo scouted for loose nails.
Sometimes it's all about where you point your camera.





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Unintended Consequences

October 14, 2014 by Rieshy
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With the exception of a hiking trip, Fall Break at my house this year is not very sexy; it's yard winterizing,  less limited movie/computer time and slightly more festive food, and pumpkin carving.



It's also paper writing time.

Is there anything more fun than writing research papers over fall break? What about teaching children how to write research papers?

Actually,  I love research papers... if only a pesky moral base initially inculcated by my upbringing and then later internalized hadn't interfered I would have loved running a business writing other people's research papers.  I even think teaching my own children how to do a research paper could be fun.  Except it's usually not.

They may attempt a smile (or not) but I'm not feeling the joy.

Winterizing the yard- what's not to love?  Wind, slight rain, mud, that earthy autumn smell, sweat and sore hamstrings. Some of us felt the joy. My 6 yo in begged me for all of us to work together in the yard again this morning.    I got to say, "You will have to wait until tomorrow to work in the yard."  My 19 yo (piano performance major and thus hand-selfprotective) had fun working with her little brother digging up bushes, plus the bonus of enjoying a joyous adrenaline rush when said 6 yo missed her hand by an inch while chopping at a stubborn root ball.  Give a 6 yo a pick axe...





Personally, life is fun.  Even the nitty gritty paper writing.  Having a week "off" is fun- even if it is a lot of work.  Long ago I learned that well-rested, well-fed, and underworked children get bored and fight.  Whereas well-rested, well-fed, and tired-from-work children appreciate life.

But in the end it boils down to deciding to love life.  I can't make my children love life; I can't even make them be happy but they can look around and see concrete things that they know they accomplished or learned and feel competent.  It's a step.

At the very least they can look forward to the relaxation of starting back to school... and my yard looks tons better.


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Farewelling

October 9, 2014 by Rieshy
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I dropped my two middle children off on a 4 day hiking trip this morning.  My in-car farewell was a general, "Don't break anything by being stupid." Which was followed by a short, extremely pointed, and child specific:  "Don't jump off anything high!"- actually this was repeated 3 full times a little louder each time and, "Don't lord it over your brother."

I'm sure my children heard, "Blah, blah, blah, blah... we are here."

Hopefully, even through all their hyper-ness and excitement they also heard the subtext of, "I love you and will (eventually) miss you both terribly."

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Green Summer Past

October 8, 2014 by Rieshy




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My last time here I was bemoaning the Boot.  I tore my gastrocnemius muscle (which sounds really gross and intestines related but isn't) and spent the entire summer decked out in a sweaty hot black ortho boot.  It was one busy boot.  Our summer was a whirlwind of activity partially because of this young beautiful Swiss woman living with us for the summer.


Among other things we drove 19 hours to and from Colorado to visit one of my sisters, have fun with Grandparents and share the scenery with our visitor.  It was amazing and I did NOT GET ONE PICTURE. Not one.

Did you know you can hike in the Rocky Mountains in an ortho boot?  Many, many miles in fact.

Did you know you can belt-test for Goju-Shorei Karate in an ortho boot?  If you have awesome Sensei like I do you can.  Hardest test ever.

Then to end summer with a bang my 18 year old broke her jaw... in 3 places (along with 10 stitches and some wicked road rash) while trying out long-boarding.



Did you know you can't do anything with your mouth wired shut?  Really- not much of anything at all.

The moral of the summer to a western tune: Momma's, don't let your babies grow up to be long-boarders.


Summer's over, school is a whole quarter in, the boot's long gone, the jaw's unwired, and I'm back.

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Siren Sky to a Pulled Muscle

June 22, 2014 by Rieshy
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Blue air and clouds calling for,
swinging limbs,
rhythmic lungs; albeit noisy older ones.
Dripping sweat 
and a brain slowed to mere systems check.

Sports chew wrapped in wax paper 
assuming role of proverbial carrot.  
Must wait, must wait.
Just one more mile marker,
then dig it out of soggy sports bra pocket without looking weird,
hopefully.

Freedom, torture, joy, blessing.
Aloneness under Siren Sky.

Aloneness 
most gruelingly refreshing.
Skill not required, just endurance.
and
mothers are made of endurance;
But
by definition, not aloneness.

Except,
 the penalty box of injury, 
 turns each blue clear day into a siren wail of enticement,
singing low and sweet, "Lost miles, come and play, 
you were only 22 on that facebook real-age survey anyway." 

Mock my infirmity, oh Siren Sky. 
Promise the world, promise toughness and oxygen, promise sharpness,
 but in reality you offer only


further boots of ortho-shame.






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A Jaunty Monday

June 9, 2014 by Rieshy
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My garlic tips its cap to you.



Horton will be by shortly


to listen for Whoses.





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Double Checking

June 2, 2014 by Rieshy
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Early-thirty one morning I was answering an email from the director of my senior daughter's high school tutorial. They needed to finish a powerpoint presentation that was to run on a large screen during the reception after graduation exercises.  Two of the questions were:

1.Scripture you pray for your student
2. Words for the future


 Our daughter is taking a gap year (a year in which one recovers from burn-out, makes some money, and assesses the color of one's parachute) and is trying to figure out what direction her life will take, so the verse and blessing that came immediately to mind was from Proverbs- the verse about trusting in the Lord and how he will direct your path....  So I glibly typed in Proverbs 5:6.  

"Or is it Proverbs 5:4-6," I wondered?  "Hmm.  I think Proverbs 5:6-7."

I was in a hurry.  I was already way late responding to the questions because having to be thoughtful in a public way terrifies me.  I'm not sentimental; I fail entirely at "making memories" and had already answered the school's query of, "Would you like space at the reception to make a memory display for you daughter?" with a thoughtless return email of, "Just shoot me now."

Being thought a good mom of daughters sometimes feels as though it hinges on being able to design gee-haws and tie hair bows-  both of which I've never mastered.  Only at the last moment, right before I pressed send I reflected on how incredibly sleep deprived I was and how that sleep loss is known to impede memory.  

So I double checked Proverbs 5:6 and its surroundings.  Too bad I did.  In large letters on the screen at the reception people could have looked upon a cute photo of my daughter's 2 year old self, dimpling a smile while dressed with an apron configured as a cape, accompanied by the following caption:  (according to the NIV):  

but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now that would have made a memory.



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They're Just Words

May 30, 2014 by Rieshy
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I just emerged from a puddle of reading entitled, The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green. Terminal illnesses and dying children.  My kids like to give me hand grenades masquerading as books because they love me.  Who did I relate to? Who else but Hazel's mother... And Augustus.  I too want a valiant quest filled life while living a day to day one.

I type now with that disjointed feeling of emerging from fiction to realize it's only 8 a.m.  At some point I'd thoughtlessly given permission for my youngest to play a video game on a weekday morning just so I could cry through the last chapters.

One of my favorite poems is Erlkoenig, by Geothe, because, well because I've been on that horse riding "geschwind"  with my child while trying to veballly prevent him from dying as we raced to the hospital..  And my son and I? We've defeated the Erlkoenig.  We've won.  Every time, every separate race..  Reading the words of the poem guts my heart for the fictitious father yet simultaneously fills it with a heady victory.

Words aren't medicine.  Words aren't cures.  But then again they are.

"In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1



"I'd always associated belief in heaven with, frankly, a kind of intellectual disengagement.  But Gus wasn't dumb." Hazel- The Fault In Our Stars


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Beware The Rental

May 21, 2014 by Rieshy
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After 27 years and 3 teens we finally had a fender-bender in the family.  My van is at the body shop getting a manicure and I'm driving around town in a Nissan Pathfinder.  Before the rental I couldn't have pointed out a Nissan Pathfinder if it had rolled over my foot.

Who would think that a Pathfinder would handle better than a 12 passenger Ford Econoline 350?

Oh, everyone.

And they would be right.  I call my van a shoebox on wheels but I love my shoebox; it's dependable and large.  We will be driving it to Colorado with 7 kids this summer.  Did I say it's large?

...But the lure of the sleek and relatively small Pathfinder.  It's like a midlife affair.  My 8 year old son summed it up perfectly and completely honestly, "Mom, I like this car better because the van has become too familiar."



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Flag Day

May 19, 2014 by Rieshy
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I have a 6 year old that's in a state of "disequilibrium" which, for the uninitiated, means he's got a short fuse and a chip on his shoulder with blinking letters which read, "Unfair".  What's unfair, you ask?  The fact that my son's brain and body have gotten out of alignment in their growth spurts and he suddenly realizes that he is not master of his own domain.... or any other domain... anywhere.  Sometimes it's hard to be six, especially if you have older siblings whom you incorrectly assume have it all together- after all, the 8 year old sibling NEVER loses at Sorry, ergo life is fundamentally unsound.

I took him for a mommy morning; sometimes time away from siblings is good for the soul.  We stopped at the auto parts store and bought a new tail light and red tape and ordered a tail light assembly.  He held the parts while I yanked the old bulb out.  He compared the new light to the old.  He helped me put red tape over the hole in the old assembly.  He walked in the parts store ALONE to return the scissors and say thank you.  He swaggered out.

Next we went to Starbucks.  He bought an Izzy that he coddled the rest of the day.  All his.  No need to gulp.

The County Clerk's office was fun too.  Lots of strange people to look at, and he got to hand the papers to the registrar.  She chatted with him.  He swaggered some more.

Cosco.  The crowning glory.  Inexplicably full of samples early in the day.  Even dropping the free smoothie didn't dampen his mood though they dampened his clothing.   We chatted and chatted and he thought up a menu for the household.   A very alarming man with one bulging eye handed him a small American flag while we were in line.  He thanked the man and self-consciously waved it slightly while I payed.

In the van, I asked him if he had had a nice day with me.  He answered in an uncharacteristically shy voice, "This was the best day ever because for my whole life I have always wanted one of these flags!"

I choose to believe that the flag, in the grand tradition of flags,  represented something more- and even if it didn't, there is nothing more precious than a 6 year old day.






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We Don't Feed It.

May 15, 2014 by Rieshy
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We don't have a cat.  
See?



It's beautiful. 
It's always in our yard, sleeping on our porch or back deck.  It lets my boys carry it around.  It lays in their fort guarding them as they play and only stalks off if they really, really offend it.  It tries to drive to karate class in our van with us.
It's been around for about a year.  The neighbors refer to it as ours.

We don't feed it.  We don't have a litter box. We don't have vet bills.  It's healthy and shiny and fat.
It's the best cat we've never owned.

My sister was visiting recently and named it.

Notourcat.

It comes to it's new name.  



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Summer Kids

May 8, 2014 by Rieshy
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My 8 year old was buying a Nerf brand bow set at a thrift store.  The woman behind the counter seemed confused by the transaction.  She kept looking at me and then asked, "What will he shoot with that?"

"His brothers," was my glib response.  Her look of outraged horror caught me by surprise.
Sigh- and walk to the car with my body blocking our license plate numbers.

I visited both my sisters recently and we discussed our own free-range childhood.  We spent summers dropped off at a quarry swim club.  A QUARRY.  Who knows what heavy metals we were swimming in.  It was deep enough that the Loch Ness Monster's little sister could very well have been in residence.  They had cliff diving off of real cliffs.  Cliffs you had to climb trails to get to with substances called sharp rocks, mud and weeds.  The parking lot was gravel covered with tar that melted in the summer afternoon heat.  Every evening I sat on the side of our bathtub with turpentine removing the tar that had stuck to my feet (rather painfully) on the way back to the car at the end of the day.

When I smell turpentine I always think "swimming".

My Dad was reminiscing about his childhood on a farm in West Texas and how they basically left the house after chores and didn't come back until the triangle bell that hung near the farm house's back door was rung.  At one point he and his brother only had one arrow for a bow.  It was a hunting bow of some sort, mind you- definitely not Nerf brand.  They would stand on opposite sides of a pasture shooting the arrow back and forth to each other.

The line between free-range and loneliness? The line between overbearing smothering and intentionality?

Who knows. It takes 20+ years to find out, as a parent, if you achieved the right balance but by then the parenting culture will have changed and suddenly what seemed rational will become fodder for crazy stories.



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Sometimes Parenting Bites Back

May 1, 2014 by Rieshy
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I sent my 17 yo to the grocery with a list for the week's shopping.   I whispered in her ear- "I am tired and cranky bring me back some sort of really yummy chocolate treat as well.  Your choice."

She came back with the shopping list filled and, "Mom, I know you were probably craving chocolate but I bought frozen fruit for a smoothie for you instead because it will make you feel good."

Probably craving chocolate?!?

Choice time.  A massive tantrum?  I didn't WANT to feel good.  I wanted Chocolate.  Evil child.

Evil child who has evidently paid some attention to my droning on about healthy eating and/or she has Machiavellian abilities to torture her mother.

Either way, Drat.





Back when she would have brought home chocolate; alas, also before she could drive.





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Things You Find Out and other Scooter Stories

April 30, 2014 by Rieshy
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I once caught my 6 year old riding two scooters, worn as skis, down the hill by our house.  Why?-because one scooter just isn't dangerous enough.

Today I was at the doctor with 3 boys.  Only one actually had the appointment, the other two were dragged in for good measure.

"Doctor, could you look at my 12 year old's hand and shoulder; it's not healing well.  Somehow he keeps mangling himself on his scooter, I'm not sure how."

At this point the weak-link spoke up.  You know, the youngest- the most likely to spill the beans sort of weak link.  Actually, he didn't speak up he sort of sang-up.  "Dumb ways to die.... hmm, hmm hm hmmm."

"What's that?" I stupidly asked.

"We were playing (again he sang the rest) Dumb Ways To Die," was the matter of fact response.

12 year old vainly claimed that he wasn't playing the game.  6 and 8 year olds agreed- "Well he wasn't actually trying to be one of the die-ers but we were crashing into him while we died."

I'm so glad my pediatrician is a mom.








Sounds and Smells

April 11, 2014 by Rieshy
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I may be weird but most sounds have an accompanying memory-scent. They are all linked in my brain. These are 10 of my favorites.


A baby giggling. Any baby giggling. The smell is clean skin and powder; it makes you want to nibble sweet little necks.

The cadence and pitch of the voice of a 5 year old "teaching" something to a younger sibling. Play-dough- I smell play-dough and sunshine when I think of this. My husband calls this the Kindergarten Smell.


The early morning chirping of birds through open windows on that first morning of open windows. Fresh air and pungent onion grass always accompanies this sound.


The coffee pot percolating because my husband or a child woke up and turned it on while I lingered in bed. Guatemala Antigua- it's the best coffee smell in the world.


My husband's laugh. Which reminds me of how my dad would tease my mother by drawling, "You sure stink good."


The sound of a group of people a capella singing "It is Well With My Soul." This has a papery smell in my memory- all those old songbooks.


Acoustic guitars and last minute lawnmowers at twilight. Is the smell of lingering heat and humidity lifting off of asphalt as my husband and I walk on summer evenings.

The harmony of siblings singing. This one is a visual instead of a smell; you can almost see the music twisting along DNA strands.


The wind through heavy tired foliage in late summer.  Smells like cicadas and clean dirt. Yes, cicadas smell.


The sound of the mail truck accelerating from my neighbors mailbox and then braking at mine and then accelerating off again. It's the sound of possibilities and it smells like cinnamon because Christmas time is its heyday.

Anyone else want to share their favorites?



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Smorgasbord

April 9, 2014 by Rieshy
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My brain has been misfiring a lot lately and I keep misplacing things.  Important things.  I lost my cell phone last week.  It stayed lost for days.  Being cell-less was weird and actually pretty wonderful for a while.  Except I realized that I don't know any of my children's phone numbers.  Or anyone's current cell number.  Luckily, I do have a friend who still has the same phone number she had 14 years ago and even luckier she has my kid's numbers on her cell.

She's my bff from bc -before cells that is.

I tried to prove to myself that I'm not completely brain dead but I'm not sure the ability to rattle off phone numbers from when I was 9 proves much.

Problem is I've not been sleeping well.  Sleep is chocolate dipped truffles served with the sounds of waves crashing in the background while elves play acoustic guitar.  Not Keebler elves mind you but the tall androgynous kind of elves from Lord Of The Rings. I'm sure they could play pretty awesome acoustic guitar.

 I got up the other night after a few hours snooze and talked my oldest son into watching The Walking Dead, which I had never seen before; he seemed a bit confused that I wanted to watch it.  Roku should not, I repeat, should not, automatically play the next episode of a t.v. show.  Partially frozen by horror, lack of sleep and by anticipation I lost track of how late it was until my night-owl of a son finally left the room saying he had to be able to get up for work in the morning.

Now I'm contributing to the delinquency of minors- well, at least he's not technically a minor anymore.

I always do this lack of sleep dance when I'm really over-extended because that's precisely when the only time left available to wind down is the time when I should be sleeping.  And perhaps also because that's when I start drinking a tad bit too much coffee.  But no more said about that.  Mentioning possible over-consumption of coffee to a mom, any mom, is as savvy as asking an angry woman what time of the month it is.

Instead of focusing on drinking less coffee I've spent the last two days trying to drink more water on the obviously faulty theory that being full of water will keep me from wanting to drink coffee, which in turn will help me sleep more.  This has not been a success.

The whole point of this post is that on top of everything else going on I rashly promised my older kids that I would join them in a writing project due this weekend- we are all supposed to write a short story based off of a theme one of them dreamt up.  The point you ask?  Oh yes, since I should be spending my limited writing time fulfilling my assignment I'm procrastinating with public grousing. It makes perfect sense.

 So...

If you hear sloshing and see a frazzled woman who has lost her keys and should be writing a short story, that would be me.



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Sibling Liars

March 26, 2014 by Rieshy
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I am blessed/cursed with a heavy case of skepticism. I rarely share anything on Facebook, Snopes is a way of life for me.  I always want primary sources listed.  I'd like to think it was because I was classically educated in logic and rhetoric- but, I wasn't and I'm not.  I realized today it is because I was the youngest sibling.  Youngest siblings are lied to constantly.

Oldest siblings, admit it- you know what I mean.

Thanks to my lovely older sisters I was afraid, for years, to pull my hair back in a proper pony tail because of bats.  Yes, you know...  Bats will swoop down and bite any girl-exposed ears.

I had not properly realized the origin to my skepticism until today on the way to the hospital for routine lab work for two of my boys.  Our hospital has funky blue tube shaped architectural elements whose meaning and purpose is evidently the stuff of legends.





As we pulled up to park at the hospital my youngest leaned forward in his seat belt and asked with equal measures of exasperation, fear, distrust, and 6 yo bravado, "Those tubes are not for shooting children up into the sky to be caught by aliens... are they?"

Both older brothers were grinning  and looking out opposite car windows like the guilty liars they were.




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Back Stance, Legos, Psalms

March 13, 2014 by Rieshy
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Some mornings before my eyes open and before my feet hit the ground my brain begins flipping through a mental calender of the tasks ahead while in the background Psalm 100 sings.

Some mornings before my eyes open my brain begins to flip through a mental and weighty tome entitled, "All the Times I Have Fallen Short."  It's sequel, "Personal Parenting Failures," is even weightier.  They both have exceptional indexes for easier mental referencing.

This morning, after being unable to decide which genre of mental book to flip through, I started thinking about the Abominable Snowman and his song, "Put one foot in front of the other."  Which is remarkable similar to Lao-tzu's much quoted "A journey of thousand miles starts with one step."  Imagining which martial art the Abominable Snowman would practice is enough to get anyone out of bed.

The night before I had realized I've been doing my karate back-stance incorrectly so I tried practicing it correctly, in the dark and with my eyes closed, on the way to the bathroom.  "Ah," I thought, "This is a great way to practice it, I can really sense now why it should be done this way."  And feeling quite ninja-like I tripped over a tub of legos put inexplicably in the middle of my bedroom floor.

All of which got me back to Psalm 100.  Somedays the "I will" means I will because my feet are already dancing towards the new day and the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  Somedays the "I will" means  I will, because I will keep on trying- in sort of  The Little Train That Could fashion.

Today I will :

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."
-Psalm 100:4

and I will watch out for Legos.



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Faith and Prof. Trelawney

March 10, 2014 by Rieshy
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I ran across one of the bravest prayers in the Bible recently.  

Psalms 139:23

"Search me oh God and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

If I were to be a character out of Harry Potter I'm afraid it would be:

and not just because of the frizzy hair but because Trelawney desperately doesn't want anyone to discover that she may actually be a fraud.  She herself is not sure thus she vacillates between pride and despair.

Asking God to know my thoughts?  It's funny, really- because he already does.  But he's a jealous God and likes to be asked.  I want to be so brave.



I really like how this Psalm reads in the heutigem Deutsch translation, it seems more powerful- though maybe it's just the accent:

Durchforsche mich, Gott, sieh mir ins Herz,
prüfe meine Wünsche und Gedanken!
Und wenn ich in Gefahr bin,
mich von dir zu entfernen,
dann bring mich zurück auf den Weg zu dir!








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To Seuss

March 6, 2014 by Rieshy
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 All who like to wash and fold
should have a 
six year old like this


at home.





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Musical Brain Damage and Lack of Sleep

March 1, 2014 by Rieshy
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Yesterday morning I pulled on my running clothes in expectation of a sunshiny run.  Instead I took my 12 year old son to Starbucks where we did math and he scored a free large frappucino made "incorrectly" for some other picky patron.  The free frap was after the hot cocoa I bought him... his math was done in a glow of sugared caffeine.  Best    math   class   ever.  Think of the espresso scene from The Iron Giant.

I still hoped to run so I didn't change.  The sunshine glowed, my arthritis glowed brighter.  I've been eating all the wrong foods and the more I do the more I crave them until the party's over when my arthritis flares.  It's anecdotal at best but since I lack the clones to do a triple blind study on what flares my arthritis I generally go with what I know...  and lots of sugar and flour makes my body ache.

At an impasse with my body I didn't  change out of my running clothes... or go running.  

I ended up going to bed still wearing my running top.  You know, the type of running top that's so constrictive it makes every woman look like a 10 year old boy.  I think it did some kind of brain damage.   I woke up in the night singing, "The Story of My Life" so loudly in my brain that the neighbor's dog was barking in protest.  This happened all night long.  I couldn't shake the song.

I'm singing a boy band song?!?  A parody of a boy band?!?

Lucky thing I'm going on a date tonight to hear Strauss’s Rosenkavalier. I'm so excited I can barely contain myself.  I won't even wear the running shirt.  In fact I might wear grown up clothes and make-up.  I might * gasp* do my hair.  

Of course, then my husband might feel guilty for going on a date with a woman he doesn't recognize but that's o.k. because I'll be so cranky from going cold turkey off of sugar that he probably won't like me very much.

This is the first version I ever heard of The Story of My Life- thanks to one of my teens.  I think it's the best.  Except at 2 a.m.





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College Forms

February 26, 2014 by Rieshy
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In case anyone was wondering- filling out financial forms for your college student is just like running through a field of daisies bathed in beautiful sunshine while wearing a twirly-swirly dress and eating chocolate.

Oh, wait- no, I was thinking of something else.  Financial forms are whatever is the exact opposite of the above.  Add in the whole privacy issue- where a parent has to have magical incantations performed on a night with a full moon before being allowed access to the records for which they are financial responsible- and your head starts to gently throb.

Last week I received an official  letter informing my daughter that she would not be eligible in 2014-2015 for their scholarship.  My daughter has a boatload of scholarships, I scrambled trying to figure out the issue- trying to figure out which scholarship this was and how much a money loss it meant.  The acronym listed on the letter rang no bells and made no sense.

I re-updated our FAFSA.  I re-checked and re-checked FAFSA.

Finally, today I reached someone who transferred me several places and reached a human woman willing to discuss my daughter's accounts and scholarships but only after I did a rain dance in my living room and answered her questions with the name Rumplestiltskins.

The answer?  The notice was for a scholarship my daughter had, in fact, never been awarded in the first place.

A sort of scholarship Naaa Na Na Naaa Naaa?



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Silver Regrets and Grandchildren

February 24, 2014 by Rieshy
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I make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my wedding silver.  I put aside my cheap flatware years ago because I wanted beauty in our daily life.  I wanted my family to be my special guests at meals and I didn't want to have closets and cupboards full of baggage that never saw the light of day.

It was a mindset- intentional motherhood complete with a tiny bit of arrogance, as all good intentions tend to be.

This weekend I was cleaning out my bedroom closet and found this little book.



This book was the bread and butter of my earliest cozy childhood bedtime memories.  After my mother died my siblings and I discovered that the book had disappeared.  A sister moved heaven and earth looking for the publisher based on only her memory of the story and 10 years ago surprised us all with our own copies.  I immediately vowed to myself that I would share the book and thus share the grandmother with my children that they had never had the chance to meet.

And I did- for a while, until this happened.



and so I put the book away... just until my kiddos were a little older. Except now my 7 year old has almost finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix to himself.  My youngest, my 6 year old, still loves picture books but he's too old to develop that visceral feeling of love and comfort linked to a single bedtime story.

I've missed my window...

and that's what grandchildren are for.




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Pictorial Presentation of Perplexities of Parenting

February 22, 2014 by Rieshy


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Front Yard.
Kitchen Broom.
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I laughed, took a picture and then waited until it was time for 12 year old to sweep the kitchen.  "The broom is in the front yard," I mentioned casually.

His, "Why?" was full of righteous indignation because he is not a parent yet.

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Pictorial Update

February 17, 2014 by Rieshy
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The digger pictured below is the same as the digger in my blog-banner above.  
What a difference 5 years makes.



The reason I snapped this photo was because he asked if he could borrow a bright pink stencil paint brush while I was distracted.  Several moments later I resurfaced from the frightening interior of my own brain and was even more frightened upon realizing I had issued a blanket "yes" to a 6 year old carrying a paint brush; I hurried to investigate.





Oh, 
he's an archeologist.  Slipping quietly away now.




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8-Bit Boy

February 12, 2014 by Rieshy
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Or possibly a character from Minecraft?




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Ninja Save

February 11, 2014 by Rieshy
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There exists almost nothing cuter than the Little Dragons class at our martial arts school.  Think of fifteen 4-6 year olds dressed in black gi imitating ninjas.   Then think of fifteen fuzzy kittens dressed in black gi imitating ninjas.

Same difference.

I was kneeling and belting my 6 year old prior to his class.  He was so adorable that I couldn't help myself; I leaned in and asked for a kiss.

An abashed quick look to see who among his fellow students might be watching- then, "Mom, dragons don't kiss, they spit fire."

Combining imagination with diplomacy, good save Son.



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Poetry and Lamps

February 7, 2014 by Rieshy
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My kids love to assign me reading.  I try to comply because I assign them quite a bit of reading.  Sometimes compliance is easy- my 7 year old comes to me begging me to read a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.  Sometimes I just refuse- a daughter begged me over and over to read Les Misérable one summer; she insisted on the unabridged version.  I didn't refuse because of it's length but because I tend to become immersed in whatever I am reading and absorb the emotions of the characters. Happy summer-time fun mommy and Les Misérable? The title is warning enough.

This weekend the Les Misérable daughter handed me a copy of a short story by Wolfgang Borchert called, Die Küchenuhr.  Unwittingly I read it standing in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil for tea.  A few minutes later I was sobbing.  Yes sobbing.  The main character is approximately my oldest son's age and has discovered that he has lost both his home and his whole family to a bomb.  My daughter started apologizing, hugged me, and handed me a P.G. Wodehouse short story to read.

Literature as Kleenex.  The gesture made me laugh.

The problem is that it is February.  The blahest of the blah months.  This poem by Herman Hesse should be called February... This blogger (rather loosely) translated it and has a link to a youtube reading of the poem done by Herman Hesse.  I love this poem- and don't know why.

Im Nebel

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Einsam is jeder Busch und Stein,
Kein Baum sieht den andern
Jeder is allein.

Voll von Freunden war mir die Welt,
Als noch mein Leben licht war;
Nun, da der Nebel fällt,
Ist keiner mehr sichtbar.

Wahrlich, keiner ist weise,
Der nicht das Dunkel kennt,
Das unentrinnbar und leise
Von allen ihn trennt.

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Leben ist Einsamsein
Kein Mensch kennt den andern,
Jeder is allein.

How about this poem by Dickinson-

258

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons-
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes-

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us-
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are-

None may teach it-Any-
'Tis the Seal Despair-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air-

When it comes, the Landscape listens-
Shadows-hold their breath-
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death-

These resonate this time of year... and make me think that all poets and/or poetry lovers should own full-spectrum lamps or at least round out their readings with poems like the following by Ogden Nash

The Duck

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.



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Feeding the Eyes

February 6, 2014 by Rieshy
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Field trip time to our local art museum.  It's been a while and none of my younger boys were excited.  I needed a break from nerf guns, gray days and indoor sword fighting.  It's called a command performance, "We are going and you will be happy."

Thankfully my 21 year old son had the day off and he was interested... it's amazing how quickly younger boys' perspectives are wont to shift into alignment with an older and respected male's perspective.

There were two exhibits, one on the influence of Japanese art on Impressionism and one on the work of Norman Rockwell.  The Japanese art was a huge hit with all my kiddos.   Katana sword guards in a Japanese/Art Nouveau style.  Who knew?

There seem to be swords where-so-ever I go.

Beauty.  Everywhere.  My soul drank in the Mary Cassatt painting of chubby toddler arms wrapped around a mother's neck.  I could feel the warmth of that toddler's arms on my own skin, I could imagine his powdery crayony smell;  the colors of the painting bathed my eyes in much needed anti-February balm.

Next gallery.  Try explaining this painting to your 6 year old son.


I tried and teared up.  He found it utterly inconceivable that grown-ups would throw tomatoes at a little girl in a pretty dress.  I am profoundly glad he finds that inconceivable.

Of course my boys did not disappoint.  They had their own observations.  Upon entering the gallery filled with Japanese artwork my 6 year old paused and stood and turned slowly with awe in every inch of his body.   I felt pride at my small art connoisseur and knelt down beside him to hear what thoughts were flooding him.  He turned to me with wonder and said, "Mom, there are 6 hidden security cameras," and pointing he slowly turned and counted them off with precision, "one, two, three, four, five, six."

Later that evening during dinner I was trying to show off what a fabulous mother I am for my husband.   I asked the boys to tell their father about our day.  "We went to McDonald's and got ice cream," was my 6 year old's contribution.  Great.  Homeschooling at it's best.

I tried again, this time prompting, "Tell your dad about the favorite thing you saw at THE MUSEUM today."  This time my 7 year old complied, "Dad, they have this incredible staircase.  I loved the staircase."

And he did.  While we were at the museum he begged me to photograph him on the balcony overlooking the staircase.


I don't give up.  We will continue to go to the museum- my enthusiasm was bolstered by my 12 year old son's comment as we headed home.  "That wasn't nearly as boring as I thought it would be, in fact it was kind of fun."






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Carte Blanche

February 4, 2014 by Rieshy
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For Christmas I bought my boys scarlet microfiber xl twin blankets.  When I say scarlet I mean Scarlet in the most extreme royal red way possible.  I have to admit they were on sale for crazy cheap and purchased primarily to pad/even-out the packages per kid under the tree.  I had no idea they were destined to be a favorite gift.

These blankest are super thin but soft, they are huge, they drape like velvet and are cozy warm this crazy cold winter.  They are also perfect for capes, perfect for Roman legionaires, perfect for a king's wrap, perfect as a cloak for powerful wizards.  They have magical concealing attributes similar the cloaks of Lothlorian and they make great bathrobes; they are the prop for every mock battle and pretend game engaged in since Christmas.  They even occassionally make it to the boys' beds.

The only downsides are: that they are constantly being dragged through my kitchen on journeys to the den and my boys continually look like some sort of adepts for a secret and vaguely creepy society.  Especially my 6 year old.

This morning he staggered into the kitchen wrapped in his scarlet blanket, only his upper face exposed.  The effect was quite theatrical When I say staggered, I mean staggered.  He's having morning hypoglycemia because of a recent growth spurt.  Normally his is not very affected by his Fatty Acid Oxidation Defect- nothing near as affected as his 7 1/2 year old brother but lately he's been having morning blood sugar lows that leave him dizzy and drunken acting.

Dizzy and drunken acting and wrapped in a red cloak.

This morning, after he had some food in him, we talked again about what the dizzy feeling means and what he needs to do about it.  I stressed that if he feels this way he has to eat- even if no one else is up.  I listed the best foods for him to eat but sensed I had lost his attention, "Actually, if you feel this way you can eat anything you want- even without asking first."

That got his attention.  Whoops.  Did I just told my 6 year old he could get up early and eat anything he wants without asking?!?

There's no going back even if I wanted to.  I am parenting on the side of caution whilst flinging Carte Blanches to 6 year olds with happy abandon; I'd prefer to keep all of our scarlet wrapped dramas squarely in the realm of make-believe.

I just need to hide my private chocolate stash a little better



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Edible Posts

February 1, 2014 by Rieshy
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Oranges were on sale when I went grocery shopping today; they made me smile and think of Cézanne;  I love his paintings of fruit.

Below is not an awkward attempt at a centerpiece,  
it's just the amount of fruit my family of 9 goes through in a week.  


That is, of course, not counting the fact that someone will be running to the store to buy bananas by Tuesday.  I thought I'd commemorate the fruit in a post because: it will all be gone so fast,  because I may or may not manage to get any, and because I never learned to paint.

I just read that Cézanne had 11 siblings; suddenly his fondness for fruit makes sense.




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Set Design and Silver Linings

January 27, 2014 by Rieshy
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Yesterday my 6 year old ran inside for a cloth to stem his accidentally sibling-bonked and bloody nose.  He headed back outside so quickly to play that I had to follow him to fetch the bandage I had used to wipe his face.

My 7 year old ran up and gleefully announced, "We wanted to pretend we were soldiers and play War, and look, now the porch has blood splatters all over it. Isn't that Great!"



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The Thud Of The Missed Bounce

January 23, 2014 by Rieshy
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This weekend was a weekend spent on "hospital-watch" with our 7 year old son.  His Fatty Acid Oxidation defect makes him uniquely vulnerable to any illness that compromises his ability to eat.  Hospital-watch simply means closely monitoring and doing anything, I mean anything, that will get continual calories into him; his body just burns them up.  It means having bags packed and being ready to drive to our children's hospital the moment it becomes clear that his body is revved too high to be treated at home. 

Sometime I feel like a fireman on a steam powered locomotive.  Sweaty and grimy, shoveling fuel non-stop into a furnace that must be kept going in order to escape the murderous galloping outlaws chasing along behind.


We had success this weekend: No Hospital.  That's the best resolution of any hospital-watch. 

Now I'm bouncing back.  I always always forget how tired I am after a hospital-watch.  Even a successful one.  It's utterly draining in a confusingly disproportionate way to the actual amount of sleep missed.  

In similarly train-themed illustration, this is how I now feel:


Except Buster Keaton made everything funny.

I tend to forget that I always feel this way after a hospital-watch; I forget to go easy on myself and my family.  I forget to pray.

Because during a crisis I pray- afterwards I feel thankful and pray.  

And then I don't remember that I still need God every minute of every normal day.  That's when the lack of sleep hits.  That's when I worry and fret thus wasting the energy I do have.  That's when I become obnoxious to my family.

That's when I thud.

So- I write this to myself and to other parents of chronically ill children: take care and arm yourselves to cope with the sometimes monumentally difficult ordinary days post-illness.   

They are the Grindylows of caretakers.  



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In Which Vomit Figures Heavily

January 21, 2014 by Rieshy
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As a young, rosy cheeked and bloated first time pregnant woman I had a lot of daydreams of what motherhood would entail.  I was realistic (ha!), I knew that childhood illnesses were part and parcel of the gig- but I only envisioned a slightly feverish, sweet smelling child lying in bed and looking up adoringly while I read the Velveteen Rabbit out loud and simultaneously served herbal teas and warm home-made bone broths.  Bodily fluids never entered my imagination.  Bunk beds never entered my imagination.

Vomit certainly never made an appearance in any daydream I've ever had.  Vomiting from bunk beds?  Nope not in my repertoire of mothering images.

My husband was the first discoverer of the initial episode of high altitude hurling.  I'm pretty sure he never daydreamed about lovingly stroking the sleeping forehead of a precious child in a top bunk while simultaneously stepping his bare feet into vomit.

A day later and with people on the mend I made a foolish decision, after all nothing could happen in the time it took me to take a relaxing 2 mile run in rare January sunshine, right?

Let's just say that I am currently taking a break from steam cleaning the boy's room and am thankful to God that their bookshelves are on the opposite side of the room because pretty much everything else was baptized by a second rain of disgustingness from yet another child during my relaxing run.

Really?  Really?  The Cretans had toilets several thousands of years ago yet my children remain unfamiliar with them?

My husband moved the furniture and later today I'm repainting.  I kid you not- I have to repaint.  My first choice would be a flame- thrower but I'm always thwarted from that by the difficulty in finding one to rent.

  I would resign but for my many blessings:


  1. My secret stash of emergency chocolate.
  2.  My 21 year old son who has helped with the clean-up, twice.
  3.  My 19 year old daughter who kept me company through the night while I fed my medically fragile 7 year old every hour until he was better.
  4. My husband, not because of how great a Dad he is (which he is) but because now I will always be able to laugh when I think of his feet.




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Boy Brains

January 20, 2014 by Rieshy
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Never underestimate the power of a young boy's brain to make connections other than the ones you expected.

Out errand running and treasure seeking in the china isle of a thrift store my 12 year old son found a navy blazer in perfect condition and the size of my 6 year old.  Now generally speaking when I'm thrifting for china my boys are thrifting for nerf guns not church clothes so I was a little surprised by the level of excitement engendered by the discovery of the jacket.

When we got home my 6 year old raced inside and changed from brown cowboy boots and jeans and a tee-shirt to black cowboy boots, jeans and a dress shirt.

With great satisfaction he slipped on the blazer and- 



with a twinkle in his eyes reminiscent of Clint Eastwood, he shifted slightly to push back one side of the blazer in order to reveal the true purpose of the blazer.



"Too bad we don't have a shoulder holster too," commented his 7 year old brother.  






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Meditative 6 Year Olds

January 19, 2014 by Rieshy
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I am a morning person and have always been one.  Some of my earliest memories are of watching my bedroom clock while straining to hear the first hints of movements from any other human in my childhood home.  I could not fathom why, Why, WHY did everyone but me insist on staying in bed past 5 a.m.? Why was no one as impatient for the company of my conversation as I was for an audience?

My mother has had the last laugh, in that mysterious payback system of grandchildren. It is my youngest child who is my earliest riser and of all my children, his activities have always been the most unpredictable;  he's amazingly handy with screwdrivers, scissors, door bolts...

Recently, I've found something that produces a quiet morning state in him- Gong Fu style Chinese tea.



  It amazes me how quietly he will sit drinking his tea when he is allowed to pour his own.


Quiet is something I encourage.  Even quiet punctuated by slurping.  The Chinese lady in the tea shop taught him how to slurp very loudly because slurping is polite in Gong Fu Tea.  I think she is just a very clever sales lady- what 6 yo boy doesn't love to slurp?

I don't mind the slurping- a small price to pay to postpone early morning talking, or shooting sounds.



He loves White Peony tea the best.  Oolong second.  It cracks me up to hear him ask for Oolong by name.

Wait a minute! I suddenly understand why my mother started allowing me to drink coffee when I was 5 years old.  Growing up we had a huge Sunday meal complete with company and conversation and yummy desserts.  I thought it was the ultimate luxury and mark of my own maturity to be served a cup of coffee during dessert and allowed to scoop my own sugar and serve my own cream and sip my very own, very special grown-up cup of coffee....  I had no idea what my mother was really up to.

I guess I'm just continuing her legacy of caffeinated quiet.



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When Bucket-lists Coincide On A Saturday

January 18, 2014 by Rieshy
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Two of my daughters somehow discovered that they harbored deep seated and complimentary desires.

One longed, somewhat understandably, to throw a pie. 



Another longed to have a pie thrown (arguably less understandably) at her own face.  I won't name names.


They purchased heavy cream.  They whipped it.
Then they fascinated (and warped) their little brothers by fulfilling each other's desire.



My husband and I don't understand but we had fun capturing the moment...

  
and the moment.


And then we slipped inside before our offspring could turn on us.

How's your Saturday?




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