Oh the memories of a pack rat

I've been enjoying pack rat memories as of late. Last night I gutted a closet. Did I have time to gut the closet? Absolutely not. It was random. And isn't quite finished.

My mom has been giving me precious bags of memories again too. Like, every Valentine I received in preschool. Easter cards from people when I was 5. That sort of thing. Fifth grade report cards. I threw most of them away. Against my pack rat nature. My mom saved them for 25 years. I tossed it out. That hurts. But I can only handle so much STUFF.

Back to the closet. I found a little notebook. I opened it. One page looked like this: 6:50, 7:00, 7:08, 7: 15, 7:27, etc etc. It was a page where I was writing down contraction times! You know, over 5 years ago. In the next few pages, I came across our baby name list for before Ella was born.

First, you have to understand -- my whole life I wanted a Natalie. Around 6 months with Ella, it just didn't seem right. Don't know what that was about. But I got to use Natalie anyway. Part of Natalie is about my early obsession with Natalie Wood. Well guess what -- Natalie is quite the drama queen.

In any case, here was our list for girls:

  • Ella
  • Natalie
  • Grace
  • Rachael
  • Chloe
  • Talia
And our list for boys:
  • Jackson
  • Joshua
  • Adam
  • David
  • Andrew
  • James
  • Benjamin
Thankfully we never needed boy names, because we just couldn't settle on anything there. At all.

Anyway, it was fun to come across. Now the dilemma. Save it? It was so fun to see it now. Won't it be fun to see it again? Throw it so someday moving out of this house actually seems possible? My mother raised a pack rat. So. Hard. To. Let. Go.

I'll think about it over the weekend.

Kindergarten open house side note: Ella's classroom is the same one I had for kindergarten. And her teacher student taught under mine. Small world! Or more accurately, small town. We're all excited for school to start!


Apparently I went to the zoo

I saw dogs.

The buffalo and steer were in a cage.

I saw monkeys.

There were some bears.

And the ever-elusive... little girls...

And then the phone rang, and I missed photographing the rest.


Oh, Minnesota. This is from my grocery shopping trip last night. If for some reason you can't read it, it says, "TENTSATION APPLES YOU LIKE HONEY CRISP - YOU WILL LIKE THESE YU BETCHA." So yeah. That made me laugh. But you know what? I like honeycrisps, and there aren't any (at least yet) this year, so I bought some of these. Who's laughing now? Yu betcha.


One last week

This is it. Just one more week. Wednesday night we have open house at school. I've filled out the paperwork. I'm getting ready to write the million dollar check for lunch, snacks, school tshirt, flouride treatments, and whatever else it is.

The teachers are over at school getting ready -- I can see their cars in the parking lot. I'm not a stalker. I can see the parking lot from our house. As the summer was drawing to a close, I thought I'd be beating down the door over there. "I see you in there! I'm sending in my kindergartener."

But now that I've filled out all the papers, and we've packed her bag full of her school supplies, I'm freezing. Can we just stop time? I know she's going to have a lot of fun, and love school and her teacher. She'll make all kinds of friends (most likely boys). But still. I remember so vividly bringing her home from the hospital. Looking at my squishy little baby and wondering how on earth to parent. Wondering what to do with a baby.

In just over a week, I'll send her off all day, every day. I know it's time. We're all ready. But it definitely makes me think that I will blink again, and she'll be off to college.

Please enjoy my back to school Haiku:

She's leaving for school
First time all day, every day
So happy, so sad

And for the record, it's me who's so happy, so sad. She's giddy. It'll probably rub off on me.


It's not that I'm gone. At least not physically.

It's been sort of a long week at my little one-person company. I'm tired. Three consecutive nights of 1 am working. So I just don't really have much to say. We're excited for school. I think that's going to help me. And we found out Ella's teacher today, and I'm excited. I think she'll have a lot of fun, and probably learn something.

I haven't even watched Olympics this week.

So. Yeah. I'll just talk to you later.

This was so not worth posting.


Ooo... pretties...

I'm seriously toying with the idea of trying to do most of my Christmas shopping at etsy.com.

Here's one sample of what I love. It's a new etsy store, Nola Meadows, and she's launching today. Check out her blog for some great ways to win really pretty jewelry!


Yes. It's possible this has been a shamless plug in an attempt for me to win some of her awesome jewelry. You'll probably do it too, because it's pretty.


I camped. With a little cheating.

We went camping this past weekend with our small group from church, as I previously mentioned. And we survived just fine.

Friday night after we were all set up (8 blocks or so from our house), we did hotdogs on the grill. Followed by s'mores of course. Our sites were right across from the playground equipment, so the kids spent most of the weekend there. Got the kids to bed around 9. I think the last they talked was 10:30. "What was that?" "MOM! What's that noise?" "Did you hear that?" "Natawie, when you're talking I can't sleep."

Saturday we slept til nearly 8. The girls headed for the playground equipment right away. After a little bit our family headed home to wash off a layer of camping. The girls were soaking wet from all the dew on the playground. I packed up our lunch, and we went back to the park. We had sandwiches for lunch, and then tried to convince the Exhausted Sisters to have nap time. No luck. Everyone else had gone to the beach swimming, so Captain America and I entered into negotiations on who would take our munchkins over. I caved quickly since he's been working non-stop for nearly a month. So I did it. I took my poor, deprived children to the beach. I went in a LAKE. Like with plant life wrapping around my legs. Stepping on sharp shells and who knows what else. Of course, the girls had a blast.

Back home to wash off the lake. Over to the park again. More playing on the playground. Then I sat down with some of the girls (and some of the ladies) to make some earrings. It was fun to have people get excited about something I love to do too. After we'd made a few pairs, it was time for dinner. Well, shoot. I hadn't really prepped for that. So while I had joked about it, I decided to really do it. I ordered pizza. Delivered. And then we ate more s'mores.

The girls went to sleep much easier after wearing them out all day. Captain America and I actually got to hang out at the campfire together. It was sort of like being at camp. The two resident teenagers got us going on Mafia. Perhaps we were slow learners, but by the end it was a lot of fun. Eventually we gave up and went to bed.

Sunday morning we slept til 8 again, and woke up to everyone getting ready for breakfast. I drove to our cooler (refrigerator), and grabbed our supplies. Egg in a bag. Surprisingly yummy. Two eggs in a quart sized freezer baggie, any omlette mixings you like, squeeze out air & seal shut, squish together, write name in sharpie on bag, toss in boiling water for 13 minutes. Out comes a fluffy little omlette. We had a little more campfire time, another walk in the woods, and then it was time to pack up. The kids were done. Natalie sat in her carseat with the van door open for a good 20 minutes or more. Just waiting.

So now it's time to do laundry, put things away, and get the smoke stench out of the fold up chairs. Frankly, I don't even have time to tell you about it.


Ah, nature

I'm going camping in an hour or so. No, really. I am. Even though "roughing it" to me is having to plug in an ethernet cord because there's no wifi. I'm sleeping in a tent. On the ground.

Our small group from church thinks camping is fun. They are actual campers. People who will have their meals planned out, and saved in a cooler. People who camp a couple times a year. Somehow, we have made it work that we're camping 8 blocks from our house. And with Captain America having been gone all week, I have been in camping denial. Which leaves me here. 3 p.m. on Friday. My tent is set up. My also non-camping sister came to the park and helped me choose a spot (thank you!). Maybe behind this tree. Too hot. Picked up tent and brought it across the road. Something shady. By the stream to drown out the sound of the neighboring reunion. Turned the tent to get the breeze through it. But being non-campers, who knows.

Now, my tent is set up, and the sleeping bags are inside it. You'll notice I'm back at home. Blogging. Nevermind I don't even have hot dog buns for tonight. Or the muffins I'm supposed to bring. Or a stitch of clothing packed. But guess what? I'll be 8 blocks from home. I'm COMING HOME to shower. I am. Really, it's a courtesy to our fellow campers, saving hot water & shower time for them. So I should probably go now. Go to the store. Figure out what we're eating. Pack up a cooler. Find some jammies for everyone. Proper campfire clothing. See if I can't track down a bottle of bug spray. Some sunblock. Make some lemonade in the giant...drink cooler thingie. Oh for pete's sake, what am I doing here?

And furthermore, any ideas as to how I can sneak home at night to watch Olympics are welcome.


Computer for Lora

One of the too many blogs I follow is 5 Minutes for Mom. They're currently doing a giveaway of an HP computer to a family in extraordinary circumstances. To nominate you need to post, so here I am.

For several months now I've been following the Caring Bridge site for Lora. She was diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma when she was pregnant with her 3rd child. They had to make a choice who would live -- her or the baby. And they chose both. She did her cancer treatment in reverse order, so they baby could grow a little longer. Ruth was born in April, and is doing remarkably well. Lora has been undergoing chemo since. She is currently in the process of getting a bone marrow transplant.

Here's why I think she could use this laptop: Her Caring Bridge site reads like a devotional. Her story is amazing from page one. Once the bone marrow transplant gets underway, her husband will take the children back home to Duluth, MN and she and her mom will stay in Rochester, MN for a month while she recovers. Having this laptop would be a really great way for her to stay connected with everyone.

I've never actually met Lora -- she's a friend of a friend. But the insight and perspective I have gained from reading her site, I could never pay her back for. She's an inspiration to me in so many ways, and I would LOVE to see her get this laptop. I want to see her continue the blogging, because more people need to see her story.

** Would you consider clicking here and seconding the nomination in the comments section (mine is link #3)? Just post a comment at the bottom, and if you know Lora and Ryan add in why you think they should get it. I'm not sure how they will choose -- I'm sure it will be a tough decision -- but any extra votes certainly couldn't hurt.


The one where Captain America goes to the ER sporting blue hair

If you'll remember from previous posts, Captain America is my husband. It's new. I'll forget about it soon enough, don't worry.

Friday after work Captain America took Ella with him to get a hair cut. Ella is cute, and Captain America will do darn near anything she asks of him (must get her to start in on "you should buy Mommy diamonds for your anniversary"). Furthermore, his hair person is kind of a trouble maker. Between the two of them they convinced him to have his hair sprayed blue in the front. Because, you see, we weren't going anywhere. So Ella and Daddy had matching blue bangs. How fun.

Flash forward.

Around 6:45 Ella starts clutching her side and screaming and crying and carrying on. We run through the usual suspects (do you have to go potty? are you hungry? are you thirsty?), but this is a different and definite pain. After about an hour, we're pretty sure we're stuck taking her to the ER (Lake Wobegon has no urgent care).

Our hospital/clinic is adding on, so getting to the ER itself was a little like tracking down someone on the Sopranos. Had to go in one side, walk clear across to the other side, and go to a closed door with no windows, then press the yellow button. At which point the staff we had walked past when we came in all peeked down the hall to see that, sure enough, someone was waiting. We waited in front of mystery door for a minute or two, causing Captain America to mutter, "I'm glad my arm isn't severed." Indeed. The door opens to Cutie Petutie Nurse. She gets us through the obligatories while Dr. New is on the other side of the curtain talking to Grandma about her 800th UTI. "Any blood in the urine?" "Not yet, that's why I came when I did. I know the symptoms." They need thicker curtains. Or, maybe walls.

Once Dr. New came over to our curtain, we established that his daughter may well be in Ella's kindergarten class in a few weeks. I mostly liked Dr. New, but will get to that later. And please keep in mind, Captain America has blue hair.

Dr. New gives Ella the run through, and I must say, I appreciate his thoroughness. At one point he says, "Does anyone in your family have Cystic Fibrosis, or {insert other weird disease name here}?" Uh, NO. Exam goes on. He settles on pulled ligament or onset of shingles. If no angry red rash appears, pulled ligament. Phew. "The reason I asked about the Cystic Fibrosis and {other disease name} is that sometimes with those the internal organs will be flipped, so appendicitis pain would be on the left instead of the right." Bravo, Dr. New. Again, impressed with the thoroughness. But DUDE. You must include that explanation DIRECTLY following the question. Anyway, I liked him. And I like my small town, where your kids are in school together. Like when Ella got stung by a bee at preschool, and Dr. Mom checked it out when she picked up her daughter.


So off we go, with a very expensive lollipop and ibuprofen/tylenol dosage chart, to pick up Natalie from Grandma & Grandpa's. Ella is still unable to walk, and needs her legs pulled up to her. We sit down for a few minutes to regale them with our story, and not 20 minutes later, Ella stands up on the couch, steps to the coffee table, leaps off and runs to the other room. Well. I guess she's fine then.

So that's how we spent Friday night. Blue hair and all. I am so sorry to report there are no photos. I really wanted to, but felt it more appropriate to focus on the screaming child.


The one where the cat tries to kill us

That title is special, for some people. But I'm too embarrassed to say why.

I was just visiting the Bloggess, where I nearly peed my pants. Had to turn away quickly. Anyhoo. She was talking about how her cat would try and kill her, and I felt compelled to share.

Our cat might be out to get us. Unless you're in the market for a cat. Then she's a lovely, sweet thing. Such a great cat.

Greta has her own blanket. It's hers because she stole it. It used to be on our couch, and then she removed it from the couch. In her teeth. It's a regular couch throw, so it's rather large. She drags it about the house, and then meows hysterically at it. I remember when she was a tiny kitten, she used to steal socks and carry them around the house. Maybe she's angry we robbed her of motherhood.

Anyway, Greta has this blanket. She tends to leave it on the stairs to the basement. Coincidence? You be the judge. Captain America (or my husband, as you may know him, but I'm trying to be a hip blogger whose husband has a catchy name) has tripped on the stairs exactly once. He was carrying a basket of laundry, because he's awesome. He fell down the stairs. Luckily it was only a few, and Ella was here to rescue him with a bandaid. (In case you're missing the connection, he tripped on Greta's blanket.)

So on top of that, she has a tendency to run right in front of your feet when you walk. And occasionally, I step on the first stair to the basement, only to step on a cat. She is trying to take us down.

At night when Captain America gets out his laptop (to work on The Project), Greta lays on his legs. Like the laptop isn't enough. He gets a cat. She's trying to sweat him out.

Whenever I wake up in the middle of the night, Greta is laying on top of my feet. Hopefully she sticks with my feet (it's not always bad, if I'm cold). If she ever lays on my face, she's outta here. That's one of the things that got her co-conspirator, Oscar, kicked out of this place. That and the poop streaks. But I think that's probably for another day.



I never win anything. But when the Bloggy Giveaway Hoopla is in full swing, and you sign up for an obscene amount of prizes, chances are improved. I was just sitting here, sniffing my wrists and floating into Aveda bliss when I got an email -- WINNER.

I won a personalized tshirt and $5 Starbuck Bucks over at The Bargain Shopper Lady. How cool is that? Check out her site -- she's got great deals listed on the sides too.

And I'm totally looking forward to a Starbucks' chai. I might save it for when I'm rubbing elbows with all the Republicans over Labor Day weekend. Not because I want to go hang at the Republican Convention, but because that is when the NNFFL has the fantasy football auction. I'm quite sure our location & date was saved long before the Republicans. And now they are coming to eat at our restaurants, and make us pay exhorbitant amounts for hotels. But maybe I'll get really lucky, and while they're all doing whatever it is Republicans do when they're all together (swap recipes? clean their guns? I kid...), the Very Big Mall will be empty. You think I'm dreaming? Me too. Might be holing up in the room with a book this year.


Oh right...sorry

I'm totally committed to the blog. Been a little distracted since Monday, that's all.

First of all, I won Soliloquy's bloggy giveaway, and I can't stop smelling my wrists and my new yummy Aveda-ness. *sniff* mmmmm...

Second, Captain America (as I now dub him {hear that? you're a super hero! if you read my blog, that is}) has been working around the clock on The Project at work. So I'm trying to go a little above and beyond around here. In reality, above and beyond is probably just what I should be doing in the first place, but don't. Like dishes. Or cooking.

*sniff* ahhhh...

It's possible that I made the mistake of swinging past ebay the other day. Also possible I've purchased yet another cocktail dress. For all the elegant dinner parties I attend (last year = none). Fear not, the dress is not alone. There are 3 to keep it company in my closet. Now there's no "odd dress out." We all know how awkward that can be.

*sniff* *sniff* *sigh*

Today I found out that my babysitter MOVED! How dare she? That's right, Noggin is now channel 301 instead of 298. Oh that will only take me a month to reprogram myself. And I certainly hope she's not expecting a channel warming gift, what with the inconvenience. For pete's sake.


Preschool screening, a little late

Ella had preschool screening today. You know, now that she's five. They're supposed to do it when they're 3 or 4. Oops.

I have always thought my children are brilliant. Because that's what mothers do. I thought. But I must say, Public Health is an enlightening place. They see a lot of stuff. Because I said that. How I've always thought Ella's brilliant, but that's what parents do. "Well. Not all of them."

There were a few enjoyable moments. Like when she asked Ella to stand on one foot as long as she could.
Screener: "Good, now the other one."
Ella: "But I'm not done yet."

Or when she pointed to the shapes she wanted Ella to draw, and Ella drew every one of them. She held the paper up to show the other Public Health person, "Look at this! She drew all of them. ALL OF THEM." Well, yes. You asked her to. And for pete's sake, she's been to two years of preschool.

Or when she got to pick one of those giant stickers all the health fields have (over the course of her screening she got to pick FIVE), and Ella said, "I'm picking this one to give my sister." Awww.

Ella can start out pretty shy in new situations with new people. Me too. Only I usually hold my shy longer than 20 minutes. By the end of the appointment Ella is rocking away on a giant green snail so Screener can talk to me about the results and ask more questions. "I love this rocker. I wish we had one at home. If I had this rocker at home, I'd ride it all the time. I'd get one that's a monkey. And Natalie could have this green snail. She'd like that. Natalie's favorite color is green." Etc, etc, etc. Screener was literally doubled over laughing. Just about with tears in her eyes as Ella raced on in her little voice, nary a breath taken. The desk was shaking.

We are now one doctor physical away from kindergarten. I'm finding this to be much like pregnancy, where I liked having her where she was, and had no desire to go through labor. Magically in month 8 or 9 it turns to GET. YOURSELF. OUT. OF. THERE. CHILD. I've been dreading sending her to kindergarten (my baby's not old enough, blah blah blah). As the summer progresses, I'm nearly ready to beat down the door over at the school the moment I see the teacher's cars pull up.

Look for me on CNN. Crazy mom threatens teachers a week before school starts. Was heard shouting, "I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE! I SEE YOU! I WATCHED YOU PARK YOUR CAR. LET HER IN NOW," before breaking through a window and leaving her child in the kindergarten room.

Ok, I promise to be better than that. Those windows look hard to break.


Different is good

Friday when I took the girls school shopping, we went out to eat first. I found myself stumbling again to explain to a preschooler why some people don't have arms/legs/what have you like the rest of us. The best I could manage in the moment was that God made each of us different, but He loves us the same.

I don't agree with myself, the more I think about it. I don't think He does love each of us the same. I love that.

I feel like being a parent has given me another view of God. Lessons I personally wouldn't have learned otherwise. I don't think I love my children the same. I love them differently. I love them for their uniqueness. It's not like each child comes packaged with a bottle of parental love. I love each of these girls for the little people they are, and somehow feel like the love just gets bigger as they do.

So it stands to reason that maybe God loves each of us differently too. He loves us for who we are -- not even who we pretend to be. When I went to college, I ended up hanging around these people that had an amazing peace about them. It was the peace of Christ. Something I needed in my own life. But now it occurs to me that God put those people in my path so I could see it. He chose that time and those people.

I don't want that to sound like it's all about me, me, me. I just want to point out that that's how personal I think God is. That's much he cares for each one of us, as individuals.

Everybody has their own story, full of details we can't even name. In To Own a Dragon, Donald Miller talks about going on a nature photo shoot with his mentor, John. How they climbed through the forest & mountain terrain for a shot of the sunrise. If I remember right, they get up prior to dawn, and when they get there it's amazing. But John doesn't get the shot. "That one was just for us." Every once and a while I'm remembering that.

On an early morning walk with the sun over the lake -- what if this view is just for me? What if this moment at this canyon is a gift to me? And, yeah, maybe these shoes on sale is for me. This one I know was for me:

Me: "Honey, God just made her a little differently. Like you have blond hair and somebody else has brown. Her legs are different. Doctors made her special legs so she can walk around like you do."
Natalie: "Oh Mommy, I think her built legs are beautiful..."


Ah the sweet scents of glue...

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." -- Joe in You've Got Mail

I SO get this. Tonight I took the precious angels to the Target for school supply bonanza. I cannot help myself. Natalie's list says "1 pack glue sticks." They are 22 cents. 22 cents! I bought five. Ella's list says, "1 spiral notebook." Ella picked out a blue hologram notebook. And then I bought a 5 pk of spares for 50 cents. 50 stinking cents. Crayons -- 22 cents for a 24 pk. I loaded up.

The only thing I'm struggling with really, is their desires for non-girlie colors. Ella wants everything in royal blue. So I found the girlie hologram notebook. And I caved on the pencil box (maybe we'll add some stickers or something). Natalie wants everything in green. Which is a little easier.

I want to get Ella a new backpack with coordinating lunch box. Set up a little study area in her room. But I guess it's just kindergarten. That can wait. But maybe I'll just browse Lands End a little...

SHUT. UP. Seriously.

So I entered roughly 800 contests in the Great Bloggy Giveaway. As I said, found some great new blogs to aid in my complete inability to prioritize... I mean... to gain perspective.

And I am so excited today, because I am a WINNER. I have won yummy Aveda products from my new bloggy BFF Soliloquy. She even gave me a little shout out and blog lovin'.

Friends (all five of you loyal readers), I lead a quiet life. I mean, relatively speaking. The girls are noisy, but you know what I'm saying. Not a lot goes down on this side of the computer screen. So my little Aveda prize is setting me into a tailspin of cloud walking for the weekend.

I wish I had something else to say, but I am very busy compulsively checking my email to see if I've won anything else. So in the meantime, should you be in the mood to either blush or accidently spit out that Diet Dr. Pepper, please check out Soliloquy's most humiliating moment. Hee, hee.