Sunday, February 28, 2010

we love our grated cheese

Okay, Sunday night was a little chaotic. Dan and Alicia and b.g. came for supper and it was pretty fun. The little guy eats pulverized pears now, and he loved them.

Shortly he grabbed the bowl and took control of the whole sticky situation, but Alicia gracefully extracted the dish and kept going.

He smiled at his reflection in the mirror over the couch while he stood on my nose.

Jay grilled hamburgers and we ate them all, haven't had those since last fall.

As the evening wore on, the mayhem increased as it will, especially late in the winter when it's been thawing all day and the air smells like coldness and mud.

Anyway, Tim came through the room with a belt from the dress up bin. It's a shiny old retro vintage belt,made of overlapping chrome links. A few things in the dress up bin are treasures from the wardrobe of our very dearly loved, cool aunt. This belt is one.

Tim waved the belt and commented, "I think I could use this to grate cheese."

Okay, I'm sure our very elegant, orderly aunt never grated CHEESE on any BELT. One of our daughters has her actual cheese grater in her cupboard.

Alicia commented on how tiny the belt is. True. Our aunt was very tiny. And no, she never EVER grated cheese by use of that BELT.

Tomorrow is Monday, and it's late at night and the snow is still melting. Come on, Spring! love, Val

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I know it's wrong to say this

but will these Olympics EVER END??

Ugh. I can't take it. I just want to watch Saturday Night Live in peace.

But no.

We're babysitting the grand-dog tonight. She's growing fast and getting sassy. She wants to engage Sidney in some kind of horseplay, but Sidney says that's absolutely out of the question.

Here's a pic of Heidi and her baby, and one of James with her. love, Val

Thursday, February 25, 2010

no you can't think!

Julia and I got in an argument in the car. So ridiculous.

It disintegrated to the point… well I told her she was wrong and stop saying things that aren’t true. She said, “I can still THINK it.”

I forbid her: “No, you can’t. You stop thinking things that are wrong.”

Get this: We were arguing about an ambulance and a firetruck. She said they were chasing a robber. That’s not it. They’re going to an emergency.

Julia: "No, they’re chasing a robber."

Grrr. “No they’re not. Ambulances do not chase robbers and neither do firetrucks.”

“Well I say they do.”

That’s when I told her to stop saying things that are just straight up not true, and she told me she could still THINK it. I forbid the child to think.

Oh yeah. I been at this 30 years. You think I’d improve? Apparently not. This sounds exactly like the kind of dumbness John and I used to argue about back in the day. We used to scrap like siblings. What's my excuse now? (Where did I put my dignity anyway?) Aww, gosh, it makes me laugh.

Here's the cute kid herself, amusing her nephew early this morning, and probably madly thinking all sorts of untrue things, but I hope also true ones like that she's a nut we love most dearly.

I probably should tell her I was crabby yesterday and of course nobody can tell her what to THINK, for heaven's sake. That's going too far.

Oh, and this: These are the pictures she left for us on our pillows to surprise us Monday afternoon, very fancy pictures. love, Val

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

just get a bigger hammer

The handle on the back door is broken again. We have to replace it about once a year because that door takes a terrible beating. It's inherent in life with a newfoundland in the house. She barges her big self into the door went she's trying to get out, and even worse is when she's decided she has to come in. "I'm all alone out here! You guys!"

Anyway, we didn't know about this broken door handle until last night.

Jay was outside late in the evening supervising both dogs because we don't trust that owl not to make a move on Sidney. She's tiny and fuzzy and has an enticing way of bouncing on her heels when she darts around. He goes out as her guard whenever it's dark.

But then he couldn't get back in. Lydia came to help. Puzzled, he watched as she took a few steps back and ran at the door. Bang, she bounced off it. Nothing.

She yelled she'd have to get Tim. He came from the big table where he was coloring and backed way up to take a run at it, then put his shoulder into the effort at the moment of contact. Huge BANG, and the door popped open. His dad was a little incredulous.

Lydia said, "He's the only one who has been able to open it all day."

??? Like this? Glad the glass didn't break. Good grief.

Later Jay was telling me this story and laughing, but we decided since Tim was still awake in bed, he'd better show him how to poke in the little bar with his fingers to open the door. No more body slamming it.

I do kind of like his initiative though.

love, Val

Sunday, February 21, 2010

great, any way you look at it

We had t.c. sleep over last night. He called on Friday night and asked, "Gramma! Can I sleep over at your house?"


We had a great time, lots of running around with Aunt Julia and Uncle Tim, much laughing, a fair amount of outrageous racket. It was good.

They watched a movie called Space Chimp or Space Monkey, something like that. They built Legos and blocks all over the family room. Barbies, their clothing, accessories and cars were strewn over three stories.

I never took a single picture though. I didn't think of it, and when I did, I didn't feel like it.

He's such a good guy too, trying to do what his parents say. I offered him a glass of Dr. Pepper, and he looked at it and said, "My mom doesn't want me to drink pop." Pretty impressive.

Later they wanted to watch Sponge Bob and he told me, "My mom doesn't let me watch Sponge Bob." Again, I'm impressed.

When I hugged him in the stairway and told him I was so glad he came to my house, he dove into my arms, hugged me back and said, "Yeah. I actually love you." Awww. I know you do. I love you too.

When I drove him home, he had questions about why I live in traffic. (We don't live in traffic. I don't know why he thinks that? The busy freeway between his house and ours?) Then he asked about the window in the ceiling of the car. I tried to answer, and in a few minutes turned to tell him if he was too hot and wanted to take off his hat he could, and there he was--sound asleep. He looks like my daughter in law, his red hair and chubby little lips... so sweet.

Here's a picture that's good though. I love this one very much. It's my own grandma with my grandson, which makes her a great-GREAT grandma, but we always knew she was pretty great, so no surprises there. love, Val

Friday, February 19, 2010

oh, and another thing

Okay, see this picture? In the background is a painting Heidi did for an art class at the university. It's a self-portrait, but that's probably obvious. Anyway, when she brought it home at the end of the semester, she said to take down the picture that's usually over the fireplace and put up her painting to see how long it'd take her older brothers to notice and yell. Aww, harassing those guys. That's mean.

Well, it took about two minutes and seven seconds from the time they came in the front door. "Aaagh. What's THIS? Unh. We KNEW she was the favorite!" Oh gosh. Good times. love, Val

an observation, a surprise, and a little fun

Late this afternoon Jay and I were lying on our bed. He was trying to get up the ambition to go put in a new water heater for someone, and I was trying to coax him to take a nap first. (I know, I know, nothing gets done by sleeping.)

Anyway, while sprawled out there, we were looking at the new picture Julia drew us. The kids draw pictures and we tape them to the headboard, or to the walls around the bed, to the back and front of our two bedroom doors, whatever. Art has to be appreciated, especially when it's presented as a gift.

But these pictures of Julia's--and all TEN of the kids have done this, keep in mind--all have this theme: Mom, Dad, Julia, and nobody else.

All right,I am not a child psychologist, and I don't have any background in child development, but every single kid has done this, drawn pictures of us and him or herself, and that's it. It cracks us up. It has to be normal, or else we have ten really weird kids.

check us out in the boat...

and this one--a realistic depiction of the beard...

this is the newest one. we were impressed by the tall crown

Also on my camera was this surprise.

Someone took pictures of these gorgeous anniversary cakes before we ate them! I love the cakes.

I hate the grout on that countertop. I do like tile. But that grout, I get so sick of bleaching and scrubbing, and for what? It always goes directly back to looking like it does in these pictures, yuck. Some day, yeah, someday, I'm going to scrape all that grout out of there and put in something else, something that hides scuzz.

But forget about that. Right now we have memory of those sweet anniversary cakes to enjoy.

Oh and this is the last picture.

There was a conversation about llamas that made me think of it, and on the coffee table in the living room was a photo album from 1998 with this beautiful picture of Kirsten and Little Jay, back when he was shorter than she was. He must have been 6 then? And she was like 11? Sweet little llama lovers, all grown up now. At the time it felt like they'd be little forever. Sigh. Happy Friday. love, Val

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

in honor of...

our anniversary... a few pictures for fun...

...yeah, it's been a looong's also true that the coolest thing about our marriage is the family that's resulted from it. we're lucky people, and smart enough to know it.

a picture from back in the day...1982?

and now we're grandparents...

and the whiskers are a little sharp, eh?

and this one, my very favorite...

this picture from 1984 is so sweet i can hardly stand it. who were those little boys? who is that guy? where has all the time gone?

Anyway, tonight it's 31 years, and dinner for two at Olive Garden, very nice. When we came home, Maria was taking small chocolate cakes out of the oven, specially baked in heart shaped pans. What a beautiful kid. After the little kids were in pajamas, we all had a piece. Nothing like the promise of chocolate cake to speed up the baths. Hug all your family super tight. love,Val

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

so weird

This morning I put on my black velvet dress (the one I always wear when I don't know what to wear) and high heels and went to breakfast at the Hilton.

It was the awards breakfast for our office, and it was lovely...eggs and fruit, french toast, and pulpy orange juice... people I like, laughter, encouragement and thanks.

at the lake with our three youngest kids

My life is so different from what it was like two years ago, and mostly all in good ways.

(Not that it was so bad then...just a bit ingrown. Plus there were no awards, even though I have done some very hard things--the rewards are real though.)

There is balance and a bit of personal space now and we've all probably benefited very much from this.

I'm more patient with the kids, less resentful in general. It's not that I was very mean then either, but sometimes I'd realize I was gritting my teeth so hard my jaw hurt. (a sign of supreme annoyance.)

I'm rarely resentful now about anything anymore. It's okay. Really okay.

oh my gosh, those babies were so cute. that summer was once in a lifetime, time suspended.

I wish I would have known because I could have had a job years ago, but I had no idea what the problem was. I thought it was me, a lack of patience and gratitude on my part.

No,it turns out, not really, just the limits of human patience and emotional fortitude.

I was living in a sea of beautiful babies, funny kids, with a devoted husband, and yet sometimes felt so fried and cranky. Of course somebody needed something all the time,and if all else failed, then there was always the ever-popular poopy diaper. But not anymore. We haven't had diapers here for several years.

I probably needed to get out more then than I do now, actually.

It's okay to have limits, not that it wasn't okay to stretch mine. It was. I know things about myself that you never find out, can never appreciate unless you've been there and faced your stuff.

But breakfast at a restaurant with other agreeable adults, a sparkling glass of orange juice in bright February sunshine? Mmm, mmm, mmm.

It provides balance to the funny breakfast we had yesterday in our pajamas--kids and me with crazy bed hair, valentine candy and diet coke. (One candy had coconut in it. That must count as a fruit or vegetable or something.) Both are great. I don't want to trade either one. love, Val

Sunday, February 14, 2010

this guy is ONE

This guy turned a year old yesterday, so we spent the afternoon at his birthday party.

Here he was a year ago.

something about that fragile little hand under his chin just gets me by the heart

(there's his very brave mother in the background. she'd rather not appear without makeup. i understand.)

Here he is now eating cake. Can you believe those eyelashes?

The weather was warm, and the kids went sliding in the backyard.

We went to my sister's in the evening. For Tim and Julia this generates as much excitement as at trip to the North Pole to see Santa would.

Tim played the video game in the family room, ski jumping and running until his cheeks were red and his hair was wet. I found t.c. and Julia upstairs in a sea of Polly Pockets spread out across my niece's bedroom floor, a circle of Polly debris literally seven feet wide.

When it was time to leave, Julia hid under a bed upstairs and had to be physically dragged out. We'd stayed too long and she was tired beyond logical sense. We could hear her dad, "Julia. This is not right. You have to come out." Finally Kari went up and pulled her out by the arms because Dad was too big to reach her. He carried her downstairs.

When we got home and tossed her in bed, she was still crying, totally exhausted. I got in bed next to her, patted her back. Tim said, "Maybe if I sing her a lullaby it would help?"

She snarled, "NO!" (Yep, ornery.)

I said it couldn't hurt, so he began singing. He made up the song as he went, something about, "Little Julia," and "close your eyes." As I listened to his very Timothy voice in the dark, the deep pitch and extra round vowels, cranky Julia cuddled against my chest, all the sweetness of the whole day felt concentrated right there into one beautiful moment.

Happy Birthday, Buster. The whole family is better with you in it. love, Grandma

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the puppy

Heidi and Joe showed up last night with this fine lab puppy. She was adopted from a rescue place. Her name is Morgan and she's as sweet as she looks, velvety fur and long legs. They have two guinea pigs already, Rufus and Rory, so hopefully the puppy will like them too.

The old puppy looked a little confused, but took it in stride. She's not real excitable. It was a fun surprise, Heidi and Joe at the door with their new baby. love, Val

don't have to share

Kari likes having him to herself too

This guy is here today. I love babysitting him because for the entire day I have him all to myself, can hold him all I want and not be considered a baby hog. I don't have to take turns and be polite. I don't want to be polite. I want to kiss this baby's bald head and sniff his breath while he's sleeping, play patty cake with his perfectly round feet.

Julia's at her Valentine party today, gone at school, and this is good. Last night she picked out a fancy red velvet dress with a tulle sash to wear. She had torn the knee of one pair of tights this morning already between the time she was dressed and it was time to go. How did that happen so fast? It's not a big deal. We have tights galore, hand me downs from 4 big sisters, but that was quick work.

Anyway, she's off having fun with her friends in a big sunny room full of toys and art tables, and isn't here feeling jealous. Time to kiss the baby again. Have you ever seen eyes so blue? love, Val

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

making valentines

The party at preschool is on Thursday, so we gotta be ready. We managed, even though the construction paper I was sure we had was gone and we couldn't find any of those little paper doilies. We had some. I dunno where they went. These turned out fine anyway. It was fun.

Tonight I went grocery shopping. Sounds simple, I know, but I haven't been there since January 22nd because of my back. Well, it's better! It sounds ridiculous, but it was so fun to be there and pick up groceries. The little kids ahead of me in line were adorable. I bought almonds and cottage cheese, hummus--stuff nobody in the house but me wants anything to do with. I got them their favorites too. (Pop tarts on sale: $1.88. Little Jay loves those.)

Now I told them to pick up toys and they howled. As soon as I left the dining room, they made their escape and beat it upstairs. Oh yeah. They think I'm dumb, but I'm not. I've known kids before. Time to fleece them out of the upstairs and get this place straightened up.

In other good news, Tim's little Nintendo DS went through the WASHING MACHINE. Oh, I was so sad when I plucked it from the washer, dripping water. Awwww. Ohhh. Wow. Well.... it's back to life tonight! Pretty nice.

When something goes right for no particular reason, we say, "God threw us a biscuit." When Kari heard about Tim's DS, she said, "Yeah, it's kind of like that time the top flew off the maraca when I was playing it and you thought the clock was broke." She raised her eyebrows and nodded at me. "You were ticked."

I was. Who plays a maraca so violently that the end flies off and hits the clock? Good grief.

It turned out the battery had only been knocked loose. The clock was fine. Yep, a biscuit.

Oh, here's a mom tip. We pick up three times a day--before lunch, before supper, and before bed. Everybody helps. It keeps the place from sliding into too much of a heap most of the time. The directive is--everyone should pick up anything that has anything to do with them AND two things that don't.

Okay, time to get to work, wrap up this night. love, Val

Sunday, February 7, 2010

define botherment

Okay, a few minutes ago, we had Julia upstairs at 10:20pm with her squealy, giddy laughing. Their room is above ours, and I could hear her feet running all over the place. This kid had bedtime prayers, kisses, was tucked in very nicely. The mandatory ritual of the fetching of the Yo-J was done. That should be the end of it.

So I yelled up and called her to the top of the stairs. I could see her silhouette in the light from the bathroom, her wild hair and skinny legs, "Do you see the lights are mostly off, and hear how quiet this house is?"


"There are people who have to get up early in the morning and need their sleep. YOU cannot be a disruption up there. Get in your bed and be quiet."

She nodded, "I won't be a botherment annnnyyyy more."


I didn't believe her, but she wasn't kidding! It's very quiet now.

Kirsten was here to eat supper with us and watch the Super Bowl, so of course there were the usual strange conversations. This is the only one I can remember though.

Kari told us she woke up one night and her legs were asleep! And she had to go to the bathroom!

We all expectantly looked at her, "Okay."

She said, "Duhn, duhn, duhn, be conTINued."

Oh brother. There were a couple other of these ridiculous to be continued stories, but I don't remember those. I have the feeling there will be plenty more before this little kick is over.

Monday's looking better than the weekend, even with a foot of snow forecast. I'm feeling a lot better than I did Friday and Saturday. My parents are in Florida, lucky them, eating at restaurants outside, going to the beach... sigh. It sounds so lovely. love, Val

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday night

I'm too sick to write anything. I've had a bad reaction to the ibuprofen I took for my back and am covered head to toe in hives, and the stomach hurts. I don't know why it happened now, since I haven't had any ibuprpofen for many days. I expect to live, but honestly I feel like crap.

Here's a sweet video from last summer though. It's Timmy, learning to ride a bike. love, Val

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a very good night

Kirsten took this picture of Kari, and for the record, Kari's a very patient girl...

Kirsten's car? The mechanic finally called tonight about 7. It's the fuel pump! It's a straightforward problem with straightforward solution. Whew. That car is so twitchy and glitchy, it makes us incredibly nervous whenever it acts up. But this we can handle. I was so relieved I felt like kissing the mechanic, doing a little dance.

Kirby was here for supper, and of course there was the usual weirdness.

Kari's chapstick was on the shelf over the dryer, and when she opened it up? Teethmarks. She was so disgusted. "Someone is constantly biting my blue chapstick! Do you know how much I hate this? I know it's Julia. Nobody else would do it."

So we called her to the kitchen. "Did you bite this blue chapstick?"

"No! No I did not!" The serious shake of the head, wide eyes. She and Kari have the same color eyes (five of the kids have that color, actually) that greenish, grayish, brownish color, same as the ocean on a cloudy day.

Then the eyes rolled to the ceiling and she giggled.



"It waaasn't meeee!"

I said, "You're supposed to smoothen it on your lips, never bite it. You hear me?" Again with the innocent eyes.

So we asked Tim. He looked completely baffled. "Why would I eat chapstick?"

I said, "Well, WHOEVER bit it had better not do it ever again. It's not good for you. It'll give you diarrhea."

(This is untrue, but the other kids thought it was a nice touch. Julia looked over her shoulder at me when I said it.)

Kirsten also brought over a pile of photos for me, prints she'd had made. Here are a couple fun ones:

Joe and l.c. The baby likes him a lot, and Joe teases Heidi that HE gets more hugs than she does. She says he's a liar. Gosh, he looks in pain.

heidi, a big time baby hugger from way back

jay and james

a kid i like, not one of mine, who is turning 17 today.

Happy Birthday, Honey. love, val