Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the first band concert

He started taking trumpet lessons last year from a sweet girl we know. He practiced, and he got better, and this fall, joined the band.

Tonight was the first concert, and it was excellent.

Plus, he attempted to iron this shirt himself while I was making spaghetti. It was a struggle and Maria helped out. And then there he was, looking good in Little Jay's old clothes, his old band shoes and pants and shirt.

It was a cold night after a day of falling snow, hushed muffled air, rosy pink sky. The auditorium was all soft shadows and comfortable velvet seats, and it was very hard to stay awake.

Once, years ago, I went to a concert at Orchestra Hall with a friend who plays viola professionally. It was a beautiful concert, and she'd obtained tickets free for us, but they're normally quite expensive. I looked around at all the dressed up people sleeping. Sleeping! Snoring through this wonderful concert! And yet I was feeling awfully relaxed and content myself.

Tonight was like this.

Then we came home, had the baths, the vacuuming and swiffering, the running of the dishwasher, the picking up of the toys.

My parents gave the kids a beautiful new keyboard, and we found ear buds to plug into it, so they've been here all evening while we were at the concert, playing around with this keyboard in the dining room doorway. Tomorrow is a new day--another day for TAKING TURNS----Hello.

Many things are still undone, but that's why God invented tomorrow. Sleep tight.

love always, Val

Sunday, November 28, 2010

the bees knees, and all that

that rip on her sleeve? caught it on the upstairs bathroom door hook. it happens.

Okay, today we were hearing about a guy who is, well, okay, this isn't nice...and we kind of had to pry to get at what's the story.

He's described as a "douche."

(Umm. No comment on that adjective.)

He CAN be nice, but usually he's "douchy."

This is not impressive on his part, being douchy like that.

Then the comment was made that he thinks of himself as really fabulous, doesn't even comprehend what an ass he actually is.

It's all a bit of a problem, but asinine people are often like this.

So then we have Kari sitting there, aka Lydia. She's ten, taking all this in, and somewhat offended that anyone would be "douchy" to someone in our family.

So Kari pipes up: "Yeah, that guy thinks he's the bees knees. The cat's pajamas. The mother's curling iron."


The mother's curling iron? What the heck does THAT mean?

We were all laughing, laughing right out loud, something we need to do this week.

She said she made it up because it sounded good, adding, "I hate that guy."

Well, considering he thinks he's the mother's curling iron? Plus he's been douchy to someone we love? We all pretty much hate him, so that's his own fault.

Oh, yeah? Love, and all that jazz? It ends where you're douchy to one of us. Love and flowers, springing kisses tossed about. NOT.

Okay here's a dumb story: Yesterday morning we were getting ready for church and rushing a little bit. We haven't been there in months--too many other obligations lately.

But yesterday we were on the job. So I ran upstairs to help Julia find something to wear. I grabbed a knit dress out of her closet and told her to try it on, see if it still fit.

She put it on over her pajama top. It fit. I threw her the leggings and said, "Hurry up! Find socks!"

And I ran back downstairs. Later on at church, while Julia was rolling all over in my lap, and I saw a bit of dark pink satin piping along the back of her neck, and I couldn't laugh out loud right there, but it was hard not to.

The pajamas. She was dressed over her pajamas, as directed by ME.

Good thing Mom's on the job.

Oh yeah, definitely.

love, Val

Friday, November 26, 2010

the tree is up 2010


It's up. The whole living room is glowy and beautiful.

Julia was frustrated by how slow the process is. First a girl must wait for her dad to come home from work.

Then the trailer has to be hooked up.

The drive is not short.

The tree was cut, shaken in the shaker, shoved in the trailer and we drove home.

We love the shaker. Every year we laugh about when Tim said this: "Oh, I hope all the squirrels will be coming out NOW."

We told this story again today. Hands in his pockets, he kicked at snow and smiled.

Then Dad did this and that out in the driveway, cutting and so forth, and finally the tree was dragged inside and put right side up.

AAAgh! Only three inches too tall. He cut it with a scissors. Perfect.

"Can we decorate it?"

No, not yet. First the lights.

This involved a trip to Target so I could buy replacement bulbs for all the dead ones.

Somewhere in all this we ate. I heated up leftovers from yesterday until 15 people were all fed. (Jay's buds Sumi and Larry are home from college this weekend. Gosh, it was good to see those guys.)

The heating and eating took a while.

But at long last, the ornaments could go on--her personal ones, the family box, all of it.

Oh gosh, to be six again.

I love her.

Her, and also her six-ness.

And Tim's eight-ness is pretty sweet too.

In this very long, somewhat difficult year, the little kids--Kari's craziness, Julia and Tim's exuberance have served to bounce us right over and over again.

And the results are impressive. We could not love their big brothers and sisters more.

b.g. was here tonight eating leftovers with the crowd. His animal noise repertoire is unique, not gonna lie. Llhama? He spits. He does the usual cow and monkey, in that superb one year old way, but for bunny, he kicks his feet. Dog is some funny kind of "roof" sound, but his first word was his dog's name, Bella, pronounced Bay-a. I kissed him a lotta times, right side up, upside down, which makes him laugh.

Life's feeling pretty dear this week. I can't shake that fire yet. Joe and Heidi are very good sports, but she's tired and down, and I completely understand. (We're putting up our tree, while her ornaments are getting de-smoked somewhere.) There's this very fierce piece of me that cares about nothing but her safety, and feels reassured by having her close.

I am so glad to wrap my arms around her and my grandbaby.

This is not fair vs. it could be so incredibly much worse.

Time for bed, with much love always, Val

a very grateful thanksgiving

I guess we're most thankful that Joe and Heidi, and Morgan (the dog,) Rory, and Rufus (the guinea pigs,) escaped the fire last weekend.

And we're grateful for all the other disasters we avoided too, even the ones we were unaware of.

The day was bright and cold, the food delicious, and the company easy going.

Happy Thanksgiving. love, Val

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Oh my gosh.

Tonight m.c. was here, along with t.c. and l.c. and they ran all over the house playing. John wanted to check out Heidi's burned house, and he was on solo child care, and coming to the grandparents' is a good outing. Plus he was delivering Little Jay home to us from college for Thanksgiving. Whew. QUITE the errand, eh?

So m.c. was telling us all about her impossible friend, and it was a good story. She's a bit pretentious, and m.c. sees this and can laugh about it, even though she wishes she were privileged enough to be pretentious too, she gets it.

So then Kari, aka LYDIA, starts complaining about HER friend, a ten year old boy. He's adorable. We've known and loved him his whole life. But he and Kari are not on the same page at this point.

She ranted, "All he wants to do is play war. He actually asked me, what do you want to do? Play Civil War or Reva-LOOO-shun-ary War?"


"Well, we could play WWI?"


"Or Indian and musket war?"


"How about Revolutionary War?"

"I said NO!"

"Star Wars?"

"NO! Absolutely not! Nothing war-ish. Nothing gory, nothing disturbing!"

She apparently convinced him to play tea party.

Good grief. Is she nuts?

Then she was angry because he brought a GUN to the tea party.

Seriously, who brings a GUN to a tea party? But then who invites a guy like this to a tea party in the first place?

And then Tim was pretending to smoke the pretend candles in the tea party basket, and our friend pointed his toy GUN at Tim and told him to put out the cigarette.

Lydia: "Yes, he was overly strict about the smoking. A gun, hello? IN-appropriate."

Oh, Lydia, Lydia. Stop. Nobody in our whole family smokes, but she's still got it in the proper perspective. At this point, I was sitting on the bottom bunk, laughing SO HARD, m.c. was worried about me.

Strict? I think a firearm in response to a cigarette goes into a definition beyond strict.

More laughter, wiping of the eyes.

She said, "As far as I know, we don't even own a gun."

No, we don't. That's true.

Oh Lyddie, he'll grow up and become civilized. I have no doubt about that. Hang in there.

In other news, the insurance guy told Joe and Heidi they'll be back in their house in 60-90 days. That precious little pea is due in 90 days.

I suggest they work quickly.

Heidi and Joe are incredibly good sports, but I cannot imagine being displaced from my entire home at six months pregnant. But we're so damned relieved their safe. This will all be okay. One day at a time.

Onward! Tomorrow is the day of cleaning for the hosting of the Thanksgiving meal and the day of great Dog Hair Warfare. We will be battling it on many fronts. Perhaps our friend could bring a weapon, like a dog hair blaster. love, Val

this is a pic from the little pool last summer. it was 13 degrees out this morning when i started the car. oh, for the days of the little pool...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

feeling lucky


We spent the day up north with Jay's parents. It as a good time. My mother in law is an excellent cook, and the gang all played cards. Alicia and Dan were there with b.g. and y'all know how I feel about that little nut.

The most popular toy of the day was Great-Grandpa's cane. He was obsessed with it, carried it, waved it, knocked stuff down, fell and couldn't get up with it. Honestly, it kept him entertained all day. His cute Curious George monkey? Pah. His books? Boooring. The cane. YES.

On the ride home, we had a call from John. He was on the phone with Heidi when her house caught on fire.

"What? Say that again."

"Heidi's house is on fire. They're all safe, but the fire department and police are there."

We called Heidi and she confirmed this, "Yeah. I'm sitting in a police car with the dog, and my roof is on fire."

John called my parents after he called us and told them to GET OVER THERE. What they could do, I have no idea. Moral support, my mother said. She and John understand each other, always have.

And honestly, while I was in the car a couple hours away from Heidi, I was really glad to know my parents were there with her and Joe, even if they were just sitting in the snow with them, watching the house burn.

We drove straight there, and the road was blocked by emergency vehicles. It was hard to get through. I found Joe outside the house, walking around, and Heidi in a car with their pets. The firemen had shoved the guinea pig cage at them, "Here's your hamster."

In the dark, Jay went to talk to her after I did. The headlights from our car shined forward to where they were. He crouched down in the space of the open door for a long time, the two of them talking, heads close together.

She took it well. They did. There was a long pause when she heard her wedding dress was destroyed. Then she said, "I have lots of pictures. It's only a dress."


They're in our guest room now, Joe in Jay's pajamas and Heidi's in mine.

It's a mess, but it's okay. The firemen were even cheerful, Joe said. No lives were on the line. It's just a job then.

Perspective, yes. Lucky, lucky, lucky us. love, Val

Thursday, November 18, 2010

a b.g. kind of day

We have a little toy, a race car driver guy, who talks when you slap his backside.

I know it, and I agree.

It was some gift trinket from years ago, and yet it still lives.

Well, it says this: "You're the man. Woo Hoo! It does not get any better'n dat."

b.g. was carrying it around today, so I heard those word numerous times.

But a day with b.g.---does not get any better'n dat.

like that date in the corner? it's in the future. pure weirdness.

But I'm pretty sure he was doing this daring trick recently. In the recent PAST.

CHEESE! Oh my gosh, I am wrapped around his little finger, and admit it.

Here's his neglected little aunt, showing off her homeschool packet. She's doing good. She tries to adapt when her nephews show up.

And these dates on Maria's pictures are so WRONG. And yet, we were told this snow would not stick, fall would come back, and yet, this is how it looks out front. Snow is not melting. It's here to stay. Sigh. With electricity, I can ignore it.

When I came home tonight the house smelled SO BEAUTIFUL I sighed out loud and ran to get a plate. We cook turkeys ahead because of the size of our oven and the size of the turkeys vs. the size of our crowd.

But before I got home, he had already efficiently packaged and frozen all the turkey and stuffing he cooked. Flippin' frozen.

He kept talking. I kept staring.

Then I put my plate back in the cupboard and took a bath.

Sigh. Probably for the best, considering my deplorable muffin top, etc. But still.

Tomorrow is Friday, and that tends to be an excellent day. Hopefully it won't disappoint! love, Val

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

love that electricity

In the middle of the night, I woke up and saw this. Light! I elbowed Jay and said, "Look at that!"

We were so happy. He went around shutting off lights and plugged the fridge back into the wall, and we slept great until morning.

In the morning, he put the electrical panel back together where he'd had to break in to make the boiler run. He gathered up all the cords and then I ran the vacuum. Two days of not vacuuming here? Sick. It felt awesome putting everything back to normal. I was on such a roll I cleaned the bathrooms too, even though they weren't part of the problem.

We've also got this going on this week:

We're watching l.c. and he's here all by himself. He could not be sweeter, or funnier, or cuter, or more delightful. A little while ago I rocked him to sleep for his nap, and that's about my most favorite thing in the world, rocking these babies.

The cuteness is pretty intense.

Some calls came in today for plumbing work, and it's comforting to have work on the schedule, not be staring at the calendar and bank account like they're some kind of abyss.

Oh, it's a better week by far! You know what? In celebration we're going to go over James' math and put away clean clothes. Take care, love, Val

Monday, November 15, 2010


This weekend was not the greatest. I worked all weekend and we had no electricity, though yes, I am grateful for the generator. It could have been worse.

But it sure could have been better too.

Jay was stuck dealing with all this by himself while I was gone, and not gonna lie, it was a pain. But the stove requires no electricity, so he cooked, and no electricity is needed for dishes.

He swapped out the power cords and washed towels, and he and Kirsten took flashlights to the basement to find the kids' snow pants and boots, exhumed the box of mittens and hats.

And he cooked some more. He cooks like a mom.

Sunday he said he was going outside with the kids, feeling stir crazy in the dark house. Sure, yeah. I was immersed in some work and barely paid attention.

Later, as I took off, I called his cell phone, told him I was leaving. He said you have a good night and I love you. Yeah, yeah.

As I pulled out of the driveway though, here were these huge snowmen he’d made with the kids, funny stick arms and carrot noses, big smiles pressed in with pebbles. It was so unexpected, and so totally HIM, it caught my breath for a second and I stopped the car for a long look. Train was singing Marry Me on the radio, and I thought, “Yes, today and every day.”

Yeah, corny, but the truth often is.

So here they are, melting away, not going to last long, but I’m not going to forget them. Happy Monday. love you so, Val

i didn't notice this until this morning--the barricade for the snowball fight.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

good morning

We woke up yesterday to this.

It doesn't look all that bad, but the roads were awful. I had to show houses in this mess, got stuck in a driveway, ridiculous.

And Little Jay was home for the weekend, and after the snowstorm, we lost power. So his fun weekend at home has included no electricity other than the skimpy bit off the generator. (The good part is at least we have heat.)

okay i'm told they dressed alike and went to target like this on purpose. gosh, that's weird. i don't even know what to say about it

Sherry, the neighbor, called the electric company yesterday, and they said we'd have power by tonight. This morning she called for an update and they say TOMORROW night.


Anyway, to quote a guy I like, it could be worse. Definitely could be. love, Val

Friday, November 12, 2010

a most laid back kind of day

is what we're having here, and we all needed it.

I have to work a couple hours tonight, but that's it for the whole entire day. Saturday and Sunday are each going to be twelve hours, plus showing houses in a snowstorm is not something I look forward to.

But today, we're soaking it up--the dark overcast sky, the comfortable warm house, the easy company, still in pajamas, some of us. They're working on a packet about Idaho. Yep, potatoes, mountains, all that. James has told me he hates these state packets and isn't going to make it through the rest of the alphabet.

Well. Okay then. He'll have to live in ignorance for now. I've been living in that for a pretty long time. We can keep each other company.

James is upstairs practicing his trumpet right now. He started taking lessons last spring, and he's turned a corner, I think. All at once it sounds like music.

We've got this guy here today, all by himself. He's so sweet I could gobble him up. He no longer eats legos and he's quite happy to get down into the big room where the lego table is. We moved it down there in the first place mostly because of his eating habits.

The kids put gel in his hair so he and Tim could be twins.

Just now he showed the dog his empty can of puffs and told her, "All gone, Sam."

Sigh. I love these little boys.

Here are some pics from yesterday. We had b.g. here yesterday, not looking like a baby anymore in a flannel shirt and real pants with pockets and all. He strides around thinking he's a kid!

His hair does this when he sleeps, just like my sister's used to.

And a few pics from the rowdy Cat Tea Party.

cat decorations

cat costumes

to hell with cats. where's the food?

cat mummies? who knows?

And that's that.

Time to continue resting up for the weekend,so another cup of cocoa is exactly what we need. Happy Friday. love, Val