Saturday, July 31, 2010

The ocean...

It calls me...and for this week, I answered.

Knocked down by waves...sand in bathing suits...sunscreen in eyes...bruises from boogie boards...sand castles built with walks at dusk...worn out happy children every night...yep, the days are just packed!

Only thing missing is himself. Parts of this life we've chosen kinda suck sometimes. But the above list will keep our minds off of the sucky part. And one week apart is better than six months!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Plans and lists...

It's just a gun search...I'll won't be long...

The batphone rang at 4 am...barely disturbed the kitten slumbering soundly in the crook of my knee. But before I could return to sleep for two more precious hours my brain formed a contingency plan.

The wee girl had an appointment to meet with the pediatric rheumatologist this morning--at the hour away Highly Respected Medical Research University. If the pre-dawn call morphed into more then I would be taking her and her brother on my own. But if I left a half hour earlier than planned I could take the short detour on the way and let Jacob spend the morning with either his aunt or his Babu (grandpa)...if it was the latter, then I would have added an hour. Still doable. With a plan formed my brain shut down and I was able to go back to sleep.

For once it was just a simple call and the alternate planning was unnecessary. But it was there. There's always a Plan B....C and D.

Oh...and the wee girl's doctor? He was most impressed with her improvement. The naproxen seems to be doing its job and she's more active than ever! Which also means--no Methotrexate. For now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Because I needed a quiz to tell me this...

You are 54% hippie.

You're near the middle of the spectrum, but you've got an open mind. Society needs more people like you.

Are you a hippie?
Take More Quizzes

Yep...that sounds about right! I can still deliver a boot to the head in my Earth shoes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On survival...

Interesting bit in the news today...Doomsday shelters making a comeback.

I'd rather spend my money on living today. If surviving the end of the world means living underground? Meh.

As far as being prepared for a disaster--man made or natural--we have a weeks worth of food and water for all of us (animals included) and fuel for lanterns and a cookstove. I'm slowly working on increasing that with our own preserved foods and nifty items like these. If we're hit with anything big enough that we're going to need longer than that? The population would have dissipated enough that we can start foraging. We're close enough to farm land...there'll be abandoned animals, cows that need milking, food for harvesting. Forests and hills to disappear into.

Yeah, I know...a lot of people dismiss me as a crunchy liberal. But if and when it all goes to hell? My family may not make it--but it won't be because we starved.

Considering whom I'm married to...zombies won't be a problem either.

No worries...

Don't worry. He'll be fine.

A text from a dear friend, who also just happens to be a dispatcher for the same county Sean works for, following the text where she informed me of all the back up emergency personnel who had been dispatched to help with yesterday's call.

The funny thing is...I don't worry. Odd, I know.

I grew up in a 3rd world country. One already at odds with the neighbor to the north when we moved there in 1978. Tensions were high. Road blocks were everywhere. I recall one journey that came within a hiccup of changing my life forever.

We were traveling as a family, together with a young local pastor and his wife. For once our Peugeot station wagon was cruising along a rare smooth stretch of dirt road. There was a road block just over the crest of the hill. Beat up Peugeots are incapable of stopping on a dime and we plowed right through it. The conscript soldier that yanked my dad out of the driver's seat was every bit as scared as we were. Except he was the one with the AK47. And his finger on the trigger. In a heartbeat, my mom and our companions started praying. My sister and I rolled onto the floorboards out of sight. After four months in language school my dad still wasn't really comfortable with Swahili. That afternoon, in the hot African sun, he was fluent.

A short time later the northern neighbor invaded and our town was caught somewhere in the middle. Bomb drills at school were common place...because crawling under a wooden desk will save your life if your cement block school room is the target of an air raid. For what seemed like an eternity we lived with blackouts, the sound of fighter jets overhead and distant explosions. Though I'm sure it was only a few months. Out on the lake there was an island that had been turned into a zoo and animal sanctuary. One night a wayward bomb landed near the chimp house and killed one of the inmates. The other ones were never the same after that.

My senior year in high school we moved to another country. Every election year wrought violence and turmoil. It was also a country known for harboring terrorist cells. The US embassy was a favorite target. Our school, however, even though it was widely known as an American boarding school was always a safe haven. There's a story about an army of Angels thwarting a Mau Mau attack. Whether one believes in that or not, I know we were protected.

In my early 20's the US was at war again. I enlisted in the US Navy at the tail end of Gulf War I. Fully aware of the peril. Fully aware that with my job designation I could be sent somewhere every day Americans didn't like to think women were sent.

My parents currently live in one of the least peaceful areas of the world. It's nothing unusual to receive an email informing us that they're just going to hunker down in the apartment for a couple of days to avoid riots and mobs...or worse, religious fanatics on the hunt for Americans.

There are countless moments in my past when it should have been Game Over...either for me or for ones close to me. But it wasn't. For whatever reason, we're all still here. While I believe that bad things can and do happen to good people, I know we're protected. I also know there's still work to be done on this side of Heaven. I also have the assurance that should anything ever happen, I will find the strength to get through it. There's a reason God made me just a little bit tougher.

So when I'm told my husband is out on a potentially hazardous-to-his-health call? No, I don't worry. But that doesn't mean I'm not concerned. The first is crippling and life consuming. The latter is Love.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Reading through the online news sources this morning....and this image popped up under "Breaking News"...

Squad cars, Hazmat crew, Fire and Rescue, evacuated people milling about...and an all too familiar truck.

Sometimes...the media really sucks. Ruined a perfectly good naive day.

Text later on:

Sorry...I was away from the phone for a bit. Love you.

Yeah, I know. Nice avoidance of the camera crew, btw. Love you too, Weirdo!

Monday, July 26, 2010

a realization...

It just dawned on me that I can get away with a Halloween cake for Miss Kyleigh's birthday. Sweet mother of pearl, that just made my day!

Three months to design a cake, make their costumes and remake Jacob's because he keeps changing his mind. A fetching wee witch and Jango, Captain, Commander, Anakin just before he burns, a Ghost Buster...

We just introduced him to X-Men...that opens up an entirely new realm of possibilities.

Yeah...we're pretty big on Halloween around these parts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sometimes...just sometimes...

Good, delicious and yummy things come to those who don't wait...

New recipe...Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies with brown butter.


I was racing the clock on a very narrow window of opportunity while all other family members were distracted. Didn't let the brown butter cool long enough...or at all...and the chocolate chunks started melting as I was mixing them in. You know...I don't recall hearing one single complaint.

Like seven inches from the midday sun...

But I appreciate the reassurance at the top...

Yeah, it'll be more comfortable September! I'm always amazed at the ones who make the statement, "I can't remember when it's been this hot!"

Um...last July? Just a wild guess.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


There's something very communial about being out on the road at 6:15 in the morning and realizing that just about everyone else on the road with me are people Out Doing Stuff. Fun stuff. Races, kayaking, biking. Fun Stuff. Me? I was on my way to help out with another youth triathlon. On another record breaking hot day.

For a couple of hours I stood out on a shaded street directing kiddos on their bikes to turn left. And placing myself in the way of cars who chose to blatantly ignore the huge "Road Closed" signs. Humans.

The kids all did fantastic...the youngest was a five-year-old girl on a push bike. There was even one little boy on with training wheels. I love that I get to hang out with these people!

Then arrived home to a shell shocked husband, kids gone wild and a trashed playroom.

He recovered enough to make us a most delicious steak dinner!

Tonight Kyleigh discovered a vest thingie Jacob and I had made out of a paper bag. She put it on and walked around in a circle with a stilted walk and a robot voice saying, "I am a robot. I am a robot. I am a robot." And then when I said she made a very cute robot?

"Thank you, Robot Mommy!"

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Growing skin...

I was recently insulted. And in such a way that I'm not entirely sure it was intentional. So I decided to ignore it at the moment and chewed over it as the day wore on.

I hold a different world view than most I come in contact with on a daily basis. I find I never really fit into one category or another--whether it's in my parenting style, my political opinions, my views on pop culture or the disintegration/degeneration (or lack of there of) of youth and country.

I tend to keep my mouth shut a lot as well. At least around those I don't feel at ease around--which is just about everyone. Those not in the tiny circle of Trusted, Cherished Friend simply see what's on the outside. A smallish, white woman with two small children. Some realize that my husband is in law enforcement--but only if they also know him. That's not information I volunteer to strangers. If they listen to me speak for any length of time they may catch an odd accent they can't quite place, but few pay attention to little details like that. If they listen any more they may hear odd words thrown in when I talk with my children.

Humans are funny. We filter everything we see and hear through our own worldview and culture. I don't really fit in anywhere. Except in that tiny circle of Friends. I'm okay with that. To thine own self be true and all that. For a while there I forgot. Fortunately I remembered just in time.

So tonight, as I chew over what was said and what was implied, I realize that this person doesn't really know me or anything about me really. What is seen and read is viewed through her own filter. I'm thankful for the delete button on emails--a response was written but not sent.

I think I can actually feel my skin thickening up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I just can't help myself...

I think the little one is settling in just fine! Mama cat still runs for cover when the munchkins are around but she's very affectionate when they aren't. She may always be that way, or she may grow to tolerate their particular earth shattering level of noise.

The house had been missing something. We're simply not whole without our animal companions. Fuzz therapy is very healing indeed.

"Who you callin' Scruffy?!"

The Buckets

Yep...hardly a day goes by that we're not in the funny papers! And by "We" I mean, of course, "Our beloved first born".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Skittering of little feet...

Our family expanded by two more this morning. A trip to the animal shelter and a young mama cat and her kitten claimed us as their new humans... seemed fitting a name for a quick mischievous little girl...

She spent the day finding hiding holes in this old house...
perches for peek-a-boo games...

Her two-year-old mommy, meanwhile,
claimed the under-the-table-chair...

Rifkin...the look on her face tells me that
this new home will do nicely...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Letting go of a grudge...

A friend's birthday was yesterday...and his kiddos suggested a trip to the zoo to celebrate. We were invited to go along.

I've always stood against zoos. Having grown up with animals in their very real natural habitat, the idea of animals in cages depresses me and I view it as inhumane. Because of that, my own children have been deprived of seeing live animals in any setting other than a farm. So when they turned their puppy dog eyes on me and please, please, pleeeeaaase was time to let go.

And it wasn't just any was the National Zoo...

with panda bears...

and prairie dogs (that actually bark--I did not know they did that)...

And tigers taking naps in the afternoon heat...

Other than the insane traffic that surrounds our nation's capital and a homicidal GPS was a really fun day! But I think we'll wait for a much cooler day in the fall before we attempt a repeat visit!
Thanks to Christie for taking the first two camera battery died about half way through!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When angels laugh...

I know where stuff is. It's a gift. Like my ability to fall asleep anywhere and sleep through just about anything. I rarely--if ever--lose my car keys. I can always find my way home...maybe not always the most efficient, or normal way...but I get there. That misplaced flip-flop? Under the laundry hamper. Wee Girl's blanket? In the laundry hamper. Lego instruction book for Anakin's Starfighter? On the floor, under the magazine, beside all of the pieces.

Earlier this evening as I was in the middle of committing dinner--skillet lasagna...from boxes were harmed in the making of tonight's supper--I opened the 'fridge, reached for the tub of ricotta and it wasn't there. I pulled every single thing out of the refrigerator. No cheese. I called in another pair of eyes. He couldn't find the ricotta either. I bought it on Saturday. He put groceries away and recalls putting it on the top shelf. Monday I was moving stuff around to make room for the Cake and some things sat out for a little while and, as far as I know, everything found its way back in to the cold. We even looked through the trash. No tub of ricotta cheese. Poof...gone. Not a clue. My gift failed me.

The Wee Girl doesn't eat...a big part of why I daubed her "Wee Girl". But she eats lasagna. Sometimes. It's a crap shoot, really. I put her plate in front of her tonight with fairly low expectations. And the child ate it. Not all of it, but certainly more than she typically eats! Her brother cleaned his plate--twice! Sean labeled it "Spagania"... spaghetti made with broken up lasagna noodles.

I'm still a little concerned about a small tub of ricotta cheese lurking around somewhere undetected, but I just invented a new hit pasta dish! Oh yeah...there were angels chuckling around our house tonight.

Photo shoot...

If it wasn't for the camera in the computer I do believe we would be in danger of going through their entire childhood without any group photographs...

One day I'll go through and create an album of "Photo Booth" shots...I may not change in any of them but these kiddos certainly do!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back off! I'm doing baking...

"I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puff!"

"We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puff's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!"


Pour a ginormous, steaming mug of hot chocolate...

My entry at Threadcakes is up...and the cake is delicious!

Oh...and the Threadless t-shirt I attempted to replicate...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bake on!

If I disappear for a few days it's because of this...Threadcakes 2010! Yes...I've been talked into entering. And by talked into...I mean the conversation went like this:

Me: Wowie...look at this!

Sean: You can do that. You should do that.

M: Really? Because they just came out with a shirt that I adore and I could totally pull it off in a cake.

S: So...go for it.

M: Okay...I will!

S: So...we get cake?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A wedding...

I'm sure it reveals something rather fascinating regarding my makeup to download photographs of one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever attended (yes, I wore a dress...that's twice this year) and realize that all I did was capture the landscape...


A wedding of two fellow officers...of course there was a Piper.

Taken from inside the "building" where the ceremony took place.

More flowers and bees...

Outside of the ceremony.

A delightful gathering. A most delightful sit down dinner. A delightful setting. A wedding that so captured the personalities of the two being married, one couldn't help but rejoice in their happiness.

And, I'm also delighted to note, I can now be in the presence of that many police officers and not twitch. Maybe that reveals more about me than the photographs do...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Because I adore a good pun...

But I didn't shot the Comic Sans...

And the website is addictive...don't say I didn't warn you!

Open windows...

There's a small wooden plaque that sits on my desk. A painting of a window with the sun shining through. Painted underneath are the words, "God never closes a door without opening a window."

Last week I resigned from a job I had originally assumed I would be at for a far greater length of time. One of my final obligations was to write a short editorial on our Little-Big Adventure--the adult/child adventure race--for a local sporting magazine. The editor enjoyed the article and when he read my bio he contacted me about writing another piece on a separate topic. And just like that...a window is thrown wide open.

"If a door is shut, attempts should be made to open it; if it is ajar, it should be pushed until it is wide open. In neither case should the door be blown up at the expense of those inside." --Julius Kambarage Nyerere

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First fruits...

Enjoying my first cucumber out of the garden. Still warm from the sun. Delicious!

Monday, July 5, 2010

To the ones who had the foresight to invest in're welcome.

I was naive enough to think that we had come to the end of the back breaking, blister busting, blood, sweat and--oh--so many tears chapter in this not-so-well-thought-out endeavor to bring the dry, brown and barren land that is our yard back to something healthy, green and productive.

Earlier in the spring we had reclaimed a sizable portion of our side yard from dead grass and weeds. Hours spent out under the sun turning over sod, breaking up sod, filling in huge holes left from old stepping stones. And then with the chaos and flurry of activity during the last couple weeks of the kiddos' school, weeds started getting the upper hand again. Jacob and I went out and covered the entire expanse with black sheeting to protect all of our hard labor until I could get in with plants and mulch.

Then our little world closed in around us and we shifted into Survival Mode...saving the back forty was placed on hold.

Last week I found straggly containers of perennials on sale and decided it was time to get back to work. Weather man declared we'll be in triple digits for the rest of the week, so this morning Kyleigh and I went out to put our plants in the ground. I pulled back the sheeting and was faced with hard, dry, baked clay. I think I would have rather dealt with the weeds.

The day was spent soaking down the entire bed. Letting it rest and soaking again. Finally, this afternoon I was able to get out and break it up with the hand held ground breaker-upper tiller...thing. Soaked it again. Raked it smooth and soaked again. This evening after supper we were all outside and I managed to get the plants in the ground. My plan is to pick up a straw bale this week for mulch...before the weeds figure out I just put out a Vacancy sign.

I had a couple of little helpers eager to aid with the final soaking. I was grateful that the homemade bomb making crazies took a few hours off so my husband could come home and spend time with his family. Our children saw him as Fresh Meat. I saw him as Life Saver.

So tonight there are freshly planted Black-eyed Susans, white cone flowers, some sort of succulent and some sort of purple flower plant. The purple flower plant was actually like a's the type that grows off of itself and I was able to separate it into three plants. I also pulled out a couple packets of flower seeds I had stuck in with everything else and tossed them around with the fertilizer. No clue how old they are or if they'll even grow. But I figured I'd give them a try...part of that whole "not-so-well-thought-out" bit. I like to be consistent.

I almost cleaned us out of Band-Aids after I showered off the dirt, sweat and fertilizer. Just so you know: wet gloves are worse than no gloves at all.

Yes, I know that Band-Aids are owned by Johnson and Johnson...but that just wouldn't have had the same impact in a title, now would it?

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed it...I've been journalling our gardening/homesteading journey and I decided to put everything online just in case someone was interested. So, if you're interested--there's a link up at the top. It's simply a page that's just going to get longer and longer as we go through the year. I'll update it whenever I get a chance. Or if I feel like it. Or remember to. Don't mock. It's been a long day. Week. Year.