Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Sweet Life

So, I'm eating less sugary junk food. Again. Yes, I already fell off the wagon and I started two days ago. But I'm taking a big yoga breath, and being gentle with myself. Therefore I write, "less," not "none."

In conjunction with my sweet-consciousness, I'm writing at least one post about the sweetness of my life.

Tonight, I walked out of my bedroom and into the family room to find Luke watching "This Old House" and Brandon on his hands and knees with Pete slung over his shoulder. They were wrestling.

Tonight before bedtime I held Pete in the doorway of Luke's bedroom. He switched the light off, he switched the light on. Off. And on. Over and over again with a very contented smile on his face, which was upturned towards the light, and then dark...

Luke answered the phone today and said, "No." And then eventually hung up. I asked him who it was and he said, "Somefin' about the Texas Tech police, maybe?"

We are writing lists of things we're thankful for and then storing them in our "Thankful Box" to be read Christmas morning before presents. (I encourage you to STEAL THIS IDEA. I found it in the Ensign or Friend.) Anyway, Luke is thankful for many things, but last night he was thankful for all of his "aminals...especially my puppy and Baby Bear."

I am thankful for the women who have gone before me and made sacrifices that I sincerely hope never to make. But I hope my sacrifices will still be meaningful to myself and my God.

I am thankful for my Grandma Petersen and the time we had together in May. She knew me for 40 minutes to an hour on our last visit together in this earth life. I'm thankful for the freedom, and time, and peace and quiet of her home and for the radio she put in my room and the BubbleYum she left on my pillow.

But mostly, libraries.

Progress: When I "fell off the wagon," I did not eat a whole piece of carrot cake (yes, my favorite kind, a first-place slot sometimes tied with chocolate). Brandon brought it home just for me, but I shared it with him and Luke and I even left one bite for Pete. And he never would have known if I hadn't...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I can't help myself.

In You've Got Mail, when Meg Ryan asks Greg Kinnear about his new-found love, "Isn't she a Republican?" He says, "Iiii can't help myself." (Iiii did that on purpose.)

And, speaking of Greg Kinnear, have you seen the movie Ghost Town? HAH! (I always second-guess myself when I share stuff like this, because what if you don't laugh as hard as I did? I wish I could just automatically assume that there's something wrong with your sense of humor and not mine, ya know? But in an effort to improve a healthy sense of self-acceptance, I saw Little Miss Sunshine on TV in the wee hours of the morning, also with Greg Kinnear, and I laughed until I was crying and then wheezing.) So anyway, Ricky Gervaise and Greg Kinnear are greaT! in this flick:

Okay, so anyway, Iiii can't help myself. I LOVE these Blue Diamond Lime 'n Chili almonds. If I never eat chips or crunchy cheetos again, I will survive. But these, well these are like oxygen. Expensive oxygen. I think I could even forgo cake if I had a never-ending supply of these in my fork-holding hand. I will never be the same again. And I know it's just not right. Forgo cake?! That's unnatural. Thankfully, I can have my cake and eat these too.

Just to show how fully-female my brain is:

2 songs this post brought to my recollection:

Cake, Short Skirt, Long Jacket

K's Choice, I'm Not an Addict

1 more

10,000 Fireflies -Hey, who sings this? (where he says something about being an insomniac. Do you know what time it is? Let's just say it's morning and my boys have been asleep for a loooong time.)

Hey! There's another one! (see label)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall with the Randolph-Seng's

Fall began one wintry day--no truly, it was COLD. We trekked out to Idalou and went to the apple orchard for some hot BBQ and cool german apple cake. We ate lunch, went on a hayride, picked out our pumpkins, and watched green chiles being roasted. I bought raw honey and I really think it's made a difference to my sinuses. Here are the boys sitting across from me on the trailer bed/hayride. It was fun and freezing.

It's soup-time. I've made several different soups, but I only took a picture the night we had pizza. (sigh) But it's goooooood pizza! Roasted red & yellow bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes. Mostly whole wheat crust. Lots-a-cheese.

Chilly days are great for staying inside and building forts. Here's Pete crawling through one. Look at his hair.

And Look at HIS hair! Luke's striking a tough pose with his rad mohawk.

But then it kinda fell over.

Still tough. Don't mess with us.

I look like a cross between Bono and the mafia. That's what no shower and no sleep will do to ya.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

But I did really like this one.

Seedfolks (Joanna Colter Books) Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is so short but so FULL.

View all my reviews >>

The Harshest Review I've Ever Written

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen">Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by">Julie Powell

My rating:">1 of 5 stars

If this book had actually been about 365 days and 524 recipes, I would have liked this book. If it had actually been about themes connecting the lives of Julia Child and Julie Powell, I would have loved this book.

As it was, the only parts I really wanted to read were the very few and far between snatches of Julia Child. However, the author's views on other people (shared through the lens of her cynicism, her blame, and her hypocrisy) make me distrustful of her lens focused on Julia and Paul Child.

Everything else is littered with unfunny self-absorption, self-pity (not to be confused with self-deprecating humor--there isn't any) and characters who are not interesting and certainly not noteworthy.

On the positive side, I now want to read Julia's own words, thanks to Cody and what I've heard of the movie (that just HAS to be better than this book.)

The softie in me thinks that my critique is too harsh because:
1. She lost me in the beginning when she doesn't call for help when she sees a woman wack her own head on concrete. I don't care if you're in New York, you DO SOMETHING.
2. She's so scattered. For example, sometimes she attempts french recipes without really reading them--which is fine, but don't write a book with a pragmatic title: it's false-advertising.
3. She alienated me with her very poor handling of truly important moments. The making of omelettes-not important. Your attitude toward comforting families who lost loved ones September 11th-important.
4. She aligns her own "journey" with that of Julia Child and it felt false and forced. But I could have forgiven her that had I not wanted to stop spending time with her altogether.">View all my reviews >>

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Luke didn't finish his dinner the other night. He ate everything except his salad. I didn't make him finish it because he said he was full. But then he wanted a treat. Our conversation went like this:
C: I think you're too full for a treat.
L: No, I'm not.
C: If you're too full for lettuce, you're too full for a treat.
L: But only the lettuce parts of my stomach are full.
Yesterday I asked Luke to watch Pete and KEEP HIM SAFE while I took a quick shower. I put the baby gate up and got ready for the day. When I came out, both boys were at the kitchen table, heads bent over in concentration. On the table, there was a full cup of milk, with straw, and a 2-Liter bottle of raspberry soda.
Luke stood up with a sharp knife in his hand, and said, "I'm sorry I got this knife out."
Turns out, he had also retrieved a sharp pair of scissors. He wanted to mix the milk and raspberry drink together to see what it would taste like. He wasn't strong enough to unscrew the top, so he had gathered tools to do the job.

Pete still wacks people on the head and pulls hair and bites and yells and he also screams and pounds on the door of the dressing room when I won't let him out to go walk around Target by himself (making another baby in the dressing room cry.)
As we walked through Target yesterday, Pete was yelling (not crying, just yelling) and everytime Luke would get close enough, Pete would try to pull his hair. Luke was a pretty good sport. He just copied me and kept telling Petey, "You're dangerous."
The other thing we say to Pete is, "Stop hittin' your money-maker!" Because he hits himself in the head to be funny.

Oh yeah, he also has a fake cry that we love. He cries and half-smiles and then looks out of the side of his eyes to see if I'm watching and if it's working. It's not, but it's entertaining.

This is Luke at swim lessons this summer. He didn't want to jump off the diving board. I knelt down beside him and gave him a stirring peptalk. "I believe in you!" ("@%^&! I was eloquent!" Name that movie for a date with me.)

Anyway, I was eloquent and he was unmoved.

Then I said, "I'll buy you an ice cream cone if you jump off that diving board." He didn't even hesitate or have to think it over.

Me & Luke at the Silent Wings Museum.

Huck Finn--I mean--Pete. After black beans.

I am in love.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Her favorite singer was John Denver.

Last weekend, my family gathered for the funeral of my grandma.

She was the perfect grandmother. And we didn't make it easy on her, living 2000 miles away. She sent big boxes of wrapped gifts to stack under the Christmas tree. She packed tins of homemade cookies, candy, and green and pink popcorn balls and sent those cross-country as well. She sent homemade Christmas ornaments: small felt snowmen and Christmas trees, candy canes, and stockings, with our little photographed heads sticking out of the tops. She wrote letters.

When we visited for two heavenly, easy-going weeks each summer, she left packages of grape Bubble-Yum on our pillows and we watched her knuckles as she peeled onions for spaghetti sauce. In the wee hours of the morning, she brewed coffee. I still stop in the supermarket aisle and press my finger tips into the left-behind coffee grinds so I can enjoy that smell.

She poured cups of orange juice "to wake up with" and she held us in her lap outside in the cool, shadowed morning. She planted marigolds and impatiens and ivy climbed the mailbox post at every house she ever owned. She snuck cookies into our beds and told us night-time stories of little ones with shiny new cars and their adventures. "And they rode and they rode and they rode and they rode." My cousins heard the same stories. She loved us all. We each thought we were her favorite. I still think it. And so does Patrick, I'm sure.

And about Patrick. My cousin. I haven't seen him for about 7 years. That delightful guy chauffeured me around Williamsburg this past weekend. He never complained once about the baby in the backseat wailing, or the return trip to the motel to retrieve something I already had, or the fact that carseat installment became his duty. He works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Yes, that is COOL. And Pete really liked him. One night my brother, Patrick, and I walked through Colonial Williamsburg together, and I was dumbfounded by how similar we all were.

I'm really glad that I could go. Thank you, Brandon, for sending me. All three of my brothers were there. And my cousin Emily. It meant a lot me to see her. I didn't grow up around my Petersen/Ellis cousins, so this weekend was really special for us to spend some time together.

Emily and Pete.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I miss Brandon.

He's not here to tell me to come to bed. He's not in bed putting up with the lamp shining like the noon-day sun while I read to "unwind." He's not lying on his side with his back to me so I can't wrap my arm (yep, just the one--the other's always under my pillow so that I don't resent him for being the comfortable one) as I was saying...arm around him and then, in his sleep, he's not there to take my hand like he does. every night. except tonight. Because he's not here and I miss him. Very much.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Again, with the modesty.

I just read the most beautiful post I have read in a long, long time. In Beach Baby, Melissa M. describes a sequence of beach-memories beginning with her childhood. As a seven year old, she gathers shells, encounters stranded stingrays, and walks down the beach hand-in-hand with her grandfather. As a teenager, she gets sunburnt while reading Jane Austen and mooning over a boy. Then she's a honey-mooning newlywed, a young mother, and finally a mother with growing and almost-grown children.

Exquisite. A gut-wrenchingly beautiful read for me as I fight an almost constant yen for Someplace Else and a wish that escaping to a beach was a lot closer than a days drive. And it was an interesting look at life's progression and time marching on. (Just this morning I was musing that in one week, Brandon and I will have been married for seven years and how that's equivalent to high school and college. But these seven years have passed by a lot more quickly than high school or college did alone.)


One of the commenters asked about her honeymoon bikini: Why did she think she should wear one? Just because she was now married, she didn't need to be modest anymore?


Good feelings gone. (Dori, Finding Nemo)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Winning the Germ Jackpot, Winning a Coveted Parenting Award, and An Update on Our Lives

I. Do not read if you are nauseous or have a strong gag reflex.

My little Pete (15 months) loves splashing in the toilet. And he was really having a moment last night. It does not matter that there were poopy streaks left behind by his older brother; he still splash-splash-splashed the water all over the floor, all over himself and when I caught him, he was SUCKING ON HIS FINGERS!

It always completes the experience for him when I catch him and wail, "Noooo! Peeetey, that's disgusting!" He laughs his little head off.

So I pick him up to wash his hands. I'm balancing a wet, wriggling, laughing 15 month old on my knee in front of the sink. I take the soap bottle and the pump top comes out of the bottle and the bottle (full) flies out of my hand and falls to the floor. I yell for my husband who makes his way upstairs as the thick liquid soap starts oozing out onto the floor. Glug, glug.

I'm pretty sure Luke stepped in it. And even though Brandon tried to clean it up, he didn't think about the residue that we've both sinced slipped on. I hope the baby doesn't die of a staff infection or some other feces-related illness. I really am trying to keep bathroom doors closed and my home more clean.

II. And if you are not sure that I'm a qualifying contender for the bad mom awards this summer, let me tell you this. Yesterday we took the kids swimming. Family hours were from noon 'til 3:30. We lathered on sunscreen. But completely forgot to reapply. Luke, thankfully, was in a life jacket. But all the rest of us: Brandon, myself, and the baby have bright lobster-red shoulders. I find myself hoping we'll get a job in the cloudy and wet Northwest.

III. And speaking of the job seach. We are not currently in the job search! It's official. We're staying here for one more year. Brandon will be a Visiting Professor at the Rawls School of Business here at Tech this coming school year. It's a wonderful opportunity for him, especially because he has been and will continue to be working with top researchers in the Entreprenuership and Leadership disciplines in Management. We're grateful for their interest in him and excited because Brandon is really enjoying his new studies. It's also a wonderful opportunity for him because he doesn't have a Business degree. So, he's getting his foot in the business door without needing a second PhD.

AND on the subject of PhDs...he's finally getting his!!!!! Brandon will graduate August 8th. Hallelujah. He's worked so hard and this next year will probably be the toughest yet, but this is still a huge milestone and a big accomplishment! Yea for Brando!!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Virginia Beach

If you look carefully, you'll see he's covered in a layer of sand from head to toe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Where the High Seas Will Take You

Yesterday Luke said, "I'm Spy-Boy. Pete's Spy-Baby. And you're Spy-Mom."

Today, he had a rolled up piece of paper in each pocket (treasure maps) and a cardboard telescope. "We're the pirate family. Pete's Baby Pirate, I'm Pirate Brudder, you're Pirate Mommy. And my Daddy's Pirate Dad. He's-he's-we're on a pirate ship and he's on another pirate ship workin'."

The conversation continued: "We're sailin' to..." long pause.
I start to fill in destinations: Bermuda? The Carolinas? The South Pacific?

"No, no, we're sailin' to Ok-ah-homah."


Keep scrolling down for pictures. I'll post more of our Virginia trip later.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg

In the vegetable garden.

I was inspired by this garden. I was really jonesin' for a backyard and a garden of my own. If you had a garden, what would you plant? Me: strawberries and peas, squash and beans for starters. A period-costumed gardener assigned L a watering job.

The big barrel in the background collects rain water, and mosquitos perhaps. That's Bruton Parish Church/churchyard in the background. Different varieties of peas are growing up the trellis. I did not know there were so many different varieties of peas. Also, the gentleman let us try Alpine Strawberries, but the other three varieties were not ripe enough.And I loved the miniature greenhouse (above)--white planter boxes with window coverings to let the sunlight and warmth in when it's still too chilly outside. Brilliant. Also, the Governor's Palace Gardens had large glass bells covering some of their plants for the same reason. (not pictured, also brilliant.) And I just missed huge flowering pink peonies (pee-uh-knees, please.) I love them. Meanwhile, P. was rummaging for snacks. Jackpot, an apple. On the ground, the white stuff is crushed oyster shells. The colonists lined their garden paths with oyster shells to reflect the moonlight, so they could see where they were going in the dark.
In the graveyard of Bruton Parish Church I found this tombstone. Savage is a family name on Brandon's side. Do you have places that are sacred to you? This graveyard is sacred to me. I feel the generations before me, these Virginians. I feel a similar feeling about all of Jamestown Island and much of Yorktown.
Bruton Parish Church. This pic makes me feel like I'm in the Old World. In the United Kingdom somewhere with Christianity not completely established. The first little while we were there, it was strangely chilly and one night we stopped the car on a bridge and just sat and listened. It was sweater weather and so drenchingly green and misty. It was magical. I wish I could have captured that moment to relive it. I think God must have some kind of recording system for times like that. When I was 10, we hid our eggs in this spot. The boys are sitting in a grassy area across Duke of Gloucester Street from the Palace Green and the Governor's Palace in the distance. L (4 1/2) is sharing his apple with P (1).
Share apple, get bitten.
A different day in Colonial Williamsburg. My dad treated us with tickets so we could go inside the buildings and watch tradespeople work. Anyway, here's a peony!L. and my dad.
L. really wanted to see the inside of the old jail. But we didn't have tickets the first day we went, so we couldn't go inside. We were about to go home, and I told him we had time to see one more thing and asked him which way we should go. He chose the jail. I said that we could walk down there, but they probably wouldn't let us in because we didn't have tickets. L. said carefully, "But if we done sumpin' bad, they'll let us in for free?" Anyway, we did eventually get to see it and it was creepy. This photo is not near the jail. It is next to the Courthouse. L's in the stocks.

These flowers were in the trees lining the Green. I do not know what kind of tree they are. I even tried looking it up. Do you know?

Behind the Governor's Place there is a formal garden. The Governor was the King's representative in the Colony. This is the Royal Coat of Arms above the door to the ballroom. It got a new coat of paint in honor of Queen Elizabeth's visit in 2007. She comes every 50 years to celebrate the 1607 Anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.
Feeding chocolate chip cookie bars to the fish in the pond. This college-aged couple sweetly shared their "fish food" with L. The kitchen garden. See the glass bells I mentioned earlier?The maze. This picture is taken from the top of the icehouse mound. I include this picture because I like it of Pete.

Brandon's missing from all these pictures because we often dropped him off at the library so he could work while we played.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Car Travel

We went to Virginia on a trip for a few weeks. We drove. And Drove.

A 3-day drive there. I highly recommend DVD players. But eventually, even that gets old.

Poor little Pete. He tried multiple times to bust out of his car seat.

Ah, Coca-Cola Moment.

Check out this guy's cargo! A big semi-truck with a flatbed trailer carrying nothing but this little tonka dump truck. Seeing this was like a little gift to our family of mostly boys. Trucks are popular around our house. Trucks and Coke. Yep, that just about covers it.