Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mother's Days

I got a full week of Mother's Days, thanks to programs at the boys' schools.

Willem's preschool had a tea. Nothing went majorly wrong, but the event had an uncomfortable, "off" feel to it. It probably wasn't necessary for one of the teachers to announce that a staff member who had needed to study for an exam had stayed up until 1 am making the cupcakes. That just made me feel even worse when none of the other moms at the table ate their cupcakes. Come on, ladies. You can't all be gluten intolerant.

Next, one of the school administrators came up and prayed for us in the kind of tremulous speaking voice that (fairly or not) makes me question the person's emotional/mental/spiritual stability.

Then: "I have a gift for all of you, and I'm so excited. I'm not sure how it's going to go, but I've been practicing a lot," she quavered. And with that confidence-inspiring introduction, she cued the music and launched into the William Tell Overture "Mom Song." Awkward.

There was no where to go but up from there, right? Video interviews with each child were next -- that could only be awesome.

"Why is your mom special?"

"My mom is special because she's beautiful." Aww went the room.

There were more in that vein. The girls usually said sweet, thoughtful things. The boys, like Willem, said more self-centered but still positive things like "She loves me."

But two of the boys said nothing in their interviews. Nothing at all.

"What's special about your mom?"


"What do you love about your mom?"

(Squirming in the chair, looking away from the camera.)

A few more futile tries, and it was a wrap.

Shaun didn't think this sounded like a big deal when I relayed the story to him, and, in the big scheme of things it probably wasn't. As a mom, though, I found it heartbreaking. Later I learned that the school had been running late on the project and had done the taping that very morning, so they probably didn't have time to try again. But I say better to ditch the whole idea than make a mom sit in a room full of other women and watch her child come up empty on those questions.

So that was Willem's thing. Nels's "Moms, Muffins, and Manicures" morning was, despite the name, less weird. The biggest challenge was fitting five full-grown moms and all of the celebratory accouterments at each cluster of five first-grade sized desks and chairs. The kids sang for us before we dined on giant muffins and fruit punch. I thought "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" was an odd song choice, but Nels performed, as always, with gusto. We were given handmade cards, tissue-paper flower pictures, and wrist corsages fashioned of tulle, artificial flowers, and pipe cleaners. It was charming.

And, yes, most of us acquiesced to having our fingernails painted by our children. A mom next to me hemmed and hawed for a while before picking a barely visible color for her nails. "I have to go back to work after this," she told her son. I knew Nels would be into it, but I was surprised to find that the boys were just as eager to paint nails as the girls were. Perhaps more so, because of the novelty.

On Mother's Day For Real, I was getting over being sick, so we didn't really make plans ahead of time. Shaun orchestrated the making of cards and got me some treats and the book Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor, which I hadn't asked for but really wanted. So nice.

After church we agonized for quite a while about where we might go to eat that was worth going to but wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg. We settled on Montage, which was a good call. Our friend Amanda takes her students there every time they come to town, but we hadn't been yet. Foolish us. I think I was put off by their "playful" cocktail menu when I checked them out online. (A brunch cocktail with Tangerine Emergen-C in it? Aack!) But the service was good, the place had a ton of personality, and it was totally affordable.

The most expensive item on the brunch menu was a flatiron steak and eggs at $9. The boys' breakfasts were a little crazy with paprika, but I loved my BLT, and Shaun's biscuit sandwich was rich but plate-licking good. We'll be back. Hopefully before my next week of Mother's Days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Birthday

Shaun took a half a day off on his birthday so he could stay home with Willem while I went to a Mother's Day event at Nels's school. We finished up early, so Shaun ended up taking both boys out to lunch at the Puffin Cafe. It's a fun place, but they have the slowest service in the world. Every time we go we vow never to return, and then, somehow, Willem talks us into it.

These pictures are going to give you the wrong idea about our spring weather this year. It's been gloomy, but this day was glorious.

No, he's never seen a Jim Carrey movie.

Back at the ranch, Shaun's folks joined us for a birthday dinner. There was eating of chips and hanging out on the deck.

Willem scored a pirate ring at the restaurant. He wore it for the rest of the week.

Chatting with Grandpa.

We're overdue for a cat picture on this blog. She's 11 years old and as pretty as ever.


Shaun's mom brought beans and homemade rolls. I made Sweet and Smoky Oven Spareribs and Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad.

For dessert we had ice cream sundaes. I tried this hot fudge recipe, which was a hit. It's really easy to make, which is an important quality in a recipe for me. When I cook for company, I am very scatterbrained and easily distracted, so the simpler it is, the less likely I am to mess it up. Some of the reviewers thought it was too sweet, so I used 70% Lindt chocolate. I thought it turned out just right.

May 4 wasn't just Shaun's birthday--it was also my brother-in-law Cliff's birthday! Same day, same year. My sister and I are three years apart, and our husbands were born right smack dab in the middle. (She's younger than hers, I'm older than mine.) They are both excellent men. May 4 is a happy day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Day

The first half of May is always a little crazy for us. The fact that Shaun's birthday, our anniversary, and Mother's Day come in quick succession all but ensures that at least one of these celebrations will be less than all-out.

We started May 1 by "teaching" the 2-3 year-olds at church. Neither Shaun nor I feel at all gifted in this area, but we do it once every 6 weeks or so to give the regular folks a break. On this particular Sunday the service went late, and the kids started running laps around the carpet. I persuaded them to listen to (the first two pages of) a book instead. I thought my boys were champions of invading personal space, but, as you can see below, darling Solveig has found a way to top them.

Shaun suggested we take advantage of the nice day and head for the coast. Fish and chips, ahoy!

Oops. Coulda used some sunglasses.

We decided to check out the beach at Cape Disappointment, where Shaun had camped with friends a few weeks ago. I had never been. It's beautiful.

Up by the tree line, the sand is black and glittery and silky. I basically spent the entire time seeking out warm patches of undisturbed sand to stick my feet in. (It was really windy, so I was in hunker-down mode.)

Where's Waldo? I looked at this picture at least three times before I noticed Willem was in it.

Nels got a good laugh from us when he accidentally gave himself a goatee. So of course...

he had to go bigger. He didn't think it through very well.

Still, it was worth it.

Mind over matter in action. Keep busy and you won't even notice the cold.

I'm looking forward to camping here some day. Some day warmer. How can you beat this?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Expressive Much?

I'm glad I'm not the only one in the family whose face is an open book.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Easter at Grandma and Grandpa's

Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o'er the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
who died, and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

April III

On the Thursday before Easter we went to a Seder at our church. It was facilitated by a local messianic Jewish congregation. They did some dancing as well. Willem watched them intently and then pointed his finger at one dancer with straight, shining hair and a particularly attractive smile.

"I like that one," he declared.

Lighting the candles.

The day before Easter, we participated in our church's egg hunt for the first time. We got there just before it started, and it was crazy to see the people streaming out of the surrounding neighborhoods as we drove up. There were 2000 eggs "hidden." Mostly just strewn on the lawn.

Willem got to cruise his way to double-digit eggs. Nels was the youngest in a category with far fewer eggs to find and tougher competition. He was disgruntled to end up with only four eggs. Willem shared. But we all know it's just not the same.

Afterwards we tried a fancy local pizza place for the first time. Nels is wearing a necklace with feet that he earned at school by running at recess. He added two pendants made of Lego for some additional bling.

I cannot resist a pizza with a big pile of arugula on top. (Spell check is telling me that arugula is not a word and suggests that I try jugular instead.)

We enjoyed our one day of outright sunshine. This is the time of year Shaun starts daydreaming about moving to Arizona.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Blogger is having some "issues." They took down all of yesterday's new posts (I had two) and are currently working on putting them back up.

In the meantime, have you heard of "logical punctuation"? (It's the British style.) I hadn't until I read this. I'm a fan.

UPDATE: Hooray! They're back!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

April II

The Macks (Shaun's sister and her family) came out to stay with Shaun's folks the week before Easter. Unfortunately we only got to spend one day with them, but we made the most of it!

I can't believe that Heidi is about to turn two. The boys just love her.

Rock star with a turkey baster.


Shaun and nephew Henry.

No, the boys were not allowed to shoot.

Not the little boys, anyway.

Willem playing in the sink with great-grandma Laurel. We all love spending time with her.

Blurry, but cute.

Alas, our spring bonanza of Mack visits has come to an end. They were taking advantage of some great plane fares and the fact that Heidi could still ride on a lap. We surely enjoyed it while it lasted.