Thursday, June 28, 2007


"WHAT?! I get to wear my new firefighter shirt to the zoo? Everyone will LOVE my firefighter shirt and they will go to the store and buy some!"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Little Big Clothes

Laundry has always been the only chore that I don't actively dislike. And now that the boy clothes in my household outnumber the girl clothes 3 to 1, I actually find doing laundry to be more satisfying than ever.

Before I had a baby, I thought there could be nothing cuter than the tiny little infant clothes that, to my utter amazement, were even too big for my tiny little infant. What could be more precious than these diminutive clothes in soft fabrics and fresh colors, clothes to ease a wee one's transition into the world, clothes made for coziness and comfort?

The socks were small beyond belief. And the hats. How could such a little head contain an entire brain? With their prints of baby animals and their fuzzy linings, baby clothes screamed (in an inside voice), "This is a brand new person! Here is a baby!" These clothes inspired awe and wonder, particularly before the arrival of their future wearers.

Now all our family's baby clothes have been put through the wringer of being worn by two boys, one of whom had a real knack for spitting up and pooping explosively. Only a few particularly precious items remain.

Baby clothes are cute. But they are completely "other." They belong to the time when our children are still a mystery to us, unknowable except for in the most basic sense. True, some people dress their babies in miniature big people clothes, but it always seems rather futile. The poor child's head is half swallowed by a shirt collar because babies don't have necks to speak of, and pants are always riding up somewhere right beneath the armpits because babies have very poor posture.

Toddler clothes are a whole different story. They are the little big clothes. Toddlers run and climb. They like books and and playing games, and they talk and do almost all the other things they will do when they are big, grown people. As I fold baskets of T-shirts the size of washcloths and tiny Levi's and little plaid button-down shirts, I realize that (Lord willing) these are essentially the clothes that my boys will be wearing for the rest of their lives.

As the stacks of folded laundry grow beside me, I think of the memories we have already made in those clothes. I think of how grateful I am that every day, even when I'm not trying, I get to know my children better. And I think of the day when the little big clothes will just be big clothes. That's even harder to wrap my mind around than those tiny little baby socks were.

Friday, June 22, 2007


As I don't post at my other blog very often, I'll let you know here when I do. Ahem. There's a new post at my other blog.

And the Good Times Just Keep On Keepin' On

Well, OK, the good times may be losing a little steam now that our house guests have departed and Nels is cultivating the delightful new habit of feigning deafness ("Oh, I'm sorry mommy, I didn't hear you") or abject stupidity (he just stares at me blankly as though I'm speaking Farsi) when I tell him something he doesn't want to hear or ask him a question unrelated to ice cream. On the bright side, Willem is slowly reducing the spider population of our house as he "befriends" each one that crosses his path. "Uh oh," he says gravely, handing me his latest victim. "Spider."

But that's now, and this post is about then. The past week, that is. If you had only a fraction of the fun that we did around these parts, then you are fortunate souls, indeed.

My mom and sister came for a visit last Friday. My mom stayed Friday and Saturday night before driving back to Bend, and my sister stayed with us until Wednesday. Here are some highlights:

Visiting the Saturday Market with Grandma

For once the crowd didn't bother me; it made the whole excursion festive and worthy of showing to an out-of-towner. We purchased sugar snap peas from a nice lady, a surprisingly delicious walnut and pecan pie from a booth manned by several elderly gentlemen who only had two pies left, some robot prints for Nels' room from a nice mom my age whom I intend to visit every week until she becomes my friend, and dry-aged ground beef for Father's Day from the most earnest red-headed girl I have ever encountered. If she wasn't home schooled, I'll eat my hat. Once I get one. Having the giant stroller prevented me from sampling much, but we did buy some mini doughnuts (aka Nels' bribe) and tried some rabbit nuggets. Yep. Rabbit. Nuggets. Delicious.

Father's Day Father's Office Extravaganza

The goal of our Father's Day festivities was to recreate our favorite burger of all time, which hails from Father's Office in Santa Monica. Shaun had previously found the recipe online, and I figured that Father's Day was the perfect time to make the attempt. We were lucky to have my sister around, as she is the one who introduced us to the burger and has recreated it herself many times.

I really didn't help in the kitchen beyond pointing people to the tools they needed. Shaun headed up the shoestring fry operation while Hillary made the onion compote. I washed the arugula. Our attempt was valiant but not 100% successful. The meat was not fatty enough and was already packed too tightly upon purchase. We didn't have a big enough pot for frying and had to do it in tiny batches. Our olive oil turned out to be a bit too olive-y for the garlic aioli that accompanied the fries. But, really, a burger with caramelized onion and bacon compote, Maytag blue cheese, Gruyere and arugula is going to be wonderful even if it isn't perfect. We spent all day in the kitchen nibbling hot fries as they came out of the oil and finally sat down to our burgers accompanied by an assortment of various Chimay ales.
'Twas fun.

Night on the Town

My sister and I got to escape for one night and of course we made the most of it. We put on our fancy shoes and headed downtown. First we went to Bardenay on the Basque block and shared a remarkably good plate of prawns and chips. Huge, juicy, tender prawns. We washed it down with one of the best martinis I've ever had and a cream ale. (We shared those too.) Next stop was Pair where I was anticipating trying their "Ding Dong" dessert and having my new almost favorite cocktail, a French 75. The drinks were disappointing but the cake was scrumptious, despite the fact that it was missing the cream filling that was mentioned explicitly in the menu description and implied by the cake's name.

Next stop: The Flicks, Boise's independent movie theatre. In a spectacular case of good timing, the movie Paris, Je t'aime was playing, and I got to see a film comprised of love stories set in each of Paris' neighborhoods with my sister who will be spending the summer in Paris and bought me a plane ticket to visit. Under these circumstances, it would have been very difficult not to love the movie. Which we did. Each of the five minute segments has a different director. Though disparate in tone and style, the segments worked together to make a very enjoyable movie. And I had the pleasure **SPOILER!** of watching Elijah Wood fatally falling down a flight of scenic Parisian stairs. I confess that I have had it in for him ever since he botched the portrayal of one of my favorite Hobbits. But that's another rant for another day.

Giddy with the anticipation of our upcoming Gallic adventures, we weren't quite ready to head home after the movie. Instead we settled on stopping at Pengilly's, an old-timey bar whose patrons seemed all to be regulars and at least ten years older than us. This bar received a small write-up in Esquire magazine, which was as surprising to the folks who run Pengilly's as it would be to anyone who happened to wander in. As we dithered over choosing our beverages, the bartender told me to keep in mind that if I decided on a beer he couldn't pour it any stronger than it comes out of the bottle. This I found charming. Hillary and I had an interesting conversation about writing, despite the fact that we were interrupted by a boorish, mustachioed man who wanted to listen in. One lift of the eyebrow and jerk of the thumb indicating the offender was enough to bring the bartender to our rescue and rid us of the nuisance. It was certainly an atypical Monday night for me in Boise.

Basque Food at Epi's and Elsewhere

We don't often venture out to restaurants with the whole family, but we decided to give it a go, as Epi's has a reputation for being family friendly. It certainly is. What was most remarkable about this venture was that Nels, age 3 3/4, happily ate calamari, Willem, age 20 months, ate lamb, and my sister, age not really pertinent, ate tongue. I actually tried it, which was a lot more noteworthy than her ordering it. She is brave. On a day of shopping downtown, we wandered into the Basque market and had fun exploring. The orange-almond slushy we got was perfect for the 90 degree day. And we bought some soft, ricotta-like cheese that made a divine breakfast when topped by honey and walnuts.

Having an Over-Qualified Houseguest

My sister just got her MA in library science and seemed to enjoy picking out some books for the boys from the Boise Library which they in turn are greatly enjoying. She also works at a children's bookstore and brought many wonderful gifts of books for us. She and my mom were kind enough to read these books to the kids over and over during their visit. Hillary entertained the boys by playing the guitar and singing, teaching them new songs and taking requests for old favorites (IE the B-I-B-L-E.)

As if that all weren't enough, she is a great cook who also has a part-time job assisting at a professional cooking school. Not to mention she's good company. If you can swing having this sort of houseguest, I highly recommend it.

Now that the guests have departed, the house is emptier and Nels is coming off the extra-attention high, which is a very painful withdrawal indeed. Yikes. A lovely dinner with friends tonight helped to take the sting out. And a summer evening in Boise is a very fine thing indeed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Well, I Knew It Didn't Grow On Trees...

I changed Willem's diaper this evening and a penny dropped out. If I could get him to produce quarters, we might be on to something.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Field Trip

While I blather on about makeovers and what kind of week I've had, other people are thinking and blogging about real stuff.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Good Times

I had some fun this past week. I packed in what was for me about a year's worth of social activities without any children.

Last Wednesday I went to dinner with the women of the MOPS (that's Mothers of Pre-Schoolers, for those of you who don't drive minivans) group that I attend. The fun of eating in a restaurant unencumbered by kids was almost completely canceled out by my mortification over the VERY loud and excited conversation at our table. It consisted of women trying to out-do one another--oh, I'm sorry, I mean sharing with one another--by virtue of telling about their pregnancy and birth journeys in as much glorious clinical detail as possible.

It was like sitting around at the old folks' home, but instead of complaints about bad hips and osteoporosis, it was comparisons of length of bed rest, severity of gestational diabetes, and days spent in the NICU after the birth. The one good thing to come of all of it was that I was left feeling pretty blessed for having successfully given birth to two relatively healthy babies.

On Thursday night I came very close to missing out on the fun that was to be had. The boys were being so difficult that I almost felt too defeated to drag myself out of the house. But I mustered up my oomph and went downtown by myself to attend a book reading and signing by Boise resident and author Anthony Doerr. I hadn't read either of his first two books, a novel called About Grace and The Shell Collector, a collection of short stories.

What drew me to the event was what I'd heard about the new book he would be reading from: Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World. In the book he chronicles the year he spent on a writing fellowship in Rome with his wife and six-month old twins.

I had expected to be able to relate to the book, and I did. So much so that I was annoyed at not having written it myself. Anyone who has traveled overseas will find it familiar. Anyone who has had a first baby will find it familiar. Anyone who has traveled overseas with first babies will find it even MORE familiar. The difference, of course, is that the very talented and charismatic Anthony Doerr wrote it. I was so glad I went.

The event was held in a beautiful old upstairs room in downtown Boise. Had the event been held in Bend, the demographic would have been exactly the same (some people my age, no one younger, plenty older) but everyone would have been sporting fleece. To my great relief the crowd was all outfitted in "dressy casual" with nary a fleece in sight.

While I was waiting in line for my book to be signed ("To a fellow overseas parent/Love Tony") a distinguished-looking, trim and tanned white-haired elderly man joined his friends in front of me. We were all rather squished together, and he was facing me, and I tried DESPERATELY not to react as he told his friends that he'd just come back from two months in France. He and his wife spent one of those months in Paris in a rented apartment on the Ile Saint-Louis, right next to the ice cream shop. I know this ice cream shop. It was so hard not to chime in.

The gentleman must have misinterpreted the looks I was trying not to cast his way, becaue he apologized for butting in on me in the line.

"Not at all," I said. "I was interested in your conversation because I'm going to Paris soon myself."

He was delighted, asking me when I was going, and for how long. I had to tap him to indicate that it was his turn to have his book signed.

He turned toward Anthony Doerr (who was working on a fresh beer) and I thought Anthony was going to fall off his chair. "I can't BELIEVE that YOU came to my book signing!" He went on in this manner for some time. The din in the echoing room was awful, so I couldn't pick up any more of the conversation other than one emphatic remark: "If you EVER need me to write anything for you, just let me know." He patted the man on the hand as he said it.

Of course I was dying with curiosity. Who was that man?

"Can you BELIEVE it?" said Anthony, as I approached the table. "That was Jerry gobbledygook." Actually, I don't even know if the first name was Jerry. It was so LOUD.

"WHO?" I yell.

"YES!" he replies, with a look that says "Can you believe it?"

I give up.

If any of you out there have any leads, let me know.

Well, on Friday I'd have to say the fun reached its fever pitch. Our friends the Hamiltons came over and, after a dinner of Hamilton-prepared pulled pork and a Martin-provided corn, tomato and avocado salad, the men kept the kids while Amanda and I headed downtown for a glorious evening of girl time. Oh, how we needed it. Oh, how we needed it. Did I mention that we really needed it?

As if my week hadn't been outstanding enough already, Shaun's grandparents came and visited us on Saturday. They were excited to come see our new place and we were happy, as always, to have them. I definitely won the family lottery when I married into having Chick and Laurel as grandparents.

I've had a pretty memorable few days, but it won't exclusively be the outings that stick in my mind. Today Nels took reading material into the bathroom with him for the first time. A farming magazine called "The Furrow." And the image that will make me smile when I think of these days is the one of Nels and Willem in the sunny kitchen, sitting side by side on the tile floor with their legs extended, backs against the red wall, happily double-fisting Honey Maid graham crackers.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Too Much Sesame Street or Not Enough?

"Mom, 'toothbrush' starts with the letter two."

Monday, June 4, 2007

A New Project

In creating this blog I have discovered that, while I enjoy writing, I have very little to write about. The solution to this problem is, of course, to start another blog.

Inspired by the book A Girl Named Zippy, a memoir composed of anecdotes of varying lengths from the author's early years, I will be mining the past for material. This seems like a good approach for someone like myself who is creatively challenged but is too lazy to actually learn something and have a "field" to write in. Knowing that I am more likely to write if someone might possibly read it, I will be posting what I come up with on It Happened to Me at

The entries will vary in length and complexity. Some, like the inaugural tale, will read like "if I had a blog in elementary school but with an adult's vocabulary." Others will hopefully have some character development and be chapter-length. They will all function as stand-alone stories, though they may occasionally refer back to one another.

That's the plan, anyway. I am hoping that putting my intentions here in writing will make it be so. I expect to post about every two weeks. As these will be rough drafts, comments and critique regarding the writing will be welcome. They say two heads are better than one, after all, and I know for a fact that there are at least five people who read this blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Everybody's Doing It

I really thought that I was going to make it through life unacquainted with the unpleasant business of peer pressure. Nobody ever tried to make me pilfer a lip gloss from a drugstore or go to a party at which a keg was the main attraction. No one could be bothered. Once, at a friend's house, my friend's brother said he was going to smoke a joint and asked if I cared to join him. My guess is it was just to see my reaction. "No thank you," I replied, tickled by the sheer novelty of even being given the opportunity to turn down an illicit activity.

But today peer pressure crept up on me insidiously in the last place I expected it: church.

One of the things I appreciate about the church that we attend is that they continue to do things one would expect from a small church, even though many, many people attend. During the prayer, congregants are mentioned and prayed for by name. And today's service concluded with one of these touches. All of the high school seniors came up and introduced themselves and said what school they had graduated from and what their plans were for the fall.

This was nice. A little tedious, as the crowd decided to clap after each student spoke. Even the students seemed less than thrilled, waiting with eyes rolled up for the previous speaker's applause to die down before beginning to speak.

Who knows which overzealous, overcaffeinated person in the crowd started it. But, as the applause wore on, somebody saw fit to stand. The next thing you know, people are popping up all over the place. And I am filled with consternation.

I feel I have done my part up to this point by smiling and clapping. And graduating from high school and going on to college is a very good thing. But a standing ovation? A standing ovation should be reserved for something so spectacular that it sweeps you off your seat. I hate the abuse of the standing ovation. The inner turmoil I was experiencing was fantastic.

If I stood up it would ONLY be because everyone else was, not because I thought it was warranted. And I just couldn't do it, though just sitting there made me feel like I had the word "curmudgeon" emblazoned on my forehead. I'm not too thrilled about the fact that my big opportunity to take a stand (or a sit, as the case was) was over something totally benign. It's not like standing would have endorsed anything bad. But, for heaven's sake. What does this say about our expectations for young people? Hooray! You graduated from high school! Special, special, special!

And it is. I smiled and clapped because it's an exciting time for a young person. But can you imagine any other situation in which you heard someone had graduated from high school and was going on to college, and your natural reaction would be to rise to your feet and applaud? People would think you were being sarcastic.

Perhaps some day I'll be given the opportunity to show some backbone in a situation where it really matters. Perhaps some day I'll be mature enough that the thought of God deciding to refine my character in that fashion doesn't scare me.