Saturday, January 31, 2015

Katrina's room

That's not actually a before and after picture. It's more of a halfway finished and after picture. I always forget the before pictures! 

Today Katrina used her "Mom will clean your room for you" coupon. Her room was literally covered in a layer of mess about a foot deep - clothes, books, toys, random stuff that just migrates to her floor, apparently. Part of the problem, to be fair, is that we don't have any good place in our house to keep toys and random kid stuff, so everything has to be in their rooms, and part of the problem is that her room is pretty small. BUT. Oh. My. Gosh. The girl seriously needs to learn to put stuff away after she uses it!!! 

I'd be a lot more annoyed (and i'm pretty annoyed, to be honest) with her room being SUCH a mess if i didn't know room was not quite as messy when i was a kid, but it wasn't a lot less messy, either.

So i started cleaning her room as soon as i woke up, and i took breaks only to eat meals and to go work out with Beth, and i only just finished cleaning at 10:00. By the time i was mostly finished, Katrina was in full-on helpful mode, asking what she could do to help me and cheerfully doing whatever i asked. She is SO happy and thankful, and it does provide a sense of satisfaction at a job well-done. 

But i am so tired.

At least Katrina's classroom is never boring

I cover lunch in Katrina's classroom every other week (the opposite weeks being in Zane's classroom), and it's always, always completely chaotic and loud with this particular class. "This class" being Katrina's grade, whatever grade that is. The kids that are the same age as her? They are...a loud mix. The kids individually are great, but as a group, they're just hard to handle. 

So the kids were getting their lunches, either lined up for school lunch or gathering stuff from backpacks or whatever, and i was trying to keep kids from throwing food at each other, when suddenly one of the girls yelled, "OH MY GOSH!" I spun around in time to see copious amounts of black smoke billowing out of the microwave. She yanked the microwave open, at which point smoke poured out even faster, along with a toxic smell. David, the kid whose "food" was in the microwave, came running over crying, "No, it's supposed to do that!" We all looked at him, and i said definitively, "It is NOT supposed to do that." He looked at the burning mess and the melted styrofoam bowl that was supposed to be macaroni and cheese, slapped his head, and said, "OH! I forgot to add the water!" 

I sent everyone to the hall until the smoke was less thick and opened all the windows. The kids ate lunch in their winter coats. After school, Zane (whose classroom is the farthest one from Katrina's in the same hall) told me all about how it smelled so bad that they all had to eat while plugging their noses. 

Today is the last Friday before Groundhog's day, and Juanito and i have been eagerly waiting for our kids to be old enough to appreciate that movie. We decided that this was the year, and so! Tonight Beth came over and we made our pizzas and watched Groundhog Day! The kids laughed in all the right places and covered their eyes when there was kissing and declared it an awesome movie. Yay!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snow day!

The phone rang bright and early this morning, with tidings of "School has been cancelled for today. Thank you!" It was really more of an ice day, since we didn't actually get any snow (a fact noticed and commented on by each of the kids in turn - "But...there's no snow...?"). Katrina walked into my room at exactly 7:00, as my alarm was going off, because she'd had a bad dream. She crawled into bed with me and went back to sleep until Zane woke up at 8:30 and came to get me to go downstairs with him. Sleeping in is lovely.

Houston woke up at about 10:00, came downstairs, and announced, "I feel so much better today!" He looked much better too! And sounded better, and generally acted more like himself again. Hallelujah!

Zane and i took Emma for a walk, which was incredibly treacherous, given the combination of the icy streets/sidewalks and Emma's propensity to drag me one direction and the other in an ecstasy of sniffing. At least it wasn't horribly cold, though! Zane really wanted to try making ice bubbles, but it wasn't cold enough to actually freeze the bubbles fast enough. I...can't say that i'm terribly sad about it not being that cold, honestly. 

Emma has been SO HYPER lately, so this afternoon the kids and i all went to the dog park - partly to get Emma some sunshine and exercise and fun, and partly to get the kids some sunshine and exercise and fun. (Emma was a lot more eager to go. Houston and Katrina would rather have stayed home in their pajamas all day long.) We got to the dog park, though, and ... the gates were chained closed. There was another lady standing in front of the gates with her dog, looking forlorn. Eventually we found a little line on one of the signs that said that the dog park is closed when the public schools are closed. Dang it. Luckily, there's a huge field just across the parking lot, next to a mostly fenced-in baseball field (with lots of signs declaring "NO DOGS!"). We headed to the field to let Emma run around. She immediately ran into the baseball field. I called her back. She came, said hello, and ran straight back to the baseball field. 

On the way home, Zane was all, " basically broke the rules. Because there were signs saying that dogs weren't allowed in there...." Yes, we did. I'm only a little bit sorry.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wine and Canvas

Tonight Keren and i went to Wine and Canvas. (You pay to go, and they provide all of the stuff you need to paint a picture, including the idea and the how-to-paint-it instructions. It was actually interesting to look around at all the different people's paintings when we were finished, because there were a lot of different styles of the exact same picture.) It was the first time going for both of us, and i was pretty convinced that my picture would be horrible (i can't paint!), but it was actually really fun, and my painting turned out way better than i expected. Plus, i like Keren, so it was fun to get to hang out with her. Yay!

So, the question everyone's been asking me today: "Is anyone else sick?!" Nope. Nobody so far. Houston is still sick, poor little puppy. After he threw up AGAIN this morning, i called our pediatrician and asked if i should be concerned. The nurse asked a few questions and said, "Yep. It sounds like the intestinal virus that's been going around." Treatment: Barely keep anything in your stomach and just wait it out, from the sound of it.

As i was saying goodnight to him tonight, Houston said, "I threw up again tonight." (Pause.) "Can i still go to school tomorrow, though? I REALLY want to go. Please???" I'd almost think that this was all a clever ruse to stay home (No, really! I WANT to go. So sad that i keep throwing up....) except for the fact that Houston has eaten approximately nothing in the past three days. I can't see him doing that if he wasn't really sick.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Houston is still sick.

Houston continues to be sick and throwing up, randomly and completely without any fever at all. I have no idea what's going on with him. I've even tried googling it, and everything they suggested came with a fever, which he doesn't have. I'm flummoxed. But, since he threw up twice tonight, i guess he gets to miss a third day of school. Yay.

While Houston was lying on the couch, he randomly picked up my camera and took the worst picture of me in the world. Seriously, i could tell it was going to be horrible the second i heard the click. He looked at the picture and said, "Pretty!" and set it down. Sometimes i really wish i could see myself through my children's eyes. 

Monday, January 26, 2015


Zane's class had a field trip to IMAX today. It's my favorite field trip to go on. Minimal supervision + getting to watch a cool movie = awesomeness! This year's movie was about scientists going to Galapagos to follow up on Darwin's evolutionary theory. The coolest part was when they went searching for new species in the deep ocean. Zane turned to me as soon as the movie was over and said, "THAT'S the kind of scientist i want to be!"

(On a side note: I swear that every time i go on a field trip with Zane, no matter the year, i end up with the most difficult kid in the class. Today, one of the boys in our group was bratty enough that i actually told on him to the teacher. He made mean comments to every other person in our group, and i told him that he needed to quit, at which point he was all, "Make me!" Brat! It makes me seriously hope that my kids never act like that with other adults.)

So. Houston started throwing up early this morning. At first, i thought, "Oh, it's probably just exhaustion combined with Houston's sensitive stomach. Hopefully." Except then he threw up two more times, and now i'm just dreading it spreading through our family. I've been walking around with Lysol wipes, wiping off all of the surfaces i can find, and i've been encouraging the kids to wash their hands repeatedly, and ... i'm afraid it's still hopeless. Sigh.

This afternoon, he told me, with his pathetic little self, "I think i probably got it at winter camp." Yep. I really should have seen it coming.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The day AFTER winter camp.

Houston and Katrina came home from winter camp this afternoon. I asked if it was fun, and they both said, "Yes! It was EXHAUSTING!" Houston fell asleep at my parents' house, right in the middle of a huge group of people. So yes. They were wiped out.

Katrina's favorite part, according to her, was when dodgeball was scheduled, but a whole bunch of the girls didn't want to play that, so instead they went to their cabin and had an impromptu dance party, complete with flashlights as spotlights. Her second favorite thing was climbing the rock wall.

Houston's favorite part was "free time." What did he do during free time? "Um...worked on my skits. And ... other stuff?" So. He had fun, but he's not entirely sure what he did. Except that he stayed up until about 2:00 in the morning both nights. Apparently the kids in the room above them were really loud and stompy after they were supposed to go to sleep, so Houston's roommates got back at them by spraying Axe body spray all over their room when they were gone. So.

Houston went to bed at 6:00, after i kept stopping him from falling asleep on the couch. Katrina made it to 7:00. I expect both of them to be horrible tomorrow morning.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Keren's 40th birthday!

Keren's birthday is actually at the end of December, but what with Christmas and New Year's, she decided to go ahead and wait until mid-January to have her 40th birthday party. Star Wars themed, of course.

Beth and i were Ewoks. Zane was Luke Skywalker. Juanito was Darth Vader - the bobblehead version. Stephanie was Yoda. Keren was Princess Leia, of course. There were lots of other people, but we were the cutest. :)

I love that my friends are fun. Beth's 40th birthday party was Harry Potter themed, with costumes encouraged. This was Keren's, with costumes encouraged. Most people did wear costumes, and everyone seemed to think it was really fun. "We" played Star Wars trivial pursuit. (Which basically means that we divided into teams, and then Keren and Alex played while we cheered for our person. Seriously, i think i knew the answer to maybe two of the questions.)

Afterwards, i asked Zane if he had fun. He said, "Yes! It was really unhealthy!" There were plenty of sweet things to eat, and Zane took full advantage.

Winter Camp!

Houston and Katrina left for Winter Camp today. They're with Fifty6 and The Element - the church's youth groups for their ages - at Timberwolf Lake, a YoungLife camp about two hours north of us. They'll be there for two nights. 

Katrina was really, really nervous. Ever since the first time winter camp was mentioned, she expressed concern about being away for two nights in an unknown place with mostly people she doesn't really know. Last night, she couldn't fall asleep, because she was nervous, and today she told me at least 10 times that she was scared. I'm really glad that her friends are with her and that they don't seem the least bit nervous, because i'm pretty sure that as soon as the bus drove away, she probably forgot to be nervous. I'm hoping.

I really, really hope both kids have SUCH a fun time. Houston hated Fifty6 back when he was in fifth grade, because he just didn't connect at all with his leaders or any of the kids in his group. We let him drop out of it until this year, when we forced him to go back, and he seems to like it a lot more now. I think that as seventh graders, the other kids must have more in common with him than they did two years ago. Also, maybe his leaders aren't as interested in sports? Or maybe it's just that Katrina, Ella, and Lorelei are all there to entertain him. Whatever it is, i'm happy that he's happy to be involved.

This morning, Zane called from school with the plea, "Can you come get me? I just threw up in my mouth twice." I went and got him. He was completely not sick. (Houston used to do this exact same thing in 3rd grade. In fact, i reminded him of it when they got home and he was all, "Oh yeah!" "And you were never actually sick, right?" i asked. "Nope.") So he was home all day, bored and wanting to chat or play or watch a movie or anything, but i was mean and forced him to stay in bed and be bored. "You're sick, remember?! REST." 

And tonight, my sister Jill invited all of the girls in the family to her house for a girls' night. We watched "Frozen" and then sat around and talked and looked at Jill's picture books and generally had a fun time with each other. It's wonderful to really enjoy my family. I love them!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Career Showcase

Today was the 7th grade "Career Showcase." All of the 7th graders had to choose a career they'd be interested in pursuing, do loads of research, interviews, and more research, write a paper, make a brochure, make a tri-fold thingy, write a speech and memorize it, and then present it all upon demand at today's event.

Walking up and down the aisles was completely entertaining. Most of the career choices were obviously middle schoolers. There were several kids who chose "video game creator" or some variation of the same idea. There were a few fashion designers, several veterinarians, and several writers. But then there was also a plastic surgeon, a zoologist, and a clergyman. What made me giggle was the optimism in what they all reported for salaries. According to the kid who wants to be clergy, they make around $50,000 a year to start. I didn't have the heart to tell him that...that's probably not accurate.

Houston did great. His was not the best or flashiest of boards, but it was certainly better than many. He was really cute and happy to present. He's not a fan of speaking in front of large groups, but i think that this kind of situation, when he has to present to a few people at a time, works really well for him. 

My parents came to see him and cheer him on as well, and then they came over for dinner afterwards. I love my parents. I also love that my kids get to have grandparents who live close enough to come to events like this. Growing up, my closest grandparents lived 3 hours away, so they obviously couldn't come to all our school events. Living in the same city is way better.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I went to my mom's house for most of the day, and brought Emma with me. We were there for about five hours, and of the five hours we were there, Emma spent about four and a half of them torturing my parents' dog, Lily, trying to make her play. She was all, "Play with me! Play with me! Play with me! Play with me! PLEASE????!" Poor Lily played for about half an hour and then was like, "Dude!!! Leave me alone!" Lily barked and snarled and snapped, and Emma did not pick up on one single social cue. Kind of a clueless dog we have.

It was like having a conversation with a very active toddler in the room. 

Even so, it was awesome to hang out with my mom and talk and talk. Yay!

And then i got to go to the doctor for my yearly checkup. I really like my doctor. I hadn't gotten the paperwork in time to get to the lab before my appointment, and she was all, "You know, your bloodwork was perfect last year, and you don't really need to get bloodwork every year unless something has changed or you feel different or whatever. can skip that." YES! 

I went upstairs after the kids should have been asleep, and Katrina was still reading. She was all distraught: "I'm so tired, but my book is so good that i can't stop reading it!!!" I assured her that i know exactly how that feels. And then i took her book downstairs. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Unbearably sad

Late last night, Houston came downstairs and told me, "I was just lying in bed, and all of a sudden my side right here started to hurt and i felt unbearably sad." I snuggled him and googled "pain in lower left abdomen" and gave him an ibuprofen and sent him to bed. This morning, the sharp pain was gone, but he was exhausted from not sleeping and still didn't feel great, and begged to stay home, crying, "Nobody will like me because i'm so sad! And if i have any tests, i'll fail them because i'm so tired!" I let him stay home. I'm a pushover for "unbearably sad," apparently. (That and sharp pains in the abdomen....)

Tonight, Beth and i went to see "The Theory of Everything," cried all the way through, and then just sat there staring hopelessly at the screen when the movie ended. It was so, so, so depressing! (Unbearably sad, even!) I mean, it's about Stephen Hawking, so i did expect it to be a comedy, but it was so much more depressing than i'd expected. We both agreed that we were too devastated by the movie to just go straight home, so we went to the Olive Garden and talked about happier things for a couple of hours instead.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Today was Martin Luther King's birthday, and for the past 4 or 5 years, it's been our tradition to go tubing at Pando with our friends Linda and Andrew and their kids. 

Some years, it's been SO COLD that we're there for an hour or so, and none of us can feel our toes. One year, it was warm and slushy enough that when we got there, we almost immediately turned around and left because people told us that it wasn't even worth trying. But THIS year! It was perfect tubing weather. The past couple of days were a touch warmer, which made the snow start to melt, but then today was 30 degrees, so it was all frozen over and icy but not cold enough to make us freeze. As we were leaving, Houston even complained, "I wish i were a little bit colder! I'm so hot!" 

The kids are also kind of the perfect age right now. All of them are old enough that we can say, "Okay! Have fun!" and then if we're all up at the top of the hill at the same time, they're eager to ride down in a group, but we don't have to keep careful track of where each one is at all times. The only time i had to say anything parental was to Zane. 

See, we were going up the hill - Juanito, Zane, and i. They have these wires that you hook your tube to, and they drag you up the hill. Somehow, Zane's tube ended up on top of the wire, which he thought was concerning, so he tried to dislodge it, but in the process he knocked his tube hook from the wire as well. Halfway up the hill. He panicked for maybe 5 seconds, and then ran to re-hook his tube on. Except then his tube started going up the hill without him, so he had to run to catch up to it and jump onto it. It was hilarious, and Juanito and i praised him for sorting it out himself. 

Except that running up the hill after his sled had apparently been really fun, because the next time i saw him on the lift, he jumped off of his tube 2-3 times and ran to leap back on. Not as much okay when it's on purpose.

Other than that, though, it was two and a half hours of fun. I only went down solo twice, and one of those times was when i was racing Linda. I went down in pairs with Katrina and Zane and Juanito, in groups with all of the adults and all of the kids and multiple variations thereof. Houston found one of his best friends there, so he went down with her a few times. We all left happy. (And starving.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day of lots and lots of rest

My day was kind of spent trying not to fall asleep. I woke up late, and we rushed to church. We came back, and i almost fell asleep on the floor. I read Harry Potter to Katrina in my room and then nearly fell asleep when the chapter was finished. I watched Star Wars with Zane (who kept asking questions like, "Who is Yoda again?" and "Who is Han Solo?") and totally slept through almost the entire thing, waking up for a line or two and then falling back asleep. It was ridiculous.

I DID manage to go to the dog park with Katrina and Emma - mostly for Emma's sake, not Katrina's. Katrina just came along to provide me with some company, sweet girl. And i managed to read a section of "Julie of the Wolves" to all the kids and two chapters of Harry Potter to Katrina. Not a lot of accomplishment for an entire day, but i'm going to claim "Day of rest" as my defense.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


My favorite thing(s) i did in 2014 was/were:
Houston: Colorado, starting my YouTube channel, and Kentucky
Katrina: Go to Colorado and North Carolina, hang around the house and be happy
Zane: North Carolina, Colorado, camping, ice cream for dinner, and eat food.

What's your favorite thing to do?
Houston: Act with Katrina and Zane, play with Katrina and Zane, play on the computer, go places with my family and do stuff with my family.
Katrina: Draw and read.
Zane: Play outside, read

What's Mom's favorite thing to do?
Houston: Read.
Katrina: Read.
Zane: Read.

What's Dad's favorite thing to do?
Houston: Work in the garage.
Katrina: Go on his computer.
Zane: Zumba

What do you love most about your siblings?
Houston: That they're very fun to play with and really easy to act with.
Katrina: They play with me.
Zane: They're both really cheerful and fun, and they like playing with me.

What would you do if you were president?
Houston: Tell the government to stop being so mean to each other and actually do something for once.
Katrina: I would remake the flag and make it pink, purple, and blue.
Zane: I would make a law that Mitt Romney could never become the president.

If you could change your name, what would it be?
Houston: Houstonion
Katrina: Katerina. (Because it's almost exactly the same as Katrina.)
Zane: Bill. (Because i love the name Bill.)

What are you afraid of?
Houston: Everyone else in my family dying except for me. And also me dying but still have to follow my family everywhere and see what i wasn't able to do and see who i wasn't able to meet and not be able to talk to you guys at all. (Kind of like the Pensieve in Harry Potter.)
Katrina: Dementors.
Zane: Shadows in a dark room.

What 5 words best describe you?
Houston: Friendly, sometimes kind of awkward, artistic, an actor, good-with-computers.
Katrina: Artistic, cute, amazing, animal-lover, friendly
Zane: Cheerful, happy, fun, hilarious, candy-gobbler

Katrina is awesome, and so is George Clooney. Not in the same way, though.

Katrina was the moral focus student of the month. The thing is...she gets the SOTM award every single year (and she already got the art SOTM this year), so ... she kind of just expects it now. The teacher always sends an email saying, "Katrina is going to be student of the month! Don't tell her! We want her to be surprised!" As soon as she sees me at the assembly, though? She knows. Usually she gets suspicious before we even leave the house - if i'm getting dressed to take them to school on an assembly day? Her radar goes up. I tried to be sneaky today and say, "Oh. I think that Zane is doing something in assembly...." After school today, i asked her, "So when did you know?" and she said, "Yeah. As soon as Zane's class wasn't up there when we walked in."

Nevertheless. I'm very proud of her. She truely does do her best all the time, and she's such a well-behaved, attentive, hard-working student. AND she's really kind and helpful. If i were a teacher, i'd totally give her the award too. She's awesome.

That being said, it was the LONGEST ASSEMBLY EVER today. After school, Katrina commented on it being long, and Zane said, "I think it was, like, three hours long." It wasn't, quite. But last Friday was a snow day, so they combined all the grades from pre-K to 5th grade into one assembly today, rather than splitting it into two separate assemblies. So there were two classes that had 20 minute presentations, plus SOTM awards for all 7 grades (and then prizes), plus math champion awards (and then prizes), plus BeNice awards (which take 3-5 minutes each) for all 7 grades. Those bleachers are mighty cramped and uncomfortable after an hour and a half. I was kind of impressed at the lack of adults sneaking out the door.

Before school, after we parked the car and were walking to the school, we had to walk right past all the 7th graders. I murmured to Juanito (who had called in "I might be sick?"), "Should we embarrass Houston by being all lovey?" and Juanito was all, "No!" So as we walked past, i just said hello, and he immediately launched into, "Oh, HI! Do you know Melonie?! And this is Chauncey!" I, of course, totally know these kids, and yet they leapt forward to shake my hand and be all, "Oh, nice to meet you!" as i was all, "Chauncey is it? And Anthony? Yes...i seem to remember knowing you since...kindergarten?" And then, as we were leaving, Houston totally gave me a hug. So basically, Houston was completely more goofy and lovey than i'd have been to him. And his friends were totally on board. I really like him. And his friends.

Beth came over for pizza/movie night tonight, and we introduced the kids to "O Brother, Where Art Thou." (When we both worked at Crossroads, Beth and i would go and see movies quite regularly. There was a run of a few months when we saw a whole bunch of terrible or really weird movies, and then a couple of awesome but weird movies. This was right in the middle of that run. It started, and we looked at each other and whispered, "What? The? Heck? are we watching? And then LOVED IT and made all of our friends watch it. And then we all watched it again and again and quoted lines from that movie for YEARS. Because it's awesome.)

(Starting a new paragraph, because that parenthetical kind of got away from me.) So. Beth and Juanito and i giggled and laughed and giggled some more. The kids were confused (and we kept reassuring them's okay. We were all confused the first time. And the second time.) but loved it. Houston had a big smile on his face most of the movie. Beth and i kept saying, "I miss Travis!" especially during parts with lines that he totally used to quote. It ended, and Zane said, "We need to watch that movie again!" Yay! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recipes and reading and book club

Many years ago, back when Houston was an infant and i was all, "I will find ALL THE RECIPES and make lots of delicious foods!" i typed lots and lots of recipes into the computer, printed them, and put them into a giant binder. Fast-forward twelve years, and there's now this place (the internet) where i can find new recipes in seconds any time i feel like trying something new. And also, i have never, in the past twelve years, made two thirds of the recipes in the binder. And also, the rings in the binder were falling apart, so you couldn't flip through the pages, so i mostly just shoved all the recipes i ever used loosely into the front of the binder, which made them hard to find and also made them all fall out if you held the binder just wrong.

And so! I bought a newer, prettier binder! And i went through all of the recipes and tossed everything we either didn't like or had never made and added a few things that we like but had lost the recipes for, and BAM! Newer! Better! More organized!

I finished it on Monday (Katrina ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over the pretty dividers i'd made back in the day) and handed it to the kids and told them each to choose 3 or 4 of their favorite meals for me to make. Zane, predictably, chose banana bread and poppyseed muffins (both practically cake), but also, unpredictably, chose beef stew. So Tuesday was beef stew and banana bread, and he was thrilled. As was everyone else about the banana bread. One of Houston's choices was goulash, so Wednesday was goulash. And Houston was thrilled. Katrina and Zane, less so. (They both don't like tomatoes. Sad for them.) One of Katrina's choices was chicken pitas - so that was today's meal. Everyone was the most thrilled yet. So! Three good meals with three happy kids, and i didn't really have to think about what to make this week. Yay!

This afternoon, i was going to read Harry Potter to Katrina up in my bedroom, but we both walked in there and said, "Nope! Too cold!" We couldn't read downstairs, because of Zane. So we went to McDonalds (half a mile away), where i got a $1 drink and we sat in the warmth at a booth and read all about Horace Slughorn. Enjoyable!

And then, tonight, i had book club. I really enjoy having book club. For many, many years, i would think, "Gee, i wish someone would invite me to join a book club!" and then one day, i realized that...hey! *I* could start a book club! With people i like! And so i asked people in my family and Beth, and Beth asked her sister-in-law, and it became a thing! Yay! Except that none of us really knew what we were doing. So the first few months, we'd talk about the book we'd read, and then we'd try to pick the next book. People would mention book titles and people with smart phones would look them up, and eventually we'd all kind of agree on one. It wasn't the best method, so we decided that instead, whoever's house we were at, they would choose the next book. That worked better, but then choosing the book was SO MUCH PRESSURE, because...what if nobody liked it! What if everyone had already read it? What if it was just a dumb book?!

So today, we started a new choosing method. Everyone who wanted to brought 3-5 books, and then everyone voted (with pennies) on their top 10 choices. And then we put the top ten choices on a list, which we'll use for the next year. And we'll see how this works! Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lots of randomness Wednesday

Juanito was mending some holes in jeans tonight, and he left the pin cushion on the table. Emma found it and gleefully played with it while i was in the shower, cheerfully spreading pins and needles all over the carpet and who knows where else. And THEN, when i was crawling around trying to find the pins, she was all, "Oh, YAY! Are we playing? FUN!" NOT HELPFUL, EMMA! Hopefully we found them all. I'd rather not have anyone getting pins stuck in their feet. Y'know. If i had my druthers. 

So lately, Zane is not a fan of kissing. When anyone hugs him, he is sure to either declare, "NO KISSING!" right away or just hug while simultaneously holding his head as far away from the hugger as possible. I'm mean, so i still try to kiss him (i declare it my right as his mom), though i sometimes ask permission first. Tonight, he came to give me a hug, and i asked if i could kiss the top of his head. He refused, but then changed his mind and allowed it. As soon as i kissed his head, he was all, "Not that hard!" (it was a very normal kiss), so i kissed him again, and he squealed, "OR THAT WET!" 

Houston went to school in his "I'm too tired to even breathe and you should feel sorry for me and let me sleep" mood, and i was slightly worried for him, but he came home exceptionally chipper and not at all sleepy, because - according to him - the speech went "Really, really well! I memorized it and everything!" So! Success! Probably?

In Zumba tonight, the girl who was in front of me was extremely clueless about her personal space, apparently. She kept backing up farther and farther, and *I* couldn't back up, because there was someone right behind me, so eventually i was very nearly hitting her on any moves that had our hands out in front of us. I'd have been annoyed, except that she was really young and clueless and i mostly just had to shake my head.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


In the seventh grade, they do a giant, months-long project. Everyone chooses a career and then researches it, interviews someone in the field, writes a paper, does a speech, etc. It all culminates in an "everyone's invited, come walk around and learn about different jobs!" event later this month.

So every so often, i ask Houston, "How's that project going? Are you up-to-date on everything?" And he's all, "Yes, yes! I'm doing GREAT!"

Until today, when he was all, "Oh. I have to make my entire tri-fold board today and also write a speech and memorize it, because i have to present it to the class tomorrow!"

Because OF COURSE he does.

And so, he's been working nearly tirelessly all afternoon, typing and printing and gluing and despairing of ever finishing and then working some more. It's an incredibly difficult thing, as a parent, to offer advice like, "Um, You probably want to put something in this giant hole right here?" without stepping in and being all, "Okay, SERIOUSLY. You've got three things on this giant board. You need to make it more ... full!"

He's nearly finished. It's 11:30. I'm hoping he'll .... Wait. Now it's 11:45, and (just after i took that picture and sent him to bed) he just came back down and said, "I just remembered that i need to put a graph on it somewhere." So! Rearranging!

The poor boy is really so tired. At this point, i'm just hoping that he won't fall asleep as he's giving his speech tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Time to start "The Half-Blood Prince"!

When my kids turn 7, i read Harry Potter book 1 with them. We then read book 2 when they turn 8, book 3 at 9, book 4 at 10, and book 5 at 10 and a half. And so, when they turn 11, we read book 6 and then go straight into book 7 to finish off the series.

Katrina's birthday is a month away, BUT two weeks after her birthday, i'm going to be heading to Florida for nearly a week, and honestly, we're both pretty excited to get to the last couple of books, so tonight! We started book 6!

It's always a little bit hard to read the Harry Potter books with the older two kids, because anyone younger than them has to be completely not nearby so as to not get spoilers. Sometimes we hide in my room and close the door and read quietly, but it is just way too cold to do that right now. (Our upstairs is only marginally heated - there's a vent in the hall, but it doesn't help much, so most of the heat has to make it up the stairs - and if bedroom doors are closed, it is FREEZING in there. Juanito and i always have our door closed, so it's probably in the 40's in our bedroom. We all have lots of blankets, which works for sleeping (Once you get warm, you can stay warm. It kind of takes forever to actually get to the non-shivering point. I usually try to steal all the warmth from Juanito's back and in return, i squeal and jump away if he puts anything remotely cold near me. I'm a giver.), but doesn't really work for reading.

So tonight, we waited until i tucked Zane into bed, and then we all curled up under blankets as close to the heater as we could get. Mmmm. Heater.....

Sunday, January 11, 2015


The plan was that Beth would come to us at 10:20, and then we drive to pick up Stephanie and all ride to church together. And so, when it was 10:10 and Houston was calmly eating breakfast and STILL had to take a shower, i was all, "Houston! Beth will be here in 5 or 10 minutes!" And he was all, "Okay." And then continued eating at a leisurely pace. And somehow managed to get out of the shower and dressed by the time Beth showed up. He had wet hair, but he made it. (I was totally the same way when i was his age. I went to school and church many, many times with wet hair, having gotten out of bed at the last possible second. So i can't be too irritated with him.)

After church, Beth and i drove up to visit Keren, who is closer to town at her parents' house for the weekend. We talked about our up-coming trip to Florida and looked at maps of Harry Potter World and got all excited about all of the Harry Potter-y things that we'll get to do. I like my friends.

And then Beth came over again tonight to make our costumes for Keren's birthday party (Star Wars themed, with costumes strongly encouraged) and to watch Downton Abbey. The costumes (we're going to be Ewoks) are hilarious and ridiculous and will hopefully be cute enough. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Zane's room

One of the coupons i gave the kids for Christmas - the one that all three kids immediately exclaimed, "YES!" about, was "Mom will clean your room." Today Zane cashed that coupon in. I kind of feel like he sort of trashed his room a bit for the past few days in anticipation. Because let me tell you: It was a MESS. I thought, "Okay, it'll take me a couple of hours," except instead i was up there cleaning his room for HOURS. Maybe...six hours? I don't even know.

Part of the problem is, Zane really does have the smallest amount of bedroom space. He's got approximately half of the bedroom that he shares with Houston, BUT his half has the door and the wardrobe in it. He's got a little tiny bookshelf, and that's basically his storage. We tried putting stuff in bins under his bed, but he either put the bins back but then never managed to get stuff back into the bins or he just never returned the bins under his bed. So i sent Juanito to build a quick and not necessarily pretty shelf on which to put some smaller bins with specific stuff in them. We'll see how it works.

(For the record, here is a picture of it after i'd been working for about 2 hours:
and here's when i was finished: 

So i guess that's pretty satisfying.

Snow day!

The kids got their wish! It was most certainly a snow day today.

We actually got the call last night already - i guess the foot of snow convinced the powers that be that it would be a really good day to keep all of the cars off the road. I turned off the alarms and prepared to sleep in...and woke up when my boys snuck downstairs at 6:45 (fifteen minutes EARLIER than i usually have to DRAG THEM OUT OF BED) to play computer, because, "Well, i was guessing it was a snow day. Isn't it?" (Me: "Sigh. YES. But go back to bed for an hour. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!")

I brought Emma up to bed with me, and Katrina joined us at about 7:15, and we girls stayed snuggled up under warm blankets. Well, until 8:00, when i allowed the kids to play on the computers, and then Katrina abandoned us and Emma and i stayed in bed for another hour or two. (It's a win-win-win. I get to sleep/read. The kids get to play computer a little longer. The dog gets to stay cozy.)

Eventually i kicked everyone off the computers, and they went on to do other random stuff, like digging a bottle out of the recycling and filling it with random bits of stuff to make the grossest looking "peanut sauce" they could for some ... commercial?... that Houston wants to film. He then carefully made a nutrition label for it with statements like, "Calories: 1,000,000,000," and "Total fat: 20,000," and "There are no good vitamins or minerals at all in peanut sauce." Also, if you're still interested, the ingredients are listed as: "sugar, cyanide, water, poop, acid, stone, mouse guts, dog pee, cocane*, 26 tsp of salt, raw pork, human bones, ketchup, and dirt."

In the afternoon, i sent everyone outside to play in the snow. By then, the temperature wasn't "Colder than Mars" anymore, so they could actually stay outside for an hour or so. Emma thought the snow was the best thing ever.

And tonight was our traditional pizza-movie night. We made really simple pizzas tonight, with no fancy ingredients like artichoke hearts or sun-dried tomatoes. (We've used those the past couple of times, and, let me tell you, it is delicious with all those fancy-pants ingredients.) However, we just tossed on the more normal ingredients tonight, and i was a little surprised at how much faster it all went.

"Normal" pizzas in our house:
Juanito: Pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, jalapenos, capers, spinach.
Karen: Green (or red!) peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach. Extra-thin crust.
Houston: Pepperoni. Lots of sauce. Extra-thick crust, curled up at the edges.
Katrina: Completely plain. No sauce. Occasionally a bit of cheese and a pepperoni or two.
Zane: Black olives, a little bit of cheese. No sauce.

*His spelling.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I didn't let them flush ice cubes down the toilet, though. Because i'm mean.

Juanito decided to do dinner "Mongolian Barbecue style." All of the options laid out, one cook (him), two giant pans, lots of bowl. We put what we want into the bowl, hand it off to him with directions like, "Spicy!" or "Not too spicy!" and he works his magic. 

It was DELICIOUS. Of course.

An huge snowstorm is predicted. Temperatures are already barely above 0, with the windchill around -15. Visibility is nearly non-existent, and we're meant to get about a foot of snow in the next day. The kids are hoping, hoping hoping for a snow day. They have pajamas on backwards and spoons under their pillows; apparently these are the newer, better version of crossing your fingers. 

Meanwhile, Beth has decided to sleep on our couch so that she can get to work tomorrow. It's easier to get out of our street than her driveway, AND she can ride with Juanito. Double-plus good. 

She's trying to read. Emma is squeaking her toy and running back and forth in an effort to get SOMEONE to pay attention. 

Riding in cars with dogs

It's becoming all dogs, all the time, here at this blog! Of course, Emma IS the youngest and newest member of our family, and the one i'm spending the most time with these days. So. I'll try to keep in to a minimum, but i can't promise anything.

Back when we had Graham, i never took him anywhere in the car. He hated cars, he didn't mind being left home alone, and he was a TERRIBLE passenger – he was constantly trying to climb into my lap as i drove. So unless we were going to the vet or somewhere that Graham needed to go with us, he stayed home.

Emma, on the other hand, goes with me as often as i can take her. I don't trust her to stay in the car alone yet, so not to stores or anything, but every morning she brings the kids to school with me. She sits in an empty seat and calmly looks out the window. Today it took us 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot (SO LONG! WHYYYYY?), and by the time we'd made it to the street she had curled up and fallen asleep. She's totally comfortable and happy driving around. She HATES being left alone. It's kind of an easy decision.  

(Also, i totally tried to post this last night. I fought with the internet for two hours, finally giving up and going to sleep at midnight. Stupid internet.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy Girl Club!

This weekend we put away all of the Christmas stuff, and kind of sort of cleaned the house, except not really well. Today, i cleaned. I always forget just how much i love having a clean house. It's so lovely.

In the midst of my cleaning, i came across dozens of papers with random stuff written or drawn on them, and most of those i just shoved into a pile for the kids to sort out. But THIS paper totally made me smile. 

I want to belong to that club!

Monday, January 5, 2015


Juanito has been teaching zumba for, i don't know...years now. He LOVES it. I go because it's good exercise, and it's better than running. (I have yet to find any kind of exercise that i actually enjoy. People are all, "But zumba's fun! It's like dancing!" It's exercise. But at least i don't hate it. Most of the time.) I used to go, a long time ago, and then i stopped, and then i started again in...June? July? So then Beth started going too, because she's a good friend and makes me go, even when i'm all, "Eh...i could skip today...." And so, here we are. Sweaty and fresh from zumba-ing.

In other, doggie-er news.... Emma hates it when we leave her alone. If it's nighttime and we put her in her crate while we go to bed? Fine! No problem! If it's any other time and we put her in her crate while we run to the store or whatever? TRAGEDY!!! She completely tore up the little dog bed we got for her, so we got her a much thicker, sturdier blanket, which Juanito was all, "She shouldn't be able to chew this up!" And she's completely shredding that. PLUS, when i was gone to the store for half an hour today, she completely gave her poor little nose some serious rug burn from freaking out so much. I'm hoping that this is a temporary, puppy-related thing, and not some personality disorder thing.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I need to go find a blanket now.

We spent the day with my family at my parents' house. As always, it was loud with children playing and people laughing and multiple conversations being held simultaneously. This time, my sisters, my mom, and i made it even louder by playing "Pit," the game where you have to holler for other people to give you their cards. The kids all came upstairs to make fun of us at one point. Apparently they're not used to us being the loud ones. 

It was the first real snow since the huge snow in November, and i guess it was pretty. Truly, it's snow, and snow means cold and i REALLY HATE THE COLD. If i could, i would spend all of the months from November to March curled up under an electric blanket on the couch, reading books and staying warm. Since that's not an option, instead i just complain about the weather every chance i get, annoying everyone around me with my constant wails of, "It's so cold! SO COLD!"

Boat wars

A couple of weeks ago, Houston got this really geeky idea to get his friends together to make boats and have a contest to see whose could hold the most weight without tipping over. He emailed his 3 best friends furiously with all the rules and the plans and the times and whatnot, and today the two more reliable friends showed up. 

They used marbles as weights, and Houston's did awesome until the little circle ran out of room. The friend who just used a pie pan with a bit of tin foil totally won. They they all got a chance to do one modification, and Houston added a bowl so it had more space, and his sank spectacularly nearly immediately. The pie pan still won. (On a side note, i'm going to be finding marbles everywhere for days.)

It was Houston's first effort at organizing something, and he did SUCH a great job. Everyone was excited - even Zane and Katrina and Katrina's friend who happened to have spent the night. The bathroom was packed full of people wanting to see whose boat could hold the most. And when that was finished, there was Apples to Apples to play, and lots and lots of laughter. Yay!

In other news: Emma had her first vet appointment today, and the vet totally agrees that she is right around a year old, not the 2 years that the Humane Society told us she was. We keep saying, "She's totally just barely out of puppyhood," and the vet agrees. Vindicated!

Friday, January 2, 2015


This year's Christmas vacation has been less "relaxing" and more "busy and fun and really full of people and places and plans." We spent Christmas day with my family and then drove down the next morning to Kentucky to visit Juanito's family, got back late on the 30th, and then had friends over for New Year's eve. 

By the afternoon of the first, everyone had gone home and we were alone, and we did NOTHING ELSE the entire day. Juanito got home from work and joined us in our efforts to do nothing whatsoever. The kids mostly played on the computers and i mostly read and it was lovely. It was such a much-needed day to just re-charge and let our brains rest a little bit.

Today, Zane's best friend (who was in his class until this year, when he started being home-schooled, and is SORELY missed) came over to play for a few hours. They ran around in the woods and sat up in the tree house and played all kinds of random boy things and had a fabulous time.

Also today, Katrina's friend (who was in her class until this year, when she moved an hour away) came for a sleepover. We played Catch Phrase (along with Houston) and the kids all played Apples to Apples and we made pizza and watched a movie and they've been playing all kinds of random girl things and have been having a wonderful time.

I took Emma (the dog) to the dog park this afternoon. She was a stray, so we don't know her story or even how old she is. But she's great at playing with other dogs, big or small. She loves the dog park for the dogs who run with her and the dogs who play a little bit rough with her and the people who all fawn over how cute she is. She loves most dogs, but isn't a fan of packs of dogs. Today, there were a lot of dogs there. At one point, a pack got too rough with her, and she got totally spooked and ended up glued to my leg for the next 10 minutes. When she finally ventured to play again - with two specific and very gentle dogs - she never went farther than about 5 feet from me. And then another group of dogs, all puppies with high energy, came running over and scared her AGAIN, she let out a cry and looked like the saddest, most terrified puppy ever. It was the first time i've ever had her WANT to leave. Poor little doggie. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015, and a look at 2014

Last year i had one goal: Read only books i already had on my long list before adding any new ones. I made exceptions for book club books and sequels of books i'd already read, but other than those, i totally stuck to the goal - and my list is considerably shorter. And so this year, i'm going to keep working through that list, finishing up that resolution, sort of, and i'm adding one more: To blog every day. Any less than that, and i start forgetting and letting it slide. Some days may be only a few lines, but i'll do my best to get something down each day.

And with that said, a slideshow of my favorite pictures from 2014: