Sunday, December 10, 2017


Continuing our "see everyone's houses decorated for Christmas" adventure, today we went to my sister Jill's house for dinner and then to my brother Jim's house for dessert.

Sundays are always just really busy on the weeks when we go to family. We go to church and then directly to dinner with the family, and then the kids and i head back to church for Fifty6/the.element/Anthem. And by the time we get home, it's 8:30 and everyone is starving because lunch was hours ago, and then they have to get to bed before long because there's school tomorrow. And i love our church and i love our family and i even really love the girls in my group at the.element, but i don't necessarily love Sundays sometimes. They're fun sometimes, but they're not exactly "restful."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The 8th and 9th

Last night we camped out under the Christmas tree, which, now that the kids are older, mostly means that we watch Christmas movies until late into the night, until they're tired enough that they go to their beds to sleep. All except for Zane, who actually DID fall asleep on the floor and slept there all night.

This night is one of our family's favorite traditions, and I usually try to introduce at least one movie that the kids haven't seen on this night. So last night we watched The Polar Express, Frosty the Snowman, and The Grinch (the original), which they've all seen many times before. And then we watched Love Actually - Because i love this movie and really wanted to watch it with the kids, I edited out the two really inappropriate story lines completely and the bedroom scene in one of the other story lines, and the end result was a ... mostly age-appropriately appropriate movie - and Snow Globe Christmas (an absolutely ridiculous Hallmark-channel-type movie). Zane fell asleep during Love Actually. Houston went to bed half an hour into Snow Globe Christmas, and i fell asleep within 20 minutes of his leaving. Juanito and Katrina both made it to the end, though.

Tonight we went to a live nativity at a church we've never been to, and it was fun. They did the whole "walk through Bethlehem and buy something with this coin we give you," and then we went outside to have a guided tour through the Christmas story from Isaiah through to the cross. It was really cold, but otherwise was well done and sometimes amusing, and we all enjoyed it.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

8th grade band concert

Today was the 8th grade band concert (with 4 6th graders - including Zane - thrown in because they needed more trombones). They're a pretty small band, but they were so good. They were especially good considering where they were a year and a half ago, before they got their new band director. (And also considering that there were at least 2 members of the band completely not playing. The trumpeter sitting on the end was barely even faking it - he'd kind of halfheartedly hold the trumpet up near his mouth and then kind of randomly push valves. It was most amusing to watch.) Katrina practices diligently, and she just loves playing the flute. And she loved it even when she had the terrible director, but she loves it So! Much! More! now.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas concert and also ornaments

Tonight was the 6th and 7th grade band concert. And it was ... i mean, it was 6th and 7th graders, so it wasn't awesome, but Zane was totally happy to be playing, and it was fun to get to see his band play. My mom and Beth both came to see him too, which was super nice and made him feel all special.

So that was mostly our advent activity tonight. "Mostly," because i also told them that there's a pickle hiding on the tree (per German tradition, which the kids always love when we go see the trees at Meijer Gardens), so they got to find that too. I've been sort of planning to make a pickle ornament for a few years now, and i finally did it this year.

And while i'm posting pictures of ornaments, here are just a few of our many, many, mostly homemade ornaments that i love.

The wreath with the cardinal belonged to my Grandma (my dad's mom). The red star hung on our tree when i was growing up, and the weird green yarn guy is an ornament my mom made for us when we were little - it used to pull apart and get a roll of Lifesavers for a body, i think. The sloth, owl, and Dumbledore were made by Beth. The sheep comes from Scotland. The carousel spins and makes me happy. (It was from my parents.)

I think that one of the things i love about our Christmas trees is that i can tell you where every ornament came from and the story behind it. We don't have any room for basic store-bought Christmas balls or whatever, and i am not sad about that at all.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent, the first post

It's December, which means that here in our house, we're fully embracing the Christmas season.

We went to my aunt and uncle's house for Thanksgiving, along with 3 of my siblings and their families and my parents and my cousins. It was a full house, and it was totally fun. And then, as per tradition, we went to get our Christmas tree the next day. Yay! We've always gotten the tree and set it up and decorated on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. A few years ago, we ordered a pizza and got it delivered, and the next year, the kids were all, "Are we going to get a pizza again? Brought to us in a car?!"  And with that, a new tradition of getting pizza delivered while we're decorating was begun.

We had to do all of the decorating quickly this year, because on Sunday, my entire family came to our house for dinner, and then we went to my sister Jackie's house for dessert. Next week we'll go to another sister's and my brother's houses, and then on Christmas Eve we'll celebrate at my parents' house. So by then we'll have seen all of the houses nearby.

And then December hit, which means that we got to start the Advent Calendars! Yay! I love Advent Calendars. This year we have, um...four. Two of them i made - one has an activity to do every day, and this year the other one has random facts about Christmas history and Christmas around the world. We got a Lego Advent Calendar this year (so fun!), and we have one that's online, where you open one new thing every day, and you can design snowflakes and decorate trees and do all kinds of other fun stuff. And this way the kids and i all get to open something every day.

Today's the fifth. So on the first, we started all of the calendars. On the second, we went to a craft fair. On the third, we (Katrina and i, because the boys both wanted to take naps) went to an open house at the Ford Museum, where there were trees that groups had decorated and beautiful Christmas quilts that people had made and cookies and carolers.

Yesterday we started doing Secret Santa. And today, Sinterklaas Day, the kids all put out their shoes for Sinterklaas. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017


So hey! I just got glasses for the first time in my life. They're not a strong prescription: -.75 in one eye and -1.00 in the other (Wait. IS that a strong prescription? I know exactly nothing about glasses, and the people at "America's Best Eyeglasses" were friendly but not overly communicative about anything.). Basically, i'm getting old, and my far-away vision is starting to get a little bit blurry, so it's harder to read small print across the room. So! Glasses!

Y'know what nobody ever told me about glasses? They completely suck. At least so far they do. I mean, i guess they work, but i have spent the day completely nauseated and dizzy and feeling like the floor is in entirely the wrong place. Also, they make far away things all clear, but they make close up things really blurry, which is awesome for my job, where i am going back and forth between far away and close all the time. (I could get bifocals, but i feel like that would be even WORSE, dizzy-wise.)

ANYHOW. I'm sure that i'll get used to them in a few days and they'll be awesome. But right now? Bleh.

Besides getting new glasses (Yay!), i've just been working on making Christmas presents and getting the house a little bit ready for the switch-over to Christmas decorations.

Well, that and also i've been spending most nights this week forcing Zane to focus on doing all of the math homework that he "didn't have" and therefore didn't do. So that's been fun. But he's finished now, and there is much rejoicing. Woo!!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

In which i am dumb.

I just did something that i never, ever thought i'd be stupid enough to do.

But let me back up.

So tonight the kids asked (as they do almost every night), "Can we have ice cream?" and i said, "Sure." And so Katrina and Zane ran to the kitchen and got cups of ice cream mixed with milk and came back to the front room, and we started reading "Fahrenheit 451," and then i sent them to bed. And a little while later, i thought, "I would like some ice cream too!

And so i went into the kitchen and grabbed a bowl and got out the ice cream and looked around for the scooper, but it was nowhere to be found. I eventually found it in the ice cream bucket, where one of the kids had finished getting their ice cream, put the metal scooper into the bucket, put the lid on, and thrown the whole thing back into the freezer.

I rolled my eyes and went to tell Juanito that our kids! They are sometimes not the smartest! And then i went back to the kitchen, pried the freezing cold metal scooper out of the bucket, and went to run it under hot water.

But there was some ice cream stuck to it. And it seemed like a waste to just wash all of that perfectly good ice cream down the sink. So i started to lick it off.....

And, as anyone who has ever seen the movie "A Christmas Story" knows, when you touch your tongue to metal, it sticks. Luckily, i only touched the very tip of my tongue to the metal and pulled it off instantly, but now the tip of my tongue is all raw feeling. Sigh. I am dumb.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Janet Jackson

At the same time that i got the Bob Dylan tickets, i also got 4 tickets to Janet Jackson, so my sisters and i went! And it was TOTALLY fun!

Well, at first it was kind of annoying. It was drizzling, and the lines to get into the building were long (everyone had to go through metal detectors and such), so we all got wet and cold while waiting in line, and then, when we finally got to the front, they were all, "Oh! Yeah, you can't be in this line for Will-Call tickets. You need to go over there." Us: "But...there's no sign or anything that says that!" Them: "Yeah. We probably should tell people." So then we had to go and get in the other giant mob and wait in the rain some more. SIGH. But even though we got into the stadium late, we still just sat around waiting for a little while before the concert started, so i'm glad that we didn't get there extra-early.

Anyhow! I realized that i know way more Janet Jackson songs than i thought i did. And she was really nice and played several songs from the 80's and 90's, so we old people who aren't up on her current stuff could still totally enjoy it. By the almost-end, i was thinking, "Are there any other songs of hers that i would want her to sing? ... Oh! Rhythm Nation!" And then the very next song was "Rhythm Nation.

Even for the songs i didn't know, though, it was so much fun to watch her dance! I'd forgotten that she is an excellent dancer (of course she is!), so when she started dancing, i was all, "OH YEAH! Awesome!!!"

Really, because we just went to the Dylan concert like...4 days ago, i was going to be comparing the two. It was inevitable. And, sadly for Bob Dylan, Janet Jackson's concert was just SO much more exciting and fun and interesting. The sets and lighting and general staging of it were better. There were giant screens so you could see her closer up. The audience stood the whole time, and most people were dancing at least a little. And Janet herself was just adorable and super-fun to watch. AND she came to the front of the stage! And said "Grand Rapids" a bunch of times.

And, at the end, she told me that she loves me. (I'm assuming that that was a singular "you" and not "you" plural.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Today was Halloween! Yay!

Juanito had Zumba, so my plan was to just go to my parents' house early, get a pizza or two, and then go trick-or-treating with the kids and their cousins. And it technically went according to plan, but what we didn't realize is that everyone else in the entire city had the same plan. The first pizza place we called was going to be over an hour's wait, which would have meant eating after trick-or-treating had started, so we decided to just run to Little Caesar's. And even there, there was a giant line of people waiting to get their "hot and ready" pizzas. So we wolfed down the pizza while i did Katrina's hair, and then we rushed out at about 6:03.

So Katrina was an 80's girl. She borrowed clothes from Beth, my mom, and me, and she looked completely awesome. In the 80's, of course, all of the girls had their hair permed, so we wanted to try to make her hair extra big and curly, but she had school this morning, and she didn't want to look crazy for that. So last night, she took a shower and then i put a ton of little braids in her hair, which i then braided into two french braids. It was just supposed to be a "good enough" hairstyle, but it ended up being super cute, and if it hadn't taken 45 minutes, we would totally do it more often. And it did, indeed, make her hair extra big, though not as curly-looking as i'd have expected.

Zane was a mailman, a costume he settled on over a month ago and was really excited about. Apparently, when he grows up, he now wants to be either a cheese scientist or a mailman. As a mailman, he wanted to hand out letters to people at their doors, and so the plan was that he and Katrina would making lots and lots of little notes. So last night, Katrina stayed up late making all of the notes, because she is a really nice sister. He handed some of them out, but "they give out the candy so fast that there isn't time to get the letter out!" I suggested getting it out while walking to the next house, and that lasted for exactly one house. But the ones he DID give out were happily accepted.

And Houston was "lactose intolerant." He first tried to just tell people, "I'm lactose intolerant!" but most people just looked at him confusedly or said, "Me too!" or said, "Aw. Well, we have some candy that's not chocolate!" And then we cocked our heads to the side and wondered why on earth his costume would just be him announcing that he couldn't have dairy. So then he tried saying, "I don't tolerate lactose!" but that didn't yield any different results. By the end of the night, people would say, "'re anti-dairy?" and he's just say, "Yep." But the people who DID get it thought that it was awesome.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bob Dylan

The library was given tickets for a Bob Dylan concert, so they offered them to the library staff for free - up to 4 tickets per employee. I was like, "I's Bob Dylan! He's one of the most famous musicians in the world! And he won a Nobel Prize for literature! And he'll probably die soon and it would suck to have had the chance to see him and have passed it up!"

My sister Jackie, Beth, Juanito, and i went, and it was the most bizarre concert i've ever been to. I've been to kind of a lot of concerts by different people, so i kind of know what to expect at this point. And i figured that i might not like some of the music, but it would probably still be a great concert, because...Dylan!

So the opening act was Mavis Staples, who i had never even heard of before, but who is apparently really quite famous. And she was great. She was totally personable and engaging and was interacting with the audience and was just completely adorable and so much fun to see. I really, really enjoyed her part of the concert.

And then Bob Dylan came out, and he just...started singing. I wasn't even sure which one was him at first, because he was behind a piano and wasn't super obvious. And then he sang another song, and another, and another, and he NEVER ONCE said a single word to the audience. Not a "Hi" or "Great to be here" or anything! And he was always either behind the piano or standing way, way back on the stage with the microphone, hiding behind stuff. And then the whole band just...left. They came back for the encore, played 2 songs, and then (this was the most awkward thing i've ever seen) all stood in a row halfway back on the stage - just stood there for about 15-30 seconds - and then left. The end. NO WORDS!!!!

Midway through his concert, Jackie summed it up perfectly: "I'm really enjoying myself, and i'm glad that i came, but i'm also really glad that i didn't pay to come here." It was just such an awkward experience. Beth, Juanito, Jackie, and i all kept looking at each other with expressions of "What is even happening?!?!"

Oh, also!? When he first came out, everyone stood up to cheer, and then sat down as soon as he started playing, but the front few rows all stood up to dance, until an usher came along and made them all sit down! So weird! But to be fair, all of the people who were obviously fans were very much enjoying themselves - singing along (HOW? He's un-understandable!) and dancing in their seats.

So. It was an extremely memorable experience, and i'm really, really happy that we went. And now i never have to go to a Bob Dylan concert again. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books and stuff

Yesterday was our first pizza movie night in weeks, and we watched "Wonder Woman." As we watched it, Zane kept exclaiming, "She is AWESOME!" So yeah, everyone enjoyed it.

When i was at work yesterday, i noticed that "The Dangerous Book for Boys" was categorized in the same area as books like "Ripley's Believe it or Not" and "Weird But True," which makes lots of sense, because it IS full of facts and randomness. And then there's "The Daring Book for Girls," which is almost exactly the same, but THOSE are categorized in the same area as the "How to do your hair to look pretty" section. And that annoys me, because sexism! There's absolutely no logical reason for those two books NOT to be filed right next to each other.

So anyhow, i wrote the shorter version of that on Twitter, and included my library into conversation, expecting nothing. And they DIDN'T reply at all. But! This morning, "The Daring Book for Girls" was on the list of books that i had to pull off the shelves to send to other libraries, and it was being sent to the main library. So there's a chance that they're going to change it. And if they did, that would be awesome!

Thursday, October 12, 2017


I've been reading "Marley & Me" to the kids for the past few weeks, and they've all been laughing and loving it. We're now at the end of the book, and the dog is getting older and sicker and i felt the need to prepare the kids for the eventual sad ending.

Me: "So...this IS a true story, and Marley IS getting older, and the book is almost over, so...."
Houston: "WAIT. This is a true story?!?!?"
Katrina, Zane, and me: "Wha.......???? You didn't know that?!"
Houston: "No! In fact, there were several parts where i thought, 'Well, that's kind of far-fetched.'"

I'm completely amused that we made it through basically the entire book, and he never realized that it's nonfiction. Especially because it seems so completely obvious to the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Houston's school had parent-teacher conferences today. They set it up so that all of the teachers are in a giant U in the gym, and you just wander around and find the teachers that you want to talk to. We talked to all of Houston's teachers except two - they were both "unable to attend," which was a bummer, because those are the two i most would have wanted to talk to. One was his multi-media teacher, who i met at the beginning of the year, and i wanted Juanito to meet him, because he is daunting. He's the most physically intimidating person i've ever met. Also, it would have been fun to hear what he thinks of Houston, because his class is making a video wherein they have to explain how to do something very simple, and Houston's video is "How not to not be not dangerous." Because he can't just do something simple. (He is SO Juanito's son.)

The other teacher i wanted to meet was his history teacher, because he's the only teacher i haven't met yet. At the beginning of the year, when we had the whole "Meet the teachers!" night, Houston's history teacher was missing, and we found out the next day that he had quit. And then Houston had a substitute for a couple of weeks, and now he's got an actual teacher. So. It would be nice to meet him.

We did get to meet his other teachers, though, and, unlike last year when just about every teacher informed us of all of the assignments Houston was missing, this year they all had nothing but nice things to say about him. Almost everyone greeted us with, "Aw, Houston!" and then some version of "He's so great." So we probably didn't NEED to go to the conferences, but it's always nice to hear that people like your kid.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


For the past couple of days, Katrina has been getting more and more unhappy as this afternoon got closer and closer. She did not want braces. She did not need braces. Why was i making her get braces???

She has a friend who got braces recently and has been telling her how much pain she will be in for a few day, and that, combined with her experience with the expander, had her convinced that she was going to be in the worst pain in the world. Houston's reassurances that "It really doesn't hurt very much. Just a little bit for a couple of days," did nothing to calm her down. Nor did my reassurances that the expander probably hurt much more than the actual braces would.

I was a meanie and made her get braces anyhow. Afterwards, she gave me dirty looks on the way to the car. I asked her, "Are you mad at me?" and she humphed, "Yes."

So i bribed her back into liking me by stopping at Steak 'n Shake on the way home for shakes, and within minutes i was back in her good graces. One awesome thing about Katrina: She doesn't hold a grudge.

Anyhow. Katrina got pink rubber bands on her braces. Houston got blue again. They both look adorable. And her braces have only barely bothered her. So. I'll take it as a win.

Monday, October 9, 2017

And i'm back

I can explain my entire 3-week absence in one word: ArtPrize. From the time it started until the last day (yesterday), i was at ArtPrize for anywhere from around an hour to 8 hours. To be fair, the 8 hour day was a one-off, the Monday that Beth took off and we were downtown forever. Most days we were downtown 2-4 hours. Juanito, Beth, and i went every chance we could. Katrina came with us most of the time. The boys came sometimes, but Houston had a homework and Zane isn't as interested, so it was usually the 4 of us. And it was awesome. And Beth and i both saw everything. And i am exhausted and a little bit happy that it's over. I'm ready to get back to routine and having evenings at home and actually having time to eat actual food.

And, for posterity, here are the pictures of some of my favorite things from this year's ArtPrize:
My Favorites!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fear Not.

Juanito is going to be in ArtPrize again this year, and today he went to hang his piece up downtown. Yay!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday pre-ArtPrize tradition

For years now, it's been our tradition to walk around on the Sunday before ArtPrize starts to see the stuff that people have set up early. This year, none of the kids felt like going, so just Beth, Juanito, and i went. People may say that we're crazy for going before it's even started yet, but there are some very distinct advantages:

1 - We go to the big venues, and those are the places that, once it's Wednesday, will be packed or at least fairly busy pretty much all of the time. So this way we get to see stuff close up, without fighting through crowds, and we get to look for as long as we want without feeling guilty for taking too long.

2 - There are sometimes interactive exhibits, and we get to actually interact with them! This year, there are a couple of rocking chairs made from giant rocks, and we all totally got to sit in them, take our pictures with them, and have fun. Henceforth, there will be lines to try them out.

3 - Pictures! We can take pictures without having to wait until just the right second, when there's nobody walking in front of you.

So. Yep. We're dorks. But it's worth it. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

ArtPrize begins!

ArtPrize officially begins on Wednesday, but there are a few places that are having "preview week," which means we can get a head start. Most of the places, we're kind of like, "Meh, we can see those as we're walking around," but we DID want to go to the art museum. Thursday nights are free, and they have all of the ArtPrize stuff up already, so Juanito, Katrina, Beth, and i went to see it. It was lovely to be able to walk around without giant mobs of people - it was basically just us and one other guy there.

Over the past few years, i've come to not expect much from the GRAM, because so much of what they've had has just been dumb. And this year, again, there's nothing that i absolutely love there. I liked a couple of the things, though, and that's a step up from some years. Probably the weirdest and worst thing there is a guy who will be dressing up in a fox costume and writing "poetry" on pages ripped out of dictionaries. The poetry is stuff like, "Twilight is overrated," or "Color blindness ahhhhh." And i don't like poetry in general, but that is just .... not even poetry.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bug Boy and Open House

Katrina and Zane's school had an event today wherein they encouraged kids to dress up like superheroes. Zane was all, "I don't like any actual superheroes, so i'm just going to make up my own." And hence: Bug Boy.

Tonight was the Open House for City, which meant that i got to walk around to each of Houston's classes to meet the teachers and get a 10 minute "this is what we'll be studying" spiel from each of them. Houston loves all of his teachers this year, and i liked them too. However...there was one class for which i was the ONLY parent there, and it just happened to be the class where the teacher is 7 feet tall and very intimidating-looking. I seriously considered just running away. (He was very nice.)

The algebra teacher was explaining all of the homework that the kids have, and she mentioned that they'll have projects for each section. I was all, "Projects? How do you do a project in algebra?" So when i got home i asked Houston about it, and he was like, "Huh? What project?" Me: "Um, like, a project? With pages to do? You were supposed to turn it in already and it's worth kind of a lot of points?" Him: "I have no idea what you're talking about." Me: "Like...something that you were supposed to turn in? And everyone else would have been turning it in? With, like, a few pages stapled together?" Him: "Nope. I don't know what this is." Me (becoming concerned that he's already missing important assignments): "Maybe she didn't call it a project to you? Maybe she called it, like...a packet?" Him: "OH! Yeah, i turned that in."

Sometimes i don't think that he does language the same way i do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


This boy. It is week 3 of school and there have already been two (2!) mornings when he was convinced that he was too sick to go to school. I forced him to go again today, and he was fine. Because of course he was. But every time i make him go to school, i live in fear that the nurse is going to call me with a judgmental tone of voice and be all, "Houston just threw up. Because you forced him to go to school. You terrible mother, you." (I might be paraphrasing.)

ANYHOW. Today was "Future day" for spirit week - the stupidest day ever, because HOW do you dress like the future without spending loads of time or money? - and so Houston had me draw a bar code on his hand. The future, y'all.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Spirit Week

This week is spirit week at City, and today was "decades." The sophomores' decade was the 60's, so Houston borrowed some pants and a scarf from Beth, paired them with a turtleneck, and he was HILARIOUSLY AWESOME.

I asked him what people at school thought, and he said that they all asked him why he was wearing pajamas. He responded, "These are a 60's thing. Look it up." And when they did, they were all like, "Whoa. It IS a 60's thing!" According to Houston, most people just wore a leather jacket and called it good.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


It's apple picking season! Houston, Katrina, Zane, Beth, and i headed to the orchard after church and we picked a giant bag of Spy apples (Zane's favorite) and a medium bag of Honeycrisp apples. I think Zane ate almost nothing but apples for the rest of the day.

Tonight was the first night of this year's student ministry meetings. Houston is in Anthem, Katrina's in the.element, and Zane is in Fifty6. Beth and i have moved up to the.element with our girls this year as well. I love having girls that i've already known and loved for 2 years, and it's nice that they're a bit older and less out-of-control, but at the same time, i miss my people from Fifty6 - the pastor, the family leaders, etc. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Harry Potter

We are getting very near to the end of the very last book of Harry Potter, and we've reached a point where everything is happening and we just need to keep reading and finish it. And so today i read three chapters with the kids. Zane is loving it, but he is also the wiggliest child in the world, and at one point, as he was scootching on his back under the coffee table as i was reading a vitally important part, i finally stopped and said, "Dude. This is important! I don't think you're even listening!" And then he gave me an excellent synopsis of what had been happening. So.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The finale

Tonight we watched the final Twilight movie. There was much eye rolling and giggling and mocking of actors. Beth brought vampire teeth for us all, along with "Congratulations on watching all of the Twilight movies!" certificates.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book club

Book club tonight! We read "After We Fall," and while nobody actually hated it, it was definitely not well-liked by anyone either. We all kind of talked about how miserable and awful everyone was, and once that was discussed, there wasn't a lot more to say.  So instead we talked about stupid baby names and cures for neuroblastomas and other random stuff for most of the time. This year we've had almost entirely depressing books. Some of them have been really good, but they're all super sad. Next week we pick the books for the next year or so, and we're all trying to come up with good non-depressing options.

So this morning, Houston tried really hard to convince me to let him stay home sick from school. He was all, "I feel terrible. My stomach hurts. And i feel like if i go to school, i'll just be falling asleep and be miserable and not do well in anything. And i have a test in Spanish...." I made him go, because he's not sick; he's just really tired because he stays up too late and can no longer just sleep all day because it's not summer anymore. By the time i got home from work and asked him how his day was, he was completely chipper and smiles and "Great!" I have the hardest time with him, knowing when to make him go to school and when not to, because sometimes i've let him stay home, and he sleeps and then he's fine, and sometimes i've forced him to go and he calls me an hour or two later because he's thrown up. So i'm always nervous when i make him go, and i'm always relieved when he doesn't immediately call.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bugs and the library and me

The bug guy was at the library recently, spraying bug-be-gone stuff, and he found a "nest of millions of baby spiders" in the basement. My co-workers were telling me about this (i wasn't in the room when he was explaining), and they were all, "He said that he tried to spray them, but they kind of scattered." And i said, "Aw. Poor spiders."

They looked at me like i was crazy, and i remembered that most women are NOT married to Juanito.

Ever since then, i've become the go-to person when there are spiders/insects around. I rescued a moth that very day, and then the next day i moved a giant (GIANT) spider outdoors. I think everyone thinks i'm weird, but since most of us are women, i'm kind of useful.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day

Today was Labor Day, which meant that there was no school. Yay!

Houston went to a friend's house for the afternoon. Meanwhile, Katrina and Zane decided to do a whole "dance party," complete with games and prizes. They were totally excited about it, and it was completely cute and fun.

Since it was Labor Day, we decided that we should do the traditional thing and grill for dinner. Beth came over, and we had chicken and steak, and it was delicious. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017


This afternoon, Katrina and i rearranged my room. I used to rearrange it fairly often, but it's been the same for years now - long enough that the kids can't even remember it being any other way. And the best part of rearranging is that it forces me to clean the room really well - sweeping underneath furniture and everything! And then, to reward ourselves for a job well done, she and i went to get Frostys at Wendy's.

Besides that...the kids played on the computer, i cleaned up the house, Juanito and i made a quick trip to Goodwill to drop off some of the stuff we've had kicking around, and Juanito made waffles for dinner. So all in all, a good day.

Mindbenders and a birthday party

Last night i was chatting with my friend Karla, and she mentioned that they had gone to the Mindbender Mansion exhibit at the local museum and that her family had all loved it. And i thought, "Hey! *I* love puzzles! My kids love puzzles! We have tomorrow off...." And so this morning/early afternoon, we headed to the museum.

(First off, the museum has changed its pricing, and now all kids under 17 are "kids," AND if you live in the county, you get a cheaper price, and all of that is awesome.)

Everyone loved it. It's this huge exhibit with a ton of logic puzzles and brain teasers and other fun puzzle-y things. We mostly moved around together but solved things on our own, except for a few of the very hardest challenges. There was only one that we never figured out - building a structure out of giant nails to balance on the head of another nail. There were a couple that i worked on for ages before finding out that there was no solution, which is both super frustrating and also somewhat vindicating. Some were really easy and some were hard, and it was super enjoyable.

And then this afternoon we went to a birthday party for my niece and nephew (Eloise and Micah) who are turning one this week. They are adorable. They each got their own little cake to eat, and it was hilarious watching the difference between the two of them. Micah just attacked his cake and devoured it as quickly as he could shove it into his mouth. Eloise, meanwhile, delicately picked at her cake for quite a while (though she would have just shoved her whole face in it if she could have reached) before finally starting to eat it while holding a fork. So ladylike.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pizza-Movie night!

We have been working our way through the Twilight movies, mercilessly mocking them and talking through large portions of the movie. Every half hour, Juanito exclaims, "I mean, he's one hundred and twenty! It's so inappropriate!" Tonight was number 4, which meant that we had to fast forward through a few scenes (honeymoon), and it meant that it was the one where she had to drink blood. So Beth ordered these blood bags online, made red juice, and POOF! We all got to drink "blood" and be as gross as Bella.

The kids didn't have school today. They have an extra-long Labor Day weekend, which meant that we only have 4 days a week for the first 2 weeks of school, and that's actually kind of nice. The kids were all pretty tired by today, especially Houston, who again slept until 2:00.

I spent the afternoon switching out most of my summer stuff for winter, because we live in Michigan and it's now September, and already the end of August was chilly, so i expect that it's going to be fall weather soon. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Happy birthday to my sweet grandpa!

Today is my grandpa's 98th birthday. Ninety-eighth. He was born in 1919, during the Prohibition, before women had the right to vote, when Woodrow Wilson was president. It was the year that the first rotary dial phones were introduced, pop-up toasters were invented, scientists in England split the first atom, and the word "bagel" was added to the dictionary. Stamps cost 3¢, a loaf of bread cost 9¢, and you could buy a new house for an average of $5,600.

98 years is a long time, is my point. When i stop and think about all of the things that have changed in the world since he was born, it just kind of blows my mind.

Anyhow. I'm really happy that we get to still have him in our lives.

In other news, we've just finished up day 3 of the school year, and it's been going very well so far. Obviously we're still totally in the early "Let's have a great school year!!!" stage, but everyone is really happy with all of their teachers and all of their classes. Katrina has been decorating all of her notebooks - one is all Doctor Who-bedecked, and one simply has a pineapple on the front (for "Psych," obviously), and she has plans for at least 2 more. They're super cute, and i guess having a happy notebook is one way to make school more fun. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

First day of school!

It was the first day of school today!

Houston started his sophomore year at City. He texted me halfway through the day, saying, "I just learned that i am in middle school lunch again, so i'm trying to rearrange my classes so that i can be in high school lunch." And then he went to the counselor and took care of it all by himself, and now he is both in lunch with his fellow high schoolers AND he has the Spanish teacher he had last year who loves him. I am just super happy to see him taking the initiative to just take care of it all on his own. GO HOUSTON! He's super excited about all of his classes and his teachers, so that's awesome.

Katrina is an 8th grader this year. She came home from school with her pile of papers to be signed all organized for me to sign and a couple of notebooks to decorate like a Tardis and "something else cute." She also came home starving because the poor girl can hardly eat anything right now, partly because her face hurts and her teeth hurt when she chews, but mostly because there's a gap between the metal expander and the roof of her mouth, and everything even the slightest bit chewy gets stuck in there. She's been kind of living on jello and yogurt and air.

Zane is in 6th grade, and is very excited about being a middle schooler. The first thing he told me when i picked them up was, "I totally went to the wrong class today!" He was totally cheerful about it, completely unconcerned that he'd gone to the completely wrong classroom. Also, he was completely thrilled about his lunch table and being able to sit with friends. A promising start to middle school.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Today was the dahlia show at Meijer Gardens, so Beth and i went, because...dahlias! Both of us started out saying, "This year, i am not going to take a million pictures, because last year it was ridiculous." And i DID take less pictures than last year, but i still took way more pictures than i meant to, because they were all so beautiful and so different from each other. I mean.... That one up there is a dahlia. This one?
 ALSO a dahlia! Also? This next one - dahlia! HOW are they all the same kind of flower? It makes no sense!

Today was the last day of summer vacation. We skipped church and slept in a little and just enjoyed not having any homework or anything we needed to be doing. Katrina and i did a Jigazo puzzle, and we all watched some Doctor Who, and i read a lot of both books that i'm reading to them, and we ate ice cream, and it was all lovely. And thus ends summer. Sad.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Birthday party!

For the past two days, the kids have been over at my parents' house, playing with cousins and eating my parents out of house and home (Seriously, they are bottomless pits.) and having all kinds of fun. Meanwhile, Juanito and i have had a couple of date nights, where we ate out and binge-watched "The Good Place" and just generally enjoyed having a kid-free house.

Today, the entire family - aunts and uncles and cousins - all went out to my grandparents' house on the lake to celebrate my grandpa's 98th birthday. Ninety-eight is an impressive age, and he is an amazingly healthy 98-year-old. Besides his being in a wheelchair now, you'd never guess that he was over 80. (Unless you knew him when he was 80. That might have been about the age that he and my grandma stopped playing tennis daily.)

It was the first time we've seen my cousins, maybe since last year. Usually we see them when we all go to the visit Grandpa and play on the beach, but Grandpa moved to a nursing home this year, and there is not much of a beach to play on, and it hasn't been a terrifically hot summer, so none of us has been there much. So it was fun seeing everyone and catching up. Yay!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


I am nothing if not an excellent procrastinator, which is why for the past two days i've been making sure my kids all have clothes for school that are hole-free and actually fit. Zane, especially, needed jeans, as he had about 5 pairs of jeans with giant holes in the knees and a few pairs that were inches too short.

In my defense, they have all been growing like weeds, so if i'd bought them clothes at the beginning of the summer, there's a good chance they'd have already outgrown them. Yesterday i got home from work at 2:15 and had to wake Houston up. He'd been asleep for 16 hours, and i'm pretty sure he grew an inch or two overnight.

So i made a trip to the store with Katrina yesterday (boys don't need to come along for bra shopping) and made another trip with the boys today, and everyone is now completely ready for school. Yay!

We haven't ONLY been shopping. Yesterday was the "come to school to meet your teachers and get your schedule" day for Katrina and Zane. Today Zane spent the afternoon at the beach with his friend Justin. We've had Frostys and read a few chapters of Harry Potter and had lots of snuggles. None of us is ready for the summer to end.

Tomorrow the kids are all going to my parents' house for the next couple of nights, which means that they'll have loads of fun with cousins and grandparents and Juanito and i will get to have a couple of nights with just the two of us, which is all awesome. But it also means that my summer with the kids is finished. Sigh.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse day!

Today was the eclipse, and we thought it would be more fun to experience it with other people, so we headed out to my sister Jackie's house, along with my parents and my sister Chellie and her kids. We were all worried that we wouldn't be able to see anything, because the clouds were rolling in shortly beforehand, totally obscuring the sun occasionally.

Once it started, however, it was a wee bit cloudy, but the eclipse was totally visible and really cool. The kids swam throughout, coming out every once in a while to check on the moon's progress. The adults spent more time actually watching the sun and playing with the shadows. Jackie brought out her strainer, and we had fun watching the holes become eclipses in the shadow. Chellie pulled out her old pinhole box from the eclipse that happened when we were in middle school, and while it was fun to see, i realize now why that wasn't more exciting at the time. It just doesn't compare at all to looking up at the actual thing.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A very people-filled day

We had a really fun, full day today.

After church, we went straight to my sister Jackie's house, where there was lunch and swimming and babies and laughter. Zane dared to jump off the diving board - his first time jumping into the deep end of the pool. Immediately he decided that it was his favorite new thing, and he spent the rest of the time there jumping in over and over and over. "I LOVE swimming!" he declared as he wolfed down ice cream so that he could swim some more.

We left there a little earlier than we usually would, stopped at home to drop stuff off, pick stuff up, and say hello to the dog, and then headed to our friends' house. They're some of our favorite people, and we haven't seen them in months, so it was really awesome to get to hang out with them again. Plus they're fostering six adorable kittens, so there were kittens for everyone to cuddle and play with. Juanito made chicken pot pie, and it was delicious. Andrew was supposed to give us autographs because he is recently famous, but we never did get those.... It was super fun, and we laughed a lot, and discussed politics and scowled, and all came home exhausted but happy.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I don't know if you've heard, but there's going to be an eclipse.

Monday is the total solar eclipse, and there are absolutely no eclipse glasses to be had anywhere. Like...anywhere. Every single store that had been selling the glasses sold out weeks ago. People are losing their minds, trying to find some anywhere. Meanwhile, NASA decided make and give something like 2 million of the glasses to libraries to give away. And so our library had "a limited number" of glasses to give away. I'm not sure how many, but we had 200 at our library, and we're one of the smallest branches. So maybe 2000 total? And our director, in all of her brilliance, decided to wait until today to hand them out.

We've been getting calls for weeks from people looking for the glasses. People have called from hours away about coming to get some, because we were literally the very last chance people had for getting glasses if they didn't have them yet. Staff at the library, from the very top on down, were losing their minds, convinced that today was going to be utter chaos and calamity. Meanwhile, i was like, "Look. It's going to be maybe 15 minutes of insanity, followed by a few hours of people being mad at us for not having any left." What i was worried about was line control.

See, we have two doors at our library, one in front and one on the side. If people lined up at both, there was no way to get everyone into one line. I suggested putting a sign on one of the doors saying that the line was at the other door. That idea was shot down. I suggested just keeping two lines. Shot down. They just said, "We're going to be handing them out, and your job is going to be to get the line in order and to tell people where to go." Okay.

People started lining up at least an hour before we opened. I had Juanito and the kids go early to line up so they could get glasses, because i figured people would be waiting. By the time we opened, the line wrapped around the corner of the building. We opened the doors, and (as i expected) people just formed a mob. I initially tried to make a line, but it was utterly hopeless, so i mostly just stood in the middle of the mob going, "I have no idea what to do right now." And when the dust settled, we were exactly one pair of glasses short for the people who were there immediately. (The last person didn't seem devastated.) It took 4 minutes for them to be gone. At least two men gave their glasses to kids from different families who came in and were really sad, which restored some of my faith in humanity.

So anyhow. Eclipse in two days! And we are ready! Yay!

Anyhow. This evening, my nephew Harrison had his third birthday party. He is utterly adorable. The kids had fun playing on the playground. I had fun catching up with my family after weeks of not seeing them. Harrison had fun opening presents. And we all got to eat delicious pizza and Costco cake. So it was a good night.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Just a Friday

Yesterday i asked Katrina if she'd like to help me rearrange my bedroom some time in the next week, and she eagerly agreed. Today i got home from work, and she had rearranged her room and was in the middle of helping Zane to rearrange his room. The best part about rearranging is that you have to clean your room to do it, so Zane's room is finally clean again for the first time in ages. Yay!

Thursday, August 17, 2017


This morning, Katrina babysat for my cousin's kids (my cousin just had knee surgery and has four kids, so she just needed someone to be there to run after the littlest one while she rested). I asked her what they did, and she said, "We played the game Life." I was all, "Um...with the 2-year-old?" and she said, "Well. He spun for everyone, and he moved the cars, and i let him make some decisions...." It was her first babysitting job for not-Zane. Yay!

This afternoon, the kids all brought up their boxes full of memory/sentimental stuff and papers from school (report cards, artwork, stories they've written, etc.) so that we could put all of the stuff from the past year into them. I have a box into which we throw anything that might want to be kept, and then once or twice a year i empty it and give each kid the things that belong to them, and they decide what they want to keep and we throw the rest away.

Back when i was in charge of the boxes, i had everything organized so that pre-school stuff was on the bottom, then kindergarten, first grade, etc. It was a good system, because the papers don't usually say on them, "This is from second grade." As soon as i let the kids be in charge of their own boxes, however, that all fell apart. They love to take everything out to look at it and laugh at it and reminisce, and then they just haphazardly throw everything back in when they're finished. Which...fine. It's their stuff. I'm glad they enjoy it.