Monday, September 19, 2016

The yelling house

Henry, yelling from bedroom: "MOM!"

Henry, yelling from bedroom again: "MOOOOOMMM!"

Papa, yelling from living room: "You can go to her if you need her, Henry."

Mom, sitting in master bedroom quietly drinking beer and catching up on emails.

Book fifty-nine: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

This story covers the lives of a small group of people who met in college, formed a band, lost a member, got married, had kids, and lived their lives. There is humor and tragedy and pain with forgiveness. There is searching for self and coming to terms with the way things ended. There is new love and a renewal of old love. And acceptance.

Really, it's got all those elements that pull at the heartstrings and that readers can identify with. I'd give this book a 'good for vacation/two thumbs up' rating.

59 done and still going strong.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Breakfast brought to you by Monsieur Henry Finn

Hen just brought me a tapas-like plate for breakfast that includes half a Clif Bar for kids (apple, spinach, sweet potato flavor), parmesan gold fish crackers, raisins, blue sesame chips, and Cheetos. I asked for and received a small glass of orange juice in a green cup.


Thursday, September 15, 2016


Wow. I've been writing about the ring o' crap in our condo for a decade. D A N G . Part of me thinks that rings o' crap have a longevity to them because they morph from one type of crap to another and another to another and so on. And part of me thinks that is just an excuse. Regardless, I shall tackle this problem again. Here are the first small areas that looked awful and are now clean.

cluttered corner in dining room

cluttered side table in living room

cluttered phone and mail area in kitchen

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Book fifty-eight: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

Wow. I mean, just, wow. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

I loved, loved, loved it! And, of course, cried buckets of tears at the end because it was so frickin' beautiful.

The story of Ranger the dog, chained to the tilting house, and Sabine and Puck, the two kittens is told at the same time as this secondary story about Grandmother, waiting to escape her jar prison, and her granddaughter and her husband and their daughter. And, oh my goodness, it is just beautiful.

It redefines family and shows what forgiveness can do. It teaches us about the broken people who live amongst us, some who cannot be reached. It deals with loss and love, with unrelenting cruelty and the will to survive even the worst of circumstances.

This book is definitely a top contender for my favorite book of the year. It really is just amazing. 

58 down and still going strong!

Book fifty-seven: The Lie by C. L. Taylor

Emma and a couple friends travel to Nepal to a retreat. Only Emma and Al make it out alive. Or so they think. Al and Emma stop talking once back home and Emma starts her life over with an assumed name.

As Jane, she is a happy employee at a shelter where she can spend most of her time working with animals and stay safely away from people. But someone knows her secret and is digging around for answers Jane isn't comfortable giving.

Can she maintain the facade? Will her new relationships survive the truth? Who is sending her these mysterious emails claiming to be from her friend she knows died in Nepal?

It's a mystery and one worthy of reading.

57 down and still going strong!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer 2016 recap

After I went to Africa and Darren took Hen down to the beach and Hen went to Trackers for a week, we still had plenty of time to do fun stuff this summer. Now, we're a week away from school starting so I thought I'd do a quick(ish) write-up of those things.

  1. LOST CREEK CAMPING - We went with Jon, Briana, Kadyn, Mia, and Tabor to Lost Creek (near the Ramona Falls trailhead). Things I want to remember - it is wet there. Really wet. Most importantly, the campsites are HUGE! Fantastically large and accommodating, which will be good to know if/when we go back and if/when we have other friends meet us there. The creek is lovely and the kids ventured very far away - note to self: get whistles for kids - to play in the wilderness. Here's a link to the full album of that trip. And here's a pic of the kids hiking out from Ramona Falls. 
  2. APE CAVE DAY TRIP - We went with Molly and Beren to visit the Ape Caves and managed to get all the way to the end of the tube but stopped when crawling became necessary. (We weren't sure we could get the boys to crawl back out on their own. Maybe next year...) It was our second trip out there and continues to be a fun and interesting, albeit incredibly dark and somewhat scary, place to go. The temperature is particularly nice on hot days. We were well lit and had fun, stopping at Yale Park on the way back home to picnic and play. It's a great day trip and is something we highly recommend to anyone who has yet to go. 

  3. RICHARDSON'S ROCK RANCH DAY TRIP - We went with Amy, Elliot, and Alice to Richardson's Rock Ranch outside of Madras. It was hot. HOT. H O T. Even leaving early we arrived at the ranch to dig for thundereggs in the extreme midday 100+˚F temperatures. Did I mention it was hot? The kids were good sports and since we had no schedule to adhere to we stopped at Frog Lake on the way home. This was a most welcome end to a greatly hot-tastic day. The kids bought a few trinkets, played in the water, and saw some frogs and peacocks. I can't say I'd head back there again on what was close to being the hottest day of the summer, but we would definitely consider going back again. To see the full album of pics from this day, click here.
  4. FROG LAKE CAMPING - We went with Amy, Elliot, and Alice back to Frog Lake for an overnighter. The kids had a fantastic time. The weather was gorgeous, we made s'mores, the kids played with fire. What more could you ask for? We had a most excellent spot that we managed to get when we saw some campers leaving. It had a trail that went out to the lake that the kids took advantage of, and, since we are much more lax about parenting whilst camping, the kids got to run around pretty much the whole time. They made their own leap frog game that they played as the sun set. To see the full album of pics from this trip, click here.
  5. THE VINTAGES OVERNIGHTER- Again, we roped the Platt-Neitzel clan into coming with us on an adventure to a place called The Vintages just outside Dundee. We stayed the night in remodeled RVs. Yep, you read that correctly. We "camped" in RVs. Hen and I stayed in an Airstream Bambi and Amy, Elliot, and Alice stayed in a Shasta camper right next to us. The weather was overcast with a little rain but that didn't stop us from enjoying the pool or going for a bike ride around the park after Amy taught Alice how to ride a bike. Once the drizzle ended and the sun came out to dry everything the kids were able to watch Bolt in our little outdoor theatre (i.e., the iPad on a blanket with a sleeping bag for the kids to cuddle in). The Vintages is a super cute place with two rows of campers available for rent next to several rows of campers for people to park their own RVs in. We didn't end up biking into Dayton but were told it is a short 5-minute ride away. Perhaps we can do that next time we stay?
  6. ROCKAWAY BEACH DAY TRIP AND SLEEPOVER - We went with Uncle Nick and Cousin Mia to Rockaway Beach for the day. We were not the only ones who got out of town to beat the hot temperatures in the city but even the cool ocean air did not do much to alleviate the oppressive heat. The kids didn't seem to mind. They built a castle, played in the very cold Pacific Ocean waters, and even saw mermaids! Or rather, women dressed in mermaid costumes playing in the water but still, mermaids! That evening, we got to bring Miss Mia home for a sleepover. Woohoo! And we got back just in time for the kids to hit the pool for a nice evening swim. Mia was particularly impressed with the idea of doing fun things with Blankie after seeing this album that I had taken after she accidentally forgot Blankie and Frog at our house after another sleepover.
  7. FROG LAKE CAMPING, AGAIN! - This time we went with Libby, Emory, and Etta for two nights and Amy, Elliot, and Alice joined us for one. Phew. That's a big group. The kids had fun. The adults had fun. The only downer came on the second evening when our camp host, David, told us that a prowler was in the area and that someone at the site had been assaulted (details were sparse but David did tell Libby something about bringing weapons into the tent with us). I love Frog Lake and we have a lot of good memories of times spent here so it was disappointing to hear this. I don't want my camping stuff stolen and I don't want myself or anyone else at the campground to feel unsafe.  To see the full album of pics from this trip, click here.
Our next and final adventure for this summer? We're heading to the Wallowas! Pictures to follow, I'm sure. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Book fifty-six: The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl

In a nutshell, it's all about the hygge.

A lot in this book is fairly obvious - don't beat your kids, don't lie to your kids, don't get into power struggles with your kids, don't issue ultimatums, don't be a pessimistic a--hole all the time you're with your kids.

Instead reframe the negative by trying to see the good in other people and situations, be positive, spend time together, play, employ empathy whenever possible, and praise effort over outcome.

56 down and still going strong.