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Desperation.

Desperation will drive you to do things. Artsy things. We have been without Internet and cable for exactly 12 days now, after a fire and some crazy electrical thing that fried our underground line. We didn’t have anything scheduled today to keep our minds off the unbearable, disconnected silence, so we crafted.

  
Zach’s mom told me about story rocks on her last visit, and I loved the idea. I cut up a Highlights magazine, Mod Podged some pictures to clean rocks, and the kids were entertained for thirty minutes straight.

Then we drew.


Maddie drew faces. Anxious faces, doleful faces. She calls them smiley faces.
 We made handprint art.

 
It’s a peacock! The green hands are Simon’s, the purple hands are Maddie’s. The whole time we worked on it, Maddie sang Katy Perry’s peacock song, and I deeply regret not knowing that the song is most definitely about a penis until after I sang it around the house a bunch. (But man! What a catchy song!)

We made a top secret Father’s Day craft.

We made a fort out of couch cushions. The pillows are the chimney. 

  
I vacuumed the couch. (Necessary after seeing what was hiding under those couch cushions.)

We read books.

We talked about fairies.

GOD, I WANT THE INTERNET AND TELEVISION BACK. I WANT IT SO BAD.

  
But in the meantime, we sure are getting a lot of stuff done.

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Other lives.

I’ve chosen a life that I really love. I love being at home with my kids, writing in spare, sleepy hours, drinking cup after cup of coffee. I love being here for every second (well, okay, not every second. I don’t love the screaming seconds, or the clinging-to-my-leg-and-whining-while-I-try-to-load-the-dishwasher seconds. I don’t love the coming-out-of-her-room-fifteen-times-because-she-needs-a-drink-or-has-a-booger seconds), and I love writing and having pieces accepted by journals I read, and desperately seeking an agent for my book, and working on another while I submit the first, because I want my kids to know they can do these things. They can do anything. Like the Country Bunny, they can have it all, and I so want to be that example to them.

But as much as I love the life I’m living, I am eternally grateful that there are other lives. Particularly lives that are lived by other writers, so that I can experience them, too.

About a million years ago, I went to Juniper Summer Writing Institute, where I learned from some of the most wonderful writers on the planet, including Paul Lisicky and Mark Doty, who are so, so lovely. 

I’m going to step aside from this narrative for a second to admit to one of the most awkward things I’ve ever done. My blog is the confessional, and you are the priest, reader. You’re about to feel mortified for and with me. When I knew Mark and Paul, they were a couple. Years later, when Mark announced that his partner had proposed to him, I commented on his Facebook post (oh God, I am beet red just remembering this), “So many congratulations to you and Paul!”

You can kind of guess what happened next, right? Mark thanked me, and said, “But I’m talking about my partner. Paul and I haven’t been together for awhile, now.” (Oh God oh God oh God. Mortifying.) 

Anyway. Juniper was another life, and it was fabulous. I met another writer in the program named Elisa, and I’ve been guilty pleasure-reading her blog, Elisa Writes. She blogs about her life in Paris, traveling all over Europe, and all kinds of wonderfully scandalous goings on that are so very different from my own life. Thank goodness for writers with different lives.

In grad school at Hamline, I met one of my best friends in the whole world. She’s my diary. She’s my Diane. And while her life is actually pretty eerily similar to mine (our kids are the same ages, our husbands are gingery, we have a similar appetite for books), it’s still a different life. I love reading about it. Her blog is called Supergirls in Wonderland, and it’s wonderful. It makes me feel like I’m in Indiana with her, raising our kiddos next door. 

Rachel is someone whose blog, Fellow Passengers, I like to read when I’m feeling stressed out. Her life on the farm with her three girls is always beautifully photographed and written, and it’s a good fix when I’m wishing for a quieter day. 

Anyway, you should read these blogs. I love them.

  

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Maddie’s Mermaid Party

Remember how Maddie loves mermaids? Well, she requested a Little Mermaid birthday party this year, and the Pinterest lover in me did a little leap for joy. 

We had her party at the house, so it was a small party, but a completely lovely day.*

It was the result of a straight month of pinning fabulous ideas, and a day (and a night) of work.

  
Beezus was exactly the opposite of helpful while I decorated last night. (That was the chair I used to hang streamers.)

   

  

I brought the kids’ coloring table upstairs and used it as a mermaid coloring station. (Simon sampled at least two flavors of crayon.)

  

I poured sand, sea glass, and shells into mason jars to use as the centerpiece, and stuck a tiny framed picture of baby Maddie on the beach inside one of them.

 
   
 

The barnacles are baking cups.

   
(Princess wands.)

    

I’m proud of the cupcakes. I used the recipe I always use when I’m making cupcakes for the kids, but I added raspberry preserves to the buttercream frosting, and made those white chocolate seashells with Wilton candy melts and a Wilton mold. There are candy pearls on there, too, and the sand is crushed graham cracker.

  

The little tent cards are a free, cute printable from I Heart Naptime.

   

 
(Ocean punch = 1 part lemonade, 1 part blue Hawaiian punch.)

   
  

My mother-in-law is visiting! She’s super crafty, and she’s the artist behind these adorable fabric bags.

 

   
      

   

  
And it was a blast. We had so much fun, and I really think Maddie did, too.

*But here’s the thing. I’m currently in my bedroom, hiding from my children, because I’m tired, and Simon has been the whiniest human being on earth for the last week. (He’s getting a bunch of molars. Still.) And Maddie has needed about forty-five body parts wiped in the last two hours (because I thought ice cream would go well with the cupcakes). And I needed a moment. 

So I’m taking a break to blog and to not wipe anyone’s anything for a few minutes. 

But despite the tiredness and Simon’s whininess and Maddie’s neediness, it was a really excellent day. 

Now I’m going to swipe a handful of Swedish Fish and try to make it to bedtime.

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The backyard.

My favorite part of our house is the backyard. It’s like having a park that is fully enclosed. And it’s got a privacy fence all around, so we can crash around in our pajamas if we want. (We haven’t yet, but give me a particularly lazy summer Monday, and you can bet that’s what we’ll be doing.) 

  
We lived in the Issaquah apartment for two years, so I feel particularly grateful to have the yard now. And the garden! Some of the garden was planted by the former owners, so I have no idea what a lot of the plants are, but every time a new one blooms, I’m excited. I cleared out and planted some of the garden myself, and while many of the flowering perennials are already blooming beautifully, I’m eagerly (and impatiently) waiting for tomatoes and green beans. (My pumpkins aren’t going to happen. I’ve had to accept it and take full responsibility for it, because I’ve been feeding our squirrels, and now they’ve gotten greedy, and I’ve found my empty pumpkin seed casings all over the yard.) 

  

There have been some wonderful surprises, like a very large patch of strawberries.

  
We may have two large blueberry bushes, too! It certainly looks that way.

  
The kids are both loving all of the unstructured time playing outside. 

 
And so am I. Because boy, do they tire themselves out these days.

  

And as we all know, tired kids are easier-to-manage kids. Especially around bedtime.

   

  

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The worst whoopie pie baker in the world.

I like to think of myself as an okay baker. Maybe even a pretty good baker. (I’m nothing compared to my friend Emily, however. Check out her delicious stuff here.) We’re having company tonight, and I got lazy about dinner plans (“let’s order pizza,” I said), so I thought I’d make whoopie pies for dessert.

I found a delicious-looking recipe at A Family Feast, and thought, “How hard can it be?”

“How hard can it be?”

So. Effing. Hard.

  
(Yes, I said effing.)

The first batch was a sloppy, sad, wet nightmare. I overcompensated with the second, so they were tough little chocolate biscuits. During the third batch, I discovered the hard way that the cancel button on our new oven doesn’t just cancel the timer. It cancels the heat. Those whoopie pie ends made a thunk noise when I plopped them onto the cooling rack (after cooking them at very low heat for triple the time). Whoopie pie ends should definitely not make a thunk noise. The last batch was slightly overdone, because my heart wasn’t in it anymore.

I over-applied the filling, and after I assembled the whoopie pies, the little demons slid all over the place like goats on an ice rink. 

  
Zach and Maddie say they taste fine, but the grief they caused… The grief! 

Why didn’t I just bake cookies?

  
 

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Another sick day.

And on the day the preschoolers were supposed to visit with Issaquah’s firefighters! Very happily, the firefighters had a call, so firefighter day will be next Monday instead, and we didn’t miss it after all. (Er, happily for Maddie, I mean. Not happily for whomever needed the firefighters this morning!) 

So, instead, we kicked it at home.

   
 

I was hoping to spend some time outside, but it was kind of drizzly today, and will be for the next few days. (My garden will be thrilled! My kids are not.)

I bought a couple of $1 birdhouses from Michael’s last week, and we’ve been waiting for a good day to paint them. So, while Simon and Ramona were doing this:

 

Maddie did this:

   

  

 

We have a ridiculous number of ziploc bags full of buttons, ribbons, and other odds and ends in our craft box (the sensory bags were gifted to us from a retired children’s librarian who used to be in my critique group), so we turned the creativity up to eleven. (That last part should obviously be read with a British accent.) 

  

And here’s her finished birdhouse!

 
There’s also a very nude fairy button on the back of the birdhouse. (Unpictured, for decency’s sake.) Leave it to Maddie to discover the nude fairy button.

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Weird behavior.

Full moon? Teething? I don’t know what’s causing it, but it’s taken over my house today.

Maybe my kids are turning into werewolves.

When I asked Maddie to please stop shoving her little brother, she freaked right out, so I went into my room with Simon and closed the door for a minute. (Sometimes I need a minute. It’s like a timeout for me instead of her.) She banged on the door, shrieking her head off, and reminded me a lot of Mark Wahlburg in Fear. You know the scene.

   
 

She would sound calmish one second, and then totally flip her lid.

“Mama, I just need you to open this door, okay? Mama, I just… Can you let me in, Mama? Mama, OPEN THE DOOR! AAAAAUUUUGGGGHHH! OPEN IT NOW!” 

Intense. I opened the door after about a minute, but was pretty convinced she was waiting on the other side with a machete. (Spoilers: she wasn’t.)

She calmed down, Zach got home, and then it was time for dinner. Simon ate a massive sandwich, but it obviously wasn’t enough, because he gnawed off the corner of one of Maddie’s Paw Patrol books right afterward. 

   
 

What on earth? Tomorrow has got to be a more normal day.

Lute Children,

I love you so much. I also love my sanity, so let’s calm it down, okay? Maybe less screaming and book chomping tomorrow.

Love, your Mama.

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I’m beat.

I wonder whether there are mothers out there who aren’t regularly totally exhausted? If there are, what’s their secret?

We had a great weekend with our friend Laura, who was visiting from Rhode Island. Laura was here apartment hunting, because (yaaaaay!) she’s moving to Seattle! 

On Saturday, she and I had a grown-ups only day in the city, and it was a blast. It’s amazing what a day away will do for your sanity. 

On Sunday, we took the kids to Kelsey Creek Farm while Zach worked on around-the-house stuff.

     

         

 
Laura left this morning, and I’ve been home since with two kids who have a lot of energy.

I tried to convince them to nap with me. They were super excited! We piled onto my bed, I tucked us all in, and it went down like this.

Me: Family snooze! Let’s do it!

Maddie: Family snooze! Yay!

Simon: Yaaaaaay!

Me: Okay! Let’s go to sleep!

Maddie: Family snooze! Wahoo! Yeah! Let’s snooze, everybody! Yay!

Simon: Yaaaaaaaaay!

Me: Goodnight!

Maddie: (Jumping on the bed) Goodnight! Family snooze! Yeah yeah! Woo!

Simon: (Standing on my face) Yaaaaaay! Yaaaaaay!

Maddie: (Jumping onto the floor) Family snooze! Do it! Woo hoo!

Simon: (Clambering behind Maddie) Yay! Yaaaaaay!

So, no one’s snoozing. Except this lucky thing.

  
Tonight is my critique group, and I considered calling in tired, but it’s actually more restful to drive out and talk children’s lit with these awesome women than it is to stay here and wrangle my two children to sleep. Plus, we’re meeting in a Starbucks, and there’s coffee there. 

  
 

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The Minnesota weekend!

We brought a goopy, scratchy cold home from the Twin Cities, so I’m going to spend this lazy, on-the-couch morning back at home blogging about our trip.

It was wonderful! It was brief, but I always feel that way about visiting places I love. And I do love Minnesota. It’s where Zach and I met, where I went to a graduate school I loved, where I did some of my best writing. It’s where we got married, and where I met two of my best friends in this world. (Shoutout to Jilly and Diane!) Now, it’s where my godson lives, and he (and his mom and dad) are the reason we spent a long weekend visiting.

  
The kids were great on the three hour flight there.

  
We bribed them with new Thomas and Friends and Paw Patrol books, a few episodes of Paw Patrol on their LeapPad, a dog named Pickles who is really too big for Maddie to bring along, but who made the trip anyway, and many, many packets of Annie’s gummy bunny snacks. It was Simon’s first time flying, and he slept for about half of it.

   
   
Then we got to Jill and Luke’s, and I pretty much died from the joy/sweetness of meeting Grayson for the first time.

   
   

Jill put together a completely brilliant area known as Baby Jail, and it’s inspired me. I want to make a baby jail. Simon and Grayson were crazy adorable (and fully contained) playing in it.

  
There was lots of hang out-with-the-kids time, but Jill and I also got a chance to go shopping by ourselves, and that was pretty much heaven. We wandered Target with our Starbucks, like the old days. We shopped for cute jammies for our kids, like the new days. It was wonderful.

We explored a new (to us) park, and had a lot of Culver’s while we were there. (Let’s put it this way. I knew first hand what the flavor of the day was three days in a row.)

   
                 
Maddie had a little bit of a rough/emotional time while we were there. It’s been a few months of changes and big events, so I think that’s what’s going on. Girl has a lot of feelings. I get it.

  
One of her very favorite parts of the trip was the ant farm at Como Zoo. Maddie loves ants. (She’s getting her very own ant farm for her birthday. Shh. Don’t tell her.)

   

   
Speaking of birthdays, we celebrated Zach’s in Minnesota!

   
 

Jill made a supremely awesome four layer chocolate cake and strawberry ice cream, and everything was fabulous. 

I’m so glad we had that time with our friends, and with our beautiful godson.

  
The flight back was much less peaceful than the flight there, but we’d all caught a cold, so Simon wasn’t feeling great. There was a lot of screaming. Even Paw Patrol couldn’t silence it. Once we got home, everyone relaxed.

   
 

We’re spending today recovering from these colds, unpacking (remember, we’d just moved into the house before our MN trip), and resting up. And there will probably be some Paw Patrol. There’s always some Paw Patrol.

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Firsts.

Well, we have a beautiful view of the sunrise in our new house. Unfortunately, I know this because Simon woke up at 5:00am. I’m having my first new house coffee about three hours before I’d like to, but that’s how it goes with the cute little boy who loves early mornings.

  

Yesterday was hectic and fun and tiring, and we’re totally indebted to friends who helped us move everything. Maddie had a few rough moments, but I think she’s adjusting as well as I can expect a not-quite-three-year-old to adjust to all of these changes. I was relieved that she made her way into our room and bed early this morning, like she always has. The new house hasn’t thrown her 3am snuggling routine.

 

Today, we have a ton of unpacking to do. A ton. Good thing Simon gave us such a terribly, terribly early start!