Dandelion: 2010 Year In Review

Ho00-boy, this is going to hurt. I really don’t want to go crawling through my archives on this year– but like  pulling off a band-aid, it must be done. It’s an avalanche of pain and emotion- Without further ado, a look back at what turns out to be the sorting-through year…

January: Dawns with me feeling tiny, trepidatious flickering of hope. The divorce was not yet final, and I continually found myself flattened, but kept picking myself up and dusting off, and feeling more than a little like Rocky. I may have even started to have an attitude- “oh yeah? knock me down again… I’ll just keep getting back up.” I found out I was losing my home and wrote some of the most stirring, painful things I’ve ever written. Even now, a year later, it makes me cry to go there. I started going to the Y in an effort to not self-destruct, I taught y’all how to make a weighted blanket, and Jeffrey discovered Calvin & Hobbes. I closed the month out by writing Thoughts on Moving and Goodbye House. Get some tissue before you read January, if you’re so inclined.

February: My divorce finalized and we settled into and began to piece life back together in our new Little House. Wonder opened my heart to the possibilities that might lie ahead as I suddenly felt… free… for the first time in years, and hope gained a foothold instead of a flicker. My ward held us up in 100 different ways, and I stood on wobbly new legs and decided to apply to the University instead of the junior college in a burst of self-confidence and bravado. Hope becomes a recurring flame. Random Crap makes its first appearance in months, and is a harbinger of a new normal.

March: The carwash teaches me about the return to life, and Bean gets creative with his bad self. I get lost in bad movies from my teen years, and meet my new neighbors- turns out they rock. Lifting weights and Yoga become my new therapy, and I beat the crap out of the heavy bag instead of X. Jeffrey’s sex-ed began with a trip to the mailbox and finding a Cosmopolitan magazine. Random Crap makes several appearances and life seems to be almost inhabitable.

April: We all freak out on sugar over the early Easter weekend, and have a blast with the toilet plungers at Ace Hardware. Swimming lessons started, and the men from my ward showed up and graded my yard, put in sprinklers, and added a fence to boot. I have a few moments of what feel like insurmountable pain, but the good days start to slowly outnumber the difficult, and I get my letter from the University congratulating me on my acceptance. I have fun at the Social Security office, and Abby takes up writing in earnest. I wax on about my love for Henry, and Abby turns four. Life is quiet. And my son broke my heart wide open- in the best way- this might be single favorite moment of the whole year.

May: Chris Cornell socks me in the gut at the gym and I have to have a good cry. I walk onto my college campus for the first time, and challenge the world, in writing, to bring it on. An essay of mine is published in an anthology, and you can order it on Amazon. I’m a real writer, babies! I hate on Zumba, and take the kids to Comicon, where Abby is the absolute hit of the place. And I share the best freaking lemon bars on earth with y’all. If you haven’t made them yet, do yourself a favor and do it!

June: Jeffrey makes a strange grocery list, and Bean waxes on the glory of chartreuse. Mo moves and I cry a little bit, but then distract myself by writing a really looong and boring primer on and IEP. We all get caught in the deep end of the pool once in a while, but we are surviving better and better. Little House stiffles me with summer heat, and I (gulp!) start back to school. Ready or not!

July: School school school school school. Sumer. Kids. Homework. Hot. Struggling with balancing full-time motherhood, solo parenting, and full-time school- and failing some days badly and some days actually doing okay. Bean ate a bowl of Cheerios. July is my least favorite month.

August: I took my finals and got a perfect 4.0 for my first venture back to college, flew to Salt Lake for a banzai trip, then immediately packed up the kids and flew down to California to hang with family for the rest of the month. We had Yosemite, In-n-Out, the California Academy of Sciences and a huge blow-up birthday party at grandma and grandpa’s house. It was a low word-count month on account of all the vacationing and finals.

September:  I finally come to terms with the Celiac when my body rebels, and Ava cracks my heart wide open with her love for my dear Bean. We pick blackberries and make jam and I really start writing again when Steven King kicks my butt with his little book On Writing. Bean turns seven and starts dropping his teeth all over the place, and the tooth fairy bombs. Repeatedly. And I become a fly-swatting lunatic over some really scary tubers.

October: Start off the month with conference, which renews my love for the Uchtdorff, and have a birthday the same day. I make a TRX trainer much to the delight of the guys at Ace, and give you all a glimpse into the seamy underbelly of online LDS dating. Because I’m feeling particularly insane, I start posting recipes like a madwoman. You win! Really, I don’t post recipes unless they utterly rock, so take note. I delete my dating profile when I am asked what is wrong with my uterus by a man in Hurricane Utah. Made some super cool crafts at church and crashed and burned for a finale of the month.

November: Made a book page wreath, and the deacons loved us by taking care of our yard. Headed over to Seattle to see Mo and speak at a conference on the changing faces of LDS families. Mo took me out for my very first steak, and I loved it. Beyond loved it. I still stumble some days, but it’s getting fewer and farther. Mo makes the national news, and I deck the halls.

December: Little waves of happiness roll over me, and we have FHE at the lake one really freaking cold night. I ace my next set of finals despite distractions, children and holidays and make the Dean’s List for the second straight quarter. Kellie springs for hte most amazing shoes ever and delights me for days, and life is pretty sweet.

And here we are, New Year’s Eve- ten years ago tonight, standing in the tiny hallway of my little house in California, I found out I was expecting my first child. Now, I stand again on the precipice of a whole new future, and frankly, I am happier and more optimistic than I imagined I could possibly be. Here’s to a happy and lovely 2011 to all of us. Cheers!

Over the River and Through the Woods…

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

Mo’s living room is almost as comfortable and familiar to me as my own. It’s nearly the witching hour as I sit on her super-sleepable couch with my Mac warming my lap and letting my thoughts drift… Abby stirred sleepily from her couch in the front room a few minutes ago, but small, quiet shushing and her purple blanket calmed her back to dreamland. The boys are both asleep downstairs in the chaos of a playroom dominated for two solid days by four little boys with new toys and two small girls trying to keep up. Jeffrey has half slid off the air-mattress in his footed sleeper grandma gave him for Christmas, and Bean is curled up on the sofa, his bear tucked under his chin and his own footie jammies flopping loose around his slack, sleeping body.

The woodstove in the corner clicks and pops importantly to itself, not quite in-time with my clicking keyboard, but as a comforting harmony, and somewhere deep in the house I hear the heater click on and warm air whirrs quietly from the vents near the floor. Just like at my own house, there are baskets of clean laundry that function as dressers and the clutter of lives busy being lived rather than constantly straightened and organized. It’s not a stretch to say both Mo and I take a lot of latitude in what it looks like to have a house of order. It all depends on what order looks like to you…

Do you want to be surrounded by stacks of tidy, compact structure? Do you need people to fit in this box or that category so you know how to behave? Then my kind of friendship is not for you. This is one of the best lessons I’ve learned with Mo. She holds up a mirror so I can see not only her, but who I am by virtue of how she sees me. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my constant take-away from my love for her.

Last night we took off to see a show, leaving Mr. Mo with all six kids– and they weren’t even in bed yet. We got in the car and as longtime friends can feel in their bones, I knew there were things she had to say to me. “Well, shall we dance around, or just have at it?” Since neither of us inhabit stacks of defined order or live in fear of the borderlands, and my trust of her is beyond implicit, the space to open, unzip and spill is immediately made in an emotional clearing. .

Much like in love, depth comes to a friendship when you face the darkness as well as the light in each other and allow it to carve out holding places for the joy and sorrow as well. When you allow your friend their humanity, their frailty, their failings and treat their soft, white underbelly with tenderness and compassion… that is where your friendship finds its home- and becomes something greater than two people dancing in the light.

On the way to the show, we talked about deep, tender places– places where sometimes even the weight of a gaze makes one sharply intake breath. We felt around in the dark, knowing and trusting each other enough to be vulnerable and know the foundation that was laid down over the years. This act of carving-out may hurt, it may be scary, but it ultimately creates a deeper place within and lays down another layer of bedrock.

We walked simpatico in the Seattle drizzle through the hazy parking lot to the theater, coats pulled snug and messenger bags thumping quietly on our hips, sorting out the things to keep and what to release into the ether.

She scoffed at my choice of Coke Zero over her always superior option of Cherry Coke, and I dumped extra salt on the popcorn on purpose so I wouldn’t have to pee during the movie. By the time the show started, we were back to marveling at Christina Aguilara’s (lack of) acting skills, the heinous comeback of the heavy bang, and making highly educated guesses as to which make-up lines were being showcased on the faces of the other actresses in the film.

*****

This morning, Mr. Mo cooked breakfast for all the kids before he headed off for some Army stuff, and Mo and I packed all the kids and ourselves into one car and headed off to the zoo and aquarium. Many hours later, we returned with a passel of damp, hungry, but pretty happy kids and a sureness that nope, my stultifying and irrational fear of sharks has not yet abated.

Camped around her dining room table, we sent the kids downstairs to play until it was time for Ikea dinner (aw yeah!) and then instant-messaged and facebooked each other from two feet way while high-fiving  over our giggling witty amusement. When she slipped a new MAC Villains lipglass in my hand and said it was for me, I knew all was right in the world again. If Mo gives you make-up? You are something special. If Mo gives you a special limited edition MAC lipglass? You, my friend, have made it. Turns out order really does come in many different colors… I happen to like mine with a dash of latitude, some shine and with a hint of sparkle.

*****

Down with Fakey Fakerson

Christmas barfed all over my house. Everywhere… bits of wrapping paper, torn toy containers, tape stuck to the carpet, glittery bows, tinsel, light bulbs, Lego bits and pieces, my little pony shoes (yes they have shoes now) Polly Pocket (because Lego aren’t enough fun to step on barefoot) and various pieces of candy scattered to kingdom come.

(Not to mention #$%& little metal ornament hooks that get caught in my socks or the brush on the vacuum and then click and drive me nuts until I sit down and hulk the vacuum over and eviscerate it to extract the metal hook- what? that never happens to you? I don’t believe you.) So anyway…

Tonight, I tore everything down. Everything. The Faker is boxed and back in the basement, the halls are undecked, the recycle is full of cardboard, the cards and wreaths are down, and most of the lights are boxed (My one indulgence was leaving up the bathroom lights. We all like how they make bath-time nice, and I have a side project I’m considering for them.) It felt so good to walk into the living room and have it be all clean and neat again… at least until tomorrow, when the kids wake up. I can dream…

Next year? Totally getting a real tree. I think I’m over the Faker.

Christmas Recipe: Mexican Caesar Salad

Everyone else is posting cookie and candy recipes, but for me, Christmas Eve means Mexican food- and has for the better part of the last decade. I make this salad once a year, and I make a bucketload- enough to feed 30-40 people each year on Christmas Eve. If I showed up with anything else, they might toss me out. The recipe is originally from El Torito Restaurant, and trust me when I say it’s the real deal. You can halve the recipe if you need less than a vat. Even feeding 40 people, I’ll only use half. (I dole the rest out to grateful friends)

Welcome to the kitchen of Little House… Now lets make some food!

El Torito’s Mexican Caesar Salad

The cast of characters:

  • 2 medium Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded (or one can Hatch diced mild chiles)
  • 1/3 cup roasted pepitas (green raw pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 ounces light olive oil or other mild salad oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp grated Cotija cheese (crumbly Mexian cheese, cannot be substituted- becoming widely available)
  • 2 medium bunches of cilantro
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water

The very first thing you have to do is roast your pepitas. This is a fun little thing, because they puff up and pop when you heat them- and their flavor is terrific. When you start, they will be flat and firm, and add them to a dry pan over medium heat:

Shake them and watch carefully- like all nuts/seeds, they’re likely to burn if you’re not careful. It only takes a couple of minutes- and they’ll start to pop and puff up, and look like this:

Place all of the above ingredients except cilantro, mayonnaise and water in a food processor. Thus:

Give it a whirl, pulsing until it’s well combined and uniform. Then, add the cilantro- yes, all of it- but only handfulls at a time, or you might have a mess. But keep adding and pulsing until it looks like this:

Then, in a large separate bowl, combine and whisk together the mayonnaise and the water until smooth, and then add the contents of the cilantro-ladden food processor:

Combine until it looks like this:

Then bottle in canning jars and refrigerate. It tastes best after its sat in the cold for a day or two, and will keep a week in the fridge. It never lasts that long at my house…

To make the salad, quantities are variable, depending on the crowd:

  • Romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
  • Extra grated Cotija cheese
  • Roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Extra roasted pepitas
  • Corn tortillas, julienned and pan-fried in vegetable oil until crisp

Et voila! Assemble to your liking, and enjoy!

Heels with Jeans: What Say You?

In the comments on my terribly self-indulgent Costco post about my new jeans, it was suggested I pair them with my most awesome Kelly Christmas Shoes. It never dawned on me! I’m so lame- I always wear boots with my jeans- and it never occurred to me that hot shoes might belong with hot jeans. What do you think? Can you wear a snug pair of jeans with some really high, sexy heels? My sanity and burgeoning fashion-sense is counting on your opinions!

{Post Edited: Evidently, this is a very popular thing, a quick Google search even tells me there are flickr groups devoted to such things- but honestly, most of the chicks displaying don’t look very…ehem… mother-ish. ;) What say ye, mamas??}

Costco Four Days Before Christmas

While the small natives spent today at our Home Teacher’s house swimming in an indoor pool while it was subzero and snowy outside, mama had Christmas errands to run. That’s the life, eh? You know what I did? I went to Costco. Learn from me… Costco four days before Christmas is a very, very, very bad idea. It started in the parking lot, where, overcome with the Christmas spirit, I waved an elderly lady into the parking spot I had been waiting on- then I looked for another 30 minutes to make up for my good deed. It was like the Santa Monica freeway at rush hour, with an upended cart of bananas and a circus train that derailed.

No carts to be had outside, and oh look! My card is gone! I sneak in through the out-door, and get in line for a new card. The picture will forever remind me of my annoyance, but at least it was relatively quick. Making my way to the entrance with my spanking new card in my mitt, there were still no carts… and then I did a bad thing. There was a cart over by the electronics… it was empty, but I suspect it was someone’s anyway. I slipped my bag and my Sigg bottle in the child seat nonchalantly and sidled away. I figure it equaled out with the parking spot gods- at least I hope so.

To make it more fun, every single aisle had vendors and samples being given out, so amid the chaos and cart jams were people milling around waiting for the L’il Smokies in barbecue sauce to be toothpicked and set out. The $600 blender guy was screaming into his microphone about the vital need to consume cabbage three times a day (really dude?) to prevent prostate cancer, and the fish guy was camped out right next to him with his tentacles and crustaceans. The smell of the fish mingled with the burning smell of the coffee roaster across the sea of picked-over toys, and I felt suddenly ill. A quick detour into the cold room cleared my head, and I remembered that I’m responsible for my famous Mexican Caesar salad to feed 30 on Christmas eve… better grab a dozen heads of Romaine.

I always take a detour through the books at Costco, but the cart-jam was so horrendous that I didn’t make it any further than the historical paperbacks. Almost tossed the biography of John Adams in my cart, but then remembered how limited my recreational reading time is… and put it reluctantly back. I did however grab a pair of jeans… Low-rise Levis for under $20? Yes please! I was being optimistic with my new running thing, and picked a pair two sizes down from my current pair. A girl can dream, right? Come on, who doesn’t have jeans in their closet that don’t fit? That’s what I thought.

For about four aisles some weird guy seemed to be following me. I swear I wasn’t imaging it- I would stop, and he would. I’d move, and he would. I turned, and he turned. Dude was starting to creep me out, when I finally turned around, looked right at him, and pulled my phone from my pocket ands started to dial. I was fake dialing, but he didn’t know that. He spun around and got lost in the mess of cart madness. That was weird. Probably nothing, but weird. Maybe weird stuff happens all the time but I’m usually so hung up looking for Bean on the ceiling or something that I don’t notice.

All the check-outs were open, so the lines, while long, went mercifully quickly. I contemplated getting a Costco dinner, but the cart-jam at the food court was of epic proportions, so I skipped it and cracked the jar of almonds I had bought. Hello, dinner.

At home, still a few minutes before I had to retrieve the monkeys, I held up and admired my new jeans. Hmmm… maybe I should just try them on, see if I could pull them over my butt? OH heck yeah, what is this… they went right on! Not only did they go on, they buttoned!!! Easily!! Oh hells yeah. Merry Christmas to me!

Favorite Beauty Finds of the Year

Thanks to Mo, I have become a total make-up junkie. This not a definitive list, but just an off-the-cuff  list of the beauty goodies I’ve fallen in love with this year. They’re not necessarily new, and some are tried and true- but all are products that rise above the competition and are worth trying out if you like looking good and being master of your own confidence. Yeah yeah yeah, we could argue that women are beautiful on their own, and blah blah blah… sure, yeah, I totally get it. I’m not above a naked-face now and then- but I sure do feel in charge of my world when I know I look good. And knowing how to use what’s available is a big part of that… and it’s empowering! (all products available at Sephora or MAC counters, and even Target for one)

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Primer – There are a ton of primers out there- they have different consistencies and different benefits- I’ve used Stila, Urban Decay,  Benefit, Tarte and Bare Minerals. They are all fine- but this one is the boomdigity. Too-Faced does primers right- it locks your make-up down and amplifies your own beauty. It can be worn alone (it’s like a tinted moisturizer) under a sheer foundation, or even with full make-up. It’s versatile, fragrance free, and leaves your skin feeling like silk.

Right behind it is it’s cousin, Too Faced Shadow Insurance – Lots of folks rave about Urban Decay shadow primer- and I have several tubes of it in my make-up- but the biggest downside to UD primer is the container- it’s a doe-foot applicator, and you can never (ever!) get all the product out of the container! When I fork over cash for a product, I need access people! UD is a good product, but Too Faced Shadow Insurance is easily as good, and comes in a tube without the issues. Too Faced wins.

MD Skincare All-In-One Tinted Moisturizer - I learned about this product line from my friend Jen who runs Mythbuster Beauty, and lucked into tube in a box Jen sent me to review. For as much as I love cosmetics, I hate having a heavily made-up feeling face, and this solves that problem in spades. It’s an SPF 15 covering UVA and UVB rays, comes in 6 tinted shades, and leaves your skin hydrated, and sheerly covered. It’s light, easy to use, and makes you look natural, only better. It’s a little pricey, but a little goes a long way, (my tube has lasted months) and it’s really good for your skin

Now here’s a good value: Maybelline Volume Express Falsies- For five bucks, you can’t beat this drugstore mascara- I’ve got a drawer full of mascara, and this if my favorite. No, it won’t give you false-lash drama (nothing can do that except the real (ha!) fakes) but this mascara is a fantastic value, gives good full coverage, has a nice brush, and has given me virtually no sloughing or flaking under my eyes, even after all day. Can’t beat that- plus, I just cannot, no matter what, make myself consider paying $26 for DiorSHOW, the purported master of mascaras. If you can, let me know how you like it- I tried it in Sephora, but seriously, $26 for mascara? No can do.

This… Oh, this my lovelies… This is the best beauty find of the year, hands down. The Urban Decay Naked Palette – This is the most beautiful collection of neutrals I’ve ever seen- and everyone else too, judging by the Sephora backorder on it until spring- yes, spring! Urban Decay makes the best shadows anyway, with the possible exception of MAC, but even that I’m not completely convinced. UD’s shadows are highly, richly pigmented, and the color pay-off is huge. Every color in this palette will look good on a wide variety of skin tones and shades- it’s become my go-to make-up and I wear it more than half the time. When applied over a primer, I can make up my eyes at dawn, and have them still look smokey and perfect at midnight, with virtually no touching up. This is where buying good makeup, while may cost more initially, makes it totally worth it. Get  your name on the wait-list for this one! Plus, it comes with a double-ended UD liner in Zero and Whiskey. UD 24/7 liners are the bomb, by the way. Don’t even bother with anything else anymore- even MAC can’t top them. They stay put and never migrate.

Speaking of MAC… when you go to the trouble of using good products and applying them carefully, give it a set. MAC Fix+ is a light misting finishing spray when you are done applying all your make up. Many companies are making them now, and I was skeptical, I have to admit. Mo talked me into trying it, and wowza, what a difference! Last thing I do before I start my day- spritz a fine mist over my face and closed eyes (I know it sounds nuts) and bam! everything is dewy and fresh, and stays that way all day!

MAC Viva Glam V – Oh yes… if you’re looking for a neutral, natural pink lipstick or gloss, Viva Glam V is a perfect shade. I seldom (like, never) go rich or dark on my lip color, but I like a good neutral, and Viva Glam is fantastic. Plus, when you buy Viva Glam lipstick or lipglass, every cent of the selling price (yes, really) goes to the MAC AIDS fund. Also, hold onto your MAC empties- if you take in five (any five) empty MAC containers, you get a free lipstick or lipglass of your choice. I can totally get behind that whole thing.

Now make yourself beautiful- use whatever you’ve got, and learn how to amplify and rock it. If I can go from an inept makeup geek to darn-near master, you can to. It brings a tear of pride to Mo’s eye, watching her Padawan turn into a Jedi. And sorry Ray, one more thing girls can do that you can’t. ;)

Ward Christmas Party + Fuzzy Pictures = The Sweetness of Mormon Life

Sorry for the fuzzy image, but this was the best I could capture- notice that he is, in fact, missing his two front teeth... and has his baseball cap backwards, and the patented Bean picture smile is in full effect.

Last night was our ward Christmas party. I’ve heard lots of people gripe over the years about ward Christmas parties, but I have to say, I’ve been to some amazing ones. Do you remember the Night in Bethlehem party my ward did a few years ago? We still have the small cask of gold, frankincense and myrrh sitting by our creche from that party. Last night was nowhere near as elaborate, and there were no tiny chests of treasure to take home, but it was a sweet experience of its own kind.

This year the party was really ad-hoc. With the disbanding of the activities committees church-wide, it was interesting how this party  came together. People banded together and still worked hard, but it was more relaxed- at least it seemed that way to me. (who used to be on the activities committee) The gym was still decorated nicely- various people brought centerpieces and tablecloths, and hams had been cooking all day. Four stations were get up around the room, with a large dessert buffet at the front near the stage. Four stations was a brilliant idea, as there were no long lines, and plenty of food for everyone. The kids ran amok and chased each other around and around the building, while snow flurries started to gently blow in…

In the kitchen, a few people had everything running like a well-oiled machine, and despite my offers of help, all I was able to do was cut a caramel apple pie and a red-devil cake for the dessert table. My visiting teacher was tossing huge bowls of salad, and one of my favorite women in the world– a grandmother of many– was dishing up potatoes and gravy into crystal bowls. Joking with each other in the kitchen, she gave me a huge hug and told me she loves me, and slipped some folded bills in my pocket with the command to get some things for my kids coupled with the shiny tears on the edge of her eyes.

In the gym, my home-teachers had staked out a table near the stage, and welcomed me and the kids to their spot. Joining us was the stake patriarch- the same one who gave me my blessing so many years ago, and his sweet, gentle wife. My kids bounced in and out, and when it was finally time for the blessing and dinner, everyone was bouncing off the walls. Jeffrey ate a plate of potatoes, Abby a plate of rolls with butter, and Bean? Bean skipped the dinner line and went straight to the dessert line and came back to the table with what you see above. There is no real food on that plate- only cookies, candy and sugar. Rather than make a big deal, I kissed his little happy cheeks and told him to knock himself out.

Then the Primary kids all climbed up on stage, and with absolutely no rehearsal, sang four Christmas songs. They also may have done a fair amount of shoving and goofing off, and one mama came up to me afterwards and said “I’m so glad it wasn’t my kid this year!” Bean has a way of making parents feel that way- and we’re usually happy to oblige. Jeffrey and Abby are both on the left, Bean is in his backwards ballcap near center right. They sang one of my favorite Christmas songs- Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus. Listen to it with the words and music. Makes me cry every single time…

Then, afterwards, because we are very fortunate, we walked outside our stake center, and were able to simply cross the parking lot and take a walk around the temple grounds. The kids all asked to this, and even Bean loves to skip around the walks and climb the benches inside the fence– which I happily let them do. It was a very good party- and a very good night.

Grounded

How is it that whenever I punish my kids, I’m the one who ends up paying for it? This morning, mama went ballistic when carpool arrived (miraculously at the same time it does every. single. day.) and neither boy was ready. Not only were they not ready, they were in a mad frantic dash to even locate boots, despite a large basket by the door where the boots are supposed to go. Coats missing, backpacks missing. Papers missing. Snacks left on the counter. Breakfast shoved in a hand as they run out the door. Rawr!

Every morning its the same story. So after the cacophony rolled out the kitchen door and into the patiently waiting warm car, I went downstairs to change over the laundry. The ceaseless, never-ending lahar of laundry that is the bane of my existence- and what did I find? The TV room was torn to bits. All the cushions were off the couch, and the Wii games were scattered helter skelter around the floor. Bean took my sewing scissors to not only paper, but his therapy hammock, it what he has since informed me was an effort to “cut out the green stripe”.  Abby had dumped out Bananagrams on my desk and had opened my folders from school and copied Bananagram words (some actual words, some made up) into my folders and on my papers.

What was I doing while all this happened? I had the nerve to be taking a shower. What was I thinking?

It’s really good they had already left for school, because I was calm enough to be reasonable by the time I saw them again. Also, I spent part of a gift-card on something pretty for me while they were gone. Healthy blowing off of frustration? Meh, probably not, but at least when I picked them up I no longer wanted to filet their little butts.

They are grounded. I let them out for dinner, and then sent them immediately back to their room. They’ve been screwing off now for more than two hours, and I still can’t see the floor of their room. They can’t come out until I can not only see the floor, but run the vacuum, and it may be next year at the rate they’re going. I keep having to stick my head in their room to keep them even moderately focused- and Bean says he doesn’t care if he’s grounded forever, because then he doesn’t have to go to school. Also, his new catchphrase is “I can’t help it mom, I’m a bad boy.” he says it with enough of  a twinkle in his eye that I know he’s enjoying himself- and I can barely keep from laughing. I’m not so hot at being authoritarian…

Now I’m sitting at the kitchen table, listening to them giggle and throw Legos at each other while Bean rolls around on the floor in the pile of dirty laundry they’ve amassed. Jeffrey is under the bed lauging hysterically as Bean attempts to spell naughty words. Naughty words like “stupid” and “buttface” and “pickle snort”…  They are trying to be quiet, but they simply can’t help themselves and keep devolving into fits of giggles.

It’s three hours until their bedtime- what are the odds that they’ve have made any headway at all?