Monday, April 27, 2009

sweet tooth

When the house is clean, and Reed is at school, and Savanna is napping, and I have had sufficient time to lay down for a minute, I like to bake. (This is not the only time I like to bake. If it was, I would bake once every two weeks.) Jaxon likes to pull up a chair to the counter and help out, and sometimes it becomes sweet one-on-one time between us. I love to see his big dark chocolate eyes light up when I offer him cookie dough or ask him to pour in the entire bag of chocolate chips. I like the conversations we have.

"Mom, that's flour and sugar in those white things."
"Yep. Flour and sugar."
"Why do we need eggs in cookies?"
"Because when we bake them, the eggs hold the cookie together."

When I dropped a cookie sheet on the floor-
"Mom, that sound was so loud it almost maked my ears bleed!"

"I maked chicken with dad last night. And then we put it in buh-reedo's." (Chicken enchiladas...he helped Phill shred the chicken.)

"Mom? Why do we pick up the chair instead of scrape it across the floor?"
"Because if you scrape it across the floor, it's loud."
"Yeah. That would make my ears bleed." [At this point I wonder what Reed has been telling him...or if it is just his own conclusion he's reached.]

Lastly, as he was licking cookie dough off his hand,
"Mmmm.....yummy, yummy, yummy."

Recipe to what we made today: My Kitchen Cafe's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. The dough is divine....I have yet to actually try the cookies, though I did save some dough to make some. The dough, I can promise, is yummy-yummy-yummy.

POST-EDIT: These cookies are SOOOOOOOO good!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ducky Date

Of all the many talents Phill has, have I ever told you that he has a talent for photography?

Yeah. He's good.

Really good.

Good enough that I'm often jealous, in a fiery happy sort of way. And tonight, he really pulled out all the stops.

Tonight we went on a date and found this secret spot in St.George, a very un-St.George-like spot. A body of water and ducks. And ducklings. They made me squeal and say things in a strangely high-pitched voice.

Oh, heaven help me, those fuzzy little ducklings....

We followed them around, trying with the zoom lens to get close-up pictures--without getting close-up. We must have seemed like paparazzo, because we quite literally ruffled some feathers.

Their parents were very clear in letting us know how displeased they were by our proximity.

They gave us the evil eye.

It's pretty unnerving to get the evil eye from a duck. Especially when they give you the evil eye and come towards you at the same time, making scary duck sounds. Phill was brave. After the ducks came very quickly towards us, spreading their wings and hoarsely quacking and looking at us sideways, I very quickly walked further away saying something like "oh-man-oh-man-oh-man-oh-NO-oh-PHILL-oh-man-oh-man....." Needless to say, I was put in my place. But Phill got closer and took the wind right out of this duck's feathers. We'll call him Merv. I just think he has a Merv face. Look at his mean Merv-y face....

The mother was such a good mama duck. Look at her protective stance. She looks so intensely uncomfortable, I felt a little bad, actually. How dare I invade her personal space? "How dare you invade our personal space?"
They needed to confer about what to do. "Merv, I just can't do this anymore."

"You do something about this, or I am moving across the pond without a backward glance. I'm serious, Merv."She meant business.

So they moved the ducklings. First the ducklings went away from us, followed by the mama, followed by Merv and....who's the other guy? The brother-in-law? It was a strategized move.
Meanwhile, I'm a chicken. While Phill captured awesome humdingers like the ones above, I took placid photos like these.

Look at them! Three little ducklings.
They craned their necks to watch their mama swim.

And she was sure to stand between them and any danger....i.e., we human paparazzi. I just couldn't come between her and her babies.

Then we drove around and found high points from which to take photos.

And rode off into the sunset.

Best date ever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

evening peace

Tonight we had an unusually quiet dinner; one that wasn't punctuated by Jaxon's furious outcries over spilled milk (literally), and one where quiet conversation prevailed. The food was good, too. Phill made some chicken that was really flavorful and tender, and I made a salad.

Everything just smelled good, tasted good, sounded good....and outside it was 90 degrees with a slight breeze.

Our backyard, now a happy place with its carpet of green, is in shade from about 2:00p.m. on. The grass makes it cooler (temperature-wise), and with the hint of a breeze today, it was invitingly pleasant out there.

After dinner, the kids were milling around the backyard in plain sight while I did dishes and Phill swept the dinner remnants from the floor. The soft clink of dish-on-sink, the lull of the air conditioner, and the delicious scent of our dinner still in the air; the children on the grass outside, happy and safe; the kitchen slowly becoming cleaner and cleaner after we had filled our bellies.

"This is nice."
Says Phill.

I ask, gesturing to the kids outside, singing and making sound effects while they play.

"Yeah. This."
And he moves his hand in the direction of the yard, then over our kitchen, then over the dishes and the air around us.

This: Our children, playing without concern or care while we look on. Our dishes, full of food we are grateful to have, now clean after our thankful hands' work. Our marriage, ripe with laughter and friendship and that particular romance that comes from supporting each other through monotonous day after day; until you reach a moment where it is all glaringly beautiful and the gratitude could ooze out of your ears it's so much. When you are reminded that out of all the less-spectacular moments and more-gritty times, there is beauty in shared happiness. Beauty in home.

Yes. Tonight, this is nice.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

separation anxiety

At the beginning of the school year, I figured it was advisable to stay by Reed's side when dropping him off, then wave when he walked into class. For a long time, I wouldn't even walk away until he was out of sight.

For about three months.

Then I decided this was rather intensive; I was too clingy, too coddling, and decided to drop him off, hug him, and go right back home. That day when I picked him up, it was clear that this was too much, too soon. "Mom, when you got in the car and drove away my tummy was nervous. I was brave. But my tummy was nervous."

So I very willingly went back to the same routine, although once he was across the threshold into the school, I waved and left. A little better.

If you don't know this about me already, then I'm not very articulate: I have a hard time letting go of my children. This includes all new phases of life for them. Savvy is turning two (ouch), Jaxon will be getting potty-trained soon (ouch, but yay), Reed is a kindergartener....Reed is in kindergarten, two months from the end of the year, and apparently I haven't adjusted myself to this fact yet.

Today we got there five minutes earlier than usual. Reed is his mother's son; he finds comfort in being in line early, being exactly where he needs to be in good time, just in case. (Being prepared soothes his nerves so he can I said, he is his mother's son.) So when he saw that the line wasn't quite formed yet, I could see he felt a bit aimless. He always has friends asking him to play while they wait, but he'll 9-times-outof-10 choose instead to stand next to me in line. I've been wondering of late whether this is the best. I have no problem being with him 'til that very last minute--this is obvious, given that I have done this up until the school year is almost over. And it makes my heart soar when he holds my hand in front of all those tough little kindergarten boys, inviting speculative looks and secret snickers. But in watching his hesitation to go join his friends when there was no line to be had, I realized that our initial separation anxiety (it was shared, yes) became mine, became his, became mine....we've enabled each other.

He had this bottle of vitamin water today. I had to do some errands at Wal-mart before dropping him off at school, so his lunch was this vitamin water (the focus if he really needs focus. The boy focuses on everything) and a Lunchable. On our way to the school, he asked, "Mom, can I bring this drink with me when we line up and hold it? Then I will give it to you when it's time to go in....?" I could tell it would make him feel grown-up to be holding his very own bottled drink when he walked into the school yard. (I remember that kind of odd feels so adult to them to do anything remotely like what is everyday behavior for their parents, doesn't it?) So I smiled and said of course, that was fine.

So, armed with his bottled drink, Reed and I made our way to the school yard. He realized there was no line, he looked to me for his next cue. Two friends of his came up and begged him to join their Pokemon club they were just forming. Reed glanced almost inperceptibly at me and said, "" I sort of let myself drift a ways away, as if to save him a spot in line. He was not tethered, and he let me let him go. I let him let me go. He ran off with his friends, proudly showing them his drink, probably confidently saying things like, "Yeah, it's mine. It's so great, dude. It tastes like strawberry." I quietly watched him for a bit, and that was when I realized that I am probably long overdue for another little let-go.

There is always an adult in the school yard, corraling and watching over the kids. Often, his teacher is out there already, chatting with other parents or the kids, before it's time to go inside. It's not as if he is completely unattended. It used to be about safety; I used to stay because I was making sure he was safe. But now I know he is safe; now I am sure he is protected and cared for as I would like. I started trusting them a long time ago.

So why didn't I let go (a little more) a little sooner?

I waved him over and told him that I was going to leave then, right then. He said, "Now?" with only curiosity in his voice. Then, "Okay!" No fear. No anxiety. I deemed it the right time. That's right. It's April, and I have finally decided I can officially drop my child off at school....*sigh*

I like to think I'm adaptable, but in this case, the evidence is against me.

I'm hoping he won't mind this change later on. I'm hoping he won't worry about me so much that he feels he has to re-instate our previous routine. Because I know this is best for him (at this point, anyway). He was so happy in the corner of the yard, talking with his friends and showing off and far away enough to feel confident in himself. That's really what it is, I think....I think I have been unknowingly undermining his trust in himself by sticking around like I have been.

It is April, and I think I've just now accepted the idea that Reed is in kindergarten.

Silly me. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I miss my mom today.

Not a crying-in-bed unable-to-move hurts-unbearably kind of missing.

Just a sigh-here, memory-there, wishing-she-were-here, contemplative kind of missing.

Flowers make my mother think of her mother. Me, too--mostly with peach roses. (We had a few conversations about those.)

And while flowers are beautiful and smell good, they're not necessarily what call my mother to my mind.

Pens. Pilot pens.

While grocery shopping the other day, I realized I had no pen with which to cross off the items on my list. I decided to buy some. (My list was huge.) I picked up a package of Pilot pens and stared at it for a while, just standing there in the aisle with a weird half-smile on my face. Because Pilot pens--those good quality writing utensils--make me think of my mom.

I'm not sure that at the moment I have enough words in me to describe some of the things I love best about my mom. That would be an awfully long post, which might find me crying at the end, the ache for my mother grown sharper. And I think she might have switched to Uni-Ball pens.

But I remember watching her sit at the table, our big kitchen table equipped to seat nine, and I would marvel at her beautiful handwriting and consistent effort. She was earning her degree from BYU through independent study; working around the priority of family, fitting her tasks into the little chinks in our schedule. (Little, little chinks....) It took her ten years--along with a very patient husband and hopefully half-as-patient children--and now she's going to Harvard in the summer. (Really! She is! That's the great part--it's true.)

They'll be in Boston. Not so far away in Japan anymore!

I marvel at my mother--her intelligence and love of learning and boundless talent for teaching. I hear her sometimes in my voice when I say to my children, "Well, let's look that up, because I don't know the answer." And then it's as if she's right there at the table next to me.

Although sometimes it just takes a pen.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

the sound of music (whatever sound that is)

I discovered a few forgotten m&m's in the bottom of the trail mix this afternoon. Very exciting.

In other exciting news, Jaxon is developing very definite tastes in music. We know that Jimi Hendrix's Red House gets Jaxon grooving. We're talking head-bobbing, lips pursed, run-and-get-my-fake-guitar grooving. He gets in a trance, nearly. And if you turn off Red House before Red House is done, oh, you never hear the end of it. Not to mention he stares you down, daggers in his big brown eyes, his long eyelashes suddenly menacing instead of unbelievably cute. He tenses every muscle in his body and turns beet red. Then takes a breath only to say in a gravelly growl, "That was my SONG!" I'm telling you. Don't cross this boy.

Both of the boys love Queen. Yesterday during Bohemian Rhapsody I look to the back of the van to find Reed staring pensively out his window, brow furrowed, lips pursed. (This means that he is having a dramatic daydream. I know this face. I make this face when I listen to music that moves me and makes me daydream.) I know not to interrupt that face. And Jaxon? He stares straight ahead, brow furrowed, solemnly bobbing his head in time. He loves it so much, he's mad. (He comes by it honestly. I love things furiously, too.) Invariably, though, the standard We Will Rock You gleans much bigger reactions, and I end up putting it on Repeat to soothe the screeching teradactyls I sometimes drive around in my car.

But the best part of it is that their tastes vary so widely. While Jaxon proclaims himself to be strictly "Wok and Woll", I have glimpsed his sweet face in the mirror while Silk Road Ensemble & Yo-Yo Ma was on (I couldn't find the exact song on YouTube., but this is one of our favorites) and he looked so tender I thought he might cry. And once when I looked back, little tears were trickling down Reed's cheeks.

It makes me really, really happy to see them affected by music, especially music that I love. And I know my music tastes are all over the place, and you make think I'm silly, but this is just another song I'm adding to my favorites:
Jai Ho (I read that it means "we wish you victory")

my menu (didn't you want to know?)

My lung-crud is clearing out and codeine cough syrup is a revelation; times are good.

I'm feeling all up and at 'em, ambitious and on the mend. So today I set out to make my two-week menu as I do when I'm on my very best behavior.

It starts out with all kinds of glorious ideas:

Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa and Cheddar Bread
Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Alfredo Pasta
Chopped Ham & Bowtie Pasta Salad
Homemade Pizza
Shredded Beef Sandwiches

and then I get a little tired and it looks like this:

French-Bread Sandwiches

and then you can see when I give up, because it looks like this:

Hot Dogs
fast food

I just make sure when friends call that I only talk about the almond-crusted tilapia with cranberry walnut salad smothered in mango reduction something or other.....I magically forget that we had cereal the other night for dinner. Or butter and bread and crackers and canned peaches. (That's the "something" on my list. "Something" means scrounge....)

I really don't like meal planning. I just want it right there in my lap with a pre-made list. Is that too much to ask?