Monday, September 15, 2014

It's the 15th of Disconsolate!

Friends, today is the 15th, which means we are halfway through this cursed month.  We have survived two weeks of the horror that is September- surely we can get through two more.

I've never really understood why I loathe September so much.  It sounds nice; summer giving way to fall, cooler temperatures to refresh the heat-addled body, even the word Sep-tem-ber rolls off the tongue rather nicely.  But there is something about this month that leaves me dragging and cranky and in a dark mood.

I believed this to be a personal peculiarity along with things like preferring words made up of a quantity of letters that are divisible by three (12 is nice, 6 is okay, 9 is superb, so "resplendence" is fine, as is "comely," but "fantastic" is, well, fantastic)  and dill but never never never bread and butter pickles.  In the past couple years, however, I found on more and more websites and blogs written by those suffering from some form of mental illness or other that SEPTEMBER IS THE DEVIL.  It would seem that September rolls around and people are like, "Hello, thirty days-worth of upping my meds.  Welcome.  Please let me survive this one."

This is wonderful (9 letters!  Welcome into my head; I promise not to do the number thing in any more posts, even though I do it in my own brain more or less constantly "constantly" has twelve letters and is therefore somewhat worthy of notice I will stop now) because it's easy, if you spend any more than around one hour per week online to believe that the internet is no more or less than a writhing morass of spite.  Like anything else, this online world can be a force for good, if only to let you know that you are not alone in your distaste for the month of September.  Let's all start a campaign to change the name from "September" to something that will at least give us all fair warning, like, "Oh, look, it's almost Melancholy," or "Let's see, we're coming up on the last week of August, before you know it it'll be Doldrums."

And what about August?  I see nothing august about August; it's all sweaty and lethargic.  Let's change that one, too.

Anyway.  Thankfully, the brand-spankin'-new fancy library opened up in the nearby Big Town, so all the books I'd been reserving online were finally available.  So rather than What I've Been and/or Am Currently Reading, here's What I'm About To Read and Am Super Duper Excited About Despite The Fact That It's September.

First of all, "Circumnavigated," 15 letters, I am dying.  In a good way.  This book was recommended by one of my favorite authors, and although the title alone cries out that this, THIS is a book worth reading, the subtitle of Chapter 1 reads: "Exeunt on a Leopard: In Which a Girl Named September Is Spirited Off by Means of a Leopard, Learns the Rules of Fairyland, and Solves a Puzzle."  

First of all, I wrote the above September diatribe before I cracked the spine of this book and learned that THE PROTAGONIST'S NAME IS SEPTEMBER.  Maybe this will help me learn to love this month; after all, some of my favorite people were born in September: my dear friend Amanda, Derek's mom, the sweet, sweet boy who shows up a couple photos down.  I'm excited about this book.

This book has been recommended by so many superior introverts, I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to pick it up.  They've all spoken of its insight and importance, but I'm still not entirely sure what to expect of a 266-page nonfiction book on introversion.  I mean, I'm obviously an introvert, myself, so... what is she going to tell me?  Hopefully all kinds of thought-provoking and helpful wisdom.  We'll see.  

I read Ms. Jankovic's first book, Loving the Little Years, a couple years ago, and so enjoyed her wit and practical thoughts about parenting in a compassionate, grace-filled way, I determined I'd read this one just as soon as I finished all the other books I wanted to read.  (Hardy.  Har.  Har.)  Then I forgot about it and it only just flashed back across my mind a week ago, which may or may not have been God's doing; after the night-terror-laden, sleepless night we had last night, I could really do with a little, 120-page reminder that mothering is something I get to do, not a chore or obstacle to the rest of my life.  Kind of a heavy burden to put on such a tiny book, but we'll see how she does.

On the right, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos, on the left, my own piece of September-born joy.

This book was recommended by Jen Hatmaker, which means I have to read it.  Okay, so not really, but when she recently posted lists of her favorite books, I looked at the ones I hadn't yet read, and the blurb on this one jumped out at me as something lovely and helpful at smoothing me through this month.  

On the right, An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor, on the left, the boy who finally discovered I was taking pictures.

I have had two friends in the past month say to me, "HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ BARBARA BROWN TAYLOR?" and I've been like, "I've been reading, you know, other stuff," and then they said variations on WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU and YOU CALL YOURSELF A READER and then I got all huffy and almost decided not to ever read anything by Ms. Taylor because I am, at times, just the teensiest (9 letters!) bit obstinate (9 letters!), but then I got over myself and reserved it at the library.  I'm very curious about this one, as I didn't allow myself to read a single thing about the book or the author.  No preconceived notions or expectations whatsoever, except that I am apparently a terrible, half-imbecilic person for not having read her work already.  Whatever, friends.

How is September treating you?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Me, Me, Me, Me, Caedmon

The words, I cannot put them together.  Here are some fun little gifs to get you through your Thursday instead.


Right after I put the kids to bed at night:

Hearing those same children begin to stir at the end of naptime:

Watching the mutilated film adaption of a beloved book:

In anticipation of tonight's run (the first in a WEEK):

And Caedmon...

In anticipation of going golfing with Derek tonight:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Adelaide Problems

Adelaide, our resident third grade cranky old lady, speaks in Caps a lot.  Brace yourselves.  

  • "School was pretty good but Music was HORRIBLE today because I had to dance with that SAME BOY, and he kept, like, WIPING the excess SALIVA from his MOUTH, then using that SAME HAND to hold MY hand for the dance.  IT WAS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING.

  • "I do not understand WHY they can't keep an UNABRIDGED VERSION of Little Women in the kids' section of the library.  NOT ALL OF US ARE SATISFIED WITH SUMMARIES."  


  • "Science is SO MUCH BETTER THIS YEAR.  I mean, I always liked it, but they'd just teach us things like, 'The material coming out of an erupting volcano is called lava,' and I'm like I ALREADY KNOW THAT, but THIS YEAR we get to dissect an owl pellet and try to put the bones of the mouse in it back together into a complete skeleton.  THAT IS SO COOL."  

  • "Guess what, Mom?  GUESS WHAT?  This year, we get to bring BOOKS out to recess!  I GET TO READ AT RECESS!"  *Does a happy dance*

  • "Mom, do you want to hear about my invention?  It's called a PuroPaxThyr [Pure Peace Shield in Latin, according to her- be gentle, my doves, she's 8 and new to the foundation for all romance languages], and it's this shield that can be inserted into your brain, and when you're thinking GOOD thoughts, these RAYS send them out to the person next to you, but when you're sitting next to a bully, the shield blocks ANY ATTEMPTS AT BULLYING from penetrating your brain."  (U.S. Patent Pending, OBVIOUSLY.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I love words and stories and ideas as much as the next person who reads too much, but sometimes the physical, something tangible you can hold in your hands, is good too.

Proof that my mother loves me:

Not that I ever doubted, or anything, but really, nothing says love like a Harry Potter rice pack, right?  Soothes a sore back, headaches, and a hurting stomach, plus it's MAGIC (you can tell by those little white star things printed all over the fabric- that's like, HP 101, tenderfoot).  Don't worry, she didn't leave any houses out:

Slytherin's on the back- or front, depending on how you feel about Slytherin

 Proof that fall is coming:

My favorite bulb catalog!  I've already got my eye on a bunch of crocuses, but am having a really tough time deciding on colors for next year's tulips.  It's been plaguing me for days now.  My life is so hard.

Proof that there are major benefits to children growing older:

Adelaide made these loaves of zucchini bread this morning.  You know what I did?  Grated the zucchini.  The end.  She did the rest.  Hallelujah.

Proof that Atticus leads a rough existence right now:

A week and a half after the initial incident, and the bridge of his nose is still swollen, but the bruising is better, and although it's hard to see in this photo, his lips are a mess.  Poor kid.

Proof that good can come of bad:

When I got back from our Labor Day travels, I walked into the backyard and found the giant sunflower tree-like thing had been felled by the previous night's storm.  A bit of a shame, but it's been keeping us in lovely cut flowers for our table ever since:

Proof that even gorgeous seed packets can't always be trusted:

Remember this?

This is what resulted:

Every single flower from those seeds has been this lovely shade of red and had exactly 50% of the petals it should have.  Pretty and unusual, to be sure, but not what was advertised.

Proof that our children are about 72% sweeter when they're asleep (let's not ponder too long about what this might mean, hmm?):

Cade and Adelaide slept on a bed of quilts on the floor at my grandparents' house.  I tried to disentangle Caedmon's fingers from his sister's hair, but even in sleep he was firm:  One set of fingers belonged in his mouth, the other in Adelaide's hair.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Things I Don't Understand

  • Why Litographs doesn't have a poster for To Kill a Mockingbird.  I know exactly where I'd put it:  right *there,* on the blank stretch of wall I'm looking at.  You're just going to have to trust me on this one, that non-existent poster would look perfect on this wall you can't see.  I keep trying to talk myself out of buying the prints for Leaves of Grass or Walden or Wuthering Heights, because I want to hold out for my very, very favorite.  How am I supposed to resist having the entire text of a book printed on a beautiful graphic that could hang on our wall, though?  How?

  • The incredible, inspiring, humbling attitude of the woman writing this post on cancer and bravery and Jesus.  I have an injured ankle that may or may not take me out of a race, not my life, and I'm not so much, "I'm praying I would meet bald again and forever with joy.  I'm praying I would not stop looking for grace.  I'm praying I live well and with kindness when it's painful," as "WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?"  Honestly, you're all lucky I've more or less shackled myself to this house.  My head is currently an insufferable place to reside, and it's starting to leak into my voice and even this post.  Looks like I need to read that post again and quit feeling sorry for myself, for the love.

  • The Krebs Cycle.  I missed it when it was introduced in high school science, somehow didn't study for it for the test, and therefore got all its related questions wrong, which still rankles.  When they brought it up in whatever college course that was, some horrible and particularly pigheaded part of my brain decided that we just weren't ever going to learn this.  Even now, I could google it, but the Krebs Cycle has become this ridiculous thing that I'm aware I should know about but have actively decided to eschew.  Please don't ask me to make any sense of this, because there is none to be made.  

  • Why this face has to live so far from mine:

Not to mention this one:
Vada the Boss

And this one:
Happy Elliot

And that one on the left.
Charlotte and Adelaide

On the other hand, the one on the right is mine, all mine.  I'll take that any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dead Clumsy

Every once in a while I catch sight of someone's smooth, scar-free knees and I think, What, do you live in a bubble?  Where are your hard-earned battle wounds? but then I realize most likely they're just a person who doesn't fall down walking across a flat surface every other week and it's more like, Oh.  Okay.  What's that like?

This is what I'm doing today:

Around midnight last night I woke up fighting for air, an asthma attack catching me by surprise.  I managed to wheeze my way down to a hive-free, relatively open-airway existence about an hour and a half later, only to have Atticus scream his way through a night terror just as I was falling back asleep.

I had my alarm set for 5:02 am so I could go on an easy-paced four-mile run, and as I finally laid back down to hopefully get some sleep at who-knows-what-time (I never look at the clock if I'm awake in the middle of the night; I'll only torture myself calculating exactly how much time I have to sleep if I fall asleep RIGHTNOW, making rest even more elusive), I promised myself that if I got up and did the run, I could have a quick nap during Cade's nap time this afternoon rather than writing a blog post.  

I got up at 5:02, shrugged on my garb, and headed out the door, munching on toast during a walking warm-up.  

I'd been running for all of two minutes when, in the darkness between pools of light cast by street lights, I misjudged the placement of the sidewalk, my foot fell where the edge of the sidewalk meets grass, my ankle rolled and down goes Frazier.  (<----Just for yooouuuu, Derek!)

You probably don't remember that the last time I sprained my ankle was when, a couple months after Caedmon was born, I decided it was time to start running again.  I laced up my shoes, headed out the door, and fell down the front steps, badly spraining my ankle, forced to walk around in that crappy brace for a month.

This time, at least, I'm hoping it's just kind of, I don't know, wrenched or something, as it's hardly swollen, just hurts like a mother any time I try to do things like walk or go down stairs without the brace.  No big deal, right?  Right?

I wish I could blame the injury on the sleepless night, but most likely it's just a sad combination of lack of coordination, poor depth perception, inability to gauge little things like This is a sidewalk and This is grass- PICK ONE, NOT BOTH.  

I have sprained joints and broken bones just trying to walk from point A to point B on this earth, which, well, sucks, obviously, but the one good thing to come from all this chronic clumsiness is that I know how to fall.  I was set to fall hard right on the concrete this morning, but YEARS of practice have taught me to instinctively curl inward and roll upon impact with my inevitable opponent The Ground.  I should have a lot less skin than I do right now; instead I have a (PLEASE GOD hopefully fast-healing) wrenched ankle and sore knee, and that's it.  (Do me a favor and pretend to be terribly impressed that this is a skill of mine and not mildly horrified.  Thanks so much.)

I'd been hoping none of our children would exhibit any of these tendencies toward klutziness (the week before Adelaide started kindergarten I sternly warned her, "Do NOT try to jump rope off a curb," which was my virgin foray into the Land of Sprains, and it was a doozy), and so far, all has been more or less well. 

Then last week I got a call from the elementary school nurse.  Atticus ran face first into another kid in P.E.  The worst part about this was that when the nurse first called, she described the injury and told me he had an ice pack on it.  There was silence for several seconds and I said, "Okay, well, feel free to send him back to class when he's feeling better!" because I'm a terrible mother with a dwarf-sized sympathy organ, but then she said, "Um, you may want to take him to the doctor to get his nose x-rayed," and I was like, "Oh, you want me to come do something with this child who is, in fact, my very own son."  I went and got him and he was freaked out but holding it together, and yes, the bridge of his nose was swollen and bruised, but there was no way I was just going to take him to a physician who is well-versed in the healing arts; no, I instead called my mom who had me do a couple simple tests to make sure he didn't have a deviated septum- he didn't, so she said ice every other hour for 20 minutes and some Tylenol.  Boom.  No doctor required.  (He still has some bruising between his eyes and nose, so if any of you I know in the real world see him, that is apparently what happens when you high-five someone with your face.)

Aaaand today the nurse called again:  Atticus fell going up the steps to the slide and split open both lips.  There was blood.  Quite a bit, I gather.  (Like my mom cheerfully told me anytime my sisters and I sliced ourselves open above the neck:  "Head wounds bleed a lot!")  But he was pretty calm by the time she called, once again with an ice pack to his face, and she said she'd send him back to class soon.  

I'm not worried.  He'll learn how to properly fall soon enough, and I've had lots of practice treating injuries, in the meantime.  Silver linings, friends.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Family and Books and Apples

My house smells incredible right now.

The kids and I spent the holiday weekend shuttling from Iowa to Kansas and back again.  My family was celebrating my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary, so we headed on down for fried chicken and farm visiting and chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting and multiple stops at my great-grandma's and my maternal and my paternal grandparents' houses.  Our boys had trouble keeping track of all the great's and which person was mother and grandfather to whom.  It was fun, nonetheless.

We spent our last night at my sister Kelli's house.  Kelli has an apple tree behind her house and a cranky neighbor next to it who has had the gall to passive-aggressively question just why my sister, a woman with an 8-month-old and a two-year-old and a job and a husband who's been working insane hours for the past couple weeks because the harvest has begun, why on earth she hasn't picked and peeled and processed and made delicious old-fashioned home-cooked delicacies out of those apples.

Because I couldn't go next door and beat up an old woman up for my little sister, I instead gathered as many apples as her husband Aaron and I could reach and carted them home to Iowa.  I'm selfless like that.

I woke up this morning and pulled on jeans and a jacket, because it's September and chilly in the mornings.  Now, I'm not usually one to help summer out the door, but today I felt my autumnal urge to go out and buy some books.  Falls arrives and I'm like Aesop's Ant, scurrying around and gathering, well, not food so much as books to surround myself with in the cold months to come.  This works out well because just the other day Derek looked around and said, "You know what this house needs?  MORE BOOKS."  (I may or may not have just savagely broken the ninth commandment.)

Although I dearly, dearly wanted to, I did not deviate from our grocery list, did not go to Firehouse Books so Caedmon could cozy into a bean bag chair and look at old Little Golden Books and I could find some worn paperback gem I couldn't live without, and I only cried about it a little bit, because I am a Real Live Adult.

When we got home I consoled myself by peeling all those apples and throwing them into my pretty red dutch oven with some water and brown sugar and red hots and making myself a big old vat of applesauce.  This allowed me to pretend I have my life together for one whole hour- I just made homemade cinnamon applesauce, for crying out loud!  Never mind that I forgot today is picture day at Adelaide's school and I put her on the bus looking like she's homeless.  Never mind that there's a dead mouse stuck in a trap in the bottom of the pantry.  Not my jurisdiction, Husband.  Never mind that my children decided to bid adieu to my sister and her girls yesterday morning by spending an hour acting like they'd been raised by the Lord of the Flies rather than an actual mother and father who believe in actual discipline.  (Guess who had to spend six full hours sitting silently in the back of a van, riding home to Iowa, with nary a movie in sight despite two functioning portable DVD players staring them in their hedonistic little faces?)

But right now, my house smells incredible, and that is enough for today.