Thursday, December 31, 2009


NYE 09

If you're like me, perhaps you, too, just figured out that NYE stands for "New Years Eve," not "New York Edition," or "Not Your Everday," or something like that. I've been looking at that acronym all month and had no clue.

Tonight's NYE looks lame. Did I say lame? I meant, um, tame...

Both kids will be overnighting with friends, which should be super-fun for them. Dane's been instructed to bring warm things and a flashlight because they're going to play tag all night. Aubrey's just supposed to plan to watch movies and play video games. That suits her just fine for a night.

Mick and I were going to go out with Kai and Dana and Garth, but they've all got major colds. It's not like we were going to majorly whoop it up or anything anways, though. In fact, last year I think we lasted until 11? Maybe 10?

Personally, I think there's a lot of romanticized hoopla about New Years Eve and whether you stay up to bring the New Year in, get a special kiss, etc., etc. But, then again, I've never been one much for ceremony.

Here's what I'm hoping to get out of tonight: good food, a movie, and myhoney by my side. Or a good book.

Tomorrow might be a little zippier: our neighbors across the street, Ali and Al, are having a neighborhood "Morning After" brunch. The kids can play and we can drink mimosas.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grammar Grouch

I'm not particularly picky about grammatical errors. Of course, I never make them, but I tolerate others' mistakes quite well.

All half-joking aside, here's a poster I'm thinking of buying for my kids. I'll probably have to wait and give it to them after they've reached their teens, since it has an abbreviated bad word in it, but it'll be worth the wait.

It clears up a lot of the confusion they're encountering in their writing. Perhaps it will have a positive effect on them and then maybe their writing won't be so weird.

Monday, December 28, 2009

MONDAY'S ROCKIN' RECIPE SHARE

I kid you not, you need to make this. It's scrumptious and fast-tious. It came from the Diabetic Cooking: Meals in Minutes cookbook that I bought in the checkout line at RiteAid.

I doubled it and added shrimp, but if you make it just like this, you'll still need to hold on to your hat.


QUICK CHICKEN SAUSAGE JAMBALAYA


2 c cooked brown rice
2 t canola oil
1 chopped onion
1 small green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T all-purpose flour
1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 package (9 oz) fully cooked andouille or spicy chicken sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 t dried thyme
1/4 t hot pepper sauce or smoked pepper sauce (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package directions

2. Heat oil in large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour; cook and stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes and other juices, broth, sausage, thyme and hot pepper sauce, if desired. (I did not desire.) Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce thickens. Stir in rice or serve over rice. Garnish with red chiles, if desired. (I did not desire.)

Makes 4 servings (1/2 c rice and 1 c jambalaya per serving)

Calories 291, total Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 1g, Protein 19g, Carbohydrate 38g, Cholesterol 54mg, Dietary Fiber 4g, Socium 511mg


Sunday, December 27, 2009


My friend Nate thinks "most ciggies in the mouth" should be in the curriculum at ScienceWorks World Record Week. Good thing they didn't hire him to teach the K-3 "hands-on" course.
ScienceWorks Spring Break Camp

Spring Break at ScienceWorks
Spring Break at ScienceWorks

ScienceWorks Spring Break Science Camp: World Record Week

March 22 – 26, 2010
Grades K – 3
8:30 am – 2 pm, with aftercare available until 4:30

Behind every world record there is a scientific explanation! Come

explore the strange, bizarre and funny records of the world…Who

is the world’s tallest person, and how did they get so tall? Who is

the world’s hairiest family, and how did they get so hairy? What

makes the world’s longest fingernails grow curly instead of straight?

We’ll even try to recreate some zany records on a smaller scale,

like what happens when 1,911 students each combine Mentos and

soda at exactly the same moment! At World Record Week, we’ll

inquire, experiment, analyze and dream about some of the world’s

most amazing records!

Camp includes hands-on projects and experiments, time on exhibits, healthy snacks, games and art/craft activities. Bring a lunch and water bottle daily and get ready for some science fun!

Space is limited so sign up now!

Registration

Click here to register and pay for camp on-line with a credit card. If you would like to pay with cash or check, please print out the registration form below and mail in or drop off with your payment.

Camp Fees
ScienceWorks Member Rate
M-F 8:30 – 2:00 $175
M-F 8:30 – 4:30 $225

Non-Member Rate
M-F 8:30 – 2:00 $200
M-F 8:30 – 4:30 $250


Instructor Bio

Camp is being taught by Anjie Reynolds. Anjie taught Kinder Camps at ScienceWorks 2009 and has been teaching students of all ages for over 15 years. Whether guiding tours in Alaska, instructing writing and critical thinking to university students in Washington, or fostering the development and education of pre-schoolers in California, she is inspired by the curiosity and wonder that lead to learning. She holds a Masters degree in Literature from Western Washington University, and combines science and the arts in a nurturing and exciting classroom environment.


WHICH WORLD RECORD ARE YOU MOST FASCINATED BY?

Thursday, December 24, 2009


CHOCOLATE FONDUE FOUNTAIN AND FAMILY

Tonight it's Christmas Eve Dessert and Singing at our house.

We have fruits and Nilla wafers and gummy worms ready, and we've printed up songbooks for the singers and guitar players.

Mick's bro and his wife (Kai and Dana) and their four kids (Barritt, Indi, Jude and Weston), Dana's parents (Greg and Linda), Dana's bro ("Uncle Garth"), Mick's parents (Mike and Jan), and our family (you know all of us) will celebrate together.

And sometime in there, my mom and Don are coming! They're leaving Puyallup after an appointment this morning, and hope to arrive by 9 or so tonight. This was a last minute plan, and it's just perfect they'll round out the family celebration.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kids Poetry Contest at CSM

If your kids write poetry, send their stuff to the Christian Science Monitor! Here's what I sent on behalf of my kids:


The Dog


A dog runs
through a grassy field
fetching a ball.
The owner waits,
The dog comes.
He does it again.

by Dane Reynolds, age 9
(written before we got our dog)



Sharly My Dog


Sharly is my Dog.
Her fur is the Color of
a fox's. She does not
Bite. She is very
very Sweet.
Her ears feel like
Velvet. She wags her
tail when I pet her.
I love Sharly my dog!

by Aubrey Reynolds, age 7



(Yeah, we've got a bit of a theme going here.)
LEGO CLUB

My new friend Jennie is throwing a LEGO party at her house today. It was her kids' idea. They made a flyer and only invited their friends who were gonzo for LEGOs, although her middle schooler wanted to post the flyer around the school. (Yikes!)

Aubrey's going to the book store with Grammy and Grandad - she wasn't feeling the LEGO fever.

Dane, on the other hand, is already planning on hosting the next one.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Write Now

I was telling Mick last night that I'm feeling rather zen about my writing. I'm aware when I'm in the company of accomplished writers that I'm no journalist, no lyric essayist, no novelist. One of those I don't ever want to be (journalist); the other ones I do hope to be, when the time comes. The zen feeling of all that, is that ultimately I must write to write. That's it.

In re-reading Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and after meeting all the shewrites women for coffee recently, I'm feeling grounded. Whatever I write is what I write; it's true when it comes out of me, and it's true to my experience, and if I allow (and discipline) myself to write regularly, some of it could be great.

If I write about parenting, if I write about my childhood, if I juxtapose images or ideas, if I write about current events or ancient history, so be it -- regardless of whether it comes out as simply blogworthy, or as publishable in the Christian Science Monitor's Home Forum, or publishable in The Sun (*sigh, flutter*). Likewise, if my novel comes out as utterly awful prose - as the first draft of a first novel - so be it. With everything, I'll keeping writing, working, re-working -- all for the sake of that commitment to write.

Eckart Toll wrote "Be here now." I just wrote in my journal, "Write now." That's meaningful in different ways and it inspires me within the realm of discipline, craft, parenting, and dreaming.

This also inspires me, and I think it says a lot more succinctly what I'm trying to say:

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
-C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fun Little Write-up

Check out www.windwaterwords.blogspot.com, the Soapstone Writers Retreat site. I'm Saturday's featured writer.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shewrites. And she writes. And she writes...

Yesterday's coffee with Kamy Wicoff of shewrites.com was rather exciting. Kamy brought her boyfriend Pierre, a musician with The Dimes (click on their website -- music will play, and you'll hear their great sound). The others who joined us were writer/storyteller Devorah Zaslow and world renowned science writer, Virginia Morell, who had the February 2008 cover story for National Geographic and just signed a high six-figure book deal based on her research. Of course, Jennifer Margulis was there, too, who is an accomplished writer in her own right, having, among other things, held the cover story for November 2009's Smithsonian magazine, an article which was recently chosen for The 2009 Best Science Writing anthology.

You might say I was in exceptional company.

That's what made it fun, inspiring and special - but so was all the frank talk about writing and commitment and networking and choosing agents. Obviously, I'm nowhere near the stages any of these women are (by the way, Kamy's written a book, too, called I Do But I Don't, a book about marriage and divorce), but as Jennifer went around the table and introduced everybody, ending finally with me and my small accomplishments and novel-in-progress, I somehow still felt like I was part of the big picture.

There's a kind of big picture kindness and respect that comes from good writers. They're the ones who respect the process, the stages, the hard work, and the successes of any writer at any level. I definitely felt that respect and kindness yesterday as talk around the table shifted to different experiences and issues from each of us. Admittedly, I was the one playing the newbie card, but it was okay because they'd all been there.

But that's the point of shewrites.com, and that's the feeling I got from these other writers: at some point We've all been there. We've been at some spot, and possess information or advice or ideas that are valuable to share. And that's the purpose of a community of writers.

Kamy said she'd wished she could've recorded the meeting for her website, as it hit on the topics shewrites.com pursues. And, afterward, Devorah suggested we (sans Kamy) get together once a month or so to talk about writing.

Perhaps Devorah's comments were directed more at Virginia and Jennifer, but I didn't necessarily get that vibe. I got that writers-supporting-writers vibe instead.

It sounds like Virginia is absolutely swamped with her book deal, kind of like she wants to sneak away to a cave and pound the book out, uninterrupted, so I'm not sure what will come of Devorah's suggestion. However,I still came away inspired to work hard -- and you'd better believe I'll be sure to write again if I ever have the pleasure of actually being part of something so cool.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coffee with Kamy

One of the head honchos at shewrites.com, Kamy Wicoff, is on a West Coast tour. My writer friend Jennifer Margulis thought it'd be fun to woo her to Ashland on Kamy's drive south from Eugene to San Francisco, so we've got her at Noble Coffee this morning from about 10-11.

I just heard about shewrites.com last month when a San Francisco girlfriend emailed me to tell me to check it out. It's essentially a writing network/information station for women (although their disclaimers say men can join; after all, they'd be bent out of joint if there were a men's only writing hub that excluded women). They have "webinars," forums, manuscript "help" match-ups, and a growing list of members who've published books.

So far I've just been a voyeur; I'm currently in a phase of writing where I'm kicking myself. Kicking myself into gear (I just sold "That Bike" to The Christian Science Monitor; it should publish in the next couple months), and kicking myself for not being as disciplined as I'd like to be in writing new stuff.

As a stay-at-home mom, sometimes teacher, freelance writer, I'd say I don't do a very good job of going AIC ("ass in the chair" as writers call the disclipline) on the writer part -- at least not for very long periods of time. Currently, I'm writing, actually writing, about 30 minutes a day and thinking about writing the rest of the day. Maybe that's a formula that will pay off, but I'm pretty clear that I need to spend more time than that to revise and craft the raw material I have.

It's almost time to quit saying life's transitions are distracting me. Dental school's over, we've fully re-located, fully moved into our home, nearly fully remodeled the kitchen. It's time to get a grip.

So, I'll go have a cup of java with Kamy Wicoff and let myself get inspired about the craft, the time commitment, the obstacles, and writing's original lure. After all, shewrites.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SATURDAY'S ROCKIN'
RECIPE SHARE



I first made these Stained Glass Cookies in 4th grade 4-H. Not only do they catch light beautifully, but it's really fun to hammer the Life Savers and Jolly Ranchers. I recognize the satisfying glimmer in my kids' eyes as they whack those things.

Here's the recipe we're using tonight. It's probably not what Audrey Raymond set us 4-H'ers up with back in 1980, but it'll have to do. It's from elise.com's Simply Recipes.

I'm practicing with Dane and Aubrey tonight because I'm teaching Dane's 3rd grade class to make them on Tuesday.

We're going to our neighbor Paul and Beth's Soup and Sing-along tomorrow afternoon -- maybe we'll show up with some of these pretties.

STAINED GLASS COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30-40 hard candies (such as Life Savers), preferably in several flavors/colors

Method

1 Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

2 In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated. Add egg and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed.

3 Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Use electric mixer to blend just until flour is incorporated. Divide dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and up to 2 days.

4 Remove any wrappers on candies and separate them by color into plastic bags. Using a mallet to crush candies.

5 Place one disk between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies, reserving these center bits to add into extra dough.

6 Use a spoon to sprinkle the crushed candy into the hollowed-out centers of the cookies, filling to the edges. Try to keep the candy within the centers. Any candy specks that fall on the cookie will color the cookie.

7 If cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.

8 Bake 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool. Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container. String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.

Makes 2 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

* * *

Move over, Mick.

As you can see, Chris Isaak's totally into me.

* * *

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beaver Cleaver meets Calvin and Hobbes

Mom, you know what I like about you? You're not as strict as Calvin's mom. When he does something bad, she sends him to his room.

-Dane, after burping at the dinner table

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

crazy cousin dog pile

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

HAPPY DOG WALKERS


Monday, December 07, 2009

BAKIN' BACON
Monday's Rockin' Recipe Share


He can bring home the bacon,
fry it up...


...in some chocolate chip dough.*

That's right. Bacon with anything is all the rage these days, so Mick threw together some Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies yesterday.

They were delicious.

It's a little bit weird to understand it, but imagine sweet/salty with chocolate chips and alternately the chewiness and crispiness of bacon pieces.

Mmmm...

And so I bring you Monday's Rockin' Recipe Share, courtesy of Pete Bakes:

bacon chocolate chip cookies and candied bacon

candied bacon
1 pckg thick cut bacon (about 10 strips)
brown sugar for sprinkling

chocolate chip cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12 oz toll house semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. make the candied bacon: preheat the oven to 350 F. lay bacon on a parchment covered baking sheet so they are not overlapping. sprinkle about 2 tsp brown sugar evenly on each strip of bacon. bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, flip bacon and drag it through the syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. put the bacon back in the oven for another 12-15 minutes, until it is fully cooked and very dark (mahogany). remove the strips from the sheet and cool on a wire rack. after they have cooked, chop them or quickly food process into tiny pieces.

2. make the cookies: combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. beat butter, both sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. add eggs, one at a time, beating well. gradually beat in flour mixture. stir in morsels and bacon pieces.

3. spoon dough (about a Tbsp per cookie) onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 9-11 minutes. i tend to go a little under 9 minutes so they come out just underdone. remove to cooling racks or eat immediately with a tall glass of cold milk.



*Re: photo - Again, ladies, I married for love.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


LOOK WHO'S JOINED THE FAMILY

We just brought Sharly home an hour ago. (Yeah, I think we'll give her a new name. So far, she seems to respond to Jimmy. haha.)

Sharly's a Nova Scotia Tolling Retriever, a rare breed, and she is well-mannered, mellow, and has ears like velvet.
She also fetches, which was important to us.

In fact, many things were, such as:
*medium-size
*soft fur for cuddling and sleeping with
*up for walks and hikes
*would play fetch
*not a big shedder
*not a big barker
*a puppy, if you asked Dane and Aubrey
*an adult (at least a year and a half), if you asked Mick or me (not sure we're up for training!)

Sharly meets 'em all -- except for the puppy part if you're Dane and Aubrey (Sharly's 5). And she was free on craigslist! It's a long story as to how she came to us, but we'll take her in all her splendor and adorableness.

Dane and Aubrey have waited all their lives for a dog. This is a really sweet day. I'll post pics with them soon...


Sunday, November 29, 2009

ALMOST FAMOUS


"Look! Aubrey's mom's an actor!"

One of Aubrey's classmates saw this poster and said this to his mom.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

POOPY BRUCEY AND MY LITTLE WHITE LIE


“If you ever meet a girl at our school named Kim,” my third grade son Dane whispers in the living room, “you should stay away from her.”


I’m in the hallway and I stop in my tracks before I’m seen or heard. Dane’s talking to his sister, my second grade daughter, Aubrey, and I want to hear this conversation. As someone who grew up an only child, I yearned for someone to show me the ropes, impart a little extra wisdom, watch my back. When these two look out for each other, I usually can’t help but revel in how lucky they are. Just the other day, Aubrey came home sick from school, and when she didn’t show up for the after-school pottery class, Dane checked her classroom coat hook, walked the school, and then phoned home to find out where she was. When he learned she was safe, he asked her what colors she’d like him to paint her projects so they could go in the kiln with everyone else’s for the next week.


“Oh,” Aubrey whispers now. “Why should I stay away from her?”


From the hallway, I edge closer. Perhaps this Kim girl is really mean. Or maybe she knows things – bad words or sexual things – beyond her years. I wonder what sort of threat she could be.


Dane continues, “Well, she goes into peoples’ houses at night and steals their things…”


Whoa. Back up. Seriously? No, seriously!


“Wait a minute…” I hear myself say, coming out of the shadows of the hallway, cutting the scene short like the director in a shoot gone wrong. “How do you know this?” I ask.


“Well, it’s what everybody says…” Dane says, his statement sounding more like a question as he bows his head and looks up from under his mop of bangs.


“Have you ever met this girl, Dane?”


“Um, no.”


“Have any of your friends ever met this girl?


“Um, no… but that’s what everybody says.”


My God, I think to myself. Poor Kim.


“Okay, guys, I want you to think hard about this,” I say, calling them over to stand in front of me as I take a seat on a dining room chair. I’m about to get cliché on them and come down a little heavy-handed, but I want them to grasp the danger of gossip.


“How would you feel if you heard people were saying, ‘You know Dane, that yellow-haired third-grader? Well, stay away from him – he sneaks into peoples’ houses at night and chops them up into little pieces.’”


Dane gets sheepish and says, “Um, not very good…”


He sees what I mean. So does Aubrey, with a nod of her head.


I decide to soften the blow a little bit, tell them something from my own experience. But instead of going to the day in fourth grade when two popular girls ostracized me by telling all of the other girls not to play with me because I was stuck up, which hurt so bad I still feel the sting, I breathe life into old Bruce Caldwell, the stinkiest kid in school. And this story has less to do about gossip than it has to do about kindness.


“I have to tell you about a really important time in my life, when I chose to ignore bad things everybody thought about a boy in my class – and how it taught me an important lesson.”


I told them about skating with Bruce Caldwell.


Bruce Caldwell had been at my school since kindergarten. And every day since that first day in Miss Shahan’s class, Bruce came to school smelling like he’d pooped his pants.


He was a cute enough kid with squinty brown eyes, short mouse-brown hair, freckles across the bridge of his nose, and a tentative smile. He looked a lot like the other boys, except that his brown Toughskins always looked like he’d just dropped a load – and smelled just as bad. He probably had a medical condition, or was neglected at home, but nobody in 1976 really had the savvy to help him meet this head on.


At recess, few kids would play with him. In fact, bad boys like Trent and Jon and Delmar taunted him relentlessly when they weren’t off picking teams for soccer or throwing gravel at the girls on the monkey bars. So Bruce usually played alone – even when he tried to brave up and join in.


As far as I can remember, it was like that for every day of Bruce Caldwell’s school life, onto first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade.


In fourth grade, the long-awaited quarterly skating parties started. Skate parties were the perfect chance to listen to Journey, Air Supply, AC/DC and Neil Diamond all in one afternoon under the disco balls and padded walls of a roller rink. We got to shoot-the-duck, skate crazy trios (flinging the outside person wide and squealing), and, most importantly, we got to skate “couples.”


The best – and worst – part of couples skate was that electric tension that could course through your body as you wondered if Matt or Kevin or even a bully like Jon or Delmar or Trent would ask you to skate. Because, when they did, you got to hold their sweaty (Matt), calloused (Kevin), or skinny (Jon) hand while you both tried to smile or not smile, talk or not talk, and laugh or not laugh while Steve Perry sang about the smell of wine and cheap perfume, something of which you maybe only knew half about.


To get asked to skate was dreamy – or at least it was if you were included. To not get asked to skate, though, was heartbreaking, as you sat leaning over the side of the shag carpeted rink wall either staring wistfully off at the DJ, or trying to look nonchalant as you waved and laughed and smiled at all the couples who rolled by, smiling and talking and laughing. Or not, as it were.


One such day, after I’d had the attention of at least one male roller skater (maybe sweaty-palmed Matt?), Bruce Caldwell rolled over to me. His hands were stuffed deep in his brown pockets, his brown eyes squinting. With his shoulders kind of hunched, he shrugged with each word of his question: “Hey Anjie, you wanna skate with me?”


I’m not sure I’d ever seen Bruce skate with anybody.


I saw Trent and Jon roll past us with their partners, pointing and yelling, “Hey Poopy Brucey!” I saw Tara and Rhonda next to me at the rink wall, giggling and whispering to each other with furtive glances at me. I saw Bruce sigh, and then lift his shoulders again with some sort of extra resolve.


In that moment, I knew that to say no would be one of the meanest things I could do; I knew that saying yes was just plain right. So I decided to go the brave and honorable route: I smiled and said, “Sure, Bruce.” I took a shallow breath and followed him to the rink. Once there, he shrugged again, smiled tentatively, and held out his hand.


Bruce’s hand had a little bit of dryness to it, which was nice since he smelled like poop, and it was warm, which could be nice or not, depending on how you look at it. He didn’t hold too tightly, but he didn’t let it get loose either. And so we skated. And kindness won the day without hurting anybody.


And that’s where I ended my story for my kids, because the story is about kindness, and my point is that kindness feels good.


But here’s what I didn’t tell them: I failed.


After ten feet in the rink, I became acutely aware of our classmates looking at us, staring across the rink, passing us, glancing over their shoulders from in front of us – and I hate to admit it, but I freaked.


What had I gotten myself into? Was everyone going to think I was Bruce’s girlfriend? Were they going to think we were “going” together? Was Bruce going to ask me to “go” with him? Was I going to start stinking too?


And before we’d gone one complete revolution round the rink, I’d decided I wanted out. I couldn’t hack the pressure.


And so it was that I’d held Bruce Caldwell’s hand in all likelihood for twenty seconds when I said, “I’m sorry, Bruce, I just can’t do this anymore,” and I skated off the floor in shame.


I skated off to the booth where Rhonda and Tara were sitting. I had a hard time looking either of them in the eye, I was blushing, and I couldn’t answer their awful questions: What was that like? Why’d you do that? Was it gross?


I looked across the floor to see that Bruce had skated off to the arcade, and was staring at the screen in front of him, pressing buttons madly like he was playing a game. He probably hadn’t even put a quarter in the machine.


The shame was awful, and even then I knew it wasn’t the shame of having skated with Bruce, it was the shame of having not skated with Bruce. I knew his life sucked. And I was ashamed I couldn’t hack for one revolution what it took to be Bruce Caldwell for life.


So, sitting on the dining room chair, telling my kids they ought to give this girl Kim a chance, that they should never make a judgment about a person without at least having spoken to them personally, that they should practice kindness every chance they get, I’m actually crying.


I’m crying because I couldn’t give Bruce a full skate – and I wish I would have been kinder.


Someday I’ll tell my children the whole story. After all, I’m not afraid to tell them my vulnerabilities – they know of other mistakes I’ve made – but for now I make the choice to stop at simply having said yes to skating with Bruce. For now, this is a lesson in kindness; it’s the kindness pep talk.


I want my kids to feel the courage to practice kindness, to try to give some future Bruce the full skate. Because maybe, just maybe, where I once failed, they’ll succeed. And that would be the greater kindness. For everybody.


Monday, November 23, 2009

THINK PINK


Okay, I'm just going to get the saddest stuff out of the way first.

Above is a photo of girls I went to elementary school with. We've recently been in touch on Facebook, which has been a total delight. That's Renee Bourdess up there, third from the right. We were best friends in Kindergarten and 1st grade -- Mrs. Aasland called us the "Sunshine Twins," which I think has stayed with me as one of the best identity builders ever. Other girls in there include Renee Walrath, second from right, who was a cheerleader in 7th grade and loved MTV so much she could dance like anybody she wanted to emulate -- Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Boy George. And there's Janell Stussy, second from left, always the pretty tomboy, and Cheryl Anspach, third from the left, everybody's friend and someone who could always be counted on.

But someone is missing. Missing, missing, missing. And it's Shannon Boone. Shannon Boone, who was so theatrical and brilliant and passionate. Mrs. McNeil chose her to play Imogene Herdman in our 3rd grade Gifted Class's rendition of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever -- possibly because Shannon was scrappy and effusive and loud, but probably mostly because Shannon was smart enough to know how to play Imogene with edge and heart -- because Imogene Herdman had to be the character the audience could see as the most powerfully changed by the Christmas story, a hard knock kid playing mother to the baby Jesus.

I moved away from these girls in 7th grade, but I've often thought of Shannon -- and how she could drive me crazy with her loudness, her sensitivity, our mutual jealousies over our favorite friend Dawn Looker -- and I've wondered what became of her.

And I'm sorry to report that Shannon died of breast cancer. It makes me so sad to write that. Here's what Renee Bourdess told me in an email -- and it's absolutely heartbreaking:

***
Hi Anjie-
Yes, we did walk for Shannon. She died of breast cancer 5 years ago this January. It is horribly sad, I actually have goosebumps as I type it.

Where do I start.......Shannon was married and had just gotten pregnant with her first baby. She went in for her first OB appt. and they found a lump in her breast. Did a biopsy and turned out to be Stage 4 breast cancer. At that point, it had already spread. She chose to do chemotherapy and fought a valiant battle for 13 months until she passed. She did not end up having the baby. :( It's an awful, heart wrenching story.....she was only 34 years old. Ugh.

Her parents had a memorial service for her at Franklin Pierce and that's where I ran into all those gals you see in the photo. A lot of them I hadn't seen since high school or shortly after. So we decided to meet for dinner and we all showed up and have been doing "girls night" once a month ever since, or at least we try. That's how we came to be the Pinks.......

As sad as it was to lose Shannon, we all feel very blessed that out of her death came the reconnecting of all of us and the development of amazing friendships. It was such an honor to do the walk in memory of her. Her mom walked with us and she is one of the most amazing women I know. We have all become close to her and she is such an inspiration.

Whew, goodness, as you can tell this is very close to my heart!
***

So, those are the Pinks up there, including Shannon's brave mother (on the far right) and that's Shannon's story.

My pal Karen's family lost their Aunt Mary last year to breast cancer. This year the family Walked for Hope in honor of her:



Here are a couple friends who walked the Avon 3-Day in honor of survivors and living fighters.

My friend Amy Vattuone, third from the right and 4 months pregnant here, walked with a group of her girlfriends in Seattle -- calling themselves something like the Aereola Borealis Team:


And my dear friend from the dental school years, Shari Michaud, (at right, below) walked with her sister Julie in honor of Julie's current fight against breast cancer. I've posted about Shari's sister/endeavor before, if you'd like to read her story.

Here's Shari's report:

***
Last weekend Nov 13-15 was the Three day walk. After 60 miles we were tired and sore but hope was alive! It was an amazing experience and I feel so humble to have such wonderful friends and family that made it possible for my Sister Julie and I to participate...

It meant the world to us to be a part of something so personal and to have the chance to fight Breast Cancer as sisters! There was a moment at the closing ceremonies where they honored the survivors and my sister Julie was standing there so strong and so brave.

It was emotionally overwhelming. I never want to lose her and I believe in a cure! She is an incredible mom, sister, wife, and friend. I know Breast Cancer and Cancer have taken so many loved ones and caused so much pain. However, last weekend they were able to raise over 4.1 million dollars in the fight to cure cancer. I know with God a miracle can happen!
***
Think Pink.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Boy

Aubrey came home from school early on Thursday with a headache and fever. She and Dane were scheduled to take their fifth of six pottery classes that day right after school. It was 3 o'clock and the pottery class had been going for 15 minutes when I realized Dane might be wondering where Aubrey was.

I called the office to get a message to him. The secretary said she'd get a message to Dane, but, for some reason, Dane didn't get the message. However, at 3:05 I got a phone call.

"Mama?"

"Hi honey..."

"Did Aubrey come home already?"

"Yeah, didn't you get the message in pottery?"

"No... I went around the school looking for her after I went to her classroom and saw that her things weren't on her hook."

"Aw... were you worried?"

"Yeah. But it's okay... Can I talk to her? I want to ask her some questions."

I hand the phone to Aubrey. I hear her say things like, "Yeah, I got a fever" and then "Blue... red... yeah, red... yeah, there's three things..."

Turns out that was the day they were going to get to paint their pottery items, and Dane wanted to make sure hers got painted.

Of course I'm biased, but what' s there not to LOVE about a boy like that! He's about the sweetest boy ever. He's always like that.

Man, I love that kid.


Dane with Aubrey and his Mema.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aubarrhea

Dane, try saying diarrhea out loud... Doesn't it sound beautiful? -Aubrey, age 7

***

Monday, November 09, 2009

Monday's Rockin' Recipe Share


This one was originally published in The Oregonian, but I didn't see it there years ago -- so my best pal Karen took it upon herself to send it to me this weekend. I doubled it and gave half of it to Dane's buddy's family, who has a new baby in the house as of two days before Halloween. It was EASY and DELICIOUS, two things which, of course, go great together.



TACO SOUP

1 lb ground beef, chorizo or turkey
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 envelope ranch dressing mix (there's one with chipotle powder if you like spicy)
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (any style, seasoned or not)
1-1/2 c frozen corn kernels
4 c water


Garnish with any or all of the following (I recommend ALL!):
crumbled tortilla chips
cubed avocado
shredded cheese
sour cream
cilantro

1) Brown the meat in a soup pot over medium heat, breaking up chunks with a spoon.
2) Drain the fat. Add the taco and ranch seasoning mixes, and stir to incorporate.
3) Add the beans, tomatoes, corn and water.
4) Bring to a boil and then heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

You're done!

Makes 6 servings.

Friday, November 06, 2009

A POST FOR THE CURIOUS

This is the living room BEFORE we bought the house


This is what it looks like NOW:

(note: the walls look washed out in my photos,
but they're a light sage green)

Dane's awesome new guitar is going to hang
next to that window (above)

You may recall we spent the summer in transition--
demolishing the kitchen, eating food in the back yard,
doing dishes in the bathtub, living with boxes covering the floor
to the ceiling in the living room... When we finally furnished
this space in September (after three long months)
it felt like a place where we could kick up our feet, read a good book,
and even do a cartwheel (just ask Aubrey).

Here's the view into the living room, which we never
would have had if we hadn't removed a chimney,
taken out a wall, and created a new bar and counter:

I wouldn't say it's quite done, but it sure feels like a great start.

Will post pictures of the new kitchen and the dining room
after I, um, clean it up a little.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

HALLOWEEN FRIGHT '09
The festivities started out on Friday afternoon with costumes and a Ghost Walk at the kids' school. They begged me to come dressed up and in the spirit of things, so I pulled together this little number in a matter of minutes. It's amazing what you can do with a brown Crayola marker, pieces of wig hair, and a little Caro syrup.

It's also amazing how easy it is to gross your kids out and have them beg you to take off your costume and do something different.

So, the next day I changed my get-up, but Mick absconded with my idea and made it his own. Talk about gross.

That's right, ladies. I married for love.

But here are the real stars of the show:

Cleopatra

Cleopatra and the Grim Reaper (with Avery the Pirate)

Grim Reaper and Jack Sparrow pre-parade.

Cleo with Felicity, the Monarch Butterfly

with Indi the Geisha

and, of course, there was Elvis (Logan)

Funkity Ann (Kerry) with Val Pal



The Geisha Girls and a couple of Ninjas (cousins, Auntie, their Grammy)

Scary brothers.

and the stunning hodge-podge

of Halloween Fright.




Friday, October 30, 2009

it was so great to come home to these guys


D*A*N*E


A*U*B*R*E*Y


T*H*A*T M*I*C*K



Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The Kentucky Chronicles - Day 4

This'll have to be quick, since checkout's in an hour. Maybe I'll post part II tonight.

Spent Sunday night at the Combs Motel in Hazard. Combs is a huge name in Kentucky, and while I understand not all Combs are alike, let's just say Mr. Combs' comments about the Civil Rights Movement reminded me that not everyone thinks progress is progress. That's all I'll say.

Well, and that I ate at Applebee's twice on Sunday -- and not even different Applebee's, the same one. I don't know whether that says more about me, or Hazard.

Monday morning, I went to the Perry County Library in Hazard and photocopied $5 worth of information on the area and era I'm interested in. Then I hopped in my car and drove a few hours to Pineville, where I spent the night near Cumberland Gap at Pine Mountain State Park Resort.

The area is gorgeous and I drove and hiked through areas that made me want to breathe deeply.


I'm headed north toward Lexington today -- might go halfway or so. Tomorrow at 1 I have an interview with Linda (a former Combs!) in the genealogy section of the History Museum. I'm hoping she can round out her cousin's perspective a little.

At least her cousin had some awesome gourds on display.

You bet I coveted the horn. Plan on making one next year now. Save me a long piece if you've got one.