Earth Day

Rah rah rah . . . yeah, whatever. The environmentally altruistic may "save the earth" out of the goodness of their hearts, but I still believe financial motivations are the easiest way to promote behavioral change.

Regardless, every holiday deserves a party when you're in Kindergarten. Thing 2's class celebrated by parading around the school in "trash hats".

Umm . . . creative?

While I didn't see any of the other kids' hats, I think the one I made was the best - milk jug, yogurt cups, shredded newspaper. Thing 2 ended up looking like this guy:

Come to think of it, Thing 2 usually acts quite a bit like this guy. Coincidence?

Cute as he is, when it comes to the 3 Rs I think I'd prefer to make a habit of recycling, instead of reusing.

Yellow Belt

A couple nights ago Thing 1 tested for her yellow belt in Shito-Ryu Karate. I wanted to take pictures, but we were so hurried trying to get out the door that I forgot to grab the camera. Not that I could've gotten any good shots - all but the students had to observe from outside the dojo.

Present at the testing was Shihan Fumio Demura, a kind old man with a playful demeanor. As a "special guest" I knew he was important, but it wasn't until I started researching Shito-Ryu Karate that I figured out who he is - the director and chief instructor for Shito-Ryu Genbu-Kai International (an organization that encompasses 25 nations and thousands of members) and Pat Morita's stunt double. Pretty cool. Once judging was complete he instructed the students in an hour-long class. By the end of the evening he had white belts throwing black belts to the ground - Thing 1 was practically glowing with pride and excitement.

Thing 2 was less enthralled. While he wasn't quite ready to test, Jack still wanted to tag along. His interest lasted for all of 10 minutes. The rest of the time was spent feeding a vending machine, running up and down stairs, hopping off his chair, and chatting with strangers. Nothing new.

Today Thing 1 received her yellow belt and her Certificate of Proficiency along with the rank of Jr. Kyu (9th). I am so excited for her - and a little jealous. She's on her way to becoming a lean, mean, (and very cute) fighting machine.

A big thank you to Sensei Tracy. Addy is more confident - both in body and in mind. She worked really hard learning Kihon Kata Ichi and now will move on to the advanced class.

I suspect before too long Thing 2 will quit running stairs and hopping around the room so he can join her there.


Hot Hot Hot

Today has proven to be an uncomfortable reminder that summer is just around the corner. Right now weather.com says the temperature outside is 99 degrees. And it's 4:50pm. And my car has been parked out on the driveway because the garage is still littered with plastic floor remnants, boxes the plastic floor came packed in, carpet, carpet pad, miscellaneous tools, and MDF scraps.

And that means my dashboard can now substitute for my cooktop at dinnertime.

Too bad today was piano lesson day. Poor Things. We waited in the car outside the home where Addy takes lessons. I did find a shady spot to park, but Sketch wasted no time in letting me know that he prefers to spend his afternoons in an environment less like a convection oven.

The Things spent the half-hour climbing all over the car while I sat and played "Bejeweled" on my cell phone. Flashback to high school. Although the technology (and the radio station) was different, the rest was a nostalgic throwback - the heat, the humidity, the searing breeze, the sweat dripping off the back of my neck . . . let's just say it wasn't the most pleasant of memories. At least I now have a car with engine-powered AC, instead of an open window and a 25 mph windburn.

Maybe living on the "mainland" has made me a wuss. Although I remember the days where I found no discontent in sweat-drenched clingy clothes and blazing sunshine, I long to not have to repeat them. You may think that's why I live in Southern California.

72 degrees year round, right? Just like the "Real Housewives of Orange County" is an accurate sampling of the women that live in this area.

Uh huh.

That's exactly what the California tourism (and taxation) board would have you believe. How else would they draw ignorant and unsuspecting visitors (and residents) to our lovely state? It sure isn't with outstanding infrastructure, efficient government, and affordable real estate.

Reality is, we have furnaces and AC units for a reason. The winters can get cold, and the summers can get hot. And vise versa.

I just wish wall and attic insulation had been as high a priority for the guy that built my house 4o years ago.



A couple weeks ago we hosted two fluffy members of Thing 2's Kindergarten class. "Peep" and "A-Doodle-Doo" spent the night in a box on the dining room table. They were noisy and messy, and so very cute.

Alas, after only 1 night "Peep" and "Poop" moved on to another classmate's home. If only we could've kept them to feed the garden - that chicken manure is expensive!

9 months young

Or not. As of tomorrow Thing 4 is officially 10 months old. But these fabulous photos are better late than never, right? My itsy-bitsy baby is still teeny-weeny. His stats put him in only the 20th percentile, but with 4 new (and very sharp) teeth I'm sure he'll make weight soon enough.


Slippers from Grammie

The three big Things felt left out last time Grammie came to visit. She brought yarn and needles, and spent time making baby booties to give as gifts. But why not booties for bigger babies?

Grammie indulged and now the Things rest happily with warm tootsies.


It appears the apple didn't fall far from the daddy tree.

I have no illusions as to whose genes are the bullies in our family's pool.


The Little Dutch Boy

Food storage and emergency preparedness have held a back-of-the-mind interest for me since our advent into the salary-earning adult world. Granted, there wasn't much we could do during our years of yo-yo-ing back and forth across the country. Space, use, transportation - all were insurmountable issues. I was content to admit my interest, then admit my defeat.

After 9/11 my interest, and paranoia, were heightened. But I wasn't sure what I could do, or even where I should start. Thing 1 was just 2 years old and we were in process of moving from California to Pennsylvania. Living in transition, an old house requiring time and money, and a new pregnancy kept my attention focused elsewhere.

And then we were in process of moving again - this time to south Texas. Months of pregnancy-complicated bronchitis, selling our PA house, building a new TX house, living out of suitcases at Nana's and in a Texas motel, working in Mexico . . . we had too many complications to worry about anything other than where our pillows was currently located.

My desire to prepare was reignited after the June 2002 announcement that al-Qaida had attempted to construct and detonate a dirty bomb in the US. Not only did I lack a permanent home, I also lacked any sort of disaster preparation - no evacuation kit, no temporary shelter, no food supply - I didn't even have the recommended duct tape, needed to seal windows and doors in case of attack. My panic started to get the best of me and the helplessness I felt was almost palpable.

You know that saying - If ye are prepared ye shall not fear? Elder L. Tom Perry spoke of it in 1995, then President Gordon B. Hinckley again in 2005. I felt the only way I could rest easier was to act, to prepare.

That was the first time I assembled my 72 hr evacuation kit. Nate will tell you it was a little more than over-the-top. But I didn't care - the hatchet, pocket fishing kit, space blankets, (and much more) helped me sleep better at night. I did start to wonder how we'd carry it all, if ever we needed to snatch and run. Uh . . . one problem at a time.

After we settled into our new home I shifted my focus to food storage. I participated in a ward Relief Society activity where we sealed rice, flour, dry milk, and pasta in mylar pouches. That was a good start, but I still didn't know where to go from there. How much food did I need? What should I store? How long would it last? An answer to one question just led to more questions, and not nearly enough answers.

When Nate went back to school food storage had to go on the back-burner. All the space issues came back into focus. Our tiny apartment barely had room for our bodies, let alone extra rice and wheat. But that's OK - everything has a time and a season, right?

So now is that time and season. Food storage and emergency preparedness are a priority - was the gardening post any indication? If not, just wait until I rotate my 72 hr kit - the pictures will be very enlightening.

Anyway . . . on to the story that prompted this whole post.

Since we moved to California I've been purchasing commodities in bulk for long-term storage in mylar-lined superpails. Maybe it's a subconscious admission of length of expected residency in this state. Regardless, available space in my coat closet is becoming scarce.

A few weeks ago I bought 50 lb bags of wheat, corn, rice, and beans (unsurprisingly, the beans are for Nate.) I stacked the bags on the floor in the kitchen to await repackaging. I thought my biggest concern was rodents - that's why I didn't store them in the garage. Yet again I underestimated Thing 2.

One morning Jack came running upstairs, crying. He said the wheat spilled all over the kitchen floor. I figured what's done was done and getting worked up about it before I surveyed the damage was counterproductive. Instead, Jack hung out with me while I finished getting ready (or maybe it was I still needed to pull my butt out of bed.) Regardless of the exact scenario, Thing 2 was upstairs with me, Sketch was still asleep, and Thing 3 was downstairs all by herself.

And then the lamentation began to waft upstairs. A small, 3 year old voice wailing indistinguishable complaints. Oh, what could be the matter?

Jack's response was nonchalant enough - Ellie was holding the wheat with her hand so it didn't spill anymore. Who knew the little Dutch boy (girl) lived in my house?

Such a helpful little girl, and so very biddable to her brother's requests.

I made Jack take Ellie's place for the photo documentation. While his emotions may have been authentic, the expressions were completely staged.

How did this minor catastrophe occur in the first place? Jack was "exercising his muscles" by lifting the kitchen chairs over his head. His youthful exuberance resulted in the chair flying out of his hands and onto the bag of wheat. The result was a small puncture wound in the paper bag. At least that's the way he tells the story.

I guess I should be grateful a bag of wheat was the only casualty.

A side note: Since Thing 2 perpetrated this accident it was his responsibility to clean it up. While I may have asked for a broom and dustpan, Jack had his own idea for an implement to assist his efforts. His request?

A spoon.


My favorite toy

Things 2 and 3 each received a hand-crank LED flashlight for Christmas. I've since purchased two more to keep on either side of my bed in case of earthquake, fire, or other emergency. Although, now that Sketch has appropriated one for his own amusement at bedtime I should probably go buy another. Hey, as long as it puts him to sleep . . .

This flashlight is cheap and reliable entertainment. Safety is almost secondary (as a purpose for the flashlight - in case that wasn't clear.) I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't think this is the coolest toy ever. I guess there are few things more fun than huddling in a tight, dark closet with a wind-up flashlight on a muggy afternoon. Around and around and around and around and around . . .

So now I'm stocking up for birthday party season. Best part? I never have to buy batteries.

A new pet

It's been just over a year since Sasha left. I finally acquiesced to the Things' request for a new pet (in all honesty, the request was Nate's.) This one gets fed twice a day and sits quietly on the counter until it's molded into a loaf pan.

Sourdough starter - quiet, low maintenance, and it feeds the fam. With 4 Things to clean up after, why would I ever go back to keeping a drooling, pooping, farting, shedding, barking, licking, biting dog?


Anime Ellie

Subtlety has never been Thing 3's strong suit. Give her a hot pink makeup kit and the superhero disguise emerges.

Thanks Nana.


I want to be a farmer

At least that's what Nate told one of my friends. He may be off the mark, but probably not by much.

Since we got married and I was introduced to the potential bounty of Utah's earth by Nate's parents I've had an attraction to growing things. Or at least an attraction to attempting to grow things. I can't say I've been very successful. Usually my dirt is crappy and I end up over-watering. I think my house plants are most happy when I go on vacation and leave them be. So I'd say my thumb, while not black, probably tends toward yellow. But at least I try.

I think right now Nate wishes I wouldn't.

Two and a half years ago we moved into this house in the land of the endless summer. The previous owner had been here since the home was built and had spent much time and money on the landscaping. Or maybe she hadn't - she owned a local nursery - so maybe the plants were at cost and quite possibly by the end of the day she was too tired of looking at organic material and preferred to just sit in front of the TV.

Regardless, our yard was full of plants - few of which were species I had ever seen before. Research has proven fruitful, as have some of the trees. We have:

a pomegranate,

a fuyu persimmon,

a pineapple-guava (a distant, exotic cousin of the guava family, with edible flower petals),

and a naval orange.

We've also got a plethora of decorative trees:

weeping juniper

something pruned like a poodle.

coastal pine - also pruned like a poodle.

crepe myrtle - too early to bloom


blue spruce

osmanthus heterophyllus (false holly) - I don't understand the obsession with the poodle-dos . . .

another pruned tree/shrub thing

african tulip - it hasn't bloomed this year. By the end of June it should have gigantic orange blossoms like this:

cedar - although it looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree to me

japanese maple

We've got flowers and shrubs:

dwarf nandina

some kind of daisy

columbine - it grows wild and survived a bout with RoundUp (purely accidental, of course.)

azaleas - the big one is WWII era, according to our next-door neighbor.

asparagus fern and alstroemeria - at some point they should flower.


euryops daisy - I butchered it a couple weeks ago, but it's coming back.

gazania with slug damage.

some other flower I can't remember the name of

My yard is a veritable botanical garden - assuming you can ignore the rampant weeds, noisy trampoline, and Things running amok. You'd think with the vast variety of plants I'd be content to leave it alone. But that's not the case, much to Nate's consternation. We (and when I say "we", I mean Nate - under my direction, of course) have planted:

a satsuma mandarin tree (clementine),

a lime tree,

and a nectarine tree - it's the stick with a yellow tag.

We (again, Nate) also recently planted 2 varieties of blueberry and are looking for black and raspberries - apparently planting season is earlier in the year, so I haven't had much luck.

But the most exciting (again, exciting for me) is the 70' x 6' garden we (again, Nate) put in about a month ago. In preparation we (I) ripped out bougainvillea and ivy-like vines and we (Nate) tilled in 5 cubic yards of topsoil, chicken poop, and gypsum to help break up the native clay.

Now we've got arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, carrots, celery, radishes, tomatoes (3 varieties), beans, peas, grapes (black and Thompson seedless), corn, bell peppers, spinach, romaine, artichoke, cucumbers, pumpkin, and zucchini.

If I had more energy I'd add photos - but the plant-lings are still too small to admire much. Don't worry, as they become bragable I'll post pics.