May Days...

May was busy, busy, busy in a tizzy, getting dizzy. But tomorrow it will be June. And so although my dear husband is nagging me to go to bed I am determined to do the May round-up so that I can start a-new in June. The OCD-ness knows no bounds my friends. Let's hope for all of our sakes that I get it done before mid-night or I just won't know where to go with this.

Disclaimer **The rest of this post is one long photographic bragging session. It is my right and my due having endured endless morning sickness, 4 gajillion hours of labour and untold misery in breast-feeding. And now I get to see the fruits of my labour. AH-hahaa..erhem.

Also, I think it is nice to record this sort of thing for posterity. What I'm saying is, if you can't handle braggart moms with grace, you need to move along now and come back tomorrow so we can still be friends. I can't guarantee my kids won't have done something spectacular tomorrow though.
*Edited to add that the following pictures, particularly the soccer and tap recital ones are far more enjoyable when clicked upon. I have just discovered this enjoyment for myself. It's good stuff.

So looking at my photographic journal I see Benj's cello recital which I mentioned earlier. It was surprisingly good actually. There are mixed feelings when you realise that your 9 year old son is far more accomplished then you are, at 32.

The take the blurry picture if you must woman, but I am going to be late expression

Why I need a zoom lens for my you- would -never- guess- it -was- a -good -one from -this- picture camera. That is him in the back, the little earnest blonde head.

A more recognizable likeness of him thanks to editing software which can only do so much for a person who does not have a zoom lens. If I only had a zoom-lens

Benj had field day in there somewhere where he was repeatedly dragged through the mud in his undaunted quest to win the tug-of-war. That's him in the blue hanging upside down, being dragged right there on the end. As you can tell his quest was in vain. Repeatedly. He was displeased.

He got this ribbon for doing many, many sit-ups in a short amount of time though! Hooray the abs! Since I am bragging anyway I have to say that this is the one (random and mostly useless) physical fitness attribute I consider myself accomplished in. I can do sit-ups with very little effort. Lots of them. Oh all the live-long day people! (Not that this has ever been established but in my heart, I know it is true). And so, apparently, can he. Whoohoo! My genes finally had their time to shine.

Then there was the piano recital. Our amazingly cool piano teacher and friend will be ditching us in July (for shame!) and so we had a little recital for all her students at a friends' home. It was very sweet and successful.

The bow may have been my favourite part

Then there were the FINAL SOCCER GAMES (for at least the 3 little ones at least. We soldier on with Benj) It was a good week for soccer. Benj scored two goals in his game on Thursday and the littlies were all ON man! that Saturday. They were killers I say! They all scored multiple goals and ended the season all amped up with no place to go. I got back into running after a long and dreary bout with some tenacious pathogen, by hustling between their 3 simultaneous games taking pictures.

He slides, he shoots, he scores!

He is happy! If I only had a zoom-lens you could see!

The Finnster dominates (which was a nice turnaround from being stomped upon-literally- at the beginning of the season)

Gracie with her game face on. I would not like play that chick when she gets that face on. She rocks the soccer.

Gabe gets serious. There's the tongue! He was a phenomenal goalie in this game too.

And of course there was the triumphant return to the pool. Winter, you were a worthy opponent, but we survived you again! HA! It is time for goggles..

Sand castles and moats

Pool games and their accompanying injuries

Making footprints ..but not the snow or mud kind! Woot!

Playing volley-ball (the big boys have moved into this new territory)

And just being amazed and mesmerized that the warm weather has finally kinda sorta arrived... now and again.

On Friday our Gabey baby won the Citizenship award. This was the award Benjamin won last year except the school forgot to inform us he was getting it and we did not show up to the prize-giving. When he came home all a-glow a friend of mine had to hastily inform me that this was big deal (ie where were you, slacker?) and while I was digesting this news, Gabe who had tried so valiantly to be thrilled for his brother, eventually dissolved into sobs and told the tragic tale of how he had been working so hard "for years" with no recognition.

It was my Sophie's choice moment. Cheering for the one and gushing over his accomplishment whilst trying to assure the other one that it really does not matter in the scheme of things. Awkward! I was thus thrilled when his teacher called to let me know that he was this year's recipient! Sometimes things come together like that. And this time we even showed up to watch!Being in attendance to hear what the award is all about, that being exemplifying all manner of marvelous things, I must agree with the decision to bestow it on both of those fine lads. (But I only grudgingly agree, of course)

Finally there was Gracie's ballet recital today. She was soooo excited and it was oh so cute

We got to take some pictures in the dress rehearsal because picture taking was verboten during the performance (which I had to buy an expensive ticket for, then miss half the show and trample people in my row when I was required to leave to retrieve my child as she left the stage, get her dressed-no costumes to be seen off-stage!!, and then have her seated on my lap for the duration. Methinks they need to come up with a better plan or give us the tickets free. After all we did pay for the costume and the lessons. \Rant. Apparently I am the only mom who gets miffed over all this. Which I can't say is unusual.

Pity about the picture quality. If I only had a zoom lens. (Can you tell my sweet husband reads this blog? Right now he is squirming as he has no cash to make the zoom lens happen but it makes me feel better to make my wishes known. As unrealistic as their fulfillment may be. Po Aaron)

I love how they are all looking at each other

Exiting the stage

Holy cuteness!

The Diva and the Daddy

Ok well, with all the photo looking and editing and various other distractions, it is definitely well into June now. DANGIT. Good thing I had that nap today. I'm proud of my kidlets, their determination and diligence in everything they do is something I am still trying to figure out. It's so much fun to be their mom (almost all the time). Yay Kids! Yay! Now go to bed, it is after 8 and I am allergic to you. Don't let me hear you whispering, and don't think I can't hear you whispering.

Public Service Announcement

The consequences of skimping on sun protection.
Man, you turn 30...! It's amazing how the damage just sneaks up on you folks. That tan is just not worth it.

I've actually been thinking for some time that I needed some little subtle signal I could wear to indicate PMS Danger Time for the protection of my loved ones. I was thinking like a little button or bracelet or something, but I think maybe this is clearer and also friendly. In my family we refer to PMS- DT as The Monster. So really, this is perfect.

The only problem is, being thick impermeable plastic with neither air nor eye holes, it's a bit difficult to breathe whilst wearing it. Also, vision is somewhat limited. And I'm concerned that these factors may contribute to irritability and possibly exacerbate the situation it is supposed to warn of...I dunno.. What do you think?

A couple of things to record for posterity..

Finny had a nap early this evening. And you know what that means. Perky McPerkyson is sitting here giving me a stream of consciousness peek into his mind.

I tuned in to the incessant chatter at one point to hear him saying quite philosophically, " I fink Jesus just put different words into Tato's body". "Tato" is his friend Mateo, and when I asked which unique words he felt were placed in Tato's body, he made some very accurate Tato-esque sounds. So I must agree with that assumption.

Incidentally while I was typing the above paragraph, he just said, "oh..and so that means you are the sweetest mommy ever". Glad I zoned in for that one too. It is amazing how charming they become when they know they are living downstairs, in the Land of the Wakeful on borrowed time.

On the other end of the sweetness spectrum Gabe was wailing to Aaron the other day that he had been victimized in some way by the evveeeil entity that is Benjamin. (Cos we all know how wicked that kid is). Aaron zoned in enough to make a sympathetic noise like "Oh...I'm sorry". Gabe let about two beats go by before he retorted with no small measure of incredulous indignation, "Is that all you've got!?"

The next day when Aaron informed the kids that they would have to tear themselves away from the pool for the trying experience of having a picnic at the park with all their friends, he attempted to muffle the whining comfort them by saying that we would probably return to the pool later. To which Gabe said, "well you'd better make sure we do or we will have some serious problems and consequences".

You just have to know Gabe and the earnest way he talks (which in this case also had that hysterical edge to it) to realise how hilarious this was to Aaron. To his great parental credit though, he managed to stifle his laughter enough to put on his authoritative face and tell Gabe that if he ever spoke to him like that again he would be the only one experiencing some serious problems and consequences.

It's been a fun and eventful week thus I am overwhelmed over what to report on. Let it be said that gardening has commenced in earnest, and the city pool has been well and truly broken in for the season. Never let it be said that we do not get our money out of our pool pass. When we showed up with the thermometer just registering 72 degrees (and that's the air not the water) the pool staff said, "oh good we were wondering when you would be here, it just would not be opening day without the Sayers" We kind of open and close the pool down each season, it's vaguely pathetic. We enjoyed our two days of Summer. It is winter again now. Summer was fun.

This week Benj also performed in his first cello recital and both Benj and Gabe in their first piano recital. The really really flat ground is alive with the sound of music.

Photos to follow when I gird up my loins enough to wade through them and pick just one or two (or twenty-two) because I know how you are all waiting with bated breath for those.

The making of a family

Today I was dusting my study and thinking about how this may be my favourite family portrait. The photo is not very clear but they are African soapstone carvings of a couple with successive numbers of children from one to four.

Over the years and trips to South Africa we have collected these sculptures to represent our family at it's different stages.

When I got back from this last trip and our collection was finally complete, we put them all together and had a moment of pause concerning the first one. I had bought it before I even met Aaron I believe, I just thought it was beautiful but I don't think it was representative. After a moment of looking at it I realized that it was the perfect start to the collection as it could represent God bringing us together. And we have no doubt that He did.

The story of how a boy from Idaho meets a girl from South Africa (and at the time Swaziland) is a pretty cool one. And since it is our anniversary week, I will tell it to you.

In 1994 I was going to school in Swaziland. I was loving it. I had abandoned my laissez faire attitude toward education and worked really hard to be accepted into this programme, and it was an incredible experience. I was enjoying a taste of independence with the comfort of still being able to run home to mommy every weekend.

One such weekend my dad informed me that he had been having some troubling promptings. They indicated that I was in danger.He said he did not know why or how, but that it was a very intense prompting and he had not been able to shake the impression. Now if you know my dad you are raising your eyebrows right now because my dad is the most low-key, understated, undramatic individual you will ever meet. He is a man of few, well chosen words. I remember the only time in my life that it snowed in South Africa, exclaiming, "Daddy! It's freezing!" To which he replied, "hmmmm..'tis cool". Recently he was in the hospital in some undetermined incredible pain but when I spoke to him a day or two later (not having even been made aware of the hospital visit) he greeted my "how are you?" with his characteristic, "I'm incredibly strong". The man is not an alarmist. So if he tells you that he is feeling like you are in danger, you are going to be paying attention. This is actually the only time I can remember that he ever informed me of any type of feeling he had been having.

So I paid attention, but in typical wise teenager fashion I informed him that I had experienced no such feeling and that when I did I would let him know, until then I would carry on with life as usual thankyouverymuch. It was not as though I was living a risky lifestyle. I was being a good girl, I was studying hard, dating the nicest, most decent and respectful guy you could wish to know, whom my family also adored, I was serious about my spirituality, I had good friends, I was getting good grades,I was living right. I decided my dad had finally really lost it and went about the day. That night as I was getting ready for bed I had an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. It enveloped me and felt as though it was literally squeezing in on me. I remembered what my dad had said and wondered if this was maybe confirmation of that. Still, I knew better and by the morning I was all about going about as life as usual and went back up to school.

For the next few days, I was in a haze though, nothing seemed right, nothing was clicking, I could not focus, it really was like moving through molasses, everything was suddenly too hard. That weekend when I went home I mentioned to my dad how overwhelmed I was, and how every part of me wanted to run away but I knew that was not the response of an individual with character. My dad allowed me to come to my own conclusion but reminded me that Jesus had taught not to hang around that which was a vexation to our spirit. Still to me, it felt like quitting and I was determined not to be a quitter.

For a couple of days or weeks I'm not sure I continued in this stupor. The next weekend I came home and flung myself on my parents bed. I said, "I can't take this anymore, maybe I should just go to Ricks College". I said that very facetiously. Ricks College was a long running family joke for various reasons and I never, ever for a moment had truly considered going there. It was like, so far beneath me, people!

My dad suddenly looked very animated. "Do you think?" he asked. "That is exactly the same impression I have been having!". I was taken aback, was the man actually serious? I was having one of the most high quality educational experiences I could possibly have at this point in my life, something my dad had encouraged me to work so hard for, having my mind broadened in so many ways, meeting people from all around the world and now he wanted me to go to a FARM school? (It isn't really a farm school but it is located in Idaho so, same thing, right?) In fact, one night probably a year earlier we had some missionaries over to our house for dinner and I was mocking Idaho and saying how the worst thing they had to worry about was potato blight (I had a recent ex-boyfriend who had left for Ricks college in Idaho, and managed to dump me before I could dump him-my mail was slower then his-DANGIT, so I just a tad bitter). He nudged me and whispered that his companion was from Idaho.

"oh" I said, "sorry. Well at least you didn't go to Ricks". He looked up at me, smiled mildly, and said, "I actually did before I came out here, and I will probably go back when I go home".

Oh. I kept my mouth full of food after that to prevent my foot having enough room to re-enter.

Anyway back to the story. Within a week or two I had come to the conclusion that the unthinkable was actually what God wanted me to do. My dad was right. Of all the bizarre things!

I sadly left my program so that I could work and earn some money to go to Ricks the following January. I continued to date my boyfriend and see all my friends around town who were still going to school and having fun together. Most of them were absolutely flummoxed as to what I was doing. I was still not sure myself. My teachers were shocked and did not understand why I would leave when I appeared to be thriving academically and having a good time socially. It was pretty difficult and isolating at times but I was starting to get excited about the adventure ahead. Even if it did involve going to a farm school.

The following January a few weeks before I was due to leave for Ricks, friends of us invited us to a braai (BBQ). A missionary who had stayed with them for an usually long time (7 months) was coming back to the area with his parents to show them where he had shared. These friends happened to live in our "village" a few houses down and we saw them and the various missionaries who lived with them all the time. But I never really noticed any of them as they were unavailable to me for social purposes so to me, they did not exist. When the friend mentioned to my mom the name of the missionary, my mom said, "oh, isn't he the obnoxious one?" I, knowing that it was our friends' especially favourite missionary quickly jumped in and said, "oh no mom, he is really nice!" (I had no idea who I was talking about).

That night we sat around the campfire with our friends and The Americans and discovered that the missionary in question was going back to Ricks at just the same time I would be starting there. He offered to help me to get set up and get books. I said, "great, it's a date!". Apparently he later told his mommy very excitedly, "wow mom, did you hear that? She said 'it's a date' ". Oy vey. Poor socially deprived kid.

I thought he was very nice, for a missionary, and wrote in my journal that night that if all the boys at Ricks were as nice as this one was, I would be fine. Then I forgot about him. More or less.

A few weeks later I arrived on Ice Planet Hoth. Holy culture shock man! I knew no-one and had 2 suitcases and nothing else. My suitcases did not include bed-linen and I spent the first few nights on borrowed sheets. I was a little lost but having a tan and an accent in the middle of January in Idaho was proving to be pretty helpful socially. I had several date offers a day. I was really homesick though, and I kept thinking about the missionary who had offered to help me. I did not need help with books, but I really longed to see a familiar face from home. I tried and tried to call his home, but I did not understand area codes or something and could not get it right. One day about 3 days after I arrived, I woke up and wrote in my journal," today is the day I am going to find my missionary. I was on a mission myself and I could not explain the great urge, considering that in my rather brief stay I already had a rather full social calendar.

That day, as I wandered around the campus Bookstore I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned around, there he was. "Cold enough for ya?" he asked. I made some really embarrassing and involuntary sound that was like "AAAAHHHHHH" a mixture of joy and relief. I think my eyes even filled with tears. I wanted the floor to swallow me.

Since we had only seen each other briefly for one evening, this long lost love reaction on my part was seriously awkward. I later discovered that he had been searching in a stalker like fashion for me too, and when he saw me walking into the Bookstore he abandoned his car practically in the middle of the road to run after me. We chatted for a while, exchanged numbers. That evening I was sitting in the library when he walked by. I practically jumped in front of him and he sat with me for the rest of the evening as we annoyed other patrons by giggling hysterically as we wrote my parents a joke letter about how we were engaged (Ricks, much to our disdain was quite famous for its super fast marital hookups. And we were far too sophisticated for such nonsense). We described my ring and everything. Oh, how we laughed.

The mail to South Africa took a little under 3 weeks back then. By the time my parents received the letter, it was true. Right down to the ring description. Trust me, no-one was more shocked then me. My life plan was to get married when I was 30. In fact when I first arrived I was absolutely scandalized and made a special call to my mom to tell her that there were "teenagers getting married here canyoubelieveit?!" after I heard that a girl in our apartment block had just become 19!!! NINETEEN.

I became engaged 4 days after turning 19.

My parents (also more inclined to imagine me as a fully fledged adult when I got engaged) were surprisingly supportive. Aaron and I had discussed getting married on our first date and it was just a wait for him to procure an engagement ring after that. And boy did he drag his feet!

Actually, marriage had not been on his agenda at all either but once we met we knew that it was really the only thing we wanted to do and we wanted to do it sooner rather then later. I look back now and am grateful that none of us came to our sense before our wedding day. Because frankly? That was IN.SANE.

Most of my friends back in Swaziland were as stunned as I was. There were several conspiracy theories doing the rounds. Including: I needed a Green Card, I was pregnant, my parents had sent me away to escape the clutches of my non-Mormon boyfriend and arranged some sort of cult-ish marriage for me. (Despite the fact that my non-Mormon boyfriend continued to spend the weekends with, and go to church with my family.)

Despite the clear In.SANITY of it all, we all had the sense that God was with us on this, and we could not imagine anything other then being together asap, so we carried on. Our engagement was wonderful in some ways but so, so unbearably stressful for so many reasons, These actually had had nothing to do with the wedding itself, which I, in my twitterpated state had abdicated full control over to my future mother-in-law...yes! Me! Can you tell I was in an altered state of mind?

Fortunately our engagement was short. We were engaged on February 10th and married on May 18th. The night before my wedding was a literal nightmare but surprisingly we all survived it. Aaron did not run away and change his name, in fact during one moment of hysteria, he told me to "put your ring on and shut up. We are getting married in the morning".

Be assured that he has never told me to shut up or ordered me around since, but it seemed to do the trick. And although we left a day late for Salt Lake, we all found our way to the Temple. The rest, as they say, is history.

I have never had one moment of pause over whether or not I married the right person, and I am in awe of and grateful for the way God worked to get us together despite the varied complications, geographical difficulties and lack of cooperation along the way. Aaron tells that he freaked out (hard to believe of Aaron) just before he went on his mission and thought about not going, he also tells that he noticed me when he lived in the village (although I was not around that much due to living at school) but considered me out of his league. Ha.

He also tells the story of how I dissed his state and school when he came to dinner with his missionary companion one night, but that he did not care, the food was good.

Now I look at our four wonderful little people and can not believe that all this came all that. I really love that first sculpture!

Oh how fortuitous

I am one of those people who walks into other people's houses and reads their greeting cards. In front of them. Shamelessly. I am a compulsive people watcher/starer/stalker and Aaron will often have to hiss "release" at me when he notices that I am staring unblinkingly at, or openly eavesdropping on strangers. I must be so scary when he is not around to help me out.

Anyway for this reason, I love those articles in the magazines when the stars empty out their handbags and tell you the contents (although I do note that they never have a Kroger receipt, 12 expired coupons, 3 dirty tissues a wad of chewed up gum in a wrapper given to you by a child that said it was "too spicy" etc etc. It's always, "oh here's my Prada compact, and there's my La Mer lip balm, and here's a photo of the Ethiopian child that I sponsor and tickets to a charity ball. As contrived as I think they may be I still love to read them, because I, not to put too fine a point on it, am nosy. A voyeur. The internet is fantastic for people like me.

So today people want to know what is in your car. Particularly me. And do you know why it is fortuitous that this should happen on this very day? Occasionally the planets align in my favor. And today is one of those days.

I got my van detailed yesterday.

HA. So now I am like one of the stars and can say, I have tissues, wipes, a first aid kit, jumper cables, car repair kit, blanket and then look around all innocently like what? that's always the way it is. Of course, had this question been asked yesterday, it would have been a really really different story. Like the 4 boxes of recycling that have not yet been taken to the recycling center to name but the tip of the ice-burg. Not to mention what else that was in there that prompted the need for the detailing in the first place. But you don't want to know about that. Trust me.

So! Tell me what is in your car. C'mon now, we're all friends (apart from the vast majority of you who are total strangers but I'm sure would be awesome friends). Unless you are all boring and your car always looks like it has just been detailed. Then I don't want to know. Actually yes I do, you know how I eat that uber-organized stuff up.

Works for Me Wednesday: Bringing Socks Together

If no-one else will say it first I will. I'm not ashamed. I love to do laundry. Yes I do. And I'm sorry, I know this is considered abnormal, and un-American or whatever (I'm not American so there ya go) but I suspect there are many closet laundry-lovers out there.

Let's face it, it is the ultimate in instant gratification. Toss in a bunch of dirty stuff, add good clean smelling soapy substances, listen to the pleasant whooshing sound for a while... and...Lo! you have a bunch of clean stuff! Order out of chaos once again. It is a beautiful thing. There are two things which keep my laundry joy from being completely full though.

The first is the fact that once it is clean and dry and neatly folded (all activities which greatly appeal to the order out of chaos/instant gratification monster within me), there is the matter of putting it away somewhere, and when you live in a dolls house, that can be a challenge. This post does not address that challenge. I apologise.

The other challenge is that of socks. They seem to be the universal scourge of every washer-woman/man's existence. It is not satisfying to toss in a bunch of dirty socks, and come out with a bunch of clean socks, which do not have partners. It is not good that sock should be alone. Socks need to be in pairs. I think we can all agree on this. It's great when they come together without a big fat dramatic scene worthy of Grey's Anatomy, but in my house, and I suspect, many of yours, this is rarely to be. My socks are more of the star-crossed lover variety. On again, off again, ships passing in the night and all that.

Back in the dark ages when I was still trying to match each pair as I found them in the warm fragrant pile out of the dryer, it was tough, man. It would take me way too long to fold a load of whites because I was always scrabbling around searching for about 20 different socks and their respective perfect mates.

Now I do know that many products and methods exist to deal with this problem. Like pinning a pair together first, which ok let's face it, is never going to happen. Or those little mesh bags. Only thing is, that means collecting up all the socks at the beginning, and putting them in the little mesh bag and they just do not get as clean (or dry) when they are all wadded up in the little mesh bag. (I saw on Ellen recently that some kid came up with a sock pizza, which as innovative and awesome as it is, would not work for me because, again, this takes work at the outset and the fun of laundry for me is just being able to grab a bunch of white things and shove them in the washer with gay abandon. Not sitting holding a dirty sock whilst hopefully sifting through other dirty laundry to find its unfaithful mate. That just takes the joy right out of that. It is not the same as the satisfaction I get from hair-pretty reunions when there is stinkiness involved. It's just not.

So this is what I do. I wash with gay abandon. I dry with gay abandon. Then I fold with gay abandon. When I come upon a sock with its mate close by I rejoice and join them together in notsoholy sockmony and send them to honeymoon in their tiny apartments. However this experience is the exception rather then the rule.

What usually happens is I find a sock, I scan the pile briefly. I see not its straying mate. I smile, unperturbed. I toss the single sock in a canvas box where sock singles go to mingle. I proceed, tossing all single socks in the canvas box. I repeat until most of the laundry is done (because laundry is never ever ALL done), and it can be assumed that most of the socks which are still alive in this house are either paired up already or in the single sock box. If any singles have made it into sock drawers for any reason, I gather those up too, to join the club. No sock lives alone in this house. We are highly inclusive.

Unfortunately full disclosure requires that I tell you that not all the socks will survive the washing. Occasionally there really will be some swept away into the belly of the washer, Bermuda Triangle nothing, this is where they go. The washer eats them. Washers need to eat too folks, we should not begrudge them the occasional Hanes or Fruit of the Loom snack for as hard as they work. There will be a few singles who will remain single, over the course of many single cycles. Sometimes there will be a miraculous pairing after months, when all hope was lost, sometimes not. It is sad, but true. This is why sock puppets exist. We must make the most of what life deals us.

Now here is the best part. I locate my slaves. They are generally watching TV illicitly. I tell them that they may continue to watch TV (they look shocked) but only! (they look fearful) if they engage in a brain stimulating activity simultaneously.

This activity is called.....Sock Matching! It is oodles and oodles of fun! Even more fun then the WII! Yes it is! How do you know it isn't? You don't even have a WII! How do I know it is? Because I am the mom and I know stuff like that. (They are still young enough for this to squelch further debate).

To make it more interesting, I appeal to their competitive natures (I am still stymied as to where they came by those). I tell them that the one to bring together the greatest number of happy couples is the WINNAH! The WINNAH generally wins no prize. Except for the glow of satisfaction they will have that night while lying in bed waiting to drift off, knowing that they have achieved greatness in the sport of sock matching. It is reward enough. Within one episode of Hannah Montana I have a large community of happily married socks. It is quite glorious.

And it really is a fairly stimulating activity when you think about it, particularly if you have many socks which are similar but have slight variations. This really ups the thought-processing ante and you can feel good about providing educational opportunities rather then indentured servitude. (Really, I do feel strongly about kids working, and I do not count this fun, fun, activity as a chore, there's just something about having them be truly helpful to me, rather then me sacrificing high quality cleaning for the opportunity for them to learn a work ethic, which gives me guilt. Cos I am rational like that. )

For many, many more helpful tips you should visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer who hosts a regular Works for me Wednesday feature. If you have any ideas of your own, you can post them there too

For Finny and Tato..

a breakdown of their favourite song
funny graphs
more song chart memes
Thanks Jules!
And an anecdote to go with that. Finny has always believed that he would be a rock-star, for as long as I can remember of his short life, this has been his self-professed life calling. I think he actually has a pretty good shot at it too. Tonight while he was rocking out using Gabe's tennis racquet as his (gui) "tar" wearing shades and looking like way more of a rock star then say, David Archuleto, I said, "Finny you really do look like a rock star". To which Gracie driven by requisite sibling rivalry, said, "I want to look like a rock star too!" Without skipping a beat, Finny looks at her over his shades, and says very sincerely, "It's ok Gracie, you can be in my band".

Me. Edited

In a word....

1.Where is your cell phone...............somewhere
2. Your significant other?......................sainted
3. Your hair?....................................growing
4. Your mother? .................................dynamic
5. Your father?..................................intelligent
6. Your favorite thing?
7. Your dream last night?........................fuzzy
8. Your favorite drink...........................tea
9. Your dream/goal?..............................potential
10. The room you're in?
11. Your children?....................................delicious
12. Your fear?...................................chaos
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years...........debtless
14. Where were you last night?...................couch
15. What you're not?.............................laidback
16. Muffins......................................bran
17. One of your wish list items?.................zoom-lens
18. Where you grew up?........................... South-Africa
19. What you read last........................This
20. What are you wearing?........................Black
21. Your TV?.....................................On
22. Your pets?...................................Future
23. Your computer? ..............................Overworked
24. Your life?...................................Interesting
25. Your mood?...................................Tense
26. Missing someone?.............................Many
27. Your car?....................................Important
28. Something you're not wearing?................Tiara
29. Favorite Store?..............................Cheapest
30. Your summer?.................................Beloved
31. Like someone?................................Sure
32. Your favorite color?.........................Spectrum
33. Last time you laughed........................Tonight
34. Last time you cried?.........................Unsure

Now, you do it.

Lucky 13

13 years ago we did this.

13 years later, we had a bit more of a low-key day. We went where the traffic includes this

While our wonderful friend Cindi watched our kiddies, we stayed in a beautiful, very gracious hotel

It had a lovely library

In fact the lobby of the hotel had the same layout as the one where we had our reception

Just a little less marble. (The Amish do not work with marble, but the Mormons do)

Our hotel room was awesome! It had a jacuzzi and a fireplace and a big bed for jumping on. The bathroom was bigger then the 2nd floor of our house. It was way better then the hotel we spent our wedding night in. (No pictures of that)

Lord of the Manor

I had a fascinating time Amish-spotting. I tried to be discreet in my photo taking because I realised that if someone was watching me load my van/buggy with my groceries and kids, it might irritate.

Inside the grocery store, a little Amish boy was shopping with his dad and sister. The little boy was unabashedly transfixed with me. I have a theory that he was mesmerized by seeing, in real life, a Jezebel, wearing pants, with hair flowing and uncovered, make-up and jewelery. He could not stop looking. When I went down an aisle he would swivel to look for me. (Although there were actually many non-Amish women wondering around, so I'm not sure what it was about me that caught his attention, (I really was in very modest attire by the rest of our standards) but it was adorable. After a while his sister seemed to be equally fascinated (although a little more self-conscious about openly staring). I wish I'd had the courage to try to talk to them since I was equally fascinated with them, I'm just not sure of the protocol of Jezebel/Amish child interactions so I did not dare.

The countryside is beautiful and tranquil and I am completely inspired by the work ethic of these people. It made me want to go right home and make me some bread. Right after I googled on how. However I have strep throat so I had to settle with going home, lying on the couch and eating Amish bread instead. I wonder what Amish women do when they get strep throat. Or if they ever do. They are so incredibly talented and industrious and I don't imagine that they get a time off to go on Amish Girls Night Outs or romantic weekends with their husbands. I wonder what it must be like to work that hard with no break, ever. It made me feel like a big wuss. Which I am.

I also must say that the Amish have the cutest babies and children! Maybe it is the little bonnet or all the fresh air and clean living or whatnot, but they are soooooo exceptionally adorable and appealing. Every single one I saw put the Gerber baby to shame.

Here we are now on the patio of our lovely room. As has been well-established, I have the best husband in the world and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have been married to him for 13 whole years.

Reaching out from a dark and frightening place...

..otherwise known as the Seasonal Clothing Swap. Oh my HA-IL!!! It's not just the switcheroo that is the killer it is the obsessing over who will fit into what next year and what can we just get rid of and yes this shirt is totally clapped out but omigosh, it's his DOGGY shirt, what type of cold dead heart could just stick the DOGGY shirt in a Goodwill bag?

The other trying part of this endeavour is the fact that this sort of thing lends itself to a TOTAL PURGING of the kids' rooms. Which I seem to do RATHER. OFTEN. What is up with this?? How many tiny toys and random bits of paper can exist? How many I say?! More days of my life then I wish to think about have been devoted to finding the answer to this anguished question.

Amidst all the drudgery and darkness there are one or two chinks of light, one of them being the hair pretty drawer. The hair pretty drawer is usually thoroughly trashed within hours of being organized but I have to tell you, that I am secretly thrilled when I get to sit down in front of it and create order of it's chaos. I probably should be embarrassed about how happy it makes me to find a pair of pretties and put them together in pretty hair pretty rows. Some of those pretty pairs date back several years, and the longevity of their partnership against all odds makes me feel warm inside.

I can understand why some people find matchmaking so satisfying. This is just the same really.

Also, we did some gardening this week. There was one day of Spring during which it all needed to be accomplished, so that was a busy but deeply satisfying day. Now we are back to winter so it's a good thing we had that experience. Ah Spring, it really is such a special day of the year. I look forward to it again next year.

Hoping that those little specks you see scattered amongst their very attractive plastic containers, will soon burgeon forth into beautiful things like Dahlias and Begonias. It never fails to surprise me how many little plants are within a large flat. But have I mentioned what good therapy gardening is? Well it is. Simply lovely.

That red bush looks disturbingly Fall-like don't you think? It makes me uncomfortable.