The Remake

On Christmas Eve we attempted a remake of one of our favorite shots of the kids.

Christmas Eve, 2009:

original, 2009

Christmas Eve (not really, but the night we opened gifts a few days before Christmas), 2014:

remake, 2014

A good first effort. I think we can do better.

Please note: the sock in her mouth was clean this time.

Dear Pinterest, We Need to Have a Talk About Bookshelves

Hello Pinterest, you inspirer and ruiner of dreams.  

Last night I sat on my couch and stared at the bookshelves across the room. I thought, “Those could probably look better.” The shelves with the McCullough biographies were a little crowded, and the audiobooks looked cluttery. The kids’ shelves have been in heavy use, and it shows. There are volumes that we’ve loaned out and stuck back when they’re returned.

So, you see — general bookshelf-ish clutter. I needed to straighten and love them a bit. As with many of my projects, I decided to inspire myself by heading over to your site, Pinterest, and see some pretty pictures.

I typed in “styled bookshelves.”

But here’s what I saw.

18 books

(18 books)



(30 books)

(30 books)


(22 books)

(22 books)


WHERE ARE ALL THE BOOKS?!  (Look, I even counted them for you. Not many, right?)

Let’s review. These are *BOOK*shelves we’re talking about, right? Not museum shelves? Look at that one with JUST a vase on one whole shelf! This is not my reality. There are no empty shelves to be had here.

I came across one blogger who said she had “so many” books to fit into her styled bookshelf, so she really had to plan. I counted again. There were TWENTY-ONE BOOKS on her gigantic shelf. Twenty-one whole books!



Then there was the picture with the books TURNED AROUND BACKWARDS so the spines faced in and the pages faced out. WHAT?! Yes. So all the pretty white pages match.

I guess people are picking their books now because they’re pretty? And it doesn’t matter what is inside them? (Here I am inexplicably hearing Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast” in my head. “How can you read this? There’s no pictures!”)



Here’s another trend I noticed that made me crazy. People organize their books BY COLOR?! What is this madness?! Who DOES that?! How can you find anything?!

Maybe you are spectacularly visually-minded and you can live that way. My chest gets tight just thinking about doing that. Plus I think we would have an overstock of blue books (like in the picture!) due to the amount of American history and theology in our library.

Deep breath. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having a place for my eye to rest. A framed photograph here and there, a vase, a well-chosen tchotchke — these all make a bookshelf more pleasing to the eye.

That’s the help I went looking for. What I found made me want to stage an intervention whilst overdramatically declaring the end of civilization as we know it.

So. Pinterest. This topic is officially off-limits between you and me. We will not speak of it again.

Because to be honest, Pinterest, I can’t think of many things more beautiful than these…


 IMGP4233 IMGP4243 IMGP4247 IMGP4246

(When I’m not ranting at Pinterest, I am pinning happily here.)

Maybe She’s Not Afraid of What We Think She’s Afraid Of

My youngest has been in a challenging phase lately. Every time I am away from her, she is desperate for me to return. I’ve never experienced a child having separation anxiety this late in young childhood, so I’ve been trying to mine her heart a little to find out what the issue is.

It seems to be vehicle-related. She is scared anytime I am going in a car without her. She is scared if the boys are in the car and I’m not in the driver’s seat, because the van might drive away all by itself with them inside. (She did tell me that she had a nightmare about that once.)

The other night at dinner, I was telling her that I had to go to a meeting, and that she would stay home with Daddy and her brothers. The tears sprung to her eyes and she immediately began asking, “where are you going? when will you come back? how far away is it?”.

I took her hand and answered her questions. Then I said, “Maddie, are you afraid that I will get in a car accident?”

She nodded.

“Did you see a bad car accident on the news?”

No, “but we see them sometimes when we’re driving.”

“Maddie, Mommy has been driving cars for twenty years, and she has never, ever, had a car accident, OK? I am a safe driver. And you know what else?”

Tearful “what?”

“When you see an accident by the side of the road, are the people by themselves? Or do people stop to help them? Are there policemen and firemen there?”


She acknowledged that yes, most of the time people are being helped. We talked about who would call the helpers, me or Daddy? I told her that we even live in a special part of the country where ordinary people who aren’t police officers or firemen will stop to help you without thinking twice.

And then came the kicker. “But then how do you get home if the car doesn’t work anymore?”

Basically, when we got down to it, she’s afraid that if I get in a car accident, I will have to walk home and it will take me forever to get here.

Can I count on some of you local friends to come pick me up so this doesn’t happen?

Also, on the way to my meeting, I backed into a tree next to our driveway. So much for safe driving.


Stop Me if You’ve Seen This One

The other night I came across this picture of actor Jason Alexander:

If you watched Seinfeld, you know it’s from the episode when George decides to wear a toupee.  The storyline comes to a climax when Elaine snatches the hairpiece from his head and throws it out Jerry’s apartment window.


When I saw the picture, I giggled and showed it to David, hoping to spawn a happy memory.  David immediately said, “let me show you something,” and proceeded to show me this:

And then my head exploded.
Did you have any idea that Jason Alexander was the dancing McDLT guy?  This was a new revelation to me.  
I remember the sandwich well…I remember thinking it would have been perfect if only they had put the cheese on the HOT side so it would melt.  Who thought putting it on the COLD side was a good idea?  That’s just crazy talk.

Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House

This is a poem by Billy Collins, who was the poet laureate of the US from 2001-2003.  I often think of this poem since we moved.  We have a barking dog on the street behind us, but he’s not quite as bad as Billy states below.  Enjoy!

Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius. 

For Scale

The amount, size, and gender of my children have necessitated that I begin cooking in vessels like this:

I can really get by with my normal pots if I’m just feeding our family.  But what’s the point of making a big batch of soup or chili if there’s none to put in the freezer?  Or what if we have people over and there’s not enough?

(the sink is just there for scale…this pot IS a sink.)

The Rational Explanation

I’m just going to go ahead and confess that I currently have an expired license in my wallet.  Yesterday was my birthday and my license was due to be renewed, but I haven’t done it yet.

There are many very rational reasons why.  Here is my plan if I get pulled over and am forced to hand an expired license to an officer:

Step One:  Pull over quickly and safely, not like that time I drove for a long time not noticing the lights until the officer finally had to put on the siren.

Step Two:  Put on Harried Mom Face (where’s the challenge in that — you hardly ever take it off).  Open window, keeping hands in full view at all times.

Step Three:  Hand officer license and registration.  Immediately confess that license is expired, before she/he has a chance to see it.

Step Four:  Here’s your moment.  Launch into your airtight explanation:

I’m so sorry, officer.  I know it’s expired.  I received the notification six months ago in the mail, but then:

  • We were planning to move, and I thought it would be better to have my official address on there rather than go through the additional step of getting it changed again after we moved.  So that takes us to February.
  • My hair salon closed and moved to Cotswold.  They rescheduled all the appointments and mine got put off.  I don’t have to tell you how critical it is to have a good haircut for your license picture, right?  It lasts for ten years!  My last one was really good, because we had just moved from California…and my hair was long…and my face was thin (living in California will do that for ya).  I have a lot to live up to with that picture.
  • The day I finally had my hair appointment, I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney stone attack.  I had to text my friend who’s a colorist at the salon from the ER and have her tell my stylist that I wouldn’t make it.
  • Then I spent a week in a holding pattern, ready to collapse into blinding pain again at any moment, until the doctor and I agreed that we’d do surgery to remove the 5mm kidney stone.  Do you know what that’s like?  5 millimeters in a teeny little 1 millimeter tube inside your body.  And it’s not smooth.  It’s like a peppercorn. I mean OW.  I’m just saying, OW.  Did you want me to go get my picture taken at the DMV in that state of mind?
  • Then I had to finish up homeschooling for the year, picking up the shreds of learning we’d done while I was on narcotic painkillers, and then we took off for Indiana for a week because my oldest niece was graduating from high school and we needed to be there because all the siblings were going to be there, and we can’t be the slacker branch of the family who doesn’t make the trip, right?
  • And that brings us up to yesterday, my birthday, the day my license expired, and the day I finally got a good haircut.  I will right this wrong as soon as possible, but as you can see it has been utterly impossible for me to renew my license until now.  I hope you can understand.

That’ll work, right?