23 September 2011

Scarily addicting

The new Facebook.

Milano cookies.

Trash romance novels.


Shaun the Sheep.

Phineas & Ferb


Running, which, sadly, I can't do as much of any more.


21 September 2011


I am so hungry. Somehow, I managed to gain an insane amount of weight over the last few months. To my friends who see me all the time -- it hides on the hips/thighs, sigh. So I've started tracking what I eat each day, trying to make better choices. I am starving. Starving to the point that listening to my 7-year-old count down the timer on the oven is enough to drive me loopy:
". . . 3-2-1. Two more minutes!! 59-58-57 . . . One more minute!!!! 59-58-57-56 . . . . . .3-2-1!!! Waiit Zero minutes!!! 59-58-57 . . . . . .48-47-46 . . . 23-22-21 ..... 3-2-1 BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!"
YAY! Food. Gotta go.

15 September 2011

Premise of Perfection

Our oldest is much older than her younger siblings. For as long as they can remember, she's been the grown-up one. The perfect one. The one who does no wrong. She's put on some pedestal by them.

Tonight, my husband told the younger two the story of Uh-You.

For those who do not recall, C1 had speech issues as a child.

(Still does. Three years of speech therapy. Sigh. Try and get her to say synonym sometime. It is hilarious, trust me.)

When she was 3, my loving spouse was trying to teach her how to say the 23rd letter of the alphabet, which she insisted was pronounced "uh-you."

Scene: Casa Matthews, 1999, West Des Moines, IA. Kitchen.

Spouse: Double.

C1: Double.

Spouse: Double.

C1: Double.

Spouse: Double.

C1: Double.

Spouse: U

C1: U

Spouse: U

C1: U


C1, serious look on face, very sincerely: Uh-you.

This story cracked the younger two up.

It is funny. Truly. Even C1 sees the humor in it. But it also proved to them that at least once in their lives, C1 was fallible. She wasn't always perfect. She wasn't always the best. And for today, for C3, she needed that most of all.

02 August 2011

It is fascinating

to watch your child re-read one of your favorite books.

C1 has delved into Farhenheit 451 for pre-AP 10th grade English. She lost my copy (grrr) while on vacation at Camp Grandma -- I know it will turn up, but still -- so I bought her a copy tonight.

She's been completely sucked in by the story.

I love this because

1) This is one of my favorite books. I read it on my own in the summer between 7th and 8th grades.

2) C1 is not a reader. She is not a fan of books like this. So when I do get her to read one, I feel vindicated as a parent. She loved George Orwell's 1984. I felt a victory when she admitted she liked that book. She references Napoleon and Snowball to this day. I have an awesome kid, and because of her C2 wants to read it, but I've told him to wait a bit.

Speaking of C2, he's my reader. He is my Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter kid. We have had to hold him back on HP, because C2 has a seriously overactive imagination. He isn't capable of reading past 4. Not yet. I enjoy sleeping at night and SPOILER WARNING . . . . Cedric's dying gives me nightmares to the point that I won't watch the movie. C2 isn't there yet. He'll be up all night if we let him watch it.

C3 is a tougher nut to crack.

Of all our kids, she has taken the longest to learn how to read. She seems to want to deny her smarts, which we have tried to push against, but not to the point that she fights back.

We have, through Mrs. B, her awesome, amazing kindergarten teacher, to read the Bob books. If you have a starting reader who isn't a self-starter, these are AWESOME. She's gained confidence. As she gains confidence, I see her gaining interest in reading. I suspect we'll be trying to hold her back soon. She's not up to Harry Potter, but maybe Ramona and the Little House books.

After all, I have yet to win anyone over on those yet. :-)

I have to admit, though, it is awesome to see the books that you love gain new life through your children. It really is like the Fireman in Farenheit 451: Books live through people. You can burn the pages, but you can't contain the ideas within. Ever.

07 July 2011

It is so hot . . .

How hot is it?

So hot that it is like an oven when I walk to my car. South Texas has not had rain in months, and it is desert dry here.

Our trees are dying. I try to water them every other day by hand, but it isn't enough. We are on strict water restrictions, so we are limited in when we can water.

It is time for Camp Grandma again. We just chatted with the kids on Skype, and they were thrilled that it was raining outside. In St. Louis. Sigh.

I would just love for a hurricane about now.

14 June 2011

Marriage and Tori Amos

We've been married 16 years, people.

I know. I know. I don't look old enough to have been married that long. Much less have a kid going on 15.

Note: Kid 3 in photo not the one that is almost 15.

Blame my husband. He's the one who insisted that we get married immediately after we graduated from college in 1995. I wanted to wait. I wanted to take my time planning a wedding. I wanted to live on my own for a little longer.

He won. Only argument he's ever won, if you listen to him.

The thing is, if you look at Hollywood, or television, or most pop references, you think marriage is this totally easy thing. Find soulmate. Marry soulmate. All good, forever and ever Amen.

It is so not that.

Marriage is work. I know, I know. A lot of you know this. It is a trite thing to say. But it is true.

Which brings me to Tori Amos.

We -- contrary to popular opinion -- have actually had rocky moments in the last 16 years. It has not always been easy. I can recall some ugly, ugly moments where things could have gone horribly wrong had we not worked at this whole stuck-together-for-life thing.

Tori Amos's China resonates with me. Listen to the lyrics. Married couple. Walls built up. Living their lives. No talking. No talking with listening to each other, at least.

Listening is hard.

It is also crucial sometimes to make things work. Listen to the wistfulness in this song, and you can hear how very hard it can be to break through the walls that are erected. It doesn't have to be hateful. Day-to-day life, living parallel lives and trying to work, care for the kids, deal with the house, the neighbors, the volunteer crud.

It takes a toll. You build walls without even realizing it. That doesn't even get into the misunderstandings, the differing priorities, in-laws, backgrounds, perceptions, life stuff.

I'm a reporter, but there are times when I have not been a good listener.

Tori's song reminds me of the consequences of not listening. It reminds me of the consequences of letting things build up to the point that you are strangers living in the same house.

Sixteen years. It's been worth every minute, the good, the painful, and the hilarious.

So, this.

31 May 2011

Working Mom, with just-graduated-kindergartener

And scene:

University office building. Early work morning. Mom has just taken chairs from around office and used blanket that she normally uses to fend off the a/c chill from vents above and created a "tent."

Child in tent.

Mom at computer.

Dad at office, miles away. If blocked, have father off stage, reading texts as disembodied voice.

Mom types through scene, working. Child talks from under tent. Also can pop out at will, interrupting with new drawings, requests for highlighters to use as markers, and Nintento DS assistance.

As told through texts from parent to parent. May be read aloud on stage.

DAD: Woohoo! Page views are spiking this morning. It is a
good day. It's looking really good for us meeting the monthly goal.

MOM: Yay!
Kid is camped out in a "tent" made of my chairs and a blanket I have here.
I'm plowing through email.

DAD: Enough room to bring the actual princess tent? :-)

MOM: No.

Sent at 8:19 AM on Tuesday

MOM: First meltdown over DS. Also, no stylus. Grrr.

DAD: Oh wonderful.

MOM: Sigh.
Three and a half more hours.

DAD: I'm starting to think we should have kept that
portable DVD. This is the exact moment it would be helpful.

MOM: Yes, but, she'll manage.

Sent at 9:04 AM on Tuesday
MOM: "How much longer 'til lunch, Mom?"

Sent at 9:13 AM on Tuesday
MOM: Just sent you a link to a pool. Thoughts?

Sent at 9:19 AM on Tuesday
MOM: annnnnddddd now we are pouting because I won't go home. Sigh.
I wish I knew a college student in town willing to earn some extra cash.

Sent at 11:30 AM on Tuesday
DAD: Very sorry.

MOM: She's just being a brat, albeit a quiet brat.

Sent at 11:45 AM on Tuesday
MOM: Hear that? That's the sound of silence. It is beautiful.

Truly, it wasn't horrible. Wasn't great. Can't wait for eldest to be done with finals so she can earn her pay as a sitter.

22 May 2011

Three years left

That seems melodramatic, and yet it is completely true.

I have three years left with my eldest.

I was sitting at the band concert two weeks ago, suffering through three different bands' worth of music. Then we hit the A1 band, mostly juniors and seniors. They honored the seniors who were receiving scholarships.

One's earned the right to attend the Eastman School of Music. I started to tear up, and I don't even know the young woman.

It got worse. The eldest's band director has a 26-year tradition of playing "Stars and Stripes Forever" as the last song for the seniors. Each one stood up, walked to the front of the stage. They played their best. This included the seniors who didn't ever make A1 band; they came up from seats specially placed nearby.

I was crying. Seriously crying. I barely know most of those kids. The clarinetist I know best, because she eased the way for the eldest as a freshman this year.

My first thought: I have to bring a box of tissues three years from now, because I am not going to make it.

My second thought: Dear God. I only have three more years.

My friends who have been through this already have warned me that the high school years go so fast.

It is easy to forget that, as you struggle to get through each week with band, soccer, Scouts, church, obligations. You miss the forest for the trees.

In my years as her mom, I've fretted about this, and this, and this.

In retrospect, they weren't that big of a deal.

Three years. I'm going to try and make the most of them before she grows up, goes to college, and leaves us to become her own person.

08 April 2011

The value of video games

I know, I know. They are evil.

But really, they aren't.

I bought Batman Lego for the kids last week. They've been learning the game. I won't lie, we've had meltdowns when the little one doesn't figure out the moves as fast as the others. (Mostly from the middle one, who has little patience for those who don't catch on to details immediately. He gets it from me. It's a tough impulse to squelch. We're working on it.)

They are learning logic, because Lego does a great job of setting up logic games in the bigger realm of the game.

They are learning to cooperate. The game goes faster if you work together.

They are learning patience. Slowly.

But most of all, they are learning to be siblings and deal with others who do not necessarily follow their worldview. After years of university work, this is an important skill, and one that many do not have.

That said, that doesn't mean they don't act like Bart and Lisa Simpson in mid-sibling rivalry throttle occasionally. But we're getting better. Really.

23 February 2011

Train wreck

Ever have one of those days where everything piles up, from meetings to appointments to projects to kid pick ups to fundraisers?

Then one little thing comes in and blindsides you?

Then everything leaves the rails in a cataclysmic disaster that could best be illustrated by one of those multi-car train pile ups.

Like this:

Yeah, this has been one of those days.

17 February 2011

They grow too quickly

So, today, I was chatting with a friend whose baby is six months old. She couldn't believe how quickly time passed. I couldn't either. It seemed like just yesterday she went on maternity leave.

It seemed like just yesterday that my baby was scooting across the room, crawling like crazy.

Then I chatted with another friend who bought our son's train table. Her son is much younger, and he and his sister have been playing with it nonstop. It did nothing but gather dust in our house.

I sobbed as I packed it up. I could remember the day we gave it to our son. He was 2. He was so very, very happy. He had the cutest golden curls, which he promptly got caught in the mechanical Thomas the Tank Engine.

Most of my friends have younger children. My oldest is now 14. She was fretting because a boy she likes at high school didn't send her anything for Valentine's Day. Knowing how young, brainy, slightly geeky freshmen boys are, we reminded her that he probably didn't even think of such a thing.

When did that happen? When did my baby start caring about BOYS?

I am so not ready to lose my babies. Can't I just keep them small? Please?

05 February 2011


You know you are a font geek when:

  • You watch a documentary on a font.

  • Your kids look at you like you are insane because you are watching a documentary about a font.

  • You and your significant other both look at each other when they interview Hermann Zapf and you both think "Dingbats" at the same time.

  • You think that being international font marketer sounds like a cool job.

  • You know Tobias Frere-Jones designed Gotham.

Why yes, we do own both wood and lead type. We also own a coffeetable constructed from old typecases and type. One of the best gifts we were ever given. Thanks, Brenda and Rob!

05 January 2011

So, um, where's the pink?

I got tired of it.

I switched to pink as my personal theme after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. It was a huge symbolic f-you to cancer.

I was ticked. My mom had none of your typical risk factors. It was only her insistence on the boob-squish that resulted in early diagnosis, treatment, and Thank you, God, a great prognosis.

My red hair and pink do not generally go together. But pink is the color of those who support the fight against breast cancer. So I changed it up. I blogged in pink. I wore pink sweaters and dresses.

Anyone who tells you adults can't be childish and petty hasn't met enough adults. We can. We may just display our childishness in strange ways.

I've mellowed a bit since that angry time. This past year I've tried to gain some perspective and figure out where I want to go from here. Note to my 20-something-aged readers: You don't ever really figure it out. You change, and you rethink, and you start over again.

So, in 2011, I've decided I've moved beyond pink.

Somewhat.I still have the pink sweater. Pink and red hair do go together. I say so.

I'm doing things for me. I am running in a 5K again, because I can. (as soon as I kick this nasty sinus thing I caught.)

I am lurking less on the dark corners of the Internet in the name of "research" and spending more time writing creatively. I miss that, and these past 18 months have been all about getting a job, keeping a job, and just staying afloat. Writing and running and piano playing and the things I enjoy just seemed to fall by the wayside.

I'm taking my life back.

I am going to land a job as an adjunct, because I miss teaching. That's a part of me that has been lost, too. I'm taking it back.

I'll still rock the pink. I'm just planning to be a bit more reserved and adult about it.