January 31, 2014


Last night, with the kids all in the car ready to go to Orianna's concert and then directly to gospel meeting afterward, we discovered the keys were missing. We searched diligently for a few minutes, then sent Justin off to the concert in his truck with Orianna. We should have two sets. But buying an extra key for $100 has never been high on our list of wanted items. So I stayed home with a weeping Lily, Gilbert, and Elsie and continued searching. After Justin got home, we still hadn't found the keys, so he cleared his truck of all his tools and we set off to meeting. Late. After meeting, everyone was very helpful, suggesting spots we might look and telling us stories of when their kids were little and things they had lost. Home again for more searching, going through the trash, searching every nook and cranny where they could have been set. Nada.

This morning, Justin strides in, keys in hand, with my purse. oooopsie! It is a small purse (a celebration of not having to carry around a huge diaper bag anymore) and I figured that if the keys were in there, I would definitely feel them. So I didn't dump it. Justin was the teeniest bit disparaging about my search abilities.

I could just cry over missing Orianna's concert because I am such an idiot. She was so excited for us to go.

For the rest of my life, whenever I start getting uppity, I feel sure that I will only have to think about this to be suitably chastised and humble. So really, it was a valuable experience.

And now, I must go research buying an extra key.....

Winter Concerts and the North Country

Lily and Orianna had their winter concerts these past two nights. I thought it was a little annoying they weren't on the same night. Then I saw how overflowing the parking lot was with just three grades and saw the wisdom of splitting it up. It was full. There is something so endearing about an elementary concert. All those little faces, shining with joy at being so important as to be On The Stage. Our auditorium is woefully small for the actual number of people that attend elementary programs. But then, it looks too large for other events. So they leave it as is and let the families that were silly enough to come at the "...have your child there no later than..." time stand wherever they can find an inch or two in the aisles or hallways.


Elementary concerts are marvelous. Each kid looking this way or that, waving fairly steadily out into the dark at everyone, bouncing, chatting, some being shy, most slightly off key, with a different tempo for each kid. But they all sing enthusiastically and are terribly thrilled at each burst of applause. And the first graders were even able to do the timing right with a lengthy pause and then starting up again at the right point, all at once. Which is the mark of a great music teacher.  Every fresh batch of kids brings out a riot of hand waving from the audience and kids, most calling their child's name and being as proud of the child they came to see as they can be. There is no reticence, no one is too cool to wave wildly or stand in everyone's way to get a picture. No one expects their child to demonstrate some amazing musical ability, they are just hoping he or she doesn't start picking their nose.


Lily is front and center in the gray. 

My little Peruvian, Orianna. 

Standing in the auditorium last night as people waited for the kids to come out, I knew exactly where I was. There are phrases, pronunciations, and mannerisms that you can see only in the north country. I can't even tell you what they are like. They just are. I have never fully identified myself as a North Country native, having moved here the summer before kindergarten. This wasn't just aloofness on my part. My sister Lindsey was at the end of first grade when we moved here. When she graduated as valedictorian, (I have smart relations) the mother of one of the third honors kids (wanting a promotion for her son) went to the school board and said that Lindsey should be disqualified, since she wasn't really part of the class--she hadn't been here since kindergarten. Seriously. No one was ever mean to us or treated us poorly because we were outsiders. We just were outsiders. We weren't related to anyone. We didn't know everyone's back story and no one knew our back story. All these years later though, this is home. I love these people. They aren't all as cultured as some college professor would define it. They aren't all as interested in the wider world as idealist young college students feel they should be. But they are (mostly) kind, unpretentious, and dependable. There is a lot of sordid life up here. This isn't some utopia, but it is a good place.

January 29, 2014

A winter weekend (or two)

Aunt Ashley making rock candy with the kids

This is Elsie's current hair-do. Three curlie pony tails. Her hair is too short for one big ponytail, but long enough to look a mess if it isn't contained somehow.

Fat cheeks

Babies with babies

Gilbert kissing his boy

This cow decided to calve on a cold and windy day, so they had to round her up and get her in the barn

Lily watching from the safety of the truck


Elsie with a rice krispy goatee

Wintery sun and icy snow

Icy spots

Lily in the snow

Orianna mid spin

Owen and Tori getting wood in

Cody splitting


Winter sunset

January 24, 2014

A sweet thing

On the wall at our pediatricians office, there is this picture on the wall. 

I have always loved it. I was going to ask the receptionist who it was by, but the last time I asked a receptionist if she knew who painted the pictures on the wall, she looked as if I was nuts. Yesterday, I was picking up books in the kids room (Elsie loves pulling books off shelves) and I picked up one I hadn't read (library book sale) and flipped through it. And there it was. The picture I loved so much. It is by Ezra Jack Keats. The poster is called Feeding the Birds from the book Jenny's Hat. I owned this picture. There is something so joyful in discovering you own something that you love. I did this awhile ago with another kids book. Maybe I should read more kids books. But Ezra Jack Keats! I have been looking online for the poster version of this, no longer available on Amazon or Art.com but I have come up with the coolest pictures from Ezra Jack Keats. I didn't really like The Snowy Day when I was in school. I was into realistic illustration, ala Norman Rockwell style, when I was a kid, so I didn't like Ezra Jack Keats illustration. And I never really looked at it much since then. My kids own it, but as mentioned above, my kids own too many books to actually read them all to them. The things I have missed! Here are some favorites from googling Ezra Jack Keats.....

Clearly I did not have an appreciative artistic bone in my childhood body. How sweet are these?