Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Season of Our Discontent

Meredith is lying on the floor in her new footed-Christmas-jammies (which we had to get in exchange for the two piece ones that she refused to even try on.) She is looking out the window.
She says "I think it's going to be spring soon, 'cause the icicles are melting. "
"Hmm," I say. "I think it's going to be winter for a while longer."
"Well, I can't wait for it to be spring. 'Cause then there are flowers."
I ask, "Aren't you one of the kids who couldn't wait for winter, because then there'd be snow?"
"Well, about a month ago, when I was really young, then I wanted it to be winter."

Monday, December 22, 2008

At least she's honest.

Back during the Christmas of 2002, when Clarissa was three and a half years old, we used to try the Santa Claus threat a lot.
"If you won't be good, then Santa won't bring you any presents." It didn't really help.
Then, at the ward Christmas party, Santa came. And Clarissa told him she wanted a kitty. A Siamese Kitty. Then she went back to tell him she also wanted a black and white kitty. And then she went back again to tell him she also wanted a calico kitty. And Brother Mckinnie, I mean Santa Claus, was charmed by her. By her determination, and her bright hair, and her bright personality. People often are.
He called a few days later to ask if he could come by, as Santa Claus, to give her a present. Because he had found a three-pack of kitties in the desired colors and he just couldn't believe his luck. How could we say no?

So, in walks Santa Claus. In a booming voice, he asks, "Who's been good?"
And Lissa runs to him, yelling, "I'VE BEEN. . . . . Ohhhhhh." (That is the sound of her swallowing her words as she realizes NOW is when the reckoning comes due. You can't lie to Santa.)

We all had a good laugh. And she got her present anyway. And we're still using the no presents threat. And it still isn't working. Do you wonder why?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choir Director

We had our Christmas Program today. And it went remarkably well, considering that I was the director. You see, I have this style of leading where the choir learns they'd better know their parts really well, 'cause I won't be bringing them in or cutting them off. At least, not consistently.
We sang three songs: "Wexford Carol" (one of my all-time favorites), "No Room, No Room" by Sally de Ford, and a Medley of "Joy to the World, Angels We have Heard on High, and Silent Night." The first two I am showing links for, because they were written or arranged by people who are so kind as to let you download and print these beautiful arrangements for FREE!

I was also in charge of the rest of the program, so I asked people in the ward to read some of my Dad's Christmas skits. He has such a way of making the people from the scriptures seem real. And he also has a way of making you laugh and cry in the same minute. The laugh gets your guard down and then the spiritual side stabs you right through the heart. And it feels good.

How grateful am I that these wonderful people stood by me and kept coming to practice after practice? Well, if you want to know how wonderful they are, just consider that they kept coming, even after I said the following:

(In my defense, here is what I was thinking--"All our regular pianists are coincidentally gone on the same day and poor Michaela, who is only 14, is stuck trying to help us learn our parts while our incompetent director (me) struggles to remember that those are called measures, not verses." But here is what I said---)

"We have so many talented people in this ward and all of them are gone today."

Luckily, their reaction was to tease me mercilessly--especially Brother Hillstrom (Michaela's Dad). Had there been a stunned silence, I'm sure it would have been all over.

And now it is! I'm so relieved.

One sad thing happened--Lissa started throwing up at 2:00 this morning. (Anderson joined in the fun around 8:00.) So we had to ask Maddie Compas to take her part. She did a great job, too. All the readers did. And the string quartet. And Nathan Baker with his flute solo. And the primary kids and their bell choir!

Hooray! It's over!
Now is the part where I come down with some kind of illness. It always happens after the stress lets off. But then, with Christmas so close, I'm still feeling stressed, a little. . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How to Take/Fake a Family Picture

My family is never very excited about getting together for family pictures. With that in mind, I didn't even ask them to wear coordinating clothes. It's come as you are in the Songer family these days. Anderson had his mood on and did his best to ruin it. We just ignored him and he decided to participate partway through. Here's the phinished (photoshop+finished) product.

And here's how we got there. I recommend playing the slideshow fast, picking a kid, and watching them squirm! Also, check for Anderson peeking out of the last few. His eyeballs show over Casey and my shoulders on the last one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Accidental Decorator

I have friends and family who are major decorators. Sometimes I look at their houses, or the pictures of their houses, and I know I should do better.

But that's just not me. I rarely feel either the urge or the inspiration to decorate. Even at Christmas.
Here are my decorating photos, with explanations.

The stockings don't match. The white and blue one I got as a present from my brother Mike and his wife Lisa back in high school. I bought the green and white one to go with it, but it turned out to be a bit larger when it came in the mail. The four coordinating ones are from Walmart. They only had four patterns. And I bought the last one on Ebay for Rosalie, just so she'd have one.
If I could justify spending $250 for something we use once a year, I would buy coordinating wool striped ones like the last one. In the larger size. I like the stripes. First, because they are vaguely humorous (is that just me?) and second, because they leave no stinkin' strings to snag on every little thing you try to put in the stocking.
I got the "Peace" stocking hangers because there are five letters, which makes one for each of the seven of us once you add in the two present-shaped hangers. You wouldn't believe the contortions my kids have gone through trying to get to use the hanger that matches the first initial of their names. But A=Anika and Anderson, E=only Edith, C=Casey and Clarissa, leaving P for Papa, and E for everyone else. I told them it just has to go in order of age. (Which means NO ONE gets their letter and it's UNFAIR to everybody.)
I keep meaning to find a way to attach these all to a board that I can hook to the wall so that forgetful toddlers and unknowing babies can't keep pulling these heavy metal objects down onto their heads. But I'm not really sure how to do that. . .

Anika drew this in '04. I think it's cool. Like Pottery Barn wall art, but sentimental. (To me, I mean.) I think I stole the frame from something else, but I'm sure it was a dollar store frame in the first place. That's the kind of decorator I am.

This is a miscellany of hand me downs and dollar store items. Or garage sales. Except the candles and wreaths around the candles. I asked my non-design impaired sister Kate to take me shopping with her. I think she was amazed at how little I found that I was willing to spend money on.
Oh, and Anika made the little paper tree and present at school.
Oh, yeah, and the Weihnachts Pyramide comes from Germany, where Casey served his mission. The little vanes for the windmill part got scattered the minute I let the kids near it, so I stuck what I could find in a box for later. Actually, "later. . ." is a big part of my design philosphy.

The tree skirt was a present from another of my non-decorating impaired siblings, Wendy. I had complained that I should have bought the pretty quilted tree skirt at Gardner Village when I was there. I would never make a trip back that far just to spend money on a decoration. Anyway, this skirt is funny--it looks hideous by itself, but nice under the tree. I can never predict how something will look once it's in place. Many experiences of buyer's remorse have made me leery of buying anything.
Rosalie helps my overall decorating plan by scattering ornaments more liberally than we would do otherwise. She is also opposed to books or dvds being confined to shelves. "Let them be free!"

So don't come to my house if you want to see some heart-cheering Christmas stuff. (We're not even sure that a couple of our kids deserve presents this year.)
And I'm not kept from the true spirit of decor because I know not where to find it. (See Wendy here, and my most fantastically-self-shaming-when-compared-to friend Shelley here.) I just like to let these accidents, happy or otherwise, happen naturally. And cheaply. And without a lot of work. Yep, that's my design philosophy. What're ya gonna do.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What about us?

Meredith wants to go out and jump on Grandma and Grandpa's trampoline.
"Rosalie, do you want to go outside with Meri and me?"
She points at the TV and says, in her pure vowels, "Mehsee." She means, "No, Mom, I want to watch Maisie Mouse for the twabillionth time."
"Are you sure? We're going. Want to come?"
She answers by sitting on the couch and turning her eyes to the creepy giant mouse with her creepy special-needs alligator friend.
"Okay, Daddy is in his office and we'll be back in just a few minutes."

When we get back, Casey tells me, "Rosalie was sad when you left. I found her in the mudroom in front of the door holding a baby (doll) under each arm and crying."

Well, I did ask her.

But I feel bad, anyway.

And I wonder, was she comforting the babies? Did that make her feel less tiny when faced with the enormous, indifferent door? Why does that image stick in my head with such tenacity?

Poor babies.

It's really not that bad.

I ask Meredith which is her choice of jam to go on her peanut butter and jam sandwich.
"I'll have the crap-apple."
At least she likes it better than the peach.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Rosalie stands far below the corner cupboard, lifts her arms up pleadingly and begs, "Ginkyu! Ginkyu!"
"Rosalie," I say, "they're not called 'Thank you.' They're called 'candy corn.'"
"Ginkyu! GINKYUUU!" she repeats, near desperation.
"Oh, okay. You can have three."
I hand them over.
She is SO grateful.
With a break in her voice that sounds like a chuckle she says again, and means it, "Ginkyu-u."
And walks off with her candy filled hands tucked under her chin and a smile of pure satisfaction on her face.

I'll never get her trained.

(She's had ME trained for too long now.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

winters in my childhood

We played in the snow as the winter twilight darkened from palest to deepest blue.
It felt as if the sky gathered down around the glow of our house lights, drawing us in toward warmth, noise, family.
But we stayed in the snow and the silence
just holding the moment
before going home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I have done or left undone

Copy the list and highlight the ones that are true about you.

1. Started your own blog--my sister Kate started it for me.
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band--sixth grade concert band--clarinet
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland--but not with my kids, yet
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a Praying Mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped--thrill output didn’t outweigh fear input
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21.Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked--In Ireland, their transportation system was on strike
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse--of the moon
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted--see profile portrait
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in movie
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check--Bank’s fault=my really bad day
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy--for my kids to destroy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book--yet
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (we raised chickens. I watched and helped)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake--flood year = no floating =bummer
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Talked your way out of a ticket

Monday, November 10, 2008

That Low Golden Light

Everything looks beautiful at sunset.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Favorite Age

So I really think that the most adorable age for kids starts right around a year and a half. For my kids, that's when their personalities really start to show. It's also when they finally move past the single words at random stage to the actual communication stage. This is the first time that I've actually felt a little sad at the speed with which my baby is reaching each new stage.
Just a few days ago Rosalie said her first sentence. It was "I want my binkie." It was slurred and sounded almost accidental, but she was reaching for her binkie at the time, so it was for real.

And today she came to find me just to tell me "Ginkie!" Which meant she was stinky. That's a good thing to know.

Have you ever had a one-year-old put their little moist hands on either side of your face and pat you repeatedly? Or be so glad to see you they plastered themselves to your front while repeating your name over and over? (Yes, "Mommy" is my name.) And then my cheeks are sticky and my front has more than baby plastered on it, but it's still my favorite age.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A bone to pick at the Love Feast

Okay, so Obama will be our next president. Unlike many of you, that doesn't fill me with pessimism or optimism. I am neither sure that he will ruin the country nor that he will save it.
And I thought he gave a very nice acceptance speech. There were just a couple of things he said that made me go "huh?"
The one I will mention is this: He said we were facing the worst financial crisis of the century. Now, either he means this century, as in the year 2000 onward, or he is saying we are worse off now than we were in the Great Depression. Um, maybe I am completely oblivious here, but I don't think so.
Are all of you out there really suffering that badly? If you are than I can understand why his platform of change is so very attractive. But really, this seems more like panic-mongering to me than fact.
I do believe that Mr. Obama has the best motives and that he really feels he will be helping us all by instituting whatever changes he can. But it all puts me in mind of the story "The Giving Tree."
--Yes, my child, you got yourself in a terrible fix with your greedy speculation and your desire to have it all. So now take my branches. Take my apples. Take everything I have to give you. That's what I'm here for. And don't worry about personal responsibility. There are no consequences because I love you. I will bail you out. I may be left a limbless stump in the end, but I will still give everything I have until there is nothing left and we are both old and fruitless.--

Oops, that sounds a lot like pessimism.

In fairness to Mr. Obama, I don't think this is his intention at all. But I think a lot of people in this country are expecting it to be.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Costumes

Anika has been most anxious for me to post about our Halloween costumes. Probably because she looked so gorgeous in hers. Here is Ani as a Rani (queen of India.)
Lissa went as a Vampire. And I was supposed to do some makeup--pale face, trickle of blood--but I never did. Oh, well.Anderson is a bat. You'd think we were trying to get rid of him by dressing him in all black to go trick-or-treating on Halloween night. But this was his costume of choice and he wore it for three days straight. Plus he had a hat with ears.

Meredith insisted on being this pink cat that is a size too small for her. But hey, she was happy, and I didn't have to do a thing except snap her up.
I made the first part of Rosalie's spider costume for Meredith to be a witch in three years ago. This time I added the extra legs and made a little hat with six googly eyes on it. She wore the hat for about 20 seconds and refused to put it on ever again.
I wore one yard of tulle draped around my shoulders and said I was a cobweb. Rosalie was my prop.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn Wind

Lissa wrote this song called Autumn Wind for the Reflections competition for her school. She is very gifted at making up songs. Now if we could only get her spend as much time practicing her recital pieces as she does making stuff up :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Goblinitis and other symptoms of Halloween

We have a goblin infestation.

They're everywhere.

Watching us. Lurking. Leering.

Smirking. Sneering.

Or being endearing. (This one looks like Gonzo.)That's what my kids did after school today.

And my own crafty self did these little shirts for the little girls a few days ago. Orange dye covers the brown stains that we always (always) get on our white shirts. I didn't invent this craft, or the goblins either. I got the ideas from One Pretty Thing.

Meredith painted the face at the bottom all by herself.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Not my costume this year

So a few years back there was that big thing with the Lord of the Rings movies. Remember? And I never would have done this under my own motivation, but my friend Star got a bunch of us excited to go to the premier of the final installment in costume. I worked hard to come up with costumes for myself and my husband. Star came up with costumes for her entire extended family, as you will see if you follow her link.
And Halloween has reminded me, once again, that I have never worn my costume again, not even for Halloween. Why? Why, when I put so much effort, time, sweat, and money into it have I never worn it again? Here is the reason--babies.
Babies don't care if you are wearing silk and other materials that are not even hand-washable. They don't get it if you ask them to please not hug you or wipe their spaghetti smeared faces on you. In fact, they think that is what you are for. Or at least, that is what I am for to my babies.
So here are pictures of my "not for Halloween yet" costume. In a few years maybe it will get out of the closet more than virtually.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Funny Face Family

While we were waiting for everyone to assemble for Family Night, we got a little silly.

Anderson's is an alien, of course. Somehow, it just doesn't have the same effect.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fire House Tour

Ever heard of E.D.I.T.H.? That's "Exit Drills In The Home" for those of you who have forgotten your elementary school days. I remember resenting them for taking my name and making it even nerdier than I already was. But I'm so over that now, right?

This week was Fire Prevention Week! In honor of said week we took a tour through our new fire station with Star's husband Lee, the Fireman. Or, anti-fireman, really. ( By that I mean he is anti-fire.) The kids loved his laid back attitude towards all the cool stuff--"You want to climb all over the ambulance? Go for it! Climb the firetruck, too! Want to spray the hose? Want to hold the "jaws of life"? Just kidding, it weighs more than you do. So does my fire gear but put it on anyway!" You can imagine the kids had a good time.

And here I am asking what they would do if my house were on fire: "How would you get water? There are no hydrants out where we live. Could you siphon water from the ditch? But they turned that off today. So, could you knock the cap off our well and pump water out of that? Huh? Couldja? How are you going to save my house!?!"
Yeah, I'm about as much fun as an exit drill in the home.

What with a dozen kids and all that equipment, an accident was inevitable. You can see that Anderson is disfigured for life. Just kidding! The only scars are emotional.

Oh! We got a new camera! Hooray! Now we are waiting for a new memory card to come in the mail because the one that came with the camera holds about ten pictures. Sheesh.

Monday, September 29, 2008

four-year-olds at play

My sister-in-law Jenny had Meredith over to play with Andrew today. She was sitting at her computer while they were playing and she started transcribing. (Thanks, Jenny!)
Here is the result:

M: We’ve got all the things.

A: Good, let’s knock stuff down.

M: Here are the snow people.

A: I will break down the gas station. I mean, only the gas. There I’m done.

M: Now let’s go up. Can we go, and put all the tied up persons in jail?

A: I’m swinging on the swing. I’ll put one person on the flying swing.

M: Hey! Can I PLEASE break down this metal egg?

A: No, this isn’t a metal egg.

M: What is it?

A: It’s a spider house. Now break it down.

M: Let’s put a mask on so she couldn’t talk.

A: Okay. I’m going to put a mask on her. MMM....MMMM.....MMMM

M: And they put a mask on all the people.

A: Even the cat? So he can’t say meow?

M: Yeah, and we had a little mask for the little people.

A: Here comes the snapping beetle!! The snapping beetle is coming!!! (Blue clothespin)

M: Feed the snapping people the little tiny people.

A: The snapping beetle is the pet.

M: Here, eat this. (She feeds him a little person), and then drop it in the water. And now we snap this person. And now we will snap all the people, EVEN the snow people, I mean the rainbow people. Snap it, my precious. You are my precious little snapping beetle.
I’ve got the tiniest little mask for the kitten. (Strained meows). Snap her and put her in the water forever!
And now they drown!

A: Hey, that’s my swing. It can swing itself and the beetle can fly. “I’m going to eat this house!”

M: Okay, eat it.

A: Yummy house

M: If you want to eat more, I have this nuther house, if you want to eat more. And it will be gone for good.

A: What’s that song from? (Referring to a song she’s singing)

M: It’s from your precious mother, and you are my sweet snapper.

A: Yum, a mouse. I ate a mouse.

M: Good. Now can you go home.

A: I am home.

M: Well, there’s a problem, we have to let them go.

A: I have to eat them. I have to eat this house down.

M: Well, you can eat the house.

A: This is the snapper’s bedroom right here. And here is the snapper’s friend. (Lightning McQueen)

M: What do you want to do? (Speaking to Lightning)

A: Help. Just help get people out. I’m snapper’s friend. I mean, I’m snapper’s brother. But snapper thinks I’m his friend.