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    My birthday was on Tuesday.

    from my sister-in-law and niece

    The kids were super excited and spent lots of time planning the day. But then we got wind of what they were planning—to get up at 5 am to make me breakfast and have the day off of school work—and the poo hit the fan.

    So then I had to mediate between my hyped-up kids and a husband who never plans anything. By “mediate” I mean “yell at.”


    To my husband: ENGAGE, BOB. NOW.


    And then I sent them all upstairs to work it out.

    lunch, by the kids: note the copious amount of tinfoil 
    and the napa cabbage in place of lettuce (it was actually quite delicious)

    My expectations for the day were fairly low. No cooking (unless I wanted to), I said. I wanted writing time, my husband to come home early from work, lots of evening time in which I could read out loud to the kids, and a movie after the kids were in bed. When my husband asked me what I wanted for supper, I said, “I don’t care, but everyone has to like it and there needs to be a vegetable.”

    I spent the afternoon of the birthday day shopping for clothes and drinking coffee, no kids, no supper responsibilities, no nothing. It was lovely.

    Also, I had my first famous person spotting. When I told my husband, he said, “Don’t tell me. Let me guess. Was it a political figure?”


    “A celebrity?”


    “Someone from the newspaper?”


    “From the cooking section!” a child interrupted.


    “The Amish Cook?”

    Huh? She’s not from around here, so “No.”

    “Um… I don’t know anyone else…” He was studying his plate, thinking hard. I caught the kids’ eyes and made a jabbing motion towards myself.

    “You!” they all yelled, and we about fell out of our chairs laughing because I was the famous “spotted” person.

    The Story: I was walking through Wal-mart when a woman stopped me and asked if I write a cooking column. I quickly wiped the glazed-over stupid look, the one I get when I’m shopping, off my face and beamed, “Why yes!” She’d clipped the mac and cheese recipe from the paper, she told me, and her grandsons love it. We stood there in the florescent lighting and bonded over the column and recipes in general and husbands who sometimes cook and what they make (cracker stew) and Amish heritage. I couldn’t stop grinning.

    After a supper of sloppy joes, green beans, chips, and pineapple upside down cake, I sat on the brick hearth and the kids gave me their gifts: candy, candy, and more candy. Pure sweetness. We started our new read-aloud, The Westing Game, and then my husband and I watched another episode of Once while I ate a bowl of my birthday cereal, Reese’s Puffs.

    This same time, years previous: she outdid herself, the skirt, birthday minutia

  • the quotidian (9.24.12)

    Quotidian: daily, usual or customary;
    everyday; ordinary; commonplace

    I discovered this picture on my camera, courtesy of one of the kids. 
    It spoke to me.

    Awaiting the arrival of a girlfriend.

    Hanging out in the grape arbor.
    (A no-longer permissible activity as they were damaging the vines.)

    Apple pie: every September should have one. Or six. 


    Soaking up every minute of a visit from The Greats.

    Helping Grandma stuff envelopes for a mailing.

    Trying to close a closet door with his toes. 
    Back story: I showed the kids some videos of Tisha UnArmed 
    Immediately afterwards, I told the kids to blitz the house. 
    However, thanks to Tisha, they insisted on doing all the chores with their feet: 
    dusting, sweeping (didn’t go over so well), putting things away, folding blankets.
    The house didn’t get very clean, but they had a blast.
     (Thanks, Kate!)

    Studying the algebra. 
    Actually, in this case, it’s more a lesson in the importance of being neat 
    than of numerical computations.

    Apples, popcorn, and Sunday night movie: a tradition.
    (It’s quite the letdown when the Netflix movie doesn’t work, though.)

    This same time, years previous: when the relatives came, Thousand Island slaw with roast chicken, hurdle-free molten brownie cakes (I forgot about these!), soiree 2010, we love Fred, soiree 2009, simple roast chicken, one hot chica

  • candid camera

    My husband and I have hardly any pictures of us together. There are several reasons for this.

    1. We rarely think to take them.
    2. My husband isn’t fond of having his picture taken.
    3. I’m usually the one taking pictures.
    4. We rarely wear nice clothes.
    5. My husband has no patience for smiling at a black box.
    6. It takes time.
    7. My husband hates posing.

    The other night when we were on our way out the door to go to a wedding, I grabbed the camera, husband, and a willing daughter, and stomped them into the front yard. You stand here, I ordered my daughter. We’ll stand over here. Get pictures from the waist up. Click fast. Go! Go! GO!

    I knew we only had about 14 seconds before my husband stalked off. If she held the clicky-thing down for the full 14 seconds, there was a slight chance we’d get something halfway decent.

    Except that we were squinting into the sun, so, without knowing it, we shot any chances of a good picture all to smithereens before we even started, dagnabbit.

    Which didn’t really matter much because I was too busy looking like a crazy lady.

    Dying flower, courtesy of our little boy.

    And my husband was too busy looking like a Class-A Dork.

    But, looking like a dork rather than an Uptight Angry Man is an improvement, I say. Baby steps, people! Baby steps!

    And then I about ripped his head off his neck trying to get him to kiss me.

    Not-So-Little Secret: my husband hates it when people get in his personal space. When I (or the kids) get too close, he hunches his shoulders and whaps the air with his arms, exactly like a panicked duck. And then I say, “You’re flapping again, honey.”

    Even Sam, the guy he works with, knows all about this personal space thing. In fact, sometimes when they’re talking, Sam will intentionally move closer.

    And closer.

    And closer.

    Sam gets a big kick watching my husband try to edge away discreetly.

    About 13 seconds in, my husband announced he was done.

    “Oh no we are NOT!” I informed him.

    See? That’s me informing him.

    But then my daughter, in an effort to get a better shot, took a step backwards and fell smack into the forsythia. I had to help her extricate herself.

    We tried a few more shots, but attention spans were waning. My daughter, however, was just catching on to the idea of continuous clicking, and I had to tear the camera out of her hands.

    But not before she blurred me up real good.

    The end.

    PS. The wedding was lovely. These glasses were the favors, and now the kids fight over them at every meal.

    This same time, years previous: the potluck solution, cornmeal whole wheat waffles, hard knocks