Sunday, December 12, 2010

christmas came early

i WILL post a photo of this. soon. i promise. let me just say a big, huge, jumbo THANK YOU to my dear friend heather. (you can find her blog over on the right sidebar... the finicky frog)
heather and her girlies just delivered a kitchen aid stand mixer right into my dining room. wow-e-wow! how can you top that?

thank you heather and daughters 100 times over. guess i better get mixin' and bakin' and send some goodies your way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

a very long engagement

17 years my friends. feels like 17 minutes.
engaged to the love of my life.
(yes, we're married)
yet we still acknowledge and celebrate the date of our engagement

best friend

he gave me the gift of education (see nanny mcphee)
every day he asks me to be be the best self i can, and he leads by example

he won't like this post, and yet i could write more.
he doesn't toot his own horn, and shies away from anyone tooting for him

Dear Daniel,
you are the best friend/husband i could ever hope to have.
thank you for you love.

This Our Hymn of Grateful Praise

For the joy of human love,

Brother, sister, parent, child,

Friends on earth and friends above,

For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Lord of all to Thee we raise

This our hymn of grateful praise.
(Folliot S. Pierpoint)

the house is clean
the air smells of turkey and pumpkin pie
and someone's exotic perfume :)
two little men run around just as their daddies did (a long time ago) but with shorter hair (long story)
one little prince can say his abcs, the other can pass a football better than some thrice, no quintuple his age
our grandparents who raised us are now gone from our table; we would set a place for them, but space doesn't allow. and that is good, for my table is full of siblings. the siblings in whose home i was not raised. pieced together, patched together, one phone call, FB message, and txt msg. at a time. and the babies. little 2 year old princes who are a perfect blend of the daddies and mommies and the grandparents. tiny men who grow stronger and smarter every day.
sifting through the memories, gleaning warmth and love's embrace from the past-- choosing which to perpetuate (someone must learn to make THE CANDY) we have the stuffing and fixins under control, and my husband's turkey is better than (bacon makes everything better)
we'll keep up the joke of the NO FUN HOUSE, but really we can have some fun. we'll play wii at Christmas and maybe there will be stockings; each one bursting with one apple, one orange, one Hershey bar, and maybe a chapstick
how many Buckeyes must one eat to fill the pit in your stomach, the ache of missing Oscar and Lorene so much? why does it hurt more today than last month? last year?
how much love can we lavish on each other to match what those two dear people gave us?
what should we do each day to carry on their legacy? the hole they left is in the shape of ladylike manners and Boy Scout camp expert... working hard for every dime, saving, sharing, and even sometimes splurging. if it costs too much and it's made of plastic, built it yourself, make it better and nicer! you get what you pay for. take care of what you have. be kind to God's creatures. Don't spend all your money in one place. Don't use too much toilet paper!
Visit the shut-ins. share what you have with those who don't. Don't be greedy. Teach Sunday School. Take your turn at VBS and the nursery. Wear an underslip. There is no need to show cleavage. Don't talk with food in your mouth. Conserve your paper plates. Read your Bible. Send a get-well card. Send a sympathy card. Keep your car's gas tank FULL.
Keep your heart thankful every day.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I am keeping my promise to myself and my future students to be a lifelong learner. My latest venture is to train myself in the Kristina Smekens/Dr. Maureen Scane Writer's Workshop method also known as 6-Traits. A few of the teachers in our building have had the opportunity to participate in the actual workshops, and one wonderful lady has loaned me her materials! I am thrilled to have the chance to improve my knowledge and skills in writing so that I may be a better facilitator in the classroom.

I don't want to infringe upon any copyrights, so I won't be posting any PDFs or downloads. You can google Kristina Smekens, or go to her website if you want details.

Moving on....

I have made a commitment to abstain from complaining for the month of November. As day 1 draws to a close, I must confess that while I've kept my oath (no verbal complaints) outwardly, the little nagging voice in my head has been chitter-chattering nonstop. When will she tire?

Recently pulled from the shelves...

Chris Van Allsburg books
Just a Dream
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Evil Plot

An Evil Plot and Some Gratitude

So, ok now...
It's been about a month since I last posted. You know that. What you may not know is that my Evil Plot has come to fruition: create a blog, entice some followers, then ditch the whole dang thing. Check, check, and check!

Maybe I need a theme. Maybe I imagine myself to be a lot funnier than I actually am. Could it be that once I roll thoughts around in my skull enough times, that is enough and I really don't need to share my opinions with all of the blogosphere? Possibly.

While I chew on some options for the future of this blog, I'll leave you with a brief list of gratitude. Wonderful things, people, and events for which I am truly thankful.

1. my dear husband and the selfless way he made my "birthday weekend" very special

2. the privilege of attending a memorial service of a Godly man whose "Life was well-lived, and his family was well-loved"

3. great dinner out at New India. yum yum yum (including non-complaining children)

4. positive class time with students who were genuinely excited and engaged in our reading activity

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


i have the uglies. my 10 year old has good uglies, as in ugly dolls. she stitches them by hand. she painstakingly draws, cuts, stitches, and stuffs her little friends. (photos soon, i promise)

back to my uglies. mine are bad. mine are jealousy, discontent, and impatience. you don't want photos of my critters. S C A R Y, i tell you. i need to get rid of these nasties. maybe i could sell them on ebay or craigslist. people get lots of icky stuff on craigslist. grr. chomp chomp.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

just a few things

Today we traveled to Auburn for our nephew's 2nd birthday celebration. If you ask him to tell you his name, he says "two". This kid is a hoot. He can pitch a baseball better than most 6 year olds. He won't be needing the tee in tee-ball. Probably his mom and dad should get him on a team. tomorrow.

Our other nephew will be turning 2 in a couple of weeks. He loves Buzz and Woody. His mom and I had an interesting dialogue about how we would never have matched up the 22 inch stuffed Woody doll to play with the hard plastic Buzz sized 6 inches smaller. They just don't go. But, they do.

We have kids who are much older than the sweet little nephews. 12 going on 45 and 9 almost 21. You know how that works, right? That's not to say that our munchkins aren't sweet. They are. We just have to be more intentional about noticing the sweetness. And praise it, and pray for more.

Lest you be misled into thinking we are young, I should disclose the fact that we have 2 adult nephews and they each have a wife and 2 kids. These things happen when your husband's mother has 5 kids all spread out and the oldest gets married and has offspring while the baby (my husband) is still in elementary school. This is normal, I am sure of it. And the nephews (nearly aged 30) relish every opportunity to say "Brant, tell Great-Aunt Layla thank you for the (whatever)" Nice.

My brain is all tangled in knots tonight, so let me just make a little list of where we've been and what we've done.

Friday and Saturday : our yearly journey to the Windy City
hotness freaking hotness! our dear old Honda wagon has given up on even trying to keep us cool, so we made the entire trip with the windows down.
good trip
great memories
2 hour tour on double-decker boat down the chicago river and out into lake michigan
rain on the boat
drunken stupidity on the boat (not us, we don't need beer for that)
lovely skyline
trek back into the city when we could have been driving home
wonderful husband hunts down a cupcake bakery for me YUM
Wow-E-Wow! $4 cupcake
stop at super-target
discovered a new neighborhood to investigate: Lincoln Park
trying to convince husband we should do a 1 month house swap with some nice unsuspecting family in Lincoln Park
Smoque BBQ. maximum occupancy 45. they were cutting it close. might have something to do with all the busboys lurking in wait to sanitize the tables.

more on the chicago trip later.
now for a confession
i've been reading trash
well, in my opinion, trash
see, i am a book snob
i hate nicholas sparks books. read one a long time ago. ick. was dragged on a girls night out to see "the notebook" (the Village was playing in the next theatre over, I should have just sneaked in there).
will not read danielle steele or harlequin romance novels. disgusting!
so what am i doing reading Pretty Little Liars? I don't know. except to say that they just suck you in and leave you wanting to read more about secrets, excruciatingly expensive accessories, and psycho blondes. I blame the ABC family network. (what kind of family are they promoting?) They made the book series into shows. I have nothing to say for myself other than it started with a momentary lapse of reason and has blossomed into a disgusting obsession.
someone better throw me a latte and a jane austen novel before i lose my sense of propriety!

next time...
c.s. lewis collection at wheaton college museum
how chloe has selected nearly all of her birthday gifts
why jacob has a $50 backpack

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So I should be writing a rough draft?

Oops. I just read some nice lady's blog and she was going on about how she NEVER post on the fly, as in, she usually has a process of brainstorming, pre-writing, editing, and all those great elements necessary for good writing. Oh.

See, all this time I have been operating under the impression that the blog world was exempt from the rules and mechanics of writing. Well, not completely exempt because most of us probably don't appreciate typos and misplaced apostrophes when reading our favorite crafty-blog.

Well shame on me. I always write on the fly. And when I say always, what I really mean is "when this nut-ball actually wanders away from lurking on other people's blogs to write her own post".

Now that I have that off my chest...


I need to share some really exciting news. A friend found me. A friend I had not seen or spoken to in 30 years. Wait, how OLD am I? Now I am sounding like someone's granny. So this friend, Heather found me through a post I left on (By the way, pop over to her blog and take a peek at all her lovely ideas for creating a lovely cottage dwelling.) So, anyway, the way I understand it, Heather saw my comment on Jen's blog, thought it might be me, then proceeded to stalk me and my family/friends on Facebook before sending me an email. I have never been so happy to be stalked! Before I leak out any more of this gripping saga, I need to chat with Heather about doing a guest post over here. Maybe she can bring some sense and clarity to my mish-mash of writing and help me tell this story in a way that makes sense.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

chloe's pick

Chloe is working her way through this book for the 2nd time. Good enough to read twice. I'm thinking of creating a response activity for her to do. Though if I'm smart, I'll just wait and see what crafty/creative thing she emerges with. She's good that way. Creative, clever, and thoughtful.

turn on your brain

After watching Food Inc., I ran to the MPL to find this. Given my propensity toward greed, I always check out way too many items from the library. Hopefully having this book a 2nd time will be more motivation to finish it. Like it so far. Good points and thoughts, even if you don't agree with the lifestyle choice of the author.

holding our bookmarks

I nearly finished this before the due date. Marion Public Library does not have the 1st book in this series. (this is #2). The young Bertie in this story is a riot. You may want to kill his mother, i'm just saying. A nice lady from our church owns every published Alexander McCall Smith book, and she has graciously offered to lend me any book at any time.

StonyField:recipes:Lemonade Pie

StonyField:recipes:Lemonade Pie

i've never linked up this way before. let's see if it works.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I've paid dearly for the Indiana Public Library Access Card (PLAC), so I'm using it like there's no tomorrow. Actually, that isn't quite true; the kids and I have only traveled as far as Marion for books and dvds. My neighbor, however, has jumped through all the hoops for the Muncie library system and frequently treks over that way for her reading/caffeine fix. (I hear they serve coffee with flavored creamers).
For those of you who may still be living under a rock, the PLAC enables the patron (for a fee of around $60)to check out books from any Indiana library granted you are willing/able to follow their particular guidelines and actually return the materials in a timely fashion. I've often daydreamed of venturing downtown Indy for some of their books (and i am longing to lurk around in their stacks), but there's the pesky due date and the extra travel to return the books. Libraries are funny that way.
If you are interested in obtaining your own PLAC, contact your local library. If you live in an unserviced area, you may find yourself forking over a hefty sum of cash. The librarian can help you navigate the paperwork and signing away of your firstborn child along with your social security number and the requisite forms of photo ID.

next post: books of the week, and how much reading the kids are doing this summer

Thursday, July 8, 2010

install/attach a zipper? any volunteers?

read: a mccall's sewing patern

learn: how to add an additional panel to a skirt that should fit your friend, but instead fits your 9 yr-old girl

grow: mad skills for installing a zipper

come back soon for the exciting photos which will reveal a finished zippered skirt (or me with a seam ripper jammed into my skull)

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar

this is READ, LEARN, and GROW

READ: reading published poems, freshly written poems, rough drafts, final copies

LEARN: learning right along with students as they work to improve their poetry craft

GROW: growing a bit more muscle as a facilitator of learning rather than an all-knowing lecturer

We've been busy bees this week. The kids and I have been helping/participating in a poetry camp of sorts each day from 9-12. I can't really show photos (haven't taken any) given that I don't have that kind of permission from any of the parents. The format is set up as a hybrid Vacation Bible School/Elementary school model. One of the wonderful professors from Indiana Wesleyan University shares poetry selections and background on the poets. He actively engages the students by having them clap, wiggle, shake, etc. Each day begins with a reading of Shel Silverstein's


if you are a dreamer, come in,
if you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
for we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
come in!
come in!

I could listen to Dr. McCracken read aloud and recite poetry every day for the rest of my life and not grow weary of it.

We are learning how to read poetry without the nya-nya's (the forbidden sing-songy rhythms that can take over rhyming poems)

We are learning (and i am facilitating) ways to write free verse, non-rhyming, haiku, shape poems, and many things in-between.

All grade-level groups have written and collaborated on a class poem to be performed at Friday's poetry jam. We have a special guest poet who will jam with us.

Wow, how boring is this? a photo-less blog post. yikes!

My motivation for volunteering to facilitate at Summer's Cool is two-fold: I want to do all I can to encourage and empower children to love reading and writing by giving them the tools necessary to be successful in both, and I wanted to get on the inside of this week-long learning-fest to see if it is something that could be done here in fairmount, possibly at my church.

I ask that all 12 of my blog lurkers will join with me in prayer on 2 points
1. the children who attended summer's cool 2010 will continue to grow in their knowledge and love of learning, reading, and writing
2. wisdom, ability, and resources to implement something like summer's cool in fairmount (for 2011)

thanks :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

how about some organization?

i've been giving a lot of thought to the disorganization of my blog. the banner of my blog proclaims READ.LEARN.GROW., so duh, i think i'll organize in that fashion. each post will be directly related to one of the three options. maybe i'll connect a post to more than one at a time. it could be about reading and learning. oh, oh, oh, maybe i could even do all 3! YES. brilliant.

i will return soon with a new, updated version of my sad little blog. wish me luck.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Miss You Already

pink chair, duh
wish we could have sat in it

this was painted on the wall in the lower level of the museum as part of a children's books exhibit

(this is not the museum)

I am too tired to compose witty captions for these photos. Yesterday we took Chloe to the art museum in Chicago.

The importance of the day:
1. time with just one kid
2. gettin' outta fairtucky
3. an epiphany... Chloe would rather spend time creating art than looking at it (well all right then)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Beautiful Park Remembered

A Lovely Walk

Many weeks ago I had the opportunity to support a friend in a walk for Autism awareness. I arrived at the location early (very early, I feared getting lost en route). While I waited for the remainder of our group to arrive, I went exploring. Armed only with my cell phone camera, I traipsed around looking for beauty in nature. This is at Minnetrista cultural center in Muncie, IN. I am not sure if this is a central focus or feature of the property, and I really can't tell you what it is supposed to be, other than fabulously lovely. I considered scaling the fence, abandoning the walk, and meandering around the property.

Beauty is all around us. Remember to open your eyes, ears, and heart. Thank God for the ability to appreciate his creation.

A Walk in the Park


Walk No. 1
Chloe is enrolled in group tennis lessons at the public park in Marion. While she learns the finer points of slamming a small, bouncy ball back and forth over a net, I've been lounging in the early morning 9:00 sunshine, reading the varied works of Andrew McCall Smith peppered with glimpses into The Compassionate Carnivore. Alright then, today I took it upon myself to walk on the paved path that meanders through the park. I must confess it is L.O.V.E.L.Y. This path is a perfect mix of sun and shade. Birds and squirrels populate the area in just the right proportions: pleasant mix of chirp and squawk, easy on the bird poo. This walk put me in one of those all is right with the world moods in which I imagine walking for endless miles, burning every calorie I had ever consumed, and emerging 45 minutes later with a perfect figure and long, blonde, cascading curls. No such luck. I did, however emerge 30 minutes later refreshed and grateful for God's blessing of nature and fresh air.

Walk No. 2
This walk included 2 munchkins and a hot, cranky mama. Fortunately the kids were mostly engrossed in the discovery of a playground at which they had never frolicked. (don't your kids frolic?) This gig was earned by taking the Honda for an oil change and tire rotation by our ever faithful Mike at Upland Tire. We love him. Sometimes if I take the Honda myself, Mike and I chat about NPR's Car Talk (Click and Clack). I daydream that he is our own personal Click AND Clack, all rolled into one. We swap stories about the Honda he let go and how the current teenage owners drive past his shop daily, reaping the benefits of his labor some 5+ years later; he laments giving it up for a minivan.
We're supposed to be at the park/playground, though. Somehow I became disoriented in Upland and couldn't find my way to the public park, so the kids and I hoofed it to the school playground. This play area boasts some sort of freestanding rock climbing wall which the kids climbed about 3 times before succumbing to the oppressive heat. I wanted to remind them that we are only in early June, and if they thought this was hot, wait until August. August, however, will come in its own time and we don't need to bring undue worry upon ourselves regarding dog days of summer. Speaking of Dog Days, I heard the Chicago Cubs announcers discussing this very idea awhile back. Apparently the Dog Days refers to a time in late Summer, and under no circumstance can that phrase accurately describe any weather, no matter how unbearable June heat/humidity may feel. hmmph!
Now that I've lengthened an already long narrative to a super long story, I just need to express my thankfulness that we have the freedom and ability to walk and play in outdoor parks at our whim. We don't need to ask permission of any government or the police. No passports or vouchers are needed to roam the county. We can just walk, ride a bike, or drive to wherever we would like to go, at any time we would like to get there!

I'll leave you with my short prayer.

Thank you, God for the freedom and the ability to travel with my children. Thank You for the sunshine and warm weather. Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Currently Reading

I started book 1 on Monday. Late this afternoon I am 1/2 way through book 3. These are quick and entertaining reads. Great for a taste of life somewhere other than where you currently reside. (unless you are in Scotland, duh)

This comes from the same author as the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Those have been made into
films for HBO.

Next on my list...

For an exclusive FB by invitation only reading group! My first ever!

thoughts on raising a boy

Today we celebrated Jacob's 12th birthday. Wait, we took him out for lunch on Sunday. (3 days ago) Grandparents will arrive bearing gifts in 4 days. Jacob has the privilege of extending his celebration over the span of many days. In our effort to keep him from feeling slighted, we may err on the side of overindulgence. That is not to say that we over-shop. Certainly not. About an hour ago he unwrapped 2 presents. Yes, only 2!
Let me backtrack 12 years to explain how this extended celebration came to be.

Jacob's predicted due date: ??? sometime near the end of May, 1998 ???
Almost date of birth: Indy 500 Sunday (Memorial Day weekend)
Actual date of birth: June 9, 1998
Actual size of baby: 9 pounds, 2 1/2 ounces (giant) 22 inches long
Actual size of mommy: 5 ft. 2 in. (pre-pregnancy weight around 115 pounds)
First words spoken by Dr. Swan: "Hurry up and weigh this kid! He's huge!"
Actual words spoken by night-shift nurses: "You'll never have enough milk for this baby. We gave him a bottle in the nursery."
Actual milk production: enough for that kid to eat for 20 minutes on each side everyday, on demand for approximately 3 months. (then we found a schedule)

Sorry for the digression. So, why do we celebrate Jacob's birthday in such a scattered, spread-out fashion? Because my husband is the director of admissions at a university who holds a new-student enrollment fest every year in early June. No matter what day of the week June 9 happens to fall, it always conflicts with the 3-4 day spread of registration at the college. Boo-hoo, poor us, I know. If Jacob had been born over Memorial day weekend, well, lots of things would be different (like his birthweight). After 12 years I would like to report that I'm "over it", but sadly, I have barely come to terms with this fact. (9 pound babies should be born to mothers closer to 6 feet than 5) Well, that's my birthday complaint, and I'm stickin' to it!

I have grown up a lot while rearing our 2 kids. I've had a lot of help from my wonderful husband. ( I can't imagine doing this alone. )

Maybe tomorrow I'll have some great and wonderful insights to share regarding raising kids. There might even be a recipe of two thrown in. We just devoured half a dark chocolate cake smothered in Nutella ganache, and I am feeling a bit sluggish.

Good night.

Happy 12th Birthday Jacob!

Happy Birthday Jacob !

This post is short and sweet. I will post some more intriguing thoughts and observations later.

Friday, May 28, 2010

the last to know

apparently i am still living under a rock

just google nutella recipes

click on images

let's make life simple

nutella recipes

nutella is delicious over ice cream

drizzle nutella ganache over cake

sorry readers (reader?)
i apologize for the delay in posting my NUTELLA recipes...

1. you can pretty much use nutella anywhere you might use peanut butter, though i don't suggest you combine it with grape jelly. that just sounds nasty.

2. nutella ganache
purists may pooh-pooh this as cheating, but here it is...

1. fresh jar of nutella
2. heavy cream
3. 12 oz. bag finest chocolate chips you can afford, or not. really any choc. chips will suffice.
4. rigged-up double boiler (i use a stainless steel mixing bowl over a med. size pot)
5. wooden spoon (or 3) for licking/testing ganache

HEY WAIT A MINUTE! whilst searching for a photo of nutella and/or ganache on google, i happened upon no fewer than 6,000 recipes for nutella ganache! i swear i didn't copy any of these! i improvised my concoction a few years ago when i was sick of using betty crocker frosting from a can for my kids' birthday cakes.

once again, nothing new under the sun. :(

at any rate, here's what i do:
slowly heat heavy cream in double boiler, add chocolate chips, stirring frequently. add globs of nutella at your whim. don't lick all of it from the bowl.

what can you do with nutella ganache?

eat it straight from the jar without getting caught by husband or children

top your favorite chocolate, vanilla, coconut, or coffee flavored ice cream

spread it over your favorite artisanal bread

smear it on your regular toasted bagel

nutella brownies
glob however much nutella you want to while mixing your box-mix of brownies
i also like to add a few tablespoons of strongly-brewed coffee

Friday, May 21, 2010

welcome to uglyville

sweet creativity

welcome to uglyville

founded 2010

chloe g. solms, mayoress

maybe you are familiar with ugly dolls. our girl munchkin loves uglies. L.O.V.E. is an understatement. every fabric she sees, every scrap she can swipe, she whips it into an ugly!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

snacks and gas

one of my responsibilities as a title 1 aide is to read or listen to ISTEP tests. wow. all i can say is wow. oh, and apparently the snacks make it all worthwhile, or at least bearable.

i have two humorous bits to share with you.

student: i really hate these tests. i don't like doing them. i want to get done and go to the computer lab. can i go to the lab now?

me: i am sorry you hate the istep (in my head i say that i hate istep as well) no you may not go to the computer lab now. we can, however take a break. would you like a snack break?

student: yes. i guess i'm just here for the snacks.

me: well, ok, then. let's eat.

2. let me preface this by saying that i have a horrible sinus infection right now and am MISERABLE with a capital M. i can't take penicillin or any of his friends, so i go straight for things like keflex and zpac. heavy duty. hard on the intestines if you know what i mean. ick.

my stomach: gurgle, gurgle, pop

student: wow

me: sorry, i'm taking some nasty medicine right now, but don't worry, all the air bubbles are staying inside my stomach. (i hope)

student: oh, well, that's ok mrs. solms... my dog does that too.

me: oh, really?

student: yes! when my doggie lays down at night and puts her belly up in the air, she makes those same sounds.

me: alrighty then. let's keep working.

snacks. gas. istep. i think they go well together, don't you?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

rabbit trails, thankfulness

coffee and custard

as i was browsing through my pics on the cell phone, i happened upon some shots of a great semi-local custard/coffee joint. the name is Payne's Custard. but baby, it is SO MUCH MORE!
they have fresh roasted beans, made from scratch custard. great soups served with crusty bread, or in a bread bowl. once i had soup there, and ordered crusty bread on the side; they waitress apologized for serving me such a large hunk of bread. there is no such thing as too much crusty bread with a soup, am i right?

my friend jaime and i met up there for our mini christmas gift exchange. in february. late february. we may be a bit over committed, preoccupied, or just plain bad friends to each other.

before i got around to posting about our wonderful excursion, life got in the way.
kids, work, homework, church, well just stuff.

i have been thinking about the importance of embracing the wonderful, positive, meaningful moments that God has given me. meals shared with friends, unexpected kid-free hours on a saturday morning (time alone with the husband). lately i have allowed the sad parts of my life to cloud my thoughts. too much boohoo time makes layla a cranky lady!

other photos/reminders i found in my pics on the phone...
great sweet treats consumed in lousville with my husband
happy kids
kids with friends
meals with friends

how can we appreciate the fun, shining moments without the willingness to accept, even embrace the bad times? just a little lesson in the art of comparison.

i challenge you to make a list of at least 5 things for which you are thankful
you may find your list grows beyond 10 or 20. i would love to hear from you, and see your lists!

here is my mini-list

husband he is my best friend
children they challenge me every day to be a better mom, and i love watching them grow
car (old honda) to drive
four walls and a roof over our heads
growing friendships
struggling friendships-- to remind me that i'm not perfect, and i need to keep learning/growing
(maybe the struggling friendships are the real "growing" ones)

leave a comment to tell me what you are thankful for and why. it can be an encouragement to us all :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

happy belated april fools' day

i still want my elephant!

i'm not really trying to extend the 1st of april, just do a bit of a rewind and remember. i am amused by younger kids who don't get the joke of april 1st, and love to see their reactions when you explain to them, that they really DO need to come to school on the 2nd. hey, i didn't write that joke, our school news team did that.


all during the day on april 1st i heard funny little stories of kids and their jokes to each other. some students even fooled teachers saying "miss ______ your shoe is untied" well, miss _______ was wearing slip-on shoes; but i digress

my april fool story centers on me at age 5, and my grandpa oscar. when i was little i lived with grandpa oscar and grandma lorene. (you almost never hear those names anymore--well, oscar for the award, but anyway...)
grandma lorene went to work early everyday so grandpa oscar got me ready for school and gave me breakfast. he would wake me up when he was dressed and ready (we only had 1 bathroom). grandpa woke me with a startled voice calling from across the house, "layla, there is an elephant running around in the front yard! go look!" i hopped out of my bed quick as a lark, and scurried down the hallway to the den. "where grandpa? where is the elephant?"
grandpa: oh, darn he must have gone around to the backyard, go to the kitchen window
me: ok i'm running. grandpa! i can't see him! where did the elephant go?

i really don't quite remember how the rest of this charade went down, but it wasn't pretty. i was honked that we did not have an elephant in the yard, and i am sure i probably cried. my grandpa had the patience of a saint. he explained the idea of april fools' day and that people like to tease each other for fun. this is the same man who took the time and energy to explain the sunday comics to me. how do you explain comic strips? explaining jokes really must have taken the humor out of "beetle bailey" and "wizard of id" (are those still in print?), but my grandpa wanted me to enjoy comics so he made the effort.

the elephant in the yard was a pretty darn good joke, and makes a great story even 30 years later.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


ometimes i wish i had the drive to run a marathon
sometimes it would be nice to run a complete mile without my shins screaming in agony

sometimes i wish i could meet emily dickinson
i would put on a white dress, go barefoot, and put my hair in a bun
i would bring along a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils and share them with her

sometimes i dream of having a smoke with c.s. lewis
though eavesdropping on him would suffice

sometimes i wish we lived out in the middle of nowhere
sometimes it would be nice to live in the middle of the windy city
sometimes i am happy to live in our little yellow house on east 3rd

sometimes i wish i had more friends
or that i treated my few friends better

sometimes i dream about cooking a gourmet meal (cruelty free, whine free, and healthy)
sometimes it would be nice if i cleaned up after the meals i do cook

sometimes i wish my grandma and grandpa were still here
mostly i am glad they are no longer suffering

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

what are you eating? from where did it come?

did you know that fish (tilapia and salmon) eat corn? i just learned that this morning. yuck. the farmers have found a way to encourage salmon to grow teeth so they can eat sweet corn.
NO? you don't believe me? well. ok. the fish do eat corn. really. just without teeth. and probably without butter and salt.

good thing i have a carton of Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt in my fridge, or i might be going hungry for lunch.

a pretty cool life.: Festive Valentine bunting and a crash course on bias tape

a pretty cool life.: Festive Valentine bunting and a crash course on bias tape


Thursday, March 18, 2010

where are the photos?

I lurk on some people's blogs just for the eye-candy. Glorious photography skills can suck me in for hours.

I pine for delicious photos. I long for a fabulous camera. I also want a lot of other junk. Perhaps I should have given up "wanting" things for Lent. forever.

polka-dot pj pants
pink rubber rain boots
floaty-flirty skirts in 6 shades of cocoa
moleskine books for every topic and whim
bistro chalk markers
perfect blonde hair
a never-diminishing giftcard
and maybe also a card for jcrew, gap, anthropologie, and crate&barrel

I digress.

oooh, and a spring trenchcoat, hip-length. khaki. size M.

ok, there.

a camera. i don't know which one i want/need, except that it must be fast. you know, so i don't keep missing action shots of my kids flinging pillows and such around the house.

a camera that doesn't take 67 minutes to focus.
and while we are wishing, maybe a printer with plenty of ink and paper would be a good idea.

so, until the perfect camera finds its way to my grubby mitts, i'll be pirating photos from google or uploading shots from my phone.

Monday, March 15, 2010

from start to finish

March 6, 2010 marks the date my grandfather left this earth. March 6, 1928 marks the date he entered. Full circle. Beginning and end. Something about dying on your birthday seems like completion.

My grandfather Oscar was not perfect. He was not glamourous. Oscar was a good man. He built his house with his bare hands and paid cash for it as he went along. He and grandma Lorene cooked on a hot plate for themselves and 3 children while they built one house and lived in another.

After my grandparents should have been finished raising children, I came into their lives and they welcomed me as their own.

For a few days I will be posting remembrances of my grandparents and what they mean to me... and the lessons I learned from their example.

he ate tooth pieces of pizza

here's a great lesson in counting...
i LOVE learning new words, phrases, and perspectives from Kdg. people!

we had a pizza party after school today. one of my Kdg. munchkins ate a slice of pizza. after he began munching away on the next slice he yelled, "mrs. solms! i'm eating my tooth (twoth) piece of pizza!"

sometimes you just want to scoop up a small person and put them in your Lands' End Jumbo Ginormous Tote Bag.

Monday, February 22, 2010

oooohhhhh noooo!

drink me


love me

Lent is upon us. Or lint as some little person in our home referred to it not so long ago. This is really making me nuts. Rather my nuttiness is compounded by the cravings for sweets. Chocolate chunk cookies, mommy's minty hot-cocoa with a twist, and reese's cups are dancing over my head like some deranged movie theatre snack-bar commercial.
the song goes something like this:
let's all go to the lobby (3x)
and get ourselves a snack
As far as I am aware, the Wesleyan doctrine isn't too pushy about observing Lent. Growing up in a super evangelical, borderline legalistic congregation, I can't recall ever hearing a sermon about the Lenten season. Some of this still new to me. I'm working it out as I go.
Why am I doing this? At any given moment I will have a fresh reason for you. I want to honor Jesus' sacrifice. I want to rely fully on God to meet my needs. I don't want to use food to soothe myself. I want to prove that I can do this.
I am currently at the stage of denying myself the treats, but not quite allowing God to speak to me. I'm still trying just to ignore the cravings rather than spend time in prayer. Why do I insist upon making this so difficult? How is it that I keep missing the point?

i welcome any wise words and input you may have to send my way :)