Doing OK, Essentially



Buddy naps

It’s been a little over a week since we let Buster go, and several of you have asked how the rest of us are doing. Thank you for that. Mikey and the Mister prefer not to think about it and Nico likes to look at pictures of him. I’ve taken to calling Nico “Buster” for some reason. I guess I have my first second-born on my mind. I’ve avoided blogging, mainly because to access my pictures I have to scroll through dozens and dozens of pictures of Buster. I’ll get there. It’s only been a week!

The Monday after Buster died, the Mister had to leave for another business trip. Buddy seemed unsettled by the combined absence of the Mister and Buster. For the first couple of days, Mikey would find him waiting at the kitchen door. That broke my heart. He slept nonstop, refused to eat, and eventually developed a mild ear infection that I was able to treat at home. He rarely eats breakfast these days. His stomach gets upset, but his appetite always returns for dinner. The knee of his left hind leg, which he injured right before he turned 13, bothers him all of a sudden. He won’t put but the minimum weight on it and he occasionally slips on the hardwood floor. Last week, I tried to take him on a walk around the block, which he normally loves. He went less than a quarter of a mile before I had to turn around and carry him home. We worry that he’s lonely during the day.

Buddy sleeps with Mikey every night now, and this weekend, when I had a mild fever, he slept with me.

So, that’s the update. We’re doing OK, essentially.



Speaking of fevers, I treated my own this weekend with peppermint oil. I’ve never done that before, and it actually worked! The Breathe oil I use on the boys when they’re sick, and it seems to work well. Much better than the vapo rubs I’ve used in the past. I’ve even used the Breathe on Buddy, since his lungs are crap. (They’re safe for dogs–I checked.)

Happy Ash Wednesday!


Like the title says, happy Ash Wednesday! It’s the beginning of my favorite, favorite time of the year. I love Lent, and always have, even when I used to try and give up chocolate as a kid every year and failed miserably. I love the fasting, the abstaining from meat on Fridays*, the Lenten sacrifice, the masses, the crafts (I remember doing the best projects as a kid in school), the period of reflection on your life leading up to Ash Wednesday, the warming up of the weather and the brightening of the days, and the spirit of community that develops. Really. In my experience, Lent is a time where Catholics, ex-Catholics, non-Catholics, agnostics, and atheists participate in this period of sacrifice/reflection/personal challenge.** They may not assign the same–or any–spiritual meaning to the 40 days, but they’re there with me, and it’s great.

Even Mikey and Nico are excited. This morning, as they inhaled cereal and periodically checked the window looking for their ride to school, they entered into a deep debate on the fish menu at McDonald’s. Nico is a devoted Filet o’ Fish fan (so am I), while Mikey took a liking to last year’s Fish McBites. Poor Mikey; I think he’s the only one on the planet who liked those things because they’re not on the menu this year. They spent the final moments of the morning planning their first McDonald’s run.

I have to admit, even I’m a bit excited. We can’t really eat fast food, let alone McDonald’s, because greasy junk food will make Nico throw up. I’m not kidding. He will throw it up if he has it too often or if he has too much. It’s one of the reasons we don’t eat out a lot, because even non fast food is full of fat, sugar, and salt. McDonald’s is especially bad for Nico. The last time we had it was in autumn, and the Mister was out of town for most of the month. I was frazzled, running straight from swim practice to choir practice and decided to drive through McDonald’s. Guess who spent choir practice on her hands and knees cleaning the mess on the church’s marble aisle while my good friend Soraya cleaned Nico up in the bathroom. He was fine, by the way. As soon as he throws up, it’s like nothing ever happened.

Paper Airplane costume

Nico hasn’t mentioned what he gave up for Lent, but Mikey and his best friend decided they aren’t going to fold paper airplanes. This is huge for them. They like paper airplanes so much that his best friend was one for Halloween! (Best costume ever, and my picture fails to capture its awesomeness.) “But mom, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to fold paper into other shapes. Let’s not get crazy.”

I’m going to resume my daily walks, eliminate coffee (yep, started that again), do some daily Bible reading, and try to recapture some of the peace I had at the beginning of 2014, before Buster got sick and I let people embroil me in their drama and disputes. I’ve lost 4 pounds since we got the news about Buster, so it’s safe to say I’m back to skipping meals and poor self care.

Which brings me to what I love most about Lent: there is always hope.

* Many people, including some Catholics, believe we are supposed to eat fish on Fridays. In fact, Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, but are allowed to eat fish. Abstention from meat on Fridays used to be year round, but this post explains why that is no longer the case in the U.S.

** Many of my friends are either not Catholic or ex-Catholic. I also have several atheist friends, one of whom I consider to be one of my best friends. Now that the boys attend a Catholic school, I have more friends who are Catholic, but for a long time it was me and a bunch of protestants who always managed to add the words “grace,” “blessed,” and “convicted” to every conversation. (Kidding! ish!) So when I say “in my experience,” I really mean in my limited experience. I’m not out there taking Lenten polls.

Ash Wednesday and The Library for Easter

Easter Library, 1

Easter Library, 2

I didn’t realize until after I was almost done decorating the library for Easter that it isn’t until the 3rd week of April this year. That’s okay! This gives me more time before I have to think about decorating summer, which I swear won’t be much since we’ll only have 6 weeks left of school. I stuck to the 99ยข Only Store except for a few items. The flowers are recycled from the fall, this time with tulle ribbon. I tried to get ribbon I could use for Valentines, Easter, and summer. I don’t love the color, but it’s hardly worth throwing my hands up in the air over a funky looking fuscia. The Stations of the Cross cards are from The Bookworm. I printed them on photo paper and glued them to clothespins so they would stand upright. If you decide to do the same craft and use photo paper, go easy on the glue because it soaked through to the image and caused some color bleeding. The “He Is Risen” print is a free download from Heidi Stock. I put it in a frame I bought for the Valentine print I made. The frame is a $6 clearance item from Michael’s. I think the original print inside was of a bowl of fruit or an innocuous bouquet of flowers. Each season I try to find or create a print I can fit in the frame. Super easy, super cheap, and the kids look forward to seeing what I put in next.

I also have hanging from the ceiling paper lanterns, signs, and honeycomb balls of various sizes. It’s…ridiculous. Garish. Phenomenally twee. The kids loves it.

I’m surprised by how much the kids like the decorations. Not all of them–some really don’t care and some are horrified. I had one 7th grade boy almost recoil in terror when he saw the library decorated for Valentine’s.

“Oh, God,” he said, wincing and shaking his head. “This looks so…so…foo-foo romantic.” The girls defended me.

Whatever. It looks awesome. You’re just a guy and have no appreciation for pretty things.”

“Well, yeah. That’s what I just said.”

“Okay, what you just said makes no sense.”

“None of this makes sense!”

Others like to ask me where I bought this or that. The assumption, oddly enough, is that I make everything. I’m flattered, but I have no idea how they can think I know how to mold plastic into bees and butterflies that glow technicolor at the flip of a small switch.


Mikey and Nico noticed how differently I decorate the library and our home. They wanted to know why I didn’t put up holiday decorations at home. Sigh. I went back to the 99 Cent Store and bought some garlands. They love it; they think the eggs look like Minecraft swords or axes, but cut out.?.to be honest, I have no idea what else they said. I heard “Minecraft” and it’s like the hand of God reached inside my brain and pressed Ctrl-Alt-delete.

Ash Wednesday is this week, and I still haven’t decided what I’m going to sacrifice for Lent. I thought of doing an internet fast, but I’m blogging so little as it is that I’m afraid I’ll have trouble coming back if I stop. It’s a similar problem I’m having right now resuming my daily walking. I seem to have fallen into an every other day habit. I don’t like it. I asked the boys what they planned on giving up for Lent, and Nico said, “Definitely not chocolate or video games. I’d like to give up showers.”

“Try again,” I said.

“I’m giving up farting,” Mikey said.

Nico snapped his head in Mikey’s direction, his eyes wide with shock and the Legos in his hands forgotten. “Dude,” he said. “You’ll never make it.”

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

I craved healthy food when I was pregnant with Mikey. I remember sitting on our brown leather sectional, barely 14 weeks along, with a bowl of clementines in my lap. I ate a 5 lb crate of clementines in less than a week. How fortunate for me that is was December and they were in season. Aside from my craving for clementines–only clementines, not citrus–I craved bean, rice, and cheese burritos from Miguel’s Jr. Never in my life, before or since, have I wanted a bean, rice, and cheese burrito. I like beans, I like rice, and I like cheese. I don’t like them fraternizing in my mouth or my tortillas.

Years later, I ordered a BRC burrito from Miguel’s Jr. out of curiosity. I remembered distinctly how good they tasted when I was pregnant. They were so good, my mouth would water as I unwrapped the burrito and I savored each bite until I hit pay dirt: that end of the burrito where the tortilla is double thick and rolled into itself.

To my empty womb, the BRC tasted like baby food, which is exactly how beans, rice, and cheese burritos always taste to me. I can’t get behind food you can eat by pressing it against the roof of your mouth with your tongue. I just can’t. Vile, mushy food.

And then, Nico.

Two things happened within seconds of Nico’s conception. I got heartburn and I craved McDonald’s chicken nuggets. No, it was worse than that because it wasn’t an isolated nugget craving. I craved nuggets, fries, kielbasa (??), pizza, hamburgers, junk food of all kinds, and beer. It was like I was gestating Bluto from Animal House.

This is all apropos of nothing, except that Mikey is sick and all day yesterday he wanted a salad. That’s all he wanted. That, and eggs. I didn’t have all the ingredients for a salad, but I must have made him 4-5 eggs throughout the day. His favorite comfort food: crispy fried egg over black beans. The black beans I saute in coconut oil and Herbamare seasoning.

Mikey and Nico have opposite taste in food. Mikey likes watery foods like salad and fruit. Pizza. Tacos. Or, casseroles. Cheesy, gooey, rich casseroles where everything is all mixed up and touching. (The horror, the horror!) Eggs are a favorite, but that goes without saying. So are beans, rice, and cheese all mixed up like pudding.

Nico likes things plain and solid. His favorites are roasted garbanzo beans or tofu, both over brown rice. (Don’t be too impressed–the beans/tofu are hardly low fat by the time I’m done with them.) Hamburgers with mustard and pickles, no cheese. Pizza. Anything fried. Sweets of all kind, especially chocolate. He likes sour condiments like pickles and mustard (Mikey despises both) and absolutely, positively despises anything rich and…{{shudder}} creamy. Yogurt, melted cheese, and eggs have all caused him to vomit on sight. I wish I was kidding. The Mister thought Nico was exaggerating two weeks ago when he said he couldn’t bring Mikey’s plate to the kitchen without throwing up. He wasn’t. One look at Mikey’s slightly dried out scrambled egg crumb had Nico head first in the trash can. Later on he thought about it–just thought about it!–and barely made it to the bathroom.

Sometimes, because we’re terrible people, we like to tease Nico and tell him we’re having cheesy scrambled eggs with a side of yogurt for dinner.

Speaking of food, I still haven’t finished our last book club pick. A nonfiction book about food: it’s like I was begging for failure.

The book was great when I read it, but as I read it I also experienced that heightened level of stress I always get when the conversation turns to dieting or, in the case here, not dieting. When New Year’s came, I got all wrapped up thinking I needed to eliminate everything bad always and forever. Luckily, I was able to talk myself down from the ledge before I dipped my toe in a pool where I should never, ever swim. Every time I get the urge to diet, God nudges me. A girl confides that her mom calls her fat and that she needs to diet or no one will like her in high school. Another girl tells me she’s on a diet because she’s fat. Nowhere, on any planet in this galaxy or the next, is she fat. Then there was that Biggest Loser shocker.

And then the most recent nudge, which came while writing this post. I was link hopping, looking for a good Biggest Loser link, and found the link above. I watched the video thinking it was about Rachel, but no, it was about Jillian getting in trouble for giving her contestants caffeine supplements. Jillian refused to admit wrong doing and stated it was no different, and probably better, than unlimited coffee consumption. The pointed look she gave the other team makes me think that’s essentially what they were doing.

Unlimited coffee? Caffeine supplements? That’s a pro-Ana trick, and quite possibly the oldest one in the book.

I’m glad I’m no longer dieting and happy that I walk every day. I just need to keep reminding myself that 30 years of dieting mentality isn’t going to resolve itself over night.

Happy, Happy


I don’t know how many remember my library update post that talked about the 5th graders who like to tease me with annoying songs. Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows was a popular one for a while.

Aren’t you so glad I refreshed your memory? You’re welcome!

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping for Valentine decorations at Michael’s when I rounded the checkout line and I saw many pink fluffy unicorns. I weighed the price of a small, stuffed unicorn against the joy in torturing 5th graders with my dorktitude for all of 2 seconds before I tossed that doe-eyed horse into my cart next to the glittered hearts. Then I rushed home so I could gloat on instagram. One student, a boy, conceded the girls were going to flip, but that the unicorn needed a stage and a rainbow. I said, sure, every unicorn needs a rainbow and stage! Sadly, I don’t have that kind of time. I told him he was more than welcome to make one. I didn’t think about it again until the next week.

How awesome is this kid? I was so proud and told him so at least a million times. I just love it and it’s now on display where it’s the first thing people see when they walk into the library.

I’m so lucky to volunteer in the library. I love it so, so much. I love the kids, I love the books, I love the environment. I love that I leave my door open all the time and now the older girls come and visit me during recess. I love that they trust me enough to tell me about their crushes, frenemies, worries about grades. (“But don’t say anything Mrs. Kendall because I will just die if he finds out!”) I love that all they want are hugs and more hugs.* I love the way the younger ones get so excited when they find a book they like and how you can hear a pin drop when I read to them. I love my fancy rainbow loom ring, the pictures I get every week, and painstakingly wrapping books in clear contact paper so they’ll last longer. Seriously, I do. Methodical, brainless-but-detailed tasks are perfect for minds that don’t know how to slow down.

I especially love that while I wrapped a book under the watchful eye of a 5th grader she said, “Wow. You, like, really really care about this library and us so much. Crazy.”

She’s right on both counts.

*I only hug the girls in 5th-7th grade, but not because I think older boys don’t need hugs. On the contrary, I think they need twice as many hugs! I just don’t feel comfortable showing physical affection unless I really know the parents and they know I’m not some crazy pedobear out to destroy lives. I wrote about this some more on Facebook this morning, but let’s just say that, like Erin says in the comments, I give good side squeezes. :)

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.