Saturday, February 27, 2010


After spending too long at our weekly girls night on Thursday, I came home and darkened the lights, locked the doors, put the cat away, and lay across the foot of my bed exhausted past the point of easy sleep. I inserted my ear buds to drown out the sound of Nick Jr.’s “Oobie,” which would occupy Emma’s attention until she drifted off to dreamland, and dialed up my most recent download on my iPod.

I just caught a snippet of this song on the radio that morning while dropping the boys off at school and it stirred something in me. So I went home and downloaded it, but I hadn’t had the time to really listen to it until I lay down to sleep that night.

As the lyrics swirled around in my head, I thought about;

My 11 year old who couldn’t go to bed until I was safely home. Making it a much later bedtime than a school night should be,

My sweet boy who went to bed with his newly lost tooth stuffed under his pillow counting on the Tooth Fairy to compensate him generously,

The boy, that earlier in the day, I was ready to sell while shopping at Wal-Mart, but who as night falls can’t sleep unless it’s in mom’s bed,

And my baby girl, who lately has a case of the "Me do it myself"-itis, still wants mom’s hand to hold as her eyelids grow heavy, finally, giving those beautiful brown eyes a much needed rest.

But as the song ended, I realized that even though I always tend to think it is me that they need, maybe it is really the other way around.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fast Food Confessional?


Isn't that just sweet?

Except it wasn't meant for me.

Just in case you were wondering.

Which I know some of you were.

 Richard says that he wishes he would have thought of it.

And it is the thought that counts, right?

So I'm pretending.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

For Laughs

I'm not sure what it is today, maybe it is the withdrawals of depriving myself of a caffeinated beverage for 6 days, the lack of sleep catching up with me, or trying to get 4 belligerent children to do Saturday jobs, but I am...

Bummed. Irritable. Weepy. Glum. Rundown. Testy. Ornery. Depressed. And just in the dumps, generally.

I'm puzzled because I woke up this way, which is really unlike me. I came home from Ashton's basketball game to tell Richard to watch out because for some reason I was on the war path today. But before I could open my mouth he informed me that he was having a similarly bad day and left to get some air and run errands. So I did the next best thing to talking to someone and set about cleaning. I figured having things in physical order might make me feel emotionally in order as well.

As I cleaned off the microwave I found this magazine that came in the mail a few weeks ago.

I immediately started to laugh.

I don't know if you have ever looked at or even ordered something from this catalog, but I find it terribly amusing.

Yes, I am easily entertained.

It is full of various items that some I can actually see a hint of value in; the rest is...well....junk- for lack of a better or kinder word. As I flipped through it weeks ago, I found one particular item that had me in stitches.

As it did for me again today.

So I thought I would share it with you.

Just for much needed laughs.

Can you imagine turning over in bed to give your spouse a goodnight kiss and finding plastic pig nostrils?

(he, he) Yeah, neither can I.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kitchen Moments

There are times in my life where I am reminded of how lucky I am to be married to the man I call my husband. Times when I am grateful for his patience while I was a fickle and silly 19 year old girl who was still growing up, and that continued patience as I still have much growing up yet to do. It is during these times when I realize just how much I do love him and why. I call these moments, “kitchen moments”.

They are called kitchen moments because 9.5 times out of 10, that is where they happen. Why the kitchen? Because, as I figure it, the kitchen is where I spend at least 50% of my life. It is where my computer is, my desk and calendar, and of course, the dishes and all those appliances necessary for cooking and preparing food which come in quite handy for sustaining my family’s lives. It is where homework and projects happen; meals, bedtime snacks, and even the morning combing of hair before we dash out the door for school. It is where life happens and hence, also my “kitchen moments”.

One particular kitchen moment happened a few weeks ago on an ordinary night as the boys were finishing homework and I was attempting to clean-up the kitchen, but found myself very distracted by the music coming from my new under cabinet docking station. “Moon River” a great song to waltz to, was playing and I was itching to dance with someone. So I grabbed Dallin and proceeded to drag him around like a rag doll. He finally got some sense of the rhythm along with that I would die if my friends saw me doing this, but I kinda like it look and we danced until I felt like I had adequately humiliated him in front of his older brother and I let him go.

That’s when Richard walked in. I feigned great disappointment that Dallin didn’t really want to dance with me and Richard said, “Start it over and I’ll dance with you.”

My husband does not do things he considers unmanly; dancing is considered one of these things.

But I figured if he’s willing I’m not going to pass it up, so we started to dance.

First, he started off like a snobby aristocrat at some fancy ball so stiff and proper; speaking with a fake English accent while commenting on how waltzing is lovely, or some other flowery word. Next we fell into a more relaxed sloppy sort of waltzing where many toes were crushed; the better part being mine. But this led into a portion where he seemed to be actually trying; being more led than leading we went around in small circles on the vacant piece of laminate floor. And even though, Henry Mancini & His Orchestra were playing a beautiful version of “Moon River” I had the words from another song playing in my head.

You make me shine like the sun

Fall out of bed, sing like a bird

Dizzy in my head, spin like a record

Crazy on a Sunday night

You make me dance like a fool

Forget how to breathe

Shine like gold, buzz like a bee

Just the thought of you can drive me wild

Ohh, you make me smile

Don’t know how I lived without you

Cuz every time I get around you

I see the best of me inside your eyes

You make me smile.

And then like a needle being ripped across the vinyl of an LP, my dreamlike state was rudely interrupted by…

“Do you guys really have to do that in front of us?!”


“That’s just wrong!”



…Spoken by our on looking offspring. And so we stopped. The waltz ended.

But I was reminded once again, how lucky I am that in a world that sometimes seems as though it has been turned upside-down and is filled with doubt and uncertainty I have someone there who, even when he may not want to, is still able to make me smile.

And as for my offspring, my greatest hope for them, besides learning some manners, is that they will be lucky enough in this life to find someone equally worthwhile to have kitchen moments with.

Which I hope will be rudely interrupted.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How much do YOU love me?

I'm supposed to be packing for a Valentine's overnighter in a hotel, which includes a trip to the pool complete with waterslide, with my 5 sweethearts, but you know I have priorities. And since I just checked my e-mail and found a friend of mine has gotten a big jump ahead on me for a contest I entered in, I thought packing and the inevitable donning of the swimsuit can wait!

If you remember or even if you don't, I wrote this post last summer after discovering a photography website and the amazing work of an incredible photographer. One image in particular won my heart and now I have the chance to win it...But...There's always a 'but' isn't there? I NEED YOUR HELP!

It's not hard; I'm not asking for money or an organ donation, just a wee bit of your time to make a comment on this blog post saying that I, Natalie Parke, sent you. That's it!

See...I told you it was easy and non-life threatening.

So if you haven't already gotten me a valentine, forget the flowers (they just die) and the chocolate (it gives me rolls where I don't want them), and show me how much you love me by giving me the gift of words in your comment for this contest. And yes, my friend (Rachel) may want a photo of her special needs child, but I have needs too! So I figure you could comment for both of us and perhaps, we can both be winners.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Ashton's 5th grade class has recently been studying about magnetism.  Apparently, some "magnetism" has rubbed off on Ashton, since he came home with this little note in his pocket yesterday.

Maybe it was just the spiked hair he sported yesterday...Or his incredible brown eyes...Or his killer smile (not shown in this pic.)

Whatever it was, he seems to have little Miss M's heart in a flutter.

This is the second time Miss M has "taken a shot" (his words, not mine) at him. The first was in December in the form of a note thrown into his desk during read aloud that read, "Will you be my boyfriend?" Back then he was honestly in a conundrum, with the What-do-I-do?-Girls-still-have-cooties! panic in his voice.

Yesterday, it was a whole different story.

He told me that, "This time there was just no getting out of it and he thought he was just going to have to say yes." This statement was said with the I'm-trying-to-make-it-sound-like-this-is the-worst-thing-in-the-world-because-you-are-my-mom-so-I-am-suppressing-the-excitement tone emanating from his words.

It is a little crushing to realize you are not the only girl in your little man's world anymore.

I know the hormones are changing; I can smell them when I stand close or not-so close, to him at the end of the day, but I'm not sure I was ready for this. Not girls. Not at 11 years old. I was born boy crazy, but I figured boys, especially my boys, would be impervious to cupid's arrow; and so my naiveté' rears it's ugly head again.

But this morning as I walked him to his appointed door where Miss M and his friends were waiting, he still gave me that arm around my waist sideways hug and I thought...I'm still number one...

At least, for a little while longer.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sky Duster

You have to wonder what kind of day lays ahead when you have an appetizer consisting of 2 Advil, 1 Tylenol, and a diet Dr. Pepper before breakfast. Sleep was in short supply last night and I was paying for it this morning. But there was a bright spot in my sleep deprived head throbbing stupor...Yesterday.

Yesterday, was beautiful. Simply beautiful.

It was one of those days we are blessed with during the cold, dark winter that gives us hope that spring really is coming and that sun and warmth are not lost. A beacon of light in what seems like an endless night and I couldn't get enough.

So you will understand my disappointment when I woke this morning to cloudy gray skies and rain. I had planned to do a road run this morning, but decided against it, after I walked the boys to school and found the rain had frozen making the road and sidewalks like a skating rink.

As I headed home to face the hamster wheel instead of the open road, I found myself wishing I could somehow rid the skies of those ugly clouds and restore them to that beautiful azure blue of yesterday.

I was wishing for a sky duster.

This wish was a familiar one.

Growing up our family never went on vacation anywhere we couldn't stay with family or in a tent. The majority of the time we ended up in Oregon, staying with Uncle Albert and Aunt Annie. Their property complete with a garden full of raspberries, a large yard great for exploring, and a stream next to their home gave us plenty of entertainment, so we didn't know any different or really care. But all of those things were useless if it rained, which even in northeast Oregon it does...often...especially if we were on vacation.

This was the case one particular visit when I was 7. It rained and rained, so outdoor play was out of the question. Since I couldn't play, I took up cleaning. Annie had this great duster with a long wooden handle so you could reach ceiling corners and other high places. I think I had dusted every corner, pile, nook & cranny of Annie's home. And at Annie's that's saying something, she being a depression era survivor who saved everything... But still the rain seemed to never let up.
The duster
In the back bedroom, I laid on the old quilt topped bed complaining about the weather and with the duster in hand, mentioned to my mom how I wished I had a duster with a stick long enough to dust the clouds away.

A sky duster.

My mother, trying to provide a distraction and being the lover of poetry she is, helped me turn my wish into a poem.

So here is my 7 turned 33 year old's wish for today.

Sky Duster

I wish I had a duster with a stick to reach the sky,

I'd dust the grey out of the clouds as they went flying by.

I'd make them white and fluffy, like cotton candy too,

Then there wouldn't be rain clouds, to rain on me or you.

-Natalie Huff Parke & Jeanne Huff 1984

And you know, wishes about the weather don't always come true, but in spite of last night's lack of sleep, the pain in my head is gone, and even the hour on the hamster wheel felt great...So maybe today wasn't so cloudy after all.

Maybe, I'll leave the dusting for another day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

100 Favorite Things

My first grader brought home his homework folder this week and instead of finding the usual worksheets inside, there was one single page.

My brain thought, "WOO HOO! Less homework this week!"

Then I read the attached newsletter...

Tuesday is the 100th day of school...see how many projects you can do in the week of your 100th day of school.

I inspected the page closer to see what I was going to be dealing with, and there among all the ideas and suggestions, I read this:

Make a list of your favorite 100 things.

My tired brain said, "Yeah right! That's freaking impossible!"

I like challenges.

I thought that sounded like a challenge. Didn't you?

I did.

So I responded back, "Did you just issue me a challenge, you old dusty brain of mine? Well, I accept your challenge."

So I gave myself an assignment and made this old brain of mine work and come up with 100 things that I like.

That'll show her.

Now where's the Advil?

1. Reading blogs.

2. Blogging

3. My family

4. A clean house.

5. Reading

6. Chocolate

7. Steak

8. Broiled shrimp

9. Going to the movie.

10. The USA.

11. Daffodils

12. Fall

13. Ice cream

14. Peanut butter

15. Oreos

16. Date night

17. Drawing house plans

18. Swiss cheese

19. Kamloops

20. Girls night out

21. Facebook

22. Going to the Temple

23. Music

24. The Library

25. The beach & ocean

26. Being up before anyone else

27. Going new places

28. Compliments

29. Green

30. Purple

31. Giraffes

32. Being in the mountains

33. Being alone

34. Cool summer nights

35. People who make me laugh

36. Watching the stars

37. Hiking

38. Camping

39. Helping

40. Doing a good job.

41. The way Emma says, "Uh huh, mom."

42. A clean shaven man

43. Dancing

44. Getting my hair cut.

45. Catching up with old friends

46. Road trips

47. Butterfingers

48. Canada

49. Spinach Salads from Ric's Grill

50. Sweatshirts/sweaters

51. Jeans

52. Fields

53. Running

54. The smell of rain

55. Playing night games

56. Thunderstorms

57. Hot cocoa with whipped cream (esp. Irish Cream)

58. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

59. Jane Austen (esp. Persuasion)

60. Romantic comedies

61. Diet Dr. Pepper & Mtn Dew

62. Gummie Peaches

63. Raspberries

64. Ben's hugs

65. Ashton's smile

66. That Dallin still snuggles with me.

67. Riding horses

68. New York

69. Richard's perseverance, patience, & passion.

70. Laughing

71. Playing board games

72. Being inspired

73. Seeing the light bulb go on when my kids learn new things

74. Giving

75. The Pacific Northwest

76. Skeet shooting

77. Fishing

78. Skiing

79. Musicals

80. Soundtracks

81. Halloween

82. The Sea to Sky Highway

83. To fly

84. Traditions

85. The gospel

86. Freshly washed sheets

87. Sunday naps

88. Feeling like I accomplished something

89. Sunsets

90. A full moon

91. The smell of freshly cut wood.

92. Bubble baths

93. Going out to eat.

94. Doc Martens

95. Doughnuts

96. Having everything in its place.

97. My mom's homemade bread

98. Singing

99. Lightning

100. Making others happy

Did you learn something new about me? Really? What?

I hope we are still friends anyway.

Could you do it?

Yes, I just issued you a challenge.

So dust off your brain and get to work.

The Secret to GREAT Play Dough

Lately it seems like the blogging community has been doing "instructional" posts on how to make fabulous foods, so I thought... I like to follow the cool kids...I can be a follower... I don't want to be left out!

The only problem is that I don't make anything that I feel like is spectacular enough to demonstrate.

But yesterday, we made homemade play dough. Why homemade? Because like most things homemade, it is just simply better.

And you can make a ton of it.

And you can make it any color your little heart desires.

And it is a great way of teaching pre-schoolers about mixing primary colors to make secondary colors.

And you get to squish it between your fingers while making the top secret sound that makes great play dough...great!

The "chant".

I figure you can get a recipe for homemade play dough anywhere, but the "chant"... has to be done just right for the colors to mix properly. Luckily for you, Ben happened to be performing the "chant" just right, so I grabbed the camera to document it and share our secret(& because I'm his mom and thought it was cute).

See... he even confirms it...When you do the chant it shows the color more and when you don't chant, it doesn't.

I told you I can't make anything food wise that is spectacular, so please, don't eat any. I think it would give you a terrible tummy ache and I don't want to be responsible for that.

Happy chanting.

The above link is to my friends awesome earth friendly blog and her recipe for Natural Play Dough, it doesn't include alum, which no one seems to have in their cupboards anyway.

But if you are interested, here is mine: Grandma Jeanne's Play dough

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups boiling water

1/2 cup salt

3 TBSP oil

1 TBSP alum (you find it in the spice isle)

Food Coloring & the "chant".

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the oil to the water and gradually add it into the dry mixture while mixing. You can add the food coloring while mixing or wait until the dough has cooled and knead it in by hand. Store in airtight baggies in the fridge. Enjoy creating!