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[Comments] (2) : Samuel is overheard playing with his Playmobile pirates. . .

"Okay, have a nice time in Neverland."

"Bye!"

"Oh, don't forget your cape."

"Thanks, I always forget my cape!"

Samuel Sings: Samuel's version of the Sunbeam song: "Jesus wants me for a Sam-Beam!"

[Comments] (13) Health Care Woes:

Dear Mr. President:

I just spent over ten percent of our annual gross income for medical insurance covering myself and my spouse for only six months. Thanks for the small relief of Medicaid for my two boys. I hope we can afford to insure ourselves the last six months of the year.

Thinking of moving to Canada,

Alyson Matkin

[Comments] (4) School Holidays: We are enjoying Atticus' winter break. This morning I asked Atticus what he would like to do today, to which he replied, "I want to stay in my jammies all day long."

Wish granted. And it was a lot of fun.

[Comments] (2) Very Sensitive Human Child: "Woah, woah there Samuel," Atticus says in a very concerned and loving fashion, "You're about to hurt your toy. That only hurts you, not Mama, Papa, or Brother. You don't want to break your toy."

[Comments] (4) Black Monday: It all comes down to this: Dave takes his comprehensive exams Monday and Friday. I'm not sure who is more nervous, Dave or myself. Poor man has spend too much of this weekend nursing my anxieties while I should have been nursing his! But this is the light at the end of the tunnel, the mile marker that indicates we are near the finish of the PhD program. After this, Dave will spend a year gathering data, researching, and writing his dissertation. Oh, and he will spend a little time job hunting. Hurray!

[Comments] (11) Thinking Thoughts: I never get baby hungry during the day. My hands are too full, and the boys keep me running to catch up. Another child right now would be utter insanity. I know that. But when they are asleep, looking cherubic in their fuzzy pajamas, cuddling innocently with a favorite stuffed leopard or doggie, I think, "Wahhh, I want to have another baby--they are so sweet and wonderful." The problem is, the children are asleep. . .

[Comments] (8) This Just In. . .: Dave has officially passed his written comprehensive exams with flying colors! Horray for a momentous milestone passed.

[Comments] (2) Poetically Speaking: Atticus is currently composing a piano song entitled (these are his words): "Winter, winter, give me a surprise, Sparkilng, sparkling, snow covered in my eyes." Poetry, I say!

[Comments] (2) 100% Delusions of Grandeur: Samuel said today that he is 50% Batman, 50% Power Ranger (how does he even know what this is???), and 50% Spiderman. He sure adds up to something great, whatever his composition.

Preschool Gender Studies: Atticus asked me, "Hey Mom, do you know what fainting is?"

"Tell me about fainting," I encouraged.

"It's what girls do when they see a really cool guy."

Of all the lessons to gain from preschool. . .

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue. . .: Hey, all you golf lovers out there! Come to our Kansas fairway and whack a few golf-ball-sized hail! We'll provide the food and lodging.

Actually, I'm trying to calm myself from a panic as the hail begins to pelt the roof and windows and Dave is away preparing for his oral exams (they're tomorrow). At least the radio warns of Severe Thunderstorms, and no funnel clouds have been sighted. Yet. Ah, the joys of living in Kansas! I intend to write up the adventurous tornado scare we had driving home from the Kansas City airport with my newly-arrived in-laws last week. But I'll save that for another day.

[Comments] (3) By and by black night doth take away. . .: I talked to Aunt Frances yesterday. It sounds like the sickness that has encroached upon her life for (has it been?) over ten years now is unrelenting now. I agree with Rachel that there is a WWI metaphor in all of this somewhere. Frances asked me to read Shakespeare's 73rd sonnet at her funeral. Is it really time to talk about that sad day? I keep thinking about her brave recitation of "Ulysses" at Aunt Jeunie's funeral. She read all those lines of Tennyson without shedding a single tear. How can I do so well? I'm lucky I only have fourteen lines to remember and get through without dissolving into tears. Franny did have some advice for me: "Inject your veins with ice water." Is there a clean way to inject into the jugular?

Frances has done some very significant mothering on my behalf throughout my life. I feel so much love for her. One favorite memory, which stands in my mind more as a feeling than a memory, was during a road trip from California to Utah as part of Grandpa Earl's funeral. I think I was seven. Frances was so comforting, and she shared a treat of dried prunes and apricots with me. This might seem a very inconsequential moment, but my memory is of how special she made me feel. I love my Aunt Frances.

[Comments] (6) A.B.D.: All But Dissertation. Dave completed his oral portion of his comprehensive exams today. Now we know that he has passed--with honors--and has attained the status of PhD Candidate. Yay! We've come so far! Can it really be so?? Of course he has a lot of work to do with that dissertation. . .

[Comments] (1) Sleeping with elbows and knees: Last night was a very unusual night. Samuel and Atticus both ended up in our queen sized bed. That meant there were eight elbows and eight pairs of knees, four people perceiving different levels of hot and cold, and two squirming bodies moving in and out of the bedsheets. Dave was sleeping like a dead man, and I should have had the presence of mind to move the little people out! I was too tired. Here's hoping for a better night tonight.

[Comments] (1) Phenomenon: It is amazing to me that I can feel absolutely exhausted at 5pm, anxious to go immediately to bed, barely able to keep my eyes open. Then, as soon as the boys are asleep, I have a burst of energy, and I want to stay up late. Strange.

[Comments] (6) : I'm in California with my Aunt Frances. She is handling her pain like a champion.

[Comments] (1) Final News: My Aunt Frances died on Friday, the 5th of May, at about 1:30 pm. I was playing Settlers of the Catan with my cousins Leonard and John when Rachel checked on her, and found she was no longer breathing.

The family has been posting events of the last week on my Aunt Franny's Weblog. If you want to read more about her, and more about my week here in CA, check out her site.

[Comments] (3) For the arrow is flown, and the moments are gone. . .: Left Utah yesterday at 4:30 MST. Drove straight to Kansas. Glad to have arrived safely (at 10:30 pm CST). Boys are grumpy and tired today. Stayed home; played with Legos. Feel vacant in mind and heart. I miss my cousins and long for Frances.

[Comments] (2) Trek Across Town: Well, our car is in the shop--for the very frivolous reason that the sunroof won't shut! And the local weather people keep threatening rain! Argh! Anyway, I dropped Atticus off at school, took the car to the shop, pumped up the tires on our double "stroller" (an adapted bike chariot is more accurate), and went off to a nearby park to play with Samuel until it was time for Atticus to be out of school. Then I pushed the boys two miles home, and here we are: tired and ready for a siesta. At least I am.

[Comments] (2) Oh, Dear. . .: I've just received the third box shipped by me from Utah to Kansas, and it arrived with contents in shreds and a note ouside that it had been repackaged in Denver. All those books of remembrance from Frances' geneology library are totally dismembered. This is awful.

[Comments] (2) The Stars at Night, are Big and Bright . . . : We're here in San Antonio for David W's wedding festivities. We arrived yesterday around 5:30 after twelve and a half hours on the road (that's right folks, we left Kansas at 4:00am), attended a 6pm session at the SA Temple (Ashley's first time), and crashed hard in bed afterwards. Today has been a whirl of activity including mostly work preparing for the reception tomorrow night. There has been some excitement at the expense of cousin Andrew Oman, who landed on his ear instead of his wakeboard while boating this morning. His eardrum is completely torn off inside his right ear. He's been waiting to see an ENT specialist for about six hours at the ER. We hope there a good remedy for this, and that Andrew gets his hands on some heavy duty pain killers soon.

thisweekwasablur: David and Ashley's wedding was beautiful. We ate a filling portion of Mexican food at Papasito's after pictures at the temple, and then feasted on Rudy's bar-b-que at the reception that night. After a very full Saturday, we drove back to Lawrence from SA on Sunday, leaving at 5:30 am and getting home around 7:00 pm. Morning driving is proving to be ideal for the boys. It was a wonderful trip.

We're mapping out our next summer journey--to Canada! We're planning to drive through South Dakota to Mt. Rushmore, then over to Yellowstone, and finally up to Cardston, Alberta. Plans are still pending for our return trip, but we'll likely come through Utah on the trusty I-70. In the meantime, I've purchased a pass for the Topeka and Kansas City zoos, so we're all set!

[Comments] (3) Will Ferrell Does GWB: I have to share this Will Ferrell spoof. Dave played it for me last night to cheer me up, and it sure worked.

[Comments] (3) Confessions: I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I love the X-Men movies. I love them because they transform very real issues of racism and stereotyping into a context that is non-threatening: mutant versus non-mutant citizens. This way, the audience can work through issues of cultural, racial, and religious prejudice in a different setting.

I really liked the first two movies, but the third, X-Men: The Last Stand was disappointing. It lacked the character development that added depth to the first two. I also didn't like how the filmmakers portrayed Magnito's mutants; there was a lot of stereotyping going on there. I thought those characters were evidence of some lazy filmmaking. Couldn't Brett Ratner and his team of writers think of some more clever way to identify them than using body piercings and tattoos?

The movie was worth watching, but I'd give it 2.75 stars. If you do go see it, make sure to stay through the credits for a surprise clip!

[Comments] (3) Why not to use "don't" commands with children. . .: There we were, in my mother and step father's backyard pool, swimming. It becomes evident that Samuel urgently needs to pee. "Samuel, quick, go pee in the bushes!" I holler. He looks around, but the rough Texas grass isn't very inviting. "Well, pee on the grass, pee on the rocks (there is a nearby rock garden), I don't care, just don't pee in the p---!" Before I say the words, he turns, as if in slow motion, faces the pool, and whips down his pants. The deed is done.

Thank goodness for chlorine!

[Comments] (4) Anniversaries: Now We Are Six: Yesterday was Atticus' birthday; he is six. That means yesterday marks the anniversary Dave and I became parents, which is sort of a scary thing. Have we really been doing this for six years??? Last night we had a small group of friends over for cake with candles and singing. We made the same chocolate cake recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything that we've made for four out of six of Atticus' birthdays.

June 11th is now marked by another momentous occasion. As I was on the phone for a quick hello with a cousin, I heard cries of mob activity. The children, unattended, had begun a food fight in the kitchen! I walked into the room to find splatters of melted chocolate ice cream and icing on the walls, floor, and cupboards! There was grape juice spilled all over the floor (that I'd carefully mopped the night before in preparation for the get-together)! I would anticipate this kind of activity maybe at sixteen, but at six!! Yikes! At least I can console myself that the first globs of ice cream were thrown by the eight-year-old sibling of one of Atticus' friends . . . In the meantime, I'd better mop my floor now.

[Comments] (1) : I was turning my nose up at the sickeningly-sweet smell of the boys' Sponge Bob fruit snacks when Atticus responded brightly, "It's fit for a boy!"

[Comments] (3) Alyson's Tip for the Day: Do not trust children when they are quiet. Quiet = mischief. *sigh* This week is making me so tired.

[Comments] (6) Knead Bread?: Here is my very favorite bread recipe. I bake bread at least once a week, and my small family always eats all three loaves. Sometimes I share a loaf with a friend and bake twice in a week. It is a bit of work, since I don't have a mixer that can handle the volume of whole wheat flour the reicipe calls for, but I'm getting in touch with my pioneer heritage by hand kneading, right?

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cups mild molasses (not blackstrap) or honey (honey is obviously sweeter, molasses somehow keeps moist longer)

3 Tbsp. canola oil or soft butter

2 tsp. salt

2 cups lukewarm water

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

8 cups whole wheat flour (or up to 2 cups all purpose flour and 6 cups whole wheat to help the gluten develop--though all whole wheat is fabulously soft and moist in this recipe)

Pour boiling water over the oatmeal in a large glass bowl and let stand for 30 minutes.

Add molasses/honey, oil/butter, and salt to oat mixture. Dissolve one Tbsp. yeast in 2 cups warm water and add to oat mixture.

Beat and work in enough of the flour to make a medium-soft dough. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, about 15 minutes.

Place dough in a clean bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in bulk.

Turn onto floured board and knead again.

Divide dough in two for large (9x5ish) bread pans, or three for medium (8x4ish) loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake loaves five minutes, lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake approximately 40 minutes longer or until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom.

Recipe from Nancy O'Connor, Nutrition and Education Outreach Coordinator and the Merc. If you live in Lawrence, Kansas, check out Nancy's classes. They are great!!

[Comments] (11) Moments: We had some funny, some thoughtful, and some crazy moments today. I thought I'd share a few . . .

While driving home from the library after a magic show early this afternoon, Atticus and Samuel suddenly fell apart. They had thoroughly enjoyed oooing and awing over the magician, and then picking some books, but once they were in the car, they wailed and moaned that they were too hungry to last the drive home. Atticus cried true tears over his starvation, and said, "Mom, we are going to die! And then you won't have any children! They'll all be dead!!"

Well, with that said, I turned the car around, and we went to Joe's Bakery for sandwiches and donuts.

But regardless, we did have a good trip to the library. I always laugh when we get to the check out and Samuel empties his book bag. Our routine is that each boy gets to fill a book bag with as many books as he can carry. Samuel always has a very miscellaneous collection of picks. Today he came home with a lighter load than usual, but an interesting mix nevertheless: Rabbit Raising from the Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, The New York Public Library Kid's Guide to Research, by Deborah Heiligman, two Star Wars books from the paperback display *bleah*, and a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.

In another conversation, Atticus and I were discussing a play date invitation from his best friend, Connor. Let me preface: Atticus refuses to play at a friend's house without an accompanying parent. He seems highly traumatized by the very though of a baby-sitter, and nothing quite matches the happiness of knowing mom/dad are right in the next room. (BTW, this made for difficulties getting him off to school 60% of our school-day mornings last year.) This is sometimes flattering, mostly frustrating, but I love the kid, and I try to spare him the anguish.

So I told Atticus, with extra enthusiasm, that he could go to this special last play date before Connor moves all by himself!!! He looked at me, skeptical, and said, "But mom, you know that problem I have with my tummy . . ." And this problem is that he has psychosomatic stomachaches when he is nervous. Duh!

And the last laugh of the day came when Samuel announced his intentions of marrying his friend Lydia. Parker, my friend, you’d better WATCH OUT!!

[Comments] (3) : I'm catching a plane to Calgary in less than thirty hours. Can I be ready?? Yikes!

[Comments] (2) Atticus Funnies: Yesterday the boys and I were talking about the summer we visited Canada when I was pregnant with Samuel. "You were just a little roast duck in the oven," Atticus teased Samuel.

[Comments] (13) Beat the Heat: Dave e-mailed an article about Lawrence temps soaring to 106 degrees (115 with humidity). I'm very much enjoying the Canadian cool. I'd trade my husband for the heat any day, though, now that we've spent three weeks apart. That is a long time. Nevertheless, the boys and I are enjoying ourselves. Here are some of our summer highlights:

Atticus had one hope for himself this summer. He drew pictures of his goal during the last days of preschool, and he's talked about his intent constantly since summer began. He really wanted to jump off the diving board, and now his jumping skills are old hat. He does it completely unassisted, too! Never to be left in his brother's dust for too long, Samuel is also jumping solo off the diving board and swimming to the side without help. This is all very exciting.

Dave's sister, Patty, and her hubby, Shawn, live on a real life Alberta ranch/farm. Shawn raises cattle and has one volunteer buffalo (apparently he enjoys the social scene). He also farms 4-5,000 acres of canola, barley, wheat, and oats. The boys love going out to see their three kitties, one dog, and four ATVs.

We have four rambunctious boy cousins and a very sweet baby girl cousin we get to play with everyday. Plus more kidoes in and out of town every week.

Uncle Mark has successfully taught Atticus how to blow bubble gum bubbles.

I finally purchased a swimsuit that I like, though it is much cuter on this site than it is on my body. Isn't that the way it always goes?

I made friends with a fun, adventurous mom with two boys. She invited the boys and me to join her and her kids on a hike at Waterton Lakes National Park (these mountains make up Glacier National Park across the Canadian border). Hiking the park and skipping rocks on the lakes are always favorite pleasures when I'm in this part of the world.

Every time I go running (which isn't very regularly), I make sure to route my way around the Cardston Alberta Temple and then let my heart go pitter patter when I pass Dave's old high school on my way home.

And last, but not least, we went to Calaway Park, an amusment park that seems to be designed with kids age 2-12 in mind. We didn't have any fun that a dose of Gravol couldn't fix.

[Comments] (3) Out of the House: Went to Uncle Shawn's softball game for an hour last night. Afterwards, went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Carriage House Theater (a quaint community theater in Cardston) with the boys, Grandma, and Grandpa. Atticus and Samuel were thoroughly entertained.

Earlier in the day, I went with Ginger to Lethbridge for some shopping and and a girl's lunch (ahem, left the boys with Grandma). Ginger took me to a fabulous little local place, the Streatside Eatery. Everything on the menu looked great, and I coveted every dish that came out of the kitchen to other customers. I ordered the Thai chicken wrap and house Caesar salad (which came with a piece of Trident tucked in the top lettuce leaves--wrapped, and not chewed, friends). Oh, and let's not forget the turtle cheesecake. It was all extremely satisfying. I love a restaurant meal that feels so carefully handcrafted.

[Comments] (12) Unpack the Water: Arrived home late last night (12:30 am) and I'm exhausted. Only a jar of pickles in the fridge, oh, and ketchup, etc. Went grocery shopping and to the bank. Counting the hours until bedtime for cranky kids and tired mom. I'll have to recap the last of my Canada trip later.

[Comments] (7) The Lottery: Where to begin. Too hard to start where I ended. I am too far behind to do that. I've always felt pretty busy, but nothing compares to the busyness of life now. And I thought things would slow down with Atticus in half-day kindergarten and Samuel in preschool eight hours a week. Not so. In fact, things seem to become more rapid by the day.

I spent my afternoon running around preparing transcripts and some other paper work for Dave's job applications. As I am compiling all the different things each school requires for application, I feel like we are playing the lottery. Tomorrow I FedEx packets for the first set of schools due the first of October. Altogether, we are applying to about 25 schools. All of our applications should be out by mid November. I'm not sure how much I should say about our application process because of the very public nature of blogs. I will say that we have some exciting picks on our list. We're hoping for a million dollar win!

[Comments] (4) : Atticus is not happy about driving Dave to the airport (leaving for an academic conference in D.C. He'll be gone until Saturday night).

"I don't want to ride in the car for two hours!" he says. "It will waste all my bike riding time!"

[Comments] (5) Survival of the Fittest: Let me just say, my boys are leaps and bounds more "fit" to "survive" these days than I am. They have never-ending energy. If you wish to have a glimpse of my life, just imagine a pile of Atticus/Samuel/Me on my queen sized bed at 8:30ish at night. Only one of us is asleep. Up goes the small finger into the nose of the sleeping one, or pinching go the fingers onto the closed eyelids to pry them open.

I cannot exaggerate how busy Dave's schedule keeps him these days, and he is paced for 15 hour work days/ six days a week until the middle of November.

Another part of the picture you might imagine in our daily life is this: a pair of boys overgrown for a two-toddler-stroller are pushed by the before mentioned tired mother down Louisiana Street at 7:00ish after dropping off dinner and a car (for that late night drive home from school). The stroller is a necessary hassle, or we would never make it past all the rocks-to-be-collected and cats-lurking-in-the-bushes to get home. Imagine also Dave writing feverishly in his basement office to prepare an impressive (hopefully) writing sample for job applications. He also works to complete two separate research papers to be presented at two academic conferences in the coming month, one mid-October, one early November. This is our life right now. Hey, and I'm actually having fun!

[Comments] (5) "I'm going to the Nut Shop where it's fun. . .": Seven: the number of ping-pong-sized acorns in Samuel's pant pockets (from a walk home from Kindergarten).

Three: the number of Double Bubble gum pieces in Atticus' pockets (from the KU Homecoming Parade).

It always pays to check before washing!

[Comments] (2) Real Life Update: I just don't like going to bed when the apartment is empty (snoring boys don't count as company). I hope Dave can live a normal life again someday. Someday. The late night writing frenzies are emotionally exhausting for all of us.

[Comments] (2) Fall Harvest: So far--of the seven job applications that were due on Friday or sometime this week--we've had a nice response. I'd like to say more, but we're keeping our home court advantage, so to speak. I don't want to post anything more via the internet. I'm just glad to see all the hard work come to fruition One of these days I'll send out an e-mail with all the details. Let the fun begin.

[Comments] (6) Samuel Says: Dave and Samuel were negotiating how they would transport a large bag of library books from the car to the apartment. "How 'bout you carry the books, and I'll carry you?" Dave asked. Samuel liked this idea: "Yeah, and that's called teamwork!"

Today Dave finished revisions on a really important paper he is sending as a writing sample for job applications. I told the boys this and boasted that their Papa is a champion. Samuel responded, "Does this mean Papa can have a break day?"

And he did have a break. We celebrated by going out for pizza and attending the family story time at the Lawrence Public Library for the first time with busy Papa in tow.

[Comments] (3) Answering Service:

"Hello." Samuel says.

He pauses, listening to the receiver, and then. . .

"Ribbit!"

[Comments] (3) Hold the Sniffles, Please: Atticus told Dave about some extras I packed in his school bag for his stuffy nose. "I had hand insanatizer and Kleenex!" he said.

[Comments] (4) I'm a real blogging loser!: Hello, friends. I'm not blogging much these days. When Dave is superbly, excruciatingly, wildly busy, I get a little addicted to the Internet. As part of my membership in Bloggers Anonymous, I have to lay off the stuff of blogs. Besides, the computer leaves town every time Dave does, and he is leaving again tomorrow (he has already been to Madison, Wisconsin, D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia just in the last two months). Wish him luck on his first job interview--in the morning!

[Comments] (5) blurb: Hello. Life is still busy. Dave leaves town again tomorrow. Lots of decisions to be made. Enjoyed the holiday. Boys sleeping poorly, so we're all a bit tired. I'll be glad when spring is here. Wow, I'm in trouble if I'm already looking forward to spring.

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