Category Archives: Take it Easy Tuesdays

Elijah Frosting

You know that last bit of frosting that’s left in the can after you cover the cake? Too much to in good conscience throw away? At least not until after you have stored it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, right?

That little quirk of unbalanced cake-to-covering ratio proved to be fortuitous today. We’re talking, an Elijah can of frosting, people. It was amazing.

Because I had to take cupcakes to pack meeting. In less than an hour. Two dozen of them. In between work (and no, contrary to what you might think, you cannot make cupcakes while at work, even if you have a workplace like mine, unless you do not have toddlers at your work, as I do at mine) filling my tutoring assignments, the baseball game (Which we won with a grand slam, bottom of the ninth, and yes, thank you, I do know what a grand slam is. Now.) and the million other things that had me wanting to pull my hair out today. Make, cool, frost cupcakes. Sprinkles, too, thank you.

Which we all know is not that difficult, thanks to Betty Crocker. The difficult part is making them look edible. So that your children are not embarrassed to be seen carrying them in.

So as I was standing there, weighing my choices (run away to Malaysia/take naked, almost cool cupcakes/whip up some frosting and be late/etc, etc) I had this thought–oh, ye of little faith; maybe… maybe there’s a can leftover in the fridge? And literally, by some miracle, there was. Ha, and like most miracles in life, upon close examination, I discovered that the thing was also almost empty.

I peered into that can and thought no way is this going to cover six of them… but maybe if I frost them really, really thin? Lots of sprinkles?

But then the Elijah factor kicked in, and it covered every last cupcake.  No kidding. Right to the edges. Who says that the day of miracles has ceased? Pshaw.


My Magic Garden

Once upon a time, we took our house off the market. Nobody was buying, and we were comfortable enough to stay put.

Within days, a car was idling in the street, its driver looking lost. She was new to the area, looking for property. We sold her ours, and began building down the street.

That was nearly seven years ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s one of those neighbors that used to populate small towns and talked to your grandmother at the hardware store. She sends us zucchini and acorn squash and strange, funny email missives.

A couple of years ago, she got chickens.

And infiltrated my pathetic excuse for a garden with flowers, on the sly. Yep, one day I caught her, out there, planting bulbs. She ordered too many, hoped I wouldn’t mind. Every spring since then, they surprise me. And they are either multiplying rapidly, or she planted more when I wasn’t looking:


On Vacations, Teen Drivers, and Other Extraneous Things

Talk about taking it easy: Yesterday I had two kids here, and right now I have three. Not counting my own, of course, five of whom are on Spring Break. Complete with capitals, yes.  You know that sacred institution of American education which serves only to tantalize school children with the promise of a real vacation yet two months off.

I don’t include them in my head count because, well, they wipe themselves if you know what I mean. They are pretty much self-sufficient. Somebody even took it upon himself to clean the kitchen this morning. Now that’s boredom for you–or a sort of pre-paid gesture of gratitude for the fact that I’m going to have to take him driving sometime this week.

Yes, that’s correct: I have another child to teach how to drive. Already.

Not to mention insure. Spent most of yesterday trying to find the least expensive way to do that, but it looks like pretty much no matter who you go with, and no matter how decent a student the kid is, you’re going to pay right around $100/month to put a minor behind the wheel of a car.

C’est la vie.

Can I also admit to you that even though I only have a smattering of children this week, and very iffy numbers in the future and even though tuition is due and my property tax bill arrived Saturday, I still went out and bought a computer? Yes I did. It was the cheapest one–not only on the shelf, but on Wal-mart’s shelf. However, it:

1)Not only has a screen that does not flicker and die even if it is not angled at precisely the hair’s breadth of that one position in which contact is occasionally still viable but a powercord that operates in all positions and temperatures,

2) Is not in thirty-seven pieces on my son’s floor, awaiting shipment of crucial parts from a dubious source in Hong Kong,

3) Is not larger, older, nor more erratic than myself and therefore can be used at any time of day, in any part of my home, or even while hiding out in the back seat of my van and

4) It has nothing but wordproccessing and research capabilities–which is all I need, but which makes it a fairly boring target for teens and small children. Okay, they could probably install those other things on it, and I’m certain they would, but that’s why Microsoft invented password protected user accounts.

It is also a hideous color of red, which  the floor model was not, but which might explain why it was so cheap.

Which reminds me that it still needs to be paid for and by extension, that there are interviewees to harass and articles to write.

Until next time…

When Life Gives You Large Feet… Wear Cons

As parents, we understand that our children don’t always tell the complete truth. As compassionate people, we don’t always call them on it. Whether or not that is wise, I don’t know. I do know that a lot of times the truth is stranger than the exaggeration or the outright fiction.

Which is what happened a few weeks ago: my daughter had gone out of town to find shoes for Sweethearts. Her date was taller than her and she was hoping, just this once, to be able to wear heels to a dance. And since women’s shoes in her size are difficult to find, the search, of necessity, expanded beyond the confines of Moses Lake.

The dress was a knee-length green with a purple-sequined waistband — that her grandmother had helped her modify to cover rather more skin than its designers had originally intended. Said grandmother also took her shopping. Else it had been a serious stretch to believe the text conversation I had with her that afternoon, after she’d been gone most of the day, in the midst of what turned out to be something like a 16 hour shopping trip. For one pair of shoes:

Me: Did you find any shoes yet?

Daughter: No. Not one pair in my size.

Me: Uhg

Daughter: But I ran into Michael.

Me: Really?

Daughter: He was at Orange Julius here.

Me: Weird

Daughter: He wants to wear his purple Converse, so I’m thinking I might, too.

Me: You have purple Converse?

Daughter: We found a pair at Fred Meyers. Purple sequins.

Me: Your size?

Daughter: Yeah.

Aside from the unreal chances of a grocery store carrying purple sequined converse in my daughter’s size (really big for a girl), what are the chances your daughter and her date just “happen” to meet up out of town? And that a shopping trip for one pair of shoes can last until after my bedtime? If she hadn’t been with her grandmother and he hadn’t been with his entire family, I’d have been a little skeptical–not that I would have voiced my suspicions, but I’d have assumed the rendezvous was somewhat planned and involved significantly more varied activities than shoe shopping. Which just goes to show how fallible our parental truth meters can be. (Which I could have told you when I was a kid, but which I tend to forget as I age.)

At any rate, yes, she wore purple sequined Converse athletic shoes to the Sweethearts dance. So did her date, in his tux. They were subjected to a breathalyser when they came in the door; whether or not that had to do with their choice in footwear, we’ll never know. I’d post a picture, but I didn’t take one. I heard that another mother did, and I’ve been meaning to pick them up from her for several weeks now. Maybe I’ll share.

Reinventing The Wheel

Child looking out the kitchen window, before he heads off to the bus stop in the semi-dark of  early morning:

Hey Mom, you know what they should make?


Leg coats.

Lathe coats?

LEG coats.

Leg coats? As in: ski pants?

No, like that you could wear every day.


While I’m trying to process this idea, he steps fully into view: dressed in a winter coat, socks, shoes, and shorts.

Uh-huh. Yeah, last I checked, they invented this thing called pants

Fickle Phone

Editor’s note: No, you aren’t imagining things. The following is a rerun from several years ago. I excuse myself for two reasons:

  1. In order to understand my next post, you need to understand this post.
  2. It’s filed under Take-it-Easy-Tuesday, and what could possibly be easier than self-plagiarism?

March 18, 2009

I loathe the pinewood derby.

I know; I know loathe is a strong word.

That’s why I used it.

I would have used the H word, but there are four preschool children sitting on and around my lap who likely would go into shock if they actually managed to sound out any of the words on my screen.

Kimber, we don’t use that word at our house!

What word?

The hate word.

Well, yes. You are right. We don’t say hate to people.

We don’t say itchy, either.


Nope. That’s a bad word.

Yeah. So anyway, the derby.

We’ve had ten cars come through our house in the last few years. We have filed nails, sanded wheels, poured on the graphite, strategically positioned axles and weights; and enlisted the help of fathers, grandfathers, aunts and complete strangers.

Every year, the Lybbert car comes in last.

Every time.

The pep-talk at my house goes like this:

No matter what you do, this car is going to come in last. Even if you were Harry Potter and had no scruples about using your powers to cheat–your car is going to come in last. Every heat, every time.

(Someone came up with this great idea–let’s run the cars in like one thousand heats so every kid in the whole district has a chance to beat the Lybberts’ car several times.)

I tell my kids–just make your car really, really cool. Don’t worry about making it fast. One year my son made a pick-up truck and loaded it with logs. It came in last–but it was cool.

There’s all this lip service paid to the idea of the boys doing the building–but it’s a block of wood, folks! A big, rectangle block of wood. A couple years my kids went at their cars with pocket knives and they did a pretty good job but how many eight-year-olds do you know have that kind of patience? For most parents, unless you are willing to entrust a power saw to your eight-year-old, your options are pretty limited. Volkswagen bus, anyone?

Although–a boy actually did that one year. I saw this sharp-edged, hand-painted monstrosity sitting up there at the top of the track next to our sleek little blue racer and I thought, YesFinally, we aren’t going to be last!

We were still last.

This year we tried an entirely new approach.

We left the car in the box.

It is sitting on my son’s desk right now. One block of wood, four nails, four wheels. I know this because about a month ago when he brought it home we had drama because there were only two wheels and three nails; like the derby Gods didn’t think our cars were bad enough with four. Conscientious mother that I am, I secured replacement parts for him. Brand new even–although I was tempted to just swipe them from last year’s model.

But that’s as far as we got. Last night I got this voicemail. “Hey! This is your den mother calling! We’re down here at the pinewood derby and didn’t want to start without you! Are you coming?” Mercifully I didn’t hear the message until long after the derby was over or I might have been guilted into bringing my son and his block to the race because it’s all about fun, not winning, and stalwart members like us of course support, support, support the program.

The news was probably spreading like wildfire; Oh no! The Lybberts didn’t bring in the losing car this year to cushion the rest of the boys’ egos! Aaaack! What if—what if ours comes in last?

You know the phone call had to be made.

God bless my fickle phone.


Don’t Answer That

Does it ever occur to you that if your deepest, most honest views are forever inaccessible to anyone outside yourself, that maybe everyone else’s are, too?  That none of us really know anyone else at all?

Yes, somebody had a little bit too much think time yesterday. Drove three hours so that a doctor could flip through my chart and ask why nobody has ordered a CT scan yet.

‘Cause they couldn’t have done that without me there.

Not the most productive afternoon ever. I did however, get to eat an entire pound and a half of blueberries all by myself. It’s all about keeping the eyes open and the car on the road. And yes, I ate them unwashed, right out of the carton; if there is something freaky going on in my gut we can blame it on that.

As for Take it Easy Tuesday, can I just observe that a conscious effort at infusing more relaxation and fun into one’s life isn’t really…. fun?

What if there are some people who really just don’t enjoy kicking back? I’m afraid that my idea of a good time involves doing.

That’s not to say I don’t take whatever shortcuts I can:

  1. I refuse to wash my car.  What difference does it make if I spend twenty hours or zero hours a year cleaning it? It’s not like I eat off the hood. I can’t see the outside of my car when I’m in it, and when I’m not in it, it’s hidden away somewhere in the great outdoors. You’re the only one who will benefit from it’s sparkling beauty, and I don’t really care what you think. (I know, I know, supposedly there is something about corrosion involved, but I really couldn’t care less if I drove a rust bucket because when I’m in it I can’t see it…..etc…)
  2. Ditto the inside of my oven. Whatever is on the inside of my oven affects the quality of my life how? I don’t spend time admiring the insides of it, and if some previous spill is scorching, I either scrape it out or wait until it burns off–depending on the volume of smoke issuing therefrom. Isn’t the basic principle behind a self-cleaning oven?
  3. I don’t own clothing that needs ironing.
  4. I don’t have any body piercings or own any jewelry. Just think of all the time I haven’t spent organizing, looking for, putting on or taking off the stuff over the last 35 years. And yes, this is absolutely a principle of time management for me. Flat out don’t have time for ornamentation. A wedding ring is my one concession.
  5. Ditto elaborate systems of clothing coordination. I have shirts and I have pants. They pretty much all go together.
  6. I don’t make my bed. Mostly because the Mr. always has. But I can’t guarantee that I would start, should he go on strike.
  7. I almost never answer my phone; if it’s important, you’ll leave a message.
  8. Take a look at my yard; this is a shortcut I’m not proud of, but it’s one of those straws that I simply cannot get my back under without the danger of a serious breach developing.
  9. I may or may not have read any of the assigned chapters in my last literacy class. Seven hundred pages of fine print about developing literacy curriculum for grades I will never teach? And even if I was, I’d never remember anything then that I read now. I have the book; I know where to find the information should I ever need it.
  10. I don’t sort my silverware. I take the basket out of my dishwasher, and I dump it into the drawer. What? You can’t visually pick out the difference between a spoon, a fork and a knife at one glance?
  11. Ditto my children’s socks. If you want your socks to match–you sort them.
  12. And just in case you think my life is a complete disaster, might I point out that some things are worth organizing; you should see my rolling can shelves. They are the ultimate shortcut–your canned goods organize themselves by expiration date.
  13. I deal with most health problems by ignoring them. Almost everything clears up on its own whether or not you spend hours on end in a clinic waiting room. Which is one of the things I was thinking about during  my drive yesterday. What, really, is all this driving around and bloodletting doing for me? If it weren’t for the itching–which I’m learning to ignore except during the most mind-numbing of meetings–I really do feel pretty normal. Can’t I just go back to my regular life and let my body do its thing? What’s the worst that can happen?
  14. Don’t answer that.


(Yes, that’s right–you see there are three tags on this post? I was out of town yesterday, and tomorrow has already crept into today. Such is life.)

I live in Moses Lake. We have Walmart and Safeway and a bowling alley. When you go to the clinic, you share the waiting room with drooling children, expectant mothers, and eighty-year men.

The population can’t possibly support specialized medical departments.

Yesterday, I visited a town that can. And as I passed through frosted glass doors that slid open and shut with Star-trek-ish pneumatics, and walked the marble halls, I thought to myself, Were I very young or very old, this would be a frightening place. As the elevator rose silently to the fourth floor I was a little disconcerted to realize that I was old enough to do this thing on my own.

I am a middle-aged woman with a driver’s license and the ability to read a map and ask for directions. I can draw my own conclusions about proposed tests and treatments. Indeed, I am certain that if I had an elbow partner commenting on the close feeling of the halls or the space-age decor or the fact that everyone else in the waiting room is clearly over the age of eighty, I would want to side tackle them into the glass of the floor-to-ceiling windows.

They say one of the symptoms of liver disease is irritablity and anger. (We’ll blame it on that.)

Although. I’m not angry, as I sit there.

I am glad to be on my own.  I do  text my daughter. There isn’t anyone else in this entire clinic under the age of seventy.

Does it smell like old people? she asks.

And really, that is about as much input as I want from the outside world; from the world in which I live. This clinic business is in another dimension. I am escorted to a tiny cubicle with a sweeping view of the valley and am left even more alone. I sit in the afternoon sunshine, alternately reading up on Hymes sociolinguistics theories and nodding off.  I stand and shake off my sleepiness and stretch. When the door clicks open, I am face to face with the doctor and he is startled.

“You look very healthy,” he finally says. He grips my hand for a long moment, as if to reassure himself that I am not a figment of his imagination. I should be hunched over in the corner chair, peering at him with yellowed eyes, not confronting him in the doorway.

But that’s the thing: I am young and I am strong and I am healthy. The test results and my symptoms and the me that is reduced to raw data on the screen do not add up. If I were eighty-years old, he tells me, he would put blinders on and go straight for the big guns, but those tests are intrusive and expensive. And so I will be returning frequently over the next few weeks as we rule out everything else, one possibility at a time.

As I drove home, I was surprised at my equanimity. Possibly, it came as a result of sitting there in the midst of dozens of people three times my own age, and feeling my own vitality. I am young and strong–whatever ails my parts, it cannot take away my aggregate power to make these choices for myself, to live every day to its fullest and love important people. And also from an assurance that no matter how long the road, I will have the strength to walk it, with an elbow-partner of my choosing or without one at all.

I came home and took the family out for pizza; it was Tuesday, after all.  And in a town our size, on a Tuesday night, that means we had the place pretty much to ourselves (minus the family with really bad taste in Jukebox selections). We poked fun at the silent commentators on the muted television and drank slightly odd tasting soda and took our leftovers home in aluminum foil. And we are happy–in this close little world we have created for ourselves–mother, father, children, untouched by war or violence or hunger.  It is a strange and blessed life and I find myself smiling at unexpected moments.

God bless America–its little towns and its big ones and all the beautiful open country in between, with its conveniences and troubles and schisms of voices. I could not live this life in any other place on earth, and I am grateful for it.

Fiesta Is Officially Over, Buddy

Speaking of taking things easy, I found this in the backpack of my youngest child the other night:

“Please Study” is right! Obviously the kid didn’t even look at his spelling words. Forget the atrocious handwriting, if he’d looked at the words even once, he’d have known that most of them ended the same way. There were also several untouched homework packets in there and a couple notes from who-knows-when.

I sat there at my kitchen table, staring at the tangible evidence of parenting gone all wrong and wanted to weep. Mostly because I don’t know where all that time went. It feels like he brings home a new packet every other day and here it’s been a good month since he returned even one. I emailed his teacher and it turns out he’s been missing class celebrations and all sorts of things at school because of this. Which, let me point out, I agree with. But still, I can’t imagine how humiliating that must feel–to be the kid kept in at recess, or missing out on the party or getting back a spelling test in which you spelled three words right!! I’d have wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

Somebody’s after-school social schedule is about to become severely restricted.

Whatchya Got Cookin’?

My grandfather had this song he used to sing. When he came in from the barn or back from town he’d frequently meet Grandma with this refrain: “Hey, Good Lookin’, Whatchya got cookin’?”  Frequently he dropped the tune and just swaggered in all bowlegged with the question itself–for his wife, his daughters, and his granddaughters–it became somewhat of a standard greeting from him.

One day early in June of 1980, our home out on the Kimball farm burned to its foundations. Grandpa arrived after the house was long gone and Grandma was standing in the yard with the neighbors, sort of shell-shocked, watching it burn. He came up behind her, put his arms around her, and began to sing in her ear, “Hey, Good Lookin’, Whatchya got cookin’?”

That is so my grandfather. He could watch his every possession go up in smoke and come away with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart. No wonder she loved him. Still does; always will; and so do we.

That’s Garth and Jean Forsyth on their wedding day. That dress survived the fire thirty one years ago. I believe it was in a bureau the neighbors dragged out the front door; the well was dry and the house was doomed, and so they rescued what they could.

Of all the people in all the world who know how to both work hard, and still “take it easy”, my grandparents are the pros. They raised 11 children and took care of a large farm and never ran themselves into debt to do it. Grandma knew how to sit on the front patio and watch the world breathe after chores were done, and Grandpa never wasted a moment I ever witnessed on sadness or regret.

He was a wiry little cowboy and she was a nanny and a cook for the ranch hands when they met. They built a life together that surpasses all they ever expected those early years, I’m certain. Of just great-grandchildren alone there are 97–all of them born in the last sixteen years or so, and more on the way. I am responsible for numbers 3, 6, 11, 20, 30, and 43.

Early on the morning of September 27, 1999, when #20 arrived, my grandparents were on their way back to Canada after my sister’s wedding here in Moses Lake. I saw Grandpa’s hat  first, as he swept it off his head, and then his lopsided grin and one raised eyebrow as he entered the delivery room. “Hey, Good Lookin’, Whatchya got cookin’?” he asked.

My grandparents never made it to my graduation or my wedding, or any of the births of my other children–and I didn’t expect them to–we live far from home and I never have been good at planning anyone else’s schedule  into my life, but it was a precious moment to have them there that morning.  And somewhere in the back of my mind, in the center of my heart, there is a voice that asks me continually, no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, if what I have on simmering on my back burner and on my plate would make Grandpa proud of what I’ve “got cookin'”. Because you know he’s going to ask, and I want him to look upon my efforts with as much joy as he did that early September morning eleven and a half years ago: