Thursday, April 30, 2009

Love Thursday: What Might Have Been/What Will Be

For my son Joseph. It's been nine years since you came and left but I have been missing you, my sweet baby.

What Might Have Been/What Will Be

You might have been bright and social, like your big sister.
You might have been insightful and funny, like your big brother.
You might have been gregarious and sensitive, like your younger brother.
You might have been cuddly and sweet, like your younger sister.
You might have been tall and dark-haired, like your Daddy.
You might have been goofy and thoughtful, like your Mommy.
You might have been many things--carried many traits, but we never had the chance to know.

Instead, we are left with memories; memories of your perfectly-formed, but still little body.
Instead, we have pictures; pictures of long fingers, rose-petal lips and a downy cap of light-colored hair.
Instead, we speak of what we knew of you.
Instead, we speak of might-have-beens.
Instead, we remember and love.
Instead, we look forward in hope, to seeing you again someday--fully formed, fully realized, fully beautiful.

Rest easy in the arms of Jesus, my beautiful boy.

**Comments are still broken. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Little Crafty: Before and After

Got a few things to show you today! Remember this picture frame that I found with various other things at my new favorite store Goodwill? The frame has been painted for quite a while, but I finally found just the thing to go inside it and I hung it over the weekend. I'm quite happy with it. I think it looks great against the yellow.A closer look:
The frame isn't hanging crooked, the photographer (me) just didn't line things up very well. It doesn't show up very well in the photo, but I didn't do the best sanding job before I sprayed it and so now little spots of silver can be seen all over the frame, but I didn't fix it because I liked the effect. Huzzah for happy accidents! (Which has been a nickname for my fourth child upon occasion...Kidding! Kidding! [sort of]) With the silver shining through, it matches the knobs and drawer pulls in the kitchen even better.

Next up, you may ooh and ahh over my mad crafting skillz, yo.

I found these small canvases--they're 2x2--and decided to spell out our family name on them to make a small wall hanging.I found a font I liked and was going to print it out, cut it out and trace it, but due to reasons much too tedious to go into, I ended up copying the font free-hand.See my old-looking-but-no-longer-dandelion-stained hand? That's to give you an idea of scale. (Okay, it's for my mom, who is wonderful, but simply cannot picture things in her head.)

Then I traced it with my beloved Staedtler pens. Pen. No "s". I mean, I have more than one, but I only used one--a black one--to trace. (Truly, I should not post first thing in the morning...)

Next, I filled in the letters. I wound up going over them again with a Sharpie for a little better coverage. I didn't want to be too hard on my beloved Staedtler.

I found these at Hobby Lobby and spray painted them black. (natch)

I used my glue gone to affix the letters and wood appliques to ribbon. Then I got all fancy with my hanger. I used a tab from a Diet Coke (Oh, how I love thee, Diet Coke!) can.

Use what you have, right? And hoo boy! Have I got a few of those around here!

Then, um, I hung it on the wall in the family room. The greeeeeeen family room. (I still luurrve it.)It's a little lonely up there right now. But I'm sure I'll find or make something to keep it company.

So there you have it. Don't hate me because I'm evah so crafty. Or whatever...

** Comments are still broken, but we may be very near fixing them. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email. Thanks!

Monday, April 27, 2009

"Sunflowers"-- A New Look

When I really focused on them, they were quite pretty and intricate. I need to look at things from a child's point of view more often. It seems my four year old's vision is not nearly as clouded as mine. She is able to look with clear eyes and make honest declarations right from the heart. I may be teaching my children many things, but if I'm really observant and open-minded, my children can teach me many things too.

**Comments are still broken, but you may comment or contact me via email. Thanks!

Turning Over a New Leaf, er, Napkin

After reading over at Meredith's blog awhile back, I decided to try two new (to me) ideas: use cloth napkins and make a few simple changes to make my dinner table a little more pleasing.

She recommended a few simple things to make sharing a meal a little more appealing. For instance, using serving dishes for each dish. It sounds simple, I know, and perhaps I was the only mother serving her yogurt and cottage cheese and butter out of their original containers, but a little light bulb went off in my head.

"Perhaps," I thought, "my children will behave less like rabid weasels at the dinner table if it looks nicer." I also wanted to give this a try because my husband works very hard so that I can stay home and I reasoned that it wasn't all that much more work to wash a few extra dishes that might not fit in the dishwasher if it meant a more pleasant experience for him.

The first night I did this, my children asked me who was coming over to eat dinner with us. I mentally cringed because, really, how sad that I make more effort for company than for my family! I explained that this was what the dinner table would look like from now on because a) I thought they were worth the extra effort, and b) someday they might dine with the Queen of England and I couldn't have them behaving like rabid weasels among royalty.

My husband has mentioned several times that the table looks nice and that he's enjoyed eating his meals this way. Now, he never complained before when I served things from the container and if I suddenly went back to my slovenly previous ways I don't think he would complain. But the fact that he even noticed the change, let alone commented on it is all the motivation I need to continue. Many of you will understand this, because if you are like me, you could move furniture, paint a room, or shave yourself bald and it would barely elicit a response. In Man Speak, he was practically jumping up and down and squealing!

As for my rabid weasels children, I have noticed that the politeness quotient has risen a bit. (Now their dinner table behavior is more like that of slightly irritated gerbils.) They use "please" and "thank you" more freely and have been using their napkins more than their sleeves. I call this a smashing success!

Part of the change in the table setting routine included using cloth napkins. This appealed to me for several reasons: the table looks nicer, it's better for our budget because we don't use nearly as many paper napkins as before, and it's better for the earth because, well, we don't use nearly as many paper napkins as before.

Switching to cloth has not been a big deal. I found some napkins on sale and I also scored several sets at great prices at Goodwill. Then I just throw them in with my regular laundry. (And I always seem to have a load of laundry to do...) After that comes my favorite part--ironing! Go back and read this sentence but this time, leave out the sarcasm, because truly, there is none intended in that sentence. I am a sick puppy, I know, but I have come to love ironing those cloth napkins. Before you run to look up the number for the loony bin (which by the way will be my retirement home) let me expound upon the virtues of ironing cloth napkins!

First, there is the lovely scent that wafts up to greet you when the steam hits the freshly laundered fabric. Ahhh....heavenly. Then, there is the mindlessly repetitive motions--spray, iron, fold, spray, iron, fold--you don't have to think you just do. It's very Zen. It also helps to do this in front of an open window with a pretty view. Finally, it's a task that gives immediate gratification, because the wrinkles are gone in a hurry and the ironing is not tricky like, say, on my husband's button downs. There are very few tasks in motherhood that give such immediate results. Raising children is a s-l-o-w process, y'all. I'll take quick where I can get it!

So now, a few times a week, I am at the ironing board, sucking in the smells and enjoying myself. And you know what? It's worth it. My family enjoys their dinner more and I get a few minutes of quiet to ponder while smooshing out wrinkles. A very fair trade, I think.

And just so you know, I still hate ironing anything besides napkins. I'm crazy, people, but not that crazy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Have Been Replaced

I left church feeling really good today, but not for any of the reasons that might first come to mind. Oh, the music was worshipful and the sermon was good, but it was something else entirely that made me happy; the woman in front of us had unruly children.

Let me explain. We sit in the back row or very near the back row if at all possible. It's not because we want to sneak out early or because we want to snooze. Often, it's because we are late--which makes me crazy--but it's also because my children have been known to be antsy and cause distractions to our fellow worshipers.

My older two children are 12 and 10 and know how to behave in church. They do behave and often take their younger siblings to task when they are disruptive. My younger two children are 7 and 4 and are definitely coming along in their abilities to sit quietly, follow along when we sing, and participate in the service in general. In fact, it's been a few weeks since I've even brought a quiet activity like pencil and paper or a Magnadoodle to help them sit quietly. But, we have had our share of being the family that people turn around to stare at.

And believe me, they have been disruptive. They've talked too loudly, elbowed each other, pinched, poked, teased, nudged, colored on and just generally been a spectacle. We always apologize to the people sitting around us after the service and for the most part, they have been gracious, telling us they "remember when" or " no problem" or "we can relate."

Our church has a time of fellowship after the service and donuts are involved. A donut is a mighty bribe, people. Do not underestimate it's power. One of the things my kids have come to understand is that having a donut is a bonus--something you get when you sit quietly and participate well in church. It's not a given. They have all missed out on donuts before. Trust me, it is no fun to watch everyone else eat a donut when you've got nothing in front of you. (Although I do a great job every Sunday I only eat a donut about once a year. I ate one today and it was awesome!!)

We've also been known to make use of the "cry room" at the back of the sanctuary and on occasion have even left the sanctuary to "make our point" with the offender in the hallway. My point is, that we try our best to make certain that if our children are being too noisy and disruptive, there is a consequence for that behavior.

All of this brings us back to today and our neighbors in front of us. This young mother had three children. An older girl about 11 or 12 who was quiet and well-behaved throughout the service, and two young boys, I'd put somewhere around 6 and 4. They started out pretty well and when they called out the grade school kids for their own part of the service, the six year old went along. When he came back, however, it was bedlam. The boys were continually crawling over the pew and each other and if they knew how to whisper, they weren't exhibiting that particular skill. But, neither was their mother. Any correction or redirection she gave was in a regular voice--sometimes even a raised voice. She struggled to maintain any type of control, threatened to take away donuts and toys (but never did), and I felt badly for her. I did. I've been there. I know it's embarrassing when your children misbehave in public. But I don't think this woman was embarrassed. She just seemed oblivious. She would let the boys wrestle and poke and then talk loudly to them and they would talk just as loudly back. She never made a move to leave, even though she was right at the end of the row. At one point she was praising her son for going like a "good boy" to the children's service and had him give her a high five. Their hands smacked so loudly that I flinched.

Finally, near the end of the service, she had the younger boy laying across her lap and he seemed to be tiring. With nobody to play with, his older brother grabbed his hand-held video game and started to play--with the sound on!! I think my eyebrows smacked into my scalp they were lifted so high. My husband and I looked at each other in astonishment and then smiled.

As we left the church and headed to donuts, my daughter said "You guys can never say we don't know how to behave in church again!"

Patrick and I looked at each other and grinned. We've been replaced! We are no longer the Greatest Spectacle in Worship-- a title we gladly hand over. And I'm totally calling "No Backsies" on this. I don't ever want that title back.

**Comments still broken. Shoot me an email if you'd like to comment. Thanks!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

There's No Crying in Baseball

There may be "no crying in baseball" as Tom Hanks' character said in the movie "A League of Their Own", but at our house there is much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth before baseball.

Our youngest son is playing baseball again this spring. He has played twice before, once in Fall Ball and once during the regular Spring Season. He was younger then and played in the Rookie Leagues. Well, being the big kid that he is, he's now in the Minors which means that he plays with kids his age and some older than him but the coach is still the pitcher.

When the notices were sent out earlier this year about signing up to play, our oldest son, James declined to play again. He decided that he'd rather focus on his favorite sport of football which he plays in the fall and just enjoy the days until the end of school without having practices or games. Sean, on the other hand, determined that he wanted to play again because he had a good time last year and he especially enjoyed the nickname--"Long Gone Sean"-- that the coaches gave him.

I knew that this meant a commitment from us, his parents, as well. We'd need to outfit him with all of his gear, as he'd outgrown his pants and cleats from last year. We'd have to provide taxi service to and from practices in our old neighborhood, about 15 minutes away. We'd need to attend his games and provide appropriate amounts of enthusiasm and support. These were all things that we'd been through before.

Wanna know what else we signed up for? Yeah, the crying and wailing before EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.

Each and every time we'd tell Sean to go get his gear on (with ample notice given for this transition, I might add) we were met with this response: "I don't wanna go! I HATE baseball! I didn't even wanna play! It's STUPID! I'm not going!!" And each and every time, one of us would say to him: "You ARE going. You made a commitment to this team when you signed up. When you decided to play, you also decided to be at all the practices and games. If you don't want to play next year, you don't have to, but this year the decision is already made. Now go get your gear on."

How does that definition of insanity go again? Oh, yes. I remember. It's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Clearly, we are nuts. We meet that criteria perfectly. Next to the definition of "out of their everlovin' minds" you will find our pictures!

But here is the kicker--once Sean gets to the game, he has an absolute blast. You have never seen a child enjoy himself as much as he does. He's in the dugout chanting with his team. He's laughing with his buddies. He's taking his fielding position with enthusiasm. He runs the bases at full speed. Then afterwards he tells us what a great time he had.

When we remind Sean of all these things we are met with the most frustrating response you can hear in an argument: "SO?!?" It makes no difference what we say, he does not hear us--does not WANT to hear us. So we do mental forehead smacks and soldier on, knowing that he is going to have a good time despite his insistence that he HATES BASEBALL!

So today, and for the rest of the season, we will go watch, we will cheer and we will know with absolute certainty that Tom Hanks is a big, fat liar.

**Comments still broken, but you can shoot me an email if you wish. Thanks!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Photo Friday: Bonus Shot--Wings

Canon Rebel xti 18-55mm lens

Photo Friday: I Love Orange

Canon Rebel xti 18-55mm lens

I love the color orange. I think it is vibrant and full of energy. It makes me feel happy. I have this weird idea where I think of people in colors. My youngest son is orange. He is vibrant and full of energy. Whenever I see orange, I think of him. He makes me feel happy too.

Notice the colors around you and see how they make you feel. Then surround yourself with the ones that make you feel wonderful.

Have a fabulous Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You Don't Want To Be My Neighbor: Reason 9,724

Remember in my last post how Mary was lamenting my neighbor's lack of "sunflowers"? Well, said neighbor's husband put the idea in our heads to pay our children 25 cents a "sunflower" for picking them off before they went to seed. His rationale was that doing so would lead to fewer "sunflowers" in our yard. I know the real truth, however. The dude is into self-preservation. Well, maybe not self-preservation, but verdant green carpet-like lawn preservation--his, not ours, obviously.

My husband thought this was a great idea. I did too, with one small reservation: we'd be depleting our bank account just to rid ourselves of "sunflowers". I countered that perhaps a dime a flower would be better on our pocketbooks.

We broached the idea with the children the other night over dinner. After I told them that we'd pay them to pick "sunflowers", Maggie immediately responded that she "had enough money", thankyouverymuch, and would not be participating in this particular money-making scheme. James and Sean both perked right up at the idea of cash (to be converted immediately into video games) and enthusiastically volunteered their help. Mary, not to be left out, offered her services as well, because she's "really, really good at picking flowers, Mama."

With visions of Little House on the Prairie-esque family cooperation, I decided that on the next nice day, we'd start.

That day arrived today. I decided to go out a bit this afternoon and get started, thinking that as the children came home from school, they'd all jump right in. And here is where I'd like to insert a great big HA!

True to her word, Maggie was not about to lift a finger on this task. She walked back from the bus stop, said "Hi Mommy! Havin' fun?", kissed my cheek and went into the house to find a screen of some sort to occupy her.

Mary flitted in and out of the house alternating between picking random "sunflowers" and delcaring herself the "best flower and weed picker" and stepping on my fingers as she looked for her next victim.

The boys came home from the bus and scared the bejeebers out of me, because by this time, I wised up and put on cruddy clothes and my ipod (Because really, there's just not a better way to pick "sunflowers" than listening to the "party" playlist on the ipod and shakin' my tush. ) and couldn't hear their approach. So when James' feet appeared in my line of vision, I let out a little squeal--okay, a big squeal, but it didn't sound so big to me what with my earbuds in and all...

James offered to help. He said "Um. I'll pick 10 and you can give me a dollar."

Wait, what? Was this our bargain?

"You're stopping at 10?" I asked.

"Yeah, give me a dollar and I'm good," he said handing me his flower heads.

I was still scratching my head over this when Sean, not to be outdone, said "I've picked 11. You can give me 1.10." (Yeah, when money is involved, my kids are math geniuses. Put them in charge of this economy and we'd be turned around inside a week!)

Then they both went inside leaving me to my task and dashing my dreams of being "Ma Ingalls".

Our house sits on about a half an acre. I worked about an hour and a half. I think I cleared about a 1/16th of an acre--and that's probably being generous.

Just in case you think I'm exaggerating, (who, me?) I've included some pictures for your enjoyment.

This is what the grass in the neighbors' yard on the left looks like:And this is what the neighbors' yard on the right looks like:And this is what our yard looks like (this shot is about 1 square foot of many bajillions of square feet in our yard):This is what happens after you pick dandelions. My hands are still stained even after vigorous scrubbing. Now they're not quite so vibrant. They look more like nicotine stains--like I've been smoking 2 packs a day for 40 years. Lovely.

And here, here is my bounty:Anyone know how to make dandelion wine? Because I'm thinking that when I'm finished, my crop could make a cellar's worth.

Also, 10 cents a flower? Yeah, right. More like a penny. My children would have more money than me!

I'm thinking that I just might plop that bag on my husband's desk and ask him to pay up. I have a feeling he'd tell me the check is in the mail.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Mary walked out into our back yard and looked over the prolific blooms of dandelions. She gasped and said, "Mama! Look at all of these beautiful sunflowers! We have so many of them!" Then she looked at our neighbor's yard and her face fell. "Poor Miss Janie! (our lovely neighbor) She doesn't have any sunflowers in her yard!"

I'm thinking that Miss Janie doesn't feel the same despair about that situation that Mary does. However, given the many bajillions of dandelions in our yard, the "sunflower" free status of my neighbor's yard may be changing...


In a related note, yesterday my husband raked up thatch and debris from our poor yard. We bought this home in October. It had been sitting empty for two years. Our new neighbors had taken lawn mowing duties upon themselves in the meantime, but let's just say that the trees, shrubs, and yard are in need of some TLC.

Most of the yards in our new neighborhood are in very good shape. In fact, some of them look like emerald carpet. They practically invite you to walk on them barefoot or lay down on them when no one is looking. (Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.) The homeowners around here either are very gung ho gardeners/landscapers or they hire people to do the work for them. We are neither gung ho nor growing money on trees, so the task falls to us.

Patrick spent the better part of yesterday raking half of our lawn. When it came time to dispose of the mess, he thought of tossing it back into our tree line (which is also rather overgrown) where he had tossed some previous sticks and grasses. I mentioned that we might be inviting critter trouble and we might possibly burn the dry grass in our outdoor fireplace. We had seen one of our upstanding neighbors do this, so I thought it might be acceptable if only slightly illegal smelly.

My sweet husband agreed to try it and was met with enthusiasm by three young boys(my two plus a neighbor) eager to act as his "firefighters." Their job was to keep the hose handy and douse any sparks that landed outside of the fireplace.

This was like turning Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie loose with a firehose. Yes, folks, hilarity ensued. They squirted everything. But! They were very responsible. Those sparks barely hit the ground before one of them would yell "OH SNAP!! Get that fire out!" or "Oh!DUDE!! Give me the hose, we've got a hot one over here!"

I watched them and laughed. Then I simultaneously cheered and feared for our future when someday these dudes grow up.


Mary got into the bathtub the other night and the water must have been a little too hot because just as she sat down she yelped "AHHHH! My biscuits are burnin'!"
Why yes, I did nearly swallow my tongue. Why do you ask?


Goodwill has become my new BFF. I'm thinking of writing some new posts under the title "Goodwill Hunting" about some of the things that I have found there and either refurbished or repurposed. We'll see...

We are still trying to get the comments fixed. I'm going to owe someone some chocolate chip cookies for helping me out. These cookies are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had (if I do say so myself.) and maybe someday, I'll post the recipe for them.


I heard someone on television say "orientating" and it made me scratch my head. Is that really a word? I had always thought it was "orienting" as in "They were orienting their positions toward the fireworks display" (Okay, so that wasn't a great sentence, but you get my gyst.) If it's not a word, then this makes me crazy, this inventing forms of words. I once heard a newscaster say "We're efforting to get more information" and I had to clap my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming at the television screen. I know that the reporters are often on the spot and have to think on their feet, but come on! Efforting?!? Seriously?

Come to think of it, even if "orientating/orientate" is a word, it still makes me crazy. It's just awkward and I don't like it.

How 'bout you? Got any words or phrases that are misused or overused that make you want to hurl heavy objects at gently correct people when they say them?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photo Friday: Unfurling

Unfurl your winter-
tight buds; reveal the hidden
beauty kept within.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Easter Cautionary Tale: Part II

This is what happens when you annoy the person who is in charge of hiding your eggs:
This is what happens when the person hiding your eggs thinks you are cute and funny:
If you are lucky, some sweet soul will take pity upon you and retrieve the egg that was "hidden" 6 feet over your head.
The moral of this story is this: Be nice. You never know who will be hiding your eggs.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter Mr. Zebra: A Cautionary Tale with Pictures

Hello, Mr. Zebra. Prepare to die.

This man has been waiting many, many years to see you meet your grim fate. He is excited to see you come to your wretched end, Mr. Zebra.

See how this man is dancing a jig while he strings up Mr. Zebra? Oh, the joy!!

How's the view from up there, Mr. Zebra? Any last words? Perhaps a scream of terror before we release the beasts? No? Okay, then Mr. Zebra. You will now experience a bit of the pain you have inflicted on so many others in your career.

Yes, we are teaching our children to follow in a grand Easter tradition of beating an effigy senseless. Because nothing says "Happy Easter" like a dead Mr. Zebra.

The fatal blow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love Thursday/ Photo Friday: He Lives!

Bradford Pear blossom, shot with Cannon Rebel, 18-55mm lens

"...when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him..." Mark 16:4-6

What better example of love for a Love Thursday post than the Greatest Love mankind has ever known?

Alleluia! Christ is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter, everyone.

A Little Crafty, A Lotta Spray Paint

I've been busy with a new craft project lately. I learned how to make coasters from napkins and tile. (Hey, that sounded kinda MacGyver-ish. Someday I will blog the story of how I learned to start my car using a paper clip. For real--I did!) I've made a few sets so far. Some for me and others for hostess and teacher gifts. This is what I've made so far:

The sets on the bottom are for me. The polka dot set is for my mom. It's a cheap inexpensive project and I think the results are pretty nice. I just found some really cute napkins at Tuesday Morning so I will be making more in the very near future.

I have also been having a love affair with Goodwill and spray paint. So far I've found frames and made 2 bulletin boards--one small for under the cabinets in the planning desk area of the kitchen(here's the before and after of the small bulletin board) and a larger one for near the pantry. I've also refurbished some tins that I had and will use them in my pantry. And then, I found a tray that I just love. When I found it--and I should have taken a before picture--it was Kelly green. Just no. So my beloved spray paint and I painted it black.

Then, I found a chair for Maggie's room that will hopefully someday be paired with a desk. We are going to paint it "wild" to match in her room. The picture frame has a date with some spray paint, then I have other plans for it. I'll post the after when it's done. The metal basket/planter thingy will be next in line for paint and it may be used in my pantry project. The little white towel rack will meet the spray paint as well. Then I think it will find a home in my laundry room.

Come back later as I'm posting again today for a combined Love Thursday/Photo Friday since I'll be unavailable to post over the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


There is a turf war going on in my neighborhood, but it's not between the Jets and the Sharks or even the Crips and the Bloods. It's much more serious. Feathers are flying, people.

It seems that the Chickadee that started moving into the birdhouse in our yard is having a property dispute with a Sparrow. The Chickadee, who was moving in first and would seem to have ownership is fighting fiercely, but it seems to be an uphill battle. The Sparrow is squatting. It's totally not the Sparrow's house, but he's moving in anyway.

I've been watching the battle through my kitchen window over the last few days. Both birds are working furiously to gather materials and build their nests. The Chickadee will arrive with a few choice pieces of dry grass, look about alertly and then hop from branch to branch, finally depositing his treasure in the birdhouse. Then he'll fly away for more.

Meanwhile, Squatter, the Sparrow arrives with his twigs and boldly enters the birdhouse. Then he pokes his head out only to encounter a hopping mad Chickadee who twitters and flits wildly about Squatter's head. Squatter blithely ignores the smaller bird and takes his time coming out. Then they both fly away to gather more nesting supplies and it starts all over again.

I don't know who will win. Pick a side and let me know who you think will come out on top in The Battle of the Birdhouse. Stay tuned, I'll let you know the outcome.


Mary is in school this week. What's that noise? Oh, I know--silence! My eardrums are jumping up and down. (What, don't your eardrums jump?)


My comments are still broken and I am wildly frustrated. GGGAAHHHH!!!


Tilly is going in to the groomers tomorrow for a bath and nail trimming. Normally, I give her a bath, but since we are visiting family for Easter, I decided that she needed to smell better than she does when I'm done bathing her.

When I'm done giving her a bath she smells like clean, wet dog. After she dries, she smells like clean dog. Now, that's fine because she is, after all, a dog. But when she gets a bath from the groomers, she smells like raspberries! And nothing says "Hello! Happy Easter!" like a dog who smells like raspberries, right? Plus, she gets a bandanna around her neck, so you know--that's her new Easter Outfit.


I am my father's liquor supplier. He drinks Three Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's. He doesn't have a Trader Joe's near where he lives--one of the trade-offs of small town living--so unless he wants to drive to St. Louis, Chicago or Indy, he relies on me to bring him his fix. Yes, I am an enabler.

I just made my father sound really bad in that last paragraph. Not my intention, I assure you. His cases of wine last a very long time. MUCH longer than they would around here, probably. He drinks one glass a day and someday, I want to be just like him, because he has his glass at about 3 in the afternoon. That's school dismissal time around here. Which is EXACTLY the time I would enjoy a glass of wine. I refrain, however, because I am a Responsible Parent of Young Children. Sigh...I need to retire.

Yesterday as I was out running errands my cell phone rang and it showed my dad's number. My dad isn't a big conversationalist on the phone. My mother and I talk every day. Occasionally, my dad will get on the phone and say hello and find out what's going on--usually when my mom hands him the phone and tells him to talk. So when my dad's number registers on my phone, it's either to tell me that someone is ailing or dying, or he wants me to pick up his booze.

It's okay. He shows his love for me in other ways. Plus, I know he's really good about sharing. Get me a trough ready, daddy, I'll be seeing you soon.


How did this house go from neat and clean on Saturday to the Pit of Despair today? The children that live here are undisciplined slobs. My real children (you know, the ones I was having before I actually had children--those perfect little figments of my imagination) are neat and clean and pick up after themselves and never sass me. I wonder if those children are looking for me. If you see them, would you tell them I'm looking for them too?

I'll be right here. Under this pile of dirty laundry.

Monday, April 6, 2009

King of Hypotheticals

My eldest son James has always been a thinker. He looks at things from different angles, questions, argues, and then questions some more. This is not to say that he is argumentative, because generally, he isn't. Of all of my children, he is the one who most often knows when to be quiet. But, he has always asked "what if" and "why does" and "do you think" types of questions.

When he was little, around 3 or 4, he would ask things that I could generally answer. Typical questions like: "Why is the sky blue?" or "Do you think that T. Rex was the strongest dinosaur?" Eventually, as he grew, these questions grew and evolved with him. Some were serious: "Why did we have World War II?" "What if we never had to sleep?" Others bordered on the ridiculous--a hint of things to come: "Who do you think would win in a fight, a wooly mammoth or a saber toothed tiger?"

Almost always I was able to answer these questions in a way that made sense for him at the time. And if I couldn't, I did what most responsible parents would--I told him to do some research and find the answer or offered to help him research the answer, or I pointed him in the direction of someone who could answer the question. Also, sometimes, I did what irresponsible parents do--namely, I lied, made up, embellished or otherwise constructed an answer that would PLEASE GOD shut him up for a while...

This leads up to my favorite hypothetical of all time (so far). This weekend we were in the car driving by the resevoir that we live near. We were driving over a bridge when James, seeing the expanse between the opposite shorelines, posited this doozy: "Mom, do you think that when Ben Franklin was young, he could've swam across that lake?"

As I was rolling around several answers in my head, and getting ready to respond with the winner("Um...what now?) my youngest son, Sean, beat me to the punch. Laughing, he said, "I think James thinks you're old enough that you would know that! You know, like you were around when Ben Franklin was young!"

At that, both boys erupted in guffaws and hoots of laughter and I was left nonplussed. I did tell James that in the future, he could start asking those questions to his father. Hmph.

**Still trying to fix comments!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Photo Friday: The Perfect Hobby for Me

ornamental grass in our back yard, Canon eos Rebel xti 18-55mm lens

I am a kinesthetic learner. There are many things I understand by seeing/reading or hearing, but I pick things up best when I can actually do them--preferably with a guide of some sort to aid me along and keep me from completely falling flat when I inevitably mess up. This is my approach to many things I want to learn: read a little about it and decide that I've read enough, I can do______. Then jump right in (usually only half-way prepared) and figure out that I don't actually know enough about ______ and so then I have to figure out how to finish what I've started. (Hmmmm....after having just read that, perhaps I should place my name next to the word "impulsive" in the thesaurus.)

This isn't a bad approach, really. After all, it causes me to think more creatively and theoretically it makes me more sensitive to my children when they do the exact same thing. I've exploded that theory about a bajillion times however, and get exasperated when my children do the exact same thing because Hey! Don't they know I am trying to show them exactly how to do _____?? Don't they trust me? Don't they know I'm a great teacher? Apparently not. Ahem.

So applying this approach to the things I want to learn in life has resulted in some utter failures, but it has also been the perfect way to learn others--photography, for example. I've read some, and I've listened some, but really, the best way for me to learn to take pictures is to, well, take pictures! Ahhh....theory nirvana!! Plus, with the advent of the digital age, it's pretty darn hard to mess up. You take a bad picture? Erase it! Would that the rest of my mistakes-both in the past and those surely yet to come--be so easily handled!

I now wander around with my camera and take lots of pictures. I take it with me just about everywhere, because who knows when a great opportunity will arise? And sometimes, sometimes, I take a picture that makes me proud and think that I just might be learning.

Edited to add: comments are not currently working. I am trying to fix this as soon as possible.