Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Say 'Bidet', I Say 'Let's Not Talk About This Anymore.'

Last Thursday, I was visited by an old friend. I have known Jill since we were both about three. Our mothers were good friends and Jill says we were "forced friends." But that "forced friendship" grew into an actual one, and even though she moved away when we were about 12, we have kept in touch over the years. We were attendants in each others weddings and I am the Godmother to her oldest son. We used to talk on the phone much more than we do now, because between us we have seven children and Jill has an insanely busy travel schedule for her job. But even though our communication has dwindled to Christmas cards and the occasional Facebook conversation, I think we still value each other deeply. In fact, we both have only older brothers, and I think we look at each other through a sisterly lens. So when she sent me a message letting me know that she'd be in town and wondering if I was available, I knew that I would do whatever it took to see her. It has been at least ten years since we've laid eyes on each other. Even as I type that, I realize how very wrong that is and that I must work harder to rectify that.

Jill is like my son Sean, in that she has never met a stranger. You are immediately drawn to her. She is open and friendly and funny and loud. So you might imagine how Mary reacted to her. She was very skeptical at first, looking at this tall woman who showed up on my doorstep, gave me a big hug and then said,"Oh quick! Show me your bathroom, I have to pee!" Let's just say that Mary hid behind my leg for a bit. But after a while, she warmed up and was giving it to Jill with both barrels. "I think you're older than my mom," (oh yeah, Mary, you are my favorite!) and in response to Jill's question asking her which of her cousins was her favorite, Mary responded, "Um, I think Jill--my cousin Jill. NOT YOU!"

After we had visited for awhile, Jill was telling us about her last business trip. She had just returned from Japan--her first trip there--and was still trying to overcome jet lag more than a week later. She told Mary in a very animated tone that she found lots of interesting things there, but her very favorite was the bidets.

"Do you know what a bidet is?" Jill asked.

Mary, by this time, was sharing a couch with Jill and had decided that she could stick around. She responded by shaking her head "no."

Jill then launched into an explanation of what a bidet is and how they work and how the bidets in Japan are incorporated into the toilet. She told all of this information like she was telling a bedtime story. She explained that bidets were everywhere--hotels, fancy restaurants, even McDonald's. She told us how she checked out tons of bathrooms to rate their toilet/bidets, and took her camera into them to take pictures because she thought they were so funny. Mary was alternately captivated, embarrassed, and horrified. Even I was under the spell, sitting in rapt attention while Jill was explaining how there were buttons for nature sounds for the toilet user who might have a little, um, "stage fright." When Jill finally came to the point in her story about how there was a little dryer on the toilet that would come out and dry your bottom, I was about at my limit watching Mary take it all in. I was shaking with laughter.

Mary smacked her hand against her forehead after hearing that last little tidbit and looked at Jill and said, "That's inappropriate!"

Jill and I looked at each other and split our sides laughing. I wondered aloud if perhaps the adults in the room had a problem with the filters between their brains and their mouths and mentioned that perhaps the fact that a five year old had to remind the 40-somethings about the appropriateness of the conversation was an indictment upon both our maturity and our parenting skills.

From that point on, every new talking point had us asking whether we were being appropriate. It was quite fun. And Mary, after all of that, decided that Jill was definitely someone she liked and even hugged her hard around her neck before she left. Jill proclaimed all of my children handsome and beautiful, but she told me that Mary was part of her tribe.

It was a whirlwind visit--not nearly long enough to talk as much as we wanted. But it was good to steal a few hours and laugh and reminisce and catch up. Even if the conversation was inappropriate.

Come back soon, Jill. Mary says that I am boring compared to you. And no wonder! You are so worldly, what with your intimate knowledge of bidets and such...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Says So On The Calendar

Fall is here, folks. It says so on my calendar. And now, finally, it even feels a bit like it when I step outside. Autumn is, by far, my favorite season. I love the still-warm days and crisp nights. I love having a fire in the back yard. I love cooking various foods on sticks. I love watching football games--both those of my son and of professionals. I love finally getting back into my jeans after a summer of shorts and giving my sandal-weary feet a break with actual shoes. I love sweatshirts, the smell of fires, the changing color of the leaves, and just generally getting ready to cozy up.

I am not, however, a big fan of Halloween. I don't decorate much for it, although many of my neighbors go all out. (Big surprise there, eh?) But I do like to decorate for fall. I enjoy the changing over from the lighter, cooler colors of summer to the warmer colors of fall. I like to add more candles around the house. I like to bring out my little pumpkins. I like to buy and then kill mums. It's an unintentional, but annual tradition for me. It'll just be one more way that I can make my neighbors continue to feel just a bit superior to me. That's me. I'm a giver.

Last year, when we moved into this house, there were many, many more things on my mind than fall decorating. Things like: laying 800 square feet of hard wood flooring, unpacking 60 bajillion boxes, registering my children for a new school, homeschooling my daughter, and figuring out how to cook for a family of 6 with a kitchen that was torn apart. But this year, things have calmed down enough for me to be able to enjoy fall a little. We still have a To Do List for this place that is as long as my arm, but at least now I know where my fall decorations are. Last year I would have just waved in the general direction of one of the enormous mountains of moving boxes and said, "Um, I think they're in one of those boxes...over there...somewhere..."

So this year, I was able to do this:I found the little scalloped edge stand at Goodwill and sprayed it and put a little dollar store pumpkin on it along with some berries that I found at Michael's. The tray is a cheapy little thing also from Goodwill that I painted with chalkboard paint.

And collect these branches and grasses from my yard and arrange this:

Then I was able to buy a couple of candles and some pretty ribbons and stuff and make these:

And when I saw this glass candleholder/vase thingy on a Goodwill trip, I knew that I wanted to do this:

I'm not done just yet. There are a few more things that I want to put around the house or rearrange for fall, but this is a start. And now that the weather is finally starting to match up to what the calendar says, I don't feel so strange about it.

But you still won't see any ghosts or ghoulies in my yard. That's okay. I'll leave that to my neighbors.

Monday, September 28, 2009


At school the other day, the teacher I work with was reading a book to the children that explained the trinity using an apple. At one point, the book talked about having faith in Jesus, and the teacher went on to explain what that meant. Then she asked the children (four year olds) to raise their hands if they believed in Jesus. Every little hand went up. Then, one little girl said very excitedly, "I believe in Jesus!" And in the very next breath she said, " And I believe in fairies too!"

It was all I could do to not snort out loud and fall off of my chair. The teacher and I could NOT look at each other, because we knew that we would lose it. It was a fabulous way to end class. Oh how I love four year olds!


Sean has been having some "issues" at school lately. You see, my wee bonny Sean, is also a wee bit social. And by "wee bit" I mean "has never met a stranger." Once, when he was about three, he dressed up in a party hat and came up to me and said, "Look at me! I'm a party!" Can I just say that truer words have never been spoken?

Since preschool, Sean has had "issues." Now these are not serious, just the usual thing that plagues the very social child: he talks too much, he often doesn't listen as frequently or as carefully as he should, he is all about the fun. As you can imagine, this doesn't play well in most classrooms. So when teachers set down their rules and discipline policies at the beginning of the school year, we sit down with our Seannie-boy and go over them. We inform him of our expectations and let him know what the consequences will be if he doesn't meet the expectations.

In his current classroom, each student has a folder that must be looked at by a parent and signed nightly. If there is a check mark on a day, it means that the child was given several warnings about something and still didn't comply. The teacher has an abbreviation next to the check, which describes the area where the child was having difficulty--AL means Active Listening, SC stands for Self-Control, etc. At our house, if a child gets a checked folder, or some other communication from school stating that they aren't meeting expectations, they know that they will be grounded.

Now I don't know what grounded looks like in most people's homes, but in ours it looks like Bedrock--as in the Stone Age. There is no phone, no television, no computer, no video games, no handheld anything, and no leaving the yard. Being grounded around here is a big, fat bummer. It is especially hard on my social boy who has a neighborhood posse of boys that he wants to go play with. Sean has faced this particular situation once a week since the beginning of September. And this week, he had two days in a row with checks. Ruh roh.

His dad and I have tried to impress upon him the importance of zipping his lip, but apparently he's still not getting it. On day #2 of being grounded and miserable, and therefore making the others around him miserable, I was hoping that maybe the message was starting to sink in. We want him to know that his actions have consequences and that he is in charge of himself and his choices, so his choices need to be good ones.

So Wednesday night, Sean came downstairs after his "official" bedtime to give us an extra hug. When he hugged his daddy, his daddy grabbed his hands and said, "Hey, I want to talk to you a minute."

"Hey bud, you know that your mom and I love you very much and that you are a good kid. Sometimes you don't make good choices, but we still love you. We mess up too. We will never stop loving you, but we want you to make better choices for yourself. When your buddies are messing around, you can just hold your hand up and shake your head 'no.' Then later you can tell them that you don't want to get into trouble. Save the silliness for the playground. Be a good listener in class. Don't talk when your teacher doesn't want you to. Because, you know, you start out talking in class, or goofing off with your buddies in the bathroom, and the next thing you know, you're on the road to the penitentiary."

At this point, I howled and just about fell off the couch. And then Sean made it worse when he asked quizzically, "What's the penitentiary?"

"Prison!" I cackled. Yes I am totally laughing about my son's road to ruin.

Then Patrick continued, adding fuel to the fire. "You know those guys you see on the news that rob banks or shoot people?"

"Yes," said Sean.

"They all started out getting their folders signed in school," Pat said.

And then I officially died from laughing.

I don't know how things will go with Sean's folder in the coming weeks, but at least years from now when I am passing him cakes embedded with files during official visiting hours, I will be able to pinpoint where it all started going wrong.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Photo Friday: Apple Time

Mary's class had a field trip to the apple orchard yesterday. Despite the drizzle and humidity, making the day feel more like a steamy summer day rather than the crisp autumn day we were hoping for, we had a great trip.

Apples were picked.

The students learned about how bees are necessary to an orchard, then they went into the refrigerator (basically a refrigerated barn) to see how the apples and cider are stored. Mary didn't care for the strong and sweet apple smell, but I was ready to borrow a jacket and camp out for awhile.

Then it was off to see how cider is produced. It was loud. Can you tell? This pose that she's holding? That's how she spends all of July 4th.

After sampling some cider, the kids hit the playground. They ventured through a hay bale maze, ran through a tunnel of morning glories, climbed on a play tractor, clambered on playground equipment, went through corn stalk tunnels and climbed up bales of hay. One of them sat on the hay bale hill and pronounced themselves queen and then sang their own little made up song.

It was a very good day. And I got to visit the orchard store and buy some apples and apple products. That little visit will make for even more very good days as I am picturing warm, juicy, apple-y things in our future.

I love fall!

**For the record, that last picture is a storage crate of nearly 2,000 apples--NOT the purchase I made at the apple store. I love apples, but that many might be extreme, even for me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Love Thursday: Love Searches

Saturday afternoon, my husband bought an outdoor fireplace. We had one up until early summer, when the legs gave way because they were rusted/burned through. I guess you could say we killed it. But it died from our love. We used that thing a lot. In fact, my son James, requested a wiener roast nearly every year for his birthday for about 6 years running. And, since his birthday is in late October--prime time for the roasting of wieners and other foods on a stick--we always obliged. We used it year round. Okay, not in February, when all we want to do is hibernate under the covers. My point is, it got a lot of use and when it died, we wanted another to replace it. So after several months without one and the occasional crisp night already making an appearance, replace it we did.

After threatening my three younger children all day with loss of fireplace privileges if they didn't get their rooms clean, evening finally came and with it clean rooms and bright happy faces at the thought of sitting out around the fire. I was excited too. I had a nice glass of Pinot Noir in my hand and had donned a cozy sweatshirt. I was ready to r-e-l-a-x. Alas, it was not to be.

The rest of the family had already pulled up chairs and were enjoying the heat from the fireplace as I was trying to tidy up and make my way out the door. Tilly had been prancing anxiously back and forth in front of the back door because she didn't want to be left out of the festivities. There was absolutely no meat involved in this particular evening around the fire, but Tilly did not care. She wanted out. As people came in and out the back door, they were all very careful, reminding each other to watch out for the dog. So guess who thought she was being careful?

Did you guess me? You did?! You win the million dollar grand prize. Er, minus the million dollars...

Tilly was out the door before I could grab her collar. I went after her, but not quickly, thinking that she'd stop when she came to one of the children. Wrong. It was dark and she just vanished. And not gradually either. It was like she melted into the night. That's a pretty nifty trick for a tan/yellow dog. But that's what happened.

We got the whistle. We got the dog treats. We got the squeaky ball. We got nuthin'. We walked around the cul-de-sac calling and whistling and squeaking. Pat took off hoping to find her down the street. I sent the children into the cul-de-sac behind our house and then I went into the back yard and called and whistled.

After about 5 minutes, Pat came home and got in his car to look around the neighborhood. The kids and I called and whistled and squeaked some more with exactly the same results. No dog. I didn't want to leave the fire unattended, but I also didn't want to stand around in my backyard, hollering for a dog that obviously was not around to hear us.

Finally after listening to my children grow more and more panicked, I called Patrick and asked him if he thought it would be safe for me to leave the fireplace unattended and take the kids in the van to look for the dog too. He welcomed the help, so the kids and I piled in the van armed with flashlights. I rolled the windows down and slowly drove through the neighborhood calling Tilly's name out the window.

The kids took turns calling the dog. I kept reassuring them that we'd find her. "She's micro chipped," I explained. "Her name and our phone number are on her collar. If someone finds her before we do, they'll call us. Worst case, she'll be picked up without a collar and whoever finds her will have her checked for a chip. It'll be okay."

James called and tried to reassure Sean that everything would be okay. Sean alternated between calling the dog and breaking down in tears. Mary called the dog and offered her things. "Tilly!! Come home! We have your squeaky ball! Come home! We have a cozy bed! We have treats!"

I didn't want to mention the absolute worst case--that a driver wouldn't see her in the dark and that we wouldn't get her back. It was too awful to think about, so I just kept whispering prayers and shouting for the dumb dog.

Patrick and I headed home at the same time; him to get a flashlight and scramble through the trees to check the bajillionaire neighborhood and me to check the answering machine. Nothing.

I climbed back into the van. Now I was worried that we wouldn't find the dog, but I was also worried that I'd be getting a phone call from my husband asking me to come explain to the police just exactly why he was prowling back yards in a gated community with a flashlight. I might have mentioned before that we are Riffraff. Yeah. We totally are.

He called me several minutes later asking me to pick him up outside the gates. I found him by the side of the road and he got in to drive. We decided to cruise the next neighborhood where we'd found Tills before and then we'd head back to our house again to check the phone.

We found nothing, yet again, so we headed back to our house. Neither of us was willing to talk about how long we'd keep the search up, but it was getting late and the kids were needing to head to bed.

As we were heading down our street, we saw some of our neighbors around their own fire pit in their back yard and decided to stop and asked if Tilly had made an appearance. Knowing how she is drawn to people, (Attention Ho) we thought there was a small possibility that they might have seen her. The boys scrambled out of the van to go ask. Patrick and I waited impatiently in the van. Mary sang a song about Tilly. As the boys climbed back in they reported that no one there had seen the dog.

Unsure of exactly what to do next, Patrick pulled away from the curb and drove about two houses down. And then, James yelled "There she is!"

And sure enough, there she was, sniffing the tree in our neighbor's yard, oblivious to anything but the delicious scents wafting up her little doggy nostrils. Pat and the boys clambered out and Tilly wagged and cowered. Oh yeah. She totally knew that she was in trouble. Except that she wasn't. We were much too happy to have found her to scold her. She was hugged and kissed and hugged some more, all the while being bathed in Puppy Talk.

We headed home, gave her a much-needed bowl of water and then tried to proceed with our interrupted evening around the fire. We talked about our scariest moments and thoughts during our search. We talked about how happy we were to have her back and how different life would be without our Silly Tilly around. We talked about how great it was to pull together as a family. I told the kids that as much as I loved Tilly, I loved them even more and if it were one of them that was lost, I would be beside myself and I would never, ever stop looking for them.

We realized later where Tilly must have gone. Our neighbors across the cul-de-sac have two Beagles and no fence. We think that Tilly was probably sniffing around to her heart's content in their yard, showing her facility with selective listening and partial attention, never realizing that she was lost.

As I thought about Tilly later in the week, I thought about how similar I am to my dog. I have often wandered through my life, oblivious to my lostness, paying no attention to Who might be calling for me. I have often demonstrated my own facility with selective listening and partial attention, paying no heed when my Master calls. And just like my dog, I put myself in peril each time I do it--living for the pleasure of my whims. But, I am also like my dog, in that I have Someone who loves me and never stops calling, never stops searching, and welcomes me with open arms when I am finally found.

The things you can learn from your dog, huh? Happy Love Thursday everyone! May you listen for the sound of your Master's voice and feel His welcoming love.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Baaaaaack!

Didja miss me? I sure missed writing. It was, however, a fairly productive week and probably this is something that I'll have to do from time to time.

In the last week I was able to decrapify my house. Okay--not completely. Son #2 is still working on getting the last of his things cleaned up and my teenage daughter's idea of tidy doesn't exactly mesh with mine, so we're at about 80% decrapification. And I'm okay with that, considering we were living in the Pit of Despair before I took some time away from non-essential activities to focus.

Now, at least, I have my kids' school binder organized and can find papers and passwords and important information without having to page through stacks and reams of paper. Now, at leas,t I can walk into the family room without tripping over shoes, toys, blankets, and squishing furry dog hair tumbleweeds.

Now, at least, I have my new dry erase calendar put together and labeled. Now, at least, I have the next month's menus figured out. Now, at least, the bathrooms aren't breeding grounds for the next strain of Ebola virus.

My dining room table is still needing to be cleaned up. It is covered with materials for some of my craft projects. The mudroom still needs to be organized. My bedroom still needs some attention from the Cleaning Fairy. (Does she even exist? I've heard about her, but she's never visited my house. Maybe if I believe harder... I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE!) My laundry, while never "done," (whatever that means!) is still waiting for me to finish folding it. But, at least it's clean and the children don't have to go to school with their dirty shirts turned inside out. Not that I've ever considered that. *ahem.*

So, yes, there is still plenty to do around here, but I feel like I have a better handle on it. It was strange, though, to realize how hard it was for me not to write. This has become one of my better habits. I mean, I still don't know what you all on your ends get out of coming here, sweet readers, but I know what I get out of having this place. I have realized, in my absence, that this blog is a very good thing for me, health-wise. I am able to release pent up stress--even if I'm not writing about what has me stressed. Just having a place to be creative helps. I was also surprised that I was a little bit grumpy that I couldn't write. Well, not that I couldn't, but that I placed a self-imposed restriction on myself. I didn't realize that blogging had become such an outlet for me. I have heard of people who get grumpy when they don't exercise. And suddenly the light bulb went off!! Aha! Those people aren't as crazy as I had once thought! (Okay, they probably still are certifiable. I mean, grumpy if you don't exercise?? That is complete backwards thinking to me. I get grumpy when I do exercise. Which probably explains why my butt is now the size of a small island...) I was probably a little more obsessive about it and spent a little more time on it than I should have, so I'll be making sure that I moderate myself better now that I'm back. Everything in moderation, right?

I am a happy girl, clacking away at the keyboard. I hope you will continue to visit and comment when you do, because those comments help to fuel my writing. And stay tuned, because guess what's coming? Another post about the dog. Y'all are so lucky...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In The Weeds

Y'all. I am in the weeds. Seriously. Between work and sports practices and games and a husband who travels, I am struggling mightily. As much as I hate it, I am going to have to take a week or so and get my life in order.

Seriously. A week. Just to get myself and my family and my home in some semblance of order. That is some kind of frightening. For a gal who likes be in control and doesn't like to have this much disorder in her life, well, let's just say that life around here has been, um...interesting, lately.

And so, as a drastic measure, I am putting myself on hiatus. Hopefully I will be able to post sooner, but I'm calling it a week to be safe. I am severely curtailing any computer time for myself. I am also not allowing myself to read (until bedtime) or enjoy any other pleasing distraction (yes, Goodwill, I am talking to you) until I have achieved some sense of order. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, if you hear a crazy cackling coming from Indiana, you might just want to send chocolate. And wine...

See you next week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Weekendy Things: Part II

After a weekend of testosterone infused sports, I needed some girlie time. And I got it Sunday evening. It was an Estro-fest. My bestest girlfriends (minus one :( ) got together for a coffee-klatch.

Okay, it was more of a wine and dessert-klatch, but whatevah! We got together to celebrate a couple of us who have birthdays this month. A very handy excuse to see each other and consume calorie-laden desserts and laugh until our sides ache.

It is right about here that the water from the Jordan River comes in. One of my friends said, "Guess what I have in my purse?" and before any of us could answer, she placed a little bottle of water on the table. "Water! From the Jordan River!! That Jesus was in!! I want to give you all a blessing," she said. We freely accepted it and then laughed as we reflected on the idea of carrying around a little bottle of water in your purse and how this was a really completely unsurprising turn of events. This particular friend is absolutely like that. You cannot be surprised when she says "Guess what's in my purse?" and then proceeds to pull out a bottle of water from half-way around the world.

That is one of the joys of the friendships I have with these women--their completely different gifts and talents and personalities. They are all so very different from me, and yet I am completely drawn to them for that exact reason. What a wonderful thing!

These dear women have been steadfast in their friendship over the last 10 years. We have been through lots together and don't always get the chance to see each other as often as we'd like. You'd think that as our children age it would get easier, but it doesn't. We have to do some serious calendar finagling just to be able to spend a couple of hours every couple of months together. In fact, it's been a year since I've seen one of these dear ladies. And that is just wrong! You can bet that I will be working hard to remedy that situation!

We all became friends when we attended the same church nearly ten years ago. We all lived in a five mile radius of each other. Our kids were all nearly the same age. In almost ten years time, the church that we once attended ceased to exist and several of us have moved. So now we live in a 30 mile radius, and our children range in ages from college to pre-K and we all attend different churches.

Even so, our friendship has weathered all of this. And that, my friends, is a "God Thing." We try mightily to get together every couple of months, but it's very hard for the five of us to find one time when we can get together.

When the starts align and we are able to get together, the time is cherished. Hugs and news are passed around freely. Laughter is the order of the evening. Sore cheeks are a must. We catch up and it is like time hasn't passed.

I believe it is a very rare thing to find a circle of friends that you can count on without thinking twice. And that is what I have found in these ladies; women who have my back, women who can call my bluff and then catch me when I'm teetering on the edge of that bluff, women who have experienced some of the very things I'm experiencing, and women who never tire in their support and encouragement.

These ladies have given me kind words, fierce hugs, gentle admonishment, steady encouragement, and good chocolate. They have shared tears, laughter, anger, and wine. And the common thread through all of our days has been our shared love for a Savior who loves us more fiercely than we love each other. And that is saying something.

Until next time, my friends. It cannot come too quickly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekendy Things: Part I

I'm baaaaaaack! See? I told you. I am nothing if not true to my word. Except. I'm not telling you everything about my weekend. Remember how I piqued your interest with the whole Jordan River water thing? Well, I decided that since this will be a picture heavy post and the thing with the Jordan River in no way correlates to the pictures I'm about to show, that I would divide my weekend into two separate posts, thereby giving you two distinct snapshots of my weekend and giving me something to post about tomorrow. Since we've already decided that dog hair tumbleweeds are not blogworthy...

Aaaanyway, most of my weekend was spent shuttling sweaty boys to ball fields and then filling their empty stomachs with massive amounts of food because they were starving because they played so hard and I never feed them. Ahem.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of Sean's baseball game. He had a double-header--as he will through out the fall ball season (there go my Saturdays!)--and as I was trying to make my way to his first game, I was also trying to kill a migraine. So I forgot my camera. And then the migraine tried to kill me, so I went home and and crashed in bed for the afternoon. So! Pictures of the slugger after next weekend, perhaps.

I do have pictures of James, however, as his game was on Sunday. And by Sunday I was back to myself again and remembered to bring the camera. This was the first game of the season and he was revved up and raring to go. He is playing center this year and was extremely excited to have his first game and "hit somebody."

So here you have it--the Royals (our team) versus the Eagles.

They had a kid on their team who was a triple striper. Stripes are based on weight. If you have a stripe, you are not allowed to carry the ball. Guess who was lined up against my 93 pound son?

Just to give you a visual comparison between the big boy and another of his teammates.

He was literally head and shoulders above the rest of his team. I think that possibly he was already shaving.

But my son? He took. him. down!

The boys won by a nice margin, 19-6 and just to show that they are still boys, some of them skipped off the field when the game was over. Cracked me up.

The other kids came with me. (Patrick came early when James had to be there and stood on the sidelines while we sat in the bleachers.) Maggie gave a running commentary on the people that walked by or were in the stands with us, while Mary and Sean discovered a whole 'nother world under the bleachers.

I wish every game we go to would have bleachers. It's free entertainment for my younger set, making for a fairly distraction-free game.

Except for when they would sneak under me and tickle my legs and freak me the heck out.

Oh well. It's worth a case of the noseeum heebie-jeebies to be able to watch the game.

Next weekend, we'll have another double header on Saturday for Sean and another game on Sunday for James. Not sure when I'll get my laundry done. We may have to go naked.

Now that would make for an interesting game!

Stay Tuned

I am beat. It was a busy weekend. Filled with, um...busy weekendy type things. I promise, promise, promise to come back and write a little about what I did with myself and why I'm late with my post. It may involve things like sports and desserts and a long-overdue get together with friends.

I know. You are riveted. You cannot wait. Will I pique your interest if I tell you that water from the Jordan River was involved?

Yeah. Come back later. You know you want to...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Love Thursday & Photo Friday: The Combined Post Edition

I am a slacker. There. I said it. I am not ill, nor is anyone in my family. I didn't work on Thursday. I had no big appointments. So why didn't I post? I just told you--I am a slacker! Sheesh, did you forget already?!

Also, I had nothing to post about. Unless, you know, you want to talk about the tumbleweeds of dog hair that are accumulating under my kitchen table. You don't want to talk about that do you? Good, because that's a pretty boring thing to post about. Not to mention kinda gross.

You know what's not gross? Besides George Clooney or Hugh Jackman or my sweet, darling, absolutely hawt husband? The food I made yesterday! It's actually the complete and utter opposite of gross. I believe the food I made yesterday falls under the category of It's So Awesome It Must Be Inhaled While Making Nummy Noises.

You see, this whole back to work thing has thrown me off a little bit. My schedule is wack, yo. I simply cannot get everything done. I mean, I had that trouble before I went back to work, it's just now there's less time for me not to get everything done. If the laundry gets done, the cleaning suffers. If the cleaning gets done, the laundry suffers. If I live in this completely crapified and messy house much longer EVERYONE will suffer! But I digress... My point is, that my family hasn't been feeling much love from me lately.

And so in order to get back into their good graces I stooped to bribery. Bribery of the very best kind--I made them goodies! And, because I love you all, (Yes, even you, stranger/lurker. Yep, that's right. I love you even though you might be reading this in your p.j.'s and have a fabulous case of pillow perm. I love you and want you to keep coming back!) I am going to do what they taught me in kindergarten. I am going to share!

Well, I'm not going to share the actual food, because that could get tricky what with the shipping and the possible food allergy problems. But I am going to do the next best thing: I'll give you the recipes. I know. Generosity is my middle name. (Not really, because that would be weird. Unless I was a Puritan.)

The first little goodie I have to share is one of my all-time favorite things to eat--cucumber sandwiches. And the fact that I used the cucumbers that I grew in my very first garden makes them that much tastier. But if you don't have a garden, your basic grocery store cuke will still taste awesome. See? Don't they look delicious? THEY ARE!!! My son Sean is one happy boy right now, because he loves these almost as much as I do. And here's how you make them:

1 loaf of French bread, sliced. (I try to use a smaller loaf so the cucumber slice doesn't look like a little island in the middle of the bread.)
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 envelope of Good Season's Italian dressing mix
1 cucumber, washed, peeled and sliced
Dill (optional)

Mix the cream cheese, mayo and dressing mix together until well blended and smooth. Spread on the bread slices. Top with a slice of yummy cucumber. Sprinkle with dill. Place on a platter and guard the plate so that you may hoard them all for yourself share with the ones you love.

Next up is a tasty little treat involving marshmallows and caramel. Okay, now. Wipe off your keyboard. Do you need a bib to catch that drool? I found this on One Pretty Thing who has a link to The Big Red Kitchen. And because I haven't asked her permission to copy the recipe, if you click that there link, it will take you to the page on her blog where the recipe is. Instead, I'll just taunt you with some more pictures of their delicious caramel-marshmallowy goodness. Mmmmm...don't they look yummy?

They are. I know because I made some and then sampled a dozen a couple. I used Coco Krispies and chocolate chips to roll them in as well as regular Rice Krispies. Can I just say the addition of chocolate to the mix makes them a little S'more-like? And that my friends, is a very good thing to be like. My children declared them good, and lo there was peace and forgiveness throughout the land.

So now, my sweetlings, don't say I never gave you anything! To paraphrase The Good Book, go forth, enter thy kitchen with thanksgiving in your heart, enter thy pantry with praise. Your family will thank you for it.

They might even go as far as rescinding the Meanest Mom Ever title--but don't hold your breath. That might require more than mere finger foods have to offer.

***While this probably doesn't sound like my usual Love Thursday post, I am placing it in that category because I made these things for mah preshus family because I lurrve them! Also, it's my blog and I'll tag how I want to, so there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Say What? Part Deux

While visiting my parents' church on Sunday, my three older children were sitting in the pew with us. After a portion of the service, the time came where children in kindergarten through 5th grade could be dismissed for Children's Church. I looked over at Sean and asked him if he wanted to go. He shook his head no. Then my mom leaned over and whispered something to him. Sean whispered something back and then my mother had to smother her laughter. She told me later that she asked him again if he wanted to go. She said that Sean whispered to her, "I've been to Children's Church before. It's worse than being in here!"

Yes, I think that sound you hear is the sound of Baby Jesus crying...

After church, we were in the narthex visiting. There was a fully dressed, female mannequin standing in the narthex. I couldn't begin to understand what she was doing there. My dad explained that there had been a sermon or a series of sermons where she was a visual aid of sorts. He said her name was Anita.

Then, the punner in me came out. "Anita Man? Anita Heart? Anita Brain?" I queried. "Or maybe Anita Bodydatworks?"

I was about to spew forth more wonderful plays on dear Anita's last name when Mary said, "Anita GO!!! Can we go home now???"

She is my child. There is no denying it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

I spent the past weekend in my hometown in the house I grew up in. My parents have lived in that house for 40 years. They moved in when I was 18 months old. It is the only house that I remember. Lots of living has happened in that house. And now, it is about to become another family's home.

I shed tears several times over the weekend, thinking about how I wouldn't be coming "home" to that house again. In fact, sleeping in my old bedroom on Friday night, I cried myself to sleep. I haven't done that since high school--but then the tears were most likely over a boy.

All I could think about as I was willing sleep to come was all of the "lasts" I would experience in my final weekend there: the last time I would sit at my parents' dining room table, the last time I would see our names carved in the insulation on the attic door, the last time I would see my father's basement workshop where he has crafted so many beautiful pieces of furniture, the last time I would sit on the front porch and watch the cars go by, the last time I would sit in my mom's cheery kitchen and chat as she prepared a meal, the last time I would sleep in "my" bedroom.

My parents moved to this house in it's "million dollar location" (as one of their friends always put it--but somehow, they didn't get a million dollars for it when it sold...) in 1969. They had three children (my older brothers and me) and years of work on that old house ahead of them. They stripped tons and tons of woodwork, scraped paint, tore up floors and turned the house into a home.

We laughed over the weekend recalling some of the decorating changes the house has been through: green carpet in the 70's, rust carpet (called "epitome" that the salesman pronounced wrong--rhyming 'tome' with 'home') in the 80's, and finally hardwoods throughout in the last decade and a half; those fabulous brown appliances in the 70's, wallpaper EVERYWHERE, then borders in many places, and after removing most of that, my mother swearing that she will never apply wallpaper or a border in her new home.

The house started out as a four bedroom, one and a half bath home and evolved over the years to become a three bedroom, two and a half bath home with a family room addition. Because of my mom's vision and my dad's carpentry skills, the house has been updated and is beautiful. Beautiful enough that another family wants to live there and make it their home.

As we packed away pictures and photos, I watched the house lose it's "personality." It was morphing from our home into a house--four walls and a roof--that would soon hold another family's possessions and mementos. I was grieving over this old house like a family member. And I guess in some ways, it was.

That old house was our place to come to, our place to be, our place to be together. It was our shelter in the storm, the base for our adventures, the site of our parties. It was as welcoming and warm as an old friend. We knew every nook and cranny, every creak and crack. And it knew us as well--every joy, every grief, and all of our laughter and tears. It encircled our family and was one of the things that molded us into the people we are. If we had lived somewhere else, we would have become different people.

I know that my old house is an inanimate object, but I'd like to thank it all the same. So if you'd just indulge me a bit, I'd be grateful.

Dear Old House,
Thank you for being such a great place to grow up. Your closets and cubbies were fabulous places to play hide'n'seek and to curl up with pillows and a book on a rainy day. Your basement, while nothing fancy, was a good place to play with toys, shoot a basketball in winter, and it provided endless occasions for my brothers to terrorize me with the creepy back room and threats of the "Flushman."

Your kitchen was one of the best places to hang out. Even when it was crowded with a table, five chairs and five (or more) human beings, it was the heart of the house and it was wonderful. We might have groused and jostled a bit and called your kitchen a "one butt kitchen," but it was the place we gathered to decorate Easter eggs, Christmas cookies, and Halloween pumpkins. It's close dimensions drew us closer together.

Your attic was spacious. While it didn't ever get finished like that lucky Greg Brady got to finish his, it held our suitcases and ballet tutus and old furniture and toys safely. It's horrible fiery heat in the summer also caused us to appreciate the fans in our bedrooms and realize that even though we didn't have air conditioning and it was hot in our rooms, it was nothing compared to the attic!

House, you were sturdy and well-built. You withstood rousing games of "Mishy-mishy Moe Toe," jumping off the stairs, wrestling matches, wild dancing and several different sets of dog feet. You creaked, but that was just as well, since it kept us from sneaking out at night. (I guess I should only speak for myself here. My brothers may well have figured out a way to avoid the creaks that I never knew about...) You were solid and reliable, two traits that are valuable in just about anything.

Thank you, House, for being a comforting presence while walking wakeful babies in the middle of the night, crying over stupid boys, or studying for a
monstrous exam. Thank you, House, for offering your space for birthday parties, wedding showers, Christmas Eve gatherings and Easter egg hunts. Thank you, House, for being the backdrop for so many of our family's memories. Thank you, House, for being a silent player in so many of our days, a quiet presence throughout our years.

You will soon belong to someone else, Dear House, but you will always be mine. Please treat the new family as well as you have treated mine. You've been a wonderful home.

I know that my parents' new home will be a good home for them. I know that we will make new memories in that new house. My head knows that ultimately this is a very good thing. My heart is going to take a little convincing. It may take a little while to grieve the loss of my old friend, but I am still looking forward to all the good things that the new house will bring.

And if I don't like the new house, do you think the new owner's of my old house would mind if I camped out in the back yard?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Photo Friday: Are You Ready For Some Football?

When you line up against him you should remember this: stay out of his way and try not to get hurt.

Also? If he knocks you down, chances are really good that he'll give you a hand up and crack a joke as well.

He's tough, but he's pretty darn nice, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Love Thursday: I Love Them Because They Don't Make Me Play

I love my children. I do. I love to do things with them. I can sometimes even be sweet-talked into playing a game or two. I love Mancala, Blink, Slap Jack, War, "Goldfish", and of course Scat. I can be cajoled into Nutty Elephant, Pretty, Pretty Princess, Buckaroo, Guess Who, and Perfection. But my children will tell you that I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a rusty fork than play Candyland. They will also tell you that I would rather slice my fingers with a dirty knife and pour lemon juice over the open cuts than play Chutes and Ladders. Usually if I am approached by one of my beloved offspring to play one of those games, much whining ensues. And I am the whiner. My point is, I don't like those games so much.

What they won't tell you is that I have been known to cheat at both of those games. They won't tell you this, because they don't know. I don't cheat to win. And, being older and therefore much more subtle about my cheating, I have never been caught by a fellow player. I cheat, my friends, to finish the game. I don't care if I win--after all, it's Candyland, for crying out loud.

There! I have spilled one of my deep, dark, shameful parenting secrets. I am not hanging my head over this one, though. I am a Candyland and Chutes and Ladders hater and I don't care who knows it!

My children are growing up, however, and so my days of being asked to play these horrific, never-ending games are numbered. (Boo hoo...) The upside of their aging, is that they are able to play with each other. (Oh the bliss!)

The last few days when Sean has come home from school, he and Mary have either played with action figures or games from the game cabinet. Watching my offspring cooperate and enjoy each other's company has warmed the cockles of my shriveled black cinder of a heart. Sean helps Mary with counting the pips on the dice and moving the correct spaces. Mary lets him boss her. It's a naturally symbiotic relationship. Heh.

My prayer is that these games of superheroes and Candyland will strengthen their sibling bond and be the stuff of memories that they can look back on when they're strolling memory lane while they spoon applesauce into my toothless mouth. I'm hoping that the afternoons spent rolling a die and sliding a game piece over a board will lead to close relationships when they're older. I know this isn't the only ingredient to a healthy and successful adult sibling relationship, but it's a good start.

In the meantime, it's keeping me from searching my silverware drawer for a tetanus covered fork.

Happy Love Thursday! May your day involve many rounds of your favorite game with your favorite people.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Little Crafty: Umbrella Holder

So it turns out that working has cut into my Goodwill hunting considerably. It has also kept me from starting and finishing some of the projects currently waiting for me in my basement, because as I might have mentioned before, it's kinda hard to work on a project when you have about 8 random minutes a day that belong only to you. (Got your little violins out? Play me a pretty little tune and cry me some wee tears of sympathy. Woe is me, my life is soooo hard!)

Last week I threw caution to the wind, shut the door on the mountain of dirty clothes that were multiplying in my laundry room, and headed out to GW. I know! I live on the edge, y'all. Whilst strolling the aisles in search of some specific things (things, by the way, that I have yet to encounter and for which I am still looking) there were a few things that caught my eye and got my creative juices flowing. One of them was a galvanized metal flower pot. If you spend any time at all in a thrift store, you know of which I speak--they are tall, skinny, and easily found. In fact, this is the second one I've purchased. The first I spray painted white and put in my (still unfinished) mudroom. I had different ideas for this one. It still involved paint of the spray variety, but a bit different. Are you ready?

I used spray chalkboard paint! And you know what? I am a little in love with this thing. Sad, but true. I have changed the message a couple of times already and my 5 year old has doodled on it as well. (heh--just made it sound like she's not potty trained...) I have written "Rain, rain, go away," "Raindrops keep fallin' on my head," "Rain showers bring pretty flowers," (since it's not April) and I've drawn various umbrellas, clouds, and raindrops on it. I love it!

And also, I am apparently easily entertained.

Can you read this? It says: Put your umbrella here or face the wrath of the CRAZY WOMAN.
She may or may not be me. Perhaps she is, like on so many soap operas, my evil twin.

I may have to be on the lookout for some more of these, because they would make an awesome housewarming, wedding, or shower gift. I think they would be a well-received gift. And if the recipient is as easily entertained as I am? Bonus points!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Please? I mean really, won't you be my neighbor? Pretty please? I make great cookies and I'll share!

*Le Sigh* It has come to this. I am asking complete strangers on the innernets to please come live by me. Kinda seems like a random roll of the dice would give me a better shot at finding people who might like me and my family and MY DOG. Again I say: *Le sigh*

I don't think that some of my neighbors have enough to do. Because they seem to have an AWFUL lot of time to keep track of how I'm raising my family, how I'm maintaining my home, and just exactly what I'm doing or not doing to keep my dog under control. And they are quite happy to share their views with me. Lucky me!

I am so done listening! If I hear anymore, I am going to give them the name and number of homeless shelters and let them know that I'm sure their help could be used there, but as for me and my house, we're just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I don't think any of my neighbors even know about my blog, much less read it. But! If you are my neighbor and you should stumble upon my blog, please know that I am happy to be in this neighborhood. I will be pleasant and polite to you even if you aren't to me, because my mother raised me that way. You should also know that I will parent my family, maintain my home, and manage my dog the way I see fit. Chances are pretty good that it is not the way that you parent your family, maintain your home or manage your dog--and that is okay! Vive le difference! Live and let live! It takes all kinds! And other trite, but often true adages! I won't comment on how you do things. Won't you grant me the same courtesy?

And if you aren't my neighbor and you read my blog and I haven't scared you away, wanna move in next door? I promise to be nice, randomly give you plates of baked goods, and always say "hello."

Also? If you are moving into our neighborhood, my family will make your family look AWESOME by comparison...

Okay. Rant over. We will now return to your regularly scheduled blog.