Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day

Christmas Day at our house was filled with good memories, the sweet laughter of our children, fun, food, and games. It was really very lovely.

Except for the public humiliation part. I could have done without that.

Christmas morning began quietly and calmly, with Colby out in front of the fire in his rocking chair doing a little more reading before teaching class at church.




And then the kids woke up.

No, really, it was a fantastic Christmas morning. We had a fun breakfast, got ready for church without many mishaps, and the kids' excitement over the arrival of Christmas Day was contagious!

Colby left a little early to prep for his class in the quietness of an empty church and I was excited that I'd finally get to drive my new (old) car! But I'll tell you more about Mavis (the car) on another day.

But first there was the matter of taking pictures. We've ALWAYS taken a family snapshot in front of the tree on Christmas morning since Joshua was a tiny baby. Except this year. I didn't even think about it until I was watching Colby drive away.


Oh, well. I'd just have to take a few pictures of the kids before we left for church.

And... we're off to a great start.

Oh, yeah. Doing good here.

Um. Priceless.

Okay! Three out of four looking at the camera and no funny faces. I'll take it!

Okay, who's up for trying a new pose?

Well, three out of four... oh shoot, I cut off someone's head.

Hrm. This is not going well.

Oh for pity's sake. A tongue sticking out, crossed eyes, and half a head again.

And this was 2 seconds before the baby began to wail.

So I picked up the little one and snapped a half-way decent one of the older 3 before we called it a day and headed off to church.

I was very proud of myself for not forgetting the camera. In fact, I even thought far enough ahead to bring the extra batteries, the battery charger, AND set them up in a classroom to charge all during Sabbath School.

I am SO on top of things today, I thought to myself as I set the sleeping baby down in the Mother's Room and listened in on Colby's class.

Soon the service was starting and before I knew it, the Christmas Program had begun, progressed through the first several songs or skits and *gasp* WE WERE UP!

The children all filed up and stood in front of the podium, all holding hands and grinning out at their friends and family. In one arm I held the baby, and Elayna clasped onto my other.

"Awaaay in a Manger no crib for a bed..." we all sang.

And THEN I realized.... the camera still sat with its nicely charged batteries on our empty pew.

I tried to send eye signals to my mother-in-law to PICK. UP. THE. CAMERA.

It was no use. We were done before I knew it and so the family out west will NOT be watching that video anytime on youtube.


We filed back down the aisle and someone whispered to me that there was a change in the order and I was up NEXT, so I quickly handed off the baby and grabbed my book of poems.

Rushing back up there I hardly felt any nervous twinges at all. I mean, I'm up there on a regular basis, leading song service. I speak up in Sabbath School. I tell the children's story now and then. It's not like I'm a MOUSE that NEVER speaks up in church!!

But, for whatever reason, on Christmas Day something went completely haywire in my poor little brain.

I began reading my selected poem and made it through 2/3 of it.

And then I got to this part:

"I am big, and I can stand things-
Knocks and jeers and rags and cold,
But she's nothin' but a baby,
Just now turnin' five years old."




"Yesterday I earned a dollar
Sawing wood for Mr. Dare-



"*sniff* - s-s-s-sorry,", I choked out. "It's not like I haven't read this a dozen times, but *sob* it JUST hit m-me - *sniff* I HAVE a five year-old!! *SOB*"

I looked around the audience for a few cold, hard stares to shore me up, but I very mistakenly glanced at my good friend Dawn, who happens to be the mother of SEVEN children.

There were tears on her cheeks, too.




I continued as best I could:

"Most enough for shoes and stockin's,
'Cause her little feet are bare-r-r-r*sob*"


I tried to look around the audience again, but by then everything was blurry.

Gadzooks!! I thought to myself, I CAN'T just run for the hills and hide my head, the poem HAS to be finished now!

Again I tried to look around the audience. Surely Uncle M. is around here somewhere to give me a nice look of contempt for showing all this emotion publicly to snap me out of this!! Where IS he?!

"That's all right," I heard a voice say calmly and quietly behind me, "I have something I'd like to read anyway."

Oh. Right. He's behind me.

I took a deep breath and tried to continue, biting the insides of my cheeks to take my mind off of my half-crazed desire to just hide behind the podium. It didn't work. The best I could do was signal my poor unsuspecting husband to come up and rescue me.

Which he very valiantly did. I hid behind his green sweater biting my cheeks and fighting off the embarrassment that was then threatening to overcome all the other crazy thoughts in my head.

I will not run for the hills, I will not run for the hills.
I. Will. Not. Run. For. The. Hills.

I had chosen two poems to read and TWO poems were going to be read, so help me.

Colby, bless his heart, read the rest of the first poem waaaay too fast but I did manage to pull myself together enough to get through the entire second poem.


By the time the service was done the embarrassment was in full force and I just wanted to pretend I was invisible long enough to get to my car. Yeah, that didn't work so well. But I survived and found great relief in banging my hands against my steering wheel repeatedly on the drive home.

Ah, well. Christmas progressed as Christmasses should, with laughter and tender words and sweet memories being made. The children had so much fun opening their gifts that night and I managed to even stay up past 8 pm for once.

When I recalled the incident at church to my dad the next day, he laughed and said, "So, you got bucked off and you got right back on, huh?"

Yep. I guess I did. But next time I decide to do this sort of thing, I plan to pick something funny to read. That way when I have to pause and get a grip on myself it will be because I'm totally giggling too hard to talk.

The embarrassment might not be any less for that, but at least we'll all remember it later with a chuckle instead of a cringe.

*excerpt of poem Filling Daddy's Place by Bessie Brent Winston. Alabaster Boxes R&H 1947

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve

Well. That's it. I thought to myself around 5 pm on Christmas Eve.
Christmas is ruined.

Not that I was being dramatic or anything.

I was sitting on the couch with two of my children. My son was sitting in the rocking chair, and the baby was peacefully sleeping. She was the ONLY one with any sort of peacefulness whatsoever in the whole house.

It started out... not SO bad, really. I mean, the kids had spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa Thursday night. Pretty great, right? Mom and Dad get to have a whole evening to themselves (well, plus baby, but still) to get that last minute shopping done, wrap the rest of the gifts, maybe even stay up late watching a Christmas movie!

Except the part where the baby fussed and Mommy fell asleep at 7:30 after wrapping exactly TWO gifts. Perhaps procrastinating on that wasn't such a good idea?

So Christmas Eve Day started Reeeaaally early for me so I could get the rest of those gifts wrapped.

Like 4 am early.

Five hours of wrapping and setting up confusing electronics later and I was ready to head out to have a nice relaxing breakfast with the hubby and baby before picking up the rest of the kids. But the restaurant was really packed and we had so much to do we decided to skip it.

So no breakfast.

I. Do. Not. Do. Well. With no breakfast. At least when I'm nursing a little one. The rest of the time I could take it or leave it, but when I'm nursing, I'm starving pretty much.... all the time.

Picked up the kids, headed over to the grocery store to get last minute food stuffs, then to the dollar store to help a couple kids pick out their gifts for siblings, then to the parts store to pick up a couple of things for the new (old) car and we're off....

....and we're OFF.....



...still waiting in line at the PARTS STORE?

WHY there's a long line at the parts store on Christmas Eve is still a mystery to me.

I mean, really. If you have THAT hard of a time coming up with gift ideas for your girl, PLEASE use the phone-a-friend lifeline already!!! Poll the audience, do a 50-50, ANYthing but go to the parts store, people!

The Jeff Foxworthy song kept running through my head as we sat there waiting..."Four big mud tires, three shotgun shells, two huntin' dogs, and some parts to a Mustang GT..."


Finally got home, fed the family a late lunch, sent the kids to their rooms to straighten up for Sabbath, got the baby to sleep, and started work on the rolls for Christmas dinner.

About half an hour later I realized I'd used self-rising flour instead of bread flour.

In fact, I was out of bread flour.

Sent the hubby to the store. Started a new batch.

Kids woke the baby up. Kids made new messes. Kids ALL out of sorts after a late night sleepover.

Dinner had to wait since I needed a bread machine for the pizza crust and the bread machines were busy making up for lost time with the rolls that had to be thrown out.

We opened a gift package from out west, and before I knew it my house was being overtaken by Flubber. That's right, flubber. The stuff is AWESOME!

Except when Mommy's on the phone. They KNOW when Mommy's on the phone they can get away with SO much more!

Three tornadoes tore around the house with screams of delight and peals of laughter as they chased each other with pink, glittery, flubber. I had bits of flubber all over the kitchen and rubbed into my couch.

Time for a new direction.

I'd promised the kids that we'd build that gingerbread house from the kit that had been sitting around the kitchen for a week or so. I tried to juggle the building of the house between rolls, pizza, cleaning, green bean casserole and potato soup cooking, sweeping, dish washing... oh and the load of diapers that needed to be washed and line dried before Sabbath, half of which is still on the line...

Yeah, that didn't go so well. So Daddy got volunteered to take over on the gingerbread house. I was really hoping for a 45-60 min. project, but they had every bit of candy and gumdrops used up in 15 minutes flat with the least amount of fuss, fun, or icing as is humanly possible. 'Cause that's just how Daddy rolls. Efficient.


At least I took a sec and grabbed the camera before it was all over.

The ruckus of kids running amok began again approximately 20 seconds after the last candy was pasted onto the gingerbread house.

Mommy was about done.

And then someone started crying (no, not me, I saved that for later...) and next thing I know I'm trying not to freak out on the kid who had been running around the living room with a sharp metal hot-dog roaster (where on earth did they find that within the last 10 seconds?!) nearly poking her sister's eye out!!!

"ALL RIGHT!!! EVERYONE!! TIME. OUT!!!" I yelled at the Christmas tree.

It seemed to be mocking me over there, after all. Pretty and bright and cheery while all this chaos was going on.

And that brings me back to sitting on the couch with two of my children. ALL I was asking for was 5 minutes of absolute sitting-stillness. Quietness. No questions. No toys. No books. No bouncing around. 5 minutes of stillness.

Lots of big, deep sighs filled the room.

And that was just me.

It took about 10 minutes of preliminary wiggles and giggles to finally get settled down, and then we all sat there in the silence.

"Aaaahhhhh", I could hear my soul saying.

Then I noticed that my five year old had gone from being wigglishly still to really, truly still. Like barely making the movements for breathing kind of still.

Wow, I thought, we're really making some progress here!

"Good Job, Emmy!", I praised her.

*** SOB *** "MommyIamthinkingaboutdaddyinthefireandgettingBURNEDandit'smakingmesoSAD-D-D-D!"



....and so commenced 5 minutes of good, solid wailing in my arms.

And yes, my daughter has a VERY active imagination.

Daddy was nowhere near the fire. He was in the kitchen trying to get the pizza served up on paper plates so Mommy could be sane.

Or at least, appear to be sane for the sake of good holiday memories.

I mean, that's the important thing, right? I asked myself. Making the great memories that will stay with those crazy kids throughout their whole life and make them homesick for mom and pop when they're off living their own lives?

After dinner we set to practicing our musical selection for the Christmas program at church the next morning. Let me just say that the memory-making bit slipped to the back of my mind as I tried desperately to corral 3 sleep-deprived, sugared up (hey! stop sneaking the gumdrops from the gingerbread house!!!) kids into practicing their song half an hour past bedtime.

Well, hopefully they'll remember at least some of the fun and not just the crabby mother when they're older.

"There's always Christmas Day to make up for it...", I mumbled as I slipped into dreamland shortly after 8 pm. "There's always Christmas Day."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How (Not) To Make Christmas Crack, er, I Mean Crunch

Last year when the online forum I'm a member of started raving about something called "Christmas Crack" I sort of wrote it off as a bunch of half-crazy clothes-obsessed women gone mad. I mean, who takes butter, brown sugar, a bunch of saltines, a package of chocolate chips, throws them all together and calls it good?

Didn't even sound remotely appealing to me. Probably because last Christmas I was pregnant and the thought of chocolate ANYTHING was enough to send me into dry heaves.

So. Fast forward twelve months and there I am staring at the same group of women RAVING about this recipe and how they can't stop eating it - hence the name "Christmas Crack".

Some did the political correct thing and changed it to "Christmas Crunch" or "Reindeer Crunch". Personally I think "Reindeer Crunch" sounds a bit... brown. And shovely-ish.

Just my opinion.

I finally gave in and tried it once a very helpful lady posted a series of pictures on how to make this stuff. It looked so simple! And now that there's no more pregnancy hormones making me gag randomly, it actually did look good.

So without further ado, here is my version of How To Make Christmas Crack.. er, Crunch. Or maybe I'll just call them Reindeer Tooties. But I don't think Reindeer Tooties are flat. Or have sprinkles.

Oh, well. Here ya go! Call 'em whatever you want!

First, heat the oven to 400, then line a cookie sheet with raised edges with tin foil and put down a single layer of saltines (one sleeve).

Take 2 sticks of butter (hey, I never claimed these were HEALTHY) and 3/4 c. brown sugar, throw them in a pan, and heat on med/high.

Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.

Pour mixture over the crackers and smooth out with a spatula.

Bake for FIVE (5) MINUTES!!!

Do NOT walk away and forget them for 20 minutes.

I REPEAT: Do NOT bake these things for 20 minutes. Unless you like having your kitchen fill up with smoke.

After you've pulled them out at the appropriate 5-min. mark, they'll be all bubbly. Wait a few minutes until you can see the crackers pretty clearly, and then sprinkle your chocolate chips over the top.

Wait a few minutes more, then when they look shiny, spread all over with a butter knife.

Sprinkling all over with holiday colors is, of course, optional.
Pop in the fridge for an hour or so.

When they're completely cool, peel off the tin foil and break into pieces! Congratulations, you're done!

So far I've tried this with semi-sweet, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, and butterscotch chips. My favorite is the mint chocolate chips!

Ha-ha, my pretties! Welcome now to the world of Christmas Crack! It does seem to be frighteningly addictive! Good luck with that! Consider yourself forewarned!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Baking!

Christmas Pics

Sharing my Christmas scrapbook pages and the Christmas cards this year:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr. Frosty

You ever wonder why it seems that our family never goes outside and makes a snowman? If you look back on our pictures, we have only one or two of snowmen in our yard in the last 5 years. Why? Is it because we don't like doing fun activities with our kids?

Fact: Making a snowman in Michigan is more difficult than making a snowman in Washington.

I mean, come on, right?! This is MICHIGAN. The Great White North. The uninhabitable frozen tundra. Where some years we have snow on the ground from October till April.

You'd think making a snowman would be a piece of cake, right?


Here's how it goes in Washington:
1. Temperature drops.
2. Rain reluctantly turns to snowfall.
3. Snow falls overnight.
4. Kids run out into the snow in the morning as the falling snow begins to turn back to falling rain and make a quick snowman in five minutes flat by grabbing a big handful of snow, roll it around on the ground, where it picks up every single tiny bit of snow along the way and bits of grass and mud with it, repeat 3 times, call Daddy outside to stack the enormous, heavy snowballs on top of each other, throw on a couple of rocks, two twigs, and a carrot.

But snow in Michigan is different. It's DRY snow. Laugh all you want, but it's TRUE. Even when the snow here gets "packy" it's not really that packy. It's just sort of packy. When it's really cold, it's more like sand than snow and doesn't stick together at all.

How it goes in Michigan:
1. Temperature drops.
2. Temperature drops some more.
3. Snow falls for several days straight while a cold wind blows from the northwest.
4. Kids run around in the snow making a few dozen snow angels while Momma *tries* to make a snowball big enough to start rolling around on the ground.
5. Momma rolls teeny tiny snowball on the ground around the yard.
6. Momma rolls tiny snowball on the ground back and forth, back and forth, back and forth attempting to get it to pick up more snow and get big enough to actually make a snowman out of.
7. Momma rolls small snowball out of the yard, halfway across the field and back in an attempt to MAKE A SNOWBALL big enough to stick a few eyes on and call it good.
8. Momma rolls basketball sized snowball back to the yard and attempts to straighten out her poor back after 30 minutes of looking like a dork chasing a snowball around the yard.
9. Momma grabs a bunch of snow, forms a small, crooked snowball and slaps it on top of the other snowball for a head.
10. Son triumphantly decorates snowman with scarf, hat, eyes, and buttons while Momma hobbles back to the house with a red nose, frostbitten ear, and clutching her lower back.

But hey, we're in the early hours of a snowstorm that's supposed to dump 8-14 inches on us today, so at least Mr. Frosty will get a little taller all on his own!

Maybe next year I'll build a fake Frosty and just set him out in the yard when it starts snowing. Maybe I'll paint it white, stake it to the ground, and leave it there till July.

Sounds reasonable to me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Old Photoshoot

I did this photoshoot of a friend over 7 years ago and just found the old pictures. This was back in the day of 35mm, of course. Yes, I am that old. Shot with black and white film without the wonderful advantage of the little screen on the back of the camera telling you it was blurry, overexposed, or too dark to see details! Ah, the good old days! All I did to these was scan them in and up the contrast in paint to compensate.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Are You Ready To Have Kids?

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did.*

Are you ready to have kids?

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the newspaper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Then suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breast feeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favourite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7
Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.

Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9
Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11
Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

*This is circulating around the internet and I have no idea where it originated! I did not write this but haven't been able to track down who did. If you know where it came from please let me know!

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Disorganized vs. The Pack Rat part 2

When my husband read the title to last week's post he asked, "Am I disorganized?"

"No honey, that's me."

He read a little further.

"Do you think I'm detail-oriented?", he asked after a few minutes.

"Yes, I do.", I replied.

"I'm not nearly as detail-oriented as I'd like to be."

Says the person who knows what every person in town drives, who can spot five things he likes and five things he doesn't like the moment he sees someone's house as he drives by, and who can recite an insane amount of details of a hundred old testament Bible stories.

He read the rest of the post.

"So does this mean I'M the pack-rat?!", he asked, his eyebrows furrowing while the corner of his mustache tipped up.

"Well, let's see. How many matchbox cars did you just tell me you have?"

"About 500. Give or take.", he said, eyebrows furrowing just a tiny bit more.

"And how many legos, tonka trucks, equipment, big rigs, etc.?", I wondered.

"A lot."

Yep. A LOT.

I didn't even bother to ask about how many Diesel truck, 4-Wheeling, and old Mustang magazines he has kept over the years. I can't even estimate a number here, because the answer is this: *nearly ALL of them. Boxes and boxes. And some more boxes.

*and by nearly all I mean ALL except for the obligatory 3 or 4 he has thrown out because I've asked him to "narrow it down a bit". I couldn't say ALL all because it just wouldn't quite be fair, now would it?

At least his boxes are organized.

Going back to when we first moved in here, with all of my haphazard tossing of random things into random drawers, I really thought there would never come a day when we'd have the WHOLE HOUSE filled up with stuff.

*and by whole house I mean EVERY nook, cranny, closet, and shelf.

Not only is every room of the house beyond full, ALL of the outbuildings are full too.

The garage. Full.

The shop. Full.

The old granary. Full again.

The barn. Full.

The chicken coop (which doesn't house chickens, just wild bunnies in the spring). FULL.

And yes, even the little yellow bump of a shed over the old well pit is full of outdoor toys. Heaven help the person who pulls up the heavy concrete lid and looks down into the concrete lined box below. One year we stored our winter supply of potatoes down there where it wouldn't freeze and didn't use all of them. If you've EVER been lucky enough to know what 50 lbs. of potatoes looks like and smells like after it's gone bad I do not have to explain this any further!

It has taken us 9 years to fill every available space up completely but we have done it!

While we're at it, we might as well face it: it's not like all of our stuff is actually contained within the four walls of those buildings, either.

Just don't even think about trying to move us! It would not go good.

Let's see honey, we can do this with 5 semi trucks or... 25 dumpsters. Which will it be? Or maybe we'd just have an enormous yard sale and make enough money to go on that vacation we've talked about for oh, about 9 years now.

I don't mind the outbuildings being full. They are entirely my better half's domain and so they will stay. I have no need to *micromanage these things. Especially when the house is no better, now is it?

*and by micromanage I mean have a say in, think about, or try to participate whatsoever in (see my last post where I tell you exactly how much disorganization bothers me...)

A few weeks after our fourth baby was born it started to really grate on me, though. Years of shuffling one pile of "stuff" from one closet to another or from one storage space around here to another and I was DONE. Dee. Oh. Enn. Eee. Done.

Piles of stuff here and there and everywhere and no place to shuffle it to!

I took a deep breath and headed into the wild unknown: the back room. It houses our washer and dryer and...Stuff. It hadn't been sorted through in YEARS. I started pitching things left and right. I made a bunch of trips to the goodwill, loaded down with bags and boxes of stuff. I found a box of pictures that I'd forgotten about from 5+ years ago. I found my Christmas lights. I found more boxes of 4-wheeling magazines! Oh joy.

In the end, I had a whole new space that was finally usable for more than just storage and laundry, and only a few plastic bins that needed to find a new home.

So I took another deep breath... and headed down into the basement.

The last frontier.

The final wilderness of 150 year old houses with earthen basements.

The home of the enormous wolf spiders.


First thing I did was take a can of blue max Raid down there and spray the living daylights out of one wall while holding my breath, and run back up the stairs.

Two days later when the fog had finally lifted, I went back down with a long-handled broom and ::shudders:: swept a few of those enormous cobwebs away, threw the broom down on the floor of the basement before any marauding spiders could run up the handle and THEN... my arm. ::more shudders::

The next day I went back down with the spray and sprayed another wall. And the broom. Just in case.

Two days after that I went back down, closely inspected the broom before picking it up and sweeping a little bit of the floor. I carefully used an old dustpan to collect some of the bits of junk and stuff off the floor and dumped it in an old box, which is still down there. You never know when one of those nasty old spiders might be lurking in the center of an old rusty bolt. They're tricky like that.

The next day I took a shelving unit down the stairs and made 3 more trips down with plastic bins to place on those shelves.

After that I stopped.

It was when I realized it had taken me two weeks to carve out a space in the basement exactly 2 foot wide by 5 feet long. Those bins I put on those shelves that I fought off the spiders so hard for? I will probably NEVER look in again.

Well, okay, I MIGHT look in them once they've been brought to the surface by my brave spider-killing husband, sprayed with blue max, and sat outside in the sunlight for 2 days where birds can spot and pick off any remaining spiders.

I just don't know if I can send any more of my STUFF down into the abyss!

There must be another spot around here (Urgh!) that I can just...shove...(argh)... a few...(huff) more...(puff)... boxes...

(Whew!) Quick! Someone come quick and help me SHUT THIS CLOSET DOOR!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Disorganized vs. The Pack Rat Part 1

I am not an organized person.

I mean, I LIKE organization.

I LIKE to have my kitchen appliances in my kitchen.

I LIKE to have my shampoo on the shelf in the shower.

I LIKE to have my clothes in my closet.

Mostly. Except the half of my clothes that are upstairs in my son's closet because I DON'T HAVE a closet. The point is, organization is great, it just doesn't exactly come natural to me.

I'm the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, procrastinate until the last minute which is exactly when I do my best work, a 'what-do-you-mean-you-won't-skip-work-to-go-hiking-through-the-woods-with-me' kind of spontaneous person.

To some people spontaneous is synonymous with irresponsible.

But really, I am *NOT an irresponsible person. I get the kids fed, I keep them clothed, warm, and watered, er, I mean bathed. I get them to school on time. And don't get me started on the benefits of having a scheduled baby. But trust me, these are LEARNED behaviors for me.

*and by "not" I mean "mostly not". There have been occasions I've forgotten to have the kids use the toilet before we leave the house, take the cookies out of the oven on time, or buckle my poor unsuspecting baby into the evil swing that doesn't actually latch the tray tightly...

I'll never forget the moment it dawned on me as a newlywed that I would actually have to cook and provide meals THREE times a day EVERY day for someone. Nine years and 4 more people later and I'm still shocked at times by how OFTEN these people all need to be fed! I mean, really, three times a day, EVERY day?!

Someone shoot me now.

Or get me a dishwasher.

I'm the kind of person who has a *messy desk.

*and by messy I mean it looks like a tornado hit it. And then came back for a second round.

But I'm also the kind of person who knows exactly where something is on that same messy desk. It doesn't bug me, usually, to have all this disorganization happening. My husband would NOT call me a detail-oriented person.

For some reason, this always becomes more apparent in the car.

We'll be driving down the road and have a conversation like this:

Hubby: "What's that noise?"
Me: "What noise?"
Hubby: "That annoying little rattling noise."
Me: "Rattling? I don't hear any rattling."
Hubby: looks aghast and proceeds to fish around in the console until he makes the pennies stop bumping up against the sunglasses. "THAT rattling!", he'll exclaim as he settles back in his seat and lets his shoulders fall back down from his ears.

Huh. It IS a little quieter, I'll think to myself, realizing that the same rattling noise has probably been a constant fixture in my car for WEEKS. I don't notice those things.

Or when we are driving around with some of the extended family and someone will make a remark like, "I like the color palate on that house.", or "They really need to mow their yard!", or "What do you think of that style of garage door?".

These questions and statements jump at me like a cat on a mouse! Up until that very moment I hadn't even noticed any of those things, let alone formed an opinion about them!

"Uh. Uhm. Er. Uhhh..." Think, think, THINK! What DO I think about that garage door? It has windows. Do I like the windows? Are there too many windows? I wouldn't want my messy garage to be seen by passers-by through those windows, so maybe I don't like all those windows. Maybe fewer windows would be good?

... and by then the conversation has moved waaay beyond THAT garage door and I feel like a figure skater in the middle of a rink while Apolo Ohno zips past like he's going for gold.

Thank you, Apolo.

Now and then I think back to being a kid and having my brother always telling me to be observant and specific while we were driving. He'd pop up with these random questions here and there to get me to be more observant.

"What did that sign just say?", he'd ask, or "What color was that car that just passed us?"

"Er, um, blue?", I'd respond. Sometimes I'd actually know what the sign said, mostly because I'd been down that road a million times since I was four and could finally see over the edge of the door and out the window. This was, of course, before the carseat era. Thank goodness I wasn't subjected to that. I'd have been in a booster seat until High School.

Maybe he knew something about me that I didn't realize yet.

The point to all this? Disorganization doesn't bother me. I hardly notice details, unless it's something in the realm of art or literature/grammar/english, and even then, I couldn't tell you the "rules" of what makes it right or makes it ugly. It just feels right or it doesn't to me. I'm wired to notice things in that realm.

But here's the problem: Upon arrival at my new house on Christmas Day 2001, I stepped in and began the process of "moving in". I'd open a box, look around, open a drawer, think to myself "this'll do fine for these! I can reorganize this later!" and in whatever it was would go. Nine years later most of that stuff is in exactly the same place as it was then. Or worse, it has been shuffled from one closet to another to the basement to the back room to...

Yeah. We ran out of room to shuffle things to. SOMETHING must be done!

But this disorganized half of the marriage is exactly that: only HALF the problem!

Friday, November 19, 2010

You Might Be A Mother...

In a tribute to Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be A Redneck...", let me introduce you to:

You Might Be A Mother:

If you have ever wondered why your hair is departing from your head like herds of lemmings but your legs look like forests and your eyebrows look like bushes, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever peed on a stick, photographed that stick, scanned that stick, tweaked, retweaked, inverted, and uploaded those pictures to a site called canyouseealine.com, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever been loudly praised for your bowel movements in the Target restroom while a chorus of snickers drifted under the stall doors, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever cleaned "floaties" out of a bathtub, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever spent the night being puked on repeatedly and still gave comfort and kisses while silently gagging, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever used the restroom with a baby on your lap in an airplane lavatory, or with a sleeping baby in the sling on your chest, or with a toddler watching, you might be a Mother.

If you've ever realized that you've been paged ("mom. mom. mom. Mom. MOM. MO-OM!!") for the past 5 minutes straight because you didn't "hear" them, you might be a Mother.

On the other hand - If you've ever "heard" the way-too-quiet silence of a child in another room, you might be a Mother.

If you really, really love Magic Erasers (even if they don't remove permanent marker from cabinets), because you've spent so much time with them, some crayon marks, and the walls of your house, that you've "bonded" you might be a Mother.

If you've ever fed the dog by opening the door to the car and letting her in the back seat... you might be a Mother. (or maybe I should say Father on that one?!)

And finally...

If you've ever wondered how on earth your heart can still beat when it's been chopped into 4 little parts and is running around on 8 little legs outside of your body, you might be a Mother.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Emmy Turns 5!

Emmy turned 5 on the 13th.

She was so excited about taking pink cupcakes to school for her class on Friday. I thankfully did not have to take 60 cupcakes for the whole school this time, only 18. Just enough for K-2, their teacher, and the teacher's aide. I made only 3 dozen this time. And a cake. So I had extras for the actual birthday gathering Sat. night. But we'll get to that.

I had baked the cupcakes Thursday morning, but then when the day turned out to be gloriously beautiful I couldn't bring myself to spend the afternoon frosting cupcakes and a cake. We stopped on the way home from school and went on a hike instead. It was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon.

And then we got home. And everyone was tired and hungry, the kitchen was a mess and my surfaces were covered with cupcakes, a cake, frosting supplies, dirty dishes, etc. I didn't get to the part about frosting the cupcakes until after the kids were in bed, and by then, I couldn't find the pink sprinkles I'd bought just for these cupcakes.

I look high. I looked low. I found no such sprinkles. I even went to Emmy's room and clumped around in the dark trying to find them by feel and sound. I picked up a few things with the right shape, but they didn't sound like sprinkles, so I tossed 'em back to wherever they came from.

I gave up eventually and dug out the white sprinkles from the week before.

I mean, it's not like there wasn't enough pink anyway, even without the sprinkles. My girl is a pinky girl from the word go, so I'd planned on all kinds of pink things for her birthday:

A new pink silky dress,

pink pudding,

pink juice,

pink whoppers,
(which are actually quite good!)

Pink candles...
You get the picture, right?

But while my precious little girly-girl loves her pink blankie, her pink dress, her pink ballerina tutu and everything else pink, she also loves a certain cartoon character named Diego.

Diego is an Animal Rescuer.

No joke. That's what he calls himself.

And Emmy... well, Emmy loves only one thing more than Pink: Rescuing Animals.

Well, bugs, anyway. She hasn't really come across any big critters to rescue yet, but I am SURE those days are coming and my house will be filled with bunnies, squirrels, cats, mice, and anything else she can get her little paddies on.

So a few months ago she decided that she wanted a "Diego" cake for her 5th birthday. She talked about it non-stop. She wanted to carry the cake pan around with her after we found one at the store. She told everyone she was getting a "Diego" cake for her birthday.

And then it came time to decorate Diego. Diego, of course, was made from pink strawberry flavored batter.

I should have seen it coming.

Or maybe I should have just decorated Diego while Emmy was in school. But no, no I had to involve Emmy in the process, and the next thing I knew, Diego no longer needed to be decorated with a dozen different shades of frosting.

No, Diego now needed to be... pink.

With pink sprinkles.

You know, since her pink cupcakes had gone to school with *gasp* white sprinkles instead of pink and now there was a whole bottle of pink sprinkles just waiting to be used on some poor unsuspecting confection.

I talked her into letting his hair be brown.

I'm not sure that really helped, though.

I really did put on a number 3 tip and outline his face, hands, feet, and even his rescue pack. But in the end, when everything is the same shade of pink it doesn't really look like I did anything of the sort.

Emmy took great pleasure in helping.... by putting on the "missing" pink sprinkles that she came up with just in time for this activity!

And so, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to:
Pepto Man!

That's okay, sweetie. He tasted just as good whether he looked like Diego or not!

Happy Birthday, my little Emmy-Anne!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joshua's 7th Birthday

Early Friday morning I climbed the creaky stairs to Joshua's room, where, not surprisingly, he was already awake, laying in bed listening to one of his Your Story Hour favorites.

I turned off his tape and crawled in next to him on his bed. I told him the story of the day he was born in the kitchen, early, early in the morning when it was still dark like this. I told him what he was like when he was 2 and had a yellow fuzzy blankie that he'd pick the fuzzies off of and roll them in a ball under his nose while he sucked his thumb.

And I told him he still needed to go to school. Which he was pretty much okay with since he got to take all those pretty blue cupcakes to give to his friends. All 61 of them.

We got up, had breakfast and got ready for school with the added bustle and excitement of knowing it was Big Brother's BIRTHDAY! The night before I'd enlisted Colby's help to figure out how all 5 dozen cupcakes were going to be transported in the same car with 4 kids. Not an easy task. His super great idea? The wrapping paper bin! Sweet! I quickly rummaged it out from under the wardrobe in our room, dumped out the wrapping paper and took a look.

It was nice and flat, 2 ft. long and had a lid. It looked like it would fit about a hundred cupcakes in it! Until I started placing them ever so gingerly onto the paper lining and discovered it only held about 40. Hmm.. The rest went into a gift box.

The next morning during all of the rush to get ready for school and in the car on time, I thought it would be no problem at all to open the back hatch of my suv and carefully place the box right in the back. While Colby held the baby and the kids sat at the table eating their breakfast, I ran out into the snow to open up the back of the car and clean out the junk to make room for the cupcakes. A great big armload of junk later and I was ready to carry the big bin out.

I placed it carefully on the floor, making sure not to tip them together, and slowly lowered the hatch down over them.

But it didn't shut.

Not even close.

I left the cupcake bin precariously balanced there and ran in the house.

"It doesn't FIT!!", I croaked out to Colby.

"Did you fold the seat down?", he asked calmly.

Out I ran, back into the snowy pre-dawn darkness. I gingerly placed the bin on the ground and folded down one half of the split back seat. Hmm. Looked a little... Sloped.

I tried placing the bin on the folded down seat but my cupcakes started sliding down the hill and running into each other.

"Aaaack!!!", I shrieked as I pulled them back off the seat and returned them to the snowy ground. Back in the house I ran.

"It's not working!", I yelled through the kitchen to where Colby still sat in the living room calmly watching the morning news.

"Did you fold the seat up?", he asked.

"Fold the seat UP? No, I just folded the seat DOWN!", I replied, confused.

"I'll come out in a minute and straighten it out for you.", he said, still sitting calmly in his seat.

I glared at him for a minute from the rug in the kitchen where my snowy boots dripped.

"Fold the seat down, fold the seat up, can't I just take the seat OUT for heaven's sake?", I muttered as I turned back around to go outside. I had cupcakes outside on the GROUND. I couldn't just leave cupcakes on the ground, people.

The kids by this time were done with breakfast and had taken up running through the house like they'd already had the inevitable birthday sugar rush. Two of them were still barefoot, only one had had their hair combed, and coats hadn't even been thought of.

I dashed back out to the car and tried to figure out how exactly the seat was supposed to "fold up". There are about 5 levers on the back and under the seat in question, and none of them are printed with detailed instructions on what function each performs. A few bad guesses later and I'd figured it out, folded the seat up, and finally slid the cupcake bin into place. It didn't look very promising. It looked like it STILL wasn't going to fit.

My husband walked around the back of the car to find me standing in the snow wringing my hands. He screwed up his eyebrows at me for a second, then eyed up the bin, the hatch, and the location of the latching mechanism.

"It doesn't fit! It's not going to close!", I wailed.

At that, he reached up, grabbed the hatch and gave it a good downward fling.

SNAP! It latched.

"There you go!", he said as he strolled away.

I opened up the window and looked down inside. Sure, the lid was buckled up just slightly, but the cupcakes were all safely inside. I placed the other box on top and quickly scrambled to get the rest of the crew in the car and on our way.

Joshua got to sit in the front of the car, which was a first for him.

"Mom", he said, "I'd like to ride in the front of the car from now on, please."

"Sorry, son, you have to go back to riding in your seat in the back after this ride."


"Because it's always safer for little kids to ride in the back of the car, not the front."

"Mom. I'm NOT a little kid anymore. I'm SEVEN. I'm a big kid!"


Yep, son, you are a big kid now. I'm not sure exactly when that happened.

I am so proud of you and the young man you are becoming.

Just... slow down a bit, okay?

His big gift - a lego pirate ship like Daddy's.


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