Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Hungry Crocodile, a Poem by Julia

Another gem by my little poet....

One day I met a crocodile walking by the lake,
so I invited him to lunch, and for dessert we'd have some cake.
To my surprise, he came at 2 o'clock on the dot.
He ate his lunch up in a twinkle and said, "That really hit the spot!"
"And now dessert!" I said loudly,
But I was scared out of my shorts!
While he began to munch his cake, I talked about some sports.
Soccer he had never played,
Basketball, he never paid,
But he ate his cake very very soon,
And said to come back tomorrow at noon.
So, I set the table with lots of care,
put on his plate some roasted hare,
But when he got there I was still busy as a bee,
So while he was waiting he GULP!
Ate me!

Update on Life

I'm not really sure what happened this week....I look back and see I haven't blogged since Monday. It wasn't like my week was unendingly busy, but somehow it slipped by really quickly. We did have softball or teeball every night of the week, other than Friday, and one on Saturday afternoon. And I took the kids into the city on Thursday to see my aunt Pat one last time before she left to go back home. My sister hosted us for the day, and we had a nice time--we took the kids to the park in the afternoon, and spent the rest of the day talking and laughing. We got home extremely late because the eastbound LIE had 5 exits closed for construction, which meant we had to funnel onto the service road (though thankfully, once we got on it, the ride was quick--I envisioned the entire thing being a miasma of traffic!) Plus the weather was gorgeous, so we were outside and I did a lot of garden work.

Today I did something I have been meaning to do for a year--I cleaned out our shelves of children's books. We have SO MANY children's books, most of which are wonderful. But there are some dogs--the Disney retellings which are wordy and stultifyingly boring, the Berenstain Bears stories that frankly make me want to bash my head against the nearest wall, the Pooh and Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer books that just do not translate to the printed page. (I am not talking of the original Pooh stories; rather the stupid stories written by idiots that you pick up at a drug store or in a trash heap.) Then we had a few doubles, which happened either because we got overzealous at a book sale, or because my sister gave us books her kids outgrew that we already had. Then there were books that are just too young for our kids now--the potty training stories and some of the duller board books. (I kept Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton and Jan Brett and classics like "Goodnight, Gorilla"--but the simple ones for babies, no need for them.)

I also reorganized the books so that we have a completely new stash on the first floor for story time, and so that all the big girls' books are together and arranged sensibly (all the Laura Ingalls books together, all the Roald Dahl, Harry Potters, Nancy Drew, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, etc. are together) and so that all the easy readers are in one place for Ben--I never realized how many we have of those--between Little Bear, Amelia Bedelia and Henry & Mudge books we have about 25! Then I also got some books that are more geared for schoolwork, which might go unnoticed upstairs, and took them down to the shelves by the fireplace. The next step is to clear up the board games downstairs and the sideboard in the living room which holds games and puzzles--make sure all the pieces are together and that they come upstairs where we are much more likely to play with them. Then I'd like to go through the toys and puzzles in the family room, because I know we have a lot down there that no one plays with. And, of course, there are some books downstairs that I haven't gone through yet....looks like our church yard sale on May 31 will be getting an infusion of kids' things!

Anyway, it feels good to clean some things out and to get things organized. The painting really needs to begin now, so the more of this kind of thing I accomplish now, the better!


Daily Quote

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all.

--Ogden Nash

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chicken Proofing

Last week when I planted the primroses and Gaillardia dazzlers, I was worried about the chickens. And my fears were correct--I don't think they are messing with the plants as in eating them--but they walk everywhere and trample delicate plants. So I came up with an idea. I went through the recycling bin and took out soda bottles, water bottles, milk jugs and even an empty gin bottle :) and cut them in half. Then I put them over the baby flowers and dug them into the soil a bit--the chickens don't walk on them anymore! Plus I think they will protect them a bit if it gets cold at night, like a mini greenhouse. At least they protect them from wind, and if (horrors!) there should be any frost, it can't land directly on them.

Also, I was out there today looking around, and there are sprouts where I planted a lot of things--the wildflower mix, the perennial mix, the cosmos out front. Granted, they could be weeds. But I am hoping for the best! And speaking of the best, to our delight, the cutting garden I planted at the front steps last year seems to be growing back! Yay! At this rate I can make a roadside stand to sell bouquets....


Planting Veggies

Today I got the vegetable patch planted! It took longer than I thought it would to prepare the soil and pull all the weeds, daisies, mint, and dig out the daffodils and the way, some bad news on that front. I had a whole bucket full of daffodils and irises to transplant, and I was excited by it, too--because last year we only had 3 or 4 irises bloom, but when I dug the patch I found about 50 tubers. My gardening friend told me that it was likely they just needed to be separated and would find new life once they were moved. Well, after planting the garden I went to find them in the shed. I knew I'd never get them all in the ground, but figured I might be able to get a dozen done. To my horror, they were gone! Rachel thought they were weeds I'd pulled--and the got them into the trash this morning before it was collected! She thought she was doing me a favor. Sigh.

Anyway, back to the veggies. When I went to Agway yesterday for new gardening gloves and some chicken wire for the tomato trellis fencing--the chickens can hop right through the squares, so we rigged chicken hex wire so they can't--I was surprised to find that they had some herbs already. The lady informed me that they should be inside for two more weeks, but my ace in the hole are those tomato sleeves I got last year--you fill the tubes with water, which warms in the sun and gives heat at night to baby your plants, so you can plant very early. If my patch had been ready we could have put seeds out in mid-March! So I'll use them for the basil and oregano, and then in a couple of weeks when I get pepper plants I may use them for those. They also had a variety of tomato at Agway called Siberian, which are the earliest tomatoes; they promise we'll be eating them by June.

I also planted more of the beautiful gourmet string beans we had last year. They are green, wax and dark purple, and we were upset the chickens destroyed so many that we never had more than a few at a time. Hopefully this year that problem will be solved. I planted a summer variety squash mix, cucumbers, and a strange thing sent free from the nursery because I ordered enough--it's called Vine Peach. The ad said it looked similar to a peach, but grew on a vine and tasted like a cross between a mango and a peach. So if that's successful I think we'll enjoy it. That's really all I have room for, though I will squeeze 2 or 3 pepper plants in when they are on the farms. Possibly another tomato plant too--we love cherry or grape varieties, and I am a sucker for the orange and yellow ones. So once I see how everything is growing I'll be able to tell how much room we have. If we run out of space I can plant the tomatoes in a container and leave it on the front patio, safe from the chickens!


Daily Quote

The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

--Elizabeth Taylor

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eight Years, Two Months, Two Weeks

Well. It has been a REALLY long time since I have had no one to nurse. But here we are. Emma and I went to Toys R Us today and chose her weaning present. After a long, exhaustive search, she finally chose Barbie swim goggles and a stuffed giraffe. Boy, is she easy! For a while she was looking at bikes, then at the Rose Petal Cottage (a playhouse), various doll accessories, a bouncy house--and then she went back to the stuffed animals and chose this giraffe. I congratulated her, and while we waited in the short line, she looked around and asked, "Are all the kids here getting a weaning present?"

I told her that she was most likely the only kid here getting a weaning present.

Am I sad? A little, I guess. Emma is my last baby, and now that she is no longer nursing I have no choice but to face all the other evidence that she is a real child now, no longer my sweet little rosy baby. I have to face that I am now in the next stage of my life as a mother--the one where all my kids are heading into childhood and the teenage years (if they survive that long, anyway!) and I have no more babies to cuddle. When we were at the toy store I was looking around with nostalgia at the baby toys and supplies. Remembering the first set of blocks we bought for Rachel, and when a Barbie seemed like the most grown up toy we'd ever contemplate. Looking at the sand toys and play sets I remembered all my kids when they were tiny, when spring wasn't complete till we'd gotten some buckets and shovels for the beach--now we are overrun with them, as though they multiplied when we weren't paying attention.

Maybe I'm a bit giddy at the thought of no more nursing bras. Maybe I'm hormonal with my body ceasing the milk production. I don't know. I'm sad and happy and excited and nostalgic all at once. I guess that's just part of being a mom. Now, when does my chest shrink???


Daily Quote

One out of four people in this country is mentally unbalanced. Think of your three closest friends; if they seem OK, then you're the one.

--Ann Landers

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Work

Today Matt made waffles for breakfast and we had a leisurely time over coffee. After we finally got dressed, we scattered and started chores and yard work. Matt put the screens in the doors and the windows upstairs (the first floor window screens just go up and the storms come down, but upstairs you have to take out the storm windows and put in screens.) He had actually planned to paint, but that didn't work out. He planted my climbing roses at the back fence and dug out two hostas I have wanted out of the garden since last year.

We began preparing the vegetable bed by putting up fencing, digging up mint and daisies, and transplanting daffodils and irises to the flower garden--I have no idea if they will live next year, but I couldn't bear to toss them. Tomorrow we will finish weeding in there, add compost and plant the vegetables. We also weeded more in the flower garden and planted zinnias and one of the most gorgeous flowers I've ever seen--ranunculus. When Aunt Pat and my mom were here yesterday, we went to a farm to see if they had herbs yet (they did not) and were looking around. I was captivated by these flowers which I'd never seen before-- they sort of look like a cross between roses and a tissue paper flower. They don't have individual petals; rather, their petals circle the entire flower in layers. It's hard to explain, but so beautiful. I got 6 plants-- two yellow, orange, white, dark pink and light pink. Aunt Pat said she had them when she lived in CA and they were lovely year after year. So I can't wait to see them every year.

It was gorgeous weather again---Julia, Ben and Emma played in the sprinklers today for the first time! Their shrieks and games could be heard up and down the whole street....

Tomorrow we will focus on the veggies and planting the climbing roses in the front yard. Hopefully we will get to some kind of painting or at least prep work for the painting. It's the ugly truth that painting needs to start again...


Day Five

Tomorrow we go to buy Emma a weaning present! We were going to wait till Monday (a full week) but she has done so beautifully, and we have a very busy day on Monday, so I told her we'll call it done tomorrow. She is very excited. I am more so! Guess I have to figure out a way to get the breastfeeding counter off the top of the blog....


Daily Quote

Fortune favors the prepared mind.

--Louis Pasteur

Friday, April 18, 2008

Our First Beach Day

My Aunt Pat visited us today, along with my Mom and Dad. Aunt Pat used to live in California, but moved a few years ago to be near her son and grandchildren in Arkansas. We don't get to see her very often--she has never met Ben or Emma--so it was really nice to have her out to meet the kids and see our home. We had a nice day of talking, playing with the kids, laughing and of course, eating! And the highlight of the afternoon was driving out to the beach.

We had a stunning day today, over 70 degrees and sunny. We didn't let the kids wear bathing suits--much to their dismay!--but they wore shorts and T-shirts and we sunscreened up and played blissfully in the sand. The kids waded and after the first shock didn't mind at all how cold the water was. I put my feet in--and then headed right back out. The beach looked different without the lifeguard chair or the ropes delineating the swimming area, but it was nice to feel the sun, hear the waves, smell the salt air and watch the birds. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.

We also had our first barbecue for dinner, too--we made burgers, bbq chicken, and Italian sausages. Salad, oven roasted potatoes, roasted veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, colored peppers and onions) and a black and white poundcake for dessert. Emma ate 2 drumsticks, 2 helpings of potatoes, salad and even some of a hamburger! She skipped dessert....

A really nice day.


Day Four

I told Emma this morning we could go to get her weaning present on Sunday rather than waiting the full week till Monday. This is the same little girl who told me two months ago that she would wean when she was THIRTY! and she hasn't even asked once to nurse since this all began. She amazes me!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day Three

I am starting to get very excited.....I think that weaning is really going to stick! Again, Emma fell asleep last night without even asking to nurse. She came in to us during the night, but just snuggled up to me and slept. Soon I will take the breastfeeding ticker off the top of the blog! In a way, it's a bit sad to think of never nursing another baby, and that all my babies are too old now--but not quite that sad!

I think I've definitely paid my dues in this regard, and I am looking forward to my body being completely my own again, wearing what I want without thinking, can I nurse in this? Although I have to say that this is only in regard to pajamas at this point, I stopped worrying about nursing during the daytime well over a year ago. But it'd be nice to wear a nightgown again rather than a top and bottom kind of pajama.

My little Emma is growing up!


Daily Quote

Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.

--Booker T. Washington

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Flowers, again

Today I had less time in the garden, but I got out there because my primroses and Gaillardia Dazzlers were shipped live so I didn't want anything to happen to them. Planted those and some zinnias (not the entire package) in the west edge of the garden. I will use the rest of the zinnias to fill in places where it is sparse. I fell in love with zinnias last summer and can't get enough of them, and these are California Giants in an array of bright colors. So I am happy.


Day Two

She did it again! Although she said in the morning that she wanted to read and fall asleep in her bed--by night time she'd changed her mind. She opted instead for the old standby--at the computer--which was awkward because she took much longer than she used to while nursing (20 minutes rather than 5!) However, that's better than asking to nurse! Out of habit she started to pull at my shirt, but when I said, "I thought you were weaning?" She laughed and said, "Oh, yeah! I am!" and she slept almost all night in her bed. It was getting light when she came in to snuggle, and she didn't try to nurse at all.

Yay! Yay! Yay!


Daily Quote

Boy George is all England needs - another queen who can't dress.

--Joan Rivers

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today's Plantings

I had a bit of time this afternoon, so I went into the perennial garden and prepared some soil. I had to chop out some more lilies, some weeds and onion grass, and some ground cover that is probably a weed but I'm not sure what it is, only that it is all over and doesn't flower. I am happy to note that I saw many big, fat earthworms, which says we have good soil.... After that work was done, I planted peonies, dahlias, and another perennial garden mix. I have to say, those seed mixes are my favorites! All you have to do is get the soil loosened up, sprinkle the seeds and flatten them in. They grow like crazy (at least, if last summer's cutting garden mixture was indicative!) and they come back year after year. How easy is that? I am definitely a cottage garden type--I know, you're shocked at that news--so I don't mind the profusion and confusion that these mixes provide.

I also planted the sweet peas over by the back fence, and a flat of pansies from seeds that the kids bought for my birthday in our little indoor greenhouse box. I was shocked, since pansies are such a hardy flower, that the seeds had to be started inside. However, although it's late in the spring for starting indoors, they bloom into the cold weather, so I think they'll be fine. Plus, by the time they're big I'll be able to see where I need fill- in plantings. I am really hoping the sweet peas do well, because I love them and they will hide the hideously ugly chicken-wire fencing that closes in the yard.

Still to plant: climbing roses (one in front, one in back), primroses, Gaillardia Dazzlers (red with gorgeous yellow centers, they are some variety of huge daisy) and zinnias. Then I think it's on to preparing the vegetable patch, including the fencing to keep scavenging chickens off. I can't wait to see everything start growing and blooming. I can't wait to fill the house with flowers again. And I can't wait to see if the cutting garden at the front walk will return....

Day One

Emma did it! She went to sleep by herself last night, though she was snuggled on my lap while I played on the computer. She came in around 5 am, and simply snuggled into my arms. Then this morning, she said that she was weaned. Specifically, she asked if we were going to Target for her weaning present today....I told her six more days of the same and we will.....

We talked this morning about how she'd like to go to sleep now. She says she wants me to read her 3 stories in her bed and then she'll fall asleep like a big girl. I am so happy! Now let's see if it works. I will keep you posted.


Daily Quote

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

--Thomas A. Edison

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weaning, Finally??

The past two nights Emma has slept completely through the night. By completely, I mean till 8 am or later, not coming in just before dawn, not waking around midnight--just sleeping, the way a girl of her age should. On Sunday she came into bed after 8:00, and because I wanted to sleep a bit more, I pulled up my shirt and let her nurse a bit. We were cuddling, and soon Ben came in to warm his freezing feet. I told him that Emma slept all night and he asked her if she was going to wean.

She said she already had. I said, "You know weaning means you never nurse, right? Not even just a little."

She looked at me with her big blue eyes and said, "If I'm a big girl, why did you offer it to me?"

I told her I was being nice, but any old time now she could wean. (If she weans any time before June 22, Ben will take the title of Longest Nurser, as he weaned on June 4, one day less than 2 months before his 4th birthday.) Today, after she'd slept through another night, Rachel asked her if she was weaning, and she said yes. She said she wants to go to sleep like a big girl, no nursing, just reading. We talked about weaning presents (which is kind of a bribe to get them to stop but I could not care less!) and tried to remember what Julia's and Ben's weaning presents had been---isn't it funny? I remember they were "big" gifts (not just a crummy toy but something really desirable) but had no idea what they were. Maybe I wrote it in their baby books! Once Emma heard that, she got a huge smile and wanted to know if we could go to the store and pick a weaning present.

I had to tell her that to get the weaning present, she had to truly wean--no nursing for a whole week. She said she's doing it. And she went to sleep without nursing tonight! The hard part will be if she wakes in the will be hard for us to remember weaning presents half asleep! But I will keep you posted! Wish me luck......the endless nursing run could be ending sooner than I think.


A Productive Weekend

This weekend was unbelievably busy. We thought Saturday was going to be the worst day--it was supposed to be Little League Opening Day, where the kids get to parade in uniform and get applauded and cheered by their families, followed by Rachel's first game. We also were supposed to have a Brownie meeting for Julia--a nature hike through the woods at Indian Island. Well, that morning the phone calls began. Everything was canceled because of possible showers in the afternoon. Meanwhile, it was a splendid day--nearly 70 degrees, with sun and clouds. We did have a bit of rain and even heard some thunder, but it wasn't bad, and I spent the late morning to mid afternoon taking care of the dreaded Clothes Switcheroo. You know, where I reorganize the kids' drawers and closets, drag spring and summer clothes from the attic, and decide whether to keep clothes for next fall (i.e., the kid will still fit into this, so it goes in this box), save them for the next girl down, save them to give to friends/family with younger kids, or decide that it should go into the rag bag or be donated away. I also did my own drawers and closet, including shoes.

By the time I was done with that, we decided to head out to the yard for some outside work. Matt had agreed to dig up some tiger lilies I want out of the perennial garden so that I can plant more colorful varieties. While he did that, I decided to clean up the shed and the garage, which over the winter had become a complete and utter mess of things we weren't using. It was so cluttered that walking through was difficult. I decluttered, repositioned, swept, and got rid of things--such as the Little Tykes turtle sand box/wading pool that has served us well for many years, but now that we have a sprinkler system we really don't use anymore. The kids were upset to see it at the curb, but I convinced them all that they are too big for it. We also got rid of the gas lawn mower (we are using a push mower for exercise and to save the environment--and the kids love to use it, too!) and the washer and dryer from our old house that we've had stored since we moved because the ones here were better (and the dryer was gas powered, not electric!) These we put on freecycle and they were picked up right away, and the lawn mower was plucked from the curb also...
By the time we were done with all that, we went in for a quick, late dinner and were happy with our progress.

Sunday we went to the parade and Rachel's game--I left in the middle to drop Julia at our friend's house, who took her to the hike with the Brownies and then back home to play and have dinner. After Rachel's team won, 20-12, we came home and Ben and I went into the yard while Emma helped Matt make a fantastic dinner of steak and shrimp. Ben and I planted sunflowers around the A/C generator, wildflowers and a perennial mix in the perennial garden, geraniums in the front garden, pansies, marigolds, poppies and baby's breath in the window boxes (cross your fingers that they grow!), 3 orchid bulbs I got with my plant order, cosmos out by the pear tree and watered it all with Miracle Gro. Also raked out the garden (though I didn't have time to collect the leaves, so I left it in a large heap to be picked up later in the week...) Then after dinner I went grocery shopping and picked up Julia....

I still have tons of planting to do--climbing roses, dahlias, peonies, primroses, zinnias, sweet peas, the vegetables...also have to figure out how to fence off the veggie patch and make sure the mint and Montauk daisies I pulled out of the patch are truly gone, and decide whether I want to move the daffodils and irises that are in the veggie patch--I think I have to leave them there till fall, though. Also, I have to get netting for the blueberry bushes, rake out the winter debris from the bushes back and front...sigh. I still feel like I made a lot of progress over one short weekend.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flowers, A poem by Julia

Here is another poem from Julia's poetry blitz the other day....she needs some fact checking, but I love the sentiment at the end!

Tulips are pretty, daisies are nice,
Oats and barley attract field mice,
Roses smell very good,
That grow in tall grass and attract cobras with hoods.
Magnolia flowers, they will grow
in tall, tall, grass or inch-deep snow.
And lovely mums, they will stay
From early April to the end of May.
But my favorite does not include roses,
Or flowers that have to be watered with hoses.
I think that I like daffodils because
They remind me of us.


Daily Quote

Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die tomorrow.

--James Dean

Friday, April 11, 2008

Is She My Kid, or What?

The kids convinced me to take them to Target after History Club today, because they wanted to spend some of their allowance money. I agreed, and we went. Julia wanted a stuffed horse, Ben wanted a Transformer, and what did Emma want?

A new dress! I kept asking her if she was SURE she didn't want a toy? (I was afraid that once she saw the toys, she'd want both a toy and a dress!) She stuck to her guns, though. She chose her own sundress, which is actually a bathing suit coverup (it's a striped terrycloth tank dress, but adorable) and she also found a pair of adorable white Mary Janes that were on clearance for $5, so I got those, too.....

Are we going to have fun together someday!!


Emma's Balloon

Last night after the dance, the kids were taking down balloons to bring home. Rachel, of course, took balloons for Julia, Ben and Emma. This morning they were playing with them (Julia always draws animal faces on them and then they all play pretend games) and having a grand old time. We had History Club at the library this afternoon, and I had to tell Emma she had to leave the balloon home.

"But Mama, what if my balloon runs out of calcium before we get home?" she asked me, worried.

Calcium? OH--helium!


Birds, a poem by Julia

Another one by my little poet!

The sparrow's got a fluffy tail,
The blue jay's got a screech like jail,
The mourning dove has a sorry coo,
The Eastern bluebird goes too-whit-too,
The goldfinch has a little chirp,
The cardinal goes warp-warp-warp,
The American crow goes CAW CAW CAW,
The robin has a call of awe,
And all of these lovely little creatures,
From the screeching caws to the slow, low preachers,
having these birds is truly a ball.
Birds are amazing, yes, I love them all!


Me, a poem by Julia

Julia went on a poetry writing blitz yesterday, and she gave me permission to blog them. My favorite one is called, Me.

James is he, Liz is she, but I don't know who I will be.
Across the desert, stormy sea,
I still don't know who I will be.
Across flower and buzzing bee,
I still don't know who I will be.
I pass woe and I pass glee,
I STILL don't know who I will be.
But now I know, now I see
what I will turn out to be.
Now it's very clear, I see,
I'll turn out to be...ME!


Rachel's Big Night

Last night was the homeschooling teen club's first spring dance. After months of planning, anticipation and nervousness (not only on the part of the kids, but on the part of the moms, who worried that everyone would kind of stand there looking at each other, and not dancing...) the big day finally arrived. Rachel was excited all day, and when it was finally time to start on her nails and hair she couldn't stop giggling and squealing. My friend Trisha and her daughter Chloe came to pick us up, and the whole ride the girls were talking and laughing nonstop.

I am happy to say that every single kid there spent the entire evening dancing (except for when they had dinner and dessert)--they all had a blast. They all came home talking about next year. They all had nothing but good things to say. They all had a great time. Trisha and I had a great time, too--we went out for dinner and then had coffee and talked and talked and talked. I am so happy that Rachel's first dance was so much fun.

Rachel and Chloe did report that the boys made a lot of silly moves on the dance floor--but they danced all night. Which is basically all we could want of this age group!


Daily Quote

I want to be all used up when I die.

--George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bathroom Ceiling

Today I painted the bathroom ceiling. It was really nice to not let any more time go by before I did it. I decided that after the whole mirror thing it wouldn't do to procrastinate again, and I had a couple of free hours this afternoon, so I did it. Our bathroom is quite small; changing around the stepladder's position (along with the supplies/drop cloth) took more time than the painting did (just like taping the mirror yesterday took more time than the painting. And now the room looks fresh and clean. A very pale green ceiling is a huge improvement over the old white ceiling that had not weathered well but that looked good enough to skip when we moved in! Matt would have been very unhappy to see me painting with the ladder in the bathtub, standing on the top shelf of it to reach the ceiling! But it's over now so he can't say anything.

Next two projects: changing out the spring clothes for me and the kids--which includes sorting their winter clothes into piles: stuff they can wear again in the fall, stuff that I will put away for another girl's use, stuff that just needs to be trashed, and stuff that I can mail to my friend Jenn or my niece, Emily. Also, tearing the carpet out of Emma's room, since in a few weeks we will be having the floors sanded and resealed, which I utterly cannot wait for! That is going to be so wonderful.....

Then we will move on to yard work and continuing the dreaded house painting project. At least the weather improving will make us want to spend time outside!


Daily Quote

One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood.

--Agatha Christie

Monday, April 7, 2008


You know how you put off a job forever, and then when you do it and it's easy you want to smack yourself in the head for waiting so long?? Our bathroom mirror is the double whammy of that phenomenon.

Our bathroom is awful. I hate it and I won't belabor that point. When we moved in, the mirror had tape acting as a frame--don't ask me why, I don't know. It was a bare-edged mirror with tape all over it. Stupid me, when I painted in there, I painted the tape, hoping it'd look less like tape. It didn't. We just weren't able to put any energy into it at that point.

When we took up the carpet on the first floor, Matt had to install bead board trim, because there was a gap. He eventually did that, and I painted it. I got the bright idea to use that extra bead board trim to frame the mirror--just glue it on, and you have a wood frame mirror. Well, it took Matt about 6 months to get that project done. Finally, it was done--that's part 1 of the procrastination. Part 2 was my job--painting it. I kept saying, yes, that has to be painted. But I never did it.

I did it today. It took about 45 minutes (most of that was gathering supplies and taping the edges of the mirror and frame!) and it was easy, and it looks SO MUCH BETTER!! Why did I procrastinate? No clue. I'm so glad it's done.

Next projects: taking up the carpeting in Emma's room, as in a few weeks we'll be having the floors sanded and refinished (can you say YAY?????) and bringing the spring clothes out of the attic and sorting through those. Also, I cleaned the bathroom ceiling and will put a coat of paint on that. Three projects. Not to even talk about the house painting, which I know is going to begin again soon, but I don't want to think about it. And the garden....sheesh. Now I want to go to sleep!!


Perfect Day at the Park

Saturday was a gorgeous spring day. It began kind of gray, with us dreading the fact that Rachel had a softball scrimmage in the afternoon. Figuring that it would be cold and awful, that she and Matt would not have fun, and that I'd be home with the other kids, who'd be mad they had to stay home. BUT...then it got sunnier, and by 11:00 the kids were playing happily outside, and we had the windows all over the house open for some fresh air. Bliss.

It stayed beautiful, and so we packed up for the park. Softball stuff for Rachel, water canteens, coffee for the adults, cookies, crackers and oranges to snack on, scooters, wet washcloths and a book for me, just in case I found a spare moment of quiet (I didn't!) I took Julia, Ben and Emma to the playground while Matt watched Rachel play ball, and in the middle we switched.

Can I just say that the first nice spring day at the playground is such a joy? Kids are smiling, nobody's bored, parents are pushing swings and drinking coffee and chatting. Emma climbed like a monkey, and Julia finally got across the Z shaped monkey bars by herself! That was a true accomplishment, and she's been working at it for 2 years now. She was so proud at her strength, and I was too. That was a lot of rungs to get across, and the shape of it makes it even harder. Ben successfully pumped on the swings (though he still likes to be pushed!) and they played a chipmunk game, gathering acorns under the play structure. Also that they were mice being swallowed by a cat (the twisty slide was the throat...) And Julia was thrilled to see her beloved giant scooter hill--and Ben was thrilled to be old enough this year to try it too! (Last year I had visions of his 4 year old body crashing and scraping all the skin off his back as he went down...)

When I went to watch Rachel, I got to see my girl hit the ball three times! She didn't see any action in the field, but her hitting is much improved from last year, so that was nice to see. It was just such a wonderful day, and it makes me appreciate warm weather so much. One thing about living in a 4-season climate is that those days where the season is changing are so sweet. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

And, the magnolia tree's blossoms are showing pink! In a few days we'll have showy, wonderful flowers all over it. I will post pictures. My favorite tree in the whole world!


Daily Quote

To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.

--William Faulkner

Friday, April 4, 2008

Lessons Done Already?

This happened yesterday, but in the wake of Trixie's death, I never got to blog it.

I woke up around 8:30 to Emma getting into bed with me--you know, those icy morning feet from running around barefoot? She wanted to snuggle and get warm again, so I moved over and brought her in with me. We cuddled, and were soon joined by Ben. We were just having fun, cuddling, tickling and talking when Julia came in with a workbook in her hand.

This was surprising, because usually she wants to play in the early morning, so we generally wait till I am up, dressed, armed with coffee and maybe even caught up on email before we begin.

"Hey, Mama, guess what?" she smiled.

"What?" I asked.

"I've done ALL my schoolwork, except French!" She laughed and danced around the room. French is on the computer, which wasn't turned on yet.

After I got up, I checked her work--and yes, she'd done it all correctly. What's more, while I was dressing, making coffee, getting Emma to feed the chickens, making the beds, etc.--Ben sat down with his books and did 7 workbook pages with just a few questions here and there. We just had to read his story and he was done.

It made for a great day. Until the guinea pig croaked, anyway.


Daily Quote

If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rest in Peace, Trixie

This morning Julia, Ben and Emma were playing a great game downstairs in the family room. I was catching up on a bunch of emails that have been building up for days, enjoying myself. (I love to get those "to-do's" done!) All of a sudden Julia was running upstairs, crying--naturally, I thought someone had gotten hurt. But no. Unfortunately, Trixie the guinea pig was the casualty. She was dead in the cage.

So we had a funeral under the dogwood tree (which has an inordinate number of animal graves underneath it), complete with a handmade gravestone--Julia uses Sharpie markers and rocks for all our gravestone needs--and daffodils on top. Poor Trixie. Poor Alice, her sister, who is now alone in her desolate little cage with nobody to squeak to. Poor Julia, who was inconsolable.....


Daily Quote

There is no such thing as an impartial jury because there are no impartial people. There are people that argue on the web for hours about who their favorite character on "Friends" is.

--Jon Stewart