Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Public school homeschool: snow and winter...

I am a homeschool mom at heart, but my kids are in public school.
And that is every bit as complicated as it sounds.

We are figuring out how to educate our kids, which we challenge on an almost daily basis.
I want to homeschool.
I do.
But I'm afraid, I guess.
Is it possible to homeschool when you suffer from depression? Will the drive and dedication required lift you out of the pit, or plunge you further into it?

I don't have the answers to those questions yet, and I won't risk my children's minds on my own uncertainty, and so my kids attend public school and preschool. But I have such a tremendous love and appreciation for homeschooling philosophies and truths, that we supplement here at home all the time.

All of this just to explain why I put together units--this week, a unit worth sharing with your kids on snow and snowflakes.


(Note: these are patterned on the idea of Five in a Row. There is a central book you read, every day, for the whole week. Then you do science one day, art one day, geography one day, etc. Reading and math can happen daily.)

Our daily-read books...
For beautiful children's literature in our Charlotte Mason moments, I really love Snow by Uri Shulevitz and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. (Both classics, of course.)
For science...
Do me a favor, ok? Pick up one of Ken Libbrecht's Snowflake books. These books are photographs of actual flakes--I love the "art" version, but there's also a cool Field Guide. Spend an afternoon gazing at snowflakes with your children. If you live in a place where you HAVE snow, then follow that up by catching some snowflakes on black paper. Spend some time in the stillness of winter and just LOOK at some snowflakes. See if you can recognize all the different kids, and decide which is your favorite. It's nearly impossible to do. Ask questions. Be curious. Then go and find out--how do snowflakes form? Why are they each different? How many snowflakes are in a snowball???

Once you're done playing outside, then how about making a real snowflake out of crystals? (This project uses a jar, boiling water, Borax, and some pipe cleaners.) Find instructions here.

For art...
While you wait for that to set overnight, create a winter wonderland with paper snowflakes--a perfect challenge for fine motor skills in little ones. I always wanted to learn to make BEAUTIFUL snowflakes, like my mom, so if you're a little challenged, then you can catch any number of tutorials online or on youtube, or invest in a book like Snowflakes for All Seasons or Snowflakes: Creative Paper Cutouts. (Both on Amazon or Half.com.)

For geography...
How about a unit on Russia, to go along with Snow, or a unit on New York City if you're going for The Snowy Day. Make some ethnic food, learn some words in Russian, and talk about where it snows and where it doesn't, and why.

So, jump in and join us for a unit on snow!!

All the things to love about winter...

In no particular order...
  • Lacy patterns of frost on your car windows, which you have time to appreciate as you scrape them off every morning.
  • Early sunsets mean early bedtimes.
  • Hot drinks like hot chocolate, hot cider, and hot tang. (Did I just admit that out loud?)
  • Comfy jeans and sweatshirts.
  • The annual New Year's Eve countdown (to 8:00) and accompanying smashing of the gingerbread house. (I call dibs on the hard gummi bears.)
  • New Years Resolution spreadsheets, calendars, and themes. (I'm considering "Fake it til you make it" or "Spare Me the Drama" for 2011.)
  • Closure.
  • Winter scented soaps and lotions--peppermint vanilla or grapefruit, depending on if it's night or morning.
  • Pink cheeks.
  • Hot stew.
  • Red cardinals on bare branches.
  • Coming in out of the cold.
  • winter sunrises
  • fleece
  • Finding things to look forward to.
  • Life going slower.
  • Making plans.
  • Winter movies (Little Women, While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...)
  • Messing up when you write the date of the new year.
  • How clean your house can look with all the Christmas decorations put away.
  • Getting back into routines and schedules.
  • Celebrating greatness in mediocre ways. (When's the last time you went all out for President's Day???)
  • At least having Netflix to look forward to in the mail.
  • Rearranging rooms and furniture to placate wanderlust.
  • Prisms hanging in windows that cast winter rainbows on the walls.
  • Super hot showers.
  • Waking up early and getting to doze in your warm, comfortable bed with your sweetheart.
Even in winter--there is always so much to love, don't you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Echo.

A tiny voice inside me has been whispering that she would like to write again.
I have told her, repeatedly, to hush.

I point to the house that's a wreck,
the depression that just. won't. quit,
and the fact that I ran out of things to write several months ago, which led to a neglected blog that is now quite empty.

I remind her that people with depression, like me, tend to be--for lack of a better phrase--kind of a downer. And the very last thing that a month like January needs?
A downer.

But she is such a pest, and she insists that she would like to write.

My apologies.
I tried to tell her...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Merry Christmas, Darling.

I asked The Spouse what he wanted for Christmas the other night, and without batting an eye, he said "An American Girl Doll."

I pondered this. It made sense. Most of members of this household want one. Maybe he was feeling left out.

But he was fairly quick to explain that, unlike those of us who daydream about tea parties on miniature tea sets that cost so much Thomas Jefferson might have made them in his spare time at Monticello, his desire is for purely financial reasons. He seems to have noticed that they are the most secure investment on the planet right now. You can buy one of these dolls, brand new, for $95.00 from American Girl. Or you can get on e-bay and get the same thing for $234. A new outfit on the official site: $32. On e-bay: $46. Even those of us that aren't so good at math can see which one is more.

Well, I live to please.

I just can't wait until I get to tell the Fed-Ex guy that the dolly is for my husband. *smirk*

Monday, October 11, 2010

Land Ho!!

Happy Columbus Day, everyone.

This morning we got up and made stick-puppets about the Columbus story. Complete with Moneybags King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. (Who, by the way, was 9 when Columbus sailed. NINE. No wonder she wanted to give him the money.) Anywho, we took our Window Markers and decorated the windows of our car with the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Then we wrote "Happy Columbus Day!" on the back window. I believe in offending people as much as possible. Because it's good for them.

So we set out to explore and discover--to find a new world.

Before the morning was out, my children yelled out with excitement "LAND! LAAAAAAND!" Hands waving and pointing frantically.

At a McDonalds.

So, we made landfall and ate McNuggets.

The irony is delicious.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Halloween is on a Sunday? Uuuuuh...

So, has the debate started for you guys?

Halloween is on a Sunday this year.
Do you dress your kids up and take them trick or treating?
If you don't, do you answer the door for other trick or treaters?
What about the mutiny that will ensue if you go that route?
Maybe we could give out Pass-Along cards and dress up as Mormon missionaries? Would that make it ok? Are we willing to live with the title Scariest House on the Block, forever after?

I've been feeling this out among friends. I had assumed that, like Utah, the Bible Belt would just automatically celebrate Halloween the night before if Halloween fell on a Sunday. But it appears that I assumed wrong, even among my Latter-day Saint friends.

Well, SHOOT. Now what do I do?

I've decided to put on my big girl panties and do something that is TOTALLY out of character for me: invite my neighbors on my street to come to MY house for a Halloween Eve party. I know. You should've SEEN the look the Spouse gave me when I suggested it. Because I don't even GO to these things, let alone HOST these things.

But I'm feelin' pretty strongly about this whole "Sabbath day holy" thing, so I'm trying to follow the prompting to do something about it.

I'm attaching a printable large .jpg file for a Halloween Eve invitation, if you don't want to make your own. If you're having trouble deciding how to celebrate this year, join us--save this to your computer, print it (I went easy on the graphics to save ink), fill it out, stick it in your neighbor's mailboxes (tape a sucker to it, for added incentive), and then wait for them to stand you up... oh... I mean, come.

Hey. At least we'll be able to say we tried.

Books for Autumn...

One of the ways that my kids and I really get into any season is the books that we read and the movies we watch (over and over again). For me, autumn is divided distinctly into two separate portions: early autumn, ending with Halloween, and late autumn which encompasses my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving choices will come later. But following are some of my Early Fall favorites.

Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell, is considered a classic for good reason. Chances are that you've read it, but if you haven't, treat yourself and your kids to a new favorite. My kids really started loving this one at ages 3 and up.
Creepy Castle, by John S. Goodall, has no written narration, but it is one of our family's favorites. Given to us when my oldest was born, we can tell and retell this story over and over again. My kids love to play different parts in the story, and everyone throws their head back and cackles when the bad Rat appears. A fun, fast read for kids of all ages from 1 and up.


I don't own many Halloween books, but the illustrations in this one delighted me, and so we added it to our collection this year. Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara is the most asked for book in our house right now--delightfully fun and not at all spooky, it's the kind of book you don't mind reading out loud 100 times. Appropriate for ages 1 and up.

This might not seem like an obvious fall/Halloween book, but The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, is well entrenched into our fall repertoire. The kids LOVE to act like the pages weigh a ton when they turn them, and who doesn't love Grover?? This one deserves a place on your year-round shelf.

Now, the two DVDS that we love for fall and Halloween...

No explanation needed really--both about fall and harvest, we got Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure when it came out last fall and we all dig it, but our true fall favorite has to be Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit, keeps our family laughing, and will definitely be the family pick for our Halloween Eve celebrations this year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping.

I am Christmas shopping these days. I think it's because it's 90 degrees outside and "I need a little Christmas, right this very minute."

I ordered Thing 1's main gift--an American Girl doll. I ordered her from the catalog, over the phone. I was so excited that I didn't want to purchase her online. I wanted someone to share the joy with me--which "Carol" seemed happy to do. When the box came, I was giddy with joy. I hope my daughter is even HALF as excited as I am about this gift. It is hard to find "just the thing."

The older my kids get--the more thought that I find myself putting into their three gifts--trying to find that one "thing" that will fill their every heart's desire. Last year was such a tremendous and lovely Christmas that I have missed it all year long. I still do. But I find myself stressing about how to make this year just as magical.

But, I remember, one of the things that made last year so great was that I bought them each their three, carefully selected gifts, stowed them away, and spent the rest of the month listening to music and serving other people and enjoying my children, while they're still little and carry magic with them wherever they go. It had nothing to do with the gifts, really.

So maybe I'm just trying to hurry things along a bit.
Yeah. I think that's a definite possibility.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blue.

Dear Spouse,
Hello. I hope you are having a nice business trip. I dyed a batch of laundry blue, somehow, because doing the laundry is your job around here, mostly, and I forgot how to do it.

I am "blue" without you.
Love you.
Me

PS--I'm sorry about your clothes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

While You Were Blogging...



You have GOT to be kidding me.
Patience.
Count to 10.

1,

2,

3,

4,
....

Through the Looking Glass...

This past weekend found me in Washington DC wandering by myself among the Smithsonian and National museums. Climbing the stacks so that I could trace my fingers gently along the spines of books in the Main Reading Room, and requesting special editions from their Rare Books section. Happy as a tornado in a trailer park, I'm afraid.
I also spent quite a bit of time in the West and East buildings of the National Gallery of Art. Most people in Washington were at the rally on the southern end of the mall, and it seemed like everyone else had fled, so I had the museums almost completely to myself. Perfect.
I have a strange method of visiting art museums. I enter each room and approach only one painting in that room--whichever one draws me in first. Some I'm drawn to because I know and love the artist, so it's like greeting an old friend. (J.M.W. Turner and the Dutch masters, le sigh.) Others draw me in almost against my will, like I'm trapped in their web.
I was alone in the French Impressionists exhibit, placed strangely in the East Building and not the West, when I felt someone watching me. The feeling was so strong that I turned my head, expecting to see a curator or security guard, and instead locked eyes with this painting:

I knew the man at once--Edgar Degas. Famous for his ballerinas. I approached his self portrait slowly until I was only inches from it.

"Hello, Mr. Degas," I muttered like a crazy person, "it's nice to meet you."
Then I just stood there, waiting for this painting to teach me something.
His eyes hold a hint of uncertainty, like he isn't quite sure what to make of what he's seeing. And it has the eerie effect of making me feel like he's looking back me. I can't help but wonder what he would think of what he saw, if it were my face looking back at him. Like a window. Because, quite honestly, sometimes I'm not sure myself. If it were me he were about to paint, and not himself, what would I see reflected on the canvas? Where would he even begin?

His eyes seem to say "I don't know what to think of you."
"Tell me about it." I mutter back.

Later on, in the museum shop, I found the perfect mug to summarize my meeting with Mr. Degas, my perusal of the largest library in the world, and my own tears upon seeing the Washington Monument reflected in the Potomac River...

I am still learning. -Michelangelo

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Listen, Listen!"

Tonight was our back-to-school dinner. After debating considering "Choose the Right" for our theme, The Spouse and I decided to instead emphasize the theme "Listen, Listen!"

I made a table centerpiece by stacking some books in the center and then scattering crayons the length of the table runner. This year's hats were cone party-hats that I'd written "Listen, Listen!" on. They always love the hats.
We made homemade fortune cookies this year and tucked in our own "fortunes". Thing 1's fortune was "You will make other people in your class happy!" Thing 2's was "You will make a great new friend this year!" The Munchkin's was "You will be the best singer in your class!" And me? I will, apparently, be mastering the art of cartwheels. (Recipe for fortune cookies here. The only thing I changed was to add a little bit of water and dip them in melted chocolate.)

All of this celebrating to go along with a primary song that goes "Listen to the still small voice-- listen, listen! When you have to make a choice, He will guide you, always."

There are lots of ways that my children need to learn to listen. They will need to listen to their teachers when they say it's time to clean it up. Get it out. Line up. Get ready to go home. They will need to listen to their peers to navigate the intricate ins and outs of making childhood friends. I hope they have listened--really listened--when I've told them how much I love them, and that I always will. No matter what. But more than anything else, I hope that they come to really know and listen to that still small voice this year. Always.

Out and About: Queens Road West


(We just didn't have streets like this
where I grew up.
Sometimes I wonder if my children realize
how insanely beautiful this place is.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Unedited Life: Curb Appeal.


We've decided that we're going to sell our house.

Let me rephrase that.

We've decided NOT to participate in the ongoing housing "slump" and put our "dream starter home" on the market. In 6 months. Because if you saw my "late-century bungalow" you'd hand me a shovel and say, "Are you sure 6 months is long enough?"

As you can see, this is going to take some work.

I sat down today and began making my list. At the top I wrote: THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DEALT WITH. It was tempting to begin with things like "Get a new mailbox to replace the one that the neighbor's friend ran over when she was tipsy in the middle of the day" or "Finish painting the cupboard doors white sometime this century." Maybe even perhaps "Sell all the furniture on craigslist, use the money to hire a staging company, and run for the hills."
But, after giving it some more serious thought, it seemed like the most obvious thing to put on the list would be "Buy flood insurance and pray for 40 days of rain."
If you need me in the meantime, I'll be in the kitchen with a paintbrush.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Dreams May Come..

It feels like summer is never going to end. It really does. Day after endless day of more than 90 degree weather, and not even the swimming pool is appealing any more.

School starts next week.
I am going to miss my daughter. Who will draw mermaids with me? Who will give me constant dance recitals? Who will answer when I go looking for her and find her room empty?
I think I hate school.
But she is thrilled.

I am trying to be thrilled for her.
But I have thought of one good thing: if she's going back to school, then surely fall is on it's way. Surely the leaves will change and the humidity will confine itself to Florida, like it's supposed to. And I'm watching for those subtle signs--the trees that I consider canaries in the mine. Their leaves are the first to change.

I thought I saw some tinged with red this week.
Someday, fall will come.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Midsummer's Eve...

The days are hot now.
In a lot of ways, it feels like August, but it's only June.

It's the kind of heat that makes you lay on the living room floor with the fan on, eating a popsicle, and listening to Christmas carols on i-tunes.

Not that I do that.

But sometimes, instead of fighting the heat, all the time, I remind myself to just be embraced by it. To turn my face to the sun, let the waves rise off the pavement and curve around my legs and shoulders and face, and enjoy it. And while I can't do it for very long, it's pretty amazing for a few moments to be on the receiving end of so much light and warmth. Magic.
Magic how, in the summer, even when the sun goes down--other lights just come out to play.

Happy Midsummer, to you and yours.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Love at 7 Years...



Yesterday was our anniversary. I handed my Beloved his card and gift as I poured cereal with the other hand and tried to convince Thing 2 that a popsicle wasn't the best breakfast choice. He remains unconvinced.
For our anniversary date, we hired our favorite sitter so we could ride our bikes to the pool and go swimming. All by ourselves. Fabulous.
We went to dinner afterwards and sat behind a couple who were celebrating their 57th anniversary. They were beautiful.
It made me think of how much I have to look forward to.
Love at 7 years is different than love on day 1.
It might not be as pretty.
But it's better in every other way.
Thank you, Beloved. I was starstruck.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

North Carolina

When people come to visit me here, they always say something to the effect of "North Carolina isn't how I pictured it." When I ask them what they did picture, they can never quite say... but it isn't this.

I had never been to North Carolina before I moved here, either. And it surprised me, too. What did I expect? Well. Honestly? Nascar, smokers, rednecks, trailer parks, fried food, snakes, and humidity. I think that pretty much sums it up.

But now I'm in my sixth year here, and I am happy to say that I continue to be delightfully surprised.
By the darting, disappearing tails of bunnies across my lawn.
By flashes of red and the call of songbirds.
By the soft curve and rise and fall of fields of corn, wheat, okra, soy, and cotton.
By the unending parade of blossoms that begins in March and continues through the summer: Bradford pear, dogwood, azalea, rhododendron, japonica, and crepe myrtle.
By the spiciness that accompanies the return of humidity.
By summer fogs, when I still think that fog should be something that happens in the winter.
By the first cool humidity-free breeze in the fall.

There's something magical about a place that is so unexpected.
You never know what you'll find next.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five in a Row: The Story About Ping

A'right, this isn't going to interest some of you, but I'm hoping that some of you might come play along and join us for our attempt at summer learning. School isn't even OUT yet, but we just couldn't wait to start our summer unit studies. I decided that we were going to do a program called Five in a Row, which is a simple and easy to follow curriculum--with tons of room for fitting it into your family, schedule, and life. The basic idea is that they give you one book to study each week. You read it for 5 days in a row, and include activities that build on the story and all the subjects found within the story. We are having a BLAST--so I decided to share what we're doing. Come play along.

Our first unit features The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack.

We supplemented the text with these books, among others, for our subjects:



Basically, I just went to my library and grabbed a bunch of books on China.

Social Studies and Georgraphy Unit: A-Z China was fantastic because it threw in a lot of cultural information, along with some Chinese vocabulary. I wondered if my kids were old enough to get into The Emperor's Silent Army, but Thing 1 really took to it, and my husband and I were fascinated by it. We also made our own maps of China, with the basic map coming from Apples4theteacher--click here.

Math Unit: Count Your Way Through China wasn't as valuable for the text as it was for teaching us to count from 1-10 in Chinese:

1 - Yee
2 - Uhr
3 - Sahn
4 - Suh
5 - Woo
6 - Lyo
7 - Chee
8 -Bah
9 - Jo
10 - Shur

Yes, I typed that from memory. I am so proud of myself. So, we learned to count in Chinese for math, but we also spent some time adding and subtracting ducks. In the book it says that Ping has a huge family of aunts, uncles, and cousins--it was fun to take away the aunts and see how many were left. To do this, we used little counting ducks we have, but you could use anything to represent the ducks--even beans. It was great fun.

Science: Floating, diving, swimming, currents. Domestic ducks and wild ducks. YouTube videos of cormorants fishing for their masters. Why is the Yangtze River yellow? There are a LOT of science possiblities in Ping!

Language Arts and Art: For our art unit, we studied the pictures--the reflections in the water, and the way that the artist used ink and then filled it in with colored pencils. I pointed out that he only used the primary colors, and then layered them to create secondary colors. Then we grabbed some paper and played around with ink/colored pencil drawings, using only red-yellow-and blue. They turned out surprisingly well for 5 and 3 year olds. We also printed out basic maps of China and filled in broad areas--mountains, deserts, green tropical areas, cold areas, the major cities and rivers, and--of course--the Great Wall.

Kid's Movies to Go With: Ni-Hao Ki Lan series and Disney's Mulan.

Finally, for our field trip, we went to a local Chinese restaurant and had dinner. The kids greeted the owner with a friendly Ni-hao! And asked her how to say "thank you" -- "xie xie" (it sounds like "shia shia").

Next up--Lentil by Robert McCloskey (of Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings fame.) It promises to be wonderful--grab it at your library and read along! :)

List of authors: The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack, A-Z China by Junstine and Ron Fontes, The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy, Count Your Way Through China by Jim Haskins, The Emperor's Silent Army by Jane O'Connor, We Come From China by Julia Waterlow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bloom.

My garden has become a jungle.

Remember the picture of me digging my bare toes into the dirt?
I doubt I could find a spot to stand now.

And I love it.

But I have this one tomato plant...
HEY! I saw your eyes glaze over. *snaps fingers* This is a good story.

Where was I?
Oh. My tomato plant.

Well this tomato plant has decided that it wants to recreate Jack and the Beanstalk in my front garden. The thing is very nearly as tall as me. An overachiever. I mean--it's not even supposed to grow the big tomatoes. Just little cherry ones that I will pop into my mouth when I walk by and, on occasion, slip to my kids because they LOOK like fruit and then watch as they spit them out and glare at me. It never gets old.

But yesterday I came home and it had toppled over--cage and all. Flop. Right on top of the blueberry bush.

"Ger'off!" I pushed at it with all my might. It eyed me for a second before stubbornly flopping back over. I called my husband to come out and help me. We both tugged it upright again. Only now it looked like it was pouting.

Sheesh. Who knew a tomato plant could act like a teenager?

Then there are the squash. They somehow took a wrong turn and think they're in the Amazon. Small children could congregate in their shade and start a new colony.

I don't even like squash that much, and it looks like they're going for the gold. The harvest has the potential to reach "grundle" in size.

If you find an anonymous paper bag of squash on your front seat--it wasn't me.
If you find a GIGANTIC tomato plant plopped on your front porch smoking weed (HAHAHA!), well, that, I'll have to admit--might've been me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

I woke up this morning, after an interrupted night's sleep (because The Munchkin never read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and doesn't know that we're all supposed to be OVER THAT by now) and decided "Today's the day I take control!"

Heaven only knows why.

Any by "take control" I mean that I announced to my children "Today is a no TV day!"
My brain in my head screamed, in chorus with them, "WHAT?!?!?!?!?!"
"Yup" I chirped, like someone possessed, "today we're going to play outside and use our imaginations and have FUN!"
The real me in my head clamored "BUT HOW AM I GOING TO TAKE A SHOWER?!" while Thing 2 started screaming for Blue's Clues.
"Maybe we'll even like it so much we'll turn it into No TV WEEK!" continued the Crazy Lady that somehow took charge today over the screams of her offspring.

Well. If I'm jumping off the cliff, might as well really go for it.
No TV.
No candy.
No giving in to the three year old when he pitches tantrums that would impress even Ghengis Khan. Which may be his new nickname, by the way.
Yup. Today, I'm going to be the kind of mom I always intended to be in the first place. Even if I now realize that the mom I always intended to be was probably a complete maniac.

Fake it 'til you make it, right girls?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Speechless.

Last night I asked Thing 1 to put on a pull-up.
She asked me why.
I told her "Because you drank a lot at dinner and I don't want you to wet your bed."
Minutes later, she asked me if she could have a glass of milk. I said no. She asked why.
I told her "Because you drank a lot at dinner, and I don't want you to wet your bed."

This morning, I found that she had gotten up in the night to go to the bathroom, taken off her pull up...

and peed all over the couch.

There are no words.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

All Hail the Queen...

I have had a nerve wracking week.

Last Saturday, I took my friend, Merriweather, who was visiting from Maine to go and check on my bees and see how they were settling into their new hive. Well. They were downright ornery (meaning, they kept flying at me and buzzing and generally acting like bouncers). And I couldn't find my queen. I was so flustered by my own inexperience that I just hurriedly put the hive back together and ran away.

All week, I've been thinking about my queen.

A hive must, absolutely must, have a queen. They can't survive without her. They depend on her to give the colony cohesiveness and direction. They count on her for more baby bees, to keep the hive strong and healthy. Just by her mere presence, she sets the tone for every bee in my hive. All 10,000 of them, and counting.

But without my queen? Well. Without a queen, the workers start just wandering around like teenagers at the mall, being promiscuous without any clue of the consequences. It doesn't take long at all for the colony to shrivel and fail without their queen.

So I've been anxious about her. Without her, I fail.

Today, my mentor (bless him) met up with me and we gave my colony a thorough going-over. I have been humbled, which is a good thing--I am more careful. I ask lots more questions. I ask for more help. And on the second to last frame--there she was. But even if I hadn't seen her, I knew she was there. The colony was in perfect order. You could easily tell, they have a queen.

Which has gotten me thinking about my own little home, and my own children. How often I set the tone. How little I realize it. How I can send out the "All is Well!" signal, or the "Every man for himself!" signal at any given moment. That's my job. To set the tone. To give my own little baby bees cohesiveness and direction.

I need to be a better queen.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lift.

Hey guys.

I'm sitting here at my computer, feeling discouraged.
And it's over the dumbest thing, really.

I'm putting together a wedding invitation suite for a bride in the midwest. It's a lovely invitation. The first set that I'm trying to print out, on my own, rather than sending it out to the printer I use. To try and save the bride money, that's why. But wedding invitations are a big deal. The paper needs to be heavy. The colors need to be rich. And you *must* have a dpi of 600 pixels. Not 300. 600. And I can't.get.the.darn.thing. to print the right size.

Isn't that shallow? To be feeling all weepy because you can't figure something out?
But I do.
And it stinks.

Because, before you know it, you find yourself wandering in Discourageland, which is not as fun as "Land"s and "World"s that I could name, including Gatorland or Reptileorama.

You start at the gate of "Aw, man, why can't I get this to print right?" and Fast Pass right on to the "I can't budget" rollercoaster of guilt, stopping for a quick snack at the "Ample is My Middle Name" food court. Before you can even get in line for the daily gameshow "Let's count all the ways you were a bad mom today!" you're already deep and mired in a place that looks like West Texas and smells like two day old sauerkraut.

Blech.

So, in an attempt to saunter away from Discourageland, tra la, and not stray into the kitchen (boo hiss) I went over to NieNie and watched her video. If you haven't seen it yet, you should go over and check it out. It takes forever to load, but it's worth it.

And it'll get you out of Discourageland. At least for awhile

Thanks for listening. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Special.

You know, I am a pretty fantastic mother.
And I'm not just saying that. I'm basing my superior status on empirical evidence.

Let's examine the facts:
1. I have three children.
2. None of them have died.

Right there, I am way ahead of most mothers in history. I don't think 5% of mothers could claim those accomplishments a century ago, which I think had less to do with dysentery and cholera and more to do with poor mothering skills.

But there's more. Oh yes, there's more.
3. I love to enrich my children's minds with copious amounts of PBS Kids "Curious George" and, thanks to Netflix "watch instantly", a healthy dose of WOW WOW WUBBZY: WUBBZY'S BIG MOVIE. I think that letting them watch androgynous creatures that speak with various accents and have no relationship to reality helps prepare them for the real world, with a special emphasis on doing anything you want and getting away with it.
4. The worst swear word my kids have come up with, so far, is "poop." So that's good.

So there you have it. I am a fantastic mother.
Hope you are feeling as confident and assured of your place in the future Hallmark Hall of Fame "Special Mothers" made-for-tv movie as I am today.
Happy Mothering.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everybody do your share...

This morning, Munchkin hucked her eggs off her high chair tray and declared herself "STUCK."

I got her out and started chanting the "Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share" song.
You know that song right?

She crouched down next to me, pointed at the eggs, and sang the REAL version of that song. It goes like this:
"Mom-my, Mom-my, Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommeeeeee..."

Yep. That's about right.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Genetics.

When I was a little girl, if I got up really late at night, I would go out to the living room, and I would find my mother.

She is a night owl.

Almost without fail, she would be there, eating red pudding and watching something--the Star Trek films are what I remember most.

If I got up at just the right time, she would share a bowl of red pudding with me.
That was the best thing ever.

I understand why she was a night owl. The peace while children sleep. Cleaning up a house or a room and having it stay clean--even for just a little while.

If you came to my house and woke up late, you'd find watching movies. Probably Harry Potter. Maybe Sense and Sensibility. And eating red pudding.

I would share a bowl with you.

My daughter has discovered this habit of mine, that I got from my own mother. She loves to join me for "Girl's Nights."

No one can tell me that those moments of parenthood aren't the best, most magical things ever.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Setting my sights a bit higher...


One of my goals is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
In Africa.
Elevation: 19,341 feet.

And I want to climb every one of those feet. I'm aiming for my birthday in 2014--five years from this autumn.

Now. Unlike becoming a beekeeper, which is easy cheesy, getting my very own Mom Jeans to the top of Tanzania is going to take a bit more:
a) Effort.
b) Money.
c) Planning.
d) Time.
e) All of the Above.

I priced out the trip, with flights, guides, and a bonus day to see the wildlife in the nature preserve there.

I wonder if they have squirrels.

I also priced out the gear that I'll be needing. And I discovered something: mountaineering gear doesn't come in a size bigger than Medium.
Huh.
I guess they figure that We Chubbers aren't hauling our ample-ness up mountains very often.
Which reminded me that I should start training for this ascent into the sky.

This morning I began.

I hooked the child trailer up to my periwinkle bike, plunked Thing 2 and the Wee One inside, and took off. 3 miles later, I thought I was going to die. I came inside, flopped on my couch, and turned on Toto's song "Africa" to inspire me.

Maybe I should aim for my birthday in 10 years instead.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

100 Goals: #62


62. Become a Beekeeper. Check
(And look! I've weaned myself off gloves now! My bees come this Friday.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Southeast Day of Service...



Happy Belated Earth Day.

If it wasn't for the fact that Thing 1 remembered that she was supposed to wear green and blue to school yesterday, I would've completely blanked that it Earth Day was even happening. Because all the community "celebrations" are on Saturday, that's why.

We celebrated by distributing paper bags to lots of our neighbors. Attached to each one was a note explaining that we're collecting food for a local soup kitchen. Because they have run out of food.

And that is unacceptable.

In fact, it's a small part of a huge interfaith day of service here in the Southeast this Saturday.
It just has to be a success.
I can't stand the thought of people going hungry.

Neither can Thing 1.

That's why, as we handed out the paper bags, she would run anxiously up to anyone who happened to be out in their yard or getting in their car to give them their bag. Sometime people would see us coming and try to hide in their garage. But she just followed them in there.
The scenario generally went like this:

Startled Neighbor: "AAAAAH! Oh. Hi?"
Thing 1: "We're giving food to the poor people! Put food in the bag!"
Confused Neighbor: "Whaaaa?"
Thing 1 (louder): "FOOD FOR THE POOR PEOPLE. IN THE BAG."
Chagrined Neighbor: "Oh. Uuuuuh. Okay."
Thing 1: "BYE!!!!"

I loved it. I just followed her up the street, carrying her supply of bags. If no one was outside, she would carefully hang them on their mailbox, commenting on their lovely flowers, or the cute cars. (Any kind of small car is "cute".) She noticed every pet cat and pet dog. She was careful not to step on their lawns.

I was so proud.

Now we wait and hope and fill a bag of our own.
I hope for their own sake that our neighbors are generous, or they might get a serious Talking To from my daughter.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Support the Locals.

A few weeks ago, in my wanderings across the internet, I came across the "3/50 Project." Now, if you're like me, you saw that name and you thought it might involve math and started backing away slowly, as if you'd found a copperhead in your petunia patch. But read on! The 3/50 Project promotes that idea that if we each choose three local, independent stores to support and spent $50 each month at those stores then we'll save our local economies.

Support local? Spend money I probably shouldn't? I'm in! I chose my three local stores to support: Aladdin's Eatery, Clara's Choice for Herbs, and The Homeschool Room.

Well.

Aladdin's Eatery was an easy choice. My favorite restaurant on the planet, serving gluten-free Lebanese food--with to-die-for American desserts. Even if it was just stopping in for some fresh mint tea once a week, I knew that I could find a reason to visit and support my favorite haunt. That was, until I so purposefully drove up and found a note on the door that "Due to Unexpected Circumstances" they had to close.

Sob.

Next on my list: Clara's Choice for Herbs. I love this little store because whether I stop to pick up flax seed oil for my salads or just some awesome grapefruit essential oil to make my house smell good, I'm treated to some conversation from the (ancient) sisters who own the store, and a scripture to go with my life. (They have an uncanny sense when it comes to that.) So imagine my growing dismay when I drove up recently and there was a huge "STORE CLOSING" sign on the front window.

REALLY??? What did I DO?!?!

Apparently, I have enacted a curse equal to that suffered by the Red Sox for many decades.

Which is why I apologize, in advance, to The Homeschool Room. You're probably doomed, and it's all my fault.

In the meantime, go support 3 local stores everyone--let's keep our amazing local economies growing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sold.

One of my favorite things about the "village" that I live in is the community yard sale, held twice yearly in April and October.

It should be mentioned that The Spouse is a garage sale genius. I can send him out with the most eclectic list, and he will absolutely deliver.

I decided to test this a couple years ago with a list that consisted of the following items:
  • A little trampoline, preferably with a rail to hold on to.

  • A Radio Flyer wagon.

  • A porch swing for our backyard.

  • A week wacker.

He brought home every single item. Plus a mini lawn mower for the kids. Unbelievable.

I'm not as good at Garage Sale Sifting. But I have a bit of the adventurer in me, not to mention a specific dining room set that I'm wanting, so this morning at 7:36, I set out on my periwinkle bike to see what I could see.

Which is when I discovered that there is a whole subculture that I don't know if I was aware of going on in our communities. My first clue was when I stopped briefly to say hello to my next door neighbor. One of the choice items she had for sale was a black lacquer headboard. Fan shaped. With gold accents. She was firm on the price: $200.

I wondered if she was asking that because it played a part on the set of "The Wedding Singer", but I decided not to ask.

I peddled carefully onward.

The street, you must understand, was jam packed. Cars were parked right in the middle of the road as their drivers threw open their doors to claim the treasures awaiting them on other stranger's front lawns. I heard more than a few curses muttered at "The Dealers" who showed up an hour before the official start time and had already filled their trailers with The Really Good Stuff. They had their loot loaded and were weaving their way smugly through traffic just when everyone else was arriving.

But, for the intrepid, there were still treasures to be found.

I was halfway around the neighborhood when I saw it. I mean IT. MY DINING SET.
The exact one.


The one I've been pining over, planning over, dreaming of.
The World Market Lugano Dining Table with Bench and 6 Chairs.


How did The Dealers miss THIS?!!?!? The owner must've put it out late! I kid you not when I say that I ditched my bike in the middle of the sidewalk, even at the risk of someone selling it for a tidy profit, and grandma-power-walked (because running is against my religion) up to the table. No "SOLD" sign. Only a piece of paper that said "Table, bench, and 6 chairs. $200."


I turned to the owner to tell him that he'd just made my entire LIFE... just as the man closer to him said "I'll take that table."

And I died. Right on the spot. The End.

No, but really. REALLY????? I can't even tell you how tempted I was to say "I'll give you double." But I'm unsure of Garage Sale etiquette, and I wasn't sure if that was even acceptable at garage sales.... is it?

So I forlornly went back to my periwinkle bike and peddled mournfully away. *sniff*

Oh well. At least there is one compensation: that black lacquer headboard is still in my neighbor's front yard, in case I change my mind.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vogue.

So this probably won't come as any surprise to you, my friends, but here's a confession: I am to fashion what thong unitards are to sunburn--not a pretty sight.

I'm being serious. My fashion sense is so out of whack that I'm holding on to my denim jumpers and overalls, just waiting for them to come back "in." Aaaaany minute now...




(Eeeek! Butterflies! C-ute!)


I blame this on the fact that I was fat in high school. Don't get me wrong--there are advantages to being fat in high school. Mostly the fact that if I were ever to go to a high school reunion (snort) people would be able to say "You haven't changed a bit!" even after 3 kids. Not many people can pull that off. But seriously, what do you expect when you go shopping for your Harvest Ball date in the PRETTY PLUS women's section at JC Penney? Your sense of what's "in" tends to get a little skewed.

Thankfully, I have my daughters to help me, and both of them have better fashion sense then I do. At 5 years and 18 months old, respectively.

I'm not the least bit kidding.

When I need to buy a pair of shoes, I go to Marshalls with Thing 1. Plunking myself down in the middle of the shoe department, I tell her to get me a size 9 and set her free. She brings me back boxes and boxes of shoes, which I try on. Then she tells me which ones to get. Then people proceed to tell me how cute my shoes are. If I stray from this procedure and try to choose my own shoes then I get comments that are more along the lines of "Oh wow! I haven't seen shoes like that since..."

What? Chunky shoes with square toes aren't in anymore???

And just this Sunday the Munchkin came toddling up to me carrying a dress and the matching pantaloons. "How cute!" I thought, and put them on her. Then I reached for the closest pair of her shoes to put them on her. She cocked one eyebrow at me and toddled back into her room, bringing back a shoe that actually matched her outfit. "Oh." I said, placing the shoe on her foot, and feeling a little foolish.

I went to find the other one and when I returned, she had wandered into the bathroom, climbed up on the toilet, and retrieved a matching butterfly hair clip and brush.

"Wow! I didn't even know we still had those!" I muttered.
I swear I saw her roll her eyes.

It's going to be a long twenty years at my house.
Maybe by then, my overalls will be back in style...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shades of Green...

For the past week... or more... I took a blog-cation. To spend time with my parents. To spend time with my kids. To spend time in my garden and in my home.

Sometimes, the world right outside your front door is just so beautiful that you can't keep away from it. A friend of mine said that, and for me, that explains my life for the past few weeks. First thing in the morning, I am lured outside to watch the apricot sunrises and check on my baby plants. The feel of grass that is still soft (which will change rapidly here in ye old South) on my feet. Dirt under my fingernails and endless nursery receipts on the floor of my car. I am thumbing through nursery catalogs and coaxing little plants to grow.

Friday, I went to a local hardware store with my Dad and my kids. This hardware store was built in 1901. The floors are made of wood, and they creak. The man who runs it knows everything about gardening in North Carolina, and is an absolute treasure for a poor, helpless transplant like me. My kids love to look at the chickies that they have in the springtime, as well as the big roosters and hens in a pen in the back. Of course, I couldn't resist running my fingers over the plants they have for sale. Nor could I resist scooping up a couple of pickling cucumber vines or some sweet baby watermelons.

It just couldn't be helped. It's like visiting an orphanage, you can't just leave them there.

I hope that wherever you are, you're being drawn out too--into the wide world and the sunshine. It has been such a long winter, even here.
It's time to stretch and breathe deeply and revive.

But I'll be back.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Canned Peas.


It is 11:29 pm. I am sitting at my kitchen table. The floor is not swept, but the dishes are done, so that's progress. I am addressing wedding invitations for someone who lives in San Diego. My Beloved is in Dallas, which is a 20 hour drive away. Or something like that. The Wee One is screaming in her room, and has been (off and on) since I put her to bed.


There is only one thing I want at a time like this, and it is called canned peas. But I'm all out.


And I'm not even kidding.


I miss you, Beloved.
Come home soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Week.

Confession: I'm really terrible at celebrating Easter. I've just never known how to do it. How to strike the balance between the beauty of springtime with it's bunnies and Cadbury Mini Eggs with the serious observance of Holy Week and Easter.

So we've dyed Easter eggs and hunted for them the Saturday before Easter. We've tried to emphasize the importance of Easter Sunday.

But it's always been small and understated, and it somehow always felt... flat.

This year I was determined to really celebrate Easter. I "invested" in some more Easter decorations. (I have to say "invested" to justify buying them at all.) The Spouse and I started a countdown to Easter two weeks ago Sunday where, each night, our children open a numbered Easter Egg that contains a jelly bean for each child and a scripture about Jesus' life and ministry. We hung colorful plastic eggs on our front tree and talked about the symbolism of things in the spring that can remind us about Jesus.

In short, we did everything we harped and pounded on the subject until it was exhausted.

Sunday was Palm Sunday, and began the nightly opening of eggs that also contained a symbol of Holy Week and the countdown of this sacred time of year. We have talked about the life of Jesus a lot for two weeks now. I have drilled this into my kid's heads. This is going to be a week where they really get it. My hopes are high.

We sat down to read our scripture. My beloved Little Ones are gathered around me.
Filled with anticipation, I asked my five year old daughter what holiday is coming up.
"Easter!" she exclaimed.
"That's right!" I encouraged proudly, "and what is Easter about???"

A heartbeat of a pause. The Humpty Dumpty of my hope teeters.

"THE EASTER BUNNY!!!!!!" she screeched, and both she and Thing 2 started writhing on the floor in delight, amongst the shattered remains of all my plans.

But like a doomed sea captain in a fog, I floundered onward.
"Um, no. Not the Easter bunny. Well. Kind of. But what is Easter REALLY about?" I pressed.

"CANDYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!" they both exclaimed.

Deep breaths.
"What, besides candy, is Easter about?" I insisted.

Blank stares.
"A person?" I asked hopefully.

Oh well. Maybe next year. At least there will always be Mini Eggs.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bummer.

For the past two days, I have been up in the mountains of North Carolina.

You know, Appalachia is a special place. And it isn't just the charming street names like "Possum Trot" or "Bodwich Bottom" that give it such allure. No, while those are lovely bonuses unto themselves, it is really the view that captures your heart.

Because, really, it's worth the drive just to observe A Century of Cars, all in people's front yards. I was also, of course, SO glad to see that there are places in our great nation where young men can go to their local McDonalds in overalls. I can imagine that my joy is overshadowed, somewhat, by the people who are welcomed with open arms at BBQ establishments sporting signs that say "SMOKERS WELCOME."

You heard 'em right. They can make whatever laws they want in Raleigh, but up here?? You are WELCOME.

(This flies in the face of the sign I saw on a restaurant in South Carolina recently that was going smoke-free due to "an overwhelming healthy consciousness." I have no idea what that means. "Smokers welcome" at least makes sense.)

We stayed at a tiny little mountain inn that was built only 20 years ago, but made to resemble a MUCH older building. Complete with wood burning stoves, very thin walls, and snoring Scottish tourists. We contributed to the ambiance, as we love to do, by bringing in small children that run up and down the halls, slam doors, and a one year old that wails hourly, on cue, throughout the night.

I am assured that old people don't sleep well at night anyway, so I wasn't really worried about disturbing them.

The capstone of our trip had to be the visit to the North Carolina Arboretum, with a special exhibit called "The Scoop on Poop." You might think that just because nothing is blooming, the greenhouses are closed, and everything looks completely depressing and lifeless, it might be better to wait to visit the Aboretum. But then you would miss your chance to learn about feces, take hilariously posed pictures by placing your face in a cutout of someone reading a book in an outhouse, and give in to the temptation to scratch and sniff the "SNIFF HERE" stickers on the exhibits. We even got to race dung beetles pushing balls of "dung."

My trip was complete.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunning.


Spring is here. Truly and for real.


Every year, our subdivision ("village" as they like to call it) has a kite flying festival. I left the car home and walked there to meet my family, which--right now--includes my own parent in laws and sister in law. The blossoms on the bradford pear trees on our street are in full bloom, as of yesterday. It is a blissful avenue of white. In the little ponds and lakes, the turtles are sunning themselves.


That is the sign. It is spring. No matter what, winter can't catch us now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maybe not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer.

This morning, I was trying to clean out my vaccum with a knife and managed to stab myself in the hand.

And then I fainted.

(I am a fainter. I'd forgotten that. But at least I didn't pee my pants this time, which I've done before when I fainted. When I was 21. That wasn't embarrasing at all. *snort*)

But the funniest part is that when I related this to my mom/husband/nurse/friend/sister they were less concerned about the fact that I have a puncture wound in my hand than the fact that I was cleaning my vaccum with a knife. "WHY were you using a knife???"

Well, what else are you supposed to use to remove nearly SEVEN YEARS of collected threads from you vaccum? Really--I'd like to know.

But at least I got a tetanus shot. That's a bonus. Bring on your sharp objects: I'm covered.

Unedited Life: Monday Morning




  • I finally figured out what was causing this insane breakout of teenage nightmare proportions: my anti-wrinkle lotion. Figures.

  • I have deep cleaned my house so thoroughly that there's no hope of my regular house ever being clean again. But the insides of all my closets, drawers, and cupboards look awesome. Maybe I'll go live inside one of them.

  • As I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 5:30 (even though the clock said 6:30) to drag my 5 year old out of HER bed, in the dark, I thought "Move the clocks forward an hour? Really? WHO'S DUMB IDEA WAS THIS?" The fact that all of us, en masse, will follow along like sheep proves that--together--there is nothing that we can't accomplish. Because we'll do whatever we're told.

  • My youngest is 18 months old and just started walking. But I still woke up this morning wearing a maternity shirt and maternity sweats. Boy are they ever comfy!!

  • On Saturday, I got to go get "into" some beehives. And guess what? I loved it just as much as I thought I would. It was amazing. These beautiful, graceful creatures buzzing softly around me, covered in pollen, and checking me out just as much as I was checking them out. I held a frame with thousands of bees on it in my two hands and felt not the slightest twinge of fear. Just amazement. Now if I could just get a hedgehog my life would be complete. Hmmm....

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yes.


Today is my 7th engage-iversary.

It seems like such a long time ago. The weirdest thing, though, is that it was such a long time ago.

I have the perfect engagement story. My Beloved really wasn't to be underestimated in his wooing abilities. When he decided to propose, the man decided to propose. It was fabulous. But my favorite part of the whole thing?

The fact that he proposed with a small, gold wedding band. Because he just couldn't wait for a diamond engagement ring.

And I said "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."

That's love.

If you haven't read our love story, and you want to, click here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Open Apology.




Dear Grandparents,

We are so looking forward to your visits in the upcoming weeks. I have been scrubbing every inch of my house to make it ready for your welcome. I've picked out your sheets, stocked up on yummy soap, used lavender in the guest towels, planned a menu, and nagged The Spouse about possible things to do and places to visit.

But alas.
The Terrible Toddlers have found us, right on cue.
And I'm really not kidding when I warn: She bites.

Sorry.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Play in the dirt.

(Don't laugh at my poor, crooked, broken toes. It's not nice.)

I have spent the past two days outside. Barefoot. With my pants rolled up.
It has reminded me that doing that is so good for my soul.
I'm pretty sure that it's working wonders for my kids' childhoods as well.

Today, we all mixed compost (which I explained was cow poop and dirt) together with regular dirt and then planted a beautiful new blueberry bush. We added "apple mint" to our array of herbs that make up the border of my garden. The spearmint and oregano are sending up their green sprouts. I consulted with the kids on where we might want to put some lavender (English is better for attracting bees than French), and if we want to put strawberries near the front.
My oldest made her own lasso and played cowgirl. My son used his blocks to make his own "garden" on the porch. The munchkin crawled and rolled around in the dirt.
I could've lived in today forever.
Today, I was the kind of mother I always wanted to be.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sentimental.



I am missing my grandmother.

Which is strange because I wasn't close to my grandmother. Not for any reason except lack of time. She died the summer I was 13 years old. I didn't go to her funeral, but went on a road trip with my friend. We'd been planning our trip for months. I was a teenager, and selfish.What good would it do to miss my trip, anyway? It wasn't like she was actually going to BE at the funeral. I believed she would understand.
I still believe she would've.
Now that I'm older, I'm not sure that I do.
It's hard not to judge your young, stupid self.
After I got back from my trip, most of my grandmother's things had already been divided and given away. To children, grandchildren, and Deseret Industries. I only inherited a very few things. The things I remember most from her house and her garden weren't things I could carry away anyway... the glass door knobs, her raspberry jam in the freezer with the ghost, windchimes on a clothesline, and an apricot tree that knew no rival.

Even writing about those things makes me ache. It's strange, because I don't think I mourned her at the time. Not really. With her beautiful blue eyes, and a smile that sparkled. Only now do I wish for long conversations I never had. I feel cheated. I want to know who she was, and what she might have thought of me, now. Maybe she could've helped me make sense of myself. I wonder what she would say about my children. I want to know more about her parents.

I just never got the chance to ask.

But in my kitchen is my tangible reminder of her. A strange, cast-off thing, on it's way to D.I. when I rescued it and packed it away. I don't think it was special to her. But it's special to me, because it was hers. A french fry cutter, made of steel. It's sturdy and old and makes me think of her, every time I use it. Tonight I used it to make homemade fries for Sunday dinner.
I miss you, Grandma Jean.
I'm sorry I missed your funeral.
I hope you understand.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Evolution.

This morning, I was perusing through Creative Loafing, looking for cool things to do this month here in the N.C. There were the usual small bands playing at small bars. Support groups. Opera. Theater. A parkour group. Then this listing caught my eye:

North Carolina Naturists!
Celebrating more than 20 years of family-oriented, clothing-optional recreational activities. Call for more info.

My mind began to race--what, pray tell, is a naturist? Well. "At The Naturist Society, we have members who are deeply committed to naturism, and view it as a defining idea of their lives. And we have members who don't give the philosophical side of naturism much thought. They just know that not wearing clothes often feels better and makes more sense than wearing them." (From "The Naturist Society", emphasis added.)

Glory be! There is a TERM for what my children are! Naturists!! (Not to be confused with naturalists, people. Very different.) Not only do my children have a genus and species, but they even have an official club for them! The ultimate opportunity to rub shoulders, so to speak, with their own kind.

I wonder if it's frowned upon for parents to drop their naturist progeny off for the "recreational activity" and head for the nearest clothing mandatory restaurant... hm.

Although, if they offer a special lecture series on "Chafing: Don't Let it Rub You the Wrong Way" then I could consider recreating along with them. Especially if they offer gluten free spelt or oat groats for refreshments...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Update.

An update on the beautiful bedroom set.

I lost the receipt.

I am humiliated. And a bit delighted.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Return to Sender.

Yesterday I was NOT in the mood to abide by a budget. (Come to think of it... when am I in the mood to abide by a budget??)

This always happens when I have two free hours with only one child. In always end up wandering in a most dangerous land called Marshalls.

It's like a train wreck waiting to happen, my budget and Marshalls. With my budget being an old, rusted out VW bug, just sittin' on the tracks saying "Go ahead and put me out of my misery" as the Marshalls express comes looming.

I actually had a *point* to going in, though. It wasn't just mindless browsing for some colorful shoes that might make me look thin. (If that makes no sense to you, you're obviously lacking in cankles. See Exhibit B, according to Google image search.)



No, I was there to look for a sensible twin comforter for my son's new bed. I was hoping to find something that was just perfect, because--at Marshalls--you never know. So I was browsing and found a couple of promising, if still just a touch bit feminine, twin down alternative comforters. But then it occured to me--I could sure use new stuff for *my* bed. And if I get new stuff for *my* bed, then I can use my old stuff for Big Boy's bed. It might be a little big. So what? He's always kicking his covers off anyway.

The wheels in my head are turning as I start browsing through more beautiful possibilities. Then I saw this:

Um. Yes, please.
So, with a dash of unbridled abandon and a good heap of stubborn "I don't give a care", I plunked it on top of my cart and made for the register.
Before the hour was out, it was firmly in place on my bed. I confessed my budget sin to The Spouse, but I'm afraid I didn't even ask for absolution. Nope. Some sins you'd just rather live with.
But, of course, the shoulder angel appears. Tsk-ing. "Wouldn't you rather have diapers? Or food?" the shoulder angel whines.
Quite honestly? No.
But the shoulder angel wins. The shoulder angel, when combined with the slightly crestfallen face of my spouse, always wins. So it's back in it's bag. Lovingly refolded, just as it was. With plans to return it, this very day.
So I was laying in bed this morning under a Bed in a Bag comforter that our home's former owners left in the bathroom, and not pouting at all, when my Beloved hesitantly told me that he was going out to lunch today, and did I mind?
Nope.
Not at all.
As long as he doesn't mind if I come home with a new dining room set.
He kissed my head goodbye, but I could swear I heard some muttering about an inch and a mile...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comfortable and joy.

Today, I'm all about comfortable.

Do you wake up sometimes and just know that it's going to be a sweatshirt and herbal tea kind of day? I do. Sometimes, I know it's going to be a "cute jeans and get stuff done" kind of day. Other days, it's a "gloves and get outside" kind of day.

But today, is a comfortable and joy day. My friend Ruth would've called it a "Mental health" day.

So I'm planning to stay inside, wearing my husband's blue "Purdue" sweatshirt. Spa socks. A strong mug of lemon tea with honey, of course.

And while I'm talking about joy, I just love the graphic that I found for my early spring header. Don't you love it? It makes me smile every time I see it. I can't claim to be into everything that's vintage, but I do have a soft spot for great depression and World War II era graphics. But I still haven't found the perfect background to go with my header. If any of you come across anything that's *perfect*, let me know, will you?

Thanks.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Goals.

I've posted before about my list of 100 goals. The one that I made for a psychology assignment my senior year of high school. It's important to me, that list. Even when my older brother says "You know, everyone else in that class just threw those lists away. Let it go."

I'm pretty sure that he's just jealous. Because even though he has his PhD from some fancy shmancy university in Cambridge, what's the joy in that if you didn't get to cross "GET PHD" off your list??

I rest my case.
Anyway, back to my list.

Every year, I try to work on two or three of these goals. Some of them just happen without my even thinking about them. That was how I crossed off "Drink hot chocolate in the Alps in January." Just happened to be in the Alps. In January. Drinking hot chocolate.

But some take a bit more effort. Goal #62 on my list, which is stored in the file right next to my marriage certificate and our passports, is this: Gather honey.

So for Christmas, my fabulous Spouse paid $30 and enrolled me in the Mecklenburg County Bee School. No huge commitment. Here, take some classes. You all read my blog, you know this.

Well.

Several weeks and a *lot* more than 30 dollars later. I am anxiously anticipating the arrival of my darlings...
As well as all the fun stuff that come with them:
I feel like it's Christmas Eve. I cannot WAIT.
And you know what it means? Not only does it mean a fabulous checkmark next to the number 62 on my list, but it also means a celebratory gift for you, my lovely readers.
Free honey this fall.
Because my followers may be few, but I sure love 'em. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vancouver 2010

As someone who never participates in, and generally loathes watching, sports, I like to dust off my athletic expertise every few years. What better opportunity to brush up on sports lingo than to offer my very well thought out opinions and commentary on the Olympics??

First up, pairs figure skating.

I think we can all agree that the Chinese couple who has been married 18 years and came out of retirement to compete, deserved to win the gold medal. Even if she did almost fall off in the free skate. Whatever. But what *really* clinched their gold wasn't her gigantic, open-mouth smile or his ever present jazz hands. No. It was when the German couple chose their costumes:


Really? Or in German, wirklich??? Send in the clowns?! You chose THAT as your Olympic theme? Maybe something got lost in translation. It could be cultural differences. But I have a hard time believing that a CLOWN costume says "Take me seriously" in any language.

But, then I took a good long look at the Norwegian men's curling team, and decided that I might be wrong:

Masterfully done, guys. Masterfully done. The circus that loaned you those pants was high-fiving all over the place as you used their elephant cleaning brooms to sweep that ice. Sweep it!

Now. On to women's moguls, or--another way to put it--showing the world how.it's.done.

That is American Hannah Kearney, known in the Olympic village as the "Prude" who didn't do a swimsuit photo shoot in preparation for her Olympic experience. And that is American Hannah Kearney just hanging out upside down. For a long time. While her Canadian competition started bawling at the bottom of the run. I know nothing about skiing, and the only time I've attempted skiing I ended up in a pretzel on the bunny hill, but even *I* could see that her run was flawless. Here's to you, Prudie.

But even watching that breathlessly beautiful run isn't as entertaining, The Spouse pointed out to me, as watching the cross country skiers and biathalon...um....ers... cross the finish line. Why? Because it's like a big game of ring around the rosie:

Sing it with me "ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL FALL DOWN!!!" I love it! I love a sport where everyone collapses in despair/joy/exhaustion at the end. Awesome! So unlike those marathon runners who cross the finish line after more than 26 miles.... and just keep running. Like they can't stop. Take a page from your cross-country friends and collapse in a heap instead. It feels SO much better.

Unless you're Lindsey Jacobellis. And you're sitting on your backside halfway through the course as your competition crosses the finish line and you're thinking "WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED?!"

Well, Linds (can I call you Linds?) I'll tell you what happened. That blue gate? Which actually just looks like a pole? You ran into it. So, Lesson 1 from Torino: no showing off before the finish line. Lesson 2 from Vancouver: don't run into the pole. I mean gate. Maybe next time.

But for our final sport, I'm not sure there should be a next time:

I'm sorry. I try to be supportive and understanding. Everyone has their thing. Some people think curling is cool in clown pants. Some people, I'm sure, watch the couples ice dancing. Even if it's just to laugh. But WHO in their RIGHT MIND trains for a sport called "Skeleton." If I understand it correctly, you get on the sled. Face first. And you go down the same track that those bobsledders and crazy lugers use. At 70 miles per hour. FACE FIRST.

Please. Someone explain to me how this is a good idea. Or even legal. Because it boggles my unathletic mind. Ice + speed + face + downhill does NOT, in my also mathematically challenged mind, = FUN.

Stay tuned. You never know what kind of hilarity is left in the second week of competition.