Sunday, May 30, 2010

More About Santa, For Goodness Sake

"Where did Santa & Mrs. Claus get married?"

"How can Santa see me when I'm sleeping?" and

"Why does Santa know everything I do?"

All of these were among Abby's questions for today.

Stanley, Kirby & the Hare

It started with a trip to Kroger for snacks & beer. When the guys got back to the house they brought in their Kroger bag of treasures, which included a swinging rabbit. That's when the five day party marathon turned harey. "We got you something to remember us by," Alex snickered. If he only knew.

The guys unboxed the hare, which nested on a ridiculously long rope & a bench. And out they trekked to the backyard to hang it from a branch far beyond our reach. Several failed attempts left the rabbit with a gaping hole in her bottom. Geoff came to his senses and went to the garage, returning with the palm tree cutter we, for some reason, brought with us from our home in Florida. Perfect. And as we marveled at their swinging rabbit a suggestion of filling the hole with peanut butter was made, turning the trimmer into a peanut butter-spreading machine. It was our great experiment: to see if a squirrel could actually make its way down the rope of shame to eat out the peanut butter. Eventually it did.

{The swinging rabbit, the palm tree cutter, and Alex}

From there it continued to get weird. Crazy. There was drinking. A lot. The two cans of cheese dip, gone. And after our night of drinking, games, chip & cheese dip, and lots & lots of laughs, the big girls went to bed; the boys out for cigars. We woke up in the morning with lights that were never turned off and two boys passed out in the family room; remnants of a night of vomiting lay scattered about. They eventually rescheduled, then canceled their Sunday tee time. The boys were able to compose themselves by the time evening arrived, and we all settled in for a quiet movie night free of alcohol & barf.

On Monday Stanley Steamer reached the scene, and while the crew steam cleaned the carpet, the chair, and all of its parts, the moms went out to lunch. After two days to recover it was time for another rowdy night. We set up the laptop at the little table, then proceeded to check out a website where you are randomly set up with someone else who has logged onto the site to can view one another. We began just watching others, but eventually set up our camera and showed nothing but four seemingly boring adults sitting around a child-sized table in comfy clothes (yes, we were all dressed). Before long we had taken it to a new level and involved misc. childrens toys from the collection in the neighboring room. And for a second night there was no alcohol, nothing to blame the stupidity on; it was pure thirty-something imagination. This night, however, would cost me a severely stiff neck from sitting up on a much higher chair. I was eventually convinced I would be paralysed, but in truth it just needed several days of ice to subside.

Tuesday arrived. We all went to the business of doing our business, and as evening approached, so did a lady from the Kirby company trying to sell us a vacuum. Long story short, it turned into carpet-cleaning day two as we had the toy room carpet made over. She and eventually two managers left our house, after what seemed like hours, and I was left with a broken toe nail from a fallen couch. {And with an offer on the table to sell us that $2,100 vacuum for only $800, we still sent them on their way.} After supper & clean-up, Alex mended, glued & bandaged my toenail. Geoff made drinks, and for another night we set up the computer and sat around the little table. This time we lounged on the couch that was set-up in our kitchen and passed around a coloring book to which we composed a story.

{The morning after}

On Wednesday Stanley Steamer came back to try and remove the marks left behind by Monday's cleaning, and the Earnshaws left Ohio behind as they headed back to Michigan. We were all left exhausted and recovering. But time spent with good friends was time spent laughing in the company people we enjoy. And I think we are all left wondering what could possibly top this?

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Do You Like Your Apples?

Trips to the commissary are among the many special activities Lauren and I enjoy together. They always yield interesting questions and conversations from her inquisitive little mind. Sometimes I walk out of there with an unmaskable smile, which if you've been to an Air Force Base commissary on a holiday weekend, you know isn't easy to pull off.

We navigated our way through the congested produce aisle and pulled up our rocket ship shopping cart to the gathering of apples. As I began the task of selecting a prime few I asked Lauren, "What goes good with apples?"

To which Lauren shouted with a smile, "Papa!"

I was thinking peanut butter. But yes, Papa does go good with apples, Lauren.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thank You Thursday

Five things to be thankful for today....

1. Scheduling a chiropractor appointment. Because honestly, five days is long enough to deal with the pain. Did I mention the appointment isn't until Tuesday? Thank you, Memorial Day weekend.

2. The girls' gymnastics coach, Miss Kim. Not only does she know her stuff, she is great with the girls, and couldn't be more professional when handling little lady drama.

3. A day without a single stranger arriving at my door or calling my phone.

4. The random chaos that good friends bring out when you get together. Night after night of laughs. While I'm exhausted from it all, I can't wait to do it again.

5. Popcorn. Particularly the stuff I picked up at Target today. It will be a nice snack tonight that makes zero mess with zero clean up. I should also throw in the leftovers I pulled out of the freezer; I don't know that they will be any good, but I don't have to make it, so right now, I don't care!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Here we go again. Ten random thoughts for Tuesday....

1. Junk mail. Really?

2. I need to take a vacation from eating. I could give it a try, but I'm sure it will be a short trip.

3. Maybe just salads. I mean taking time out from them. I've had a lot of salad from all walks of the leafy greens and it seems that when I do I end up feeling horrible. Would sticking to a McDonald's diet be better? I don't know. But I bet Abby & Lauren wouldn't object. I won't be trying it, but it's crossed my mind.

4. Mommy lunch dates are completely underrated.

5. I'm a big fan of cultivating beautiful things out of life's struggles.

6. There is a version of prank calling for the new millennium. I hope our girls never get involved in it. Yikes!

7. Very few things in life are as good as laughing with my best friend.

8. Is it twisted that my favorite part of it's Complicated is when Meryl Streep tries to dig herself out of an uncomfortable situation by suggesting she likes a lot of sperm in her semen? It was my biggest laugh out loud moment in the movie, anyways.

9. This heat has me looking forward to one thing: Winter.

10. I'm going to thank my video camera for saving me from shedding tears at Abby's end-of-the-year preschool program today. Keeping myself busy kept me composed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

White People

While concluding this afternoon's lunch, Abby was enjoying the Oreo cookies she had chosen for her dessert. Lauren inquired as to why she did not get dessert, so I asked her what she did to lose her privileges. "Well, I cut my bangs. And also I touched your computer." I was well aware of the bang-cutting, which the baby-daddy neglected to inform me about last night when I returned home; I stumbled upon it this morning while doing her hair--grrrr. The computer touching, however, was a new revelation.

Abby interjected by asking who can touch the computer, "Can adults touch the computer? Kids?"

Lauren, "White people?"


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You Thursday

Five things I'm thankful for this Thursday....

1. Cool air on my morning walk. While it certainly wasn't body-altering, it was extra, extra long. Much needed. Much appreciated.

2. Google, my online spellcheck. If anyone tracked my searches they would certainly be perplexed. Hah!

3. Lauren's sweet little voice. And of course that little snuggled embrace she engulfed me in as she sang me one of her self-composed melodies after breakfast. {Did I mention how grateful I am to be a stay-at-home mom?!}

4. Just a little bit of envy. I'm not talking about the kind that drives jealousy, but the kind that pushes you to reach for your heart's desires.

5. Counting backwards from 5. Don't ask me why I ever started or why I didn't start earlier, but somehow this technique preforms like magic when getting the lovelies to behave on cue. Genius!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. Why, why, why is it so hard for Abby to clean up her toys?

2. When am I going to learn BBQ potato chips do not count as a vegetable serving for the day?

3. Rain, rain, go away. I'm sick of seeing the sky so gray.

4. Could this be the Vikings year??? Hah. I think we all know the answer to that one.

5. If I had a million dollars I wouldn't alter my lifestyle, I just wouldn't do the really crappy jobs like painting or mulching any more. {And I'd have a lot more furniture to maintain.}

6. I wonder how hard it would be to get tickets to see the Twins when I'm home this summer.

7. If I had that million dollars I'd also buy a camera. A really good one that takes great pics. Then I'd sign up for a photography class.

8. How did my girls get so interested in cars?

9. I haven't been as into Dancing With the Stars this season as I have in the past. I'm taking that as a huge sign I'm getting my life back. Although last night I spent that particular viewing hour ironing, so I really can't count that as having a life.

10. I love the sound of the porch door closing at Grandpa & Grandma's. If you've been there, you know that sound.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear Santa

I'm crediting the random afternoon viewing of the classic The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Whatever the real reason, we seem to be very curious about Santa Claus. Abby asked if she could write a letter to Santa. Needless-to-say, Lauren had to put in her two cents worth. The following are the letters penned to St. Nick.

Dear Santa Claus,

I love you in my heart. Do you have food? I am going to make a list for you. Do you drink anything? I think you drink water. Do you have milk? Do you have Play-Doh in your cave? I have a Lizzie Elephant. Do you have clothes besides your red suit? Why do you have a red suit? Do you have a sled?

Your friend,

P.S. What do you think?


Santa Claus,

You are special. I have a Rocket Blanket. I have a Woody. I have chocolate milk. Also, do you make rain? You are a cutie pie. We have lights. We have a toy: two cars. You are milk. You have a bunny? That's it.


{Mailing Our Letters to Santa}

Yes, we put those letters in our mailbox, stamp and all, and after making copies of course. We'll see where they end up. Just maybe Santa will find time in his busy May schedule to reply.

The address reads simply: Santa Claus/The North Pole

Stay tuned....

Making Babies

Upon tucking the girls into bed the other night I was asked, "Mommy, how did I get out of your body?"

Believing honesty is the best approach I looked Abby in the eyes as I stood next to her bed, spread my legs shoulder-width apart and pointed straight up at my crotch, "You came out through there. Good night!"

I should have known the subject would resurface. This morning Abby inquired, "Mommy, how do you make babies?"

Hmmmmmm. Should I give her the long, detailed version or the abbreviated one? Opting for the explanation she could handle, I replied, "You make babies with a lot of love."

She nodded her head, then replied, "And blood."

"I guess you could say that...."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lunch Bunch

School lunches. For me they bring back fond memories of melamine trays, rectangle pizzas, & an Owatonna Public Schools delight: peanut butter cups. But times have changed. This is no longer the '80s, and I am no longer the blindly guided student. I've eaten school lunches from time-to-time as a teacher in Duluth, Austin, San Antonio & several Boston-area schools, always interested in how the locals dish it up. In San Antonio children eagerly gobbled up cornbread with jalapeños, and Bedford, Mass. never went a day without serving Fluffernutters. While I confess I never sampled either, the lunches I did try were par for the course, I guess.

But I'm not the one eating these lunches anymore, Abby will be. And as my school-teaching cousin, Shawn, pointed out, schools have changed a lot since I've been in the classroom.

We've done everything we need to do to get Abby ready for kindergarten next year. She has her shots, she is registered with all of the paperwork in place, and at preschool Mrs. Hart has been mentally gearing the children up for the responsibility that going to the big school will bring. But one thing remains, what about those school lunches? I'm confident Abby will handle herself well in the classroom, but in an effort to ward off any curve balls, I requested a chance to visit the school this spring for a sampling of the institute's cuisine.

The school was great about accommodating my request. We were given a menu and were invited to come by any day that worked for us. The lovelies and I arrived at school a few minutes early so we could grab our lunches and be seated before the chaos of the kindergarten lunchroom began.

The routine was simple, and the girls & I had the option of choosing from the main menu (that day happened to be cheeseburger), graham crackers & peanut butter, or Smucker's prepackaged Uncrustable peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The girls each opted for the pretty-packaged Uncrustables, I the luke-warm burger.

I remember my elementary school lunch days clearly. My cousin's grandma was one of our faithful cooks, and I distinctly remember feeling the need to compliment her on her culinary skills (after all, aren't all grandmas supposed to be great cooks?!) even though I thought the burgers were just okay. If my taste buds remember correctly, those burgers from the days of yore could be a Food Network sensation by comparison.

My intention isn't to call out Abby's new school for their crappy school lunches, as I'm sure they aren't much better, or much worse than most schools in America, but let's call a spade a spade.... it was less than savory.

The meal was "dished up" on styrofoam trays, and cold & mushy by the time it reached my mouth. The napkin (the quality of two sheets of gas station-grade toilet paper), spork & straw were wrapped in a little plastic bag. It was all like one disposable mass of semi-edible processed product. The girls did drink their milk and eat their fruit & their sodden french fries, but they left hungry; they hardly touched the Uncrustable. I left mildly filled from choking down my tray of nostalgia.

In the end, I accomplished my intention:
1. Introducing Abby (and Lauren) to the lunch room routine
2. Get a taste of school lunch

My girls are not picky eaters, so when they weren't interested, I knew it was bad. We still have a few months to mull it over. The truth is, if Abby wants to eat "hot" lunch, I will probably let her. But my mommy instinct screams loud in my head.... Pack that child's lunch. And that's what I will probably do. This way I know she is putting the good stuff into her body that she needs to get through the day, concentrate, learn & be productive.


So I'm making sure my children are receiving the best lunch possible. What about the other millions of school children in America? While it is true that their parents or guardians are ultimately responsible, I firmly believe that schools have a responsibility to provide a nutritious and well-balanced meal, especially with so many children on free or reduced lunch, or parents who do not have or make the time to pack a lunch for them. The subject was touched on in recent months in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution: After revisiting school lunches, I know exactly why our country's school lunch system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Another such quest for answers & change comes from the desk of Mrs. Q, a teacher in the Midwest who took on the challenge of eating school lunches for a year and blogging about her eye-opening experience:

Again I stress my intention is not to throw this school under the bus. As a parent & an educator this is a subject I feel passionately about. I'm not out to start my own food revolution, at least not yet anyways. For now it's become a topic of brainstorming to which I have the summer to come up with clever & nutritious ways to keep my school girl fed. So until then....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hand it to Abby

It was time to get Lauren out of the tub, and that means creating the great diversion from what could otherwise turn into a catastrophic meltdown caused by being the first sister removed from the bathing cavity. One thing led to another and the inquiry came out of my mouth, "What are you going to be when you grow up, Tiny?"

Lauren grumpily answered, "I don't know."

And without missing a beat Abby chimed in, "A handful."

I couldn't have said it better myself.


Thank You Thursday

Last November my lovelies and I challenged ourselves to twenty-five days of giving thanks. It was great practice in finding gratitude in small places. I've decided to challenge myself to come up with five things I'm thankful for on Thursdays; finding one is easy, but five? I guess I'll have to find out.

My first installment of Thank You Thursday....

1. I'm thankful for homemade meals (even if I'm the one whose made it).

2. Thank you, Geoff, for coming home early today. Not only did you get the lawn mowed (and it looks great!) but we get to enjoy a meal with you and you get some time to unwind.

3. I'm thankful for my clean white T. I've worn you all day and not a lick of food or stain.... does this mean I'm moving my traditional uniform aside for the updated Gap version? Hah. No.

{it's getting harder}

4. Thank you pretty, pretty clipboard. I love putting together things that are pretty. I also love giving them away. Good thing I take lots of pictures.

{hmmmmm, one more}

5. I am thankful for a new Grey's tonight. While it is true the show has lost some of its luster, I still enjoy a well-written drama. Someone else's drama.


I finally finished putting together the clipboard for Mrs. Hart. I'm pleased with the way it turned out, so I'm thinking stocking up when the back-to-school sales kick in this fall is a must!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hair Ribbons

As if I really needed to take on another project, yet here I go....

{Hair Ribbons}

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Whenever I drift off into dreams of living in Minnesota, as my heart desires, I try to remind myself that I am where I am for a reason. I found one of those reasons wrapped up in a package named Susie. She inspires me in many small, but significant ways; one of which is Ten on Tuesday. I'm not sure she invented it, but she's certainly mastered it.

This is my first edition. Ten completely random thoughts on Tuesday....

1. We never have a complete wash-out day in Ohio. You know the kind where it rains all day and you have to turn on a lamp in the house. I love those days. I hope today is one of them.

2. It's amazing how many people don't know that the top sheet should be placed facing down when making a bed.

3. I have a lot of liberal friends. It's funny how the ones on the East coast are much more accepting of my conservative views than the ones in Minnesota. Seems counter intuitive.

4. Shouldn't Bart Simpson have graduated & moved out of his parents' house by now?

5. I love my girls. I know all parents do, but I truly adore them. I am blessed.

6. It was so refreshing to hear Geoff come home and say he had a really good day yesterday.... I smiled, then went back to sleep.

7. Why can't I stop thinking about going up to the cabin?

8. Even with so much left to cross off on my mental list, this house has accomplishment written all over it.

9. I wonder if my dad has enough homemade cookies in the freezer to hold him over until I get home again.

10. I think I need to get more sleep. My hips & my knees are still aching from my mulch-a-thon. I hope it is that and not aging.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Quotation Collection

It has been almost a year since I put together my first pencil box. I'm still fine-tuning the details, but I would LOVE to get my own little home business up & running. Thank you, Susie, for commissioning one. Meet the first box in my new line: The Quotation Collection.

{Classy & Fabulous}

{“A girl should be two things: Classy and Fabulous.”--Coco Chanel}

Friday, May 7, 2010

May Flowers

These flowers bloom out of recycling toilet paper tubes & empty milk bottles. Our friends Avry & Nash joined us in our project.

You Will Need:

empty toilet paper tubes (1 per flower)
bamboo skewers
tissue paper
green cardstock
empty single-serving milk jug (ours are from Chic-fil-A)

1. Draw a ring 2" in from the edge of the tube. Repeat on the other end. From each 2" ring draw cut lines every 1/2". Snip along each line to make petals.

2. Fold petals back to create flower. Paint flower, bamboo skewers & milk jug (the vase); let dry. Cut out green leaves to glue on to skewers.

3. Push the skewer through one end of the flower's center until it just touches the other end. Crumple an 8" square of tissue paper and place in the center.

4. Place flower into vase; fill vase with newspaper to stabilize flower if necessary.

{Abby, Lauren, Nash & Avry paint their flowers}

{Abby, Lauren & Avry pose with their May flowers in their vases}

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stick a Fork in it

Done. Done. Done. For five days we put every ounce of what we had into mulching our yard. This is our story.

Forward by Judy Cox

When I saw that delivery truck pull up to their driveway I thought, What in the Sam Hell? When the dump truck pulled away, there it was.... a heaping pile of mulch taller than a fifth grader. I thought she was crazy taking on a project like this on her own. But where there's a will, there's a way.

Day One

Up & at 'em early. I spread the 8 cubic feet of topsoil I had in the necessary areas. 11:30 am the mulch arrives. Driver warns it will pretty much cover the entire driveway. "That's okay," I tell him. "As long as I can get in and out of the garage." I could. The dump truck left and all that remained was a steaming pile of mulch that smelt just like manure. Ahhh, home. Even Uncle LeRoy wouldn't tackle that pile by himself, but I was going to give it my all. I hope to power through it in the next two days. Certainly I am going to have this done before the Earnshaws get here on Sunday!

Completed the entire Northeast side of the house, plus the two trees on that side and one in front. I'm a rock star! But it didn't even put a dent in that pile. Had to leave it there for the day and take Abby to gymnastics. We stopped at McDonald's for an ice cream cone first and I also grabbed a Sweet Tea & a cheeseburger. Yes, I was depleted.

Day Two

Abby had preschool, so the mulch was going to have to wait until the afternoon. Good idea, I thought. My body needs the rest.

Picked up Abby from preschool and made a last-minute decision to have lunch at the Waffle House. We had a coupon for a free waffle, and I could use all of the energy I could get. Our waitress was from Florida and when I told her why I needed a hearty meal she replied, "That's man's work. I don't touch that stuff." For once I concede I like the way those southerners operate. Nevertheless, I was ready to hit the pile.

With the girls' help I completed the remaining front portion of the house and the tree on the Southwest side. Why did I decide it would be a good idea to put newspaper underneath? Neighbors were called in for any available periodicals, as I obviously did not plan well enough. Geoff also brought home a stack of base papers. I learned quickly the Dayton Daily News is printed on the poorest quality in the variety I had been pulling from.

Geoff was supposed to make supper, but worked late. Ordered pizza, went back out. Ate, went back out. Worked until nearly dusk. Tired, but excited to be moving to the back yard tomorrow.

Day Three

Sore and no voice. Didn't get started in the yard until after lunch. Geoff came home after grabbing a sandwich at Subway. Yippee! Daddy took half a day to help with the mulch. Wrong. "Just coming home for a quick break. Looks good!" The encouragement was nice, but help would have been better. I tried to keep the girls away as much as possible. While I appreciated their assistance, the poor air quality and allergies were taking their toll on Abby, poor thing. They played and played. I'm glad they can keep themselves busy.

This will not be done before the Earnshaws arrive; I hope I can at least have it cleared enough so they have a place to park in the driveway. Probably not.

Finished about three quarters of the back of the house. Quit at 5 and took my shower. Geoff made supper. It was mediocre, but I didn't have to make it or clean up, so who cares?

Off to Pop the Cork Night with my new friend Susie and her book club. Drank a lot of wine, munched on yummy snacks, and enjoyed great conversation. My toenails got painted, but I neglected to tweeze my eyebrows; I wonder if anyone noticed.

Stayed out until after midnight. I so needed tonight.

Day Four

I slept in until Geoff's alarm went off. Finally I asked, "Will you please take off work and help me with the mulch?" I didn't want to ask, but it had to be done. He obviously wasn't going to take the initiative. He took the day off and I took Abby to preschool, then got groceries at the commissary.

After lunch we finished the remaining mulch around the house, got the two trees on that end, then moved on to the garden, and finally to the back fence line. It took a little while for us to get our groove, eventually we did.

Geoff went into the house and made supper. I was determined to work until dusk; I didn't make it that long. We finished the day tired and barely able to stand.

It's not looking good for the Earnshaws.

Day Five

Lightning, thunder and rain moved in in the middle of the night. It was raining when I woke up. No mulching today, I thought. I rested and read the paper, then make breakfast. After breakfast Geoff went back to the mulch. He was now emotionally involved and wanted to see it through as badly as I.

Folded clothes, picked up, made lunch, then went back to the mulch. And finished! Yippee!

Borrowed power washer from neighbors. Maybe we are dumb, but couldn't get it to hook up to our hose; of course the neighbor wasn't home to ask for help. Cleaned up garage, swept it out, then hosed down a patch of driveway for Earnshaws to park.


I don't know what made me think I could ever tackle fifteen cubic yards of mulch on my own. Even with Geoff's help it was a beast I never want to take on again. As the pile dwindled this afternoon I found it ironic that while the end was within reach there was less and less to stick our pitchfork into, making the phrase Stick a fork in it, it's done a bit of an absurdity. At any rate, even with no mulch pile left to do put it in, we can stick a fork in it, 'cause this project is done!

As for the Earnshaws, I hope the impending rain washes off the rest of the driveway!


{About Me}

My photo
Fairborn, Ohio, United States
I'm a teacher by trade, writer at heart & mom in every sense of my being. I never considered writing as a profession, but after I got married and began moving around the country, I began sharing my adventures, misadventures & updates through a sort of e-mail newsletter. I found a true passion in unconventional story-telling that has followed me into motherhood.