Monday, May 31, 2010

Hello, summer!

What a great Memorial Day weekend it's been. Perfect weather, lots of great family time, grilling, chillin' out ... I couldn't ask for much more. I especially appreciate having had some down-time with Steve and the kids. It's amazing what one extra day to relax on a holiday weekend can do for the body and soul. I'm exhausted from all the activity, but at the same time I feel refreshed.

Plus I have some cool new flip flops and bright purple polish on my toes. Summery feet can do a lot to make a girl happy.

And of course, I am thankful to be living in the greatest country on the planet, and proud of all the men and women who have given of themselves to make all our lives so stinkin' cushy. Thank you to all the military personnel and their families who make the ultimate sacrifices for our freedoms.

Let's see, what else is on my mind tonight ...

Three more days of school left for the kids before summer break begins. This is a good thing.

I've been enjoying spending time out in our yard. Hummingbirds come to visit the fuschia plant and the hummingbird feeder throughout the day. My little container garden is doing well and the tomato plants all have buds on them.

This is a perfect use for the corner planter the kids and I put together last summer. I've decided not to plant anything directly in the soil here because it butts up against our front deck and we will likely be tearing out the planter to do some modifications to the deck within a few weeks.

Here's the trellis I made for the climbing Mandevilla plants. It's an old metal gate that had been tossed to the scrap pile during a cleanup project at my in-laws' house. I've been eyeing it in their back yard for a year or two and finally decided to do something with it. My father-in-law helped me cut off the old, broken, rusty wires and hinges and I bought chicken wire and attached it to the frame with zip ties, then painted the whole thing with primer spray paint, then a chocolate brown Rust-Oleum spray. Originally I was going to attach it to the side of the house, but I thought it looked just fine leaning against it behind the plants.

The pink flowers on these plants are amazing. I've already gotten so much enjoyment from them and I can't wait until they're cascading over the sides of the trellis. They're supposed to be pretty fast growers, so it shouldn't take long.

By the end of this week the kids and I will be packing up to head to Pennsylvania to spend some time with Steve. I'm already making the checklist of things to take with us, and I'm excited about the opportunity to do and see more than we could there during the cold, dreary days of winter. Right now, though, I'm going to grab a book and a drink and sit outside and enjoy the last bit of daylight on this gorgeous evening before we start another busy week.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What?!? It's only THURSDAY??

I have been a day ahead of myself all week. By Monday afternoon I thought it was Tuesday; Tuesday morning I woke up thinking it was Wednesday. So of course, when the alarm went off this morning I thought it was the start of the weekend.

Not that the day of the week makes a big difference in my world as a stay-at-home mom, except that on Friday evenings I can let my kiddos stay up a little later and we don't have to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning.

And this weekend is a holiday weekend and my Stevie will be home for a visit, so I'm even more excited for Friday to come around.

And I mean really excited.

HOWEVER. I am not sad it is only Thursday. I still have a few more things to do before I will feel like I can truly kick back and enjoy the weekend without racing around trying to finish that ever-present To Do List. I know, it will all be there when the kids are back to school and Steve is back to work, but it's just in my nature that I can't really relax and put my feet up if a pile of work is staring me in the face when I do it. So ... two more days of hittin' it hard, then I'll be ready to hang out and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

One thing I'm working on today is a trellis for some climbing Mandevilla plants I bought a couple weeks ago and finally got in the ground last night. I'll post a picture when I get that trellis up - hopefully later today!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a jungle out there!

 "Kitteh sez kool tyle feelz guuuuud."

Seriously. Our back yard is overgrown and it's hot and humid and there are bugs everywhere. I slept with the windows open last night with the hope that some of the cool night air would make its way into the house, but not much of it did. Despite that, I love waking up to the sounds of the outdoors. There were so many birds and frogs and squirrels chattering away this morning, it really did sound like a jungle out there.

At least I think so. I've never actually been to the jungle.

Our house is a zoo, though, so maybe that counts for something.


It's another one of those days when it's too hot to do much of anything outdoors, but that's OK because it forces me to focus my energy on Mt. Laundry and all the other things I have been neglecting indoors while I've been out frolicking in the yard. Oh, and helping the neighbors pick asparagus. That season is back in full swing after a hard freeze obliterated the fields a couple weeks ago.

I need to kick it into high gear if I'm going to have everything done before the weekend. My grand plan is to have the majority of the house and yard work out of the way so the kids and I can enjoy the weekend with Steve.

I might need The Force for this one. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: 5.23.10 edition


I'm sick. I can't breathe through my nose. I can't hear anything or taste anything. I'm exhausted.


It is starting to get better. And fortunately I've been able to function - albeit moving a little slower than usual. I've been carrying a box of tissues around the house with me, and the kids laughed at me Saturday morning because when they came in to say good morning they found crumpled up Kleenexes all around me on the bed. Niiiice.

So ... blah. All I want to do this week is get better.

I'm looking forward to Friday because Steve will be home for the long Memorial Day weekend. It can't get here soon enough.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Perfect timing.

Yesterday both of my children had outdoor activities planned with their classes at school. It was sunny and 80-something degrees. Beautiful.

This morning it's raining on and off - a nice, slow, soaking rain. Perfect. The weatherman says it's supposed to continue like this throughout the day. I'm good with that.

I'm a little sore this morning after spending the day with Rachel's class hiking around the Ludington State Park. Friends who are familiar with the park can really appreciate it when I say I survived the Skyline Trail. I did not, however, run down the sand dune. I'm pretty sure if I had I would still be down there at the bottom of the hill this morning.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

Walking the trails.

Top of the dunes. This is the reward for hiking up the 100+ stairs of the Skyline Trail. Helloooo, Lake Michigan!

Crazy kids. There's Rachel in the middle in the green shirt. I think she's telling her friend to hurry up. 

Can't tell whose kid this is, can you?

Yep. Still mine.


Happy Friday, y'all. Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Best/Worst, Bad/Good

Occasionally while we eat dinner together I play a little game with the kids and ask them to tell me about their best moment of the day and their worst moment of the day. It's always interesting to hear best/worst moments or "good thing/bad thing" from a child's view, and even how different they can be in the context of a boy versus a girl, or a pre-teen versus a second grader.

I've been playing a little game of Good/Bad with myself this evening as I think over the past few days and how incredibly busy I have been. It never hurts to slow down for a few minutes and keep things in perspective.

I'll share.

Bad: There are days when I miss seeing some of my old coworkers on a regular basis and I long for the camaraderie of working toward a common goal with them.
Good: I have a standing weekly coffee date with friends which gives me something to look forward to, and a place to connect with a couple of amazing women (also wives and moms).

Bad: The longer I am home, the more I realize needs to be done here.
Good: I have the time and - little by little - we have the resources. And I am healthy and able to take on many projects myself (or with the help of a friend or two).

Bad: Sam received yet another disciplinary ticket on the school bus this week, thus banning him from riding said bus for the rest of the school year.
Good: We get to sleep in another hour every morning.

Bad: Somehow Ladybug's lead came unlatched from her collar today and she took off.
Good: She had a good run and came back!
Bad: She's dirty and she stinks like swamp water.
Good: Uhhh ... she came back!

Bad: Both of the kids need summer clothes. Sam's shoes are about to fall off his feet. Rachel has only a few pairs of short pants that fit her, and with the warm days we've been having, every day she is searching for something appropriate to wear.
Good: They can make it to the end of the school year, even if I have to do laundry every other day for the next two weeks. Then we'll have to go on a bit of a shopping spree.

Bad: I miss my husband somethin' awful.
Good: He has a job. He's two states away because he goes where his job goes.
Bad: The kids miss him, too.
Good: As soon as school is out we get to go stay with him.
Bad: We're coming back so Sam can go to summer school.
Good: Ummm. I get to spend some quality time with Rachel while Sam is in school? Yeah, there aren't a lot of great points about summer school. My hope is it will prepare him a bit better for middle school. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Bad: I'm so tired I can hardly think. Makes it hard to stay focused.
Good: I'm so tired I can hardly think. Makes it easy to fall asleep at night.

And with that, I think I hear my pillow calling me.


Monday, May 17, 2010

What is this phenomenon?

You know that one that causes you to want to hang out in the cleanest room in the house? The room you just spent all day rearranging and organizing and making all smelly-goody?

It's that invisible force that draws you to a freshly-cleaned room because it feels all cozy and happy, even though you don't usually spend much time there.

It makes you sit in a chair placed at a certain angle in that room so you're seeing things in a different light.

It's the refreshing energy of dusting off the leaves of a house plant and moving it from a place where it was just hanging out to a place where it will thrive.

It is the enjoyment of a space that feels new.

Am I the only person who does this? Somebody tell me I'm not the only person who does this.

I spent most of the day arranging furniture and creating a little computer/office-y/music listening nook for myself, and now I'd like to roll out my sleeping bag and sleep right here by my desk.

I just appreciate a space free of clutter and full of good energy.

It's the Clean Room Phenomenon.

It doesn't happen often around here, but it's really cool when it does.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: 5.16.10 edition

Here we are at the end of another busy weekend. How do they slip by so fast?

The weather was phenomenal this weekend. We got a ton of work done around our yard and at my in-laws' house next door. My body aches and I am dog tired, but it feels so good to have accomplished so much and to have spent some quality time with family.

I picked up a few flowers today to start adding some color to the house and yard. It was hard not to get too far ahead of myself; I still had vegetable plants on the deck that needed to be transferred into pots! And ooooooh, my mind is just racing with all the things I want to do outside this summer. I have quite a list going for the outside, and I still have to finish my list for inside! Ack! But I am looking forward to continuing the process of making improvements to our home, inside and out, and enjoying the work as I go.

One thing at a time. This might have to be my new mantra.

~ ~ ~

I had my first hummingbird spotting of the season this afternoon! I was just chatting with a lady at the farmer's market today about how neither of us had seen any hummingbirds yet this year, then I came home and hung up my new fuschia plant, walked away to get more plants to pot, and when I turned back around there was a hummingbird headed for that fuschia. It couldn't have been hanging there for more than a minute! Sweet.

I got some food mixed up and hung the hummingbird feeder next to the plant, too. At one point last summer I saw SIX hummingbirds flitting and buzzing around the feeder all at once. It was quite a sight. I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Friday, May 14, 2010


After mentioning this recipe ... oh ... a couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to making some granola. Yesterday was rainy and dreary and dark and cold - a perfect day to hang out in the kitchen.

I have just one stipulation for whipping up a fresh batch: I have to do it when I have plenty of time to let it cool completely, seal it up in a container and put it away out of sight, and preferably let the smell of fresh-baked goodness dissipate before the kids get home from school. Otherwise, if they come into the house and smell granola and I don't present them with any, there is a very high likelihood of mutiny.

Remember, I'm outnumbered here. These are the kinds of things I have to think about when my husband isn't around.

Here is the recipe I have to work with:

This I got only after the basics were relayed to me via e-mail and copied from the computer by Rachel. I had asked Steve for his recipe after I searched hopelessly for it in the cupboard. Because - I would like the world to know - that despite wanting to avoid being known as anything close to "crunchy," Steve is the real granola-making royalty in this house. That's right. Not only does he like to eat it, he makes his own granola. I maintain he is a tree hugger at heart. Don't let him tell you otherwise.

Here are the ingredients you'll need:
3 cups oatmeal (I guess that would be uncooked, instant oats)
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pancake syrup
1 T cinnamon
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (or so) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (or so) raisins (Horror of horrors! I had NO raisins in the house so I used dried tart cherries. Use whatever you like. Varying the yummy extras in this recipe will not ruin it.)
Cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. I am fortunate enough to have a wicked cool, amazingly well-seasoned baking stone. If you don't have one of these, you might wanna' spray your baking pan with a little non-stick spray.

Sidetrack: Is there anything in this world as sweet as a brand new, freshly-opened jar of peanut butter? Mmmm. I think not. That just totally makes my day.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pot, melt together the oil, syrup, peanut butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until it boils. Keep stirring and let it boil for one minute. Then turn off the heat.

Add the oatmeal and sunflower seeds and stir it all together until the oatmeal is coated. It'll look all sticky and yummy. Mmmmmm.

Dump that sticky, yummy blob onto your baking sheet and spread it out with a spatula or the back of your spoon.

Now stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Set a timer if you think you'll forget because trust me, you don't want to burn the sticky, yummy stuff! After about 10 minutes - or about the time it would take to empty the dishwasher or put away all the leftover ingredients and throw in a load of laundry - take the granola out of the oven and use a spatula to flip it. It's not going to be crispy quite yet. Put it back in the oven.

Give it another 10 or 15 minutes. Go eat a banana. Or a salad. Or some tuna. 

Seriously. You're going to want to put something in your belly before you take this stuff out of the oven or you will eat it all. You will risk burning the inside of your mouth and your entire digestive tract because you think you will try just one bite but you will want more, and there is no resisting.

Listen to the voice of experience.

OK, but you can't say I didn't warn you.

I think this is as good a place as any to tell you that the granola doesn't really change colors from beautiful golden brown to grayish-looking gruel like it appears to in the pictures above. That's just my crappy camera (which I really am so happy to have), the lack of natural light coming into my kitchen (it was a dreary day, remember), and probably several other factors. Really. I am developing a serious respect for the food hacks who take awesome photos with one hand while frying something in hot oil with the other hand. Whew.

Moving along.

I'm afraid there is no distinct way to check whether your granola is "done" when you take it out of the oven. If it looks good and smells good and you hear a little sizzling action goin' on, it's probably done. It's still going to look a little ooey-gooey, but it'll crisp up as it cools. Just set the pan on the stovetop and - this is very, very important - get out of the kitchen. Go watch Oprah. Take a nap. Play a round of Scrabble with your spouse. Write a very lengthy blog post. Something. Anything that will keep you from even walking through the kitchen while the granola cools. I'm not kidding!

When it is completely cool, you may return to the kitchen and spoon it into a bowl and toss it with the chocolate chips and raisins (or cherries or nuts or M&Ms or all of the above, whatever you like).

When I got mine all stirred up I felt like there weren't enough cherries in there, so I added more.

There. NOW you can eat some. But I'm warning you, this stuff is addicting. Like crack. So I've been told.

If there's any left after you've had your just one bite, store it in an airtight container.

I really only had just one two three four (or so) bites because this batch is going to our neighbors who supply us with fresh eggs from their chickens.

And now that I've told you that, I am obligated to actually seal up the container and set it aside until I have a chance to deliver it.

I'm closing up the container now. I swear.

What? I am!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A proud mama moment.

Yesterday there was a party at Rachel's school for all the kids who wrote books for the Young Authors & Illustrators contest.

Have I ever mentioned how much I loooove the Young Authors program?

Love. It.

The fact that my girl is following in my footsteps as a writer is pretty cool, too. She is always writing little stories and asking me to read with her (double awesome). She worked on her Young Authors book every night for about three weeks. It was 20 pages long! It was the true story of when we lost (and then someone found) our dog, Ladybug. I wish I had taken some pictures of her illustrations to share with you here because, for an 8-year-old kiddo, they were pretty awesome.

Perhaps that's why she received the Illustration Award!

In case there was any confusion, she circled "Illustration Award" on the certificate. That's the bottom one. The certificate on the top is "the one everybody got for writing a book," as she said.

She wasted no time getting those babies up on the refrigerator when she got home from school.

And on the small chance that someone miss the certificates and head straight to adding something to the grocery list on the other door of the fridge, this:

Yay, indeed! That's my girl.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Well looky here.

I was pulling some rogue ferns out of my hostas when I saw some leaves that were green and pretty, but most assuredly not hostas.

As I picked my way through the hosta leaves to find the base of these other plants so I could yank them out, I realized they were ... could it be? Yep. Sure enough.

Lilies of the Valley!
But wait. I didn't plant any Lily of the Valley here.

Last year I did stick a dead, withered sprig of lilies in the ground about 10 feet away on the other side of the shed. Rachel had picked them for me from my mom's house and since it appeared she yanked them out by the roots I wondered if by some miracle they would sprout this spring.

I had completely forgotten about that until now.

For several minutes I was perplexed at how the little, shriveled up plant might have gotten transferred from one side of the shed to the other. Lilies of the Valley propagate through their roots; there are no seeds for squirrels to carry off and bury elsewhere.

And then I remembered how I have been tripping over the paving stones I placed in front of the shed door because they were pushed up and left uneven by a mole. Said mole apparently does laps under my pavers ... you guessed it ... from one side of the shed to the other.

Hmph! I'll show him. Whiskers The Cat happens to like the taste of moles.

Don't you, Whiskers?

That's right, I said "MOLES!" Whaddaya gonna' do about it?

What's that? You hear one?

Go get 'em! Good kitty.

Be afraid, moles. Be very afraid. I have the Chuck Norris of cats here and I have promised her tuna for every dead subterranean animal she leaves on my doorstep.

I didn't yank the lilies out, by the way. I think I'll wait until fall and transplant them somewhere else, hopefully out of the path of any moles that remain after Whiskers returns from the hunt.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Netflix loves me.

I will assume that if you are reading this post, you know what Netflix is. If you don't know what it is, please crawl out from under that rock and say hello to the 21st century.

Now then. A confession.

I am a total Netflix loser.

Even though I'm on the cheapest possible plan - receiving one DVD at a time, up to two a month, and a limited amount of on-line viewing time - the company is totally making money off of me.

And you know what? I don't care.

Netflix was designed for people like me. It's a fantastic business created for folks who have a terrible record for returning rented movies on time. I cringe at the thought of how much we paid in late fees over the years for movies we either never got a chance to watch, or watched as soon as we got them home, then it took us three days (Or a week. Or long enough that the movie rental place was calling us to bring them back.) to remember to put them in the car to return them. That translates to $2 or more in late fees for each video, each day.

This is why I love Netflix, and Netflix loves me. I can keep the DVD's for weeks at a time if I want and as long as I continue to pay the monthly fee there are no extra late fees and no worries.

Case in point: I still have the DVD Netflix sent to me on January 30. I likely received it February 1. (Another reason I love Netflix - the quick turnaround. I send a DVD back and have the next one from my Queue within a couple of days.) Here's the part that makes me a total loser, though: I watched the movie three weeks ago and I still haven't sent it back.

As if that weren't enough to place my name in the deadbeat column, there's more. I've kept DVD's even longer than this one.

I'm not lazy. I'm not even that disorganized. Sticking that envelope in the mailbox just isn't high on my list of priorities on any given day.

Yes, I pay $4.99 a month for the privilege of keeping a rented DVD for as long as I darn well please. It's not the dumbest thing I've ever done, and certainly not the worst thing I could be wasting money on. Definitely not worth the energy it would take to feel guilty over. So I don't.

Do you regularly spend a guilt-free $5 or $10 (or more) on something, even if it's impractical? Just because it's fun, or it's your one vice?

Movies? Coffee? Sunday morning donuts? Video games? Eyebrow waxing? (OK, I guess that one might be very practical for some.) Lunch at Burger King? Dollar store toys for the kids?

Humor me. I'm curious.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh, Monday.

Dishes. Laundry. Grocery list. To-do list. More laundry.

Back to the grind. Back to having a quiet house during the day. Back to being a single parent, for all intents and purposes. Mondays are both good and bad, for all the same reasons.

I'm thinking of taking a cue from the dog and stretching out on the couch for a nap. I promise something more exciting ... or interactive ... or funny or ridiculous ... tomorrow. For now, just a sweet reminder of a lovely weekend:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: Anniversary/Mother's Day edition

It's Mother's Day.

It's our wedding anniversary.

My daughter gave me a book she wrote and illustrated, all about me. And a bag of my favorite chocolates. Fabulous.

Steve slept in while the kids and I went to church, and when we got home he had done the dishes and taken the trash out. Awesome.

It's been a very busy, but all-around very good weekend.

I'm not quite ready for Monday, but I am looking forward to being back in a little more of a routine.

Time to settle in.

Happy Mother's Day to all you amazing women out there. I hope you had a wonderful day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

We've come a long way, baby.

It's our anniversary!

Well, Sunday is our anniversary. Steve and I will be celebrating 12 years of wedded bliss.

OK, maybe nine years of wedded bliss and three omg hold on tight 'cause this is gonna' be a bumpy ride kind of years.

Or maybe seven years of wedded bliss, three omg hold on years, and two years of what did you say your name was again?

Add to that five years of dating plus engagement before we got married and that makes 17 years we've been together. That's pretty darn close to 20 years. Two decades! Eeek!

We have so many stories to tell already, I can't imagine what it'll be like in another 20 or 30 years when we (hopefully) have a few grandchildren running around. Steve is an amazing man, a great provider for his family, a loyal friend, a faithful husband. I knew I was in love with him when I was 16-going-on-17, but I couldn't have imagined what life would be like today. It hasn't always been sunshine and roses, but I do believe my life is better today than it would be if I didn't have Steve in it.

This man has been a part of so many important times in my life.

 He was there when I graduated high school.
(Don't we look like babies?)

 He was there when I graduated from college.
(Look! Three-wk-old Sammy made it, too!)

Countless holidays, decisions, celebrations, struggles, good times and bad. He has always been my strongest supporter and my biggest fan. He has been my rock, my constant, my shoulder to cry on, and the one who sets me straight when that's what I need the most. His laid back nature balances out my intensity. His love for life and people and doing the right thing inspires me to be a better person.

He makes me laugh.

I knew I loved Steve when I was what now seems so incredibly young, but I had no idea how much I would love him 17 years later.

Happy anniversary, babe. We've grown up together, now here's to growing old together.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Take time to pray, today and always.

 Luke 11:1 (New International Version)
 1One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

I used to be intimidated by people whose spoken prayers sounded like poetry. Whether it was giving thanks before dinner or praying publicly during a memorial service, I have always been impressed when the words flow freely and beautifully and seemingly without much thought to what would come next.

Feeling like I couldn't "perform" as well as others often kept me from vocalizing my prayers.

What I finally realized is praying - whether the words are spoken out loud or whispered in my heart - is not about connecting all the words in the prettiest way possible, or even about the words at all. Rather, it's about connecting ourselves and our hearts with God.

Seems simple, doesn't it? Well it wasn't that simple for me.

I think, after years of practice, I have finally reached that place where the words do come a little easier, but there are still nights when I am tired and rushing through my mental list of people I promised I would pray for and I give in to the exhaustion and go generic and say something like this: "Heavenly Father, you know what is in my heart and you know the names and the faces and the needs of all those I wish to pray for. Please surround them with your loving embrace and allow them to feel your presence in their lives."

And you know what? It's all good. He gets it. God knows the specifics even more intimately than we do and it pleases Him that we pray, even if it is simply to ask that His will be done.

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Cities all over the country have events planned to focus on our freedom to worship at the time and place of our choosing - even on the steps of our local courthouse. But if you can't make it to your courthouse or there aren't any events in your town, I encourage you to take some time to focus on your own prayer journey today. Are you doing OK? Are you practicing? Is your prayer "voice" a little rusty?

I believe in the power and significance of prayer in our everyday lives. I believe it is just as important to thank our Lord for His blessings on us as it is to ask for guidance, healing, and grace. I believe every day should be a day of prayer.

With that, a quick story about sharing the power of prayer with my children:
The kids and I were working on our vegetable garden one spring (maybe even last spring, I can't remember) and I was trying to start our old, heavy, cantankerous rototiller. I pulled and pulled and pulled at that rope and nothing was happening. I went inside and called Steve to ask if there was anything I should be doing differently. Nope. I had checked the gas and oil, all the levers and buttons and thingamabobs were in the correct positions. So I went back outside and kept trying.

That tiller would sputter and die, over and over. The air was hot. I was exhausted. But I wanted to get the rest of that garden planted.

Out of sheer frustration, I took a deep breath, looked skyward and said aloud, "Dear God, I am willing to do the work if you would just let this tiller start for me. If it won't start I will take it as a sign that today just isn't our day to work on the garden."

Rachel looked up from planting something and said, "Mom? What are you doing?"

"I'm praying for God to help me get this stupid tiller started," I said.

And then I pulled the rope again.

And that sucker fired right up.

Rachel jumped up, her face beaming, and shouted over the noise of the machine, "I guess praying really does work, mom!"

Yes it does, baby. Don't you ever forget it.

Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Doc, drugs, and the art of doing nothing.

Doc: "Where's the worst of it?"

Me: "Neck and left shoulder."

"OK. What happened?"


"Just life, huh?"

Now my voice is muffled because I'm lying on my stomach with my face in that head pillow thingy. I really just want to stay there all day.
"Yep. I've been doing lots of work around the house lately."

"And probably twice as much as usual, right?"
He knows Steve is working out-of-state.

"Yeah. Do ya' think I could clone myself?"

"How many times?"


He's working his way from my hips to my shoulders, palpating my spine.
"Oh. OH. This is bad."

"Yeah. Wanna' hear something crazy? It's actually better than it was yesterday."

"Ya' got quite a speed bump there."

"No kidding."

This is where he tells me to take a deep breath and let it all the way out.

The stabbing pain is immediately replaced by a dull ache. Ahhh, relief.


My nose starts draining.

"And again."

I feel like I can run a marathon. OK, maybe a 5k. Maybe walk a 5k. Slowly.

This time the neck. 

I think I see stars on the backs of my eyelids. 

Why did I wait so long?

This is really going to hurt later.

I wonder if we still have any prescription-strength painkillers in the cupboard.

"You're going to take it easy today, right?" 


"NO chores."


Here comes my favorite part: massage. He uses some vibrating shiatsu-looking thing. Not as nice as a hands-on massage, but I'll take it. 

"You really need to be careful today. Get some heat on there to loosen up those muscles and take something for your pain. This is gonna' be sore for a while."

"Got it."

That's it. Adjustment done. I take a deep breath before I rise up on all fours, then slowly climb off the table

"You're going to want to take a day off. Or TWO." Emphasis his.

~ ~ ~

Right. Two days? No bending, lifting, twisting, pulling? No can do, chief. I totally respect the doc and all he does for the spinal health of humankind, but I can't put life on hold while I heal up. And really, who could?

In the interest of not completely incapacitating myself, though, I promise I'll do less than nothing at least until my kids get off the school bus today. That gives me a good ... oh ... seven hours from the time I left the doc's office.

The drugs are already kicking in and the couch is calling my name. 

So ... happy Cinco de Mayo, amigos. It's time for a lengthy siesta. Hasta maƱana.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Could somebody help me out here?

Before I lose my ever-lovin' mind?!?

Ladybug tips her food dish over every time she eats. 

Every. Time.

See that? I hollered at her and she's all, "What? Can't a girl eat in peace?"

I thought maybe she was being picky and tipping the dish so she could eat her favorite pieces of kibble first, but she still tipped it when I fed her a different kind of food that all tastes the same. (At least it all looked the same. I didn't taste it.)

And she does eat all the food off the floor eventually, no matter what kind we give her, so it's not like she's refusing certain flavors.

I'm really getting annoyed with the sound of that metal dish clanging across the kitchen floor, not to mention stepping on random pieces of chow that manage to get kicked all over the house.

What is up with her? She's done this since we brought her home a year and a half ago.

Fortunately she doesn't do this with the water dish. But if I can't get her to stop I'm gonna' stick her food dish to the floor with poster putty.

Or maybe I'll eliminate the dish and start throwing the food at her. OUTSIDE.

Oh! Like spreading feed for chickens! That might not be so bad!

But seriously. I'm open to suggestions on how to get her to stop. Got any?

Monday, May 3, 2010

My body and I have called a truce.

Have you ever been in so much pain that it made you physically ill?

That kind of pain that makes you groan when the alarm clock goes off in the morning because it's still there?

That kind of pain that makes you want to take three times the recommended dose of painkillers because you are certain three is better than one and it couldn't possibly destroy your liver if you did it just this once?

That kind of pain that makes you want to rip your hyperactive kid's head off for asking if he can have an iced cinnamon bun for breakfast? (Oh wait. That has nothing to do with the pain. Nevermind.)

I woke up yesterday morning unable to move my left arm. Oh, I could move it, but not without making the left side of my body feel like someone was stabbing me repeatedly in the left shoulder blade with a pair of dull scissors.

Because dull scissors sound so much more painful than regular scissors, right?

The pain radiated out from my shoulder, crept up the back of my head and shot down my arm and leg.

Steve, God bless him, let me stay in bed and brought me the heating pad and some Tylenol. Tylenol, not Advil, because the universe played a very nasty trick on me and made me allergic to ibuprofen. And Lord knows we didn't need to add a nasty case of hives to the mix.

I finally got up, spent a few minutes feeling sorry for myself, then stretched as much as I could and had Steve try to rub out some of the tightness in my neck and shoulder. The more I moved my body, the more it seemed to loosen up. I was able to get some work done throughout the afternoon with only a few reminders of the pain when I turned my head too quickly or reached up to pull something out of a kitchen cupboard. But as soon as we started to settle in for the evening everything tightened up again and I ended up falling asleep on the heating pad. (I know, I know. Not 'sposed to do that.)

This morning I couldn't decide if I wanted to scream or cry. It was a major chore just to wash my hair in the shower. I was not very tolerant of the kids' usual morning madness. I was sick to my stomach. I told myself if I could just hang on for another hour I could get to the chiropractor's office and he would fix me up and all would be right with the world.

So I dropped the kids off at school and headed to see my favorite doc.

But when I got there I was met with a sign on the door: Closed today. Open tomorrow at 8.


This, my friends, was a defining moment. My choices were a) burst into tears, b) find another chiropractor, or c) take a deep breath, move on with my day, and plan to be back at the office at 7:55 tomorrow morning.

I chose C. And instead of being angry with my body for limiting what I could do today, I decided right then and there to make a conscious effort to nurture it to better health. I hate to admit it, but my body isn't rebelling; it is merely reacting to the hell I've put it through all these years, and especially these last few weeks. Sure, I could do much worse - I don't use recreational drugs or drink heavily, and I'm not completely sedentary - but I could do a whole lot better, too.

No, this is not the first time I've had this revelation.

Yes, I do believe I can still make a difference. It's never too late to start taking care of oneself (again).

So I took a few deep breaths, got myself a bite to eat (a breakfast burrito and a frappe from McDonald's, if you must know, and yes, they made me feel much better), and hit the grocery store. It felt good to load my cart with fresh fruits and veggies, good cheese and lean meats, with a promise that I will do my best to treat my body with a little more respect and kindness from this moment forward.

I feel better already.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: 5.2.10 edition

I am alternately thinking "how can it be May already?" and "wow, thank God it's finally May!"

May = asparagus season. This is significant for me for two reasons. 1) I extra-special puffy sparkly heart LOVE asparagus, and there is nothing like a handful of fresh, local asparagus with (or for) dinner. 2) I pick asparagus from the fields with our neighboring farmer friends for some extra cash. I will tell you I love this gig or hate it, depending on the day, the weather, my schedule, my mood, the height of the asparagus, or the placement of the planets. Today was the first day of picking. More about that later.

May = one month left of school. And then summer break! We will be focusing on doing as little as possible this summer. At least that's my plan right now.

It was an enjoyable weekend, despite - or maybe because of - the rain we got Friday and Saturday nights. I left our bedroom window open last night and it was so nice to wake up this morning to the sound of rain falling and birds singing. Leaves have popped out on most of the trees now and everything smells fresh. I love spring. I can't wait until the danger of frosty mornings is really, seriously, truly gone so I can plant some flowers outside and fill the box that hangs outside my kitchen window with some color.

Time to prepare for the week ahead. For the first time in a long time, I'm not ready. I enjoyed this weekend so much I wish it could last just a little longer.

Dang. How can it be May already?