Friday, September 30, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

Good grief, it's been raining so much around here these days I'm about ready to start building an ark.

Except the rain makes me want to sleep all day.

Hmm. Save the world two by two ... or take a really long nap. I think I'll take my chances that the water won't rise too much. And, well, I haven't gotten any messages from The Big Guy about gathering up the animals, have you?

But I gotta' do something today, even if it means dodging raindrops and fighting the wind to run a few errands.

When the weather gets like this my kids ask for comfort foods so I've been poring over my cookbooks and searching on-line for some yummy recipes to try. I'm also working on using up some of our stocked-up foods in the pantry and freezers and incorporating some tomatoes from my garden that have finally ripened.

Last night Rachel and I made mini quiches and I chopped up some tomato to include in mine (the kids don't care for tomatoes unless they're in a non-chunky sauce). I was a meanie and insisted everyone have spinach, though. Sam was elated. Rachel, not so much. But she enjoyed helping me cook.


I think I'll pick up some extra baking supplies today. I look forward to the house smelling like homemade bread ... cookies ... and who knows what else. Mmmm!
Happy Friday, all! Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Homegirl's been looking at dogs (and PUPPIES!) on 

Do you know what this means?

It means homegirl needs something to do. Divert her attention! Say "NO!" and redirect! (Yeah, like you would at a 2-yr-old reaching for the candle burning on the coffee table. Hot!)

Yes, exclamation points! Because it's urgent.

I go through this every few months. Those feelings of missing our old German Shepherd come back around and I start fawning over the sweet faces of those babies needing homes. That's how we got our Ladybug. We had been without a dog for about five months and it just wasn't the same around here. We are animal lovers and our house isn't full unless we have a few furry friends around. I saw Ladybug's face and those silly hound dog ears looking at me from the computer screen and I fell in love.

How could I not?

I'm certain she's a former coon hunter. She still would hunt if we asked her to (and does even when we wish she wouldn't). But overall, for the past three years she has been a great family dog. She still has terrible manners like stealing food off your plate if you walk away (and I'm still working on her), but she's great with the kids and the cats.

 They are obviously not bothered by the dog.

Though I'm slightly disturbed at how chunky Whiskers looks here. Obviously not her good side.

Anyway. I'm sleeping on the whole second dog thing. Again. I found listings (and pictures!) of another young hound dog and some puppies I would love to meet. And two gorgeous German Shepherds, but they're just far enough away that I'm not sure I want to make the drive. Oh, and the adoption fee for one of them is cah-ray-zee high. Which is probably a good thing because it makes me stop and think.

Seriously. What the heck am I doing looking at adoptable dogs? My heart turns to mush and I want all of them. But winter is coming and the last thing I want to do is house-train a dog in the cold. Again.

What's one more, though?

Eh. Twice the food. Twice the poop. Double the dog fur sticking to the baseboards. But it's so worth it, isn't it?

Ahhh, my eternal struggle. It's not like I have nothing else to do around here. I mean, did you read yesterday's post?

I'm backing away from the computer now. 

Slowly ... backing ... away ...

What? I am!

Going to snuggle my dog now. In all her bacon breath and gray chin glory. Mhmm. I'm gonna' enjoy the one I already have. And probably keep thinking about how she would luuurve another dog to play with.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We can't do everything.

The other day I was blog hopping and found a post from a mom who has gone scratch-cooking-gluten-free-no-sugar-and-I-can't-remember-what-else, and the gist of her post was this: we can't do it all. And ya' know what? She doesn't feel so bad about that.

It was a relief to read this from another mom. She has made the choice to feel good about the positive changes she and her family have made, and to not feel badly because they choose not to do other Potentially Really Good things. I totally dig that. Because for heaven's sake, who are these people who make us feel all sorts of guilty because we don't recycle our glass bottles or cloth diaper our children or make homemade bread from sprouted grains (whatever the hell those are)?

I read that particular post at the same time I was kicking around the idea of writing a sort of stream of consciousness post here. I thought I'd set a block of time, like "preparing dinner" and jot down every(unrelated)thing that came to mind while I did that one seemingly simple task.

Uhh. I decided my somewhat ADD self didn't need one more distraction while I'm cooking. But I couldn't get over the idea, so I thought I'd try a "virtual" stream of consciousness. (Does that even make any sense? Ha!)

OK. Imagine I'm making banana bread. Which I really am going to do today.

Here's what's happening in my head:

Banana bread. Good way to use up the bananas we didn't eat. Score one for not wasting food. Too bad we can't grow bananas closer to Michigan. That whole "eating local" thing. Too many bananas, need to double the recipe. Two cups times two is four cups. Rachel needs some help with her multiplication. Add flashcards to the shopping list. No, we have 3x5 cards, we'll make some. We don't need to buy things we can make ourselves or do without because eventually everything ends up in the trash. I wish we didn't create so much trash. I wonder how much of a difference it makes that we burn our paper instead of putting it in the trash. Definitely a good choice to toss all the fruit and veggie scraps outside instead of in the trash can. Maybe someday I'll actually have a compost pile again, to use on the garden. Deer ate it all last time; bad location. Deer ... I'm so proud of Sam for bagging his first buck. Venison will be back from the processor in a few days. I wish Steve was here 'cause he'd cut it up himself and save the cost of processing. But at least we have the cash to pay to have it done. We have the cash because Steve is working, and having a job is a good thing. Do I miss working? What am I talking about? I still work every day, just not "out there." I work for my family. Part of what I do is home cooking and making shopping lists and following a budget so we can live on one income. Add flour to the shopping list. I should probably start stocking up on baking supplies with the holidays coming. Lots of flour 'cause I want to try my hand at making pies. With crusts from scratch. How can I be 35 years old and never made a pie? There are moms out there teaching their 5-yr-olds how to make pies. Mmmm, apple pie. Do I have enough apples for pie? What are the best kind of pie apples? Note to self: look up pie recipes next time I get on-line. Or maybe I should forage for apples. We have lots of trees around here. Then they'd be free(!) and we all know the best kind of apples are free apples. I'll check into that. Even if they're not good for pie I can make some applesauce and freeze it. Freezers ... I really need to make an inventory of what's left in the freezers and make sure there's room for venison. Make sure to add cinnamon to the applesauce if I make it, 'cause Rachel loves cinnamon. I'd love some nuts in the banana bread but the kids don't care for nuts. Maybe some with chocolate chips and some with nuts? I should just make it how I like it and if the kids don't like it they don't have to eat it. But this is what I planned for an after-school snack. What time is it? Will these be out of the oven before the kids get off the bus? Hey! I bet I can find a flashcards app on my phone. I really need to cut back on the kids' TV time. Some people live without TV and survive just fine - better, even. So they say. Ah well, my kids love TV and it's a great reward after they do their chores. Chores? When was the last time I paid them for their chores? I need to make a new chore list. Maybe it should include helping make dinner. But I'm home all day, I can make dinner. And breakfast, too. I should do a menu plan and do once-a-month cooking. Then we'd definitely need freezer space. Where's the damn dog? On my bed again. I give up! She needs a bath, though. Has she had her heartworm medicine this month? Check the calendar. Crap. School pictures coming up. Another check to write. What a racket. I really want to have family pictures taken sometime. I'd like to lose some weight first, and I'll never do that if I eat this banana bread. 'Cause I like mine with a lot of butter. But it's so much better than buying boxes of snack foods at the store; at least I know exactly what goes into this bread. Sugar. Like my kids need more of that. Maybe we should try cutting back. I can't control what they do when they're not here, though, so they're gonna' get sugar anyway. What time is it? They'll be home an an hour and a half. Should I be driving them to school? I'm not crazy about some of the things they hear on the bus. But it would be crazy to use all that gas when they can ride the bus for free. Man, I really wish I had a stand mixer. Definitely need to invest in one before we start making our Christmas cookies this year. Gotta' stock up on those supplies. Wouldn't it be fun to do a cookie exchange with some girlfriends? I'd really like to have a get-together. Need to do some cleaning, though. Put spray bottles on the shopping list so when I use up all the cleaning supplies I have I can make my own. Natural cleaners are a good thing. But I'm not crazy about the smell of vinegar. What's that candle over there? I should swap out summery scents with fall scents. I like these candles that are made in the USA. Pumpkin pie candles make me want pumpkin pie ... hmmm ... maybe I can teach myself how to make pumpkin pie. And make several, and put them in the freezer, for the holidays, when we'll be making cookies, and budgeting so we don't spend too much on stuff we don't need, and I'll be using that new mixer (hopefully) to whip up some bread dough but I'll be damned if I'll use sprouted grains. I can't do it all! Oooooh, warm banana bread.

And it goes on like this all. day. long.

Aren't you glad you're not inside my head? You'd probably get motion sick, or at least a little dizzy.

I hope all that blather helps me demonstrate a few things.
1. We can't do it all. Most of us have to make choices about how we're going to contribute to saving the planet and/or humanity. Are we going to go "green" with our choices in building materials, household cleaners, transportation, food consumption? Are we going to become activists for wildlife? Are we going to focus on the political aspect and encourage others to only elect leaders who make the environment and/or high moral values their focus? Will we homeschool our children? Start a farming co-op? Fight the power?

2. Parenting is tough. Mom, dad, single, married, co-habitants, alone, surrounded by family and friends, whatever. It's hard. A few years ago I flooded a social worker with questions upon questions about raising children and you know what I was told? Just the fact that I was thinking about how I parent and questioning some of these things was a pretty good indicator that I'm a good parent. Whew. Hello, validation. My children are fed and clothed and have a roof over their heads. And they eat red meat. And boxed cereal and chicken nuggets. And they drink Kool-Aid and juice boxes sometimes. And milk! And I don't make them wear bicycle helmets. But I let them use power tools and occasionally drive my pickup down the driveway. I say "I" because for the most part I do the parenting while Steve is away. *shrug* I think we're doing fine.

3. Perfectionism can be incapacitating. I like to call myself a recovering perfectionist. In the past, if I didn't have time to do something perfectly (or whatever my vision of perfect was), I wouldn't even get started. Dieting, hanging pictures on the wall, writing a letter, folding towels ... any number of things I wouldn't do because I didn't have the time or energy to make it perfect. I have learned that it's OK to do some things "good enough" and save the pickiness (is that even a word?) for the things that really matter to me. Bonus: this has freed me from being judgmental of others' imperfections. *ahem* Mostly. What can I say? I'm a work in progress.

4. Don't take it personally. If I don't see you stopped next to me at the light, or I don't look up from my list when you walk by me in the grocery store, I'm probably having one of those stream-of-consciousness moments. Go ahead and nudge me. (Well, not with your car, but tapping me on the shoulder in the grocery store is alright.) I might just appreciate the escape from my own brain.

Aaaaand, this seems like the perfect spot to stop rambling for the day! At least publicly. Rest assured it will continue in my head. And I really do need to get baking. Ciao for now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I love my smart phone.

This past weekend there was a special youth hunt in Michigan.

No, we weren't huntin' for yoots. We were lettin' da yoots have a go at hunting deer with their weapon of choice before the archery season opens to every Tom, Dick and Harry on October 1.

Since Steve is the mighty hunter in our household, and it was Sam who was excited about going hunting over the weekend, Steve made arrangements to take a quick trip home to take his boy out. That's the good news. The bummer of it was a) it was a very quick trip, and b) Sam did not bag a deer while Steve was here.

What does any of this have to do with my phone? Well I'm gonna' tell you.

Steve left to return to work Sunday afternoon. Sam knew he had one more opportunity to hunt Sunday evening ... he just needed an adult to accompany him. Despite my every protest to his begging and pleading, that adult turned out to be me. I figured I could enjoy a bit of nature and spend some quality quiet time with my first-born. I took my phone along to keep track of the time and, if I got really bored, to play a few games to pass the time.

Sam and I settled in. We shared some candy corn and a few laughs while we waited for dusk. And I groaned to my procrastinating self that I really should have been at the house typing out my newspaper column.

Then I remembered I have an option for creating text documents on my phone. Yes, it requires plunking the words out with my thumbs on the tiny keyboard, but at least I could have my column mostly written when we got back to the house. So there I sat, "tick tick tick tick tick tick ticking" away while Sam kept a lookout for deer.

(Insert "whodathunkit" comment re: technology here.)

When I finally decided I had a good-enough start on my writing, I put my phone away.

Then I pulled it out a few minutes later to snap a random photo of Sam.

Then after we saw two does running full speed through the field - a sign that things were going to get exciting - I sent Steve a text telling him how we were doing.

Sam asked if I would use my phone to take a video of him if he got a chance to shoot something. I promised I would do my best. I suggested we have some fun and make one of those cheesy hunting videos where the subjects do that whisper-yell thing back and forth, all hyped up just to be in the out-of-doors ... maybe some Auzzie accents or somethin'. The look I got was similar to the one in that photo above. Buzzkill.

Fast forward about 2.5 hours ...

It's almost dark. I stand up to stretch. We had seen four or five deer. I'm about to suggest we call it a night when we see another deer come barreling into the clearing. It stops in a stand of weeds and Sam finds it with his scope. It turns and starts walking back toward us and Sam sees that it's a buck. I grab my phone/camera and slide it to Video.

Sam shot. The deer ran. My heart sank.

But I did get it on video, which helped tremendously as we tried to figure out exactly where the deer was when Sam shot and which direction he ran.

It got dark and I used my phone as a flashlight. Yes, there's an app for that.

And when we found the deer - mercifully, not far away - I took pictures with my phone.

It's a nice 4-point, he shot it with a .308, and I wouldn't even guess at the distance. I can tell you it was far enough that I wouldn't have been confident taking the shot myself, and I'm so proud of Sam for how composed he kept himself the whole time.

So in this case, even though I've struggled at times with paying the fees for a bunch of options I don't really need (and who does, really?), today I am in love with my smart phone. It served as a clock, a word processor, communication device, camera and video camera, flashlight, and a potential source for entertainment, all within a couple of hours.


Watching my son have a successful hunt and being there to record it? *Double love!*

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fluffing the nest.

It's the first day of autumn!

Do you know what that means? Mmm. Nothing, really. But since the weather has been very autumn-like, I have begun that fall "nesting" thing. This time of year is when I start doing more cooking and baking and I look for ways to make our home a little cozier ... the afghans all get fluffed up in the dryer and draped over living room chairs ... I stock up on teas and hot cocoa mix and yummy coffee (bonus! because Sam is selling coffee packets for a school fund-raiser this year) ... the candles smelling of pumpkin pie and apple cider and fall leaves come out.

It's also the time of year I look around the house and think to myself, "Whoa. I really let this place go over the summer, didn't I?"

Some weeks ago I was bemoaning to my mother the fact that I hadn't found taken the time to mop my kitchen floor all summer. Ya' know what she told me? She hadn't either! "I can do that when it's too cold to go outside," she said. "It's summer and I've got things to do."

I felt marginally better.

But now that the air is a little more crisp most days I'm spending more time indoors and definitely seeing all those little things that need doing. Like the pile of dog hair that has gathered under the breakfast table and might grow legs if I don't vac it up pretty soon. And the rug by the front door that is so awesome at capturing sand from our shoes? Yeah. I think somebody somewhere is missing the sand in their sandbox.

Beyond some of the basic cleaning tasks, I would love to bring out some fall-ish decor. I'm not into holiday-specific decorations (except for Christmas) so whatever I use has to be ... well ... useful. Or at least have some staying power because whatever I bring out now will be around until Thanksgiving.

While I surf the Web for inspiration I can't help thinking don't these people have dust in their houses?

Or pets?

Take a suggestion from Martha Stewart, for instance:

 Beautiful mantel decor with a wreath of feathers and leaves.
This would last about 42 seconds in my house.

Well. I don't have a mantel, but that's beside the point. CATS! I do have cats. And they would have this arrangement scattered hither and yon in no time. 

Here's an idea from Better Homes and Gardens:
It's a cute way to add some color to an entryway, or wherever.
Again with the animals. Is my dog the only dog that would be gnawing on those gourds?
Or do I just have the most ill-mannered pets on the planet?

I do love the mums, though. Mums are always good.

One more, from Country Living:
Gorgeous centerpiece.
Two thoughts:
1. Dust
2. Kids

I'm envisioning flying pine cones. Dusty, flying pine cones.

I know, I'm such a buzzkill. I'm generally not the type of person to look for reasons not to do something, but I do look for ways to streamline our days. Dusting gourds and rounding up errant feathers is not on my list.

So I'm still on the lookout for easy, inexpensive fall decorating ideas. I'm going to "shop" my own house a little today and swing by the dollar store and thrift stores while I'm out running errands. And then I'm gonna' come home and finally mop that kitchen floor and do some decorating.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is not helping!

Lately I feel like a baby who has her days and nights mixed up. It's close to midnight most nights before I'm tired enough to sleep, and in the mornings I'm feeling sleepy within an hour of the kids leaving for school.

I always expect it to take a week or two for my body to adjust to the new routine when school starts, but this is getting crazy. I have so much I want to get done, yet most days I don't hit my stride until lunchtime.

I've tried limiting my caffeine intake in the afternoon, exercising, morning and evening routines, getting up and doing something when my eyelids get heavy, napping, not napping. Nothing seems to help beyond a couple of days.

And really. The rainy, dreary days we've been having don't help! Grey clouds hanging overhead make me want to stay in bed all day. The weatherman says we're going to have a few more days like this, too. What gives?

I think I'll ... *yawn* ... get comfy and ... *snuggle* ... ponder it a while ... zzzzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SPIDER! (**shudder**)

I am not a fan of spiders.

At. All.

I do, however, appreciate their handiwork.

Which is why I am willing to traipse through weeds as tall as I am to get THISCLOSE to a giant spider (and her mega web) to snap some photos of how said web caught the heavy dew this morning.

Pretty cool.

Yes, for the love of a good blog post I will now feel creepy crawlies all over my body for the remainder of the day, thankyouverymuch.


 Really. If I haven't lost you yet, you must click on one of these bad boys to enlarge it and get the full effect.

The whole web is about 2 feet across and is at about the height of my rib cage. (Ew. Can you imagine if I had walked into it? GAH!)
See the squiggly line coming down from the center? Google "writing spider" or "zipper spider" and you can learn all about this creature.

 Doesn't it just make you wanna' toss a moth in there?

No, I didn't.
'Cause if that sucker had moved I'da been screamin' like a banshee all the way back to the house.

Spiders: useful for eating bugs out of my yard, and for pretty pictures and fodder for my blog. That is all.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Someday when they have children ...

they will say, What do you mean you're bored?!?

When I was your age my mom kicked us outside and told us to FIND something to do. And we did!

And we were happy about it!

 Toys?!? We didn't have TOYS. We had sticks and rocks and snapping turtles!


They were better than all those crappy toys anyway.

 We played with them for hours. We even commandeered our mom's bird bath to make a pool for the turtles.

And we watched them swim. And they loved it. And we loved it.

But then we had to let the turtles go because we had to eat dinner and go to bed. 


Because we had to get up at 4 and walk the 20 miles to school. 



In the snow.

And we did it with smiles on our faces.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Clean Slate Sunday: 9.18.11 edition

Oh wow.

I knew it had been a while since I did a "Clean Slate Sunday" post, but I didn't realize how long until I looked it up.

The last one was the first of March. Right after Grandma died. I was feeling pretty lousy then, but trying to pull myself out of the muck that seemed to be consuming my brain and my emotions that previous week.

Tonight I sat down with the laptop to search for something calming, to center myself with a little writing, to shake the madness rattling around in my head, exacerbated by children choosing not to obey and me feeling like a failure for losing my temper.

I needed to breathe. To calm down. That's what I've always tried to do on Sunday evenings - settle in, quiet down, prepare for the week ahead. Our summer was so jam-packed and crazy busy that I've hardly had a chance to change gears and focus on helping the kids be and do their best at school. Now we're going into Week 3 of the new school year and despite everyone knowing the evening routine, things don't always fall into place. Tonight was a classic example of the kids being wired for sound and me wanting to knock their heads together. I finally got them tucked into bed and am able to enjoy a little peace before I hit the hay myself.

Re-reading a few posts I wrote about my grandma was just what I needed tonight. Thinking of her brought a sense of calm into my heart. It's amazing how she can still do that for me even though she's gone.

So I'm ready to face tomorrow as a fresh start. A new day. After a good night of sleep.

I hope you've enjoyed your weekend, lovely readers. Goodnight!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Morning views.

A friend and I have been walking in the mornings after I get my kids off to school. I would say we're out there fairly early, but early is a relative term, isn't it?

Hey, 7:30 a.m. is early for me, the one whose favorite morning activity is ... sleeping.

And we've been taking our dogs. Which, if you need to get off your butt and you're looking for an accountability partner? Yeah. The dogs know when it's time to walk and they will not let you forget it.

Anywho. We've been admiring how the trees and shrubs and even the roadside weeds have been changing colors recently, so today I stopped a few times to take pictures of the different berry-covered bushes and whatnot.

I discovered I really need to go out with the sole purpose of photographing pretty things if I want the pictures to do any of them justice. "Here, hold my dog, would ya'?" while dusting the Kleenex lint off the screen of my camera phone is not the way to do it.

Ah well. Another day.
I did get these shots, though, which were pretty cool originally but really cool after I applied a sepia tone in my photo editor.

See? Sunrise photos. I told ya' it was early!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Don't give up!

Ever feel like things aren't going your way?

Keep calm and carry on.

Ever feel like you're totally rockin' this New Job thing, or this New Mom thing, or this Diet & Exercise thing, and suddenly you hit a roadblock?


Well go around it. 
Push through it. 
Or ask someone to help you move it 
out of your way.

Then get back to rockin' it.

Because you can.

 And for heaven's sake, do something nice for yourself.

 Because you deserve it.

Today's motivational post brought to you by the letter G.
For "goofy" and "girl" and ... "good grief."

Friday, September 9, 2011

From dread ... to hope.

I have had this looming feeling of dread in my mind lately. I have plenty of good moments, but that dreadful feeling has been hanging around back there for the past week or so, really messing with me.

I finally figured it out.

We are approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I get a little sad every year when this time comes around, but this year it seems there is a big focus on the children of 9/11. Those babies who never knew their daddies. The women who after that day were faced with getting out of bed every morning knowing their husbands would not be in the delivery room when their baby came into this world - a world I can't imagine raising children in by myself.

I was pregnant on September 11, 2001. A tad hormonal (read: emotional) anyway, and working as a journalist (read: engrossed in all the media) in our small town. I think, like so many others, I got through that day on pure adrenaline.

At the end of the day I went home to feed my toddler and my pregnant self. Alone. Steve was working out of town and we talked on the phone that night like always. Or maybe we didn't talk so much as I just listened to him and convinced myself yes, he is still there. Yes, he will be home on the weekend. Yes, we are OK.

But just the thought of so many people losing a loved one ... so many having to face the world from then on without a partner, a father, a brother or sister, a child ... it still makes my heart ache when I think about that day and the days that followed. Those emotions stayed raw every time I interviewed someone for a story related to 9/11 - firefighters who were there, a pastor who battled his way into the madness to pray with survivors, and eventually, moms and dads and wives and siblings who lost loved ones, or whose loved ones received life-changing injuries in the ensuing war.

For those reasons, I've been turning away from the coverage. I'm not avoiding the anniversary; that will be here on Sunday and I will remember in my own way. But I look at my daughter and I think how different her life would be if she had never known her father. This baby girl we wanted so badly and had almost given up on trying for ... this girl who so fiercely loves her daddy. If I think about it too much it gets hard for me to breathe.

Silly? Perhaps. Dramatic? Maybe. But that's how my mind and my heart work and I've learned to embrace it and live with it. I have also learned to cherish every second with my family, and to be thankful to God for all we have been blessed with. It doesn't mean I don't complain now and then when the kids are running wild and driving me crazy ... but at the end of the day I am forever grateful for my life and the people in it.

So how do I deal with the dreadful feeling? I pray. I share my thoughts here. I tell my friends and ask them to send positive vibes my way. And I do my best to focus on the good.

Job 11:13-20
“Yet if you devote your heart to him
   and stretch out your hands to him,
 if you put away the sin that is in your hand
   and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
   you will stand firm and without fear
You will surely forget your trouble,
   recalling it only as waters gone by
Life will be brighter than noonday,
   and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
   you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
   and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
   and escape will elude them;
   their hope will become a dying gasp.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Smiley Face Guys and other summer fun.

As I was downloading pictures from my camera and making some notes about all we did this summer, I ran across a few that made me laugh.

We spend a good amount of time at laundromats when we travel, and the best ones are those that have something to keep the kids busy while mama washes, dries and folds.

Well, at one of the cleanest and nicest laundromats I've ever used - in Belington, WV - I think Sam and Rachel nearly emptied out the gumball machine filled with these Smiley Face Guys. Lucky for me their cheap finds kept them occupied for days.

The kids even invited them to lunch.

 I guess they needed to wash down their chips.

Hot tub, anyone?

Ummmm ....

Just hangin' out.
Or perhaps saving the guy that fell off the picnic table.

 Workin' off all those chips.
I love the drill sergeant.

And I love how Sam and Rachel bantered back and forth as they were coming up with new activities for these guys. They totally cracked me up!

Good times, good times.

This reminds me, too, of something my mom told me after Sam and my nephew stayed with her for a few days. Nana has forever had this box of those little green plastic army guys, and every grandchild has played with them over the years. When Sam and D left after that week, my mom asked Sam if all the little army guys had been put back in the box and Sam said something to the effect of "well, they're all picked up" ... and then I can imagine the grin he must have had on his face. He told her she might never find all of them.

Well. For days mom was finding army guys in the silliest places. She'd open the medicine cabinet and find one hiding behind the face wash. She'd open a closet door and look up to see one pointing his gun at her from the shelf above. Heaven knows how many she has yet to find. I hope each one makes her smile.

Aren't kids grand? :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here we go!

Day One of the school year is here. We all got up at a decent time, I made pancakes for breakfast, the kids dressed and finished packing their lunches, and daddy took them to the bus stop before heading off to WV again.

I took the dog for a walk, and now here I am. In a quiet house. Alone.

Well, except for the four-legged residents, but they're no bother.

I can hear the clock ticking ... the freezer kick on ... the house pop and creak as the sun warms it up.

Oh, and the dog snoring in the chair.

I have a list of things I want to do while there is no one around to interrupt me. But I think today, instead of rushing right into the to-do's, I'm gonna' chill for a while. We had a wonderful weekend together as a family and this morning I'm going to stretch that feeling of contentment and relaxation and just enjoy it. The dust bunnies will still be there when I finish another chapter of the book I'm reading and take the last sip of my mocha.

Enjoy your day. I know I'm going to.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Approaching a new year.

We were just coming to the end of our last big out-of-state vacay when I caught a blog post in my reader that made me smile. Tsh over at Simple Mom wrote about how the beginning of a new school year is like a Second New Year for parents.

As she often does, Tsh expertly put into words how I feel about the start of the school year. It's a time when I look forward to sharpening up (or reviving) our routines, doing more home-cookin' from scratch, waking up early to enjoy the quiet morning hours (OK, I know I'm not fooling anyone into thinking I actually get up early. Ha!), and enjoying the change in seasons when we swap out our shorts and t-shirts for jeans and sweaters.

Our kids start school on Tuesday. I already feel a bit behind the 8 Ball in a few areas - like, poor Rachel has a very limited wardrobe to get started with after a major growth spurt this summer. And I'm not really (not. at. all.) excited about having to set the alarm clock again. But in other ways I can't wait to get back to focusing on ... well ... focusing on us.

I could do without the inevitable battles over homework. I'm not so much a fan of some of the things my kids hear on the school bus. And our traveling to visit daddy is, of course, limited during the school year. But oh, I do love having the time during the day to do whatever needs doing - working on our budget, making appointments, creating meal plans, doing the grocery shopping, housekeeping, and little home improvements here and there. And sometimes? Whatever I want to do.

I won't lie. This has been the best summer ever with my kids, and for a while there I dreaded the thought of going back to early mornings and the whole day-to-day school thing. But these past few days I have come around and now I am so ready. The kids and I spend so much time together I will be happy to have the peace I crave during the day. I look forward to enjoying a morning cup of coffee on the patio in the cool air while I watch the sun come up. I'd like to spend a little time on myself again - exercising, writing, reading, DIYing, cooking/baking ... all the stuff that tends to get pushed aside when we're focusing on the kids and making sure they have a memorable summer.

We have a holiday weekend ahead of us. Steve will be home later tonight and we're sure going to enjoy the next three days as a family. And then? Diving right into a new school year. Happy Second New Year!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Zoo Snooze.

The last big event for me and Rachel this summer was a trip to the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek to stay overnight with her Girl Scout troop. We had a blast. This is what we did while Steve and Sam were in Bristol, TN, for the NASCAR race.

We were locked in with two interpreters after the zoo closed Saturday evening. The girls played games, did an activity revolving around building an exhibit for the animal of their choice, got to see a few small animals up close, took an after-dark stroll around the zoo, and in the morning we were given passes to see all of the zoo we hadn't seen the night before.

Rachel pets a blue tongued skink held by Interpreter Jenny. The skink is one of those animals that can lose it's tail and grow a new one, but this reptile has her original tail.

 Uno, the one-eyed screech owl. She lost her eye when she was struck by a car. She was rehabilitated and sent to the zoo to be an education animal.

Kangaroos. So stinkin' cute when they hop away!

 Rachel checking out the boa constrictors. These are BIG snakes. Biiiiig.

 The male snow leopard. This was so cool; we got to watch him come out from his holding area in the morning before the zoo opened. The girls were asked to be quiet and stand back from the glass until he got used to the activity. He stood outside his door for just a few seconds before he came right over to the glass to check us out. So curious ... just like a house cat!

Prairie dogs. Wicked cute when they pop up out of their holes.

 Mr. Emu. (Or is it missus?)


The tram we took from where we stayed overnight to the zoo's Africa display where we saw ...

Giraffes! Feeding lettuce to the giraffes was Rachel's favorite part of the weekend.

They are just beautiful. And the babies? Adorbs!

 Does it get any cuter?

 Fun drinking fountain. :)

At the end of our tour of Africa. This zoo did a fantastic job with the exhibit. I would love to go back and do it again.

Self portrait with my "Mini Me" at Steak-n-Shake on the way home after a busy, exhausting weekend.