Tuesday, March 29, 2005

God's Gift

Is there anything as sweet as a child who climbs up in your arms, fresh from the bath, hair tousled and still damp, asking for her nightly story? Little hands helping to turn the pages, anticipating the next part, knowing just where you are going to point at the page and where you will do a silly voice, because, after all, this is her favorite and you have read it together many, many times. Beautiful face drowsy and yawning, snuggling back in you lap, fingers twining in your hair. "love ou, mama" and a hug so precious that you cannot imagine your life any other way.

Oh! What people without children miss!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Scenes From a Basket(case)

Well, I think Peanut is finally better. After a week of tummy troubles, things seem to be slowing down. No more of "The Wiggles" at two in the morning and seven diaper changes an hour,(not an exaggeration) for awhile. For a few days we even had to put Lactobacillus granules in all of her food and drink, to try and help normalize the bacteria content of her bowels (ahh, the glamorous life of motherhood!). She was getting so sick and weak, that even when she did sleep, I couldn't,for fear that I wouldn't hear her if she cried out. I'm so glad to see my Peanut's smiles again!

Easter was nice. We had the usual hectic family shuffle that seems to mark most of our holidays, but we had some nice family time this evening. Peanut had fun eating off her new "Dora, the Explorer" dishes that the Easter Bunny put in her basket. All through dinner she would look down into her plate and say "Backpack, Backpack!. She can't seem to master the word Dora, so she calls her "Backpack".

Life is good!!

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Spring Cleaning, Please!

Oh, for the cleansing winds of spring. I just want to open every door and window of my house and let the wind and sunshine blow through. Maybe then we would be rid of this awful germ.

My daughter is sick, again. A few weeks ago, she contracted this nasty little intestinal virus, just in time for our trip to Virginia. She had gotten well, but now it's rearing it's ugly head again. And this time, it's worse. We've had three days of no eating and barely drinking. Three nights of walking the floor, crying and watching The Wiggles at three A.M. All of the home remedies that I know are not working, and the doctor just tells me not to feed her until she feels better and that it has to run it's course. Not very reassuring.

Needless to say, I am definitely on the brink of insanity right now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Seven Years

Today is my seven year anniversary. It's hard for me to believe. The time in our marriage is a little skewed because my husband and I have known each other for such a long time. A lot of our pre-together memories involve each other, so sometimes it's hard to remember just when this all started. :)

I have known Brian since I was eight years old. He was one of my brother's best friends, and two years ahead of me in school. He was always at our house chasing me and my "pesty" sisters around, throwing us in the pool, pulling our pig-tails. Although we had the same friends and hung out at the same places, we never dated or even considered the notion for all of our time through school. In fact, to this day I run into old schoolmates who say, "You married Brian F.?! When did this happen?"

After we both had graduated, we ran into each other again. My brother was the first to move out, and of course, his new apartment was the designated hangout. My friends and I would go over to watch movies or play cards, three or four nights a week, and there was Brian. Our friendship grew stronger and we had lots of fun hanging out again, but still, dating him was not on the radar.

In fact, I was taken completely by surprise the first time he asked me out. It was a weekend when most of our friends were out of town for one reason or another and no one had planned anything to do. Brian called me up and started to chat, and then, when there is a pause in the conversation, he says, "Do you want to go to dinner this weekend?".

My instant reply was, "But nobody's home. Everyone is busy. It would only be the two of us."

And my witty husband replies, "That was sorta my idea." I was silent for a minute, (which I assure you, doesn't happen very often) and I accepted. The rest, as they say, is history, and here we are.

Thank you so much for a great seven years, Brian!



My Anniversary Bouquet

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Oh also, I promised my husband that I would post pictures of the finished cabinets. He was browsing my blog the other day and complained that I didn't show you all the final product. So, here you go. :)

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Success!

It has finally happened. I made something for dinner that my husband liked well enough to ask for again. This is the first time in seven years that this has happened! And to make it even more gratifying, it was a recipe that I made up myself, so I get all of the credit, sort of.

I made a chicken pot pie. My husband loves those disgusting frozen things that cost 50 cents and taste like cardboard, but they have so much extra sodium and fat that I just couldn't stand them any more. So I thought that I would try to figure out my own recipe. I'm one of those trial and error type people and I figured that women long ago didn't need a recipe so neither did I. It was really easy and very delicious, but it's not like I invented the idea of Chicken Pot Pie, so I can not take all of the credit.


The HH's Chicken Pot Pie

1/2 pound Chicken
1 can of Chicken Broth (10.75 oz)
1 cup Water
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cups diced potatoes (I used plain old russets, to help thicken the stew, but if you use red or new potatoes, they will hold their shape better)


2 Tbls Olive Oil (approx.)
1 large Onion, chopped
1 cup frozen veggie of your choice: Peas, Green beans, Asparagus, ect.


1/3 cup Water
1/3 cup Flour
2 Refridgerated Pie Crusts (yes, you can make these from scratch, and yes, I do know how to make my own, but sometimes quick is good!)
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Cut Chicken into small, bite-size pieces and brown in a medium size saucepan. Add Broth, Water, Carrots, and Potatoes; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes, or until carrots are tender. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook Onion until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes), then add Frozen Veggies. Stir in the Broth Mixture.

Whisk together the flour and water until there are no lumps. Whisk Flour Mixture into Veggie Mixture. Increase heat and bring to a boil to thicken. Taste to see if any salt or pepper is needed at this point. Season and set aside.

Line a deep dish pie pan or 2 quart casserole dish with the first Crust. Leave trailing edges. Pour veggie mixture into dish and cover with second Pie Crust. Fold edges under and crimp to seal pie. Cut four slits into top crust or use cookie cutter to make a decorative cut out (if you are feeling especially Martha-ish :).

Bake until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly. (about 15 to 20 minutes)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Darkest Cloud has a Silver Lining

This weekend has been a doozy.

Friday night, my husband had his wallet stolen, and I spent all night on the phone with our bank and credit card company, trying to put a hold on his cards.

Saturday, I discovered that though I had returned them a week ago, the library did not check in several books of mine, and I had added up a $2 fine. The librarian does not agree that they were returned on time, even though she found them on the shelf. I spent twenty minutes arguing my case, trying to have the fine removed. They are checking in to it.

Today, I have driven to three different cities, picking up freecycle clothes for my sister's coming twins. This day of driving resulted in me spilling tomato sauce all over myself and my car while trying to eat lunch on the road, twisting my ankle and falling on my face in a stranger's yard, and using up a tank of gas at $2.13 a gallon.

But...

Due to our prompt reporting, we lost no money with the theft. The criminal stood at the ATM, in front of the camera, for twenty minutes, trying to figure out our PIN. The police have wonderful shots of him.

I still have the use of my library card, without which I would have such an expensive book habit that my husband would surely leave me. And I live near one of the nicest, well-funded libraries in the state, and those wonderful ladies never complain when I request 20 items from libraries all over northeast Ohio and they come in all at the same time.

Thanks to all of the great people hooked up to Freecycle (if you do not belong to your local Freecycle group sign up right now!), I now have two garbage bags of clothes for my new nieces/nephews. Peanut got to spend the day with her Grandma and Papa, which she loves to do. And I got caught up on all of the Garrison Keillor audio tapes that I had out of the library. (I love "A Prairie Home Companion". Check it out on your local NPR station or at your local library).

I guess my weekend had a sparkling silver lining!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Catch Up Day

I've had a busy, but interesting, life for the last few days. So, I guess I should post a little about it.

First of all, Peanut and I went to spend the afternoon with one of my favorite bloggers, Thicket Dweller, and her family on Wednesday. Let me just say that we had the best time. It was kinda like reading this really great book for a few months and then, poof, there you are having a chat with your favorite characters and eating lunch with them. TD's children are so smart and creative (they played me this hilarious radio show that they created and recorded, during lunch. I laughed so hard!), and Peanut laughed and played so much! I plan to pester TD with my company as often as she will allow.

Wednesday evening I received some shocking news. My sister, who is a tumbleweed of a person (never settling down or resting) is pregnant, with twins. She is only 25 and she has already been married and divorced, had 17 different jobs, and has been working as a traveling photographer for the last year or so. She has never wanted a family or to be tied down, and has been very free with herself, to put it politely. Her life choices have caught up with her and, to say the least, it's a shock.

She has decided to keep the babies (which is a great relief to me), and says she plans to become a stay-at-home mom. The father is a lot less desirable than the choice that I would make for my sister, and he has a police record to boot. He can't find decent work (due to his record) and she can no longer travel with her job. They have no income and no health insurance, and they refuse to take any guidance from anyone, on the best course of action for their future. Much prayer is needed.

This is a real test of faith for me. I love my sister, and I practically raised her. Her life has always been a worry to me, and I'll tell you truly that I did not sleep Wednesday night. I am really struggling with the idea that God knows what he is doing in this situation, because I can see no good, except for the fact that I'm getting two new family members. If there are any two people more ill-suited for parenthood, I can't imagine them. I have been forced to remind myself every half hour that God is in control of even my wayward sister, and I shouldn't worry, but have faith. Please pray for our family if you think of it, we can use any moral support that you think to give.

But on a more pleasant note, my crocuses are finally blooming and the daffodils are not far behind. Spring is here, and I have found a new friend and kindred spirit(thank you so much D!) There is much to rejoice about!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Saint Patrick's Day From Peanut and all of us here in Ohio! She's showing off our Irish heritage by the wearin' o' the Green! Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

Musings

We are returned from a long trip to Virginia. We went down to plan and attend my husband's grandmother's funeral and to start the long process of settling her affairs. Grandma and Grandpa both had been living here in Ohio with us for the last four or five years due to illness and age. Grandpa passed away in 2002 and Grandma went, almost three years to the day later, on March 5th. She was very ill for a long time and her passing was a rest and a reward that she truly needed and deserved. The sadness is acute, but we know that her struggle is ended and she is happily at home with her God and her loved ones.

The trip was actually a replenishing one for our family, despite the sadness. The family farm is very isolated in the western mountains of Virginia, and the slower pace of life, away from TV and computers and schedules, did us a lot of good. We spent time together, and with our parents and our daughter, that we really hadn't taken the time for in a while. And the chance to go through old memories was great!

The farm has been in the family for nearly two hundred years, and Grandma was of the Depression era, so she never threw anything away. There are so many boxes and trunks and attics to go through, that I am ecstatic. It's like going to a really great museum where the exhibits are all hands-on and they have special meaning. To go through all of the pictures and old clothes was such a treat for a history buff like me.

The house that stands there now was built totally by Grandpa over a number of years. The foundation was dug with a horse-drawn scoop and there was no indoor plumbing until the late 1960's, (and yes, the old outhouse is still there and in working order). But just because the farm is almost two centuries old, doesn't mean it's a grand place (don't think "Scarlett O'Hara plantation" think "Walton's Mountain"), it is the most peacefully homey place that I have ever visited on this planet. My husband and I hope to live there some day. (if you look in the collage below, it is the white house up on the hill, in the picture on the bottom-most left)

Also, I know it is cliche, but the people down South truly are nicer. From the neighbors to the grocery clerks, everyone we run into down there is friendly and well-meaning. The church that Grandma and Grandpa attended welcomed us and ministered to our needs on a daily basis. There was not one single day that went by without a visit from one or another of the neighbors or church members (and down there they are one in the same, being such a small community) bringing us homemade food and love from their own kitchens and families. I truly felt blessed to be there.

Well, enough musings. I have two garbage bags of laundry that we brought home with us and I am determined to stay up untill they are finished.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sadness and Contentment

We have been away for awhile, which resulted in the lack of posts. My husband's Grandmother died and we took her back to her home in Virginia to bury her. I plan to post more on the subject later, but for now I would just like to post some pictures of where my husband's heart and roots lie, and someday maybe our home also.


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Thursday, March 3, 2005

The Gears are Turning Ever On..

Let me just start by saying that I don't believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason. God has put an order to all things. Be aware that if a theme keeps coming to your attention, time after time, from seemingly random sources, you should take notice.

I have a little circle of blogs that I read every day or two. They are written by many different people in very diverse situations. These people are from all walks of life, and multiple religious backgrounds. They are written by believers and non-believers, men and women (I will admit, mostly women), stay at home moms and self professed wild career girls. If all of these people were together in the same room, it would make for one interesting conversation.

But in the past few weeks, there has been one common thread in their posts; housekeeping and the role it plays in our lives. Some struggle with the fact that they do not have the traditional skills to keep house the way that they would like. Some talk about their mothers style of housekeeping as slavery and thank their lucky stars that they don't have to do dishes or sweep floors on a regular basis. Some are young women longing for instructions on how to be a "good wife and mother" because they don't have the role model that they desire.

I've read men bemoaning the fact that women (meaning their wives) "just don't want to do their jobs anymore", and it leaves them stuck doing the dishes and caring for children. Couples who can't decide on a fair way to divide the chores. And one teenager who says that "...if my Mom thinks I'm learning to do laundry she's crazy. What does she think they have drycleaners for? Chores are so old-fashioned."

Now, that's a lot of discussion on one topic from lots of sources, and all of these posts have turned up in the last two weeks or less. I think there is a message here. Something needs to be done, even if it is only in my little corner of the world. I have no doubt that God is trying to show me the importance of my choices when it comes to my family and my home.

I had a very non-traditional upbringing. I guess I should say non-traditional for the time, because the way I was raised seems to be the norm nowadays. My parents were young (too young, 19) when they met and got pregnant with me. They married a few months before I was born and attempted to raise a child while they themselves were trying to grow up. My Dad joined the army reserves and Army Corps of Engineers to attempt to support his family (having no high school diploma). My Mom was still the party girl, and did not relish her new role as wife and mother. Still, they tried to make a go of it and a few years later they were blessed with another daughter. But things were very rocky, and after 7 years and many betrayals on both sides, they divorced.

This left all of us alone. My father, who had never been alone, immediately remarried (within 6 months) to a woman who was herself newly divorced and had three children of her own to care for. My mother picked up her party lifestyle and when she wasn't partying, she was working. My sister and I were trucked from baby-sitter to family member, never really having a stable environment. We led a nomadic existence.

Any knowledge that I have about keeping house and the duties of a wife and mother comes from two sources, my step-mother and books. My step-mother was not of the evil variety that you read about, and in fact was the one who introduced me to Christianity, but she also tended to favor her own children (which I am sure is very hard not to do) and so on the weekends that we spent in her care, many of the least-liked household tasks fell to my sister and I. My sister, who is almost an exact copy of my Mom, did not bring much away from these tasks except resentment. But I find, even today, that the way I was taught to do things then, is the same way that I do them now, right down to the "correct" direction to fold towels :)

For the most part though, I turned to books. Ah, books! My great escape! I started to pick up old household manuals and etiquette books in thrift shops in my teens. I loved anything that helped portray to me that picture of home and hearth that I felt was lacking in my own life. I loved "Little Women" and "Anne of Green Gables" for their depictions of the togetherness and family life that I longed for. But, strangely enough, I had no desire to be a wife and mother (or so I thought). I felt that my past left me ill-equipped to be the kind of woman that I needed to be, in order to help and not harm any husband or children that God would put in my care. And my family and environs certainly did not discourage me in my feelings.

But as you all know, God makes his plans, and ours do not signify. There was a reason that the Lord put that love of housewifely knowledge in me. All of those books that God sent my way were preparing me for what lay ahead. A home, a husband, and a family lay in the future that He had set aside for me.

I'll admit that it was (and is) not as easy a decision to come to as I make it sound. I've had many doubts along the way, many dark days. But I try to remember my original conviction that God sent me here to be a godly mother and wife, and to raise my daughter and any future children (God willing!)to be the same. I remind myself to take joy in all of those never-ending, repetitive tasks, because I am where God wants me to be.


I guess my point is (and if you have stayed with me throughout this endless autobiography, you do deserve a point) that to my mind, God is moving in us to make the importance of family and tradition known. Would so many different people be bringing it up if it wasn't so?

Share what you know, spread your values. Make your children wash the dishes, but make it about more than getting the chores done. Encourage other women in their own struggles with daily life, and take strength in the knowledge that we are all working and struggling. Find a reason to be joyful, even though you feel worn down and tired. If you feel that the ideals of a God-loving traditional family are important, then do your part to spread the sunshine!

You never know who God may have sent to see you and be inspired by you!

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Passing it Along

I'm getting on the "Diversion" train. I got this from the wonderful Thicket Dweller.

The Diversion:

1. Grab the nearest book
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it. Just grab what is closest!

"These they would fashion into garlands and baskets of spring blossoms to be delivered in secret to friends and neighbors.
Later the children would gather around a Maypole, a large birch branch erected on the common green to which multicolored ribbons had been attached. Each child would hold on to a ribbon to perform high-stepping dances around the pole."


This excerpt is from Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions". Which, by the way, you should check out from your local library, if you have never read it. It's a book on incorporating family traditions into our everyday life, and here she is describing a Victorian May Day celebration. She goes on to explain how we can create a May Day for our families. The whole book is narrated from the point of view of a Victorian mother (Mrs. Sharp), who is still alive today, and giving advice in the style of the ladies' magazines of the period. I love it, but that's just me. :)

A Show of Solidarity

The following pictures are a show of solidarity to a good blog friend of mine, thicket dweller.She is having a down kinda day. D, I guarantee you can find at least one place in your house cleaner than this, and I don't have even half of your excuse for having a mess. Look! My laundry day is Monday, but the hamper is still overflowing here on Wednesday. And you don't even want to see the mess Peanut has made while I was posting this! And yes, this is exactly what my house looks like right now, this very minute.

For the rest of you, hopefully these photos help you enjoy the fact that there is at least one house messier than yours in the world! :)


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This is me in a pixel

Global Personality Test Results
Stability (56%) moderately high which suggests you are relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.
Orderliness (36%) moderately low which suggests you are, at times, overly flexible, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense of reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.
Extraversion (73%) high which suggests you are overly talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting at the expense too often of developing your own individual interests and internally based identity.
Take Free Global Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com



They were pretty accurate. Of course, this is just how I see myself. Who knows what I'm really like :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Stuff

Early to bed and early to rise again for me today. It was very nice, although it was hard to make myself go to bed at ten last night. I kept thinking of all of the things that I could do, because I finished my household chores early, in order to go to bed. This is really a battle now, because I bought "The Sims 2" for myself when we got the new computer.

I have to admit, I am a Sims junkie. I owned the first game and all of the expansion packs. I played each one non-stop as they came out. It was odd because I'm not really a video game player, but this one just got to me. I had given away the first game and all of its add-ons when my daughter was born, because I knew that I wouldn't have time to play them (and if I found the time, I should probably be doing something else). I hadn't purchased the new one because our pokey old computer just couldn't handle it, but now...

Ok, it's out. Yes, I waste time playing a video game occasionally. I know, I'm an oddball. I don't know of any other grown woman of my acquaintance who plays video games, and there are many other more productive things that I could be doing with my time. But there you have it, that's how I unwind. You all can feel free to revoke my Mommy license.

I am much better about it now that I have a child though. I won't spend more than a hour at a time playing. I can't even say that about reading and writing blogs! Plus, my hubby is gone all night, and a girl can only scrub so many dishes and toilets (not with the same brush!) before you start to go a little crazy for conversation.

And before you e-mail me and say "Silly! You can"t have a conversation with a video game!", I know that. But you obviously have never played the Sims. It's kinda like a
little electronic doll's house, where the little people have jobs, and lives, and kids, and goals, and fears, and nosy neighbors, and pets, and... well, you get the idea. And I must say "Thank you Maxis!" for the new version. It is the best yet!