Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Gear Up

Well, the season of Joy is upon us. Our tree is up, much to my daughter's delight. The stockings are hung and the wreath is upon the door. I keep finding shepherds and kings scattered all over the house because Peanut is convinced that our Nativity scene is her own personal "Baby Jesus Action Figure Set" Baking is being planned, cards addressed, and soon wrapping will begin. And through it all I've been feeling like a fraud.

I care about my family and what impact we have on the world at large. I try to be caring and responsible. I feel the need to live life simply and happily. But often it seems that everything in my life is working against the ideals that I have set for myself. This becomes especially obvious at Christmas.

I go overboard when it comes to gifts, particularly when it comes to a certain little girl. I tell myself that we are not going to go all gift crazy this year, all the while, there are mounds of gifts waiting for one little three-year-old. A three-year-old who doesn't really want anything. A child who, when asked what she wants from Santa says, " Candy" or "Mail" or "Snow". She isn't old enough to have contracted the 'gimmies' yet. She wouldn't care if there was no more than a book or a doll under the tree. But, for some reason, her Momma does.

I find myself buying all sorts of nonsense that I will be tired of picking up off the floor before Twelfth Night. Piles of books, multiple Barbie dolls, Play-doh, Playmobile, Polly Pocket, as if trying to fill some void with toys that we don't need; and I'm not sure where it comes from.

Is it because I didn't have much as a kid? Am I trying to compensate for some area that I feel is lacking in my mothering? Am I just completely neurotic when it comes to Christmas?

I have these flashes of joy and peace sometimes, like tonight, sitting here with the lights off and the tree on, and it feels the way Christmas did when I was a kid. A kind of warm, glowing, happiness and anticipation. But the older I get, the fewer they are. It seems that all of the grown-up, commercial worries of the holiday tend to dominate my thoughts. As if the shinning, joyful, true meaning of Christmas gets covered up by all of this 'fake' stuff. Maybe that is why I buy so much. Maybe that is why I feel so fake.

I hope that I can get it together before the big day gets here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Skirts! Skirts! Skirts!

I have found a new favorite in sewing books! "Sew What! Skirts" is absolutely wonderful for anyone who wants to sew, but hates following patterns.

I know that when I start out to make something, I'm very careful and precise, cutting out all of my pattern pieces and thoroughly marking them. But by the time I get around to the actual sewing part, I've either lost interest or have made so many changes that I might as well have not wasted my time with the pattern in the first place. I'm very much a "make it up as I go along" crafter. This book has 16 different skirts that anyone (and I mean even you out there who just took their sewing machine out of the box five minutes ago) can make, without a pattern. In fact, some of the easiest styles use a clever little dot-to-dot, follow the numbers method that I think is ingenious!

The best part of this kind of sewing is that you get to have all of the fun of mixing fabrics and embellishments without getting bogged down by the technical stuff that tends to put so many people off sewing. Plus, you get to make clothing in fabrics that you love and that are custom fit to your body. It's clothing sewing at it's best!

Go check it out!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Trick or Treat 2006

Peanut trying to see the end of her sucker.













Peanut, my sister, and my twin niece and nephew posing in the bright, bright, sun before taking a trip around the neighborhood.

Peanut's Pumpkin Party

Peanut hosted her very first party this October, and although it was nothing fancy and the guests spent most of their time jumping on the beds instead of decorating pumpkins, a good time was had by all. In fact, no one would stand still long enough to have their picture taken. So, as a result, I have more shots of the food and decorations, than I do of the actual party, lol.

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Here they are painting and stickering away. Five minutes after this shot, everyone
dashed out the back door to run around in the mud and chase the Dads huddled around the "Dad's Fire" that my husband had built as an excuse for the guys to group together and feel "manly". lol

 












My "Sea Monster Sandwiches""Rrraaarrrwww! Anyone seen Nessie?"


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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Answers

First of all, thank you guys for the questions! Keep them coming! I always find it easier to write in response to someone. My ideas tend to be muddy and incoherent if they are made to develop all on their own, lol!

Because I had so many responses, I thought I would just run down the list.


Heather,

Our house hunting and selling are put on hold indefinitely. The house is still technically for sale, but we aren't trying. I don't know about everywhere else, but our little corner of the world is overrun with houses for sale. In fact, some people with higher priced homes in our area are adding time-share vacations and cars to the deals in order to make the sell. We've decided to stay put for awhile.

Yes I have done some canning this year, but not much. Two batches of apple butter and then a batch of hot pepper jelly in which none of the jars sealed, so I had to find homes for it quickly, but that wasn't a problem, lol. I put most of my vegetables up in the freezer, but last week, Peanut was playing around in there after I put my groceries away and she turned the deep-freeze off. We didn't find out until two days later when my husband opened the door and about a gallon of water splashed out on his feet. We lost everything, lol.

My socks are now to the ribbing on the legs. My mother has convinced me to enter them in the fair next year, so now I'm paranoid about every stitch, where before I was just looking at them as a learning experience. My husband gave me this slick set of interchangeable needles for my 30th on Sunday and I have been itching for some new projects. Today I cast on for a soft grey scarf for him as a thank you present. I did knit the sundress and panties for Mina, my daughter's 'Knitted Babe', but Peanut is just getting to that "changing clothes" doll phase so I hadn't bothered to do anything else. I'm sure in the doldrums of January, I'll pull it out and look for a quickie project. I'll post some pictures of Mina in a few days, if I can get my dying camera to co-operate. I'd say go right ahead and make a 'Babe' they are easy and fun! And don't forget to post some pictures so that we can see!

thicket dweller,

I'm afraid I don't have any good recipes for red beans and rice. In fact, I must come clean and admit that I don't like rice, save risotto. It started with the nasty concoctions my Mom used to make when I was a kid. Since then, I have tried rice every once in awhile, but I have found that I still can't stomach much white rice. I do like some long grain wild rices, and we eat brown rice and raisin salad here for dessert on occasion, but most rice dishes I abhor. I embarrass my husband to no end when we eat Chinese and I sit at the table and pick every grain off of my food. Maybe someday I'll grow up, lol!

Anonymous,

You are probably going to hate me, but I'm already mostly done for Christmas. I embroidered dresser scarves for most of the ladies on my list, and I'm just finishing up my last one. My shopping is all finished except for my husband, who always tells me he doesn't know what he wants, so I'm usually stumped for awhile. A few years ago, I started the habit of trying to be done shopping and crafting by the end of October, and I have found that it has made things so much less stressful. I also tend to spend less and miss the money less by spreading it out over the year, as long as I keep a running list of what I have already bought in my purse at all times. Woe is me if I don't keep track, because I always end up buying too much. I'm wracking my brain and digging through old 'Family Fun' magazines to find a craft that Peanut can make for the Grandparents, but now that most of my list is out of the way, I don't feel the pressure so badly, lol.

Happy Housewife,

It's true that I do love to sing, but my voice is only fit for babies and my own car, lol! I used to sing in school and church choir (like all good little Baptist girls, lol) until I was married, but I never sing in public if I can help it anymore. I love to sing and I belt out everything from hymns to showtunes, but only for mine and Peanut's pleasure. Although, she usually says "Mama, don't sing. I sing". She already loves the spotlight. As far as uploading something that I have sang, don't hold your breath, lol! I'm not cruel enough to inflict that on the general public!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stumped

I am at a brick wall with my blogging.

Everything I start to write sounds boring and over done. I just haven't felt any inspiration lately.

What would you readers like to hear about?

Any questions that you would like to ask? Any recipes that you are looking for? Any subject that you wouldn't mind me blathering on and on about?

Let me know. I'm drowning here!

Monday, September 11, 2006

County Fair Treats

 
There is nothing like our local-dairy-made ice cream on a warm autumn day at the fair! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 7, 2006

WIP Friday

Here is my submission for WIP Friday; my "Two at a Time, Toe Up" socks. The yarn and the pattern both come from KnitPicks, although this particular color of self-striping sock yarn is no more.When I started these, it was a little like wrestling an octopus, because you have two balls of yarn and two circular needles to keep straight, but like most projects, one you get a little more yarn on the needles, it's not so bad. I chose a two at a time version, so that I will hopefully side-step my procrastinating ways and actually have a complete pair when I'm finished. I know that if I were to try my first pair of socks one-at-a-time, I'd never have more than one, lol.

This yarn is a dream to work with and I love the stripes. I have a few other colorways of this yarn put away and I'm thinking that one of them might make great mittens. Maybe that will be next?  Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Non-Garden

The lovely thicketdweller over at today's lessons has invited us all to her garden party, the challenge being, to post pictures of your garden for all to see. I personally have a non-garden this year, due to the fact that the house is for sale and has been since January, when I usually plan things and order seeds and plants. I keep kidding myself that I am giving the soil a resting year, but the truth is, I'm just too lazy, lol!

So here it is, my lovely garden.
My algea crop Posted by Picasa
  Posted by Picasa My Jurassic-Sized hostas that desperately need dividing,
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  Posted by Picasa Marigolds that are waiting for me to de-seed them.

Friday, August 4, 2006

Work Done

My Peanut's favorite pastime is 'mommying'. She loves dolls and strollers and diapers. We have an acre's worth of Cabbage Patch Kids, Bitty Baby's un-bitty wardrobe, and more naked babies than Woodstock. It often looks as if we are running a doll's hotel around here.

But, being that Peanut is only two, we haven't had much interest in Barbies.

Until now.

The other day, a friend of ours gave Peanut a Barbie as a gift, and she seemed intrigued. She brushed her hair and took off her clothes, and generally played happily for 20 minutes or so.

And I thought, "Here it is, the time has come". So I dug under the bed for my treasure of treasures from my childhood, "The Barbie Box". Here was my sacred stash, quietly hoarded away from the prying eyes of my two sisters after I had outgrown my 'Barbie' days. Lovingly dressed, combed, and wrapped against the day when I could pass the Barbie torch to my own little girl. I don't know if it was the sentiment or the dust, but I was definitely misting up, lol.

I presented the box to Peanut and got that wonderful, awe-filled expression that two-year olds do so well. I felt like I had just given her the moon. We emptied the trunk and I sat and watched as she lined them up in rows and pretended to go shopping. It was truly a hallmark moment.

Inevitably, after Peanut had stripped them all naked, she brought them to me to redress. That's when I made a startling discovery. Barbie has had work done.

She definitely had a breast reduction and lyposuction on her hips. I think she also had a tummy tuck. When we put the new Barbie in the old clothes, she looked like Barbie's little sister playing dress up!

I remember reading an article a few years back about how they were resizing the doll to more realistic proportions so as to not foster a bad body image in young girls, but I never considered what that would mean for my secret stash. I guess I'm going to have to dig out the old doll clothes patterns and see if we can tailor them to fit Barbie's new look!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Squeeeee!

I was so excited upon the trip to the mailbox today. My new harvest bible is here!  Posted by Picasa

I regularly order Ball's Blue Book every few years, just to keep up on the latest techniques, but this little beauty is making my mouth water and my hands itch to get started. I can tell you that I'm not going to be churning out just quarts of tomatoes this year!

Crimson Honey Grapefruit anyone?

Relaxed

Well, I have returned from my surprise vacation.

To make up for the fact that both of our vacations this summer were ruined by the weather and microbial interlopers, my husband surprised me with a weekend away in Pennsylvania. While he was out riding the trails all day, I spent my time reading, knitting and catching up on 'me' time. Clean towels, crisp sheets, great food, and I didn't have to lift a finger to produce any of it!

I also want to give a shout out to the great state of PA and all of her wonderful people! The scenery was gorgeous all of the way across the state. It felt like a scenic by-way instead of a highway. And your roads are so smooth! For someone used to the Swiss cheese that passes for roads in Ohio, traveling through your great state was pure bliss!

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Calm Before the Storm

 
 
 
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Indisposition

I'm still here!


Things have been extremely surreal around here lately, but now I feel as if I can come out from under my rock.

We went on our family vacation to Myrtle Beach last week and things could have been better. I'm afraid that is wasn't very restful. Peanut refused to sleep anywhere except on top of either my husband or I. We only saw the beach for a total of two hours over the span of five days. And my husband contracted a nasty stomach virus.

Which he then passed on to the rest of us.

Due to Brian's discomfort, we cut our trip short by two days, and I am very thankful for that fact. No sooner did we finish unloading the van, than Peanut began to vomit (or to use her new word for it "yuke") all over the living room floor. And she continued to yuke all night long. So on top of a dozen bags to unpack and my mountains of sandy, wet laundry I now had mountains of smelly, wet laundry.

And then I got sick.

This particular bug was not content to ravage our stomachs and leave us be. It felt the need to party in our intestines also. It was a good thing that no one felt like eating much, because no one had the strength to go to the market for groceries. Things were pretty bleak.

Then, as if my figurative plate wasn't full enough, I was scheduled to host our family's annual ladies' Christmas in July party on the 15th. Which meant that I had to cook and prepare Christmas crafts for 20 people, all while feeling less than well.

In the end, everything worked out and we are getting back to our normal routines around here.

Now, if I could only find out how to get rid of all of this sand that I keep finding all over the house...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Made-up

  Posted by Picasa This was the sight that greeted me upon being torn from my dreams this morning. My Peanut has definitely been flying her toddler flag lately.

I said a few posts ago that I don't regularly wear make up. But I do actually own some, for the rare occasions that I find it necessary. And what I own is expensive (I have very sensitive and picky skin). I can't even think about the cost of my daughter's clown mask this early in the morning. And the lovely new wall mural in her room... and the hand-painted skirt on her changing table... and the three (white) towels she used to wipe her hands... and the pillow and pillowslip she sat upon (Miss Muffet style) while applying her 'face'... and the 'Picasso-ed vanity table...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Comfy In More Ways Than One

Today I made the trip to our local thrift store. I hadn't been in quite awhile, what with one thing and another, I hadn't made the time. But today found me with a free morning and a willing Daddy to babysit, so off I went! I browsed through the children's clothes (always my first stop), found a cute jumper to put away for Peanut, and then I moseyed on over to the women's section. As I flipped through the double-knit pantsuits and stained turtlenecks, I started to lose hope that this trip would yield any fruit. And then I found it.

The Holy Grail of thrift store finds.

The Favorite Shirt.

It was a button-down-combed-cotton
perfect-shade-of-froggy-green-sleeves-roll-up-just-right dream of a shirt.

And it was half price!

I was in love! I snatched it up, rushed home, threw it in the washer, and I am wearing it right now. It is as comfortable as I knew it would be. And it clashes just right with my favorite pair of hanging around the house pink yoga pants.

I love the thrift store!

But I know not everyone does. I often hear shocked statements of disgust from people, including my own family, about the questionablility of wearing someone else's clothes. "How can you wear something that once belonged to a complete stranger?" "Why would you want to buy old, used, clothes?"

Why indeed?

For me, there are a couple of reasons that I shop thrift stores and garage sales for clothing. First and foremost is the price. I am not especially picky about things that don't matter to me, and clothing is not very high on my list of interest. I've never been a label slave, I don't care if I'm wearing the latest look, and I don't especially feel inclined to pay four times as much for an item just to have the privilege of being a walking billboard offering free publicity for some designer or company.

I do like to look neat and tidy. I do like for my clothes to be comfortable. And I do believe in looking put together. All of these things can be achieved at second-hand clothing stores.

Another reason that I shop at thrift stores is for the reduce/reuse/recycle aspect. America is the #1 trash producing country in the world. We throw away an average of 1609 pounds of garbage per person, per year. That means that in one year, an average family of four produces a little over three tons of garbage! ONE FAMILY=3 TONS! and one third of that amount is packaging from new items.

Every shirt that I buy used, but still usable, is one more that I won't be buying retail. Which is one more that the huge clothing manufacturers will not be selling. Which is one more that they will not have to make. Which is that much energy that was saved and that much cloth that wasn't sent to a landfill. And you may say that my one little shirt does not make a enough difference to matter, but I will say to you that my one shirt, plus your one shirt, plus her one shirt, plus his one shirt, all across the world, would make a difference. And it all starts with my one comfortable shirt.

Now I didn't start this post to rant about the state of our garbage problems here in the U.S. I really did only mean to tell you all about my comfy new shirt. But maybe the next time you are thinking of buying something new, with all of it's packaging and advertising, and waste producing manufacturing processes, perhaps you'll make a sidestop at you local thrift store first.

Who knows? Maybe you'll find your own favorite shirt!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Catching Up

I was reminded by my blogging angel last night that I hadn't given you all any details on my little solitude trip. I'm so glad to have someone to nudge me along when it comes to blogging!
(Thank you, HH!)

In a word it was... wet.

So wet, in fact, that we came home after one night. I literally stood in a field with water dripping from my nose, fighting a losing battle with keeping our things dry, for 10 hours. We had so much rain that I had to empty collecting water out of our tarps and awnings every fifteen minutes or everything would have collapsed. I also managed to keep a fire going through this deluge, so that my hubby and everyone would have someplace to get dry (ha, ha) when they got off the trail, but only by adding wood and stoking it every twenty minutes or so. It was not exactly the most relaxing trip. When DH finally turned up, we both decided that going home would be for the best. (but I honestly think that if he hadn't broken a vital Jeep part, we would have stayed, rain or no, lol). We were lucky to be at a Jeep meeting though; our truck and trailer had to be pulled out of the muddy field by two other Jeeps! It took a week of sitting out in our back yard for all of our gear to dry out enough to put it away. Not a fun trip , but not a boring one either!

Let's hope that Myrtle Beach goes better in a few weeks!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Aren't you all impressed?

Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional

Your General Knowledge is Above Average


Thanks to thicketdweller!

Father's Day

We had a wonderful Father's Day weekend! My husband took us for a mini-break to the lake and we went boating and swimming. Peanut did her fish impersonation. Brian fiddled with his new iPod (his Father's Day gift). And we all just relaxed and enjoyed the sun and the breeze.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Silliness

Oh if you all could have been a fly on my wall this week you would have gotten some really great laughs. I've taken up a new very fun but very silly hobby.

It all started a few weeks ago while attending the graduation party of one of my cousins. All of the 'young people' were milling about and having a good time and I was sitting in the row of lawn chairs with the other matrons, surveying the scene, as befitted my stately married-and-mommy status. After awhile the 'kids' started playing this video game that consisted of standing on a plastic mat covered with arrows and dancing in time to the flashing arrows and music on the screen. It looked like so much fun and I would have loved to give it a try, but I'm sure that the presence of someone over twenty-five (trying to dance to music that would normally give me a headache) in their midst would have been too much force against their coolness factor, and I would have hated to be the reason for the party breaking up. So I sat in the background, watching the action and making jokes with my sister, thinking that maybe I would give it a try if no one else was watching. Didn't happen.

When I got home, I remembered that we had an old Playstation 2 gathering dust and the wheels started turning. I looked up the game, ordered the gear and a week later, it was in my livingroom. And I am having SO MUCH FUN!

I would never be caught dancing like this in front of an audience, but in the privacy of my livingroom I can fumble around all that I want and still enjoy myself. The game (Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2) isn't all new music either. They have some great dance remixes of songs that were popular when my parents were kids. It also has a workout mode that will count calories burned and set up a customized series of songs for your desired level. The mat is really easy to use (think those old dancing courses where you followed the numbered footprint shapes on the floor, only with flashing arrows and fast moves) and I'm finding more about the whole process to enjoy everyday.

Although, I don't think the designers of the game pictured the users trying to play while a two-year old dances around them like a maypole, pulling them off balance and treading on their toes, but I look at it as an added difficulty bonus, lol!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Frugality at it's Best

I just stumbled across this great new website, Want Not and I am impressed. If you love ideas about saving money but are not interested in crazy stuff like washing out your paper towels and stealing condiments from the local fast food chain, this is the place for you. She has only been up and running for a few days, but everything is so great so far. She even answers questions from readers. Do yourself a favor and have a look!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Now, Now, Now!

After seeing these two aquarium style bags (scroll down to see the Goldfish Bowl and The Ocean) featured in a Japanese embroidery contest sponsored by DMC I have decided that I must make one. They are adorable! Embroidery seems to be grabbing all of my attention lately.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Childhood

Well, we have had our first 'blood and gore' accident of Peanut's childhood. Yesterday she was building a slide on the livingroom floor with our sofa cushions and trying to slide down. But because I have already rolled up our rugs for the summer, everything was sliding around. A cushion went one way, she went the other and landed face down on the wood floor, pushing a tooth through her lip. The blood was everywhere!

She, of course, howled and cried. We wiped up the blood and cleaned the cut and she was fine almost immediately. But all day long, her excuse for not listening or for begging a snack became "but my lip hurting!" I've never seen such pitiful acting before, lol!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Oh vanity, thy name is Woman...

When I stumbled out of/was drug from bed by my early rising daughter this morning, I made a horrifying discovery. As I stood before the mirror, toothbrush in hand, I noticed that I had creases in my face. Not pillow marks but actual little fold marks.

WHEN DID I GET OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE CREASES?!!?

I'm not really a vain sort of woman. I don't wear make-up. I don't use an over-abundance of haircare products. Most days I'm content if my hair is washed and brushed and my teeth are clean. But, as I near my thirtieth birthday later this year, I have begun to notice these little signs of aging. A grey hair here, a little sag there, FACIAL CREASES! I don't remember getting older. In fact, I don't feel any older mentally than I ever did. I have the same sorts of thoughts and feelings that I had when I was fifteen. But my body seems to be telling a different tale.

Maybe it's time to remove all of the mirrors from my bathroom? I don't think my aged nerves can take many more shocks like this one, lol.

Friday, June 9, 2006

The Questions That Stump Mankind

How is it that every night when I make the "Daily Rounds" after my cherub is (finally) asleep, I find at least five sippy-cups scattered throughout our house? I only have one child. She only has the usual one mouth. Why do I not see these cups until the evening rolls in? I don't recall giving her a fresh cup every ten minutes of the day. And yet, there they are. Every night.

I'm starting to wonder if she is throwing big toddler soirees when I'm not looking.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More Peanut-isms

spacket = basket
As in "Where is my Easter spacket, Mama?"

squashcloth = washcloth
As in "Mommy, I couldn't hang up my squashcloth. It wouldn't stay on the bar."

sip = soda
I was always asking her "Would you like a sip?" when we would be drinking soda at a restaurant and she just assumed that was it's name.

salad = any kind of green leafy lettuce
The child will eat any vegetable that you put in front of her except all green lettuces. She methodically picks out every speck before eating. She will eat red varieties though.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What Do I Do All Day?

Lately I have been so inspired by all of the wonderful crafting blogs out there! There are so many talented people who are sharing their works and their vision through their blogs. Two of my current favorites are Amy over at angry chicken andHillary at Wee Wonderfuls. These ladies are not only talented and inspiring, they also work in all sorts of mediums. They both try all kinds of different things. 
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The only downside to all of this great motivation is that my own projects have been all over the map. Pictured left is a set of bed linens I just finished embroidering for my daughter. Embroidery was my first love and my favorite handicraft until knitting came along and usurped it's position. It's fun to go back to it from time to time.

I have just cast on my Two At Once, Toe-Up Sock Pattern from KnitPicks to be my "Solitude Trip" project. Right now I feel like I'm wrestling with an octopus every time that I pick this one up, but I an determined to persevere!

I also just finished a commissioned sewing project of childrens' bedroom curtains for some friends of ours. I rarely do work for other people, because of the fact that what I may think is cute or interesting has to hang in their house and they may not agree with my tastes. I also find that when creating starts to feel like "work", I really loose my motivation. Almost every time, I find myself in those last stages of the project muttering to myself about "what I was thinking when I said yes" and how "I will never do this again". Invariably though, someone will come to me and say "You make stuff, right? Could you ......" and I say "Of course, no problem!" sealing my fate once again!

Peanut's Half-Birthday

  Posted by Picasa Today was my Peanut's second half birthday. And yes, I am one of those goofy moms who make up holidays! We had a blast making her "half-a-birthday" cake and she made me relight her "two-and-a-half" candles several times just so that she could blow them out again and again.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Solitude

My husband is something of an adventurer. He enjoys scuba diving, rappelling, snowboarding, motorcycle riding, parachuting; you name it, he's done it. But his true love is off-road trail riding and rock climbing in his lovingly modified Jeep Wrangler. His ardor for the sport (and his propensity for breaking some expensive part or another every time he goes out) has even led to his opening a small business fabricating and designing bits and pieces to make a trail run better and safer. He is gone at least a dozen weekends a year leading, or taking part in, trail rides all over the country.

And if there ever was a more textbook example of "opposites attracting" than our marriage, I'd be interested in seeing it. :)

I am a homebody. I enjoy having a snug little perch where I can relax and putter. I love it when life is normal and boring. I've never felt the pull of adventure or had a "conquer it just because it is there" attitude. Hestia embodied in the slightly dumpy and nearsighted body of an approaching middle-age red-head.

Which is why, every spring, when my husband attends the big meet and greet trail ride put on by a well-known Jeep hardware catalog, I baffle my friends and family by going along for the trip. Even though I do not ride the trails (I get insanely car-sick, lol) I always go along and organize the camp. I spend four days sitting in a field, all by myself for at least eight hours a day. And I enjoy every minute of it.

About 150 Jeeps converge on the small town, some riders coming from as far away as Europe, to spend three or four days camping, talking Jeep lore, and riding the trails. We stay in a big field, bordered on three sides by a windbreak of trees and on the fourth by a quiet road. There is no sightseeing to be done, unless you count the groundhogs and the neighboring farm's sprouting corn. There are no "facilities" aside from a port-a-john or a carefully selected bush, and a waterhose which the guys use both for hosing copious amounts of mud from their persons and cooling off overheated engine parts. Some people stay in a local motel about twenty minutes away, but that wouldn't do for the leader of the "Xtreme Trail" and his equally heavily modified class buddies.

So, while my husband is gone all day, what do I do? For me it's a little like a form of meditation. I read piles of books, knit, nap, and just be. It's the only time in the year when I actually go more than an hour without uttering a word. The silence is such a novelty to me, the chance just to sit and listen to my own thoughts a real rarity. There aren't many people in our world nowadays who get the chance to experience that kind of all alone, no mobile phone, no electricity, no plumbing gurgle, no next door neighbor yakking, kind of quiet.

I also find that at the end of my own little "adventure" I am really ready to start back to my daily routine with a new fervor. I usually spend the whole two-hour ride home anxiously anticipating my home and my little Peanut's face. I can't wait to get back to my life. My stay in the field each year brings my life and goals into sharper focus.

But when I try to tell these things to someone else, they very often can not understand. "How boring!" or "I would go crazy with nothing to do" are the usual responses I receive. They can't understand it is that very "nothing" that attracts me so much. I guess, until you have had a chance to sit alone with your thoughts, you won't understand how refreshing it can be.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Anew

Lately, I have been in a holding pattern. I now weigh more than I did when I was nine months pregnant with my daughter. I have a house that is jumbled, messy, and stale. I have been struggling with an apathy that just isn't in my nature. I am a planner, a doer. Yet for months now, I have felt like I've been just going through the motions of my life. That bigger and better things would happen to me eventually, so why bother with my here and now.

Last week, I got a wake-up call.

I went to my yearly check-up with my OB/GYN. I was dreading it a little, knowing that she would be concerned with my weight, and also with the fact that we hadn't settled the baby decision. But the thing is, I love my doctor and I enjoy getting a chance to talk with her. Maybe because she is very caring, yet straight-forward. Maybe because she will tell you how things stand and not sugar coat things unnecessarily.

She didn't have wonderful news for me.

It seems that the results of some bloodwork that I had done show that I am not able to carry another baby full-term without medical intervention. I can physically conceive a child, but I lack the proper amounts of hormones to allow a child to develop normally. My Peanut was a one-in-a-million, God-given-miracle of a blessing. If I do become pregnant, there are medications and supplements that they can give me to try to keep me from mis-carrying, but that also carry the risk of side effects and birth defects. The long and the short of it is, we are not likely to have anymore children.

As my doctor sat there and relayed this information, I felt myself getting angry. Even though the fact of the matter is, for the last year, I have been seriously doubting whether I wanted to try for another baby. Now that the decision had been made for me I wanted to cry and rant and scream "It's not fair!". I actually sat weeping on the examination table, thinking about how I would tell my husband and what this might mean to my own identity as a woman. The mumbled refrain of "useless, useless, useless" kept running through my head.

Then I was still.

It occurred to me that even though I wanted a family and a home, I wasn't being a very good steward of the one that God had given me. I have been a lot less than I should have been, lately. While sitting there gnashing my teeth and crying "Why me?", I was forgetting the fact that God had already given me an amazing little girl and a good husband to love and nurture. And the truth is, I haven't been doing my job properly.

As I dressed, I began a catalog of the things that I have been letting slip in or sometimes slide completely from my grasp. I realized that I was crying about a reward I thought I deserved, when in fact, I deserved nothing. Any blessing I already had, was by God's bottomless grace and no other source. I felt ashamed at weeping.

So, as I pulled on my socks, I vowed that my ennui was ending there and then. No more half-done housework. No more resenting my husband's long hours away. No more seeing my mothering duties as dull drudgery and a drain on "my" time. I was going to quit my moping around and do my job correctly.

When I do my duties as wife and mother with purpose and joy, that is when I am truly happy. Feminists can say what they want about the self-deluded state of a housewife, but I can tell you that I never feel more content and fulfilled than when my home is running smoothly and my family is happy. I realize now that the thing causing me to feel depressed and zoned out was not that I didn't have what I wanted but that I had stopped doing the things that I should. My heart's dearest desires were sitting around me in a cluttered home eating dinner from a box.

Hopefully, my fire continues to burn.

I have started myself back on the track of wifely and motherly excellence. I have decided that there is no reason why I am not accomplishing the things that make me happy, other than my own laziness and lack of commitment. Keep me in your thoughts.

IZZE

I have a new addiction.

While browsing the isles of my favorite store of all things fun and enjoyable (Target), I came upon these beautiful, slender, little cans of carbonated juice from a company called IZZE. All I can say is yum. The drink is made of just juice and sparkling water and is delicious. (my favs are pomegranate and grapefruit) I've never been a soda drinker, but I can't get enough of IZZE.
IZZE also sponsors and funds a program called "Project Reach" which provides education for the workers who pick the fruit that they buy, which are usually itinerant workers or newly arrived immigrants. And while I am not naive enough to believe that they are not in the business to make a profit, it is nice to see a company who feels a little responsibilty for their surrounding community and world.

Do yourself a favor and find some IZZE!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Fraud Confesses

As I was making lunch today, I realized that I was living a lie. It is time to come clean.

I love to cook. I love growing, and harvesting, and preserving my own food. I love to can my brains out. I love being a homey, lovely, soft kind of person. I have a large repertoire of soul and body nurturing recipes and practices that make me feel fulfilled and strong. But there is a glaring chink in my armor of love.

I cannot make biscuits from scratch.

Under my sweet FIL's tutelage, I produced rocky lumps of concrete. Under the proficient hands of my Grandma, I produced biscuits so light and flaky that they were nothing but flakes so loose that you could not take one from the platter without using a spoon. I have studied recipes from southern cooks who claim that theirs is the "fool-proof" way.(anyone know what the level below fool is called?)I have watched shows and read books, studying the method and technique of countless experts and ordinary people. All to no avail. Even my guru of cooking, Alton Brown and his Ma Mae's recipe were no match for my incompetence.

It's not that I don't understand the pastry processes behind biscuit making. I get the science. I just lack that special magic touch. It is one food that just doesn't click for me. Therefore, I am forced to fall back on supermarket alternatives to meet the biscuit needs of my country-cooking-raised husband.

Every time I pick up "Pillsbury's Lard Chunks" my hillbilly foremothers spin in their graves. Whenever I tear open that packet of "Biscrete Baking Mix" I blush and quickly toss the incriminating evidence in the wastepaper bin. The only mix that makes me feel slightly better is Jiffy's "Buttermilk Biscuit Mix" and even then I have to roll them out in wheat flour just to be able to sleep at night. The shame knows no end.

Maybe someday I'll be able to manage what most girls around here can do in their sleep by the age of thirteen, but until then, can we keep this our little secret?

And as the lovely, Aussie, Fe just reminded me, most of the world outside my secluded behemoth of a country would call what I am trying to make, scones. Biscuits/cookies are a whole different story! :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Monday, April 10, 2006

Eureka!

If you were all sitting at your keyboards and biting your nails, worried about my sanity in the quest for the mystery smell, I can now put your fears to rest. The smell has been discovered!

It was a dishtowel. The odd thing is, it was a clean, dry dishtowel. Stacked in the drawer with all of it's brothers and sisters, it was quietly stinking up the place. Apparently, some nasty bacteria or other decided that my favorite green towel was the ideal place to settle down and raise a family. And now, after multiple washings and a boiling the smell is still in residence. So, I must bid a tearful adieu to my cherished, dries-glasses-just-right, always-fluffs-up-perfectly, green dishtowel.

You will be missed.



Okay, now you can all go back to worrying about my sanity for the everyday reasons.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Peanut-isms

From the lips of my hilarious two-year old:

"No-see" = snow

"baby-cute sauce" = barbeque sauce

"rainbrella" = duh :)

"whey-ner" = livingroom (I have no idea, lol!)

"crunch toast" = french toast

"green juice" and "pink juice" = apple juice and grape juice respectively(refers to the color of the packages instead of the actual content)

"Lalapillar" = "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Smelly

Did you ever have one of those mystery smells in your house?

One of those empty-and-scrub-every-garbage-can, look-under-the-beds-for-a-crusty-old-sandwich, pry-up-the-floorboards-in-search-of-a-dead-rodent kind of things?

There is this smell in my house that I have been picking up on for the last two days. My husband swears that he doesn't detect a thing. No one else seems to smell it. I keep getting these little whiffs that are driving me on a mad search-and-clean mission throughout the house, for the offending item.

But it's not here.

Maybe it's just my home-selling paranoia. Hopefully, it's not some neighbor's missing pet, lol!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Squee!

I hit a big milestone as a Mommy today. Peanut presented me with her first "I made this just for you, Mama" drawing. I couldn't be any prouder! Silly little everyday things like this are some of my favorite parts of being a parent.

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