Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sanity break

Yesterday I was one step ahead of everything that came my way, or at least it seemed like it. All day. Today, I've been one step behind. All day. But now the house is quiet and all mine for one hour. One peaceful, slowed-down hour and I will take it. Because some days it really is less like raising children and more like herding cats.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sights and squeals of Spring

Dinner has ended and here we sit. Kevin at the dining room table with his nose deep in building plans, slowly flipping the big white pages back and forth, and me filling orders in front of the computer, listening to the screams and squeals of the children playing outside.

I hear the wagon being pulled this way and that, then it runs into the porch which is followed by squeals and giggles and then it heads off toward the barn with Allie yelling the whole way or giving orders, I'm not sure which.

The commotion drew us to the window to watch, and as we did we saw all three, far across the field under "their tree" with bikes strewn about on the grass, where they sat, talking, tackling, telling secrets, completely free and our hearts are full and amazed at what we've brought forth.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Landscaping on a zero dollar budget

There's a place at our house where no grass will grow. In 10 years of trying we can initially get it to grow in the Spring but by late May it's drying up and withering and by July the ground where it was becomes as hard as cement. Unfortunately it happens to be right at the most utilized entrance to the house, under a couple of huge (really huge) trees. I blame it on the thirsty, shady trees. It's a little embarassing and dry and desolate so we're trying a new approach, the no cost, high labor, throw in some heavy equipment, manpower and lots of time approach and we'll see if we can have better luck.

I spent the better part of my day digging up, dividing and transplanting liriope (fancy word for monkey grass). It has to be one of the most prolific ground covers out there and the perfect solution for us. It's free, it doesn't need babysitting, it grows in the shade, it's green, it'll fill in so no weeds will grow and did I mention it's free?

I love the part in dividing plants where I get to cut them apart with a serrated kitchen knife. I feel like a kid breaking the rules, oh yeah, I'm wild and crazy like that. Someone grab her! She's got the cutlery in the garden again!

Funny thing too, this stuff gets so dense and thick you can hardly tell the spot where I dug it up.

Enter Kevin, making things so much easier with the heavy artillery, and enhancing my view at the same time. I'm a lucky girl.

Even his old boots are my favorite. Look at the toes, we've had to take them in so many times for repairs, they've even replaced the toes on these.

And last but not least, the beginnings of the chicken coop. Look closely and you'll see John helping him push the auger down. A real mom-cringing moment. Watch your fingers!

Finally the layout and an example of one of the perks of being married to a builder. I bet we'll have the most level, square and true chicken coop in the county. Not that I'm trying to one-up anybody, I'm just sayin' the boy's a bit of a perfectionist which is fine by me, 'cause I'm not, well, unless it comes to knitting in which case I'm a total spaz, gotta rip it out if there's one mistake, but this post isn't about knitting (like most of them, ahem) so we'll talk about that later.

Oh and one more thing, I think my favorite part of the day was when we walked in church this morning and a friend said, "I've got 16 eggs I'm going hatch for you if you want 'em and you can have the hen that laid 'em too." He's 77 this friend, he and his dear, sweet wife. I like having 77 year old friends. Life is full of good things if you stop and look at it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rain = green

Walking by the front door last night and glancing out the window, I was struck by the sudden burst of green all the rain has encouraged. So even though it was still coming down I picked up my camera, threw my hood over my head (I've been living in this hooded sweatshirt for the past 3 days--it ain't pretty) and wandered outside to point and shoot.

A minute later, after apparently hearing the tell-tale sign of the front door opening, there was a knock at the window and Kevin peering out at me with arms crossed and that look in his eyes as if to say, "Honey, it's raining" and "did I marry a crazy woman" simultaneously. So of course I smiled and waved and went about my business.

It's so very uplifting to suddenly see some color and hear the singing of the birds this morning as we slowly awoke. Those happy, unmistakeable, sweet singing birds after an early Spring rain.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Working through the kinks

"I love you Blankey" by Allie.

"I'm sorry I left you at home."

Let's just say there are still a few rough spots. And I hadn't realized until now that Blankey is apparently very much alive.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flower power

We've been having a bit of drama surrounding "blankey" lately as we try to leave for preschool. Rather, I'm about to lose my cool when the sobbing, flailing and clinging to it for dear life ritual starts as we're headed out the door. I have a sneaking suspicion the emotional outbursts have more to do with real life change (read: Kindergarten, last year of preschool, away from mommy all day, etc.) than a piece of cotton and I had a moment of clarity on the subject today. I've been crossing my fingers since, hoping we'll have a seamless walk out the door tomorrow morning.

I try not to be a tricky mom, but when I require the kids to break a habit cold turkey my efforts usually backfire. Except for Lauren and her passifier. That was a cold turkey victory and I'm still not sure how it worked. Anyway, a little transition is what she needs, I thought, perhaps even a bit of a distraction. Playing into her girly girl disposition I thought a couple of soft, vibrantly colored crocheted bracelets with flowers on them might do the trick.

"Oh, momma! These are so cute and pretty, can I wear them, please? Please?"

"See, Allie" I said, "they're so soft, just like you say blankey is and when you're missing her you can just rub your cheek with one of these and know it won't be long before you see blankey again. But I need you to promise that you'll really try hard tomorrow morning to be happy with the bracelets and to use them to remind of blankey, okay?"

"Okay, momma, I'll try."

And later, "Do we HAVE to give one to Lauren?"

Monday, March 23, 2009

A dirt update

She is the digging-est dog I've ever owned.

Currently headed toward China.

So long flower bed. Been nice knowin' ya.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I'm starting to think that the girls are actually crazier than the boys. I was thinking we'd let her have a slumber party next year for her birthday but after today I might come up with something else. Wild, I'm telling you, they are completely wild.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's official

She's 7. I can't adequately explain how appropriate it is that Lauren was born on the first day of Spring, but it's certainly as if someone had a divine hand in bringing her to us on this very special day. It wasn't planned, I wasn't induced, in fact she was a full 10 days early but weighed 8 1/2 pounds and has been a bright spot of light in our lives ever since.

She's different from the other two. She's quiet, observant, sensitive, often lost in her own world and easily captivated by whatever is in front of her. She ascribes life to inanimate objects, cultivates a story for each and every thing she encounters and to say that she sees color in a unique and different way is an understatement. There is a whole world inside that head, one which I wish I could visit, but since I can't I hang on her creative use of words like "wet raindrops", my favorite.

So enjoy your Spring everyone, it's finally here, no more moaning and groaning. The weather is changing slowly but surely, I feel it. We'll be deep in baseball practice and birthday parties and sleepovers all weekend long, things are moving right along at their sometimes too fast pace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Here comes the sun

What a difference a day can make, that and a little sunshine, 60 degree weather and green grass popping up everywhere. I had the overwhelming urge to plant things and spruce up the sorely neglected porches on the front and side of the house. I also decided my kitchen was seriously lacking green plants and so this little pot of thyme is now by my sink and some basil stares right at you as you walk in. It will eventually move outside but for now I'm keeping it in so I can snort up a huge whiff of its fragrance as soon as I walk in the house. You know, if they made candles that smelled like basil I'd buy 'em. Gotta be one of the best smells on earth (I know I've said that before and I'm sure I will again before this whole gig is up).

So that obsessive planting frenzy led into the menu I planned for the night. With "fresh" and "spring" and "light" on the brain I decided to throw together some pasta, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, tomatoes, spinach and topped it all off with some fresh mozerella and bread. You now know another of my bad habits, that is, I never or hardly ever can follow any sort of recipe. I cook every bit the same way I knit--without instructions unless they're ones I made up somewhere along the way. It's gotta be some sort of control thing. We can delve into that later.

Kevin was trying to decide when to fit in a bit of fishing and this afternoon won out, as soon as I told him we were having a vegetarian dinner. I believe "I'm going to Wawa" is what he muttered under his breath. I swear, I never thought I'd be married to a man addicted to gas station food, but he is. Life has its way of laughing at you from time to time, but in the end everyone got what they wanted, the kids and I loved it!

Hopefully this spring cleaning energy will last until tomorrow when I'm plannning a purge of the junk that tends to gather on any available surface in the house. I'm one of the worst offenders, constantly setting things down with the intention of dealing with them "later". I won't even GO into the metaphor on life that suggests. I may even clean a window or two. Imagine!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I feel the same way

I'm sharing this picture for two simple reasons. First, I'm tired of the rain that we've had for the past 3 solid days and the 30-40 degree temperatures that went along with it, so my mood looks something like Allie's above, perhaps without her flair for the dramatic. Second, because I'm so tired of the weather I'm gearing myself up for the warmer days by dipping back into the photos from last summer.

It never hurts to daydream.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You know it's Monday...

...when the school bus driver informs you that you have a flat tire. Just last week Kevin told me it was time to have the tires replaced on my car (really? so soon? I feel like we just did that!), but that it could probably wait until June. Luckily he was home to fill it enough so I could limp 3 miles down to the service station where it has sat all day.

I was looking forward to getting out to run a few errands, even though the feverish boy is still home from school, only now he's feverless thank goodness. To add to the weekend excitement we made a trip to the urgent care facility yesterday because the fever had come back and the doctor on call said we should go. Despite another round of swabbing, poking, prodding, bloodletting and even x-raying, all signs still pointed to a plain old virus. It's a nasty one for sure.

So, of course, I made myself a necklace after we finished all his school work from last week. What? You think I should be cleaning my windows?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The great escape

When you've been married for 10 years (and you're happy, I think that has something to do with it) it's hard to hide much of anything from your husband, I should know, I try really hard sometimes. I'm not talking about some great, deep, dark secret, I'm just talking about my bad mood today which I'm blaming on three things: the wet, gloomy weather, at least 3 solid weeks of someone being very sick in the house, the inability to get back in the groove and resume life as normal, and the wet, gloomy weather. Make that four things.

So he basically kicked me out of the house, informing me that he'd do the vaccuming since he was better at it anyway (I tried not to let that comment piss me off), and told me to "take the afternoon off". Done deal, no arm-twisting required. I packed up the computer and some things to drop off at a friend's house, and left special instructions not to dry my yoga and running tights should he happen to throw in any laundry (hint, hint) and drove away without regret.

My clandestine destination was merely the library where I could surf, play, read, look at and listen to all the things that dial-up doesn't allow at my house. How different will things be when they come to bury our cable! I'm keep my eyes open for "Miss Utility" on a daily basis.

My to do list:
1. Listen to pandora! I found this link from the shutter sisters blog and am in heaven. Typed in Cold Play and am still wondering how in the world they know all my favorite music! I had no idea I could open a browser, find my music, minimize it, open another browser and the music would still play! I am SO technologically naive it's embarrassing.
2. Do some research for a certain girl's 7th birthday party next weekend. Think I have it figured out. (these parties always stress me out, anyone else?)
3. Get down to the nitty gritty on copyrighting my work. Think I get that now too.
4. Thank awesome repeat customers who put my baby booties on top of cakes!

Really the list could have been a hundred points long. I think I've been in here for over 2 hours! One guy came and sat outside the room I'm in as if I was going to leave any time soon so he could have it. He finally got tired of waiting and left! This is a day of serious computer over-indulgence and I don't feel bad at all.

But the cell phone just rang, I was wondering how long that would take. Seems John's fever is back, 101. How many days now? Something else must be going on. Reality sets back in and I'm headed home. Pizza's on the menu tonight and those doughs won't make themselves. Anyway, it was fun while it lasted.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Well, there's this...

The ultimate Spring teaser: a few days of temps in the 70s and 80s followed by snow on the forsythia bushes. My Friday cleaning ritual is unfortunately unavoidable.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Click on restart

The house is at least mostly well (besides John) and the giggles have returned, as has the need to draw, paste, cut and generally make as big a mess as possible and then act as if it's a great injustice when I mention the word c l e a n.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, a mess indicates play which means health which in turn means things are finally right around here again. I hate it when things are so out of whack. But just as we are getting back on track, others fall off, and apparently now the dolls have taken sick...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One by one they fell

I wish I could give you a good report. I wish all I had to post were bright sunny pictures of a pretty country setting, birds gathering and flowers blooming. In fact, I wish it was 80 degrees and the pool was open and we all had nice tans and naturally bleached hair and ate outside every night and stayed up late and caught lightning bugs and were barefoot all the time and warm and... oh my, I think this cabin fever is making me delirious.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's in the air

Fevers are still running amok around this place. This winter has to set a record for the most school days missed by my three children. At least I can have the windows open and let in that sweet sweet smell....

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Icing on the cake

As if last week wasn't exciting enough, well, all except for the quarantine I'm running here, it seems in 60-90 days we'll be getting cable, folks. And you know what that means....high speed internet! Silence the collective gasps, it is true, I do all my business and blogging on a dial up internet connection.

Here's how it all played out. It was Friday afternoon and my cell phone rang. Kevin.

"Honey! Get a pen and pad of paper and go out in the field, there's a Comcast truck over at the barn and some guy measuring. Go see what he's up to and get a contact name and phone number!"

I ran out of the house, paper and pen in hand, trucked my way across the field, only to see the cable guy go across the street, looking up at poles and wires and such, so naturally I followed him.

"Are you going to give us cable?" I asked in my most hopeful voice.

"I'm measuring for a business line for the barn, your neighbor called us for a business line." said my new friend Tony, looking like a deer in headlights.

"You mean my father-in-law?" wondering why he hadn't informed me of the wonderful news.

We figured out who called who and what was what and to make a long story short I ended up standing in the hay field talking to the lady I needed to talk to on Tony's cell phone. She informed me that she was starting the process and they'd be putting in a residential line to our house and in 60-90 days we'd be up and running.

Over out 10 years here I can't tell you how many junk mail solicitations we've gotten from the cable company and we've called them many times in response. Men (plural here) have been out to measure, only for us to be told we can't get it. Nothing, nada, zippo, zilch, I-know-you-want-it-and-we-have-it-but-we're-not-gonna-give-it-to-you, sorry sucker, is always the response. Clearly it's a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

I suppose this is just one byproduct of the downturn in the economy and the virulent spread of Verizon Fios in the area, that the cable company is hurting enough to be willing to come bury more cable out here for the country folk. I for one will not complain.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Word for the week: buried

It's been quite a week, where everything that could have happened, seemed to have happened all at once. First we were buried under at least 8" of snow, an amount we hadn't seen in at least 5 years, maybe 10. Then I was buried in yarn, with order after order throughout the week and a flurry of emails, inquiries and even the possibility of some exciting press all thanks to that generous outside source. I know not to count my chickens too early, but if it happens you'll be the first to know.

As a result I became enlightened by the notion of networking and how powerful it really is, but I first had to be shown. (It's at this point that I ask you to not make fun of me for having grown up in Missouri,the "show me" state--oh the irony.)

We've been buried in blankets as well, the girls were so much sicker than I originally thought. We found out yesterday that Allie has strep and Lauren has had the flu since Monday. No wonder she was bawling about a cartoon.

I've also felt buried in the generosity of friends. One who, when I announced I was popping over for a visit promptly baked cookies for us and made me take them all home. I swear, I never leave her house empty handed. And another, whose exhuberant praise and encouragement overwhelms me, but at the same time keeps me moving gently along in my own backward, naive sort of way, making me ever so grateful for the chance to follow my heart....

Thursday, March 5, 2009

So that's where...

I decided to investigate where a rash of sales and shop views came from this past week that have kept me on my toes and crocheting away like crazy. I often wonder, where do these people come from and how do they find my shop? Is it something I'm doing or some wonderful outside source? Thanks to the new Google Analytics function Etsy has added to our shops I can now see that this last week's sales have largely come from the latter. A huge thanks to the curator of this wonderful blog who wrote this lovely post about her new little one who just so happens to be wearing a pair of the booties above.

What a gorgeous blog--one day I aspire to such greatness; sponsors, giveaways, a general knack for knowing what people like and how to make it all look. Which brings me to my next tease, I'm conspiring with a friend, cooking up a little contest of sorts, complete with free stuff, a fun experience and maybe I'll have some giveaways of my own to kick it all off. Stay tuned...I'm branching out and it's all new territory...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The great big meltdown

The fun was bound to end, it was inevitable, and just as the snow has started to melt, so has the family begun its big meltdown, one by one, we're dropping like flies.

It all started yesterday when Lauren came down with that recurring high fever/sore throat stuff that Allie had a week or so ago but someone let her play in the snow yesterday anyway, dosed up on Tylenol, enough to give her that false sense of feeling mostly well again, I mean really, how often does it snow this much here? But after she'd been sledding and was coming around the corner of the house with tears streaming down her face, and sobs erupting from her chest I knew it had worn off.

"I'm just sad about so-and-so-the-horse on Back in the Barnyard (cartoon) mommy", she cried.


"Such-and-such threw him up in the air and if he had fallen he would have hurt himself, but he didn't fall he was okay, but it was mean and I'm sad because he could have gotten hurt so I just think of whosit the pig being thrown up in the air and landing with his hands on his hips and it makes me feel better", she manages a smile.

"Oh, I see, why don't you come inside honey, I think it's time for more medicine."

"Okay, mommy, I'm comin'", still choking back tears.

We had a discussion about what's real and not real again, and that make-believe characters don't really get hurt, of which she professed to be fully aware. Perhaps it was just so I could make sure I was fulfilling my momly duties and help her through an emotional state rather than blowing it off. I would have been more concerned if she hadn't rebounded when the medicine kicked in, which of course she did and all was well again until later in the evening when Kevin experienced the whole saga all over again.

"Have you taken Lauren's temperature lately-she's in there sobbing about so-and-so horse on that stupid cartoon!" he exclaimed, quite peeved about the whole thing and thoroughly unempathetic, like how dare she get emotional over something so trivial.

"I know, I know, this has been happening all day and I just didn't tell you because I knew you wouldn't understand, she's just sick and I have her medicine right here, she'll be just like new in a half an hour."

"Okay, because this ain't right!"

"Here, babe, take this and have a little sip of water."

And it's right here where I flash forward to the teenage years and all the wasted tears that are to come, and how many girls outings we'll have to have and how many times we'll have to ship the boys off fishing or chopping wood or repairing or building just so we can be uninhibited, unhindered and hopefully talk through a good deal of it.

It wasn't all like that yesterday though, here she is in one of her brighter moments, being pulled by the go-cart round and round, one of the many perks of living in the country and having a big place to play.

I mentioned that the whole family is on the downturn, I now have a sore throat, John isn't quite himself, says his tummy hurts and he thinks he played too hard in the snow, Allie's tonsils look like grape tomatoes and the worst part was Kevin throwing up at 2 a.m. Not again. A big part of me thinks we just played too darn hard. Clearly we can't handle our snow!