Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birthday Babble

Last week was my birthday and I daresay that it was one of the loveliest on record.  We woke up early because I had spontaneously decided that I would like to spend the day in Chicago with my family.  I was greeted by a sublime bouquet of roses at the breakfast table and then was showered with gifts.  I got an intercom system so that I no longer need to yell ~ thank you so much, because it was getting rather old (do you think I can yell into the intercom?  We'll just have to see...) and it just shows that they know it was a necessity and not any deficiency in my character.  I also was given two books by Shannon Hale (I LOVE her.  I want to talk to her about books.  I want to be her best friend).  And my mom sent a lovely sweater.  I can't wait to wear it (when the day comes that I can actually pry it onto my body because it isn't drenched with sweat).  We then sallied forth in the roomy vehicle in which only kind and patient words were uttered for the three hour journey north.  We visited the Field Museum for the first time and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We are going to have to return since we barely scratched the surface.  We then had dinner with my niece and her mom and also tried to go to Ikea, but it closes early.  We were all SO disappointed.  Especially my husband.  He loves to wander aimlessly around Ikea and look at absolutely every tiny swedish inch of it.  He is such a shopper.  Actually I think there was happy smoke trailing us as we zipped out of that parking lot.  But I showed him and suggested we visit The Container Store and Home Goods to make ourselves feel better.  ("Oh yes," he groaned obligingly since it was my birthday after all).  All in all I felt more pampered than I ever have.  The next day I saw that I had received copious amounts of well wishes from all of my Facebook friends and was overwhelmed.  (One friend I remembered had had a birthday only a week before and I responded by apologizing for not wishing her a Happy Birthday, only to have her tell me that I had indeed written her a note that day, but cannot seem to remember that fact.  Those word games don't seem to be hindering the onset of Alzheimer's much).  But wait, there's more!  I realized on Sunday that two of my dear friends, AndieF and Normal Mom, wrote terribly kind things about me on their blogs (I am embarrassed to link it, but I think my mom will like to read them).   No one has ever said such gratifying words about me before ~ it was almost like being at my own funeral!  I even cried and got the chills!  I just wanted them to know how touched I am even though I don't believe half of what they said and don't think I deserve such generosity.  I became very close to them as they helped me sail the choppy waters of being in the Primary Presidency and they also both happen to be my visiting teachers so I think that counts as a visit.  For two years.  Or more.  Really girls, so thoughtful, you have no idea how much it means.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It is really hot and we don't have air conditioning and that bug is eating my roses (but it is that nice lime green color ~ cute).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Toad Lily by any other name would not smell as sweet

About the weed.  I have a very shady garden and am perpetually looking for perennials to stick here or there that will thrive in the dark and dank flower beds.  Whenever I read about shade gardens or talk to someone, hostas are always mentioned and I do have hostas, but I would love to try something else.  I am always excited to get coupons from local nurseries that offer a free perennial and use that chance to find some new sun-shunning, yet bright and lovely, flower.  Last week armed with my coupon and the baby, I perused the rows of plants.  There was a large variety of pots labeled "full sun."  Ha ~ sun!  So easy ~ any old thing likes the sun (I remark disdainfully).  It takes a certain amount of creativity and resourcefulness to design an interesting shade garden.  Aha!  There is something new.  I pick it up and see that is loves shade, positively thrives on its coolness, and it has a picture of a beautiful purply blue flower described as being "orchid-like."   I bring it home, find the ideal spot, pull the weeds out of that otherwise empty location, dig a big hole (which generally requires sawing through the roots of the tree providing all of that shade), and sit back to wait for it to bloom.  Meanwhile as I am weeding and gardening in other areas of my yard I notice that the leaves on my newfound gem look eerily familiar.  In fact, I think we have gotten up close and personal every time I am yanking said leaf out of the ground!  There is a weed that has proliferated every corner and is hard to stop.  It does have a beautiful purply blue flower so I have allowed it to linger until it is finished flowering and then it is OUT.  Lo and behold that weed is called a Toad Lily and apparently people like it and sell it and buy it with actual money.  And the flower (that I saw on the label) is super.duper.tiny.  I suppose it might be orchid-like if one could actually see it.  As a child my Uncle John told me, "A weed is just an undiscovered flower."  And that seems to be the case here.  I simply didn't appreciate what I already had and will now, of course, look at it with new eyes.  The chickweed choking my vegetables and the other prickly things poking their heads are still noxious.  This has happened once before when I actually bought a violet (loud laughter) before I realized that there is a reason that it is the state flower of Illinois and I already have a spectacular patch of it.  It is pretty for about a week and the rest of the time I am trying to separate it from the grass and the strawberries and the lavender and the roses and the basil and the boxwood and the thyme and the daisies...    Ahem, violets anyone?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trash or Treasure

Well, I have done it again and bought some garbage.  Oh, and some weeds.  I went to another estate sale on Friday and found what I thought was another manifestation of my gift for thinking of something I need and then finding it right before my eyes.  That actually did happen when I walked in and saw a long row of cookbooks and thought, "I wonder if  The Joy of Cooking is here because I have been looking for that for a while."  I started at one end of the row and towards the end there it was, twiddling its thumbs, waiting for me to find it.  It is a lovely hard bound edition from the 1960's and is even marked with some favorites for us to try.  This experience made me cocky as I meandered around the house so when I came upon a small chest freezer in the basement I didn't hesitate to snatch it up.  It was only $10 which should have been my first clue that something was not right.  We couldn't get it at that moment so I went back later with Matthew and Charles.  We hefted the thing out of their basement, up stairs, around corners, through doorways and then drove it home and were negotiating around our own tricky corners when I noticed that the seal in back is torn and there is quite a large space for air to get through.  Now, I wasn't completely negligent and did check to see if it worked.  It was plugged in and there was ice in it as proof that it did actually freeze things, but I hadn't noticed this one little flaw.  Matthew and I had a conference as the freezer teetered on the stairs.  How much might it cost to run with air billowing out the back?  And how long would it take to just save the amount that it would require to buy something new that was more energy efficient?  And why did I just pay $10 to strain my back, get my car dirty, and bring something else into my life that I now need to get rid of?   I don't want to just throw it in the garbage since I hate the idea of filling up the landfill, but at the same time how environmental is it to be wasting so much energy with old appliances?  Hmmm.  Craig's list here I come.

More on weeds and the environment later.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

curly girlies

The girls really wish they had curly hair.  Sadly, my ultra-straight locks seem to be dominant.  You would think that out of five, we could have had one child inherit Matthew's curls.  So the other night I put their hair in pin curls which brings back memories of Saturday evenings, watching Fantasy Island, while my mom combed out small sections of hair,  twisted it around her fingers, and criss-crossed two bobby pins so tightly our heads ached.  I think that it is a little too humid here, but the girls still loved their hair in the morning.  We will try this again I am sure.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Retail Therapy

I have been attempting the coupon thing again because I really would like to find a way to spend less money on groceries.  Last week was coupon Nirvana because Kmart had double coupons up to $2 (which can then be $4!) so I girded up my loins and decided to try it.  I looked to see what was on sale and what matched up with my big coupons.  There was also a limit of 10 coupons per customer so I had to be even more careful.  I took Ella with me on the first trip so that she could pick out some makeup that was a deal and also go through the line.  We gathered up our loot (imagine painstakingly wandering around the store, matching up coupons with the correct item) and finally went to a checkout aisle that was empty.  Of course, the minute she started ringing up my items, all the other checkers left their stations and before too long we had a long queue behind us.  Then Ella didn't want to go through the line so I asked if I could do two separate transactions.  Then the coupons wouldn't scan so she had to type each one in by hand.  Then something wouldn't go through and she had to call a manager over.  I peeked back at the people in line who were shaking their heads and muttering and I broke into a cold sweat.  Finally it was over.  Ella looked at me and said,  "Mom, that was so stressful!"  I know, you really have to work to save that much money!  I went six more times throughout the week (complete with mistakes and arguing with customer service) so now our pantry, laundry supplies, shampoo and conditioner cupboard, etc. are all overflowing.  And I also feel more comfortable using coupons so it was good practice.

Yesterday I had to go to the store and pick out a vanity and lights for our new bathroom and  I had to go alone!  Nothing is more difficult for me.  I like the clean lines of modern, the organic curves of art deco, the sweetness of cottage style ~ then throw in the price factor ~ this one isn't as nice, but it is cheaper, and this one is on clearance!  I am a pushover for red tags.   So I did come back with three different light fixtures, but did manage to only buy one vanity.  I have bought and returned several faucets and if I hadn't ordered the bathtub and sink online (and the bathtub wasn't BUILT into the room) they probably would've been traded in by now as well.  It is simply too much pressure to choose items that will be so permanent.  And I also need to keep in mind that other people will probably live here someday so not to go too crazy (oops, too late, my tub is slightly over the top).

We have still been frequent garage sale attendees.  Last Friday there was a whole neighborhood sale so we piled in  the van then had a nice stroll in the sunshine, weighing down the stroller with treasures.  We found some bowling shoes for Charlie, an entire wardrobe for Lulu, and multiple frames for .50¢ a piece.  I have definitely become an enthusiast.

Between the coupons, the garage sales, and losing a storage room (the future bathroom) it is now time, once again, to return to decluttering.  The circle of life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Skinny on Skin

This evening Dad and big boy went to help someone move (I know, on Monday ~ sinful) so I took the rest of us to the swimming pool.  It was so lovely there.  There were only two other families so we essentially had all that space to ourselves.   Baby soon found a fountain to capture his attention and was happy to stay put for the duration of our stay.  I sat right behind him and started to observe his skin.  Have you seen baby skin lately?  His is translucent with a back that is still like velvet.  I began to contemplate about how all skin is pretty amazing.  I saw his skin mottle as it regulated his temperature and when he splashed he was covered with hundreds of tiny beads.  Upon landing, the drops stayed there on his water repellent shoulders instead of soaking in.  How wonderful that we don't get all soggy when we swim and bathe.  Another thing I have often marveled over with the children is that their owies never stay for long ~ our skin gets right to work healing and repairing itself.  And aren't we glad that it grows with us as we get bigger?  But even nicer if it would hold in the extra weight!  It is astounding that something as insignificant as its color ~ which doesn't effect functionality as far as I know ~ has created such chaos in the world.  I remember my first childhood encounter with Native American history and slavery and being ashamed of my skin.  I am grateful for the things that I learned at home and church that taught me that everyone is the same inside.  It never occurred to me to not like someone because of their skin.  I must admit, however, that I am sometimes culturally prejudiced.  Just tonight I ran into some very interesting people at the grocery store.  They weren't a different race than me, but I am fairly sure they were from a different PLANET.  I need to remember that they are children of God and that we are all just trying to do our best, living in our own skin.

Friday, June 12, 2009


One thing that has been taking up my time is that I am transferring my blog into a bound book!  This has been very exciting for me since I have wanted to do this for a few months and couldn't find a suitable avenue for doing exactly what I wanted.  I even googled "turn blog into a book" and you know what?  It let me down.  I really felt betrayed by that and gave up my search in defeat.  Well, the most RANDOM thing happened.  I clicked on Mormon Mommy Blogs, which I have never done, then clicked on the general category, which I have never done, then clicked on a blog title about halfway down that I cannot even remember the name of now, then started reading an entry that was labeled "randomness," then clicked on that label, then scrolled halfway down and lo and behold there was an entry from the first week of January in which she detailed how she was making her blog into a book.  I couldn't believe it.  It had all only taken a few minutes (not the several hours you were envisioning such a journey into randomness might take) and it was exactly what I had been looking for ~ it was like I was LED there.  I had seriously been considering starting my own company to do such a thing, but since my capabilities for singlehandedly turning blogs into books are severely lacking, you can imagine my relief at finding someone else to do it for me and at a reasonable price to boot.  The company is called Blurb and they just could not make it easier.  I cannot wait to see my book in print! 

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I have not been very diligent about updating my blog lately.  The end of the school year is always a little crazy.   

:: baby taking his sweet time learning to walk

::sleeping in a little, hair uncombed, straight to the business of books

::and board games

::the annual "School's Out" party

 I adore summer!  I so enjoy being with the kids, having a more easygoing schedule, basking in the sunshine, puttering around the garden, and most of all, here at the very cusp of the season, I simply like dreaming about the potential of what our summer could be.  Are we going to have some adventures?  Are we going to break the record of how many days we can go swimming?  Are we going to deep clean every nook and cranny of the house?  Are we going learn a new language?  And some more searching questions:  Are we going to be kind to one another?  Are we going to be patient?  Are we going to survive?  At any rate, I already feel the days slipping by too quickly and I want to rein them in, "Whoa there!  Let's have the moments last a little longer..."  We have already had a few exploits.  Father and son went camping the last two weekends and Ella has youth conference this weekend and since she is on the planning committee went a day early.  I already miss her.  On Monday we took the kids to Havana to help clean up the Illinois River with the Living Lands and Waters group.  They worked hard picking up garbage, but the disagreeable bits were tempered by the knowledge that they were doing something good and also by a fun boat ride to the litter location.  Unfortunately no pictures of that.  Would've been nice...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Unrequited Love

I love my house.  It is a Prairie style Sears catalog house.   When we first moved here I would think how lucky I was every time I walked up my front staircase, feeling like a princess with my hand on the banister.  Our house isn't that amazing, but it is the first one we've bought and comes after a long line of rentals, so in comparison it is pretty nice.  It has some lovely details:  glowing wood floors, two stairways, lots of windows, etc.  I am finding, however, that, as with other inanimate objects, my feelings are not returned and it does not love me back.  I am beginning to wonder if it, in fact, hates me.  Last night it rained.  I had been longing for rain all day as I looked at my limp basil and forlorn hydrangeas.  Was I going to have to break out the hose?  Around 6:00 my wishes came true and it poured and hailed, with the wind gusting for about 20 minutes.  Okay, a little overeffusive, but thank you for watering my garden.  We had about 2 hours to recover and then started the thunder and the lightning.  My girls were a little nervous, but I put them to bed and then went to get the laundry and almost died as I slipped and slid by the back door.  There was water pouring in through a window.  Great.  M got a towel while I took the laundry upstairs.  I walked in my room only to see a patch of wetness spreading across my ceiling.  Wonderful.  Couldn't it just rain without providing the accompanying stress of our entire house falling down around our ears?  Besides, we have other problems at the moment.  Our basement has a 3 foot deep hole and construction debris throughout, our kitchen cupboards are all coming unhinged, and our doorknobs are not functioning correctly.  Recently the little latch doohickey  wouldn't come out so the bathroom door wouldn't shut.  With the help of a friend, I took out the whole thing and got the spring inside replaced.  When I put the doorknob back on, I think it was too tight so in the last few weeks the threads have been stripped and smaller people were having trouble opening the door.  Finally I took the whole thing off again  since I didn't want anyone getting stuck in there and we have been using a stool to assist with privacy.  Well, this morning our handy fix it guy put the latch-y thing-y back on, but without a doorknob, and I waltzed in there without noticing and swung the door shut behind me.  As soon as I heard the telltale click, my heart sank ~ the tragedy I was hoping to avoid had claimed me as its victim!  I looked around and saw that there was nothing that could help me open the door.  I knew it was useless to call out since no one was around to hear and I hadn't brought my phone in with me.  I was grateful that the baby was in the room instead of out in the hall alone (I actually do occasionally get to go to the bathroom by myself, but not very often).  I tried not to worry about all of the things I should be doing, and instead made plans to enjoy the unexpected downtime brought about by my sudden imprisonment.  Fortunately I had a pile of the "Church News" to read and happily planned some church history stops for our summer trip.  Also, the bathroom is equipped with a few toys so that kept the boy busy for about 30 seconds, after which he wanted to play with the toilet bowl brush (yuck!), tried to get the cleaning supplies, emptied the hair "pretties" drawer, and climbed all over mommy.  After a while I cleaned the bath tub and the blinds and was gearing up for some more scouring when I spied the handy fix it guy down on the driveway.  "Yoo-hoo!"  He looked around in bewilderment.  "Up here!  I'm stuck in the bathroom."  We were in there for an hour, but I had feared that it would be much longer.  I would say the worst part was that it happened at 11:00 a.m. and I was starving!  Needless to say, it is becoming clear that there is no love lost between me and my house and I am considering trying to give it the slip.
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