Friday, May 29, 2009

Can't Complain

Over the weekend it was brought to my attention that I am a bit too critical.  About everything.  I really don't mean to be.  I am merely trying to help everyone around me reach their potential and be the very best they can be. ®  I took the kindly suggestion to heart and resolved that, 1.) if I really cannot handle if something is not done "just so," then I should do it myself, and 2.) if I really need someone else to do it for me, or if it is someone else' job, I need to not complain about the way it is done.  Easy enough.  Sunday morning, oldest girl was very punctilious and was ready for church before everyone.  I asked her if she would please dress the baby.  She returns with him in a onesie and some overalls.  Not my first choice (or second, or third...), he has loads of lovely digs.  So I purse my lips a little and then say, "Sweetie, he really needs to wear an actual shirt to church."  "But mom," she replies, "the green on the undershirt matches the surfboard on the overalls."  Back and forth and I am in the middle of an argument AND I was found complaining.  I ask someone (I won't say who) to put a little fence around the garden and when I walk by I notice that all of the poor delphiniums are being squashed ~ tragic!  I ask my son to put away his clothes and then when he needs help finding something in his closet, I discover a wet towel and dirty clothing crammed onto the shelf with the clean sheets ~ disgraceful!  Over the next few days I have found that at times I have difficulty going longer than two minutes without some nitpicking remark coming out of my mouth!  What is a girl to do?  And why can't anyone do anything right?!?  (Oh, that came out wrong, did that sound a little disparaging?)

Thursday, May 28, 2009


::some iris love with a side of peony

::the new playset

We *love* our playground.  I am not as diligent about taking my kids to the park as I should be so this has been wonderful.  We bought it from our friends and I am afraid that most of the payment went toward their time helping us put it together ~ very kind of them!  We have wanted one for years (and now my oldest two are a bit too big for it, sad!), but I was a little worried about it being an eyesore.  Once we got it up, it seems to meld into the surroundings nicely.  The kids are out there all the time (which keeps them from doing other things, like homework, whew!).  Notice we already have the requisite ruts signifying plentiful swinging time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Casting Stones

Memorial Day has always been a big family day.  Growing up we would visit cemeteries around Utah, leaving whatever was blooming that weekend (usually irises) on various graves.  For the eleven or so years that my Grandma was a widow we thought it was funny to be at her grave with her as we visited and remembered Grandpa.  Soon after she died, I moved away from Utah and haven't been there for Memorial Day since.  I miss the reunions and the reminiscing (and the cemeteries, I get that morbid inclination from my dear mother) so I always try to do something fun on that day with my family here.  This year we went down to Weldon Springs.  We thought we would meet up with some friends, but it had been raining, so it ended up just being us.  There is a little lake there with a lovely path meandering the perimeter.  The girls made up little games, running ahead, twirling, laughing, while Charles carried Phin on his back for the whole trek.  I don't know how far it is ~ 1/2 mile or 5 miles ~ but it took us about an hour to circumnavigate.  We also visited an old one-room schoolhouse and enjoyed ringing the large, old bell.  As per usual, there are no photos so you will just have to imagine the white schoolhouse in the middle of a meadow, skirted with flowering bushes; the black bell almost as big as Ibby on a brick pedestal; the totem pole carved out of an old swamp tree with an owl, some raccoons, a couple of beavers, a turtle, and a frog; clapping hands as someone catches a fish on the end of their pole; delighted smiles as sparkly rocks are found; ferns, trillium, and pine needles softening our path; sweet kids enjoying each other and nature.

Later in the day we went to our friend's house and had amazing barbecue and lots of laughter.  Charles and two friends went to a park.  Not much time passed before we got a call, "Dad, can you bring some paper towels?... And some bandages?"  What happened?!?  Are you okay?  We were throwing ROCKS at each OTHER.  What on earth--?!!!    He is fetched and returns with a very queasy look and a lot of blood on his face, hands, clothes, legs.  A rock hit him on the head, but once cleaned didn't look serious enough for stitches.  Maybe his head is okay now, but that doesn't explain what their heads were being used for before the "incident"...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Can't Get Rid of Him Now

I cannot believe I forgot to mention something so exciting!  We found out two weeks ago that Matthew received tenure ~ Yea!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh, I'm the luckiest girl alive! I had a birthday and now I'm ... six!

::not an action shot. she stayed in this pose for some time while L fetched the camera then turned around to show daddy ~ SO funny.

::treasure chest 

::sweet sushi

::jiggly fish

What We've Been Doing

::annual mommy tea party

::silver and scones

::watercress sandwiches ~ an essential

::downy heads » POP-pies  (picture taken by Lulu)

::dancing queen

::painted ladies

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Paper Trail

I have never been one to really use coupons. I do use them at restaurants, but I have never clipped coupons to save at the grocery store. I have always been interested, but thought it seemed too complicated and not really worth the time and effort since a.) I try to eat fresh food, and there are no coupons for apples, and b.) I buy the store brand of a lot of things, or clearance, etc. or at the opposite extreme I buy really nice organic gourmet things which also have no coupons. This year we have been trying to build up our year supply of food storage and in my wanderings on the web I have come across many blogs and other sites with tips for spending hardly anything at the grocery store through wise coupon use. Oooh, I would like to spend less on groceries. So first I had to get some coupons which was as agonizing as I could possibly make it. Next I painstakingly copied the experts' organizational methods and still have no idea how to find the right coupons. Finally I looked at the store ads and armed myself with a plastic sleeve which contained a grocery list of only amazing deals and a neat stack of carefully clipped coupons to make those deals truly spectacular. I had a very busy day yesterday with orders going to the post office, picking up kids, cleaning the house, preparing my Bradley lesson, making dinner, etc. but decided to run to the store around 5:00 since some of the sales I had synced up were ending yesterday and if I didn't go then I would have to start all over again. I went inside with the three youngest, which I suspect was my first mistake, and we ran around looking for just the right items. Our cart was filled with multiples of the same product, time was running short, and we made our way up to the cash register. I was nervous and excited as I anticipated the glorious acknowledgement of my efforts -- the receipt! There were some things I had decided not to get so I pulled out the coupons to remove the ones I didn't need. What? Wait a minute! Where are the amazing salad dressing coupons? And the magic eraser? And the peanuts??? Of course I still had the coupons for the things I wasn't buying, but out of the things I did decide to purchase, I had only ones for two items! I had multiples of those so I hadn't realized that some of my precious, precious coupons were missing! By the time this realization was confirmed (checked purse 25 times, shaken out completely empty transparent sleeve in hopes that something was hiding in the corners), the groceries were already being zipped through. I asked if the transaction could be suspended since I was missing some COUPONS, but he said that I could bring them back in with my receipt. Okay. Deep breaths. They are probably in the car and just fell out. Take kids out to the car, scramble under the seats, no coupons. They are probably still at home on the dining table. Get home, look all around, no coupons. I guess I didn't notice 50 coupons trailing behind us as I tried to keep baby safely in seat and was repeating "No gum. No brownies. No sugar cereal. No fruit snacks." to the girls! No wonder I was a bit befuddled. I figure I lost about $20 worth of valuable coupons somewhere and I doubt that anyone will treasure them as much as I did. And to be honest, I didn't really need that many bottles of salad dressing, but they would have come out to .17¢! I guess I will return them.

To sum up: my initial foray into the dark underbelly of Coupon World ended in complete disaster. Should I even attempt round 2?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Yesterday I delivered vegetables and Clark wrote "Mary at the mansion" on my delivery list instead of plain old Mary. It was funny how many people saw us in the newspaper! Last night at the school carnival, loads of people were talking about it. If my neighbor was in the paper I would never be the wiser. So our fame lasted two days. Back to vegetables -- at the first delivery I fell down someone's front steps! My feet slipped out from under me so we had the whole spectacle of shoes soaring through the air, skirt flying up, and me landing with a heavy thump on my tailbone. The woman who lives at the house came running out and felt quite helpless as I sat to catch my bearings (and even had some tears). Baby was crying in the car so as soon as I was able I wobbled over, tenderly sat down, and slowly drove away. I started to think how my life would change. I have so much to do every day, I just wanted to go home to bed, and I have just started exercising regularly! Of course, I already feel quite a bit better, walking and sitting aren't too bad, just picking things up, etc. So, as usual, I always suffer from the gloom and doom complex and think everything is going to be worse than it really ends up being.

Twice a week I pick up three kids from preschool and take them to their respective daycare facility. Phin is getting so that he recognizes that we are at their drop-off spots and knows that I will be getting out of the car without him for a minute. He starts crying even as we first drive up and I think that is so smart of him that he can identify where we are! I was telling Ella what a genius he is and she said, "If he was so smart he would know that you're coming right back so he doesn't need to cry every time." She has such a candid perception of life. Another example of his intellect is that he has started playing peek-a-boo by putting his hands on his forehead or over his ears, etc., but never his eyes. He thinks he is doing it right and throws up his hands, opening his mouth in a wide smile. It is so utterly adorable I wish that you could all see it -- never fails to amuse.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

15 Minutes

I hope that everyone had a Happy Mother's Day!  My family is always sweet and I try to stay out of their way (who knew it could be so difficult to stay out of the kitchen?).  We didn't have time for breakfast, but then there was a big nacho lunch and a grand sweet pork taco salad for dinner.  Yummy!  I had heard on the radio that a local mansion would be open for free tours on Sunday afternoon and then when I looked up the address I realized that it was only a few blocks from our house.  Since it was such a stunning spring afternoon we strolled over there and enjoyed meandering through the rooms, oohing and aahing at all the little details, and waltzing in the ballroom.  Light refreshments were offered so that we could survive the trip home, and then we spent some time on the grounds.  Imagine our surprise to see this on the front page of our local paper Monday morning:

Mary Smith of Bloomington, was joined by her daughters, Ibby, 6, and Lucy, 9, as she sits to watch her son, Phineas, 1, after touring the Broadview Mansion in Bloomington. The mansion, built in the early 1900's, was open for tours Sunday afternoon. (The Pantagraph/LORI ANN COOK-NEISLER) (May 10, 2009) 

We were famous for a moment.  Good thing it was a slow news day and the governor wasn't being impeached or something!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My rain dance seems to have worked too well -- it poured all night.  I hope my son is not too sodden.  The new day has dawned bright and all is ready for my Mother's Day tea.  I was a little worried this morning because unfortunately I don't think things are urgent until they are URGENT and hadn't gotten anything ready yesterday.  For the sake of time I had to sacrifice some of the elegant touches like place cards and streamers, but we will be fine as long as we have the essentials = very cute food!  I ran to the store this morning to procure the makings of watercress sandwiches and scones, my helpful friend Kristi came over to help set up tables, etc., my lovely husband swept the patio free of maple leaf blossom debris, and the tea is steeping.  Baby has just nursed and now I should probably dash!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Chatter

Oh, life is so busy, too busy.  Spring comes with delightful baggage -- twice as many chores in a day!  I have been raking out last fall's leaves, churning up the earth for another year of riotous exuberance, and madly planting -- dahlias in front, hydrangeas in the sheltered back, and goodies in the one sunny plot.  I finally put in the vegetables.  Some of the same stars have returned for another season -- swiss chard, zucchini, and heirloom tomatoes that go into the many recipes I have collected for just those ingredients.  We also have some new faces -- arugula for that extra kick in a salad and some lemony basil.  It has such a strong lemon component we will have to see how that goes over in the pesto.  I also came across some chocolate mint that I just couldn't resist sampling at the nursery (um, that lady over there is ingesting the plants), it tasted amazing, but I couldn't quite make myself purchase a mint plant when I have plenty at home steadily overtaking the other defenseless herbs.  

I was bemoaning the unceasing drizzle last week, but now that I have been planting, I am singing a different tune, "Rain, rain, please come again.  I don't want to use my watering can!"  I am spoiled living here and not at all used to having to water my own garden!  My adorable niece was over for a visit this afternoon and said that Illinois was just the place for me.  You just put something in the ground and it grows.  (Except for my boxwoods -- I had such high hopes of a hedge in 25+ years, I will have to post a picture of its demise).  I do indeed enjoy my little piece of Earth and I watch the skies for any signs at all of precipitation (Ooh, it has gotten really dark and gray, rainfall is imminent.  Drat, here is the sun again, you know, the one I have missed all winter.  More clouds blowing our way, just a little further...).   Of course, even in the midst of my petitions, I am torn because I have also been grateful for the unseasonably dry week -- oldest boy is off with the school for a week of Outdoor Education.  They are out sleeping in tents, cooking their own food over campfires, and indulging in nature walks.  Oldest girl had a very wet week a couple of years ago so we are glad there hasn't been a duplication of that.  Surely he could survive one good afternoon soak and the plants would be much obliged, I'm sure.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Love Seat

And we cannot forget the darling little love seat that was the best price of all -- free!  Complete with colorful afghan and that ever-present black cat.

"New" table

Here it is -- the table that changed my life.  I moved one of the chairs so that the fancy legs could be seen.  What do you think?  Do you think it matches my house?  And me?  

And also a picture of some cool old butterflies I found at a garage sale, and the temple picture that made me question my ability to make basic decisions.
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