Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Outside Stuff

We live in that big swath of the country that's been getting rain, rain, and more rain.

This isn't unusual for us around here, as our spring is generally marked by more rain than sun, and thankfully we've experienced minimal flooding this year.  All these rainy days bring back memories of splashing in puddles and slipping around on the trampoline in a downpour and mopping water off the bare wood subflooring in the house my parents were building because it wouldn't stop raining and there was no roof yet and my dad was afraid the wood would warp, all while Mom sat in the car and watched because she was too sick and weak from a brutal round of chemo to help.  Ah, childhood.

I empty it and the sky fills it back up.  Every day.  

I got a few plants in before the rains came down and the floods came up, but not many, as it's also been a chilly spring and I didn't think the soil temp was warm enough for the flowers I'm growing from seed.

Sunflowers and zinnias and sunflowers and delphinium and more sunflowers.

Thankfully it warmed up a bit for my mom and Mark's recent visit, and the rain even abated for brief amounts of time.  Not while we were visiting the local public garden, of course, but that's what butterfly houses are for.

Atticus spent the first ten minutes in the butterfly wing clinging to me and quietly panicking anytime a butterfly brushed by him.  Five minutes later, he was mad because none would land on him.  I don't know how to explain this other than that it's just so Atticus.  Caedmon was less interested in the butterflies and more interested in making friends with the volunteer that worked in there, getting her to show him the supply closet and telling her all about his super powers.  That is just so Caedmon.

Today we're enjoying a respite from all the rain, so Caedmon and I did important outdoor things, among them beribboning Hermione and planting flowers.

I added it up and our children's teachers spent approximately one million hours with them over the past school year.  This means they deserve a beach house in which to spend their summers forgetting the atrocities perpetrated against them over the course of the past year, but what we can afford are flowers.

Step One:  Go to your small local hardware store.  Wander around their greenhouse, and by 'wander,' I mean turn in a tight circle because that is how tiny it is.  Step Two:  Ignore the nice employee's suggestion to get each teacher a $4.50 potted flower, because what am I, made of money?  Step Three:  Buy the $1 3-pack annuals for each teacher.  Step Four:  Go to Target and hit the dollar bins for buckets.  Resist the urge to buy all the cute things.  You must be strong on this step.  Step Five:  Get home and remember you don't have potting soil.  Dig around in the compost heap until you find the least egg shell-y parts, and fill the buckets with those.  Step Six:  Plunk the flowers in there on top of the egg shells and compost and call it a day.

 Fortunately I know that if anyone can understand living on a budget, it's public school teachers, and at $2 a pop, these fit nicely into ours.  Thanks, teachers, for all the wisdom and compassion and patience and kindness!  Here's a plant that will die in 3-4 months!  Love from the Crislers! 

Monday, May 25, 2015


My mom and Mark came for a visit over the weekend.

Those are two grandboys and a bunch of quilts skulking around her.  This is not an unusual sight- particularly the quilts. 

In my family, if you get married or have a baby nobody tunes up a brass band or bakes you 1,000 casseroles or performs some ancient blessing.  My grandma, aunts, and mother will, however, attempt to smother you in warm, quilted love.

The three quilts on the left were made by Mom; the three on the right by Aunt Kay.

Those quilts up there are only the baby quilts our children received in thanks for being born.  After Derek and I got married, we received four quilts over the space of around two years, because quilts take time and between my cousins and sisters and I there are eight of us who need a quilt commemorating every major milestone.  And those wedding quilts are no joke:  Big enough to cover a queen-sized bed, in an assortment of color palettes and designs.  At one point Derek wondered aloud if all these quilts were an attempt to pad the walls.  This was not an unreasonable query.

And not to worry:  The men in the family aren't left out of the quilting venture; they're frequently drafted into service building quilt ladders.  I know this because there's one beside me right now, holding all my wedding quilts.  These men are also excellent at not touching the quilts at quilt fairs (touching of the quilts being strictly forbidden at such 'dos- but you knew that) and waiting outside the fabric shop not judging how long it's taking nor how many dollars are flying out of the women folks' hands.  They know that this is all in the name of art and heirlooms, or were perhaps ever so gently made to understand the first time they were foolish enough to challenge their resident quilter.

Never fear, Quilters!   I only opened those blinds all the way for the purposes of this photo; I don't want sunlight fading those colors any sooner than necessary.

I worry, at times, about my lack of quilting ambition.  I come from a robust line of quilters, and am perfectly proficient with needle and thread and sewing machine.  Shouldn't I be doing piecework in my sleep?  Feel the overwhelming urge to peruse quilting patterns when someone announces they're expecting?  Suffer guilt when buying a *gasp* STORE-BOUGHT BLANKET?  

The aforementioned robust line of quilters- at least, the two on the far left; that's a great-grandma and her sister.

Then I remember my fabric hoard (it's just so pretty); The Incident, aka that one time I found Adelaide attempting to use my rotary cutter for a craft project and I went the teeniest tiniest bit Mommy Dearest not because I was worried for her safety but because it was my rotary cutter; plus my mom didn't start quilting in earnest until my sisters and I were old enough to leave her in peace for thirty consecutive minutes.  My time may yet come.

Until then, I'm just going to enjoy the fruits of my mom, my aunts, and my grandma's labors, draped so lovingly around our house and its inhabitants- after all, this is Iowa.  It's cold up here.

Speaking of which, Mom?  I'm pretty sure I never got a quilt for moving to Iowa.  A small oversight, I'm assuming...?

Friday, May 22, 2015

A List for Friday

  • Signs your children are growing up in the age of technology:
Caedmon loves to draw pictures, but he will often ask if you want just a picture, or a picture and an audiobook.  If you go the audiobook route, it means you are possessed with infinite patience and/or have twenty minutes of your time to sacrifice to a meandering story about super heroes and lightning coming out of fingertips and hot lava.  There is always hot lava.

Recently when he posed this choice to me, I went the audiobook route.  I don't really remember why I did this to myself, but I'm fairly certain guilt was involved.  Caedmon drew his picture full of swords and lightning and stick figures with disturbingly large fists.  He wrote a bunch of random letters and a few short words on the reverse of the piece of paper; this was the audiobook portion.  Then he brought the paper over to me, allowed me to view his masterpiece, then flipped it over and prepared to recite a tale of lava and derring-do.

Before he began, however, he said, "Oh, wait, there's an Ad before the audiobook can start.  But you can Skip it if you want to."

Methinks we've been watching too many YouTube videos.

Caedmon loves audiobooks, but will still deign to listen to a paper version.

  • Signs your children have fantastic teachers:
In Atticus's kindergarten class they have this thing called "magic words."  There is a list of a few magic words every week, and every time the kids hear or use one of these words, they are to tug on their ear.

Atticus thinks this is pretty much the greatest thing ever.  I think this is pretty much the greatest thing ever, because it has him using words he didn't previously, all while wiggling his earlobe with his fingers and looking meaningfully at me with a smile:  "He is such a RASCAL," *smile wiggle wiggle*, or "I was FRIGHTENED the frisbee was lost," *smile wiggle wiggle*.  

I love the way he says these words in an announcer's voice, enunciating each consonant, but there was the week I learned I overuse the word "finally"; I worried our son's ear was going to fall clean off from all the tugging he had to do.

Atticus also has a fantastic coach, although it isn't his ear that sees plenty of action during soccer- it's his tongue, which evidently must bask in the light of day for him to successfully kick the ball.

Click to embiggen all these to see his Soccer Tongue.

Two Soccer Tongues!

And here's Atticus and Derek, looking very... coachly.  I say if "kingly" is a word, "coachly" can be, too.

  • Signs your family has faces more suited to those strange mugs with faces than to a glossy magazine cover:
You know, this kind:

Looks like a Crisler

These are the faces our family makes whilst playing mini-golf together:

Neither Adelaide nor I are able to remain composed when we make a bad putt.  And when you ask Caedmon to make a "pirate face," because we were playing at Pirate's Cove?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Should Frame These Anyway

All I wanted was a nice photo of Adelaide smiling with Table Rock lake and a slice of the Ozarks in the background.

Instead she found a big bug on her arm.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Thursday List

Newly unearthed bricks basking in the warmth of the long-hidden sun.  

Adelaide recently came home with a stick that her school optimistically called a White Oak tree.  While I was out back digging a hole for the white oak stick, about ten inches down I began to unearth bricks.  I fished three out of the small hole required for the stick, but hit more around the perimeter of the hole.  I thought about widening my search to see how many I could find, but figured Derek would frown upon arriving home to find half the backyard being excavated for the sake of old bricks.

Why, Suspicious Previous Owners?  Why all the buried nails and bricks and faux dead bodies?  Someone please explain this to me.

  • Derek and I made a whirlwind trip to Milwaukee a couple weeks ago so he could accept a few awards he won for his work.  

This is my favorite of the pictures I took while Derek was giving his "Thanks for reinforcing the fact that I'm amazing" speech.  I like the way the Master of Ceremonies behind him there is gazing adoringly at my husband.  It's like he's been taking lessons from Atticus and Caedmon.

  • There have been more soccer games:

Derek showing Atticus how to... throw the ball back into the game... probably?

Atticus with the ball, there, doing something fancy.  Pretty sure it involved kicking of some sort.  (Three games in and I am a veritable soccer savant, friends.)

Atticus is on the left, there, turning on a dime to run toward the ball.  Do anyone else's knees kill just looking at this?

It's very strange to watch one of my offspring play a sport with such enthusiasm.  And- hey, sisters of mine, get this:  When there's a gaggle of children fighting and kicking at the ball, Atticus enters the fray with gusto.  And when a ball comes flying at him at indecent and possibly harmful speeds, he runs toward it.  There is no screeching, no ducking, no closing of the eyes.   How are we even related to this kid?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Blood Sacrifices Performed in the Making of This Post

I don't know about you, but I enjoyed a successful weekend, in large part because I continued my Mother's Day tradition of buying myself a plant (or three), something I was practically forced to do because a local public garden had their annual sale (not to be confused with an Annuals Sale, haaaar har har) and when they have tomato and strawberry plants that are already big and healthy with blooms for $4.50, it feels criminal not to buy a couple.  As for the aster plant, well, it was $2 and lonely.

I think this is my happy/sheepish face:  "Gracious, who bought all these plants?"
Plus there were some Iowa State students giving out free seedlings to attract pollinators, and the brown paper bag there contained marigold seedlings from Atticus (aka Atticus's lovely kindergarten teacher) for Mother's Day.  I may have also accidentally planted a dahlia tuber or eight; please do not think this means I will have a vista of gorgeous dahlias this summer, as thus far our yard has proved to be a bloody dahlia killing field.  Planting them was less, "Doo-dee-doo, watch as I grow and nurture and garden," and more "ANOTHER SACRIFICE TO THE DIRT GOD."  It felt like I was playing Aztecs and Huitzilopochtli, and before you go thinking that's weird and maybe a little sick, consider that it makes about as much as sense as generations of children playing Cowboys and Indians, mmkay?  Besides, whose mind doesn't go to ritual killing when Mother's Day is mentioned, amIright?!

I also got to have delicious, delicious Mexican food for lunch on Sunday... which brings me right back around to the Aztecs.  I tried to get to a more motherly topic, friends.  I tried.