Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy All The Time vs Hates Everything

A couple days ago, I had too much to do at naptime and didn't get my workout in.  I knew I wouldn't be able to walk that evening, as Derek had to work, so after we picked Adelaide up from the bus stop, I changed into my workout clothes, slid the Denise Austin DVD I had checked out from the library into the DVD player, and prayed the kids would entertain themselves for thirty minutes while I exercised .

I should have foreseen what did happen; the minute the tv clicked on all three kids came scrambling (I haven't let them watch tv since April- a story for another day) and stood mesmerized as the opening credits flashed on the screen.

Soon enough, Denise started her jumping and lunging and twisting, I followed along, and the kids did, too, which was funny enough in and of itself.  They were seriously into it, especially Atticus.

The thirty minutes passed quickly, and I turned the tv off.  Mission accomplished.

I found myself in the same situation yesterday; picking Adelaide up, changing, inserting DVD, getting ready to workout.

The boys were just as excited as they had been the day before, but Adelaide remained on the couch, briefly glanced up when Denise appeared, and said, "Oh, it's Miss Perky again," in a dead, humorless voice.

I decided that this was one rabbit worth following down the rabbit-hole, paused the DVD, and turned to our daughter.

"Adelaide, do you know what 'perky' means?"

"Yes.  It means really happy and excited, like: *performs wild spastic dance with her eyes rolled back in her head*.  You know, like Odie."


"You know- Odie.  Odie and Garfield?  Odie is happy all the time and perky, and Garfield is funny and hates everything."

I looked back at Denise Austin's manic smile frozen on the screen.  She is undeniably perky.  Then something occurred to me.

"Adelaide, do you think I'm like Odie?"

She began to speak, then hesitated before carefully replying, "Well... I think you try to be like Odie, but really you're more like Garfield."

I feel so transparent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Over-Explanations

I was going through all the photos from Thanksgiving weekend.  I took 173, and 168 of them seem to be of babies.

I have no idea what happened.  Must have been some kind of fugue state.

You therefore should not be shocked to find that most of the following photos, originally intended to be a little highlight reel of our Thanksgiving weekend, include babies in some form.

Consider yourself warned.

I'd like to submit the following two photos as evidence that Vada should be this generation's Gerber baby.

[You should really click on these to embiggen.  It's the right thing to do.]

Not that I'm biased or anything.

In addition to turkey, we had a little ham present on Thanksgiving.

Her name is Charlotte.  

(Sorry about the turkey-ham joke.  I just had to.  Sometimes I can't control myself.)

Now, I realize Aaron's eyes are doing a kinda scary Exorcist thing in this photo- but just look at Charlotte.  Isn't she so cute?  *Said in the most sickening, gushy voice possible*  

(Not the scary Exorcist eyes.  Charlotte.  Charlotte is so cute.)

(Sometimes I don't know when to stop explaining things.  You should ask me to tell you a joke sometime.  I'll tell you exactly why you should be laughing, and just keep going until you're crying and I'm confused.)


This photo is driving me crazy.  My sisters and Char are obviously enthralled with something... but what is it?  Is this when Becky was throwing a cat in the air?  And did she actually throw the cat, or just pretend to?  I mean, I know they have a few extra kitties they're looking to unload, but I can't see her actually throwing a cat.  

Come to think of it, those aren't 'I'm watching a cat being thrown in the air and it's both hilarious and terrifying' expressions on their faces; that looks more like polite-but-forced interest.

Was I telling a joke?  

No, wait.  I was behind the camera.

Can you tell I'm not at my most coherent right now?

I think right about the time I was snapping the following photos is when Mom was leaning over and asking me, "Isn't that Kelli, the girl who doesn't even like kids?"

Motherhood really does change you.  Although, to be fair, Kelli's been good with all our kiddos, from Adelaide on down (well, once Adelaide got old enough for Kelli to stop being afraid of her).

Charlotte seemed to find Atticus to be particularly interesting.

I think Atticus enjoyed the attention.  Hey, maybe Charlotte should come live with us!  (I'm asking purely on behalf of our son, of course.  There's absolutely nothing in it for me.)

Had enough babies yet?


Oh, I'm kidding.  I'm fresh out of baby pics.  But I do have a couple sweet kitty photos, if that's more your speed.

Adelaide and Boots the cat.  

See, they call him Boots because he has white paws.  Which resemble footwear.  Boots, to be specific.  Hence the name.

(Over-explaining again.  Obviously.  It's a disease.  Except I don't know if it afflicts me or the people I interact with.)

Adelaide, Caedmon, and Boots, whose name you now understand thanks to me.

Do you spend tons of time with your kids, and when they eventually go play by themselves you're like, "FINALLY," but then you start to get curious/frightened as to what they're doing, so you spy on them, and try to take pictures without them noticing?

Me, too.

I hope you all (that would be y'all to the uninitiated) had a terrific Thanksgiving, as well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Should See The Other Guy- Er, Chicken

This morning, Atticus came down the stairs, crept around the corner trying to sneak up on me (like he does just about every morning), then jumped out, yelling, "BOO!"

I pretended to be startled (like I do just about every morning).

Then he said, "Hey, mom, I had bad dreams last night."

"Oh, yeah?  What happened in your bad dreams?"

"There was this chicken and it just kept pecking at my eye."

At that point I noticed that there was a little scratch near his eye, so I moved him into the light, got a good look, then grabbed my camera to take some pictures.  Because I'm a good parent.

That must have been one mean chicken.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baby Fever

We spent Thanksgiving at Derek's folks' house.  They graciously offered to host my family for dinner, which meant we got to see all kinds of family, including...


I may have mentioned my nieces, Charlotte and Vada, a time or two.  Charlotte is the daughter of my sister Kelli and her husband Aaron, Vada is the daughter of my sister Stephanie and her husband Clinton.  And just to refresh your memory, Aaron and Clinton are also brothers, which makes Charlotte and Vada double-cousins.

You'd think sharing both maternal and paternal genetic material would mean these two sweet girls look very much alike.  You'd be wrong.

Vada with her daddy.

I just love pictures of babies with their daddies, don't you?

Then we have Charlotte...

...with her daddy.  Note that she looks nothing like Vada.  

And here's Charlotte and her daddy again:

You're just going to have to take my word for it that she was enjoying this.

I know she looks terrified.  I somehow caught her between big smiles.  Trust me.

Vada giving me a big, wet kiss.

You may notice that I'm in the midst of pure, baby-induced ecstasy here.

I love babies.  Especially babies named Charlotte and Vada.

Caedmon has a thing for babies, too.  He kept snuggling up next to one or the other of them, giving them one of his gentler hugs that he reserves for stuffed animals, dolls, cats, and apparently babies.

I have no idea where he gets it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's Not a Tumor

I was friends with a girl in high school who acted like she was on the brink of death at least once a week.

While she did have one (minor) genuine physical ailment, for the most part, it was all exaggeration and moaning on her part.

It felt like every other conversation we had went something like this:

"Kristy, look at my eye.  Do you see my eye?"

"I see your eye.  It's definitely there."

"Do you see all that inflammation and pus?"

"I guess so."

"I have bacterial conjunctivitis.  I went to the doctor [who either hated her because she wouldn't leave him alone or loved her because she helped pay for his boat] this morning, he took one look, and sure enough:  bacterial conjunctivitis."

"So... you have pink eye.  Don't touch me."

Having a school nurse for a mother often came in handy with my dealings with her:  I was hard to impress when it came to medical ailments and rarely doled out any sympathy.  (Hey, Mom, remember that time I broke my hand, and it looked like a surgical glove that had been inflated and was all black and blue and nasty purple, and you were all, "No, you don't need to go to the hospital- oh, FINE, here's some ibuprofin"?  Have I mentioned that a time or twenty lately?)  Strangely enough, this only seemed to make her more desperate to impress me with the fact that her body was surely falling apart at the ripe old age of 15.

Well, if my relationship with my mom was training for that high school friendship, then that high school friendship was definitely training for my relationship with my daughter.

I'm starting to think Adelaide is a hypochondriac.

Every third day or so, she's coming to me with a different complaint:  "My left cheekbone feels swollen.  Does it look swollen to you?"  "My elbow joint feels a little loose today,"  "My stomach hurts,"  "My back hurts,"  "My knee hurts."

If I'm feeling generous, I'll give the ailing body part a cursory inspection, tell her to take a shower or go for a walk.  If I'm busy dealing with genuine emergencies, I'll tell her to lie down or to go do something worthwhile if she's that hungry for attention.

After arriving home from school yesterday, she spent most of the afternoon limping around, complaining of pain in her heel.  I finally had her lie down, took her sock off, and did a brief inspection.  It looked like a heel.  When I told her the shocking diagnosis, she asked if maybe I could call Grandma Lorri (AHAHAHA, like there's any sympathy to be gained in that quarter!) or look online.  I tried to explain the harbinger of doom that is WebMD and that there was no point in looking there, unless we wanted to convince ourselves that she has cancer of the heel or something.

In the end, she made do with a heated rice pack (we use those things for absolutely everything: headaches, stomachaches, cancer of the heel, etc), and seemed to be walking normally by bedtime.

I did feel a little guilty last night, wondering if six-year-old's could suffer from bone spurs or plantar fasciitis, thinking that maybe this time I should have done at least a little research before brushing off our daughter's pain.

First thing this morning, however, Adelaide announced that she had figured out what was wrong with her foot:  Growing pains.  I was relieved by this sudden but vague announcement, right up until she told me about her newest problem.

She jammed her right pinky finger while eating breakfast this morning.  Could I maybe have a rice pack ready for her when she got home from school today?

I guess it's cheaper than drugs.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I Bet The Tooth Fairy's In Debt Up To Her Eyeballs

Okay, other parents.  I have an accusation to level at you.

That didn't come out right.  What I meant to say was:  What the heck are you doing to me?

No, no wait.  Let me try again:  Why?  WHY?

Why are you giving your kids so much every time they lose a tooth?

Adelaide lost her second tooth earlier this week.  She was excited because she lost it at school (her goal), which meant she got to visit the school nurse and get a tiny plastic treasure chest in which to place her tooth.

That evening before bed, she reminded Derek and I that she would be placing the tooth under her pillow (she's aware that he and I jointly perform the role of "tooth fairy").

Derek put a quarter under her pillow that night.  Tooth fairy obligation completed.

Around 2 or 3 am, Adelaide apparently woke up, found the quarter, got up and got dressed, and made her way downstairs, where she poured herself a bowl of cereal and ate it.  She read a book for about an hour.  She now says she had thought it might be early morning, and she was waiting for the sun to come up.  (What can I say?  Kids are weird.)

While reading, she lost the quarter somewhere in the rocking chair.

By this time, she realized that it must be the middle of the night, and went back to bed.  She was upset about losing the quarter and "cried so many tears that I completely soaked one side of my pillow, so I flipped it over, then the other side became soaked with my tears, and I couldn't use my pillow at all."

We found the quarter the next day, and joy was restored.

Until that afternoon, after school.

"Mom, why does my tooth fairy only give me a quarter when I lose a tooth, when other kids at school get a dollar- and some kids get ten dollar bills!?"

"Uh, I honestly don't know why someone would give their kid TEN DOLLARS for losing a tooth."

"You mean you don't know why the tooth fairy would do that?"

"Right.  The tooth fairy.  Whatever."

Parents, did you know that the average kid loses twenty teeth during their childhood?  Now let's say you have, oh, say three kids.  Let's say you give them a dollar per tooth.  You're shelling out $60 in tooth fairy duties.  THAT IS CRAZY.

Maybe you don't have a problem with giving your kids $60 for something they have no control over.  To be honest, a dollar a tooth doesn't sound completely unreasonable to me.  You know what does sound unreasonable?  Ten dollars a tooth.

At one point I began to doubt the veracity of Adelaide's "some kids get $10 per tooth" statement.  Surely that couldn't be right!

I conducted an informal study among a group of my friends.  Most of the responses were that they give a dollar a tooth.  A couple of people give $5/tooth.  Evidently I'm a cheapskate.  I am okay with that.

Then I asked Adelaide if she could tell me who it was that gets $10 per tooth.  (I may or may not have become a little obsessive over this topic.)  She gave me two names that made sense:  they both have parents that have... let's say a history of spending extravagantly on their offspring.  I guess they have no problem with giving their kiddos $200 (that's per kid) for teeth they're ultimately going to throw away.

So it really wasn't too surprising when Adelaide asked why she only gets a quarter.  And maybe we could have bumped it up to a dollar (HAHAHA- if you believe that, you don't know us at all).  Instead, my reply to her was, "If you don't want a quarter, that's fine.  The tooth fairy doesn't have to bring you anything at all."

Her face fell, and she walked away.

Five minutes later, Adelaide handed me a note.  It read:

"Dear Mom
Please tell the tooth fairy thank you for the quarter.

Looks like receiving a quarter isn't so bad, after all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I didn't post yesterday.  Sue me.  I didn't feel well.

Actually, this cold that has zapped all my energy got me to thinking.  Maybe it's just me, but when I'm not feeling so great or am just having a less than stellar day, it's pretty easy to go down a woe is me, it's my pity party and I'll cry if I want to-kind of path.

Then I remember that I can't stand whiny people, which means I can't be whiny, because I also can't stand hypocrites, so I play a little game with myself.

Generally before bedtime, Derek or I will read Atticus and Adelaide a little snippet from their VeggieTales devotional.  Every once in a while, however, I like to mix things up a bit, and I'll read from Little Visits With God, a book I remember well from my childhood.  In addition to having a slightly different tone from VeggieTales, it was first published in the 1950's, so it has a different perspective, as well.

A while back, I opened Little Visits at random, found an illustration of a smiling boy in a wheel chair, was intrigued, and decided that would be our devotional for the evening.  An excerpt:

"A woman was coming down the sidewalk, pushing a wheel chair.  In it sat a little boy who couldn't walk.  He couldn't even move his hands very much.  He had had polio.  But he was smiling all the time.
     'Look at that boy; he's always smiling,' said Allan.
     'I'd cry if I couldn't walk,' said his sister Margie.
    "But he's doing right by smiling,' said Allan.  'Don't you remember what our minister said about being happy all the time? 'Be glad in the Lord always.' That's a Bible verse.'"

The story continues a bit about remembering Jesus' sacrifice and what it means to be glad in the Lord.  It reminds me a bit of that children's song and game "Count Your Blessings," where basically you name ways you're fortunate and blessed to get your mind off your own petty troubles.

That's the game I play with myself:  "Count Your Blessings."  Although I usually call it "Shut Up, You Big Sissy."

Sometimes you have to be firm.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nurses and Their Noodles

Atticus and Caedmon had their yearly doctor's appointments this morning.

I always have a bit of an internal struggle over whether to schedule their appointments together, getting it all over with in one stressful visit, or making two separate but slightly less harrowing visits.

I usually go the rip-the-bandaid-off route and bring them in together.  Like this morning.

Atticus actually did really well, cooperating with the nurse and doctor and laughing at the silly things they did to make him feel more comfortable.

Caedmon, on the other hand, has evidently entered a let's-cling-to-mommy-and-cry-'til-everyone's-eardrums-burst stage.  We haven't had to deal with much separation anxiety with him; even at church when we drop him off in the younger two-year-olds' classroom and half its occupants are crying, he walks away from us without a backwards glance.

He didn't want to be weighed, he didn't want them to check his height or head circumference, he didn't want them looking in his ears, and he definitely didn't want them to place a stethoscope anywhere near his body.

I learned that Caedmon is surprisingly strong this morning.

We did experience a couple small hiccups in Atticus's half of the appointment; when the doctor was talking to him, one of his questions was, "And do you always wear your seatbelt when you're in the car?"

Atticus either wasn't paying attention or was engaging in wishful thinking or was just blatantly lying and replied, "No."

The doctor laughed it off and did kind of a "Hahaha, kids say crazy stuff, hahaha."

And I said, "Hahaha, we always wear our seatbelts, hahaha, no but seriously, I'm not a terrible mother, hahaha."

Which I thought resolved that little situation, until the doctor was about to leave, seemed to remember something at the last minute, turned back to us, and gave me a little lecture on child safety, paying particular attention to the importance of child safety belts in moving vehicles.

I reiterated the bit about how we always wear our seatbelts, he probably still didn't believe me, and left.

The second hiccup involved the shots Atticus had to get- one in each thigh.  He obviously had no idea what was coming, lying patiently and peacefully on the bed, perhaps wondering why I was lying across his torso, until he felt the "little pokes" (Why do nurses say that, Mom?  Those "small pinches" and "small pokes" are never nearly as benign as you people make them sound- is it because nurses can't generate any sympathy for someone unless they're dying or have lost a limb?), started screaming, yelled, "THAT WASN'T VERY NICE!" at the nurses as they left the room, but then calmed down pretty quickly after that.

I really thought we were home free as we were walking out of the office, but it seems Atticus was still nursing (har har) a bit of a grudge against the building's inhabitants; as we passed someone approaching the door, our son turned to the man, pointed back to the door, and warned him, "They're not very careful with their noodles in there."

This man was apparently used to receiving cryptic messages from preschoolers, because he just smiled and said, "Okay, thanks."

Satisfied that he had done his job, Atticus continued toward the van, while I hurried Caedmon along and resisted the urge to clarify that noodles = needles to the innocent bystander.  No need to scare anyone.

And now for family who's interested in this kind of thing (also for future me who will probably end up losing those treasured baby books someday):

Atticus: (4 years, one month)

Height:  44 inches (99th percentile)
Weight:  43.2 lbs (90th percentile)

Atticus has grown 4 inches (what is up with these Crisler genes?) over the past year and gained 4 pounds.

Caedmon:  (2 years, two months)

Height: 36 inches (81st percentile)
Weight:  33.4 lbs (90th percentile)

Caedmon has grown 6 1/2 inches (HOLY COW) over the past year and gained 11.2 pounds (which makes me laugh, because that boy is solid).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

Apparently yesterday was Veteran's Day.  I was under the misapprehension that it was today; evidently it's just observed today, meaning government workers get a holiday.  Meaning Derek had the day off.  Yay!

Even though I'm a day late, we're going to talk about some tangible things you can do to say "thanks" to those currently serving our country.  It's obviously important to express our gratitude to those who have served in the past; here are a few ideas for things you can do for those in the military right now.

  • Write a letter.  This is a good one if you're like me and just enjoy sending letters.  I also like this one for kids; it's all well and good to talk to kids about our soldiers, but having them write a letter- complete with illustrations- gives them a more personal connection and opens up all kinds of conversations with them about exactly what kind of sacrifice our service members are making for us.  For this one, I like A Million Thanks.  
  • Send a care package.  If you want to go up a level from a letter, check out Operation Gratitude.  They've got information on everything from how to organize a collection drive to suggestions on what pack in your package.  I think this would make a nice family project.

  • Fulfill a Wish.  The USO is a terrific resource for information on things like volunteering your time, different programs supporting our troops in which you can get involved, and employer donation matching, but what I really like is their USO Wishbook.  They've basically compiled a list of different gifts you can purchase for service members; for example, for deployed troops you can send a Comfort Food Package for $15, A World of Words, also $15 (books!), Pocket-Sized Photo Memories for $25 (a photo book designed specifically to fit in their uniform), or A Phone Call Home for $25, just to name a few.  Maybe you want to do something for a Wounded Warrior (a little more expensive, but I don't think anyone can argue the fact that it's not right to support soldiers while deployed, then leave them to fend for themselves when they return home).  For $150, Recovery Along the River helps "send wounded, ill or injured female service members on a positive, recreational trip that will help them improve their family relationships and provide them with a temporary sanctuary free of stress and uncertainty."  There are plenty of other Wishbook opportunities, as well.  

Honestly, there are so many ways to give and express our thanks, I don't think any of us have any excuse not to reach out and do something.  Sharing a touching Veteran's Day message on Facebook is great- now how about we all go out and back up what we're saying.  Write a letter, send a care package, spend a measly $15 to lift a soldier's spirits.

And don't forget to thank our veterans.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I May Owe Some of You an Apology

Today is Sunday.

Just to let you know.

Sunday mornings generally find us in church.  We love our church.

Over the past year or so, though, I've been approached by a few people in our church I don't know.  Through friends, they have discovered our little blog.  Fortunately for me, they generally have nice things to say about it.

Therein lies the problem.

Not that I mind the nice things they're saying.  I love those!  Really, I do.

But you see, I... I struggle with something.

(Now you're thinking this is going to be a serious post.  The word "struggle" usually evokes thoughts of hardship and perhaps melancholy.  Not to worry.  While I do struggle with this certain something, it's not like a prayer-request-type struggle.  More of a personality quirk.  Anyway.)

Here's the thing:  I have trouble accepting compliments.

It's an interesting paradox, actually.  While I like the warm, squishy feelings they bring about, I also get an uncomfortable, squirmy feeling when someone says something nice to me.

See, if church is the primary location in which we interact, you're already not really seeing me at my best.  If you catch me walking into or out of church, I'm likely trying to keep our kids from getting creamed by cars.  If I'm dropping off or picking them up from their classrooms, I'm trying to make it look like we're a nice, normal family.  You have about a four minute window to catch me in the sanctuary (alright, alright, the auditorium- I have trouble giving up certain churchy things from my youth) when we can actually interact.  Plus, we go to a really big church, and really big churches generally have lots of people there, and lots of people make me twitchy and anxious and sometimes irrationally cranky.

I'm not saying you shouldn't talk to me at church.  But hey:  forewarned is forearmed, right?

So Sunday mornings, I'm already doing my level best to seem as not-strange as possible.  Add a compliment?  Yes, I'll be grateful and smile, but please realize that you should pretty much disregard anything that comes out of my mouth.

You saying, "I love your blog!" causes my brain to short-circuit, you see.  All those nice feelings are washing over me, but they also distract me from my "Keep it together, Kristy, there are other humans here!"  Add in the niggling discomfort compliments give me, and the result is rarely good.

My reply may be as relatively innocuous but semi-insulting as "I often forget people might actually read that thing.  They just let anyone on the internet, don't they?"

Or it could be as random as "Mexican food's my favorite!" or "These shoes make me look really tall."

More likely it's something like, "Have you seen my kid?  I'm pretty sure I'm missing one."

All that to say:  I'm sorry, person at church I probably insulted this morning.  I'm really glad you're reading, and I think it was so nice (not to mention semi-gutsy) of you to approach a perfect stranger and compliment her.  I mean me.  Her is me.

Do you see what I mean?  All I do is think about a compliment and I'm writing "Her is me."

So sorry.

See you next Sunday!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Time Is Not On My Side

Someone seems to have sped up time; it has been positively racing by.  It's just not normal.

Take today.  We had an absolutely beautiful day: highs in the 70's and very windy, which means we were able to open all the windows and get some crosswinds gusting through the house.

We all spent most of our day outside.  That's when this whole time-thing began.

How could this be what Caedmon looks like with Derek in the hammock today...

(with Adelaide wedged in there)

... When this is what Derek and Caedmon looked like while napping in the hammock just yesterday?

Ignore the dates on the photos.  It was yesterday.

And how is it possible that Atticus now looks like this...

... When I just snapped this photo last week?

Seriously.  Last week.

I don't understand what's happening.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Forgotten Photos

Today I was going to write either about Adelaide's parent teacher conferences, a tree in our front yard, or some of my garage sale finds from this summer, but I got bored writing all three posts, and I figured if I'm bored writing them, chances are you're going to get bored reading them.

Instead, we're going through some old photos that I meant to post way back when, but just never got around to it.

See this?

That, my friends, is the wallpaper we found on the kitchen walls when we tore out our old cabinets last spring.  Most of those are pastel-colored kitchen tools, but some of the stuff I can't even identify.  Like the curved knife-thingey in the upper right-hand corner.  See it?  It's the one with the violently pink handle.  Maybe an old bottle opener?  I'm also not sure what's in that serving dish on the bottom left.  It's pinkish with green leaves growing out the top.  Maybe some kind of jello salad?  This seems like a jello-salad-era type print to me.  You know, the kind with suspended fruit in the middle?  The stuff that's hardly been touched when the rest of the buffet has pretty much been demolished?  See, you do know what I'm talking about!

A layer deeper, we found even older wallpaper:

(See the wicked-looking pink-handled knife again?  What IS that?)  
I have no idea how old that green and black wallpaper is, but I do know they must have put it up when people were really into textured wall hangings, because that stuff isn't just ugly, it's velvet flocked ugly.  I wish you guys could have touched it for yourselves.

If, by chance, you actually like that green stuff, never fear!  I found something similar that you can buy today:  

That's right:  Victorian Flocked Velvet Wallpaper!  Yours for the bargain price of $63 a roll!

I'd like to submit this whole wallpaper conversation as evidence that I do not like just anything that's old.  I do have some standards, low they may be.

Our next forgotten photo is of Adelaide's birthday cake.  Derek's mom gave me one of those little grocery store checkout aisle booklets that has all kind of kid-themed cookies and cakes that are fun to look at, but which I know I will probably never actually do.

Well, unless Adelaide looks through it and decides that she must have the Candy Land cake featured on one of its pages.

Here's what it looked like in the magazine:

 Photo credit:  Taste of Home

Before I show you what mine looked like, may I just say that the above cake looks deceptively simple, when in fact you needed half a bajillion ingredients to make it look like that, including Valentine's conversation hearts and mini candy canes that you can't exactly find in your corner store during the month of May, and that Taste of Home's cake is actually two sheet cakes laid out next to each other to make space for that giant game board, and I had no intention of feeding our children cake scraps for the next two months.

Brace yourself, now.  Here's the beauty that is my cake:

Nailed it.

It actually gets worse the longer you look at it.

In my defense, I didn't get around to decorating the cake until the very last minute (as in, we're about to light the candles and sing to the birthday girl), so I had three over-eager helpers decorating it along with me.

And with that, I have spread enough beauty around the internet for one day.

The end.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I Should Probably Start Wearing Thicker Gardening Gloves

One of the fun things about living on an older property are the things you find while digging in the soil.

Did I say fun?  I meant dangerous.

Perhaps, when you think of treasures found in the dirt around an old home, you imagine cool old glass bottles and other interesting artifacts of a time gone by.  Maybe you think about that one time you were digging in the dirt at the teeny tiny house you lived in when you were really young and you found an old, small toy truck.

And by "you," I mean "me."  I wonder whatever happened to that truck?

When the weather's nice, I do quite a bit of digging around here.  I love planting flowers, and although the previous owners had done some landscaping, it's been a joy to add it.

At this point, I really can't remember what all I planted over the course of the recent summer and spring seasons, but I know I planted a couple drumstick primroses, an english primrose, several purple coneflowers, some asters, alaska shasta daisies, and a few pink astilbe.

And I think I tripped and fell and planted seven mums.

And I just planted 74 tulips bulbs a couple weeks ago.  I'm pretty anxious to see how they'll come up in the spring:  ten pink impression, 14 white and red and pink ones whose name I can't remember, and 50 of the new orange impressions I spied in the Breck's Wholesale catalog.  That thing will be the death of me.

Curiously, the only thing I could think about while digging all those holes for the bulbs was how comforting it will be for Derek and the kids to have these beautiful flowers with which to console themselves in the spring if I die this winter.

I'm not sick or anything.  You just never know.

New mums!

Digging holes, contemplating tulips and death, I found the newest stash of broken glass and rusty nails in one of our flower beds. 

That's right.  Nearly every time I get to digging around the perimeter of the house, I come across broken glass, rusty nails, or broken glass mixed in with rusty nails if I'm particularly lucky that day.

On the rare occasion I'm not playing it fast and loose with tetanus, I'm hacking away at tree roots that sprawl just under the surface of the yard, stretching out from the GIGANTIC conifer in our front yard that I just know is going to crush our house someday.

Which I'll write about tomorrow.  (Depending on how Adelaide's parent/teacher conferences go tonight.  If anything fun happens there, I'll be sure to let you know.  I wouldn't count on it, however; she's a good student, which creates zero fodder for the blog.  So ungrateful.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Their New Favorite Chore

I've been trying to see things from my neighbor's perspective lately.  Put myself in his shoes, so to speak.

I'm talking about that one neighbor that somehow always happens to be walking his dog in front of our house at the most inconvenient times.  Like when I'm waging battle against a thorny rosebush, or throwing a tantrum in the middle of shoveling snow.

Last week as he approached our house, he couldn't have failed to notice the two small children struggling to make their way across our front yard.  The boy had an easy enough time of it, holding two small trash bags, but the girl- she was half-carrying, half-dragging a trash sack as big as she was.  I'm sure he also witnessed the mom opening the window and yelling, "You can't drag it like that- you'll break open the bag!  Pick it up!  OH PLEASE.  It's not THAT heavy, Adelaide!"

Once the two kids made it to the trash bin that sits on the edge of our yard, I hope he noticed that those two kids were getting a valuable lesson in teamwork- the girl reached up to flip open the lid for her shorter brother, who threw the bags up in the air and inside the bin.  The two children then heaved and pushed, wrestling the larger, unwieldy and smelly bag up, over their heads, and after what looked like some major effort on both their parts, managed to tip it into the plastic bin.  Mission accomplished.

And perhaps he was more interested in our mums than in the sight that greeted those two children when their mother opened the front door.  "Good job, guys!  Now go take these boxes out.  Don't worry, I already flattened them for you.  Oh, Adelaide, stop.  It's not that cold out- just wait 'til I make you do this in the middle of winter!  Now that will be miserable!"

No wonder he never wants to talk to me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sister Suffragettes

When I said I was going to post every day, I should have taken today into account, and held off until next month.

Election day.

I'm not going to impart anything revelatory to you.  If you're an American citizen, you know you should vote. If you're a woman, you know that we haven't had the right to vote for all that long in our country, and you should really vote.  If you're a person of any color other than white then you know that you also haven't had voting rights for long, and you should really really vote.

Basically, if you're an American citizen, you should be out there voting.

And if you feel very strongly about a candidate, I'm really okay with you telling me why your candidate is the best person for that particular position.  I'll gladly listen to you.

But do you know what I don't want to hear?  Smear campaigns.

I feel like the past several months have been a steep escalation in My-dad-could-beat-up-your-dad-type antics.

"I hear Romney once ran a red light."

"Oh, yeah?  I heard that Obama has never donated blood."

"Well, Romney doesn't believe in the existence of unicorns!"

"One time Obama turned in long-overdue library books and DIDN'T PAY THE FINE!"



And I'm over here going, "Jesus, you're really going to have to help me out with this whole love-your-neighbor thing, because right now I hate everyone."

Happy Election Day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Newest Addition to Our Family

Derek and I are both blessed to have very generous families.

A prime example of this generosity is our house: much of the furnishings in our home are gifts from either Derek's family or my own.

An example within that example (there's a glitch in the Matrix!) is Caedmon's bedroom, which is entirely populated by furniture that was either mine when I was a kid and thus handed down by my mom, or was gifted to us by Derek's parents and my grandparents.

One of the hand-me-down's is a small dresser that was used by first me, then my sisters, then our older two kids when we were all babies.

But the thing about babies is they grow up.  When they grow up they get bigger.  When they get bigger they start wearing larger clothes.  And when they start wearing larger clothes, they need somewhere to put that clothing.

When I saw that we were going to need a larger dresser for Caedmon, I put the word out to my family.  My grandparents are big auction-goers, and you never know what forgotten furniture is lurking in some family member's basement.

Within a couple months, the fam (I'm still not clear on who got this, Mom- was it Grandma?  Did you say something about Sherry being involved?  I'm confused, as usual) came through:  my mom and Mark brought this beauty to us on their visit.

*Cue angelic music.*

It's old, and it has character, and I love it.

Obviously, it's not perfect.

Does it need to be refinished?  Yes.

Could the mirror afford to be re-silvered?  Yes.

Did I find a bar of soap in one of the drawers that had the unmistakable tooth marks of a rodent all around the edge?  Yes.

Did I vacuum no less than ten spider egg sacks out from the underside of it?  Yes.

But it fit nicely into our budget (FREE), the drawers all work (thanks, Grandpa!), and it's size provides some much-needed storage space.

Did I mention how pretty it is?

Oh!  And it also had this on the back:

I really have no idea as to the age of the dresser, but after Googling some of the info on the back, I know that the address it was shipped from, 925 Homan Avenue, Chicago, was home to the Sears Roebuck Company in the early and mid parts of the 20th century.  I learned that the railroad it was shipped on saw its heyday in the 1920's.  I was also able to find one Eliza M Rose that lived in Canton, Missouri and was born in 1870.  Is that the same woman whose name is on this packing slip?  I have no idea.  But it's a possibility. 

Any research/ antique buffs reading this can feel free to give me some pointers.  I am very much an amateur, here.  Obviously.

Yay for cool old junky stuff!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch on the Frozen Tundra

As you may know, I've committed to post every day for two weeks.  This means I'll be posting more photos than usual; it's easier and way faster for me to just dump a bunch of photos on here than try to communicate actual stories and family events.

In other words, I'm lazy.

A couple weeks ago, my mom and her hubby traveled north to the frozen tundra that is Iowa to visit us.  (I'm kidding.  Kind of.  Not about my mom and Mark; I mean about Iowa- it's only freezing six, maybe seven months out of the year.)

(Okay, so actually I'm kidding again.  It's not frozen for that long; it's just a colder climate than what I grew up in.  That makes it, to my mind, a barren, icy landscape.  Plus the high is in the 40's right now, and today is one of those days where I woke up with a chill and haven't been able to shake it.  Do you ever have days like that?)

(I've decided to write the rest of this post in parentheses.)  

Where was I?

Right.  My mom.  Mark.  Frozen tundra.

During this visit, Derek and Mark went golfing while Mom, the kiddos, and I didn't go golfing.  We went to the pumpkin patch, instead.

What's that?  You want to see some photos of our little excursion?

I'm so glad you asked!

Caedmon and Grandma, lounging in the corn pool.  Almost as relaxing as a real pool, except you have to wear four layers of clothing and small, hard kernels of corn manage to wedge themselves into some highly uncomfortable places.

Atticus jumping.

Grandma and Adelaide jumping.

When my sisters and I were kids, my mom always said we had to take swimming lessons until we were strong enough in the water to be able to rescue her from the deep end of the pool.  She has apparently continued this tradition with her grandchildren.  It looks like a lot more fun than my childhood attempted rescue efforts.  In my defense, it took me awhile to learn that people don't like to be rescued by their necks.

Caedmon, delighted to find his own foot.

With her tongue sticking out and braids flying, this photo reminds me of a Norman Rockwell painting.  It would be even better if her mother were a decent photographer and could take a photo without cutting everyone's heads off.

Adelaide going down the giant burlap sack slide.

Right to left, that's Atticus, Grandma, and our new adopted son on the hayrack ride.  We're still tossing around names for the little fella, but we've narrowed it down to "Bubba" and "Little John."  

Atticus and Caedmon in the fake, miniature reproduction outhouse.  I'm not sure who it was that said, "You know what this pumpkin patch needs?  An outhouse.  But let's make sure it's just a shell with no actual 'facilities,' and that it's so tiny two small children can barely squeeze in together.  Kids will love it."

And you know what?  My kids did.

We also got some samples of fudge from the store, and I'm still thinking about the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel fudge that I tried.  It was divine, and I don't normally care for fudge.  I didn't get a picture of any of that.  You're crushed, I know.

Console yourself with the thought of another post tomorrow about our new/old dresser.  (How are you ever going to sleep tonight!?)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Darndest Things

Children have no filter.

I know a lot people say that about themselves, but it's not true.  Unless you have one of a certain number of certifiable mental disorders, it's not that you don't have a filter.  You're just rude.

But small children?  Oh, they are a different matter entirely.  Ask any parent/ person that spends lots of time with little ones- chances are they have either laughed uproariously or been completely humiliated by something a little kid has said.  It's part of their charm.

Our kiddos are, of course, no different.  They're always saying embarrassing crap.  In the past year or so, however, I've changed my response to the lovely observations they unerringly make (in the loudest voice possible) when we're out in public.

Here's an example of how our conversations used to go:

Scene:  3-year-old Adelaide, infant Atticus, and me playing at a deserted playground, when another mother and her young son approach and begin playing, too.

Adelaide:  "Mommy, why is that lady brown?"

Me:  Ignoring Adelaide, hoping maybe she'll stop talking.

Adelaide:  "Mommy?  Mommy!"

Me: (Speaking quietly) "Adelaide, we'll talk about it at home, okay?"

Adelaide:  "WHAT?  Did you hear me, Mommy?  I said WHY IS THAT LADY BROWN?"

Me:  (Through gritted teeth)  "Let's talk about it at home, my sweet, darling daughter!"

Adelaide:  "Okay!"

Honestly?  I don't know why I didn't just answer her right there at the playground.  It's pretty simple, right?  That lady is brown because that is the color of her skin.  That's how God made her.  Skin color is just one of many ways in which we are all different.  Done.

I think I was just so mortified and afraid of offending the other mom that I panicked.  That particular topic hasn't been an issue since; our kiddos have made friends that have many different colors of skin over the past few years (which is kind of ironic, given that we now live in central Iowa, which I don't really think of as being a culturally diverse place).

I now handle things differently.  When our kids say such things in public, I meet their enquiries head-on, doing my best to calmly and rationally answer each politically incorrect question I can.

"Mommy, why is that girl wearing shorts that don't fit very well?  I can see her booty!"

"Well, honey, some females sadly align their sense self-worth with the sexualization of their bodies.  She may also have some raging daddy issues."


"Mommy, why does that lady have two bottoms?"

"Too much food and not enough exercise."


"Mommy, why does that boy have those huge holes in his ears?"

"He needed a place to hang his dry-cleaning."


"Mommy, why is that man so ugly?"

"He probably thinks you're ugly, too."


My new approach may need some fine-tuning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

This May Become Our Go-To Substitute for "Trick or Treat"

Celebrating holidays with small children is always interesting.

Adelaide is old enough to remember past Halloweens, but Atticus clearly had no idea what I was talking about when, a few weeks ago, I asked what he wanted to dress up as.  As a result, he decided he wanted to be Spiderman mid-afternoon on Halloween, after seeing other boys dressed up in Adelaide's elementary school Halloween parade. Needless to say, by then it was too late.  He ended up being a clown, simply because that's what Adelaide wanted to be.

Caedmon also had no idea what was going on when I began stuffing him into last year's almost-too-small chick costume.  Still, he swung his little pumpkin bucket happily enough as he followed his two older siblings to the first house we visited, then stood silently as our neighbor put candy in his pumpkin.  After some prompting, he managed a whispered, "Day-dew."  (Thank you.)

By the time we had walked from the first house to the second, however, he had obviously had time to process exactly what this night was all about.  People were giving him candy.  And he was going to get to eat it.  Whoa.

As a result, when the next person opened their front door holding a big bowl of candy, Caedmon started crowding the doorway, and rather than the polite "Trick or Treat," Atticus and Adelaide were chorusing, his demand was,

Fortunately, this neighbor of ours decided to find an avaricious chick about to trample him cute rather than rude, chuckled good-naturedly, then gave him a Snickers.

We had a talk with him once he returned to the wagon, and from that point on he managed to keep his greed in check and kept his salutations to "Trick or Treat!" and "Day-dew!"

You'll notice that Atticus and Adelaide don't really have costumes; their entire look centers on my shoddy face-painting skills.  Except it's not even face paint, it's Halloween make-up I bought three years ago and is finally starting to get a little crumbly.  There's probably oodles of bacteria growing on it while it sits in a dark cabinet the rest of the year, and this may have been the last year I could pass it off as a reasonable costume effort.  Especially now that Atticus has seen what other kids with loving moms do for them on Halloween.

Not that I don't love my kids.  I do.

Just not enough to actually buy them Halloween costumes, evidently.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good Intentions

You know what's funny?

About three weeks ago I said to myself, "I'm going to try and start blogging every day."

Then I got super busy, and I've been lucky to post once a week.  Whoops.  Blogging tends to come in dead last on my priority list when I've got a lot to do.

So I'm going to try this again, but this time I'm telling all six of you that blogging once a day is my new goal.

Not forever.  Unless I really really love it, I just don't have enough material to blog about every day for the next who-knows-how-long.  Well, unless you want to hear about the strange conversations I have with our children (trust me, you don't), or about the quick-draw contests Derek and I have in the evenings when we've both had too much Halloween candy.

Oh, calm down.  We don't use actual guns, people.  He draws the multi-tool he keeps on his belt and I draw the inhaler that's always in my pocket.  Duh.

Anyway, starting... today, I guess (this whole thing is suddenly terrifying), I'm going to try blogging every day for... let's say two weeks.  That seems like a reasonable goal (or internet suicide, depending how you look at it).

In other news, today is November 1st!  You know what that means?

I get to start playing Christmas music non-stop until, oh, around mid-January.

I know, I know, poor Derek, blah blah blah.

To kick off the season, I started with the musician whose Christmas album is, I'm convinced, the best ever produced, and whose voice never fails to make me think of winter.

That's right:  we spent the morning listening to Neil Diamond.

TOTALLY KIDDING.  It was Nat King Cole.

Please don't ever try to argue with me on the whole Nat-King-Cole-has-the-greatest-Christmas-album-of-all-time.  Unless you want to see a gross overreaction on my part and the possible destruction of our relationship.  Then, sure, go ahead.

See?  The next two weeks are going to be fun!