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Showing posts from September, 2007

Charlie and the Cheesecake Filling

"Would you like to try some?" asked the smiling lady in grocery aisle. She held out a tiny plastic cup with two graham cracker sticks and a scoop of chocolate cheesecake filling.

It's cheesecake, lady! Of course we want to try some.

"Yes please. We would love to try it. Wouldn't we, kids?"

"Yes please, Mama."

We walked away dipping our two little crackers in that tasty filling. We dipped until we ran out of cracker. I being a rational adult made the chocolate and the filling come out even. Charlie ran short of cracker and resorted to using his tongue and a good deal of his face to get at the rest of the chocolate goodness. He worked quietly as we trekked down three whole aisles. Then he looked up. Brown sweet goo covered his face from the nose down, ear to ear. But Charlie is resourceful. He used his shirt to take care of the damage as I scanned the aisle in vain for a box of wipes.

Laundry Nightmares

I have nightmares about the washing machine breaking down.

This is about how much laundry we wash every single day!
The crew folded and put it away in about twenty minutes on this particular day. Most days they dawdle.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Stuart and I went on a crash diet this weekend and lost a couple hundred pounds. Our waistlines are not trimmer but the garage is no longer stuffed to the gills. It had to be done. Especially after I posted a picture of the disaster for all the world to see. It's one thing to admit that I'm a slacker. But what if somebody sent me an e-mail a month from now and asked, "Do the kids still have to wrestle with painting equipment and footstools to get at their bikes?" If I had to admit that they were, what kind of mother would I be? So we cleaned the garage.

My favorite box was filled with joy sticks to a Nintendo game. We don't own Nintendo. Remote controls. Lots of them. We pushed buttons. Maybe we were turning on the ceiling fan to our last house? "Hey! Remember the TV that caught on fire. I think this was the remote that went to it."

Cordless phones without their base units. A rechargable battery. To what? More head scratching. Enough! "Tip the whole …

I'd Rather Blog

Last week Janelle wrote a responsible post about blogging and Alana posted a humorous response. I give you the photo essay about how things tend to slide...

...when one blogs.
Plants begin to escape their borders.
Doors lean next to the closet they belong to two months after they have been painted.
Stuart needs the Army Corps of Engineers to help extract his motorcycle from the garage.
And this sympathy card has been sitting on the shelf in my kitchen for months. Sometimes when I dust around it, I feel guilty but apparently not guilty enough to either mail it or put it in a drawer.

After I put all of these pictures up, I felt like I needed to tackle one of these projects so I turned on the flood lights and went out into the night to tackle the garden. I dug up shoots of crepe myrtle and gave the lantana a giant haircut. When the need to accomplish something passed, I dumped everything in a pile and went back into the house. So I guess I really can't cross that gardening thing off m…

Straw-Hatted Geezers

Writing has become therapeutic. When something annoying begins to happen, I think There’s potential for a story in this and the more annoying it gets the better the story. Such was our drive into The Land Flowing With Milk and Honey this afternoon.

The roads between Smallville and The Land Flowing With Milk and Honey are twisting, bumpy and covered with deer carcasses this time of year. The people who travel to and from Smallville are the retired type. Why drive slow when you can drive slower? is the town motto. Most of the time I get lucky because I drive on the back country roads with just butterflies and dragonflies for company. But today it was me and the butterflies and dragonflies and one faded red pickup. The pickup was in the lead and my Suburban trailed behind. Closely.

There is really no good place to pass on these narrow country lanes so we went twenty, forty, twenty, forty for ten miles. I noticed many things during those ten miles. The pickup windows were rolled down to all…

Reading Lessons

Charlie and I sit together on the sofa, close, close. The way we always sit. Charlie likes close. His little head is bent over the paper I am writing on.

"What's this, Charlie?" I draw m on the paper.

"mmmm for Mama!" He grins up at me.

"What's this one?" f

Charlie puts the palms of his chubby hands together and wiggles them back and forth through imaginary waves. "fffff for fishy!"

"And this one?" s

"ssss for sword!" I duck out of the way as he brandishes an imaginary weapon.

Now there are five. Five kids in school. This is how we start, with a piece of paper and a pencil, lowercase letters and letter sounds. (Uppercase letters and letter names will come in a few years when Charlie learns how to write. ) It takes a couple of minutes each day and in a few months my last child will know his letters. When we pull into Wal-Mart, he will start yelling, "There's a wuh for water! There's a tuh for tickle!"

After l…

Redecorating

Have you ever lived in a house that doesn’t match your stuff? A house full of flooring and light fixtures and cupboards that are outdated and worn and ugly? That’s my house. It’s was built in the seventies and retains some of the charm of that era: a Jack and Jill bathroom in the playroom, gold carpet on the floor, dark shelving and trim in the living room.

And the paint! Oh my word! I do not long for fall. It’s colors are spread out majestically over my walls. Pumpkin. Caramel. Hunter Green. Gold. I love light and these colors drink in the sun in big thirsty gulps, covering me in shade and shadows.

So we work. All the changes that we have made in the house so far have been with an eye to creating more light. Heavy drapes came down. Stuart is preparing to install French doors leading out to the sunroom. I paint. Cameo blue and white cover the gold hallway. Blue and white comforters do not pop against a pumpkin background, so bedroom walls are coated in layers and layers of white.

The hou…

Correction

I just checked my blog profile and discovered that I am an accountant living in Afghanistan. News to me! So for all of you who were wondering about that, I'm still in Smallville, and I'm still really bad with numbers. I am not, never have been and do not aspire to be an accountant. Go check your profiles. Maybe you'll discover you're a dog trainer in Mozambique.

4-H Exhibits-Updated

Update: Blue ribbons all around! 4 of our projects will go onto the state fair. John's headboard exceeds size limitations and so we will lug it home tomorrow. We are relieved. That thing is heavy! ************* For the past few weeks we have been busy sewing, sawing, quilling and painting 4-H projects. The kids have been in 4-H for about a month and they started with a bang. The annual 4-H fair is tomorrow. So this morning we loaded these projects and four kids wearing slippers into the car. The fifth one had sense enough to wear flip-flops. (The other four complained as we pulled out of the driveway that their feet were sweating.)
John reclining against the headboard that he built with Stuart. He wrote the 10 Commandments of Table Saw Safety to accompany this project.

Claire's quilling project.

Lauren modeling the apron that she sewed.
Lauren and the dog painting she has been working on in art class for the past few months.


Faith and her quilling project.
So now, I guess we can g…

So Long Summer

Two swim noodles will support one mama quite easily.
They will also support five children...
...but not for long.
This was my last day in the pool as the temperature of the water has dipped below 95°. That's just too cold for me. But, it will still be awhile before we have to trade flip flops and shorts for long pants and tennis shoes. I love the South! Wordless Wednesday

A Doubting Time

“Mama. This isn’t true.” Faith has a Magic Tree House book open to the last few pages. She is pointing to the heading, The Rainbow Serpent, an Aboriginal myth about the role the Rainbow Serpent played in creating the world. “It’s not true. I don’t think that the author should write about things that aren’t true like they are true! Indignation leaves it’s mark on her little face.

John has been watching the Discovery Channel with Stuart. He comes out in the middle of a program to let me know, “It’s another one of those the Bible can’t be true so here’s what happened instead shows. This week it’s about how Noah’s ark would have sunk. Last week, it was about how they found Jesus’ bones. Where do they come up with this stuff?”

These conversations are heartening. My children are learning to evaluate the reasoning of others using the Bible as a plumb line. An incredible skill for ones so young.

Just a few years ago, planes flew into the Twin Towers and scattered glass, concrete and human flesh,…

Band-Aids and The Kissing Hand

A crowd instantly collected. Yells are very unusual at bazaars, and every one was intensely interested. It was several seconds before the three free children could make Mrs. Biddle understand that what she was walking on was not a schoolroom floor, or even, as she presently supposed, a dropped pin-cushion, but the living hand of a suffering child. When she became aware that she really had hurt him, she grew very angry indeed. When people have hurt other people by accident, the one who does the hurting is always much the angriest. I wonder why.

The children were gathered around the coffee table with coloring books and draped across the floor and the sofas in the evening lamplight as I read these words aloud from E. Nesbit's book, The Phoenix and the Carpet. I read on to the end of the chapter but my mind stayed on these words…when people have hurt other people by accident, the one who does the hurting is always much the angriest.

I don’t know about you, but for me this is true. I tak…

Raccoons

It was a running around kind of day today. An eat in the park, errand, exercise, wash the dog day. The kids were swimming right before dinner and I had Henrie in the rinse cycle when Miss Linda popped over. She's stealthy, Miss Linda is, and I startled when I looked up from Henrie's tail to Miss Linda's face.

"I came over to tell you that I have a happy for you over at the house. I just wanted you to know how much we appreciate you."

I twisted off the hose and leaned in close to hear. Cigarette smoke has erased a good deal of her voice. It's deep and gravelly and almost a whisper. We talked for a while over a wet dog leashed to the fence about vitamins and minerals. We're both subscribers to their medicinal value.

"Thanks. I'll pop over sometime after dinner. We miss thekids."

"So do I. The house feels empty. Well, be sure to come by."

Then it was showers for the kids and dinner and dishes."

"Get your shoes on. I have to pick s…

Aviary Amphitheater (Wordless? Wednesday)

We're slow starters in the morning. The children lie on the sofas and read. Charlie sits and eats a graham cracker and a bowl of yogurt at the table before breakfast. Lauren and I take turn cooking oatmeal, or muffins, or scones... We eat somewhere between ten and eleven. Today, in the midst of all this leisure, the house became exceptionally quiet and I went to figure out why because "too quiet" is never a good thing. Except that it was today. I peeked out the living room window into the backyard and found five chairs and five children lined up on the patio. I opened the door and everybody shushed me.

"Hush, Mama. We're watching the birds. Come sit with us"

Six or seven hummingbirds were zipping around the feeder, frantic to fill their little gas tanks before they migrate. The children were silent, heads tipped up, eyes squinting against the morning light. I went in to get the camera. I took a few pictures of the children but could not capture the hyperactiv…

Time Management

Eight thirty-five. I glance at clock on the stove. Church doesn’t start for twenty-five minutes. Surely we can make it on time today.

It’s a fifteen-minute drive to church from our house. We have been driving to this little church in the country every Sunday for the past three months and we have been late every. single. time. It’s the only place that we go where arriving on schedule matters and yet we can’t do it.

I’m an organized person. In the days of diaper bags and car carriers, I would lay the children’s clothes out the night before. Bibles and backpacks went out to the car on Saturday evening. Stuart and I rose early on Sunday morning and got ourselves ready. We fed the children in their pajamas because they always spilled and slopped and dribbled and then hustled them into their clothes. We held small hands, balanced a couple of little ones on our hips, buckled them in the car and arrived at church about ten minutes before the service. Those were the days.

The children are spreadi…

Ave Maria

As I type this, Stuart is trudging across the back yard to the shop in the pouring rain after a block of wood that I need for a project. He comes back in, dripping, and hands the wood to me with a smile.

A few days ago, in the restless moments between sleep and wake, I heard singing. "Ave Maria, gracia plena…” My grandfather was singing in a rich bass voice that moved gracefully between low and high notes. "Maria, gracia plena…” I heard traces of his Hungarian accent come through the words. "Maria, gracia plena..." The notes faded. I woke up completely and sat for a moment, missing my grandpa.

My grandfather sang these words,without accompaniment, at my wedding, nine days after his wife died. He soldiered through, his words floating clearly over the stillness in the church. To me, his singing remains the best memory of that day. It was fitting that he participated.

I think about my choice for a marriage partner from time to time. How did I know? How did I know to marr…