Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z Is for Zoar (and Zee End)

Zoar, Ohio, is a tiny little village not too far from where I grew up.  While the population is only 169 (yes, 169 people) those residents welcome 21,000 tourists each year.  The village was originally settled by some Germans looking for religious freedom way back in 1817.  Today, the village, including many of the restored buildings, are open for tourists and staffed by folks in period attire. 

In elementary school, I went to Zoar on at least one school field trip.  Hubby camped there with the Boy Scouts more than once.

Imagine my surprise when my research, (and by research I mean, "Dearest Google, please find a Z word for me to use on this very last day of the challenge!") led me to this article explaining the addition of Zoar to the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places!

Shocking, I say!

First of all, who would have thought an organization named "National Trust for Historic Preservation" would be all rebel-like and come up with a Top 11? 

Secondly, I had no idea that Historic Places could be endangered.  Endangered Animals?  Yes.  Endangered places? No.

Anyway, it seems the dam that was built to protect Zoar from the Tuscarawas River 100 years ago is falling apart.  The question now up for debate is should the government spend $100,000 to rebuild the levee and save the village, or let the levee go and allow Zoar to be wiped off the map?

Talk about a conundrum.

Considering I've never heard of the National Trust for Historic Preservation nor the list of Endangered Historic Places, I'm thinking their marketing strategy could use some work.  Perhaps they could take some notes from the Endangered Species people?  Put a cute face on each place and have donors "adopt" a location.  It worked for whales, so why can't it work for a village started by German separatists 200 years ago?  Surely there is at least one baby in the population of 169.  Or a kitten?  Perhaps a re-enactor holding a baby holding a kitten on the steps of one of the historic buildings?  That image would secure their future for sure.

Then I got to thinking, "I wonder what other Historic Places are endangered."

Well, there's a site for that.  There are actually almost 270 endangered historic places.

Quite the variety they have, too.

Joe Frazier's Gym in Philadelphia is on the list.  This is where the gold medal winning boxer and heavyweight champion trained.  Unfortunately, the building is currently being used as a furniture store, so the NTHP (my acronym, not theirs) has their work cut out for them.

Although, it will probably be harder to save the Prentice Women's Hospital, which is already scheduled for demolition by the owner.

Oh, another idea.  The two endangered organizations should band together.  Let an endangered Golden Lion Tamarin loose in the hospital, and they can't tear it down.

No, that idea isn't the greatest idea, but we're simply brainstorming here.  Ideas flowing.  Creativity blooming.  No idea too outlandish.

There are some sites that I just don't see as any hope of being saved.  Tiger Stadium for one.  According to NTHP, it is threatened by poor public policy, deterioration, and neglect.  I don't see how even the biggest brainstorm in the world could come up with something to save a huge, decrepit baseball stadium, even if some of the greatest players of the game called it home.

Of course, I am in Indianapolis, which happens to be the city which purposely blew up the old Market Square Arena, despite the fact it was the last place Elvis ever performed.  I guess you'd say we aren't exactly nostalgic around here.

For Zoar, though, I wish all 169 residents the best. 

The good news?  It's the government.  They aren't exactly quick to get things done.  The baby and the kitten should live nice, long lives in the village.

And with that...

Challenge complete.

Brain fried.

Zee end.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y Is for Youngins

Because I can hear you thinking, "Man, I wish she would post more photos of her offspring."

Yes, we really do live in the middle of nowhere.

Our preschool's Great GooseWatch.  A mama goose nicely made a nest right up next to the window of the entryway.  Each day we have a look-see to make sure the nine eggs haven't hatched.

"Mommy, I can run faster than the truck!"  Stupid truck.  We were supposed to be going for a walk.

5th grade Wax Museum.  Each student dresses up like an important person in history.  He/She can't move or talk until someone pushes the "button" on the table.  The "famous person" then recites a 30 second bio.  Giant went as JFK.  He even took hair spray to school to get his hair juuust so.

"Mom!  Mom!  I'm three and a half and taller than him!"

Snack time.  In the van.  Again.

We spent some time at the playground with a niece and nephew.  Couldn't get this one off the merry-go-round, except when she went flying off as it spun.  Even then, she was only off the thing long enough to put her shoes back on.

The oldest of the nephews.  It seems the "I'm going to put off cutting my boy's hair as long as possible" trait runs in my family. 

King of the world.  Or calling on the storms to pay his brother back for pushing him.  One of the two.

You knew you were going to be forced to view new nephew photos.

Oooooohhh, I love an itty-bitty baby!

Favorite quote of the visit:

At one point, while my niece was holding the baby, Turken was "petting" the top of Baby's head.  Niece said, "He doesn't have much hair."

Turken replied, "My daddy doesn't have much hair either."

True dat.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Is for X-ray

You know how people (or dogs and their owners) who have been together for a really long time start to look like each other?  My husband and I have been together for 25 years, and we've gone a little overboard with the whole "alike" thing.  In the span of one month, he and I both dealt ourselves the same injury in the exact same way. 

We both jumped up to block shots at a volleyball net and came down on our twisted ankles.

He went to the ER.

I went to an independent place called OrthoIndy.

He saw one doctor.

I saw one doctor.

He got an X-ray.

I got an X-ray.

He was put in a tiny waiting room with a woman who hadn't been able to stop throwing up for three days.

I was the only patient in the building.

He got a worthless supportive shoe.

I got a wonderful, inflatable boot.

He was given lots of pain meds he didn't use.

I wasn't even offered a Tylenol.

We have recently had to pay the bills for our exams and X-rays.

Between the doctor and hospital bills, we had to pay $1400 for his injury.

We paid $164 for mine.

I think you all are smart enough to catch the moral of this story.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Words of Wisdom

1.  When having to split a salami sandwich while on a picnic, just take it all apart and completely reassemble it as two individual half sandwiches.  Salami doesn't tear well.

2.  If you want your kids to be as healthy as possible, feed them healthy foods, get them outside to play, and let them eat dirt. 

It seems playing outside, visiting pigs, and then putting your hand in your mouth is good for your immunity system.  It's true, my kids rarely get sick, but don't just take my word for it.  ABC thinks so, too.

(I shall pause for my germaphobe readers (and you (and I) know who you are) to vomit in their mouths and obsessively wash their hands.)

3.  When a basketball goes flying and crashes through everything on your dresser, do not ask Dad to fix any of it.  You'll end up with something like this:

What do you get when you cross a Pacer's bobble head and a statue of St. Joseph?
I'm pretty sure it's called Sacrilege.

4.  When starting a blog, think long and hard about the name.  Don't limit yourself to concerns of interest and creativity.  Number one, make sure it isn't a pain in the blankety-blank to write over and over again.  For instance, a-fly-on-our-chicken-coop-wall.blogspot.com. is about the stupidest URL in the known world (wide web).  Oh, the dashes!  Why did I have to add dashes????

5.  While your children may enjoy it, and you will for a bit, do not go out to lunch with your child's teacher.  He may feel too comfortable with her and do something horribly embarrassing, like reach up and poke each of said teacher's three wrinkle chins and say, "Does this hurt?" while all you can do is watch and cringe from across the table.

Hard-earned wisdom.  Learn from it.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


If people in charge of volunteers would keep the following in mind, the world would be a happier place.  And happy people are more willing to volunteer.  Which means more volunteers.  Which means you do these things more often.  To keep volunteers happy.  And you get more volunteers.  It's a wonderful cycle.

People in charge of volunteers, take note.

1  DO give clear instructions on what is expected of each volunteer.  How much time should the task take?  When should it be done?  What exactly do you want the volunteer to do?  Has someone done this before, so we don't have to reinvent the wheel?  The volunteer wants to do a good job.  She can't do that if she doesn't know what her job is.

2  DO make sure the volunteer has the tools needed to complete the job.  Think through the steps of a job, then collect the things a person will need to do it.  If a person is supposed to empty trash cans, you darn well better have a supply of new trash bags easily accessible.   If you want someone to paint a mural for VBC, make sure you have the paint, brushes, clean-up supplies, and a clear idea of what the mural is to look like.

3  DO match the tasks to the number of volunteers needed to complete it.  Too many volunteers, and you have bored, irritated people who are standing around doing nothing.  Too few volunteers, and the folks helping you are overworked and unhappy.  Think it through, and plan accordingly.  Their time is valuable.  Respect it.

These last two are the most important.  Pay close attention.

4   DO NOT subject your volunteers to horribly long, off-topic meetings.  If a meeting must be held, fine.  But don't be wasting every one's time by starting or ending late, going off-topic into the land of gossip, or explaining every single mind-numbing detail about how you chose the napkins for the dinner.  Their time is valuable.  Respect it as such.

5.  DO respect and encourage your volunteers.  Guilting people into action is not encouragement.  Asking if they need anything or have any questions is.  Wasting time is not showing respect.   Thanking a person for a job well done is. 

Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a lot of things to do.  If you want people to volunteer, keep this fact in mind.  If a volunteer feels he isn't being respected, or if a volunteer feels he is being taken advantage of, he won't volunteer again. 

Organize yourself before you organize your volunteers. 

I beg of you.

If you can't, I hear worker bees are in high demand.

Have a lovely day!

I just saw that this week's FTSF sentence is "I am passionate about..."

Yeah, I'm quite passionate about volunteers and their time being respected. 

Finish the Sentence Friday

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unexpected, Unlooked-for, and Unusual


I have another nephew!  No, it's not "I didn't know I was pregnant" unexpected, but unexpected nonetheless.  His mom was scheduled to have a C-section later this month.  He decided Sunday was a much better day to be born.

With his two siblings, I was in the hospital within hours of their being born.  Unfortunately, in the five and a half years since then, my kids have grown and I added two more kids to our family.  I can't just jump and drive to Louisville any ol' time I want.

Good news, though.  Giant just happens to have a soccer tournament in Louisville this weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, I'll be holding this precious little bundle.

I can't wait.


Beauty can be found in the oddest of places.  We just need to slow down and find it.

Look for the unlooked-for.  I'm guessing, if you do, you'll be surprised.


My mom knew how to mess with us kids.  You've heard about her lying.  You've heard about her pranks.  You haven't heard about the heart-stopping jumping.

Picture it.  An innocent little girl leaves her room to go help her mom in the kitchen*.  Except her mom isn't in the kitchen.  She's hiding around the corner from the little girl's room, patiently waiting for the girl to walk her way.  As the girl comes around the corner, the mother jumps out of hiding, yelling, "Boo!"  The girl screams.  The mom laughs. 

This was my childhood.

Once I got over the original fright, and my mom stopped chanting, "I got you!" we would laugh.  And within a week, when she least expected it, I would get her back.

It was our thing.  We grudgingly gave it up a few years ago when she had to have a heart stent put in.  I am not going to be the one forever known as The One Who Gave Mom a Heart Attack.

As a mom myself, I have continued this unusual family activity with my own kids.

Just this morning, I heard Cuckoo holler for me and run to find me.  I immediately jumped up to hide around the corner.  Turken saw me, so I gave him the universal "Shh" sign.  He got a glint in his eye and a grin on his face, excited to see how it would all go down.  He knew what was coming.

As Cuckoo rounded the bend, I jumped out and yelled, "Boo!"  He got that terrified look on his face and screamed for a fraction of a second.   I held my breath until he figured it out and started laughing.  Then all three of us laughed together.

He'll try to get me back soon.  Lucky for me, he's only three.  I'll just have to pretend I'm scared.

It's the big kids I have to watch out for.  They're getting pretty good at it.

Have a lovely day!

*OK.  That's a lie.  I never left my room to willingly help my mom in the kitchen.  I was probably going to the kitchen just to be sullen and annoyed in her presence.  I was a bit of a pain as a preteen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T Is for Thespian and Tech Crew

I sat in the middle of the theater, completely clueless as to what was about to happen.

For the past three months, I've purposely avoided discussing it.  I wanted to be surprised.  Fortunately, I have a quiet, shy boy who only talks when forced, so it wasn't difficult.

It started as most musicals do.  A full-cast song and dance.

Seventy 7th and 8th graders giving it their all to impress the sold-out crowd.

All clearly nervous, but trying their very best not to show it.  We parents can tell.

We all strain our necks, trying to pick out that one teenager for whom we are there. 

We take a glance at the leads, as their voices harmonize.

We notice the couple of boys who have rhythm, owning the dance they have been taught.

The stage clears, the lights go out.

When the spotlight pops on, there, all alone, is my baby boy.

In a costume I have never seen.

In stage make-up I did not apply.

Standing behind a desk I did not decorate.

I bought the pretend microphone into which he is pretending to speak.  That's it.

My shy, quiet, reserved little boy bellowed, "Yo,Yo,Yo Wildcats!"

He was articulate.

He was animated.

He was funny.

He completely surprised me.

It was awesome.

And he did it over and over again throughout the show.

It makes my heart sing to see my kids step out of their little comfortable selves and try something completely new and unexpected.

Well, folks, this was unexpected to say the least.

The music teacher at our children's school is a wonderful lady.  She actually gets all but a handful of the 580 students to stand up and sing solos in front of their classmates.  She has kids lined up wanting to be the cantor at the Wednesday all-school Masses.   And for those that cannot sing on key (like Phoenix) she will say, "This song just isn't right for your voice.  How about you do...." 

And she put Phoenix in a role that involves no solo singing, but lets him shine nonetheless.

She saw something in him, and encouraged him to try.

After each of the three performances, my phone would start dinging.

"I had no idea Phoenix had it in him."

"When did Phoenix start talking?  I've never heard him speak that many words at once before."

"Phoenix was my favorite character in the entire play.  I had no idea he was such a ham."

"Tell Phoenix he did a great job!  When did he get to be so funny?"

And these were from people that know us.  People who actually have my elusive cell phone number.

As the theater emptied, I saw scads of people stop to talk with Phoenix.  Praising him.  Encouraging him.  High-fiving him. 

And I saw Phoenix become more and more confident.

Buttercup, Phoenix, and I had a conversation not too long ago about how Phoenix seems to lack confidence in himself.  The way he (doesn't) talk.  The way he moves.  The way he hangs back unless someone approaches him.  He's always been like that, but this last year, with his growing 6 inches taller, it has become even more noticeable.

All in fun, we dubbed him "Awkward Giraffe".  It fit him.  He agreed.

During this week of performances, his awkward giraffishness faded. 

I can't wait to see how he continues to grow and mature and become confident in himself as the years go by.  From what he showed us this week, it should be lots of fun to watch.


When the auditions took place, Buttercup was unable to audition.  She was committed to doing other things, and just had too much to do.

Three weeks ago, the music teacher approached her and said, "We only have one sound tech.  Can you be at the rest of the rehearsals and help out?"

She couldn't have been more excited.

This play has a TON of sound cues to hit.  Phones ringing, boom boxes being turned on, pianists starting their pieces, intros for her brother, not to mention all of the musical numbers.  It was a lot of work. 

She nailed it.

In the musical's program, there was a note from the music teacher.  It read, "To Buttercup and (another girl), You are the playmakers.  Thank you for doing such a great job."

Sitting up in that sound box, high above the crowd, she looked important.  She looked confident.  She looked like a beautiful young woman, sure of her role.

I teared up numerous times this weekend.   My babies aren't babies anymore.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shiners, The Life of

Day One:

Child gets hit in the eye with a baseball when he walks right in front of the ball with which his biggest brother is playing.  The eye becomes swollen and a bit dark in color.

Day Two:

The swelling is gone, but the eye area becomes blacker and redder. 

Day Three:

Helloooooo Black Eye!  (The runny nose is completely unrelated.  I promise, I got the boy a Kleenex right after I took the photo.)  He was not happy about me taking his photo.  I had to sneek up on him.

Day Four:

Still black, but with a slight tint of green mixed in.  I only got photographic evidence because I promised him he could look at the photo if he just let me take one.  We've gone in public for the first time since the baseball episode, and everyone he sees asks how he hurt his eye.  He gives half-hearted answers.

Do not ask me why he is wearing a winter hat on the first day we don't even have to wear coats to go outside.  He had mittens on, too.  It's just to mess with me.  No hat when it snows, hat when it's 65 degrees.  He's trying to wear me down.  It's almost working.

Day Five:

Green and yellow become the prominent colors.  He's even less willing to get his daily photo taken. I may have bribed him with Easter candy.  When people ask him how it happened, he simply turns and walks away.

Day Six:

His eye is now vomit colored.  When he sees me taking out the camera, he yelled, "No, you cannot take a photo of my eye!!"  When someone asks how he did it, I can hear him cussing in his head.

Day Seven:

The eye is still greenish/yellowish.

The look he gave me said, "Don't even try it.  That camera won't work so well when it's in 10 pieces on the floor." 

When we leave the house, he keeps a constant scowl on his face, deterring any and all inquisitive adults.

Moral of the story:

If you don't want to talk to people or get your photo taken, don't walk in front of a baseball.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R Is for Rain

For my entire life I have been singing this song every time it rains at inopportune times:

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
If you don't, I don't care.
I'll pull down your underwear.

Point made with just a touch of nonsensical immaturity.

I recently discovered that those are not, in fact, the correct words.  It is supposed to be sung:

Rain, rain, go away,
Little Johnny wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away,
Come again another day.

I don't find that version nearly as enjoyable.  Sure, it makes more sense, but it's not nearly as much fun.

Either way, I am not singing it this week.  We have had four days of thick clouds and frequent bursts of downpours.  In my younger days, (last year) I would have been very unhappy with such weather.  My older and wiser self is embracing it.

I thought I'd write a new song.

Rain, rain, stay and play.
Pour on down all through the day.
When you do, fields do flood,
And soccer practices and soccer games and Boy Scout campouts get postponed.

Remember how I said our week would be the busiest of the year?  Not so much when soccer and camp gets cancelled.  Some practices and games have been a go, and the musical has taken up quite a bit of time, but overall, muuuuuuuch easier.

While I do feel badly for the people who were hit with the golf-ball sized hail the other day (just a couple of miles from our house (which caused every single window in Phoenix's classmate's house to be broken)) I'm not sad about the rain.

There's really only one thing about the rain causing me some anxiety.

Weeds and grass grow really fast.
And the battery on our lawnmower died.  I can't recharge it until the threat of rain ends and Hubby is home to help me tow the mower closer to the house. 
By the time those two things align, the kids will be playing hide-n-seek in the grass by merely kneeling down.  Shoot, Cuckoo won't even have to duck.
And what are the chances that the kids have picked up aaaaaall the bats, balls, Frisbees, shovels, and rackets to make my mowing uneventful?
Zero.   Zip.  Zilch.
And what are the chances that I won't accidentally run over a dead animal camouflaged by the tall grass?
Even smaller.
Can't wait.
Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Questions in the Form of a Quiz

The new pigs are here!  The new pigs are here!   I'm somebody now!

Things are about to get real up on this farm.

We've had a nice little break from animal chores this winter, but the days of lazin' around are over.

In honor of the pigs, and because Q is a stupid letter that has very few words to use, I've decided to quiz you all.  I've mentioned pigs on this here blog several times over the years.  How much have you learned?

Don't worry.  It's an open-blog quiz.

1.  Pigs are pink.
     a.  True
     b.  False
     c.  All of the above

Hint, hint.
2.  Put these animals in order of their intelligence, from most intelligent to least.
     a.  pigs
     b.  chickens
     c.  dogs
     d.  children - I'm not going to put a link.  Just about every post will help you.

3.  Pigs are social creatures, preferring to be in a group, especially when taunting the dogs.
     a.  True
     b.  False

Behind the safety of an electric fence and an actual fence, the pigs enjoy testing the dogs' collars.

4.  Why do farmers castrate their male pigs?
     a.  The male hogs get too aggressive otherwise.
     b.  The meat will not taste right otherwise.
     c.  The farmer's wife has enough testosterone running around.

5.  When should one tell her children about castration?
     a.  When they ask if the pig is a boy or girl.
     b.  At the same time they learn about the birds and the bees.
     c.  Don't bother.  They will learn about it at school.

6.  Which of the following can a pig NOT do?
     a.  Run faster than a toddler.
     b.  Sit on his hind-end.
     c.  Lie on his back.
     d.  Lift a gate off its hinges in order to escape.

Gotta say, this is the first time I have ever seen a pig sit like this.

7.  How long do we keep the pigs?
     a.  Until a coyote kills them.
     b.  Until they are big enough to ride.
     c.  Until I get tired of feeding them.

8.  How do the kids feel about the pigs going to the butcher?
     a. Happy, as they get to go to school late one day and take a task off the chore list.
     b.  Sad, as they were good friends with the pigs.
     c.  Indifferent, as they didn't pay attention to them anyway.
     d.  Confused, wondering, "What's a butcher?"

9.  How do we get the pigs to the butcher?
     a.  We don't.  The butcher comes here.
     b.  With blood, sweat, tears, cussing, and a big fence.
     c.  We hire someone.
     d.  They walk willingly onto the trailer.

10.  Now that we are comfortable raising pigs, why don't we try raising cattle?
     a.  They are more work.
     b.  We don't have the room.
     c.  Hubby's afraid of them.
     d.  If one dies, we don't have anything big enough to tow it out to the field.

11.  The first line of this post is a botched quote from the movie ______________.

******** Answers ***********

(Oh, how I wish I could do this upside down so I could then take a poll to see how many of you turned your laptop upside down to read it.)

1.  c
2.  dogs, children, pigs, chickens
3.  true
4.  b
5.  c
6.  c
7.  b
8.  Big kids, a; little kids, d
9.  b  Of course.
10.   d
11.  The Jerk

If you answered 0-3 questions correctly, you have a lot of reading to do.  Don't talk to me until you are done.
If you answered 4-7 questions correctly, I shall consider you an acquaintance.
If you answered 8-10 questions correctly, you have attained BBF (Best Blog Follower) status.
If you answered 11 questions correctly, Hi Dad.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P Is For Personality

My husband and I went to the same small, Catholic high school.  As juniors in Religion class, we each took the Myers Briggs personality test.  It was no shock when the results came back.

Hubby was:

I: Introverted
S: Sensing
T: Thinking
J:  Judging

while I was:

E:  Extraverted
N:  Intuitive
F:  Feeling
P:  Perceiving

In other words, exact opposites.

I recently looked up the "definition" of ISTJ, and found that my husband has only become more ISTJ, if that is even possible.  He and I went through the list, and every single item described him.  If you want to know my husband, you can read it, but basically it says he is fact and goal driven, dependable, not naturally in tune with his own or other's feelings, extremely loyal with a strong sense of duty, and puts tremendous amounts of energy into tasks he sees as important, while resisting putting any energy into a task which makes no sense to him.

And then there is me.  As an ENFP, I am an intense individual with highly evolved values, a risk-taker, happy except when confined to strict schedules, have a need to maintain control over myself but do not believe in controlling others, good at most things that interest me, and love life, seeing it as a special gift to make the most of.

Let me illustrate our differences.

When Hubby was 13 and a half, he was getting his Eagle Scout.  Normally, boys don't reach this level until they are 16-18.

When I was 13, I was trying, and failing, to look like Dorothy Hammill.

I always enjoyed taking care of kids, so I had a long list of people who called me to babysit their children. 

Hubby had to watch his little brother one time.  When his brother continued to annoy him, Hubby tied the little brother into his crib, so Hubby could play ColecoVision in peace.

I ran track because I was good at it.  When I ran, I ran sprints.  You hardly have time to think, let alone get bored, in a 100m dash.  

Hubby has run marathons.  He has done both an Endurathon and a full Ironman triathalon.  He was even crazy enough to complete a 100km (55 mile) race.  On his feet.  He didn't do these things because he is good at them.  He's not.  Many, many years ago, he set a goal to do an Ironman.  So he did.

Hubby has known his entire life that he wanted to be an attorney.  He had to work ridiculously hard, paying for all of his schooling by himself, in order to reach that goal.  Not only did he reach it, he graduated from law school #1 in his class and had his pick of firms for which to work.  He has done the exact same job for the last 14 years and likes it so much he has no desire to do anything else.

I became a teacher, mostly because I didn't put much thought into anything else.  I only looked at two colleges; the two from which the coaches were calling me to run on their track teams.  Never have I stayed in one job for more than 2 years.  Never having taken a photography class or even reading a book about photography, I opened a photography business.  A few years later, I officially closed the photography business. I currently teach preschool one morning a week, and I get annoyed that I have to follow the preschool schedule. 

When taking a child on his individual trip, Hubby plans everything out well in advance, knowing their itinerary for the weekend before stepping on the plane.

When I take a child on a trip, I will go over some possibilities with the child a few days before we leave, but make no definitive plans.  We decide as the trip progresses.

Some may wonder how our marriage works, seeing as how we have such different personalities.  I find it to be working smashingly well.

I can hop from job to job and go with the flow because I know Hubby is always there to be the dependable rock of planning and income.

Hubby can be safe in his out of tuneness to feelings, because I am always there to call him out when he is being too harsh on or critical of himself or others.

About 5 years ago, my book club had a psychic come to our meeting, and she gave us individual readings.  She made a point of telling me that my husband (whom she had never met, and I had never mentioned to her) had a tendency to be cold.  (I laughed, because I call him that all the time.)  She continued by saying he needs me.  He needs me to get him to see the colors instead of the black and white he lives in.  He needs me to pull him out of his facts and goals and encourage him to have some fun.  He needs me to make him relax and enjoy all that we have.

She didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.

But she failed to finish the thought.

She failed to tell me that I need him just as much as he needs me.

I need him to be on my case so I finish tasks that I don't feel like doing.  I need him to reel me in when my people-personness spins out of control.  I need him to plan our retirement, so we don't end up living in a van down by the river.  I need him to caution me and point out the pitfalls when I start out on another endeavor without any plans.

On paper, we seem to be a terrible match.  In reality, we are perfectly perfect.

Most of the time.

Just don't bring up the new kitchen when he's around.  It would fall into the "makes no sense to him" category, and he is fully in touch with those feelings.

Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs or any other personality test?  Do you agree with the results?  If you are married, does he/she match your personality?

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O Is For Overcommitted and Overwhelmed

At our Family Schedule Meeting on Sunday, I told the kids to be prepared for the busiest week of the entire year.  Holy Too Much to Do, Batman!

We're busy?  Oh, how original.  Because no one else is, I'm sure.  I don't like getting into the "You think you're busy?  Listen to what I have to do..." competition that many get drawn into, including me sometimes.  Particularly when someone else starts it, gets all snotty about it, and I want to make a point.  Because I'm mature like that.

I won't go into the details about our busyness.

We'll just leave it at soccermiddleschoolmusicalboyscoutsHubby'smeetingsschoolprojectsfarmchores is a tad much.

As I've told you before, I think of awesome ideas, then forget them before I get to a computer or even pen and paper.  This is one of those times.  I had a fabulously funny segue between the above mundane and the below barely interesting, but I can't remember what it was. 

We'll just have to go with a jolting change of direction.

I don't know if you know this, but it is a rule of nature that our farm gets some sort of plague every year.  Be it thousands of wolf spiders or millions of lady bug-looking beetles, something will hit us in droves.

This week, our first plague hit.  Phoenix came inside and said we had tons of bees covering the outside of our house.  Knowing the boy tends to get worked up about small things, I asked for clarification.

Well, they may be flies, but there are tons of them all over both sides of the house.

Confident they were flies, and just a handful of them, I went to take a look.


Turns out, he was mostly right.

After some investigative work (i.e. calling my mommy and daddy) I came to the conclusion that we had some sort of dead animal in the gutters.  Based on the number of flies, I would put money on the idea that a coyote somehow got on top of my house and died.

Fortunately, I never had to find out.

Before Hubby could get home and drag out the 30 foot ladder, we had a big storm.  Lots of rain must have washed away most of the remains.  The flies are almost gone.  I don't know where the animal bones are, as I haven't looked for them. 

Like I said, I've been busy.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

I promise, the rest of the letter posts will be terribly witty and full of photos and fun.

Best stuff you've ever read. 

I promise.

Don't count on it.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Neglect

All six of my children have double crowns (or cowlicks for my redneck readers) on the backs of their heads.  They range in severity, but all do have them.

Giant is fortunate to have thin, straight hair that lies nicely when longer.

Star is fortunate to have relatively small crowns that don't cause too much trouble.

Buttercup is fortunate to be a girl, as she can grow her hair long and pretend she doesn't have them.

Phoenix and Turken have almost identical, thick straight hair.  Their crowns are ridiculously problematic if their hair isn't kept really short.  Which, in Phoenix's case, it rarely is.  Phoenix hasn't quite hit that low point of embarrassment in which he realizes he cannot have long hair.  He has left the house with hair practically spraying off the back of his head, but he doesn't care.  It's almost painful to watch.  Thankfully, Turken is quite happy when I cut his.

And then there's Cuckoo.  He has hit the jackpot trifecta of bad luck hair. 

1.  Curly, thick hair.

2.  Huge crowns.

3.  A mother who never remembers to comb it.

I have reached a new low.

I should be ashamed of myself. 

I kinda am, but the fact that I'm writing it here shows I don't feel too badly about it.

Before church on Sunday, I only saw the lad from the front while I was getting his breakfast.  Normal Cuckoo, with a touch of curly, messy bedhead.  I didn't see him again until we were getting ready to leave the house.  He puts his own jacket on by first putting the hood on, then sliding his arms into place, so I only saw him with the hood on.

We got to Mass, all in our Sunday finery, and confidently walked aaaaall the way to the 2nd pew where we always sit.  (Those with little kids, take note.  Sit up front.  I know it's scary at first, but the kids behave much better when they can see something besides the rear ends of the old people in front of them.) 

We all took our jackets off, and out of the corner of my eye I saw something jump, like a spring had been unleashed.

I turned, and there, in the SECOND PEW, was the worst case of horrendous bedhead I have ever seen.  Our entire family was laughing, being completely irreverent, in the SECOND PEW! 

It takes a lot for me to be embarrassed.

I was embarrassed.

Obviously, being as publicly unholy as we already were, I couldn't just whip out my phone and take a photo of the debacle.  I had to wait until we got home.

Before I get to the big reveal, I must tell you that this photo was taken TWO HOURS after we first saw it.  His hair had TWO HOURS of flattening. 

By flattening I mean my "Come sit on Mommy's lap so we can cuddle" then once I have him rub his head like I'm soothing him but am really trying to hold his hair down.

I was thiiiiis close to licking my fingers, but realized a little spit wouldn't work on the out of control fluff that was the back of his head.

I was thiiis close to just hocking a loogie to wet it and weigh it down at the same time.

It had TWO HOURS of gravity and hand-flattening working on it, and it still looked like this:

Hello.  My name is Christine, and I neglect my children.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Not the singer Meatloaf.  I never met him.  Though I did like that one song.

I made meatloaf for dinner a few nights ago.  I ate with the kids who had soccer that night, while Hubby ate with the rest of them.

The next day, Turken and I had this conversation:

Me:  Would you like some leftover meatloaf for lunch?

Turken:  No.  I didn't like it.

Me:  I'm guessing you didn't even try it. 

Turken:  Yes, I did.  I liked the meat but not the loaf.


I couldn't breathe, let alone talk, with all of the uncontrollable laughter I was doing.

Once calm, I called Hubby.

He had some 'splainin' to do.

The rest of the story:

At dinner, Turken continued to pepper Hubby with the typical questions a preschooler asks when he is presented something new, or not new but not offered all that often.  Things like, "Is that cheese on top?" and "What is that white stuff?"

Hubby became exasperated with the last "What is in meatloaf?" (mostly because he himself has no idea what is in a meatloaf) and answered, "There's meat and there's loaf.  Just eat it."

Aaaaaaand we have our answer.

While on the subject of meatloaf, if you ever make it, I have a tip for you.  While I love a good meatloaf, I rarely made it, seeing as how I didn't have an hour and a half to let it cook.  This time, I had the brilliant idea of cooking it in a different pan.

Introducing, the mini-loaf pan.  Delicious meatloaf takes only 35 minutes or so to cook.

You're welcome.

For Considerer, the recipe. 

2 pounds ground meat (This time I used a pound pork from our pigs and one pound of beef from my brother's cattle.)
2 eggs
bread crumbs- maybe a cup-I don't measure
1 pkg of dried onion/mushroom (I think) Lipton soup mix
ketchup - once again, I don't measure-maybe a cup

Use your hands to mix it all together and put it in the pan.

And that is why I don't have a food blog.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lies. They're All Lies!

Awhile ago, I told you about an experience in which my mom and grandma lied to us.   I wish I could say it is the only time my siblings and I were lied to.

A long, long time ago, when I was around 10 years old, my dad gave us a little duckling for Easter.  (My parents were divorced by this time.)  It was the cutest little thing, and (because we are soooo creative) we named it Donald.  (Honestly, we don't even know if it was a boy or girl.) For a while, he lived in our (unfinished) basement.  (Holy parentheses, Batman! That's a lot for one paragraph.  (Even for me!))

One day, we were painting, and my brother dropped the duck beak-first into the black paint.  Instant, permanent mustache for little Donald.


OK, so that's not exactly how the 'stache looked.  This isn't even Donald.  But it is does have a strong resemblance.  And this mustache part is important to the story. 

Eventually, though, Donald and his poo got too big.  He got booted to the out-of-doors.  It wasn't too big of a deal, though, because of where we lived.  There was a little creek along our property line, and lots of wild ducks would hang out near the water.  Donald had plenty of feathered friends.

There came a day when I went out to say good morning to Donald, and he wasn't in the yard.  I looked everywhere for that bird, but he was gone.   I ran in, crying to my mom, and she told me,  "I'm sorry, Honey.  The wild birds left to fly south, and Donald went with them."

I was heart-broken.  I cried.  I pouted.  Every single time we went to a park that had ducks (and for some reason, there were several parks with ducks) I looked and looked for one that had a black mustache.  I actually envisioned our reunion.  I'd see him with his 'stache, I'd call for him, he'd recognize me, and we'd be together again.  No joking.  I was that heartbroken.  And lame.

Skip ahead many years.  A Christmas celebration with lots and lots of people.  (Are you seeing a pattern here?  If not, you really need to go read the other post about the other lie revealed.)  Somehow the topic of Dear Donald came up.  Of course.  And once again, my mom stopped the conversation cold.

Laughing hysterically, she said, "I was horrified when I got up that morning and found Donald feathers all over the backyard!"

My reaction (in my head, because I was a respectful daughter, even in the face of deceipt) Son of a &^*^!  You have got to be kidding me!  Did you lie to us just so you could have the chance to embarrass us many years into the future?!?!?!

Had it never occurred to you that Donald never flew one time before he "flew south"?

Shut up.

And that it wasn't even fall yet?

I said shut up.  You are a horrible mother.

Here is...the rest of the story.

Donald most certainly did not fly south.

My mom always woke up really early in the morning.  That particular morning was no different.  Coffee in hand, she looked out the window and saw a big pile of feathers in the backyard.  She immediately called my dad.  The conversation went something like this:

Mom:  That %^$& duck you bought the kids is now a pile of feathers in the backyard.  Get your #$% over here immediately so you can get rid of the *&^% thing before the kids wake up!!"


He got to our house, and the two of them put the remains in a box.  They combed the yard, searching for every last feather, knowing just one would give the whole thing away.  Dad left to dispose of it.

We lived in a newish neighborhood out in the middle of almost nowhere.  There was a pond right outside our neighborhood, and this is where my dad decided to dump Donald.  As he was walking away, a man came running out of the nearby house.  Apparently, the owner of the pond saw my dad and was furious.  My dad made some defense of "It's biodegradable!" but the guy didn't care.  He made my dad put Donald back in the box and take it with him.

Serves him right.

My dad found another field, made sure no house nor human was anywhere around, and finally availed himself of the remains.

In the meantime, we woke up.  My mom told the lie about flying south.  It was never spoken of again, until that Christmas when Mom "forgot" that she had never told us the truth.

Did your parents ever lie to you?  Do you lie to your kids?

Have a lovely day!

photo source here

Friday, April 12, 2013


The days when the kids bring home Scholastic Book orders make me so very happy.  I love going through the pamphlets, circling the books I'm going to purchase.  I always stock up on the $1 books, buying extras to give to a friend who works in an inner-city school.   I pick out books to give as gifts to my many nieces and nephews and godchildren.  I study the blurbs and covers, looking for items my own kids might like.  I'm happy because I don't have to pay shipping or tax.

The days when the books arrive, I am thrilled.  New book smell is one of my favorites in the whole world.  The feel of a new book in my hands calms me.  The thoughts of the smiles these books will put on kids' faces makes me smile, too.

Books make me happy.

For a long time, I swore I would never buy an ereader.  An ereader doesn't have a special smell.  It doesn't have pages for me to turn.  It doesn't have fun covers to admire.

It's a screen.  With no character whatsoever.

I didn't want one, and I certainly didn't ask for one, but Hubby bought one for me anyway.  His heart was in the right place, as always.  He knows how much I love to read, so he thought I would love this little gadget.

Amazingly enough, I do.

I love it.

While I still love the smell and feel of a good, new book, I no longer want to read a real, physical book.

For one, I don't have to worry about kids taking my bookmark out of my book.  I NEVER lose my page.

Secondly, I can read without any hands.  I like to read while I eat my breakfast.  With a real book, I need to use one hand to hold the book open.  That's not exactly handy when I'm trying to peel my hard boiled egg and read at the same time.

Thirdly, I can read for longer periods of time.  With this Lupus thing I have going on, my wrists give out pretty quickly.  Holding books, especially hard backs, hurt like the dickens.  My Kindle is so light, I never have trouble holding it through 10 chapters. 

I love my Kindle.

Today, I thought I'd list my most recent purchases for the Kindle and what I thought of them.


OK, this is harder than I thought.  I have so much to keep track of around here my brain can't retain all of it.  I rarely remember a book after I've finished it.  I'm actually going through my Kindle, looking at the titles and saying, "Did I read this?"  So I open it, and lo and behold, it's at the end of the book.  I must have read it.  So I go to the beginning and start rereading it to see what it was.  I just did that to one of them, and had to get to the second chapter before I recognized the book.  I won't tell you which one, because this does not in any way tell you whether I liked a book.  It just tells you that we were really busy when I read it.

Let's try this again.

1.  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.
Our book club pick for the month.  I loved it.  Even stayed up until 2:00am to finish it. 

2.  Out of Time by Deborah Truscott
One of the $3 and under books.  It's a time travel story that I actually liked.

3.  The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
I didn't realize it was a novella prequel until now, when I went to find the author.  I was just going to say it was a short story.  It's a pretty predictable love story.  Doubt I'll sign up for the book it was supposed to prequel.

4.  Whipped, Not Beaten by Melissa Westemeier
This is a book written by a blog friend (Green Girl in Wisconsin).  I was a bit nervous to buy it, seeing as how if I didn't like it I'd feel a bit awkward.  Fortunately, I did like it.  And even laughed aloud a few times.

5.  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Don't be impressed, I only made it 9% of the way through it.  (The ONE thing I don't love about my Kindle.  For the love, just give me a page number!!!!)  While I did like the bit I read, it just required too much concentration.  I never get to read more than 2 paragraphs before I'm interrupted, so concentration I don't have.  There is a lot of unfamiliar language and unnecessary details to wade through.  But of course, I don't know what's necessary and what's not, except I've heard you can pretty much skip all of Waterloo.  Whatever that means. 

6.  The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
My pick for book club, and I really liked it.  It's dark, but has some funny, ridiculous parts.

7.  Ruby Lake by Sherrill Willie
It's supposed to be a comedic love story.  She over thought the comedic part.  Perhaps they all seem too predictable?  I only made it through 47% of the book.

8.  The Boy Who Harnassed The Wind by William Kamkwamba
The true story of a boy who figured out how to build a windmill by himself to save his family and his village in Malawi.  Great book.

9.  The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
I was wary about this when it was picked for book club, seeing as how it is narrated by a dog, but I ended up loving the book.  I'm not even a "dog lover".  More of a dog tolerater.

10.  Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
A biography about William Wilberforce.  He was British, an abolitionist, and a man of Parliament who basically managed to end slavery.  I'm only 32% through it, but I will finish it.  Soon.  It's very interesting. 

11.  Special Deliveries: Life Changing Moments By D.J. Kirby
Short stories from the life of a midwife and the women she helped.  It's next on my reading list.  I love a good baby story. 

So, what books do you have on your shelf?  Or your ereader?

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


The green-eyed monster.

What a pointless, toxic emotion.

I don't usually let myself fall into the jealousy pit.  For one, I have been blessed beyond measure and have no business belittling those blessings by wishing for something "better".  (Really, what is it about alliteration that grips me so?)  Secondly, I have been around this world long enough to know that everyone has a story.  For all I know, the one thing I see that I want could have come at a very high price for that person.

As much as I know this, and as much as I fight it, I have been feeling mighty jealous these days. 

Everywhere I turn, people are having babies.  Pregnant women and newborns are practically (not literally) flinging themselves at me.  I'm praying.  I'm making dinners.  I'm buying groceries.  I'm buying cute little outfits.  All with a smile, because I really am happy for every single couple welcoming a new member to their family.  But as I hold that infant, I'm aching. 

And then I feel guilty.  For Pete's sake (I don't even know who Pete is, but I enjoy the phrase.), I've given birth six times!  I know so many people who have been unable to give birth even once.  What kind of person am I to want more?

Jealous.  And ungrateful.  And greedy.  Not pretty.

Then I start thinking, "Really, of what am I jealous?"

Do I want to go back to sleepless nights?

Absolutely not.

Do I want to go back to nursing?

Not really.

Do I want to listen to the crying and the tantrums?


We all know I don't want to have to go through potty training again.

So what do I want?

To be pregnant.  I love the feel of a baby growing in my belly.  I hardly notice the discomfort or the nausea. 

Those days at the end of pregnancy.  The "is today the day?" feeling.  The knowledge that at any moment that little person I see rolling around inside will be doing those newborn jerky "what was that?" jumps on the outside.

Cuddles.  Nothing like a tiny little person curled up on my chest or in the crook of my neck.

I also thoroughly enjoy watching a little one grow.  The first smiles and the multitude of other expressions.  The eyes lighting up when he sees someone he recognizes.  The way my older kids treasure the littlest one.  The rocks when he's learning how to crawl.  The unsteadiness of those first steps.  The open-mouth kisses before he learns how to pucker. 

While I love all of those things, I gotta get down to the nitty-gritty.  What is really going on?  Why am I really jealous?



I want two days in a bed where people feed me whatever and whenever I want, take care of my kids for me if I want them to, watch whatever I want on TV, and have as much peace and quiet as I can handle.  And all of it with my husband sleeping on a futon next to me.

I'm not kidding.

It's the best.

And I want to do it again.

What, if anything, brings out the green-eyes of envy in you? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Christine, who writes The Aums, has been doing a series where she goes around the house after the kids have gone to bed and takes photos of things they have done each day.  It is clear from the hilarious photos that the kids are not watching TV, but are playing and using their imaginations to fill their days.  Go here and here to see some of their shenanigans.

I got to thinking, "My kids don't watch TV or play video games.  Instead of just seeing messes, I should take a closer look to see what they do."

I found:

A game they played exactly as the rules dictated, just like they always do.

Playdoh from their Easter basket.  The first day, they asked for tools.  I just gave them some cookie cutters.  Every single day, they pull out the exact same cookie cutters and make the exact same shapes.
Two activities can be done with cars.  Line them up in a straight line or "race" them so they crash into the wall.  These were wall-crashers.

A Lego set Turken received for his birthday, being put together exactly as the instructions spelled out.

Puzzles.  Always puzzles.

Despite my best efforts, my boys do not have an ounce of imagination. Zippo.  Zilch.  Nada.

They are their father.

It would never cross their minds to do anything any way other than the way it is "supposed" to be done.

They have received dozens of Lego sets over the years.  They have never, not once, used them to build a castle, a town, a horse, or anything else that wasn't what the directions said. 

They have never, not once, made anything with the hundreds of jars of Playdoh we've had over the years that wasn't made with a specific tool as the picture showed.

They love puzzles, seeing as how they are all organized and straightforward.

They love sports, with all the rules and referees who make sure those rules are followed.

Left to their own devices, they wouldn't come up with a single idea on their own.

Fortunately, I have one person besides me encouraging their imaginative juices.

Buttercup is full of creative ideas.

She will suggest, "Let's play Chopped." (like the show on Food Network) and the boys will get completely into it, coming up with all sorts of fabulous "meals". 

She'll want to put on a show, so recruits her brothers to be performers.  She will give them some direction, but they put on the finishing, creative flare.

Buttercup will pull out some craft supplies and gather the boys to make things. 

She has taken to heart the imaginative seeds I planted and let them flourish.

The boys have been willing soil for the seeds, but need constant watering and care to get their seeds to grow.

At Phoenix's third grade parent-teacher-student conference, we read his little questionnaire about school.  He wrote that he liked math but "loathed" writing.  He has always had the hardest time with creative writing in particular.   At one point, the class discussed the power of a catchy first sentence.  It was mentioned that a question or an exclamation was a good "grab".  For two years, every single thing he wrote for school started with a question or an exclamation. 

My boys like their rules and boundaries.

If Buttercup hasn't been home or has been busy, I will not find hilarious scenes like the ones Christine finds.  I will only find messes, because, despite all of their rule-following tendencies, my children can never remember the rule to clean up after themselves.

Are your kids creative?  What have you caught them doing?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ham and Bean Soup

We raise pigs for meat.  Occasionally for the local coyote population, but mostly for ourselves and a few friends.  I never knew how good pork could be until we started this little endeavor.  I've learned all sorts of things about different cuts and how to cook these delights.

For example, ham steaks are THE BOMB when grilled, as long as you don't overcook them.

Sausage gravy?  Yum.  And easy.  (Could have done a post on G day for that one, but my dad would have complained about too many recipes in one week.  Sorry.  Maybe another day.  Blame my dad.)

Bacon is best cooked in the oven.  Seriously.  Crisp bacon with no danger of splashing yourself with grease.

But the best discovery I have made is the ham hock.  I know it sounds awful, but that little bit of the pig leg makes some mean soup.  If you can get it from your butcher, do so now.

I know, they look scary.  Trust me.

If you can't get good ol' country ham hocks, this recipe works with any bone-in ham.  I first fell in love with this soup when my dad made it with store-bought ham after Easter.


1 Tbsp. or so of vegetable oil
small onion - diced
ham hocks (or other bone-in-ham) I usually use about four or five hocks.  (I cannot bring myself to use the actual hoof.  I have my limits.)
large jar of Great Northern beans

The how-to:

In a stock pot/Dutch oven type pot, heat your oil a bit. 

Add the onion.

Try not to burn the onion while you take photos of the ham hocks.  Just sayin'. 

Once the onion has softened (takes just a minute or so), add the beans.  I then use tap water to rinse the jar and get all the beans out.  Add that water to the pot for a little extra liquid.

Place the ham (still on the bone) in the pot with the beans.

Let simmer for 30 minutes or so.

Trust me.

After 30 minutes, while the soup continues to simmer, take each hock out one at a time and remove the meat from the bone.  Chop up the meat and put it back in the pot.  Discard the bones.

Yes, I do have cutting boards.  I just rarely use them.

And you're done.

I like to serve it with some warm cornbread.

Dishes that match are optional.  Clearly.

This recipe will feed 2 adults, 2 growing boys who love it, 2 kids who kinda like it, and 2 little boys who refuse to try it.  There will be no leftovers.

 Have a lovely day!