Sunday, September 30, 2012

Potty Training 101. Not Really.

Potty training is the most horrible parental duty.  I can't stand it.  Especially when it looks like this.

I thought I came up with a much better solution this time around.  A solution that did not require me to carry a potty around in the car or force me to spend wasted hours in a bathroom with a toddler.

It was a warm winter, so we were outside a lot.  I encouraged Cuckoo to simply pee outside.  Before we left the house, each and every time, I had Cuckoo pee in the grass next to the van.  And the moment we got home, I had him do it again.  There had been too many accidents on the way into the house, and I have enough laundry.  We live on a farm.  We can't even see another house from our yard.  What could this method hurt?

Well, let me just tell you. 

A few months ago, I was standing in the foyer, calling for someone upstairs, when a naked Cuckoo came streaking by.  Without a word from me, he just ran by, yelling, "I have to go potty!"  He did not run in the direction of the bathroom.  He went straight out the front door, down the steps, and into the grass, where he "made water".

We discussed the fact that peeing outside should only happen when we are already outside.  No need to make a special trip.  The toilet will work just fine. 

The day our best friends surprised us, the friends with four girls, Cuckoo gave those girls an eyeful.  The adults were inside getting dinner ready, when I looked out the window to see Cuckoo with his wet bathing suit around his ankles.   He finished up, but when he went to pull his pants up, the wetness of the suit caused him some trouble.  The suit was stuck around mid-calf.  Before I could get outside to help him, he found a different solution.  He waddled on over to the girls, who were seated in the grass around the corner.  Unfortunately, Buttercup didn't see that he was headed right for them, so he made it all the way up to their circle to show those girls all that God had given him.  They were a bit on the appalled side, and did a bit of horrified giggling.  That startled poor Cuckoo, and he took off at a waddle-run back to the house, jiggling all the way.

We discussed the fact that peeing outside should only happen when the yard doesn't have visitors milling about.

At the end of the spring soccer season, one of Star's teammates had a soccer family pool party.  I was there with all six children.  I was chatting with some friends when they all started giggling and pointing.  There was Cuckoo, on the pool deck, pulling his pants down, readying himself for a big ol' pool contamination.  Fortunately I was able to grab him before any "P" got in the "ool".

We discussed the fact that peeing at anyone else's house was considered rude and unacceptable.

Since then, we have done quite well.  Cuckoo hasn't had one inappropriate peeing incident since then.  He has figured out all of the nuances of peeing outside in a mannerly fashion.

And then, this weekend, Cuckoo lost his mind.  I do believe the cold he got last week weaseled into his brain and infected the area that made him a logical, obedient, personable child.  All that is left is a whiny, argumentative, disobedient oddball.

For example, all weekend long, he kept taking his socks and shoes off to "paint" his toenails with pastel-type crayons.

Heaven forbid we forget the pinky toe!

But the clincher, the one that proved to me that he has taken the train to crazyville, happened at the soccer field.  He was actually behaving quite well, simply sitting and drawing pictures in his notebook.  I was watching the game and not paying much attention to Cuckoo.  Clearly.

I heard him pouring the water out of his water bottle and turned to tell him to stop.  Except it wasn't water, and it wasn't coming out of a bottle.

The child was standing on the sideline of the soccer field with his pants around his ankles.  Bare bummed and a grin on his face, he was actually peeing on the soccer field where Giant's team was playing.  Directly in front of the line of parents.  I couldn't really stop him, so I did the next best thing.  I held my umbrella in front of him. (I always use an umbrella on sunny days, as sunlight causes Lupus flares.)  Completely nonchalantly.  Totally not out of place at all. 

Only problem is, an umbrella can only shield one side of him.  I chose to conceal him from the players.  I figured it was much better for the team if the kids were left completely in the dark. 

The parents were laughing their heads off, as expected. (and I am positive more than one mom peed her pants in the process, which would serve her right for laughing at us)   Only after he was done, and his pants were returned to their natural location did I realize where we actually were.  The parents weren't the only ones lucky enough to witness the field contamination.  I had forgotten that we were on Field 1, which butts up (no pun intended, but now that I typed it, I'm totally keeping it.) to the road.  The main road.  Where traffic is constant.  Perfect. 

I guess we can safely say that I have, in fact, not potty trained Cuckoo.  He's grass trained.  Like a dog.  With no concern for modesty or privacy.

I really should be concerned with this whole peeing in public thing, but I'm having trouble seeing it.  The amount of laundry I don't have to do, because of the number of accidents he didn't have, seriously fogs my appropriateness meter.   It's not all that wrong for a three year old to pee in public, is it?

Although, with this potty training method, I'm probably putting one more tick in the "Redneck" column, aren't I? 

Either way, if at the age of 10, I find him dropping his drawers in the middle of a cross country meet in order to relieve himself, we'll have to talk.  I'll totally make him stop.

Until then, I'm just going to keep my umbrella handy.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: From Math to Mayhem

I don't know the last time I was so completely thrilled for Friday.  All week, the thoughts in my head have been jockeying for position, fighting for the chance to be the chosen thought.  The one on which I will actually focus.  I guess the real-life, six young voices whining, yelling, and clawing for attention weren't enough.  Each day came with a new crisis, a new surprise, and each crisis or surprise needed some individual attention that I just couldn't provide.  Instead of regaling you with a post about each thing, I'll give you the thoughts that happened to have won the pole position at some point today.
I took an algebra quiz, and I couldn't be more excited.  I love math.  Always have, always will.  I have been waiting oh so patiently for my kids to be old enough to get into a level of math in which they would actually need my help.  Friends, eighth grade is the magical year.  This week, Phoenix asked for help with his algebra homework.  Kinda.  Since I have never informed my children of my killer math skills, or ever demonstrated my ability to solve math problems, he didn't just ask.  He actually entered the room and said, "Before I ask you for help, I need you to do these problems for me."  He gave me the problems they had done in class, explaining that if I got them right, I would be allowed to help him.  Ungrateful brat.  Don't fear, though.  I nailed that quiz and have awed him with my math knowledge ever since.
Cuckoo is a typical male.  He has had a cold for a week now, and while I know it can be quite annoying, it is not grounds for the behavior we have had this week.  Have mercy.  Besides the tantrums over every little thing, (for example, he wants help going to the bathroom, until we actually get to the bathroom, at which time he screams for me to go away, because he wants to go by himself)  but we have also had to deal with crazy, untrustworthy behavior.  Like dashing out the door to leave when we are say, in a public bathroom.  Normally, he stands just outside the stall while I go to the bathroom.  Not today.  While I was in a position that was not conducive to chasing a runaway three-year old, he dashed right on out the door into the wide world of the grocery store.  Luckily, I knew Star was positioned out there waiting for us, so I didn't panic.  He's been doing things like this all week, and it is wearing me out. 
From the backseat, Turken says to me, "I need to see the doctor in my mouth."  Come again?  "I have a hurt in my mouth, and we need to go to the doctor in my mouth."  I'm going to guess he means the dentist.  Easy to see how he would forget, as we like to forget that the dentist even exists. 

I don't go around looking for confrontation, but when a wrong is being done, I have no trouble stating my mind.  As long as I am stating thoughts that are appropriate and properly timed, that is.  Let's just say that there was a whole mess of appropriate mind-stating at a soccer parent meeting this week.  Some parents just needed to be told that they were way, way, way out of line.  Many people thanked me afterwards for saying what they were afraid to say.  I have to say that I was quite proud of myself.   Until the kids asked me if I said anything during the meeting, and I jokingly tried to say, "Oh, it was on like Donkey Kong."  Unfortunately, my tongue decided to tie up at that time, and it came out, "It was on like Gonkey Kong."  Phoenix immediately picked up on it and coyly said, "Like Gonkey Kong, huh?"  That's what happens when I get all proud and self-righteous.  Humility smacks me in the face.  And will continue to smack me, as the kids told Hubby about it, and it has now become the new phrase in the house. 
With each year that we have lived on the farm, I have become more secure in our ability to handle a major, national catastrophe.  We can grow our own food, we have the means to preserve it, we raise animals to provide us with meat.  On Wednesday, I was shown that I am completely delusional.  At 8:20pm we lost water pressure.  No water made it to the upstairs bathrooms.  The downstairs spigots were hardly dribbling.  I had four stinky, sweaty kids that needed showers, dishes that needed washed.  So, of course, I called my mommy like I always do when I have house questions.  She told me that it was probably a crack in the line to our house, which would mean a plumber would have to be called and we'd be the ones to pay him to fix it.  The line to our house is almost a quarter of a mile long.  Thoughts of $10,00 plumber bills danced in my head.  Scenarios I did not want to ponder came flooding in, like not showering, or having to open up the old outhouse behind the chicken coop for use again.  But then, miraculously, the water company tech guy called and said the water was coming.  And at 9:30 it was.  Celebratory showers were had by all.   And I made note to stock up on water bottles, to build an outdoor shower fed either by rainwater or by one of the many cisterns on the property, and to make sure there is some toilet paper in the outhouse.  Just in case.
Hubby announced that he will not be able to help when it comes to teaching the kids how to drive.  (It came up while we were watching an episode of the Duggars, aka my weekly dose of "I'm a terrible mother", and Jim Bob was teaching a daughter how to drive.)  As much as I hate to say it, I must agree completely.  The man is terribly nervous when things don't go exactly according to plan.  For example, with every single baby, I have had to "save" him from a diaper blow-out.  He'd go to change the baby, get there and realize that it was a monstrous mess, and the yells of "Help!  Get up here!  Help!" would echo throughout the house.  There he'd be, standing at the side of the changing table with a wad of wet wipes in one hand, and a dirty baby hanging upside-down by the ankles in the other hand.  A look of complete terror would be taking over both the baby's and Hubby's faces.  I can't even imagine how he'd react the first time Phoenix misjudged a stop and got a bit too close to the car in front of him.  I can safely say, though, that wet wipes would once again play a part in the clean-up.

  I'm thinking I may have cleaned my kitchen for the last time.  Nothing shifts priorities around like the knowledge that your kitchen is getting remodeled.  Why bleach the sink when in two weeks this sink won't even be here?  Why scrub the stove top insert things?  It won't even be my stove in two weeks.  For that matter, why dust anywhere in the house?  In two weeks, the demolition will only cover everything in the house with dirt and dusty debris.  Same goes for vacuuming.  Basically, this kitchen remodel is giving me the excuse to be totally lazy and not do anything but laundry (because that will never, ever go away, no matter how much I beg, plead, and restrict my children from changing their clothes.) for a good six weeks.  
 I'm planning to have a nice, relaxing weekend.  No more lost sleep from unsettled ideas.  No more craziness taking up my days.  Just sunshine and soccer.  And laundry.  There is always the laundry.
Have a lovely day!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

There Is a Reason Betty Crocker Is Successful

As of today, my husband no longer dangles on the cliff of "I'm in my 40s?? How is this possible?"  Today he turns 41.  He's all in now, my friends.

Unlike the posts on my childrens' birthdays, I won't regale you with his birth story.  You're welcome.

I will, however, give you a little story to illustrate how far he's come.  How he's grown.  How he has learned that his words can unintentionally hurt others.

The other day I was at the kitchen counter, my back to the kitchen.  Hubby and Turken were in the room with me.  I heard the following conversation:

Turken:  Daddy, watch this!

Hubby:  Oh, don't do that!  This floor is filthy!

short pause

Hubby:  And that was not meant to be a comment on the cleanliness of the house.

He's learning.  Ten years ago, it never would have occurred to him that his comment may have annoyed me.  Perhaps in ten more years he won't even say such things. 

Today, to show him just how much I love him, I will bake his favorite cake.  The cake I curse.  The cake that makes me want to ring his mother's neck. 

I grew up with a mother who makes cakes from a box.  I am a mother who makes cakes from a box.   My mother-in-law is a mother who makes difficult cakes from scratch.   Cakes like the dreaded "red cake" that Hubby loves so much.  The cake that from the first time I ate it, even before I knew what went in to making it or that I was going to have to make a million of them over my lifetime, I didn't like it.  I, a lover of cakes, didn't like the taste of this cake.  Twenty-five years later, it hasn't grown on me.

Today, I will give you the recipe.  I'll also walk you through it, because the recipe is so flippin' vague that I messed up untold times before I figured different things out.   For some reason, men seem to love this cake.  If you want to show your husband some love, make it for him. 

How to Make the Famous Red Cake

This would be Hubby's handwriting.  He wanted this cake so badly that first year we were married that he called his mom for the recipe and wrote it on a card for me.   He loves this cake.

Before you begin you must prepare.  As you can see from the recipe card, things are going to get messy.  Change into some serious work clothes.  Clothes that you will never wear outside of the house.  Whatever you do, do not wear your cute outfit that you wore to the store when you bought the ingredients.  Next, you need to get the work space ready.  Clear the counter of absolutely everything.  .  You also need to get rid of the kids.  This cake requires serious concentration.  Kids cannot help.  They will only distract you and mess up the cake.  You do not want to have to start over, because some of the ingredients are odd, and you don't want to have to go to the store to buy more.

Gather the cake ingredients:
group e(asy peasy)                                                        
1/2 cup butter                                              
1 1/2 cups sugar                                         
2 eggs

group t(oo messy for words)
1 oz. red food coloring
2 Tbsp dried cocoa
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. vinegar

group w(aste of a good bowl)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda

and don't forget your
1 cup buttermilk

Mix group e.  Now concentrate, this is where it starts getting difficult.

Add group t to the group e you've already mixed.  And yes, every last drop of that bottle of red food coloring.

I highly suggest that before you turn your mixer on to mix this all together, you first give it a stir with your spatula.  Otherwise, you, your counter, your floor, and everything within a five foot radius will be covered in dried cocoa.

Once these two groups are mixed, in a separate bowl mix the group w ingredients. 

Now, grow another arm and hand, but DO NOT invite a child in to be that extra hand.  This is a critical time and you need all of your focus to be on the everlovin' cake.  The next instruction is to alternately add the group w mixture and the buttermilk to the group e/group t mixture while continuously mixing with the mixer and scraping with the spatula.                                                              
Now, pay attention, this is the one and only tip I have gained from this recipe that is invaluable to making cakes in general, boxed or otherwise.

To prepare the cake pans, spray the bottom of the pans with Pam.  Sprinkle a touch of flour in the pan and knock it around to get a nice thin layer of flour on the wet pan.  PAY ATTENTION!  THIS IS THE GOOD PART!  Cut a piece of wax paper to fit in the bottom of the cake pan and place it inside.  If you do this every time you make a cake, you will never again have a crater in the center of your cake that you have to fix with a mound of icing. 

Important note about the wax paper:  Make sure to take the wax paper off before you ice the cake.  There may have been a time or two that I forgot, and wax paper in between layers of a cake really takes away from the deliciousness of the cake.  Watching people pull cake-covered wax paper out of a cake you spent hours making is just depressing.  When they have to pull it out of their mouths, it's just gross.

Of course, today when I got the wax paper out of the cupboard, there was only a sliver left in the container.  I just ripped it in half and put the little bit I had into each pan.  No nice, neat circle today, the day I'm actually taking pictures.  Typical.

Pour the batter evenly into two round cake pans, then bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

I did tell you it was going to be red, didn't I?

While the cake bakes, take a nap.  You will need all of your strength and mental capacity for the icing.

While the cake cools, get started on the icing.

Ingredients for the icing:

group p(ain in the rear)
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp. flour

group m(akes me gag)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar

and don't forget your
1 tsp. vanilla

This is where the directions really get interesting.  I'll quote the recipe, then give you my thoughts and hints.

"Cook in microwave group p ingredients until thick and smooth.  Let the mixture cool."

For one thing, some general idea of a time would be helpful.  Considering it will be in the microwave, where I can't actually see it, I have no idea how long that might take.  And for another thing, the mixture doesn't by any means just magically turn thick and smooth.  Some serious stirring is involved.  I threw out untold batches thinking that I was doing it wrong, only to find out that I just needed to stir.   I suppose this could easily be done on the stove top, but I am a rule follower, so...To clarify for my readers:

Cook in the microwave for a minute, stir, cook for another minute, stir, stir some more.  Cook again if needed.  It should end up the consistency of yogurt.

Once it is done, put it in the fridge to cool.

While it is cooling,

"Mix group m for about 10 minutes.  Dissolve the sugar in the butter."

First of all, I don't know if it is scientifically possible to dissolve sugar in butter.  Secondly, I do not have the attention span necessary to stand and mix something for 10 whole minutes.  And neither does my mother-in-law.  On this, I have to call a whole mess of hogwash.  I do believe she was just messing with me, just another booby trap in my attempts to make this cake.  Her way of keeping her baby boy attached to her instead of me.  To clarify for you:

Mix the sugar and butter for about 5 minutes, or until you lose interest. 

"Add the cooled group p mixture and 1 tsp. vanilla to group m mixture.  Mix until it's good, 5-10 minutes depending on the weather."

First of all, good is an extremely relative term, and as far as I'm concerned, this icing will never be good.  Second of all, since when does weather get a say in how long it takes to mix icing? I won't be making this in the out of doors, so I don't have to worry that the rain will cause excess water to get into and thin the icing.  What exactly does this mean???  To clarify for those who have stuck it out this far:

Mix all of the ingredients until it looks like icing.

Now, before you get all excited and think that we're done, calm down.  We have to make this fancy now.

"Split the layers using a bread knife and ice."

I have yet to see this amazing trick of splitting the layers with ice, so I simply use a butter knife. Apparently two layers just aren't good enough for Hubby.  We have to make it a four-layer cake.  Some people will say to use plain dental floss or some other clever method to cut the layers in half.  By this point, I am so over this cake that I don't care how lopsided the layers are.  To clarify:

Stab each layer with a butter knife, and while using a sawing motion with the knife, twirl the cake to cut it in half horizontally.

Remember, before you spread the icing, 

remove the wax paper!

Get out the fancy cake stand and ice between each layer.  The first time I made this cake I covered the entire thing with icing, not just between the layers.  The look on Hubby's face told me that I had made a terrible red cake faux pas, so I have never done it again.

Now, unless your house is as climate controlled as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, put the cake in the refrigerator.  One time I left a cake out on the counter, and the next morning all of the icing had melted, slipped out from between the layers, and puddled around the bottom of the cake.

I try very hard to keep this cake away from my children.  They get one piece on Dad's birthday and that's it.  I am always thinking about the future, and I don't want my many future daughters-in-law to hate me forever.  Yes, I will sacrifice my sons' pleasure to preserve the relationship with the daughters-in-law of my dreams.   I certainly don't want them cursing me the way I do my own mother-in-law one day each year.

I'm off to clean that mountain of dishes it takes to create this work of art before Hubby gets home. 

Let me know if you ever make this.  I'd love to know how it turns out.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Obvious. We Don't Know How to Garden.

A few days ago I asked Hubby when the sweet potatoes we planted would be ready to harvest.

Yesterday, I found this on the counter:

Perhaps I should have asked him a few weeks ago.
Fortunately, apples grow above ground and are a bit easier to distinguish doneness.
Looks like we'll be having apple pie instead of sweet potato pie.

Which is good.  I have no idea how to make a sweet potato pie.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Memories White Chili

Today we are having one of my favorite meals.  I love it not only for its deliciousness, but because of the memories it encourages to the front of my brain while it cooks all day.

When the kids were young we spent a whole lot of time with our favorite family in the neighborhood.  We'd go for walks at least three mornings a week, always ending with some play time at one of our houses.  We'd take field trips to various parks and other places of interest.  We'd have great big craft days, where we'd play music, do crafty things, and enjoy being together.  Many times we'd be surprised by our husbands getting home from work when we were all still outside playing.  So, we decided to make Thursday Family Dinner Night.  For years, we had dinner together every Thursday night, each week rotating the home where we would eat.  We would gather as soon as school was out, and hang out all through the dinner hour.  Eight kids and chaos was the norm.  It was one of the happiest times of my life.  (I have to say "was" because our friends moved away to Ohio four years ago.  We still talk and have a rare visit, but it will never be the same.)

I had never even heard of white chili when my friend told me she was making some for her husband's office pitch-in.  She talked about it frequently, for years, before I finally asked her to make it for one of our Thursday dinners.  I had some, and I was hooked.  Oh my word, that is some good eats.  Perfect for a cool fall day, and easy to make with leftover cooked chicken.  I simply throw everything into the crock-pot and think of our friends all day long.

If you would like to make your own Happy Memories White Chili, here's the recipe we use (amounts are approximate, feel free to tweak):

30 oz. chicken broth
1 large jar Great Northern beans
3 tsp. garlic
3 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
5oz. evaporated milk
1/2 medium onion
1 lb. bag frozen corn
2 cups SHREDDED cooked chicken - The shredding takes the most time, but it is worth it!

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.

Cover, cook on low 8-10 hours, or high 4-5 hours.

During those hours, take in the aroma and think warm happy thoughts.

To serve, we sprinkle cheese on top and have tortilla chips for dipping.

While we eat, we almost always strike up a "do you remember" conversation about all of the fun things we did with our favorite neighbors. 

Do you have a favorite meal that brings back wonderful memories?  I'd love to hear about it!

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Problem Solving and Schedules Make Me Happy

You know what makes me happy?  Problem solving.  I'm totally not kidding.

It's why math has always been my favorite subject. 

It's why I have six kids and a mini-farm.  Problems abound, just waiting to be solved. 

Our latest problem that just had to be solved was the chaos that occurred each and every day between school and the evening activities.

I thought I had a good system, which started with locking the children in the van with me when we pulled into the driveway.   Once they were quiet and had their eyes on me, I'd say:

OK, guys.  We will be leaving the house at 5:10.  It is currently 3:15.  You will have approximately 2 hours to do your chores, have a snack, do your homework, change, and be ready to walk out the door. 

Pretty straightforward.  And predictable, as I said almost the exact same thing every single day.

And then I'd let them out.

And they would proceed to not only ignore my schedule, but stomp it, twist it, and spit all over it.

Instead of the simple, calm two hours we were supposed to have, mass chaos ensued from start to finish.  Someone would head straight to the bathroom to hide out for a good long time, where he would flush down every instruction I had given him.  Someone would get distracted by the little boys' pleas to play, then leave too little time to do his homework.  At least two kids would take waaay too long eating snacks.  (Who, I ask you, actually nibbles raisins?  According to Buttercup, each raisin takes at least three nibbles.  Times 35 raisins, and you have one annoyingly lengthy snack time.)  There's always a good possibility that two kids would get into an argument.  Guaranteed that at five minutes before departure, someone would be crying and in search of a sock, someone would be scrambling because he forgot to fill his water bottle, someone would have forgotten to do chores and had to rush out to do complete it, and I would be hollering at just about everyone to hurry the heck up.

Basically, we had a big problem, and I was sick and tired of it.  (If you don't laugh every time someone says "sick and tired", you must be too young to have seen Bill Cosby: Himself.  The first time I watched it, I fell off the couch laughing.  It is what started my love/obsession with stand-up comedy.  Go here to see a clip.)

Every time I have a problem, I stop and analyze.  I can't solve a problem unless I know what that problem actually is.  I name the problem, then decide what I want the end result to look like.  In this case, I wanted the end result to be children who took responsibility for their own work, for their own tasks, and their own schedules.  This is not just to make my life easier, but to help them learn how to do such things before they get older and out on their own.  I want them to be pros at this while they are still in our home, where mistakes can safely be made, where I can be there to help them work through the kinks.  Once the problem is named and the end result is pictured, the plan is made.

Insert solution.  (I have to say, when I presented the solution to the kids, I expected some whining.  I didn't get any.  Two of the kids were actually thrilled to do it.  I guess I have been depriving my little OCD darlings of some much needed structure and information.)

We have instituted the Sunday Night Family Scheduling Meeting.  Every Sunday, after the little kids have gone to bed, the big kids, Hubby and I gather, bringing pencils and paper.  I bring the calendar.  We go through each day of the week, one day at a time, and each child writes down the basics of his schedule; who has practice, what kind, when we're leaving, plus homework and chore time.  Once we get through the week, the kids then go through to decide where they can put their individual items; laundry, practice piano, speech practice, finish any long-term school projects, collect trash, relax and play time. 

Each day, instead of being locked in the van, they head to the house and get started. They go over their individual schedules, and I don't say one word.  The only help I give them is a little warning at 5:00, for those who are in rooms without clocks.  At the scheduled departure time, I leave.  No hollering, no crazy rush.  No forgotten to-dos.  It has been beautiful.

Now, before you get all impressed, they aren't following through with the schedule just because I asked them to.  They do have an incentive.

Even at the ages they are, a prize box is a wonderful thing.  I used one of my free mornings with only one child to gather small, cheap prizes; books from the resale book store, packs of Yu-gi-oh cards, Angry birds eraser puzzles, Silly Putty, candy.  There are at least a few things each child is itching to get his/her hands on.  There is no particular day that I let the kids choose an item from the box.  If I notice that a child is trying his best to get everything done and done well for several days in a row, I'll tell him to pick a prize.

I am all for incentives when a child, or even a teenager, is learning a new task.  It won't go on forever, but long enough for all of the kids to learn the new habit and get a handful of prizes.  And it works!

Does everyone follow the schedule every day?  Of course not.  But the moment I hand out a prize to someone, everyone is silently reminded to hop to and work a bit harder at getting their tasks checked off their lists.

There are still occasional arguments.  There are occasional searches for missing soccer socks.  But things are better.  Much, much better.

Another problem on its way to being solved.

And it makes me happy.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Shorts

After finishing dinner, which included some delicious ribs, Hubby went to give the bones to the dogs.  In my concern for the dogs, I jumped and said, "You can't feed those to the dogs!  They'll choke!"  Hubby was quick to remind me, "Honey, the dogs have been known to eat pig ribs directly off the dead pig lying in the field.  I think they'll be alright." 


I learned something new about our TV.  If it has been on for a certain number of hours without anyone changing channels, a little message pops up and asks, "Hey, anyone actually watching this?" or something to that effect.   I learned this on the day that both little boys woke up with raging colds, and I wasn't feeling all that well either.  And to the TV we replied, "Shut up.  We don't feel well and will watch as much PBS as we want.  Or at least until the creepy guy starts painting."


I work one day a week in a preschool with a yeller.  Not an angry-yeller, but the kind that Seinfeld would hate.  The "since you don't speak English very well, it might help if I talk really loudly and enunciate every syllable" kind of yell.  She does this all day, as we have four Burmese kids in our room.  I was going to pick Turken up from his classroom, and I could hear her down the hall and around the corner talking to a Burmese family.  "DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHOW AND TELL MEANS?  SHOW AND TELL?  THE KIDS BRING THINGS IN FOR THE WEEK'S LETTER.    TODAY WAS A.  THEY COULD BRING AN APPLE.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"  And she did this for each of the four Burmese parents.  I think the Burmese still in Burma might now know that we have show and tell at our preschool.


The kids and I were looking something up on the computer, so they were all around and on top of me.  As we all focused on the screen, Cuckoo quietly, nonchalantly said, "I'm peeing."  It didn't register until my lap felt a bit warm.  Yes, yes you are peeing.  AAAAHHHH!!  Could have sworn that kid was potty trained.  Hasn't had an accident for months now.  Really, the only person who should be peeing on me is me, and that's only when I cough or laugh extra forcefully. 

Have a lovely day! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dreams. The Sleeping Kind.

When I finally go to bed at night, I fully expect to have a nice, peaceful rest before the alarm (or Buttercup doing her hair) jars me out of my slumber.  Unfortunately, that's not how it went last night.

First, Phoenix irritated the tar out of me.  We were trying to get to a doctor's appointment, and he was adamant that we had to bring a mess of sports equipment with us.  Time was getting short, 12 minutes until the appointment time, and he's running out to the car with a tennis racket to put in the trunk.  He's crying, I'm hollering while starting to drive off and leave him.  With 8 minutes before the appointment, and us being a 25 minute drive away, I lost my cool.  He's hysterical, chasing after the car with a soccer ball and a kickball, I'm hollering that I am completely done waiting for him.  It was ridiculous.

The altercation between Phoenix and me was interrupted by Hubby.  He was a bit frisky, but before anything could happen, plans got derailed by Buttercup, who was sitting in the hallway just outside our door, drawing pictures of monsters.

Even in my sleep I can't get any peace.  (None of the above actually happened.  All dreams.  No doctor appointment, no friskiness.  All dreams.  Just felt the need to clarify that.)

I have always been fascinated by dreams.  I've had vivid ones my entire life, and Hubby has had his share to make me even more intrigued.

There are the dreams that scare the pee out of you, where you or someone you love dies.  I once woke myself up screaming my step-mother's name.  I had been dreaming that I was having a snack in my bedroom in the basement.  I started choking, and was desperately trying to call for help.  In my dream my step-mom was the only person at home, and I was trying with all my might to scream her name.  In my dream, I couldn't make a sound, but in reality, I was screaming my head off and woke myself up.  I'm just glad that I really did have a bedroom in the basement.  My step-mom and I never had a warm and fuzzy relationship.  It would have been beyond awkward for both of us if she had actually heard me. 

I once dreamt that Hubby (before he was my Hubby) was sick and that his stomach exploded.  Really.  Went KABOOM and splatted all over.  As you would imagine, the explosion killed him.  First thing in the morning I was on the phone, making sure that he in fact was still alive and didn't have a stomach ache.

Then there are the dreams that make you so completely angry, you just can't shake it.  I have had several dreams in which I cought Hubby cheating on me.  Blatantly.  Like sitting in a throne (I know, a throne?), bosomy, bikini-clad ladies draped all over him, completely unfazed by the fact that I'm screaming my head off at him about what a jerk he is.  I woke up furious with him for how he treated me.  The first time it happened, the poor guy had no idea how to handle it.  He tried to use logic, which of course is never going to work when we're talking about infidelity.  Over time he's learned.  The last time this happened, he simply hugged me and said, "I'm so sorry that in your dream I was such a lout.  I'll try to never do it again."  Is it a coincidence that I've only had these dreams when I was pregnant?

Hubby has dreams, but he can't just keep them to himself.  Early in our marriage, he would wake me up just to tell me a joke.  For instance, he once shook me awake to ask, "Why is the M&M lady at the end of our bed?"  In my sleepy stupor, I was searching around, trying to figure out what he was seeing.  After a minute or so, he said, "I'm just kidding.  There's no M&M lady," and rolled over to go back to sleep.  In the morning, when I let him know that I don't appreciate such nonsense, he was completely baffled.  He had no recollection of it. 

Then there are the scary dreams, the nightmares, that have some sort of monster chasing after you.  I have had a few where I was being attacked by a pack of dogs.  I only came out of it when Hubby woke me up.  Apparently, I had put up a good fight in my dream, as Hubby was awoken by my kicks and punches.

I have never studied my dreams, let alone thought about what they mean.  I just find them interesting.  But while thinking about them this morning, I decided to Google "dream interpretations".  Wow.  There are a lot of people wanting to know what their dreams mean.  And the types of dreams?  I no longer think mine are all that odd.

For instance, go to  There is a wealth of "information" out there.  There are dream symbols, and a whole section on body parts.  I went there to see what "stomach exploding" might mean, and got completely distracted by the other body parts listed.

I am so glad I am not the person who dreamt about her anus.  How exactly does one dream about her anus?  Dreaming about your anus "signifies negative emotions a person may be holding in and repressing."  Duh.

Or an armpit dream.  It "may refer to something or some place that is smelly".  Perhaps your husband is facing you, breathing his smelly, sleepy breath all over you?

If you dream about tearing out someone's entrails, get some help.  It signifies your own cruel intents to further your own interest and gains.  Cruel, selfish bugger you are.

If you dream that you "have a unibrow" you may be keeping too much of your emotions inside.  You may be trying to hide something.  Like the fact that you can't afford tweezers?

If you are a woman who dreams about her own hairy legs, then it suggests that you are too domineering.  You may be overly controlling in a relationship. If you are trying to cover up your hairy legs, it points to your passive aggressive nature.  It in no way signifies that you have just been celebrating the fact that the temperature has cooled enough to let your lazy side take over and have simply chosen to let the shaving slide for a few days.  Maybe a week.  Maybe two.

To dream of your liver means you need to evaluate your alcohol consumption.  That or you are being belittled by someone.  Perhaps the bartender?

Apparently, people have dreams about squeezing pus out of their nipples. That one just sends shivers down my spine.  Those poor souls are having negative feelings about relationships.

I know a few people who are probably having dreams about bugs crawling out of their noses.  If you are, you need to learn when to get out of other people's business and respect their privacy.

My word. I could go on and on, but I don't have time.

If this information is correct, (and being on the internet, it must be, right?) I fully expect to have a dream where I have three legs and someone is ripping my head off, all while I desperately scratch my itchy right hand.  Although, I would much prefer a dream in which I gaze at my ring finger until my eyes roll back into my head so I can see my brain.

I just pray I don't dream about teeth.  Nothing good can come from dreaming about teeth.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This Little Piggy Went to Market...

Let's all take a great big sigh of relief, shall we?

Today, three little piggies went to market, and I couldn't be happier.   For one, three pigs were still alive long enough to make it to market.  Constantly worrying that at any moment a pig could either be killing himself or be getting killed by a coyote is completely exhausting.  Secondly, feeding those pigs in the morning was really cramping my style and making mornings way too busy.  Can't wait until after the sun comes up in order to feed the pigs, because there won't be time to shower and do my hair before we leave for school.  Don't want to shower before I feed the pigs, because there is always a good chance I will be covered in mud when I return from the pen. 

But those days are over.  I'm down to only feeding six kids and myself in the morning.  And while there is a good chance I'll be covered in food by the end, it won't require me to reshower.

People always ask how we get the pigs from our pen to the butcher, so I'm sure there are many of you wondering the same thing.  So, here you have "How Two Fake Farmers and Two Legit Farmers Catch Three Pigs".

First, Legit Farmer #1 backs the tractor up to the barn door.  This gives us a few inches through which we must squeeze these animals.  Legit Farmer#1 sits on the tractor while Hubby and I get started.  Our first attempt is to cross our fingers and try to do it the easy way.

Note:  Unfortunately, Buttercup was already dressed for school.  In addition there just wasn't room in the barn for a photographer.  So, I drew some illustrations for you.  In case you don't recognize us, blue is me, green is Hubby or legit farmers, and pink is the pig.

I managed to get that pig all the way up to the tractor door by tempting him with that one apple.  Unfortunately, none of the men saw this as an opportunity to jump in and finish the job.  Sometimes I wish this didn't have to be a child- friendly blog.  Really I do.  So many jokes.  Oh so many  inappropriate jokes.

When that attempt failed, we got serious.  Basically, we ran around the barn, chasing the pigs, who simply turned, came towards us, and blew right by.  See, each pig is at least 120 pounds heavier than any human in that barn, and unlike the dog, a pig is quite difficult to tackle.  They are slippery little buggers.

When it was obvious to all that Hubby and I were failing miserably, the Legit Farmers came in to help.  We managed to get the biggest one over to the tractor, and it looked like we finally had him.  That is until the pig turned, ran past Legit Farmer #1, came right at me, and ducked right between my legs.

Keep in mind that this pig is over 300 pounds when I tell you that... I got stuck on top of it.  As the pig raced through the barn, all I could do is pray that he didn't try to bust through that fence you see there, where my head would surely have gotten torn off at the neck.  I finally managed to fall off the pig without being killed or injured, however my pride was taken down yet another notch.

I know.  The unspoken jokes are killing you.  Hubby saved them up all day, and as soon as the kids went to bed he began a little game he called, "How many jokes can I do in 20 seconds?"  He came up with 13, and not one is appropriate for a child-friendly blog.  Such a shame.  Because they are hysterical, despite the fact they are all at my expense.
Things really got serious after that.

Hubby and Legit Farmer #2 grabbed some weapons.

Calm down. They only grabbed some gates.

our weapons of choice

The pig fought like his life depended on it, but between the four of us, we finally managed to get that stubborn pig up to the tractor pen.  Unfortunately, that's as far as the men could get.  I was in the back, holding the barn door closed.  The pig kept burying his snout in the crack between the tractor pen and the barn door.  For five minutes, Hubby slapped at the pig's leg, Legit Farmer #1 pulled up on it's tail, and Legit Farmer #2 tried pushing it from the side. 

My motto is "If it ain't working, do something different."  So I told them to stay put.  I'd take care of this.  That's the exact moment that the pig pooped all over Legit Farmer #1's pants.  His only response was, "Guess I should have left my old pants on."  Apparently he chose to wear his good jeans.  Silly, optimistic man.  After all of these years, he should really know better.

So, I left the men standing there, exhausting themselves while doing absolutely nothing.

The only exit from the barn, since the pig and three men were blocking the door, was to climb through the skinny little space between the hastily erected fence and the barn roof. 

At 10:00 last night, in the pitch-black dark, after the pigs had gone to bed, Hubby and I used our powers of stealth to sneak down and put the fence up in order to keep the pigs in the barn for the morning festivities.  This is how fake farmers operate:

Bungie cords, people.  Six of them.  An impenetrable wall, I tell you.  For a pig.  Not so for an ingenious fake farmer.

Anyway, I climbed through that little space, walked through poo and mud, climbed the fence to get out of the pen, and climbed into the tractor pen. 

I took control of the situation.  I grabbed the bull by the horns. 

OK, so they didn't actually tell me, "Nice work," but they totally should have.

Literally?  I grabbed the pig by the ears.  I had learned from the "Great Pig Drowning" that a pig's ears are handy little things.  So, I grabbed it's ears, tugged it out of it's hiding place, and got it pointed in the right direction.  Then, it was a simple matter of tempting him with another apple to get him all the way into the pen. 

Once you get the leader of the pack, the others fall in line.  Within minutes we had all three pigs in the tractor pen, ready to go.

Each year, Hubby and I discuss the fact that I don't command much respect from Legit Farmers.  It seemed that to those old school farmers, I was the city girl, the wife, who had no business being out with the animals.

This year, I think I might have broken through.  I might have earned some respect.  If it weren't for the fact that I rode a pig, backwards no less, I might even be considered one of the guys.

As a little side note, Legit Farmer #1 was surprised to see that we only had three pigs.  When we told him that one had drowned itself, Legit Farmer #2 spoke up.  He said that when he bought the farm he now owns, he was told that one year the previous owner had 30 pigs drown themselves all in one night.  He has a great big cement horse trough that had filled with rain water.  The pigs got thirsty, (remember, when the leader does something all follow) went to the horse trough, and got stuck.  All drowned.  Can you even imagine??  Makes my dead pig wrangling look quite unblogworthy, doesn't it?

So, another year of pig-raising has come and gone.  Another year of good eating is to come.

And I have the bruises and sore muscles to prove it.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pardon Me While I Sharpen My Scissors

When Buttercup was five years old, she got a pair of princess pajamas for Christmas.  She was thrilled to bits to have a new nightgown, so she ran upstairs to put it on. 

A few minutes later, she came downstairs in some old PJ's, crying her eyes out.  She was sobbing so hard I couldn't understand a word of what she was trying to tell me.  Finally, several minutes later, I was able to get her calmed down enough to answer the question, "Why aren't you wearing your new pajamas?"

She hiccuped in reply:  "They were loose and not snug fitting and if I wear them I will catch fire!"

My poor, dear Buttercup was able to read fluently at age three, so when she saw the tag on her brand new princess nightgown that read

"For child's safety, garment should fit snugly.  This garment is not flame resistant.  Loose-fitting garment is more likely to catch fire."

she honestly thought that if she wore those pajamas, she was going to burst into flames in the middle of the night.

It took me a full five minutes to convince her that she would be completely safe.  We had to explain that clothes don't spontaneously combust.  We had to explain that in order for her nightgown to catch fire there had to actually be a fire.  No one in our house smokes.  Our fireplace doesn't work.  We won't be building a bonfire in December.  Finally, finally, she had enough reasons to believe us and put the new nightgown on.

Who?  Why?  What happened to make this stupid law get on the books? 

Are there two year olds getting out of bed to play with matches?

Are five year olds getting up to sneak a smoke while their parents snooze next door?

Are parents sneaking into their children's beds to smoke and then dropping ashes on them?

Are children actually spontaneously combusting?

It completely baffles me.

Yesterday I was flipping through the new issue of Parents magazine.  There was an article on fire safety giving the usual tips, including not leaving the kitchen when something is on the stove.  At the end of the article, it had a box titled, "The Lowdown on Kids' Pajamas".

Was I finally going to get the answer as to why?

Um, no.

Let's walk through the information they did give, shall we?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires pajamas size 9 months to 14 to meet federal flammability standards.  Huh?  Why nine months?  They are leaving those poor four month old babies completely vulnerable.

In the 1970's, many kinds of chemicals were banned from being used in kids' clothing.  The 1970's??  This has been a law that long?  Of course kids in the 60's and 70's needed flame retardant pajamas.  All of their parents were constantly smoking cigarettes, if not weed, and were in constant danger of being lit on fire. 

You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting enough if the label reads: "For child's safety, garment should fit snugly.  This garment is not flame resistant.  Loose fitting garment is more likely to catch fire."  First off, apparently the labels haven't changed in the last seven years.  Secondly, what???  You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting by reading a label?  How about,"You'll know your child's sleepwear is tight-fitting enough if he has a muffin-top overflowing the waistband"?  Or if he can't get a full breath into his lungs.  Or if you can tell that the child is an outy and not an inny.  And what about those scrawny kids?  The ones who are so stinkin' skinny that even tight-fitting garments are loose.  Are they just doomed?

And lastly, they close with this, "Loose-fitting clothing made of cotton or cotton blends should never be worn as sleepwear because it catches fire easily."  So many comments I hardly know where to start.  Perhaps with HOW ARE MY KIDS GOING TO CATCH FIRE????  I'm thinking that the chances of my kids catching fire are a whole lot greater in the daytime, when they are awake and actually playing with fire, in their cotton blend shirts, pants, socks, and shoes.

That's it.  No explanation.  No lowdown.  Just me, sitting here, wondering.  Wondering how many kids have to be scared out of wearing their favorite new pajamas before this "federal flammability standard" is revoked.  Burned, if you will.  If they aren't going to toss the law, at least get rid of the blasted tags.

I'm guessing, based on what I know of commissions, and federal commissions at that, that this will never go away.  In order for children to sleep safely, I'm going to have to wield my scissors and physically cut off every single stupid tag hanging off of every pair of loose-fitting pajamas being sold across this great nation. 

I have no doubt Buttercup will help me.

Will you grab your scissors?  Will you join us in ridding our world of stupid tags that are scaring our children? 

Vote for change!  With your vote, we can fix the economy and create new jobs!  We can fix our schools!

OK, I've seen too many political ads.  I've gone too far. 

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm a Fool for Football

Today, I became a star.  A TV star, no less.  My mug was even on ESPN.  Not just ESPN 4, but the real, original ESPN. 

And it was so much fun, regardless of the fact that I made a complete fool of myself.

We'll work our way up to the foolishness.  First, I must tell you of my lackadaisical relationship with football.

I only considered myself a fan of the Cleveland Browns because I lived in a town near Cleveland.  The only player I knew by name was Bernie Kozar, and that's only because he almost led the team to a Super Bowl one year.  That one year, all over Northeast Ohio, you couldn't get away from the song.

Bernie, Bernie
How you can throw
Super Bowl

That song is unfortunately taking up valuable space in my brain because it was played non-stop.  I would much rather have that space to remember things like my kids' names, to keep me from looking like a dweeb going through the whole list to get to the name of the one child at which I am yelling.  But alas, the song stays.

All to say, I haven't been a football fan, despite the fact that I grew up ten minutes away from the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I drove past the mecca of football greatness every day on my way to work, yet I didn't step foot in it until I took my kids five years ago.


Each year, Canton hosts the Hall of Fame game to officially start the football preseason.  Since my dad was a policeman and worked the games, I was able to go to many of them. I in no way saw this opportunity as a big a deal.  The Hall of Fame shares it's stadium with the high school right next door, so it isn't a big stadium.  Certainly nothing like the stadiums in the cities where the teams normally play.  To watch the games, I actually just sat in the grass on a hill behind the end zone.  The stadium kinda felt like home, since I ran on the track around the field many, many times in my high school track career.

After leaving Canton, I went through a brief period of trying to like football.  That whole newlywed thing of, "I love him and I want to know all about the things he likes" type of trying to like football.  I learned the basics, but just couldn't get excited about the game.

One weekend, Hubby made me go to a Purdue game.  I was trying really hard to stay focused, follow the game, and cheer at appropriate times.  At one point, a lull in the game if you will, I stood up to get a better look at something on the field.  I was on my feet for all of five seconds, when from behind me came the screeching sound of a crazy person.  Startled, I turned around.  Standing a few rows behind me was a large woman in a muumuu, stringy hair flying, with a face that was completely encompassed by a horrific scowl directed fully and completely at me.   Then she screeched again, and I heard these words come out of her mouth:

"Down in front!  There is a cripple back here!" 

I don't know if all of the handicapped seating was taken, or if there was no such thing as handicapped seating back then, or if there even was a crippled person with her.  I didn't take the time to look or ask.  Completely mortified, I immediately sat my rear back in my chair.  While I turned bright red from embarrassment, Hubby and the many folks around us tried to contain their laughter.  I don't think they tried very hard.

Ever since that day, I have been scared to death to stand up in any arena, for any reason.  I can, and do, laugh about the whole thing, making fun of both her and me, but you won't catch me standing up before everyone behind me does. 

These days, the only football games I go to are Colts' games, and I only go to those if there is an event with Hubby's clients.  I've been to a few, and while I enjoyed myself, it wasn't because I was watching the game.

Today, all of that changed.  Today, I watched every single play, knew exactly what was going on, and had the time of my life. 

Hubby and I were invited to attend with some clients, as usual.  But this time, we were in a suite right behind an end zone.

Not one spectator separated me from the field.  Oh my word, I had a blast.

You know you are close to the action when you can hear the audibles from the quarterback.

I could have reached over and pulled the hair of that Fox Sports guy in green in order to get him out of my shot, but I thought it may have been rude to do so.
You know you are probably too close when you can see the colors of the jock straps the players are wearing.  Not that I was looking, or even trying to distinguish the color, but when they are lining up right in front of you, there's not much else to see.

I talked to the kids at halftime, and they said that they saw me on TV right before the opening kick-off.  It was just me and the receiver on the screen.  Everyone was happy to see me, but the moment that made me a star came later in the game.

At halftime, the Colts were winning 20-6.  During the second half, their playing tanked, and with 39 seconds or so left in the game, the Vikings tied it all up.

The Colts managed to get down the field with just a few successful passes, right towards us.  They decided to go for the 53 yard field goal.

The net went up right in front of me.  Just in case the kick was good, the net was there to protect us spectators. 

I had my phone directed at the crossbar, waiting for the kick to come through, knowing the kids would love a photo of the ball hitting the net.

Well, the kick was good,

and the ball hit the net.

However, when the ball hit the net, it hit it hard enough to knock the net behind me.  In my naivete, I thought that was awesome.  There was no net to mess up my view of the celebration taking place on the field and in the stands.  I was jumping up and down, screaming my head off.  On one of my downs, my foot hit something.  I turned around to find that I had just stepped on THE GAME-WINNING BALL!!!  I bent down to get it, not realizing that by doing so, I was basically putting my rear into the camera.  Someone else managed to snatch the ball before I got it, so I stood up and turned back to the celebration.  Well, that is when they decided to pull the net back to where it belongs, which just happened to be on the ground in front of me.

Remember I said the net had been knocked behind me?

Well, when they started pulling it up and around, I got stuck.  Like a fisherman who accidentally catches a whale, those workers didn't catch a ball, but instead a 5'7" mess of a woman, flailing around trying to untangle herself before being pulled into the wide unknown. 

It was completely ridiculous.  I'm just glad that even though it felt like an eternity, it was only a matter of seconds before I got out.  Just in time to turn around to see Hubby laughing his tail off.

We got to see the whole thing replayed several times on the big screen.  Over and over again I got to see my rear end.  I've gotta say, it looked just a tad on the huge side up on that screen.  I do believe I need to keep an eye on my M&Ms intake each day. 

If you want to see the game highlights, go here.  When it gets to the end and the big kick, don't blink.  I'm the one in white jeans who, after the big kick, jumps up with arms raised up high.  I guess I'm over my fear of standing in front of a "cripple", because I didn't pay one lick of attention to the people behind me.  Fortunately for me, but not so for you, the video cuts out after that.  You don't get to see my big bum or my daring escape from the clutches of the end zone net.

Now that I've had this experience, football games will never be the same.  Up in the nosebleeds, I won't get to hear the ball being caught.  Up on the second level, I won't get to see the face of the quarterback.  In any other seat, I won't have the chance to step on a game ball.

I guess I just need to o stay positive.  Be grateful for the fact that no matter where I sit, I can always make a fool of myself.  It's pretty much guaranteed.  At least I can get a blog post out of it.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gone With the Wind Can Get You Through Anything

Hubby and I like to take tours.  Lots of tours.  Tours of anything and everything.  We've toured tons of old mansions, presidents' homes, and battlefields.  We've been through establishments making candy, beer, and wine.  We've even toured the old hospital of an asylum where experiments and surgeries were done, where jars of brains and body parts lined the walls.  We can safely say that I know my tour-guide lingo.  I know how to point things out and tell the stories.  So, today, rest assured that you are in good hands when you take a tour of our kitchen.  You may not want a tour of our kitchen, but there is a point, and it's free, so just go with it.

I always like a tour that has the tour-guide in period attire, so picture me in a big ol' Civil War era gown.  Scarlett O'Hara-like.  But not the curtain dress.  I'm not a fan of tassels. 

Welcome to The Coop.   The house was built in 1866, and the land was dedicated to being a large pig farm.  Five families have owned it since then, and with each family the house was changed to fit their style and needs.  We'll start our tour in the kitchen.  Please watch your step as you walk through.  The kids aren't very good at putting their shoes away, and I'd hate for anyone to trip.

The kitchen was added to the house in 1930, the same year plumbing was added to the house.  Prior to 1930, there was a smoke house behind the main house where some cooking was done, as well as a fireplace in the other room.   There are two cisterns and pumps where the original homeowners could get water.

If you look to your left, you will see a little bit of each of the homeowners in the way this wall is set up. 

1.  On your far left is the pantry.  When this kitchen was built, we assume the pantry doors worked.  That would have made the use of the pantry much easier.  As it is, the person putting groceries away must simply toss the food to the back, where Mom either forgets about it or wrenches her back trying to reach for it.  The pantry has been left in it's original state, mostly because no one knows how to fix it.

2.  There is no way that the family who added the kitchen could have predicted the modern conveniences we enjoy.  Notice that the refrigerator is simply floating in the middle of the wall.  When the kitchen was built in 1930, there was no such thing as a refrigerator like this, so there is no special place for it.  The fourth homeowners simply stuck it up against the wall.  When the current owners had to purchase a new fridge, they simply went with the status quo.

3.  Just to the right of the fridge is a fun little detail of the house.  Through this window, you can see how the door that used to be here was bricked up.  We know there was a door, because there are steps outside leading up to this very spot.  Why the former owner decided to put a window here, we don't know.  We're hoping it's not just so they could show off their fancy new curtains.

4.  Below the "window" you'll see the batteries, paper, and cardboard waiting to be recycled.  Back when the house, and then the kitchen, were built, there was no trash service.  Trash was simply thrown into a pit in the back yard.  Of course, they didn't have nearly as much trash back then, either.  This current family is very conscious of the environment and sacrifice the look of their kitchen for the sake of the planet.

At this point, does anyone have questions?  OK, let's move on.

If you will turn your attention to the back wall, you will notice the cabinets and counter top.   Sadly, the back splash hasn't withstood the test of time.  We are fortunate, though, that the wallpaper was put on securely.  It's a very good representation of the time period.

Moving on around the room, you will see the shoe area.

It is unclear what the early families did with their footwear.  Of course, they didn't have cleats or running shoes back then and wouldn't have use for a shoe cubby like this.  However, we do know that this was a pig farm, so there was plenty of mud- and poo-covered boots.  As there is no mud room in which to enter and clean up before entering the kitchen, we would love to know how they kept the kitchen clean.

The Meijer ice cream bucket is where the current owners collect the compost material.  In days past, they would have had a slop bucket.  We would love to know where they kept that, too.

To the right of the shoes you will find the door.  The one that goes directly outside and allows the mud- and poo-covered footwear into the house.

We have to assume that since 1866 mothers have been annoyed with the filth of her floor and the smell of the boots thanks to this door. 

To the right of the door, you will find the sink, and above it the window that actually looks outside.  We think that the previous owner didn't actually care for fresh air, as he painted the window shut.

We ask that you please don't touch the faucet.  The current owners were told to install a water-saver by their children's school.  They obliged, always wanting to help the environment.  Unfortunately, the piece broke after just a few months, and they can't get the piece off.   If you were to use the faucet, it is likely that you would get sprayed with an unruly rush of water.

To conclude our tour of the kitchen, I ask that you look up.

You are fortunate to be able to see some of the original pipes from when the kitchen was built in 1930.  There were a couple of leaks in the upstairs bathroom, so a few pipes did need replacing.  Notice how rusty and old those pipes look?  That is an indication that these pipe could blow at any given moment.

Well, we have concluded our tour of the kitchen.  Kindly keep moving on into the dining room and stop at the line of Matchbox cars.  There I will give you a history of the filthy pink carpet...


This morning I signed away a good chunk of our savings in order to get a new kitchen.

In the next two weeks I will be picking out cupboards, counter tops, flooring, lockers, faucets, lights, colors, and myriad other things of which I don't even know about yet.

In the meantime I will be packing up every single thing in every single kitchen cupboard.

In three weeks, my kitchen will be ripped apart, down to the studs.  For 4-5 weeks my family will be living with a refrigerator and a grill.  Our downstairs bathroom sink is the size of a dollhouse's sink.  We chose it so the little kids could wash their hands without being held up to the sink.  We never guessed that it was going to have to do for out kitchen sink. 

All day long, I've been wandering around thinking, "What in the world have I just done to myself????"

Sure, it will be a great kitchen.  And the best part is, we will be busting through the back wall to convert that old smoke house into a mud room.  It will be a dream come true.

I'm just having a few panicky moments about the nightmare I will have to endure to get to that beautiful dream.

Since I'm already dressed like her, I wonder, what would Scarlett do in this situation?

When I am looking through all of the choices, my head swimming in shades of brown, I will say, "Great balls of fire!  Don't bother me anymore, and don't call me sugar!" 

OK, I doubt the cabinet guy will call me sugar, but when channelling Scarlett O'Hara, you just have to go with it.

When the boxes are looming, simply waiting for me to fill them with crap from the kitchen, but I have school, soccer practices, cross country meets, laundry, and thousands of other things calling me, I'll simply say, "I can't think about that right now.  If I do, I'll go crazy.  I'll think about that tomorrow."

And when my kitchen is torn up, we have no stove or oven, no sink big enough to fill a cup, food and can openers stuffed in boxes stacked in the piano room, and children rolling on the floor, whining for a decent meal, I will go outside, stand under our prettiest tree, grab some dirt and proclaim, "As God is my witness they're not going to lick me.  I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again.  No, nor any of my folk.  If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill.  As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again." 

OK, I doubt it will come to stealing, cheating, or killing, but I'm sure the kids will be reassured to know that I would do anything in order to get them something good in their bellies.

If any of you have ever done a full kitchen remodel, give me some tips.  Share your hard-earned wisdom.  Show me the mistakes I need to avoid.

And if you don't have any tips, at least send some wine.  I'm afraid Scarlett and I are going to need some by the end of all of this.
Have a lovely day!