Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat. A Love Story

We didn't meet in the usual way.  A wise matchmaker first brought us together back in the winter of 1996.  It was November.  My 25th birthday, to be exact.  A large box was put in front of me by my dear, sweet, gift-giving-challenged husband.  I opened it to find a bulky, black, plain, boring, Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat.  It was not love at first sight.  I looked to COW with questioning eyes, and, sensing my confusion over this expensive, ugly gift (He was in law school, making no money, while I was teaching in a Catholic school making $18,000/year.), he said, "It will keep you warm when you have recess duty."  That, of course, melted my heart, so I agreed to give the coat a try.

The first day I wore it to school, I was not excited.  Besides the fact I was being overwhelmed by puffiness, there was a chance that the fashion choice would dim the coolness factor I currently held in the eyes of the middle school students I taught.

Recess came, and I was to be outside with the kids.  I donned my new Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat and headed out.

Sweet Mary, the coat may have been ugly and gigantic, but that husband of mine sure knows how to pick out a functional coat!  I was warm.  For the first time since winter rolled into South/Central Indiana, I was not shivering to death.  Not only did the coat keep my body warm, it melted the iciness I felt for Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat.  I fell in love.

For two years, Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat kept me toasty warm out on that playground.  It has fuzzy pockets to keep my hands warm.  It has a zipper and snaps to provide a double barrier against wind.  It's long enough to cover my rear and the tops of my legs.  It has huge outer pockets to hold everything I could possibly need while working outside.  I didn't even care what the middle school kids thought about it.

Then, in May of 1998, COW graduated and Phoenix was very close to being born.  I left teaching, and we moved to a house near Indianapolis.

With no daily recess duty, and an attached garage on our house, I no longer needed Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat on a regular basis.  I went back to wearing a more attractive but less functional coat, and Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat hung on a hanger.  The only time it came out of storage was on days the kids wanted to play in the snow.  Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat kept me warm for those hours, but was promptly returned to the closet.

Our relationship took a turn when we moved to the farm.  Once again, I was having to work out in the cold days of winter.  Each day, Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat waited for me to retrieve him out of the closet.  I picture it waiting like a faithful dog, excited to go out, but patiently waiting for it's owner.

Through all of the runs to the chicken coop, the shoveling of the walkway and driveway, and the disposing of dead animals, Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat has kept me from freezing to death.

In the new mudroom, it now hangs on a hook of distinction.  The closest hook to the door.  The coat first grabbed when I need to brave the wind and ice and snow.  It has aged well, looking exactly like it did all those years ago.  It's a little less puffy, a bit more manageable, but still ugly and wonderfully functional.

Three nights ago, I wore Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat to take Buttercup to soccer.  My plan was to stay in the car and wait through her 1 hour, 45 minute practice.  The indoor facility isn't known for being very warm, and I don't get along with most of the parents from her team, so going in held no appeal for me.  Wearing Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat meant I could turn the car off for longer periods of time, thus not wasting a ton of gas.

As we were trying to outrun the wind chill, speeding down the walkway to the car, my foot hit the on patch of ice on the path.   I went down, hard, landing on my back and right elbow.

Buttercup got a bit scared and ran into the house, screaming for her dad to come quickly.  I simply stayed on the ground taking inventory of my bones and muscles.  By the time COW came running out in his slippers and sweats, I was already getting up.  I was fine.  Not one thing was broken or even hurt all that much.

I owe it all to Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat.  All that gorgeous puffiness broke my fall and saved me from yet another trip to OrthoIndy.  After 17 years, it's still proving its usefulness.

I love you, Eddie Bauer Puffy Coat.

And I love you, COW, for knowing I would.

Before you in the Peanut Gallery get on my case, I tried to get a photo of myself IN the coat, but Turken was having trouble getting one that wasn't completely blurry, and my arms aren't long enough to do a full-body selfie. 

Do you have an article of clothing you love?  That you've had for years and years?

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Do More By 6:35 Than Most People Do By Ever

5:55  The alarm goes off.  I head downstairs to get things ready for breakfast while COW gets the kids up.

5:57  While looking down at the counter, a think I see a shadow go across.  I look up, see nothing, go on with what I was doing.

6:01  Star comes downstairs and says, "There's a bat flying around in our room," then sits down to eat some cereal like nothing happened.

6:02  COW comes downstairs with Turken and asks if we want to take care of it now or later.  I answer "NOW!" because that was a dumb question.  When else would we take care of it??  I think he meant he wanted me to take care of it after he left the house.

6:03  COW gets the (what normal people use to catch butterflies) net, handed it to me, and went to take a shower.

6:04  Net in hand, I tentatively opened their door a crack.  Nothing.  No bat flying around.  I searched the room to no avail.

6:07  I gave up the search and headed downstairs to move breakfast along.

6:08  Turken is sitting at the counter crying, because no one will put milk in his cereal.  When I shoot a questioning glance at the big kids, Phoenix responds, "Mostly because we don't understand what a whiney ahwahahejahehalsd means."  Touche.

6:09  Giant breaks in with, "It's like I woke up in a cops movie.  Dad woke us up and told us to stay down.  We were to stop, drop, and roll our way to the door, because the bat was flying so low.  It was so low, I had to wait for it to fly to the other side of the room before I could crouch down and get around Star's bed."

6:11  Buttercup enters the kitchen and says, "I had to use the upstairs bathroom, because the downstairs one is clogged."

6:13  Giant says, "I wish today was Dress Like Your Parents Day.  I'd go in carrying a net and a plunger."

6:15-6:20  The boys get dressed for school in their room without batting an eye.

6:20  I drove Phoenix to meet his carpool.

6:26  I return home to find the rest of the family at the door waiting to leave.

6:35  I head upstairs to find the boys' room door and my bedroom door closed.  Apparently, COW closed the boys' door to make sure the bat didn't go out, then closed ours just in case it did.  I looked in the boys' room again, but still no bat.

As I write this, we have at least one bat in the house.  Could be two, since whatever caused that shadow over the counter wouldn't have had time to make it upstairs before the upstairs bat was discovered.

I have no idea where it/they are.

I have two thoughts about the bat situation:

1.  What does it say about us that not one person even flinched about a bat loose in the house?

2.  I do not want anyone in my family to be this guy:

How has your day started?

Regardless, I hope you have a lovely day!


8:48pm  Still no sight of the bat.  The boys and I searched their room.  We stripped their beds, looked behind every curtain and piece of furniture, inside every closet.  No bat.

9:02  I left them with a kiss and a "let me know if it shows up".

10:14  Sitting at my computer downstairs, COW sick in bed, I hear a bang and someone running down the stairs.  Phoenix says, "It's back."

10:15  Wielding my butterfly net, I turn on the light in the boys' room and see it circling around.  Star stays in bed, hiding under his blanket.  Giant never wakes up.  I watch it swoop for a bit to figure out it's pattern, then swing.  Caught it in one swish of the net.  I grabbed a notebook which just happened to be near me, trapped the bat in the net, and took it outside.  It flew away, making for one happy bat and a house full of happy people.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Introless Ten Things of Thankful, Week 32

1.  I am thankful to be a stay-at-home mom.  It is the only job I've actually stuck with for more than 2 years.  I love it for a whole slew of reasons, but another was pointed out to me today.  Buttercup was telling me about next week's Catholic Schools' Week activities.  On Tuesday, they are supposed to dress up as one of their parents or grandparents.  One friend said she was going to wear a bullet-proof vest and be her dad.  Another friend said she was going to wear a suit like her mom.  Buttercup said, "I'm going to wear sweats and my robe and go as my mom."  That's right, Sister!

2.  I am thankful for Cuckoo's crazy hair.  The sight of his bedhead brightens my every morning.

Sorry, this was the best view I could get.  He wasn't real keen on getting a photo taken this morning.
3.  I am thankful for COW's ability to catch mice.  There was one living in my van.  It was living in the lap of luxury, with a warm(ish) place to escape the vortex, plenty of paper all over the floor with which to build a nest, and a gigantic bag of dog food on which to dine.  I am very grateful that COW trapped it before it could invite its friends for a party.

4.  I probably mentioned this before, but I'm so glad to have kids old enough and responsible enough to babysit.  Both Star and Giant had basketball games on the same night at the same time at two different schools.  Knowing we wouldn't get home until way after the little boys' bedtimes, we left Buttercup home to put them to bed.  I am so grateful that she is not only good at taking care of them, but doesn't mind doing it.

5.  I am thankful to have found a new doctor and have an appointment scheduled for next week.  The blood tests will be taken and another thing will be checked off my to-do list.

6.  I am thankful for my boots.  I have worn them just about every single day since 2014 started.  Bass should start selling them as anti-vortex boots.  The best part is that I bought them 2 or 3 years ago for $20.

7.  I am thankful for Star's ability to do a science fair project on his own.  Have I mentioned I strongly dislike science fairs?  As in I'd rather have 25 vials of blood taken out of my earlobe than help with another science fair. This year, Star has to do one, and I've barely noticed.  He's found times to test his subjects without any help.  The only thing he's asked from me is the purchase of a tri-fold board.  My pleasure, Favorite Child.

8.  I am thankful for handwritten notes by children just learning how to read and write.  Turken, knowing he's not allowed to interrupt me when I'm on the phone, has begun writing notes and handing them to me.  This is the most recent one...

He's trying to ask if he can put his shoes on to start getting ready to leave.

Cuckoo doesn't have the benefit of age and the ability to read, but he is quite good at spelling words phonetically for a 4 year old.  Today, he was drawing pictures of people and putting their names over the heads.  He spelled "Matthew" exactly the way he says it.  "MAFWU"  Learning to write phonetically is quite difficult when you have yet to master speech.

9.  I am thankful for our mud room.   If you will recall, one year ago we did a gigantic kitchen remodel and added on a mud room.  This addition has changed my life.  I look at my mudroom, with the muddy boots and the thawing chicken waterer and the mud and chicken poo and chicken feathers drug in with it and think, "Good heavens, all of this used to come directly into my kitchen!  How did I live like that?!?!?!"

10.  I am thankful for helpful folks who will drop anything to rescue a damsel in distress.  (Oh hush, I can to be a damsel!)  When I originally wrote this post, I had written, "I'm thankful our cars have started every morning despite the cold."  Yeah, I had to change that, seeing as how it is no longer true.  Cuckoo and I climbed in the van to pick Turken up from kindergarten, only to find that the battery was frozen.  A neighbor came over immediately to jump my car and a friend grabbed Turken from school for me.  A problem that could have been a huge pain in my rear was solved in 15 minutes.

11.  I am thankful for my book club.  We were finally able to get together Friday night after months of not getting together, We even got to see the one book club member who moved to Japan thanks to the magic of modern technology and facetime.  We had read a wonderful book (The Orphan Train) but didn't discuss it for a single minute.  We just spent 4 hours catching up and laughing and enjoying each other's company.

12.  I am thankful for all of you wonderful people who voted and showed support for me.  My ego is going to have to be taken down a notch after all the nice things you said about the blog and all the nice things you did to make sure I got lots of votes. Melody (the one who nominated me) said some of my posts have made her laugh so hard, the orange juice she was drinking came out of her nose.  While I'm glad I can make people laugh, I am very sorry if I have caused anyone pain.  Orange juice out the nose does not sound pleasant.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go here.)  Yes, Mom and Dad, you are allowed to vote, too.

Your turn.  What happy things happened for you this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Polar Vortex, Part Deux. It Isn't Completely Miserable

I have no doubt you have heard plenty of complaining and whining and "I'm so blankety-blank sick of this blankety-blank cold and this blankety-blank snow!"-ing.  Much of it on this blog.  Well, there will be no more of that nonsense!  Yes, it's mind-numbingly cold.  Yes, it's stupidly windy.  Yes, the snow has gone waaay past the point of pretty.  For Pete's sake, it's winter.  We just need to suck it up and get over our cold selves.  Embrace the vortex!  To help you along with this, because I know many of you are going to need a lot of help with this, I have come up with...

Sure, the button thing isn't exactly easy to read, but it's an improvement from past attempts!

1.  There are opportunities for plenty of exercise.  The obvious is the shoveling, and when you live out in the middle of nowhere, there is plenty of it.  A polar vortex is a constant battle between the shoveler and the ferocious wind blowing all the snow onto the newly shoveled areas.  So far, the score is PolarVortex-134, Coop Family-0.  That is a whole mess of exercise!  But don't forget the other, less obvious exercise opportunities, like the "push a shopping cart through the snow- and slush-covered parking lot to your car parked 300 yards away because you chose to grocery shop at the same time as the rest of storm-fearing humanity did".  And I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the muscle-toning which occurs during the "clench those gluteus maximus/upper thigh/kegel muscles as your van slides all willy-nilly through intersections and around turns".  Plenty of ways to build muscle and work up a good sweat.

2.  The snow being blown through the cracks in the storm windows by the ferocious wind makes the cobwebs between the inside window and the storm window so very, very pretty.

3.  There is remarkable satisfaction from the sight of your teens, who believe proper outerwear to be cumbersome and ugly and exceptionally uncool, shivering their barelegged, coatless keisters off.

4.  The number of science experiments to do in the sub-zero cold are limitless.  Our favorites so far are the popular Throw Boiling Water in the Air and See What Happens trick and the less-known How Long Does It Take for Saliva to Freeze on Your Teeth? trial.  (The answer today was .002 seconds.  Smiling outside is frowned upon.)

 5.  You have a better chance of not stepping in dog poop when you do have to go outside.  Even if your dogs are like mine, who prefer to poop in the less-deep snow on the walkway to the house, you should be able to avoid the poo bombs.  Brown shows up really, really well on the snow.  On a related note, you will also be able to tell if your dog is dehydrated or not.  (This one's kinda subtle. Don't eat the yellow snow?)

6.  You will get a better understanding of scenes from your favorite books.  There is one book I remember reading long ago, where the pioneer family had to tie a rope connecting the back door to the barn so they wouldn't get lost on their way back and forth during the storms.  Last night, coming into the house from the car, I was wishing for such a rope.  The wind was blowing so hard, the snow was actually going back up into the air, causing a white-out that tried to take me off my course to the front door.  In short, pioneers were tough cookies.

7.  You get plenty of use out of all those clothes hanging in your closet/stuffed in your drawers.  In order to stay warm, layering is required.  Getting to wear three or four shirts at one time really helps in the cost/use formula.

8.  Those extra pounds you put on during the holidays are being put to good use keeping your organs nice and cozy.  Just like the pipes in your home, the "pipes" in your belly need to be insulated from the cold.  Just imagine how ugly it would be if your internal organs froze and burst!

9.  Each day is a new adventure.  Will school be closed?  Will there be a 2 hour delay?  Will the car start?  Will I be able to find the driveway?  How many lights will I slide through?  Will I be able to make it through another day with the kids underfoot?  Will we have enough ingredients to make French toast?  It all makes life interesting.  And blogworthy.

10.  It makes the one sunshiny day of 33 degrees feel like you are on a vacation in Florida.  Who doesn't like to vacation in Florida?  Break out the beach toys, sunscreen and the flip-flops, and enjoy the fresh air.  Or just take a jog around the neighborhood and get really muddy.  Either one.

My kids, not my neighborhood.

To all my friends and family living through this ridiculous weather, stay warm and keep those spirits up.  Spring will come eventually.  To all my friends and family living in the south, having to endure *gasp* 30 degree temperatures, grab a blanket.  You'll be fine.

Have a lovely day!

****News flash! ****

It was just announced that I have been nominated for a Sheenazing Award in the funniest blog category.

      The Sheenazing Blogger Awards get their name from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. They are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere and honor Venerable 

 It's quite exciting, even though the chance of me winning against these rock stars of blogging is slim to none.  You may know many of the other ladies nominated in all categories, so head on over to A Knotted Life and vote for your favorites!

Now, for real, have a lovely day!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monkey Business

We're going to get sippy cups!

I think those might be napkins stuck inside regular cups.

There will be 2 cakes!

Um, that's just a photo.  It is not reality.

I just want Claire to come.  No one else.

Well, that would be called a date, not a party, and you're too young for that.  We have to invite other people.

I don't want Turken.  He'll just do what I do.

Too bad.  Your brother will be coming.

But it's MY party.

Not if you're going to be unkind it won't.

Have you talked to the person about when the party will be yet?

No.  It's not open yet.

Do you know where it is?

Yes, basically.

How do you know?

There's a map on the back of the brochure.

There's two maps.

We're going to the top one.

Do they both have the same things?


Even the throne?


And I'll get two cakes?

No.  Just one.

How do you know?

Because I'll be bringing it.  They only give us the ice cream.

How long will we be there?

Two hours.

Two whole hours???


When are we going?

I don't know.  I haven't called them to schedule it yet.

Call them.

I can't until we make sure your friends can go.

I only want Claire.

We've been through this.

It says "Be a Monkey".

Yes, it does.

Know how I know?

No, I don't.

Phoenix told me.

That was nice of him.

I'm going to bring my monkey to the party.

Absolutely, yes, you are.


One little dollar raffle ticket with Cuckoo's name on it was placed in the basket in front of the local bounce house birthday party package.

That one little dollar raffle ticket was chosen as the winner.

That one little winning raffle ticket is the cause of my headache.

The only time Cuckoo has stopped talking about this party is when he is asleep.

There is just one big problem.

Cuckoo's birthday isn't until the end of August.

I cannot talk about and be excited for a bounce house party for 7 months straight.

For the first time in the Coop's history, we will celebrate a half birthday.

Yes, February sounds like a great month for a party.

And that deranged-sounding monkey that screeches instead of ooh-ooh-ah-ahs?  Cuckoo will most certainly be bringing it to the party.   It will be the perfect place to "accidentally" lose it.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Don't Ever Say I Don't Listen to My Readers

Children of the World,

When someone is in the kitchen making a meal for you, leave her the heck alone!

Heed this warning, or you, too, will have eggshells for dinner.

To everyone on my case during the TTOT...happy now?

Have a lovely day!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Old, But I'm Alive, TToT Week 31

I am grateful for what I am and have. 
My thanksgiving is perpetual... 
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. 
No run on my bank can drain it 
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

Henry David Thoreau

My thankfuls for the week:

1.  The moon and snow have saved my life.  It's too long and boring to explain our house's floor plan.  Suffice it to say, if that moon wasn't out, and the snow wasn't there to reflect it, I would have killed myself on one of my many walks to the little boys' room or down the stairs in the pitch black of the night.

On a related note, as soon as the wind dies down and the snow stops, COW will be on a 30-ft. ladder to replace the front porch light bulbs.

2.  Buttercup and Phoenix finally have pants to wear to school.  Buttercup hasn't grown out of hers as much as she's destroyed them.  She was down to one pair that fit and didn't have a gigantic hole in them. We got to the mall and found some new ones for her pretty easily. Phoenix has completely outgrown the pants I bought him on the first day of school, to the point where even he was self-conscious about how short they were.  I was finally able to find some online at The Gap.  Let's hope these last him through the end of the year.

3.  I was able to keep my cool this week, despite severe antagonizing by my tired, grouchy children who are not the least bit happy about having to get up at 6:00 each morning after 3 weeks of not getting up at 6:00 each morning.

4.  My house is getting cleaned up and out, thanks to Lisa's post about removing distractions and working on decluttering for a mere 15 minutes each day.  It is amazing how doing little bits each day adds up to great big things over time.

5.  All five kids had great report cards.  I'm especially happy with Star's.  It seems watching his older siblings lose their minds during their 7th grade years, when they decided doing homework wasn't all that important, as long as they did well on tests, made an impression.  The boy has not lost his mind, and has even done better than he did in 6th grade.

6.  My kids really like to read.  Sure, it comes with a gigantic price tag in the form of library fines, but all of that reading is a huge contributor to those great report cards.

7.  The big kids will wrestle with the little kids.  When the big kids were the little kids and we lived in our old house, we had a big family room with not one piece of furniture in it.  Each night, that is where we spent our time, wrestling and just having fun being silly.  Now, COW and I are old.  Wrestling with us isn't what it used to be.  As I type this, I can hear Phoenix, Buttercup, Turken, and Cuckoo in the other room, giggling up a storm, wrestling and beating the tar out of each other.

8.  I am alive.  On Thursday, we had some more snow.  There wasn't much, but the roads were pretty well covered. On the drive to pick Turken up from school, I was taking my time, driving cautiously.  The light turned yellow, so I slowed down.  By the time it turned red, I should have had more than enough time to stop.  Unfortunately, the weight of the van and the slickness of the road combined to prevent me from doing so.  I slid 25 yards and right on through the intersection.   Thank God there were no cars coming.

9.  I got to spend some fun time with Bible study friends on Friday afternoon.  We always have lots of fun, many times laughing so hard we have to wipe tears away.  An odd thing about the group, though, is the age difference.  (It came up today (don't ask how) that I am the only one who is old enough to remember Luke and Laura's wedding.)  With these women, I get to share some tricks of the mom trade.  They seem to find all this weird knowledge and odd tips floating around in my head to be useful.  Today's lesson was on keeping kids' socks and underwear straight.  (Each child (and adult, now that the kids are as big as us.) has his/her own brand of white socks and his/her own brand of underwear.  Sorting is as simple as tossing each brand into its own pile and handing to the owner.)

10.  My family finally understands and follows the rules around here.  Take tonight for instance.  I was quickly putting a salad together, and jazzing it up with carrots, cucumbers and hard-boiled eggs.  There was lots of noise and commotion all around, with people setting the table and talking to me.  At one point, Giant gasped as he saw what I was doing.  There, in the salad, were the egg shells from the hard-boiled egg I was peeling.  I was dropping them right on top of the lettuce instead of the compost bucket.

Immediately, COW and 4 kids started yelling, "Blog post!  Get the camera!"  Someone grabbed me so I couldn't clean up the mess, another grabbed the camera and got the photographic evidence.

I couldn't have been more proud, even though I was the one getting called out.  Crossing my fingers they now remember to do this when COW does something dumb.

Your turn!

Have a lovely day!

OOOOHHHHH!!!!  Hold up!!  Once again, we have another announcement.  Dear Joy will no longer be able to co-host, so we are happy to have Lisa (the one from the decluttering up above) as our new co-host.

Welcome, welcome!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

What Do the Contents of Your Bathroom Cabinet Say about You?

Let's play a game.

A stranger has to put a bio together about you, but the only clues he has to work with are the contents of your bathroom cabinet.  What would he have to say about you?

According to my bathroom cabinet, I am a new mother with lots of facial hair.  I am a vain woman, concerned about the appearance of my curly hair and the color of my lips.  I have ridiculously dry skin and eat lots of salad and broccoli. I hate to wear shoes, and choose to go barefoot as often as possible.  I travel.  A lot.  I am concerned about running out of soap, but not toilet paper.  I get bad cramps.

I can explain the 2 curling irons, a straightener, hair dryer, and 8 bottles/cans of hair product.  I have crazy curly hair and a penchant for getting mullets.

I can explain the 28 itty bitty bottles of shampoo and conditioner and 11 itty bitty bars of soap.  COW is stingy, making sure to abscond with the items every time he stays in a hotel, yet not stingy enough to actually use the items he insists on taking once we are home.

I can explain the 10 toothbrushes and 15 dental floss samples.  I always keep toothbrushes on hand for kids who spontaneously spend the night, and all 8 of us have recently been to the dentist.  Our dentist gives out lots of samples, and we keep them to take with us on trips.

I can explain the many bottles of lotion and foot products.  I'm a teacher.  Lotion is a common gift for teachers, (My candles are kept somewhere else.) but I have only one brand of lotion that works for me.  The gifts never get used.

I can explain the lipsticks and lip glosses.  Ok, some of them.  Some of them looked good when I saw them at the store, but not on my lips once I got home.  I can't explain the empty lip gloss containers.

I certainly can't explain the nursing pads and 2 squirt bottles for postpartum "cleansing".  And on a related note, how long is a woman considered "postpartum"?  Four years?

There is a rice bag thing that someone once made for me (mumble mumble years ago) that has never been used.

There is a home-wax kit (for all those annoying chin hairs that have started popping up) that I've purchased but haven't used.  There isn't a microwave in my bathroom and there's no privacy downstairs. Imagine the questions I'd have to dodge from Cuckoo and Turken if they saw me screaming and crying in pain after putting wax from the microwave on my face, then violently ripping it off.

There are nine bars of soap, because I buy in bulk.  They will last forever, because some of my kids seem to forget to actually wash with soap.

I wish I could say my dresser would be a better place to look for clues about me.  Alas, it's not.  According to my sock drawer, I work in an office which requires hose.  Blue is my suit color of choice, going by the number of pairs of blue hose I have.

Last night COW asked if I was pregnant.  Red flags were going off, thinking I was nesting, since each day he has come home from work to find a themed bag of trash waiting to go out.

No, Dear.  I'm not nesting.  I'm just tired of being surrounded by clutter and stuff we no longer need.

Each day, I choose one thing to conquer.  The first thing I did was clean off my dresser.  It had become the "Place to Drop All Things I Don't Feel Like Putting Away Right Now" as well as the "Leave Mom a Funny Note in the Dust" spot.  No more!  It is clean and shiny and tidy.

My wallet was next.  Eight appointment reminder cards were in there, all having to do with someone's teeth.  So was a paper with the phone numbers COW was to call when I went into the hospital to give birth to Cuckoo.  Two expired insurance cards and 15 expired coupons from Dick's Sporting Goods were removed.  Oh, and 1 Borders card, since Borders closed about 3 years ago.

Today, I'm thinking I will conquer the linen closet.  And then put a lock on it, so kids can't get in and mess it up.

Little bits of time conquering little areas of clutter.

Thank you, LIsa, for the idea.  It's working like a charm.

Do you have hidden (or not-so-hidden) spots of clutter that could use a cleaning out?  What might someone find there, and what is your story of how it got there?

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ten Things of Thankful, Week 30 - The Polar Vortex/500th Post Edition

This.  This is my 500th blog post.  FIVE HUNDRED!!  That fact just boggles my mind.

There is no time to expound on the significance of this, as I've got a thankful list to get done and not much time to do it.  I shall save it for another day.  Just a may not be until my 600th post.

On to the Polar Vortex Edition of the TToT!

I love it when we get to pull out new, impressive-sounding terms for "weather events".  And this one is especially good, because by the nature of the word, you have to say it slowly and enunciate, or you will accidentally say "polar voltex" and be ridiculed by all who hear you.  Saying it slowly and enunciating every syllable makes it sound even more intimidating, don't you think?  Even more so when you say it with a deep voice and a serious face.

Since you all know me as the Winter Wimp when it comes to cold weather, you will probably be surprised to hear that I actually enjoyed the Vortex.  While there were some learning experiences to go with just about every good thing, there were lots of good things.

************** 1 ***********

The Thankful:  Sunshine.  After the snow on Sunday, we got two days of beautiful sunshine.  Sparkly snow blinking in the sun is one of the prettiest scenes in the world.

I'm sorry these photos don't do the gorgeousness of the day justice.  It was too cold to take my camera outside, so I had to be content with photos from the windows.  Which was difficult, considering most of our windows looked like this:

or worse.  What you see there is ice.  On the INSIDE of our windows.

The Lesson:  Get some plexiglass on the outside of the windows.  The windows that already have some fared much better.

******************* 2 *************

The Thankful:  Going with the sunshine again.  With temperatures in the -40 range, the sun was very helpful for the animals.  The chicken coop has windows, so the sun shining in helps warm them up.  The dogs also enjoyed basking in the sun in places which were blocked by the wind.

The Lesson:  Sunshine and Vortexes create crazy things.  I looked out the back window to the coop, and saw something I've never seen before.  See if you can spot it...

It's not because the photo is crooked.  The sun melted some snow, and the wind was so ferocious that it caused the icicles to grow off-center!

************** 3 **************

The Thankful:  I was warm.  It seems the temperature of the inside of my house is not my problem.  The problem is the having to go in and out of the house several times each day.  For 5 days I stayed in pajamas and my fuzzy pink robe, and I was warm.
The Lesson:  Wearing your robe all day every day may give people the impression that you haven't showered in 5 days.  I will have you know, under that robe was a new pair of pajamas and clean underwear at least every other day!

****************** 4 **************

The Thankful:  I didn't drive anywhere for 5 days.  My van sat in the driveway, looking like this:

The Lesson:  Scrape ALL the snow off of your vehicle before you drive.  On the day I finally had to drive, Phoenix cleaned the car off for me.  He did not brush off the snow on the top of the van.  As we drove down the driveway I said, "It's gonna be funny to watch all that snow fall off the back when we pick up speed".  And then we forgot about it.  Until 20 minutes later when I stopped to make a left-hand turn and all that snow came sliding to the front of the car.  I was sitting in the middle of a 5-lane freeway completely unable to see through the foot of snow covering my windshield.  

*************** 5 ***************

The Thankful:  For 5 days, we got to play as many games as we wanted.  The kids received a new game for Christmas (Settlers of Catan), and it got lots of use this week.  Cuckoo discovered he loves Monopoly, so we played many games of the SpongeBob version.  Scrabble, Yahtzee, African Adventures, and Who Knew? were popular, too.

The Lesson:  When you play this many games with kids, they will get really good at them.  This week, I lost Scrabble to an 11 year old (Giant), Monopoly to a 4 year old (Cuckoo) and Catan to a 5 year old.  And I didn't "let" them win.  They have to earn their wins.  Humble is my word for the week.

***************** 6 ***********

The Thankful:  Minecraft.  I can't believe I'm saying it, but I'm thankful for a video game.  As the week went on, the kids' patience with each other started to wear thin.  And the day I was sick and couldn't play too many games worried me.  Until I let them play Minecraft.  The big kids played on their iPods, and the little kids took turns with my iPad.  All 6 got comfortable in the boys' room and played this interactive game together.  Laughter poured from the room all afternoon.

The Lesson:  When kids are allowed to play an unlimited amount of video games for two days, they don't want to give it up.  Not too big of a deal with the big kids.  The little ones, though, have not been happy.

******************** 7 *************

The Thankful:  Lots and lots of good meals.  With nowhere to go, I had all the time in the world to cook for my family.  We had huge breakfasts and dinners every day.  When you raise your own meat and can veggies from your garden, there's plenty of food to fill your bellies, even if you can't get to a store for a week.

The Lesson:  Kids love snowmen pancakes to go with the theme of snow days.

Just be careful not to make the snowmen too much bigger than your spatula.

*********************** 8 *****************

The Thankful:  After a slow start, the chickens are laying eggs like crazy.  It seems our birds never got the memo, so they don't know that chickens normally slow down or stop laying eggs during the winter.  Out of now 27 chickens (Read yesterday's post if you don't know why I said "now".) we are getting an average of 18 eggs per day.

The Lesson:  Plan for a Polar Vortex.  Most of our customers come from school, but with school out for Christmas and everyone trapped for 5 days, the eggs have piled up.  We've been eating lots and lots of eggs, but still have 18 dozen eggs in our fridge.  Really should have done something about this before the snow hit.

***************** 9 *************

The Thankful:  If I had to have a cold, this was the time to have it.  If it would have been over Christmas, I wouldn't have been able to visit with my grandma.  With school being out, I was able to actually sit on the couch and let my body take care of the illness.  The cold was gone in two days.

The Lesson:  Don't take Nyquil.  Ever. (You really just need to read yesterday's post.)

*************** 10 *************

The Thankful:  An organized game closet, basement, and toy box.  Actually, the toy box is gone.  Out of our living room.  Finally.  The kids and COW did a great job organizing everything and making me a very happy camper.  (I was cooking while they did all of it.)

The Lesson:  Send Cuckoo away when organizing toys.  Buttercup was given the job of cleaning out the toy box, including putting outgrown toys in a Goodwill bag.  Cuckoo couldn't handle it, and whenever she wasn't looking, he'd grab something out of the bag or out of the toy box and run.  She spent half her time collecting things from him while we all laughed and laughed.  (She was laughing, too, for most of it.  I finally had to step in and distract Cuckoo.)

All in all, it was a great week, with so much laughter and fun.

Now, it's your turn.  What made you happy this week?  Learn anything while having fun?


We have a new co-host!!!  Sandy has agreed to join us after Melissa, sadly, had to step down from the position.  Be sure to click over and say hi!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Was Drugged. Something Died. As Usual.

I got a cold.

I took a full dose of Nyquil.

That was dumb.

My head was foggy the next morning.

And I was off kilter on into the afternoon.

The couch was my friend.

I stayed on my friend.

All morning and on into the afternoon.

The children came to see me.

They asked for food and drink.

I granted permission.

They fed themselves.

The animals needed food and drink.

They did not come to see me.

I just knew.

I sent the children out.

One child returned to see me.


I rose from the couch.

I donned a winter coat and thick work gloves.

Two children were called in to assist.

I took stock of the situation.

A dead chicken peered at me.

From a crack under the door.

Just as the child had reported.

I went through an alternate door.

Two children were given instructions.

One child whined.


I ignored her.

I went into the coop.

One child corralled the live chickens.

I grabbed the dead chicken's leg.

A child opened the door from the outside.

Where the head was.

I pulled the chicken out.

I trudged through the snow.

Carrying a dead chicken.

The chicken was tossed over a fence.

It landed in the field.

I went back to the house.

The boots, coat, and gloves were removed.

My hands were washed.

I collapsed on my friend.

I stayed there.

All afternoon and into the night.

COW brought pizza home for dinner.

Everyone ate.

I extracted a promise from COW.

Remind me

To never take

a full dose

of Nyquil




I'm feeling much better.

The chicken is not.

Have a lovely day!

My Mom Lost Me on I-71

We were on I-71, somewhere in the middle of our 6 hour drive through Ohio, headed to my mom's new home in Kentucky.  It was a two-car caravan led by Mom.  I was the 16 year old driver in the second car.

I was finding the drive to be quite easy.  My biggest annoyance was having to find a new radio station every time we moved through another town.

That is, it was easy until we came to the long line of red tail lights all road trippers dread.  A traffic jam.  By the looks of it, a traffic jam that was going to make our 6 hour drive a whole lot longer than 6 hours.  We putzed along, inching our way closer to the open road on the other side of the construction.

We finally came to the cause of the backup; construction walls were funneling us down to one lane.  Being such an inexperienced driver, I was not skilled in the art of merging traffic. A car got in front of me.  He let another car in front of him. My panic rose with each new car that ducked in line ahead of me.  As I craned my neck to keep an eye on Mom's car, more and more cars got between us.

Finally, there were just too many.

I lost sight of her.

With absolutely no idea how to get to her house in Kentucky.

With everyone now in single file, our speed picked up.  I was in full-on, 16 year old, what-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do mode while traveling at 55 mph with a cement wall on one side and a long row of orange construction cones on the other.  For miles.  It wasn't pretty.  Driving through construction with limited space in the lane is hard enough, but doing it while panicked that you will be lost in the middle of Ohio for the rest of your life is downright terrible.

At one point, I actually hit a cone and sent it flying.  I was close to losing my gourd.  Clearly my litany of "What do I do?  What do I do?  What do I do?" wasn't working.

I finally got so scared I started to pray. "Help me.  Help me.  HELP ME!!!"

I was led to get off the freeway.  I can't say I made the decision, because, honestly, my brain wasn't working well enough to make a decision.  I simply remember feeling that I should take the first exit I came to and get out of that line of cars.

With my heart pounding, I pulled out of line and onto the ramp, completely clueless as to what to do next.

With no idea of where I was, I simply got to the end of the ramp and turned.

To find my mom had done the exact same thing.  I found her waiting for me, in a bit of a panic herself.

It was one of the happiest moments of my short 16 year life.  The relief didn't wash over me, it crashed.

We got out of our cars, yellled/talked our stories to each other, made a plan for what to do if this were to happen again, and headed back to the freeway.

As I watch my kids get older, as I hand cell phones to each child as he hits the Christmas of his 8th grade year, I think, "In many, many ways, kids have it so easy these days."

If Phoenix and I were to have this same drive, with the same traffic jam, there would be no fear.  There would be no panic. There would simply be a phone call to say, "Hey, meet me at Speedway at exit 14".  It certainly wouldn't be a story to tell 25 years later.

There were so many stories like this growing up. So many scenarios where a cell phone would have made life so much easier.  Yet, it is through these scenarios that I learned to trust my instincts.  It is through these scenarios that I learned to be independent.  It is through these scenarios that I gained confidence in myself and my ability to solve problems.

I'm torn.  Part of me is glad my kids won't have to go through these sometimes scary experiences, but part of me feels like I'm taking away some growing experiences which would come in very handy as they become adults and move away from home.

I'm thinking I'm going to walk a fine line with the cell phones.  It's going to be hard.  The paranoid parent in my will want to use the phones to make sure I know exactly where my kids are at all times and micromanage their comings and goings.  The smart parent in me will need to loosen the grip.  I need to give them space to make choices.  I need to let them make bad choices so they can learn from them.

I want my kids to have stories.  I want them to have stories about struggles they had and experiences they got through.  I don't yet know what those stories will be, but I do know one story they won't be able to tell, because I learned from my experience 25 years ago.  They won't be telling stories about being stranded in the middle of Indiana, because my kids will always know the address and the directions on how to get where they are going.

Do you have a story from when you were growing up in which a cell phone would have been very handy?

Have a lovely day!


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Ripple Effect - Yes, There's a Moral to This Story

Since the big kids were little kids, I have been complimented for their good behavior in restaurants.  Apparently, good behavior in a restaurant isn't very common, as we were complimented almost every time we went out to eat.  One woman even told us she would never go out to eat with her own grandchildren, but she'd go out with my kids.

The good behavior had less to do with my parenting and more to do with the fact my kids have always really like to eat.  Proof:  I rarely got complimented when we were at a store.

We don't get the compliments nearly so often anymore, and I'm thinking it's because the kids are older.  I don't know of any 15 year olds who are still running around a restaurant causing trouble.  You don't get compliments for normal, expected behavior.

A few days ago, I took all the boys out for lunch between dentist and orthodontist appointments.  The waitress not only complimented us, but said, "Your kids are the most well behaved kids I've ever seen."  I thanked her, but my body language must have said, "I bet you say that to all the families," because she followed it up with "No, really.  They really are."

And with that, my children had to prove her wrong.

When we were basically done with our meal, I had Phoenix take Cuckoo to the restroom, which was just around the corner, practically in the main area of the restaurant.  (It's safer to have a big kid take a little kid than to take the little kid myself and leave the rest of the kids to their own devices out in the restaurant.  (And by "safer" I don't mean for my children, but for the patrons sitting around them.))

Once they were gone, Turken, of course, had to go to the restroom.  At 5, he knows the difference between the men's room and the women's room, and begs us to use the men's.  Since Phoenix was in there, I allowed him to go to the men's room, while I continued on to the women's.

The moment my cheeks hit the porcelain, chaos ensued, starting with Cuckoo screaming from the men's room.  (I could hear him from my position in the women's room.)


Then Turken, from outside the restroom (I knew it was outside, as there was not the echo effect that Cuckoo's screams had)...


As I pulled up my pants and washed my hands, I could hear my little lovelies arguing and yelling in the restroom.

When I got out in the hall, Giant was standing just outside the restroom.  He was laughing, saying there was a guy in there who had to endure the ridiculousness of my young children.

I stood out there, unable to do anything about the screaming and hysterical obnoxiousness going on in the men's room.

At one point, the man came out and walked across the hall to go into the kitchen.

Fortunately, I didn't have to storm the bathroom, as my three came out right after him.

I immediately rounded everyone up and into their coats, grabbed the check, and headed for the door, never looking up, as I didn't want to accidentally make eye contact with anyone in the place.  Once in the van, I got the whole story.

When they got into the restroom, Phoenix let Cuckoo go into a stall alone, and Cuckoo immediately locked the door.

Cuckoo then went "#2" and started yelling for me, because that's what he does at home when he needs me to wipe his bottom.

Phoenix was at a loss, seeing as how the door was locked and he couldn't get into him.  He sent Turken out to find me.  When Turken wants to find me, he simply stands and screams for me.  In this case, just outside the men's room door, practically in the restaurant (even though he knew I was in the women's restroom and could have easily come to get me).

Somehow Phoenix did manage to get Cuckoo out of the stall and to the sink to wash his hands, as well as get Turken to stop yelling and get in to go to the bathroom.  Seems Cuckoo wasn't in the mood to wash his hands, but was in his "I'm going to be as silly as I can and make everything so much more difficult for my caregiver" mood.  Thus the hysterical obnoxiousness I heard from the hall.  It didn't cross Phoenix's mind to simply let it go and bring him to me, so I could take him to wash his hands in the women's restroom.

And then I asked the pivotal question, not knowing it was the pivotal question.

"What did the restaurant guy do while all of this was going on?"

"He just went to the bathroom and walked out the door, since Cuckoo and Turken were taking up the sinks."

The restaurant guy didn't wash his hands.

Moral of the story?

Over-complimenting children's behavior leads to bathroom germs in your restaurant food.  Never over-compliment children's behavior.

*To make us feel better about being the cause of a restaurant full of people being exposed to bathroom germs, we have convinced ourselves that he simply chose to get out of the chaos and wash his hands in a sink in the kitchen in peace.  Yup, that's what happened.  I'm sure of it.  No bathroom germs were in the food.  Probably.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snowapalooza 2014

I sent all the protesting children outside to "make snowmen for those children who are less fortunate.  Not everyone gets snow, you know!". Stephanie told me it was so.

Well, Stephanie, I'm sorry, but as soon as they got out there, they completely forgot about their irritation at having to be out there, as well as the snowmen.  They decided they were going to have a snowball fight, and immediately began building their protective "forts".

Because, Ya'll (May I call you Ya'll?), we have got some seriously good packing snow!  It snowed for almost 12 hours straight.  For those of you who haven't been hit with it all, I have lots and lots of photos for you.  I mean LOTS and LOTS.

Before anyone went outside.  This is the view from my bedroom window.  Do not clean your screen.  Those aren't dirt spots, but snowflakes.  Gigantic, heavy, perfect snowflakes. 
Star building his fort.
While the kids played, COW was using his new snow blower to take care of the driveway while there was still some light.  That's him waaaaaaay down at the end of the driveway.
Phoenix's fort

Buttercup and Cuckoo built one together.

Turken kind of just floated around.
At one point, I saw Turken purposely flop to the ground...

and start waving his arms and legs.
Me:  Are you trying to make a snow angel?
Him:  Yes.
Me:  You are supposed to do it on your back.
Him:  Oh.

It was snowing so heavily, with such big flakes, he was giggling too hard to actually make the snow angel.  The snow was getting in his eyes and mouth and tickling his face.
Seeing Turken, Cuckoo and Giant decided to make some, too.

Phoenix had to take his snow angel up a notch.

Selfie in the reflection of the front door.  No, I don't really have a stocking hanging on my shoulder.  Yes, that's COW still working hard while we had fun.  Yes, that is a Target bag over my face.  I wrapped it around my camera to keep it dry.
Snowball fight!!

Not surprisingly, Buttercup had the best fort.

How about that form?

At one point, Cuckoo decided his best place to hide was behind Star.  

Apparently, Star forgot Cuckoo was there, because he stood up and walked away, causing Cuckoo to fall back and get stuck in the snow.

As Star laughed and helped Cuckoo get up, he looked at me and said, "This reminds me of Randy from 'A Christmas Story'!"
Intermission...Pretty picture of the tree.
Photo #1 in series:  Turken catching snowflakes on his tongue.

Photo #2:  Notice the snow is taller than the boot.  This is the precise moment the snow started to steal his boots.

Photo #3:  Abandoned boots.

Photo #4:  Phoenix "helped" him to the house to have a better chance of getting the boots back on. 

 Finally, we were all exhausted and headed inside.  Well, almost all of us...

How about that bird photo bomb??  Yes, it's a bird that flew right across my shot.  The one bird we saw outside all day.  I can't believe I caught it when it's wings were in the down position.

If you are in the path of this storm, stay safe and warm!  If you aren't, enjoy your lovely weather.  No need to tell me about it just yet.

Have a lovely day!