Thursday, July 30, 2015

It Seems Having a Blog Means I Have to Tell You Every Disgusting Thing That Happens Around Here

I was cleaning, as one does when company is coming.

I was going for the our-house-is-always-this-tidy-and-clean-lived-in-but-not-spotless look for my college friend.

She is the only person I met in college with whom I have stayed in contact. We ran track together. We stopped running track together. We watched Days of Our Lives while chowing on microwave popcorn together. We married together. As in, we were bridesmaids for each other.

While we had kept in contact, and she does read the blog, I had not laid eyes on her or her family since we moved to the farm. They were stopping by for a visit and some dinner on their way to Bloomington.

Two pans of stuffed shells were in the fridge, waiting to be put in the oven later that day.

Dirty pots, pans, spoons, and other miscellaneous kitchen gadgets used to make the shells were strewn about the room.

Normally, I cook and Bryan does the dishes. It is only on the rare night that Bryan is unable to fulfill his washing dishes chore that I hand wash a single pot or pan. But today, my friend and her family were coming. A pile of dirty dishes waiting for Bryan would have ruined the look I was going for. I filled the sink with soapy water and began washing.

As I cleaned the microwave of the splatter of sauce someone left after reheating lunch some days ago, Buttercup asked, "Why are you cleaning in there? Do you think they are going to be using the microwave?"

"No, Honey, I don't. But when I do the dishes, I always capitalize on the opportunity to scrub down the parts of the kitchen your dad neglects, such as the microwave and the range hood."

When all was done, I sat on a kitchen stool to rest a minute.

As I sat, I noticed a ring from a canning jar lid under the toaster oven.

I realized that I had forgotten to pull the toaster oven away from the wall to clean behind it.

I was tired, and thus debated in my head about the necessity of cleaning it just then.

My usually-suppressed OCD side kicked in and I stood.

I grabbed the dishcloth and quickly pulled the small oven away from the wall.


Kids came running alright, simply to see what the commotion was. When they saw what made me react in such a dramatic way, they actually put their fingers on the tips of their noses, said, "Nose goes" and walked out, mumbling ridiculous excuses like "I've got homework to do".

As I followed them around the corner, begging and pleading, I noticed a car pull in the driveway.

My friend and her family were here!

And I had a mouse.

A dead mouse.

A dead mouse that had been lying behind my toaster oven for what looked to be a good number of days.

That is when a forgotten episode flashed back into the forefront of my brain.

About a week before vacation, I smelled a smell. At first I thought it was from the trash/recycling, so I pulled out the cans, emptied them, checked to make sure nothing was behind them, and replaced them.

The smell lingered.

And got worse.

I told Bryan, "I'm pretty sure a mouse died somewhere. Probably behind the stove." (You see, after 10 years of living on a farm, we've come to expect a mouse every once in a while. Thanks to the traps in the basement, we have come to know the smell of a dead mouse. (I am not happy to know this.))

I checked under the sink. He pulled out the bottom of the oven and checked under and behind it.

No mouse.

We could not find it.

After a day or two of me lamenting the foul odor in my kitchen, the smell went away and I put it out of my mind, seeing as how we had a vacation to prepare for.

So of course I found the blasted mouse all flattened and gigantic and horribly disgusting as my college friend was pulling into my driveway.

Along with cleaning the dishes, it is also Bryan's job to dispose of dead mice. I can handle a 200-pound dead pig, but a 5 ounce mouse is not something I want to have anything to do with.

Unfortunately, as with the stuffed shell mess, I had no choice. I had to take care of this situation and do it fast.

I grabbed the phone, dialed Bryan's number at work, and yelled the play-by-play at him while, with the other hand, I wadded up 5 paper towels, grabbed the nasty dead thing, and threw it in it's own little trash bag.

I then hung up on him.

As I sprayed and cleaned up the leftover dried mouse bodily fluids, thanking God for our very long driveway, Buttercup was next to me asking, "Are you going to tell them about the mouse?"

In a sarcastic tone filled with nothing but love, I responded, "Oh sure. I'm going to greet them with my spray bottle and unwashed hands and say, "Pardon me while I clean up 3 week old mouse guts. Make yourselves at home."

No, I wasn't planning on telling them.

But I must admit, the thought of a blog post that my friend could read later crossed my mind.

I washed my hands and returned the toaster oven to its original position as my friend and her family got out of their car.

Hugs and hellos were exchanged and no mention was made of the unfortunate incident.

When they arrived, the boys were in the middle of a cut-throat Monopoly game. After greetings and introductions, the boys went back to their game and weren't heard from for another 30 minutes or so.

The rest of us continued to visit in the kitchen.

Eventually, the boys came in to get a snack, which they took to the dining room to eat.

Cuckoo had been unusually quiet throughout. He hadn't said more than two words to anyone since my friend pulled into the driveway.

Looking back, I think the little bugger planned it.

He left his snack, came into the kitchen doorway, and waited for everyone to notice him. Since he had been so quiet, he had the attention of everyone.

His only words were, "Did you tell them about the mouse you found?"

He then turned on his heel and went back to the dining room to finish eating his banana bread.

My friend now knows the story.

Surprisingly, they stayed and even ate the stuffed shells I had made.

As I think on this debacle, I wonder what the moral of the story is.

Should I wash dishes more or less often?

Should I look a whole lot harder the next time I smell something off?

Should I stop calling myself a suppressed OCD, seeing as how no self-respecting OCD person has a dead mouse behind a toaster oven for three weeks?

Should I stop calling myself a self-respecting person, seeing as how no self-respecting person has a dead mouse behind a toaster oven for three weeks.

Should Cuckoo be sent away whenever we have guests?

I'm thinking all of the above.

Now it is your turn. Make me feel just a bit better.

Tell me about something mortifying that happened when you had company coming.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Get Out the Slide Projector, 'Cause We Were on Vacation and There Was NO RAIN! TToT #110

This world is covered with the most unbelievable sights.

I am so grateful for the chance to see some of them (because they are only a few hours drive from our house).

Silver Lake, Michigan. Those are the dunes you'll see up close later in the post. Yes, that is a gigantic slip-n-slide over there on that even more gigantic sand dune. A man who lives in town sets it up one day each year and anyone who wants to do it can. Of course our older boys did it, but I wasn't there to get photos.

I am thankful that we are able to share these places with our kids.

I was trying not to be blown off of the ledge of a lighthouse while taking this photo of Star and Cuckoo on the dunes below.

I'm thankful they can enjoy an activity we've done many times before.

Lake Michigan on a really windy day. That water was about 50 degrees, but they were unhappy when I told them it was time to leave.

And I'm thankful they can have fun finding new, impromptu activities.
Everyone (except me, because I was scared to death I'd re-injure my knee.) spent a lot of time jumping off of a sand cliff. That's Turken.

Bryan and Buttercup's graceful landing
I'm thankful that we get to go on these fun vacations with marvelous friends every single year. (It was our 13th vacation with them!)

Group jump; View from the top; with the ORV area in the distance.
I'm so thankful that we are all healthy and healed and able to do physical activities.

Climbing mountains of sand ain't no easy thang!

Group shot

I'm thankful that we have the same sense of humor and can quote dumb, old movies.

I kid you not, Cuckoo found a comb on the dune and started doing this all on his own. The following scene immediately popped into the minds of all of us.

I am thankful that Phoenix finally got his license (I told you I'd get it into every thankful post!) and was able to drive when we went off-roading. 

This was SO MUCH FUN!!! 

A little taste of what it was like. Unfortunately, with all the jostling, it took me a while to get the video going, so I didn't get the best part of the giggling.

I am thankful for the perfect, gorgeous weather we had the entire week. After the cold, wet summer we've had, it was marvelous to bask in the sun and get lots of swimming in.

We parked our jeeps to stop and watch the sun set.

And with that, another successful vacation is in the blog.

Did you see anything interesting or new to you this week?

As always, you're welcome to join us in counting our thankfuls!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

So Many Photos, and We Didn't Even Go on Vacation, TToT #109

What we look for, we will find. When a person knows she will be writing a list of things for which she is grateful each week, she is always paying attention, always on the lookout for the good things happening in her life. When she is so busy looking for the good, the bad just doesn't jump out as much. A better mood and a better attitude is the result. If you've never made a gratitude list, I suggest you try it. Even if you don't link it up with us, give it a try. It's amazing what one little activity can do, especially during the weeks that a storm cloud seems to be (or is literally, as was our case on Tuesday) hanging over your head.

So, on to my thankfuls for the week...

1. The dirt/mud pile in my front yard is almost gone. It was 8 cubic yards of dirt when it was dumped, but with all the rain, despite our covering it with plastic each night, parts of it turned to mud. Each day, we have been hauling it around the yard, filling in holes and building up around the foundation of the house. I am mostly thankful that I have teens who can help with such a massive chore. But I'm thankful for the wheelbarrow to move it, too. It would really stink if we had to use wheel-less buckets. :)

I took this after 2 days of dirt-hauling. Anyone else think "ET phone home" when they see it?

Unfortunately, I'm not the brightest candle in the wax works. I put a tarp under that pile. The grass is going to be dead anyway, so I could have just raked out the last of the dirt and planted some seed. BUT, I now have to get that blasted tarp out of there. Makes things a whole lot more time-consuming.

2. After the dirt came the mulch. I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally have some real landscaping around the house. Weed-free mulched flower beds makes me so very happy. Even if the flowers and plants in those flower beds are sad, little things and the bulbs are buried underground. Come spring, my yard will be awesome.

3. My friend who moved to Japan is back for good! I am so excited to have her home. We managed to sneak away for breakfast together on Tuesday, and it was wonderful to actually sit down face-to-face to catch up.

4. My blog friend, Rita, recently wrote about her boys catching fireflies, and it made me stop and realize that Turken and Cuckoo have never done such a thing. By the time lightning bugs come out here in Indiana, my boys have been in bed for quite a while. Well, on Tuesday, for a bunch of boring, long reasons, I let them go outside to play after our late dinner. The lightning bugs were out early thanks to another storm rolling in making it darker than usual. As the thunder boomed in the distance, we were outside enjoying the beauty of bugs.

The first time Cuckoo's light-up sandals were actually in a situation where one could really see the light-up capabilities.

While I was messing around with my camera settings, I got lots of blurry photos. Almost all of them had a streak from a lightning bug. 
5. Star decided to bake some cookies one day this week. The following photo shows all you need to know about why Bryan is the favorite parent.

That would be a mosquito bite under his eye.
After dinner, everyone got 2 cookies with some cookies and cream ice cream in the middle. While sometimes it annoys me, I am thankful that my kids have a dad who knows how to amp up the fun. And the calories.

6. Thanks to a couple of days with not one drop of precipitation, my street no longer looks like this,

and my garden doesn't smell like a sewer. (Funny not funny story: We tore out the 4 and a half rows of beans, so there is plenty of empty space in the garden. We have been cleaning out the chicken coop bedding (a little later than usual) and dumping it in the compost pile and the bare areas of the garden. With all the rain on Tuesday, that wet bedding let off the most offensive stench, and it could be detected the moment we walked out the back door. Now, that things are starting to dry, it's less sewer and more nasty gas station bathroom.)

7. Speaking of our garden, a bit of an update. As I said, green bean season is over, so we finish up with 42 quarts on the shelf. Cucumbers are still coming fast and furious. I have 21 quarts on the shelf and another 7 waiting to be done. Zucchini is out of control. I've sauteed some for dinner most nights this week, and I've managed to shred and freeze a little bit, the chickens have enjoyed some, but Buttercup is the one who has taken charge of using it. She's made bread, chocolate zucchini bread, and some zucchini patties that taste a heck of a lot like hash browns. Still, we have about 20 large zucchini sitting on my counter waiting to be frozen or eaten. Tomatoes are starting to ripen, but I'm afraid most of our plants will be lost to the flooding. The garden got hit hard, and the tomatoes aren't liking it. But it's the garlic and potatoes and onions that I'm really worried about.

Poor, dying tomato plant.
8. We had some serious entertainment on Thursday morning.

That's our barn roof.

That's our house.

Aaaand our driveway.

Since we are smack dab in the middle of 200 acres of corn, this thing buzzed our house at least 50 times. Unfortunately, it wasn't until later that it occurred to me that I should have made a video. Sorry about that.

The kids were waving to the guy in the helicopter. And they could see his wave back. It was all very exciting until we caught a whiff of whatever they were spraying. We moved inside after that.

9. I may say this every single week. Phoenix's driving is going well, and it makes my life so much easier! Besides practices, he drove himself to his orthodontist appointment.

10. On Thursday, we finally, FINALLY, had a day sunny enough and almost warm enough to head to the pool. The water was a bit chilly, and the breeze gave us goosebumps, but the sun was warm.

So, are you going to join us this week? We'd love to have you!

(If not, I'd still like to hear about whatever got you smiling this week.)

Hey, Look! Our new banner!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Public Scenes. Apparently, It's What I Do.

That's me (Well, an artist's rendition of me) at the pool yesterday. We finally had a day with weather conducive to swimming, so we took advantage of it. We swam. We laughed. We had a great time.

Until something landed on my head.

At first I thought it was just some water dropping on me.

A minute later I felt it again, reached up, but felt nothing. "I wonder who is splashing me," I thought.

A minute later, I definitely felt something moving on my head. I reached up to see what it was, when it stung my head.

And then it stung my head again.

I was in a minor panic by this time, as I still hadn't been able to locate it. Leaving my young children in and near the water, I tip-toe ran towards the first aid station, yelping, "OWOWOWOW" and trying desperately to locate whatever monster was attacking my scalp.

I finally put my fingers on it, and it stung me in the thumb.

Cue hysteria.

I spotted 4 red-suited authority figures and screamed, "THERE IS SOMETHING IN MY HAIR STINGING ME AND I CAN'T GET IT OUT!!!"

It stung me again.

Two lovely teen girls reluctantly came to my rescue.

As I stood there yelping in pain, they carefully batted at my head, trying to loosen the demon. (They weren't dumb. If it stung me that many times, they knew it was mad and would sting them, too.)

Finally one of them gave the final blow that sent that maniacal bug flying. Before I could get a good look at it, a third lifeguard (with shoes on) stomped on it.

Then he handed me this

in case I wanted to rub it all over my pin-cushion of a scalp.

It is still such a blur, I don't even remember if the boys followed me or if I had to go track them down. I just know that somehow I herded them back to the baby pool so I could sit in a chair for a little while.

Fortunately, there was no swelling.

The pain on my head and thumb didn't last too long.

My pride was, once again, smashed to bits.

I might have to make an addition to my Things You Might See at a Public Pool post.

On the plus side, I saw a woman wearing the cutest bathing suit I had ever seen at a pool. After I healed up a bit, I went and asked her where she got it.

I haven't purchased a bathing suit in three years, because I can't find one I like better than the one I have. Finally, it is time to replace my worn-thin suit.

Anything exciting happen at your pool lately? What's the best bathing suit you ever owned?

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

For Those of You Who Have Had Nothing But Boring, Blue Skies...

According to our weatherman, before the three storms yesterday and last night, Indianapolis had already received 15.5 inches of rain since June 1. 

taken from our front porch as the first of Tuesday night's storms approached

He also stated that 15.5 inches of rain translates to 160 inches of snow, so be glad it isn't winter. 

Taken from my van Tuesday afternoon as I tried to will Buttercup to come out of practice early so we could get ahead of the behemoth of a storm. She made it to the van, but the rain and wind came within a minute.

6 seconds of our drive home:

Way to stay positive, no?

It is way harder than I thought it would be to get a photo of lightning through my bedroom window using my phone. There were approximately 10,000 strikes in less than an hour, but my phone was having trouble with the no light to LIGHT transition.

Our normal rainfall for June and July combined is 8.6 inches.

My street this morning.
The forecast for the next 2 days is 80 degrees and nothing but sun.

I'll see you on Friday.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sure, It's Been Raining for (What Seems Like) Years, but I Can Still Be Thankful! TToT Week 108

So, tell me. Is the sun still a thing? Here in Indiana we haven't seen any sign of it. Not one little glimpse of the blasted thing. And we haven't had warm temperatures either. It all makes me think the sun has gone and left the solar system. If you have proof to the contrary, please let me know.

But just like the mailmen, we at the TToT are here rain or shine.

10 things for which I'm thankful, comin' atcha.

And keep in mind, no sun. Low light + old phone = sub-par photos. Sorry 'bout that.

1. With the lower temps, our electric bill is a small fraction of its usual amount.

2. Phoenix having his license is everything I always hoped it would be. It makes me so, so happy when, come 5:15, he and Star say, "Bye, Mom! We're leaving for practice!" I just smile and wave and continue doing whatever it was I was doing.

3. These days, that thing I'm doing when they leave usually is something in the kitchen. I've been able to make real meals every night. I can plan and use what needs used in the fridge. I can look up new recipes and even try them out. I've also made dessert most nights, so the kids are happy, happy, happy.

I made some apple pie to use up the canned apples from last year. Making room for the gazillion apples currently growing on the trees. It tasted way better than it looks.

4. My niece's Baptism was last weekend.

after-Baptism party

5. As was my dad's annual 4th of July party. It was a different crowd this year, with many people who don't normally come showing up, and people who usually come not coming, but it was still loads of fun for everyone.

For those of you mothers of multiple children who struggle with getting a good photo of all of your children in the same frame, know that the struggle will never end. Every year there is the photo on the steps theatrics. The first photo is always my siblings and me, and then more people are added to expand on the family. I'll just give you the first two tiers.

the siblings


the siblings with my dad and stepmom



the siblings with Dad, stepmom, and Mom


6. I got to spend a few hours with Donna, and her husband. It was such a lovely evening. How two bloggers walked away from a get-together without taking a photo is beyond me, but we did. I'm still annoyed.

7. The plants Donna gave are planted around my house and are doing well.

Despite the fact they came home like this:

And the fact we have a dog who has dug up almost every single plant we've ever put in the flower bed.

8. I outsmarted him this time.

Hopefully I'll be able to take the flags out soon after we get the mulch down.

9. We have a wide-open weekend ahead of us.

10. And lastly, what would a TToT post be without a garden update?

The green bean season is coming to an end, with 40 quarts on the shelf. Cucumbers are in full swing, so pickle-making is, too. So far, 16 quarts.

Your turn! What makes you want to jump up and yell, "Thank you"? Link 'em up or let me know in the comments.

And seriously, if you've seen the sun this week, show me a photo.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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