Sunday, October 27, 2013

a thousand words

I love going through old pictures.  A picture is worth a thousand words, they say.  I think it's more than that.  Pictures speak to me, not always in words, but in song and sensation, too.  Some of them hum quietly, and others break out with a raucous rock song that fires me up.  Sometimes it's too bad that we can't hush them up so that they say only what we want them to.  I've taken my share of those pictures that chatter obnoxiously on forever about things I'd rather not have viewed in mixed company.  I'm thinking of pictures of me on a horrible hair day, caught in history forever, or other ones that, unfortunately, were taken on a swift trip to the trash can.  Other pictures, however, sing in blissful harmony and share a lovely moment in time.  This one, for example, has a sweet story to tell, even though it was created merely because of a random desire to test out the camera by taking a picture of all the kids together.

Trying to gather the kids to take a picture of them all together was always an interesting event.  I have some holiday pictures that tell quite a story, with all of the children dressed up in their nice clothes, some with tears running down their faces, and the others with extra wide smiles as if trying to make up for the ones who are crying, clearly not happy to be sitting there. In this picture, however, they are all smiles.  As I look at this picture I took of my children when I only had four of them, I'm struck by the stories being told here.   I know, saying only four children is a bit of an oxymoron, especially in today's culture with birth control easily available at the drugstore and many families choosing to have only one or two children.  But I say only four because I had three more children after this, and even later, added four more children by marriage.  But all of that is another story.

When I look at this picture now, thirty some years after it was taken, I can see the children's  personalities popping out at me.  Like Willy, the oldest, who is on the left side holding Melissa, the baby.  He is happy to be in charge of something.  He was always the one who was breaking ground for everyone else, always wanted to have just a little more of anything than the other kids.  I'm sure that it was just for reassurance that he hadn't been knocked off his firstborn throne no matter how many kids came along. 

There are some benefits to being the oldest, you know, and he was determined to make the most of them.  He was always the one who would come quietly on the side, turning on the charming smile, and then while I was still smiling back at him, would ask if I had any treats or money he could have.  Nothing made him happier than that.  But of course, he couldn't keep it a secret for long.  He would have to let one of the kids know what he got, and before long, someone else would come find me, wanting the same thing he had gotten.  Kids are so funny.

And then, there is Robert, the next oldest, who was the happiest little guy I
ever saw.  He had a sweet side to him that made me want to squeeze him.  He would melt like a box of chocolates in the sun when I'd look at him and smile, and he would give me back that cute little grin that he has on his face in the picture.  I can still coax it out of him today if I try.  And that same grin would flash in an instant if I even wiggled my hand in the direction of his neck or walked my fingers up his spine.  He was so ticklish that he couldn't even stand the thought of it without breaking into giggles.    

When he was young, he was content to play second fiddle to Willy's position in first chair, but as he got older, he learned that he could get quite a reaction out of Willy if he teased him in just the right way, and armed with that knowledge, the sibling war began.  The first inkling I would have that trouble was brewing was when I'd hear two sets of footsteps thundering down the hallway into the living room as Robert, giggling like crazy, tried to outrun Willy after he had pushed him just that little bit too far.  And then Willy would wreak his revenge with a well-placed punch, and when I scolded him for hitting, he would get so mad because Robert didn't get in trouble, too. 

Some things never change.  When you get the two of them together today, grown as they are, all it takes is for one of them to say just the right thing or look at the other one with a certain fiendish look, and they're off their chairs, wrestling right in the middle of the living room floor or wherever they happen to be.  I just throw my hands up and go in the other room, saying, "If one of you gets hurt, someone else is driving you to the hospital.  I am not in charge anymore!"

Diane, the next one to the right in the picture, was the first girl, and she acted just as much like a firstborn as Willy did.  It was no wonder that they butted heads constantly.  Even at two-and-a-half, she always tried to do things the right way, and I think it was important to her to have things work the way they should.  Her earnest efforts to manage everything perfectly tugged at my heartstrings.  Diane loved to know how things should be, what the rules were, and what people were supposed to be doing because then she could tell the other kids what they were supposed to be doing, and she'd tell me when they did something they weren't supposed to be doing.  She didn't like surprises; she like to know exactly what to expect and when to expect it.  In this picture, you can see some of the seriousness in her eyes, even though a half smile is quirking up one side of her mouth. 

When I told them to scoot in closer to each other so I could make sure they all got into the picture, she flung her hand up around Robert's shoulder so she could snuggle him a little closer.  Robert kept his hands firmly folded together.  Maybe he didn't know which way to scoot to get closer because if he would have scooted in Willy's direction, he would have scooted away from Diane, and vice versa. Or maybe he figured it wasn't his job to scoot because he was already as much in the middle as he could be.  When he was faced with a choice where both options made sense, sometimes he chose something in between that would give a nod to both choices.  He liked to follow his own logic, and if something made sense to him, there was no way you were going to convince him otherwise.  Thus, his posture, even when Diane was trying to get him to come nearer to her. 

Melissa was only about six months old here, but she was another happy-go-lucky one.  The only time she cried was when she was hungry or tired.  Her hair had a mind of its own, growing every which way it could, even straight up, flopping over when it got too long.  The little grin you see here reflected her sunny personality already at this age.  The novelty of having a baby sister hadn't worn off yet, but as they got older, there was some rivalry going on, more so on Diane's part, I think, as she tried to cope with not being the youngest and the center of attention anymore. 

Melissa was more even tempered than Diane was, and the age difference made it more apparent.  Diane was going through what is fondly called "The Terrible Twos," but Melissa was still in the stage where she didn't get into much.  She couldn't.  She wasn't even crawling at that age.  And she was usually happy just finding a toy on the floor she could play with.  Her smile matches the smiles of the other kids, and it reminds me of the innocence of childhood and the simplicity of daily life with children.  There are no world records that can measure this kind of success; you can see their happiness on their faces.

But even more than the children and the fortunate serendipity of catching them all with a smile on their faces, the rest of the picture tells the rest of the story.  Our couch reflected the wear and tear that four busy babies had inflicted on it. We bought that couch after Robert was born, and already, it had started to fray.  The welted edge coming loose from the cushion next to Diane tells about the constant push and pull on the couch cushions that was a daily occurrence in our house.  The cushions came off the couch to make a fort, and then got laid down to soften the floor when the kids did somersaults across the living room.  One of the kids would lay on the base of the couch bed, and the other kids piled the cushions and then themselves on top of the unlucky one who had laid down there.  

The reflection of the flash on the window reveals the many fingerprints from the children from when they stood on the couch, poking at the window in an effort to point out something outside, or sometimes, just to bang on the window and hear the noise as the two windows clanked together.  I can't count the number of times I noticed the windows were like that.  Sometimes I scurried off to find a cloth to clean them with, but probably more often, I sighed, thought about washing them, and then decided that whatever I was doing at the time was more important.  When the kids were little, the work was never all the way done, and the house never stayed clean for long.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

free? I'm on it!

I have a longstanding addiction to anything that is free.  If it has a "Free" sign on it, I. Must. Have. It.  I don't know if it's a thrifty gene I inherited, or just the fact that I am cheap and I'm not ashamed to be a scrounge.

Someone put a big baby stroller (a nice one) out on the side of the street the other morning a couple of blocks from us with a free sign on it.  I think I gave myself a chiropractic adjustment whipping my head around to look at it.  I had to turn my head the other direction to stop seeing double.  But I kept driving.  Then I had to argue with myself for about two miles not to go drive back and put it in my car.

And then what would I do with it?  Try to find someone who needs it?  That’s what they’re already doing.  Duh.

I think it’s a disease or something.

And it gets out of hand sometimes.  I'm kind of hit and miss with Craigslist and online local liquidation auctions because after all, you DO have to pay money for that stuff.  You have the thrill of the hunt, but you have to fork out cash.  Ix-nay on the ash-cay.

Freecycle is my drug of choice.  Everything is free.  FREE!  And if someone tries to get money for their stuff, people report them and their posts get yanked for not playing fair.  I love that!

Yesterday on freecycle, there was a lady giving away a table and six chairs.  Well, since Phyl, my ever-so-patient husband, has mentioned numerous times that he does not like our dining room chairs, I jumped on the offer and asked if I could have them.  She replied and said I could.  SCORE!

Then I had to break it to Phyl, that once more, I had a mission for us, to go check out this table and chairs.  Well, I don’t need a table.  We have several tables in the garage that I need to give away.   I think I like the table I have right now.  But these chairs and table came as a set, even though I only wanted the chairs.  This could be a tough sell with my hubby.

So I sat down at the table, stared at him while he was cooking dinner, until he finally said—What!?

As soon as the “f” word escaped my lips, I saw his teeth grit together, and inside, I started to giggle a little.  I knew what was coming.  But I told him about the chairs and reminded him how much he doesn’t like our chairs.  They’re a little top heavy with the tall backs, and he’s always afraid that they’re going to fall over backwards when the grandbabies are on them because they bounce around so much.  And, the seats are cushy and covered in fabric, so we’re constantly washing them to clean the little kids’ drips and dribbles up.

These chairs, I told him, don’t have fabric that will collect cat hair or get stained.  And they are shorter and not so tippy.  He should have to admit that they were at least worth going to look at.  Reluctantly, he went with me.

So we get there, and this table I swear weighed about 75 pounds all by itself.  It's a behemoth of a table..about two inches thick.  Not easy to move.  But the chairs didn’t seem shaky when I tested them, so I said we’d take them, of course!

So we loaded them up.  We had two cars--I figured two chairs in each backseat, upside down, and one in the front seat of each car.  We could tie the table on the roof of the car because we didn't have far to go.  It wouldn't be too obvious that we were trying to make do without a trailer or truck to schlep our secondhand goods home.  Okay, that sounds good, but really.  I can't lie.  I have driven home from the opposite side of the city with my trunk wide open with a free piece of furniture sticking out.  I've piled stuff on top of the car, tied it to the roof, and driven home holding on to it out the window.   I'm not proud.

So we got them home, and yes, they need to be washed.  There are sticky spots, and little dried up rivers of milk on them (bleck), but nothing that a scrubbie and some soap and water won't be able to handle.  And Phyl discovered that the joints on the backs of the chairs need to be glued, and almost all of them have been reinforced with deck screws so that they don’t wobble, but whatever.

My motto is that a little change is good for the soul.  And they are about the same color as my beautiful (free) dining room hutch.   And we’ll probably keep them until there are no grandbabies living here anymore.  When the kids are gone permanently, I may raise my level of scrounging and maybe look on Craigslist, in addition to watching freecycle, to see if I can find some grown-up chairs that are pretty and not just functional.

I think there are only a few pieces of furniture left in our house that weren’t free: our bed, our TV stand, and a couple of cabinets that came with my old desk.  I think that's pretty dang cool.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

a gloomy day outside

What better thing to do when it's grey and chilly outside than to scrapbook inside?  I signed up for the Creative Crop - an all-day, free class, full of imagination-starting challenges from Big Picture Classes.

Big Picture Classes

It's a complete change of pace, a perfect way to greet spring, which I hear is right around the corner.  I promise.  Maybe Erica will bring spring here with her when she comes home from college!!  One more reason to be excited that she's coming back.  Yippee!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

spring fever

Wow, a whole month just slipped away without blogging.    I'm sitting here, just thinking about how that could happen so quickly.  Between new babies, expectant mamas (not me!!  just want to be perfectly clear about that), sewing projects, gender reveal parties, shopping excursions, and what have you, the month of March is gone!   It came in like a lion--a huge blustery snowstorm, and it went out like a lamb yesterday.  Just a whimper of wind and snow.  Spring is right around the corner, here in Minnesota!  I heard some new birds singing this morning outside in the pine trees.  New for this spring, that is.  I'm used to just hearing the chickadees with their cheerful songs.

That reminds me of a little poem I used to say all the time:

Spring is here
Spring has sprung
The bird is on the wing
My, my, how absurd
I thought the wing was on the bird

Yeah, kinda corny.  I'm a word geek--I love to play with words.  Only I didn't play with very many words in March.  I'm still baffled by that.

Ah, well.  For everything there is a season...I think it's homework season at my house right now.  Yep...I'm still taking classes.  Tuition remission is a terrible thing to waste!  =o)  I'm in the middle of my first creative writing class, and it's like playing for credit.  I'll be sad to see it end.

Huh.  I'm kinda seeing where all my words went, now.  Haha!!

But this little video is a perfect antidote to a tired Monday: kitten fever!  Not that I would be in a position to get a kitten any time soon, but this one is irresistible.  It's short, but so sweet!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

he did mama proud!

If you haven't already seen this video, better find another tissue first.  This young man demonstrates such grace and maturity--it just touches something deep down in me.  I love that all he says about it is that he was raised to do the right thing.  Yes, he was.  *huge sigh*  Just a lovely way to end the evening.

Monday, February 25, 2013

thoughts from today...

Did you watch The Bachelor? All I can say is he is one lucky guy not to have picked Ashley. She was one angry chica. Hoo boy! Good news for him. And I like Catherine...we'll see. I've liked her from the get.

But on to more good news. Well, it's kind of sad, but it ends up good.

This cute little cat named Angel must really have nine lives.

From the commentary on her youTube video: People have commented that Angel was run over by a car but she has old and new broken ribs and spine and no other damage like internal injuries so unless she was run over by 4 or 5 cars at different times, then the rescue will have to go by what the vets say which is she was stomped and kicked repeatedly. Just clarifying :(

Stupid sick people who could do that to a kitten--words fail me.

But she was rescued, and taken to a place where she is safe now. Watch how she gets around. You can't kill the spirit in her--it shines brightly! Puts a smile on my face. She's adorable.

Friday, February 15, 2013

they CAN get along!

How cool is this?! And I bet these Huskies won't be cat chasers or cat killers, either.  Teach them while they're young.  :)

It's my favorite thing when everyone just gets along. I used to say that to the kids all the time: I want you guys to just. get. along! I told them they're going to be siblings forever, so they better be nice to each other when they're young so they'll still be friends when they're older.

I don't know how well my logic worked--they were kids, for crying out loud. They don't think the same way adults do. But I sure explained it to them in great detail until they were probably sick to death of hearing it. And then when they still didn't listen, they got hug breaks. It made me feel better, but I hear now that they hated them. Hmmm...good incentive to stop fighting with your sibling. Your mom will make you stand there and hug the person you are the most mad at in the world right now. It's cracking me up still!

I have to laugh at this video when the momma cat keeps cleaning the puppy in front of her as it is sleeping, and its leg keeps twitching like it's trying to scratch. Puppies are so funny!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

my sweet Valentine

To my sweet Valentine! ♥ ♥ ♥

I just want to thank you for everything you do for me, and for being who you are: the most thoughtful, most romantic, sweetest love of my life.  I can't believe how lucky I am.  I feel so spoiled sometimes.

Your love shows through every single day we are together.  It's not that you have to buy me roses and chocolate every day, or serenade me with beautiful Italian, your love shows clearly when you go out in the freezing cold every morning to start my car so it's warm for me when I go to work.  Your love is blazing bright when I come home on a Friday and you have cleaned the house, done the laundry and all the dishes so that I can relax and don't have to hit the floor running the minute I walk in the door. 

You get up early to take your shower first so I can sleep in a little later in the morning.  Your every thought seems to be about how to make my life easier.  I have to be careful about what I wish for out loud, because you take it to heart and figure out a way to work it out.  My happiness is your happiness. I love you for that.

One time, a long while ago, I said I like flowers, but I like them better when they're in the ground than I do when they're in a vase because they last longer.  You worked your tail off for several years in a row to put in a huge beautiful garden for me, and now every spring, summer, and fall, I have the most beautiful living bouquet of flowers a girl could ever ask for.  You did that for ME.  I know you enjoy the flowers, too, but our beautiful flower garden reminds me every year of your love for me.

You hear what I have to say, and you remember it forever.  You plot and you plan and you do it for me.  When I say I'd like something for the house, you figure out how to make it happen.  Sometimes it takes a minute for a project to come together, but eventually it does.  Like our coat racks.  LOL. It stretched out a few years, but now there they are on the wall...and they're just beautiful!  But sometimes, it's like snapping my fingers because it happens that fast.  When I said I wanted a picture hung in the living room, you dropped everything, got your tools, and hung my picture up right then and there.  I say I want a bench--boom! You're on it, making it happen.

You won't even argue with me anymore.  We spar, and we pick at each other a little sometimes, and then you just stop.  You can't fight with your best friend, you tell me, and just like that, it's over.  ♥  You inspire me to be a better person.

I appreciate you, my love.  And I love you!  Thanks for being my Valentine.

So, in the microwave, you will find some Fudgy Brownie Hearts with Fresh Berry Buttercream sandwiched in between them. Help yourself! There is fresh coffee in the thermos. Pour yourself a cup, pull up a chair, and enjoy.

This one is for you, sweetheart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

can you canoe?

I love quirkiness...and I love people who are completely themselves.  A little weird, a little compulsive, a little simple, people who are content with who they are--they just let it all hang out. 

One local duo like this just won a Grammy for a little ditty they sang called "Can You Canoe?", and this is exactly what I'm talking about.  If you haven't heard it yet, click away and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

a voice from my past

I came across another interesting blog the other day.  A person who apparently goes to the church I grew up in has started a blog about their thoughts about the church and how things are going there now.  It was fascinating to read it. 

It's been a long time...this year it will be twenty years since I left the church!  I can't say I've been out longer than I was in yet, but I'm getting there.   And in case you're wondering, I've never been happier--life just keeps getting better for me.

But I thought I'd post the link--sometimes it's nice to visit the past, just to make you appreciate the present.

And before you start reading that, you could click play below to listen while you read, if you like.  This lovely song expresses a view on life that I is wonderful!  I especially like the trumpet part--playful and beautiful at the same time.  Isn't it serendipitous how the name of this song just matches my theme of positivity for the month? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

no, I did not eat the sprinkles

"I ... did not ... eat the sprinkles."

He sounds so convincing. If he weren't wearing them all over his face, his mother probably would have believed him. LOL.

But how could you get mad at that adorable face?   Mom said that after the video, they had a long talk about the difference between telling stories and telling the truth.

Ah, the joys of parenting when the not-me gremlin shows up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

some father-son awesomeness

You absolutely have to love a dad who is willing to let it all hang out to have fun with his son, and not worry about looking silly. Thirty seconds of smiles await you...

Friday, February 8, 2013

I love cats

I think the best entertainment in the world is simply watching cats play.  It's a great stress reliever.  Sounds a little too simple, I know, but seriously. They are so Zen, completely in the moment, and ready to let it all hang out at a second's notice.   All it takes sometimes is one little twitch, one jump, and it's  on! 


And by the way, don't you think these are the most gorgeous cats EVER?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

from homeless to Harvard

Dawn Loggins was abandoned by her parents when she was a teenager.  Who the heck does that, by the way?!  She gets invited to a prestigious summer program through school for top scholars, and when she gets back from it, her family has been evicted, her grandmother has been dropped off at a homeless shelter, and the parents have moved out of state, leaving no forwarding address. I cannot imagine.

I have a whole of things to say about that, but that's not what I want to focus on this month.  What I really wanted to share is what she did about it. Check this out. This girl has a positive attitude, I'm telling you. I can take lessons! If you want to read a longer article about it, you can do that here.

But before you start to  think that since she did this, no one has any excuse for not succeeding, remember the crucial piece of the story.  She had help.  She had a community behind her that was willing to step up and give her a hand.  She took that help and multiplied it with her efforts to get the outstanding results she received.  When people are in dire straits, the answer is not to cast them adrift and shout from the shore, "Sink or swim, baby!"  Give them the tools, help with the means, and let them apply the effort.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

patty cake play

This is too funny. I'm obsessed with cats lately...I wonder why. Maybe because they are so entertaining! Just a note, if you don't have your sound on, I'm sure you will just scratch your head and think I'm crazy for liking this.

Well, if you're not a cat appreciator, you might already think I'm crazy. Hee hee!

 Just click the play button already! Fun awaits you!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

happy tears

Oh, girl, get your Kleenex already.  I know I said it was going to be a good news kind of month, so why in the world would I be telling you that you need a tissue?  Well, sometimes good news comes in packages that make you a little teary.  Just ask my kids.  I think it's their goal to make  me cry by doing something nice for me.  LOL.  I know that sounds a little weird, but that's okay...I love them for it!

But I digress.  Let me get you right to the positivity here!  Just give the play button a little click and sniff away.  If you want to read the accompanying story, you could go here, but if you listen carefully, you won't need it.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

a happy ending for Chester...

The happy story I want to share today is about Chester. Chester the cat. He's a very cute orange kitty--my favorite color cat. Maybe someday I'll have two orange cats who are siblings and I'll let them live with me for their whole life, just like my Franklin and Tucker. I'd like to adopt them from a good rescue place, though, because I really believe in what they do.

But just go read...Chester's people tell the story better than I can retell it. His story is on Life With Cats.  Good people do exist, and I'm happy to share them when I find them!

Friday, February 1, 2013

it's a wonder-filled life

Happy February!

I've decided to celebrate my birthMONTH this year by focusing on positivity! I'm looking for good things and good people to talk about, and one thing that makes me very happy is a new addition to our family: an adorable granddaughter.  Yep, I gotta brag!

I got to spend a few days helping out--wrangling a toddler, making meals, cleaning up the kitchen...just whatever was helpful, hopefully!

He's starting to put a couple of words at a time together, so when I'd come in to get him out of bed in the morning, he'd say, "Hi! ...  'maama."  And I'd say, "Hi!  ...  Wyatt." Then he'd copy me. "Hi. Wyatt." And when I snorted at something on TV because I thought it was funny, he snorted, too, right after me.   When I was in the kitchen baking, I said, "What the HECK!?" And a little voice came out of the other room..."HECK!"

Laugh? Oh, I laughed at that kid.

He's 21 months old, and little sister Mackenzie? She is still as new as a shiny penny.  They are a little farther apart than my first two kids were, but it still brings back memories.  Life is taking off like a rocket for them--the next few years will probably go by in a blur, but I will certainly enjoy them.  I'll be cheering them on from here on the sidelines.

And these are the beautiful smiling faces I enjoyed all week!  Love them!  He gets so excited when Momma lets him hold the baby...he just giggles and kicks his feet and smiles from ear to ear.  How innocent and precious.  Oh my.

Thanks for letting me share in the fun, momma Mel!