Go Team

My brother, sister, and I share an unabashed love for classic literature.  We agree on most things -politics, religion, what to eat on Christmas morning (orange rolls!), but something we agree most on is Dickens.

Charlie Dickens, the great writer!

Steve, as a matter of tradition, reads “A Christmas Carol” every year at Christmas time.  When I was newly pregnant with my son and sicker than sick, I gobbled up “Nicholas Nickleby” instead of regular food on account of my son apparently hating the idea of his mother eating.  Did I mention the book was a gift from my sister?  It was.  My sister and I have spent countless precious hours watching film versions of classic literature.  The latest and greatest we’re all excited about?

Jane Eyre Poster
Easily one of the greatest books in all of creation. My goal is to one day stick a little of Jane Eyre in a church talk.

Anyway, when I heard about this movie, I started thinking about going to see it and wearing appropriate shirts. Given my love of classic lit, I’ve never been tempted to crack the cover of “Twilight.” When someone is used to plots that move at a snail’s pace, something like a vampire love story just doesn’t tempt me. I’m not curious to read it, but I have gone so far as to rent the first movie.
I won’t get into that right now.
But I will say this: I felt a little left out. Women the world-wide were making shirts and going to the movies together! So I decided since Jane Eyre was coming to the big screen, now was as good a chance as any to get in some girl-bonding, shirt wearing time.
The nearest theater that played Jane Eyre is over an hour away. To get a group of girls together to go see it was just impossible. Between paying for gas, food, AND sitters for our kids? Forget it!
I was sad, too. I had a pretty kick arse shirt idea.
I had given up entirely on the idea until my brother sent me a facebook message telling me Jane Eyre was in the dollar theater near him and that he was going to make one of the shirts I had in mind.
A few hours later, I got this text:
And all was right with the world again.
Steve, you’re the best.

Dedicating our Home

I just had to start today’s post with that picture. It’s a beauty. “Shampoo” in the background, John Deere shirt, tie, glasses, McQueen hat… Ahhh.
This blog has been boy heavy lately, hasn’t it? Well, it’s about time! Trenton is really coming into his own, and standing by to watch has been the best.

In other news: Danny and I have been living in this house for almost a year and a half. We still haven’t dedicated our home.
For more information on why/how we dedicate our home read HERE and HERE.

We sat down together and decided on a date to dedicate the house. We set it far enough off that we could have some time to get our house in order.
Two years ago, we decided on a family scripture. It is D&C 88:119:
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

We’re constantly working on ALL of those things, and before we had our home dedicated we wanted to make sure it was in order. Because we have two little kiddos, there won’t be perfect order, and I’m okay with that. In the meantime, we’re finishing projects -which I love! -and we’re making the house more of a home and less of a … rental. It’s slowly getting there, and I’m so happy!
Last night, my husband exchanged our old hanging lampshade over the dining table:
With this:
Made from a broken hanging flower basket that my Aunt had given me awhile back. The switch cost us all of $4 for the spray paint. Next time I go shopping, I’m going to get a cuter light bulb, but what we have will do for now.

I’ve been busy with little projects like these decorative balls:
They serve a few purposes.
1) They look cute and show off my love for the written word and buttons.
2) They are made using balls of yarn that have sat in my overcrowded storage bins under my bed. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out and now I don’t have to!
3) They entertain the children.

Throughout the remainder of the month, we’ll be building and creating and beautifying. I hope you won’t mind my cataloging the journey here. It’s exciting to see it unfold and spending quality time with my husband doing it all has been the highlight of my life these days.
Today’s To Do list is pretty hefty and I need to get started on it. The first thing on that list?
Throw out the lamp shade!!

To read about how our new lighting fixture came to be, click HERE.
The get my Dad’s recipe for grilling up the Hawaiian Hamburgers we had for our Memorial Day BBQ, click HERE.

Backyard Hunt

Yesterday, we had two kids over to play.  They’re siblings and live just down the road.  The older is a boy, and he’s graduating from Kindergarten tonight.  He’s by far the CUTEST kid in school, and he’s smarter than the average kid.  I’m not talking book smarter -though he may very well be.  I’m talking real life smarter.  He constantly asks questions about how things work, why things are the way they are, and if he can get his hands on a project.  He told me how to differentiate between a bad mushroom and a good mushroom while I was doing dishes.

As the day progressed, I found the key to his success: persistence.  When he got something in his head, he refused to give it up until he’d found a satisfactory answer.  And that’s how I came to help catch a lizard.

Growing up, we had tons of lizards around the house.  We had horned lizards (horny toads), racer lizards, wood lizards, and even a few iguanas.  With three older brothers, our house was never devoid of wildlife.  I enjoy the fruits of their hunts without ever having to hunt anything myself.  Horny toads were my favorite.  My brother, Mike, was the best at catching them.  After he did all the hunting and catching work, I would sit by and play with it (or watch him make it so angry it would shoot blood).

So when my little neighbor friend asked me to hunt lizards with him, I told him sorry.  I was no good.
“But you can TRY,” he insisted. He had a point. He had tried chasing one and it had run into the neighbor’s yard. He wasn’t about to be stopped by a FENCE, but I pointed out to him that there was something called property lines that you shouldn’t cross.
“There’s tons of lizards in our yard,” I said, “I’m sure you can find one.”
“Can you help?” He asked again.
“I’m no good at hunting lizards,” I said again, “But where do they usually hide?”
“By rocks,” he said.
“There’s a bunch of rocks over there,” I said, pointing to the east side of the house.

I walked him over and he started flipping rocks and digging through dirt. He found a racer -it got away. As I walking back into the house the FATTEST lizard I’ve ever seen in my LIFE ran across my porch and under my evergreens. I called the boy over.
“Kick the fence!” He called to me from the other side of the evergreen, “Scare it my way!”
So I kicked. We heard it rustle and then… we found it. Our yard has a sort of fence around it and at the very bottom of that fence there’s a line of chicken wire. I don’t know why it’s there or who put it there. But I like it. It tends to keep critters out. That lizard was SO FAT it got stuck in the chicken wire. I watched it’s head and tiny arms squirm and wiggle and I shrieked.
“Grab it!” I heard my neighbor shout from under the evergreen; he had a firm grasp on it’s tail. I timidly reached for the wriggling lizard and shrieked again.
“Blake, I can’t!” I said.
“THEN GET OVER HERE AND GRAB IT’S TAIL!” He ordered. He wasn’t putting up with this cowardly crap.
“No,” I took a deep breath, “I can do it. I can do it. I can do it…” I reached forward with more confidence, wrapped my hand around the fat lizard and ever-so-carefully tilted and pulled it until it was completely free from the fence.
“Get a jar, Blake!” I said, making my way quickly into the house.
“Let me hold it.” He said, walking along side me.
“Just get a jar,” I said, walking faster.
“I’ll grab his body…” He persisted, holding out his hand. Just then, the lizard STRUCK at Blake’s hand and I screamed. The lizard was now half-way out of my scared little hand.
“GET A JAR!” I jumped, “HURRY!”
So he did. We dumped the lizard in and I fell onto the couch, glad the adventure was over.
Blake sat next to me.
“So…” he said, staring at the lizard, “Is it a boy a girl? Why is it so fat? Is it pregnant?”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “Sorry. I don’t know anything about lizards.”
“You can type it,” he said, pointing to my computer.

He wanted me to use Google. Who am I to refuse a child Google -something I love dearly?

I spent the next 30 minutes researching information about lizards, and as I read to him, he asked more questions.
The verdict? It’s a girl. We think. The pregnant thing? Lizards lay eggs, sometimes inside of their bodies.
What should you take from this? Persistence pays off!
And always ALWAYS consult Google.

Note: these pictures do not do justice to the fattyness of this lizard.  Object is larger than it appears.

A Little More Country

Yesterday morning, the kids and I planted the flower bed in front of our house.  I really hope it grows.  It’s a rather cruddy piece of Arizona land, and the first time I tried to plant flowers in it, I could barely make a dent in the dirt.  I really tore into that dirt with determination and ended up finding exactly three spots in the bed where I could break through the soil.  All three of those spots were filled with potting soil.  Turns out someone else had tried planting flowers a few years before.  I’m positive they met the same fate all of my flowers have met.


The soil isn’t 100% to blame.  I can hardly grow a darn thing which is darn unlucky given my love of beautiful gardens.  But really… who doesn’t love a beautiful garden?  My husband and I have been pouring love and work into that blasted flower bed for a year and a half.  This year, the dirt was much easier to work with.  I spent my morning on my knees with my kids around me planting all manner of flowers.  I didn’t take a picture because I’m afraid that even after all of my planting and watering, it really isn’t all that beautiful.  I’m no master gardener, but I’m trying.  Really, I am.

I also might have spent the rest of the day trying to keep kids out of the bed.  It didn’t take but thirty minutes for me to realize that flower beds can only be successful in beds that are never invaded by two year olds.  With watering cans.Photobucket
There’s a good chance that marigold may never air out again.

But I love it. I mean, I don’t love choking out marigolds… I just love the country. I love the air and the ease and the neighbors. My neighbor, for instance, as we were planting flowers, called my daughter over. She gave her the most beautiful bouquet of iris that she’d hand-picked from her own yard. They were absolutely inspirational, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
I thanked her for them and turned to take them in the house when I saw… THE COW. I didn’t get a picture of the cow because whenever I saw it I was too busy chasing it instead of snapping pictures of it. That cow had gotten out and put itself back in so many times that I hated it. It was smarter than I was! By the time we got my Dad called (because the cow belonged to him) to tell him that he had a cow out, the darn thing had put itself back in. A regular jokester! I could never, ever find how or where it got in and out.
“There’s that cow!” I said to my neighbor, and we together… we sprang into action. She went around one way, I went around the other. We got the cow back in and succeeded in finding the hole it was moving in and out of. I called Dad, and he came over to fix the hole in the fence.
I finally had a chance to put the iris in a vase, and as I did so I was inspired to completely redecorate the wall behind it.
I stole a few pieces from the hacked up piano and went to work.
A shout-out to Laurie for the most amazing record(s) ever. They now sit on my piano and look sharp.
Remember when I went a’yard sailing? Well if you can ignore the blue wallpaper that loves to taunt me…Photobucket
You can see what I did with what I got (does that line make anyone else want to start singing Sublime songs?). The chair sits in front of the thick piece of wood that sat underneath all of the piano keys. The vintage picnic box sits next to the chair. The frame (which used to hold art. I absolutely tore it out like a jerk.) cost me $3 and sits around the wreath I finally almost finished.
I stole another piece from my indoor wood pile and took my drill to it. I might also add that my husband is handy at leaving our two hammers lying around in places I can not find. So I used a high heel to hammer with. It’s official: I’m a woman. W-O-M-A-N.
My husband says it needs paint. I say it looks like a fresh canvas waiting for me to add crap to it. Look out!
After I finished my iris-inspired redecorating, I went to pick up my nieces. Their mom is getting close to having my nephew (wee!) and she pulled a muscle in her back. I picked them up and we went to visit some friends on the way home.
These friends are really, really cool. They have the best toys, and I’m not talking about anything electronic.
They have chickens! And pigeons! And goats and a calf and four bunnies and horses and even… A BABY PONY! I sat back and watched the kids chase chickens, put goats back in, play with a wild baby bunny, uncover teensy chicks that hid under their mother’s wings, and play with everything in sight.
My son found a bat and was determined to help chase the goats back in.
“Get dose sheep!” He cried. I love the cut-off sweats and the cowboy boots.
After the goats were all safely back home, we went back to our house to find grandpa fixing the fence where the cow had gotten in and out.

The kids used the same hole in the fence to go play on Grandpa’s tractors and throw rocks in the cows’ water.
After we hand planted a few seeds in the flower bed and run ourselves a little more ragged, we went back inside for hot dogs and homemade ketchup -made with the tomatoes from last year’s garden. My niece loved it. She could have cared less about the hot dogs. When her ketchup was gone, she simply started eating Trenton’s. He bawled about it, of course, but that didn’t stop her.
After taking the girls back home, we ate some dinner and then went outside to start our Family Home Evening… planting the garden!
I don’t have any pictures because my hands were covered in muddy potting soil the whole time. BUT in addition to having a flower bed, I now have an herb bed, six tomato plants, six pepper plants and two squash plants. The garden isn’t even HALF planted, but it sure feels good to get your hands into dirt.

Yesterday was wonderful. It felt like summer, and summer is my favorite. I love the heat. I love the green. I love the Fourth of July. I love oreos and hot dogs and root beer. I love fresh air and warm nights. I could live forever in summer… so long as I could stay right here where the air is country.

Day Date

Once a year, our little town puts on a whale of a yard sale day.  This year, we had over 2o yard sales in one morning.  I realize that doesn’t mean much to someone who lives somewhere where 20 yard sales in one morning is typical, but for US in the “sticks”… it’s thrilling.

I went to my bank yesterday and pulled out cash especially for the occasion.  I woke up at 7, my son woke up at 7:30 and by 8 we had both had our breakfast and were on our way. As we quietly opened the front door so as not to disturb the two members of our family who were still sleeping, Trent said, “Lacy wants to stay home, Mom.” That’s his code. What he was really saying was, “Spend time with just me, Mom.”
With him by my side, we hit one yard sale after another. He picked up trinkets and I picked up frames. He picked up trinkets and I picked up vintage patterns for FREE:
The spoils:
The little brown case sitting next to the chair is a vintage picnic box. I LOVE it. I can’t stop staring at it.  I wasn’t able to find a bookcase, which was what I was looking for.  But I had a blast with my little guy.  I love him so much!  He often takes the backseat to his sister, who has a flair for demanding attention.  He doesn’t mind much, but he does appreciate spending one-on-one time with just about anyone.

The first yard sale I always stop at is my aunt’s.  I looked through her jewelry while I paid for my loot (the vintage picnic box and the chair and the wire rooster), and I fell in love with one of her necklaces.  BUT I knew I needed a bookcase.  I told myself if I couldn’t find a bookcase and the necklace was still there when I was done sifting through yard sale goodies, I would get it.

Guess what?
In case you couldn’t make it to the yard sales, here’s A LINK to her etsy shop. There now. You didn’t even have to get up.

How Did Mommy Do?

Guess what?  My kids aren’t grounded from movies anymore!  I should be hopping up and down, you know.  I should be lining up all of the movies we get to watch today.  But my daughter -and this is totally classic -blew my expectations out of the water.

See, I EXPECTED her to be absolutely ROOTED to the television when I let her watch one movie during rest time.  Before you judge me (which I’m pretty sure you’re not) listen to my story.

Tuesday night, a family friend called and asked if I’d be available to watch her kids (ages 6 and 4) the next day while she worked.  My schedule is open! I said.  I woke up Wednesday morning to a clean house (thanks to my ratted petticoat), but I had one concern: how do you entertain a six year old boy when the only tricks you have up your sleeve involve petticoats?  So I called in reinforcements: my cousin -nearly five years old -Seth.  Just before Seth arrived, my cell phone’s calendar reminded me that I had offered to watch my friend’s children that morning.  I didn’t cancel because her son was just the right age to entertain the 6 year old boy and her daughter was just the right age to play with my daughter.

We planted all manner of seeds in egg cartons (carrots, beets, basil, squash, peas!), and then the kids -all seven of them -played.  You know what’s great about having seven well behaved children play at your house?  It’s simple and easy and cute.  I did have to stop a few squabbles, but no full-on fights.

And here’s lunch:Photobucket
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was wearing out. You know how it is -when you’re smack dab in the middle of something, you’re all go! go! go! But when you’re finished and you’re left to a plush couch… you’re powerless.
So I popped a movie in, and what happened next is what blew my expectations out of the water. She was supposed to be GLUED to the screen! She was supposed to sit on her back side, ne’er again to move!
She watched the first ten minutes. Maybe. Then she was over it.
I didn’t mind too much, really. I was impressed with her. A girl who rarely goes a day without a flick was totting along, completely happy to have her movies taken away. She’s like one of those addicts who says, “I can quit whenever I want to,” as they flip their hair and flick the end of the ciggy. EXCEPT SHE CAN.
That afternoon, I set to cleaning my house. The kids I’d had during the day were so well behaved that they cleaned up their own messes, and all I had to do was clean up mine. When I was done, I got everything out for the mutual project I was doing with my Beehives.
That’s right! I traded in 7 little kids for 7 older kids (one ended up not showing up)! A few hours before, during the lunchtime rush, my husband popped in to say he wasn’t coming home for dinner.

I need to know: Am I the only wife in the universe who loves to hear that? Not coming home for dinner, babe? Aw, sad. I’ll miss you. *peck* You’re wonderful for working so hard…
Then I turn around and pour out bowls of cold cereal and enjoy being praised as the Best Mommy in Town. Also, I take my make-up off. ALSO I put my sweats on.

Our craft went well, just so you know. We covered three-ring binders in a fabric of their choice and filled them with page protectors and file labels. Now they have their own little cookbooks! I can’t wait to start filling them with recipes.
I mean the books. Not the girls. Although maybe in this case it doesn’t matter.

(the little girl in the front row all the way to the left wants you to know that isn’t her REAL smile.)

After the project was done and I had picked my kids up from the sitter, I was pretty much DONE. I put the kids through their bedtime routine and then I put them in bed. They didn’t want to go so… I CAVED AGAIN. This time I won’t blame you for judging me.
They wanted Mary Poppins.
I popped it into their player and ran off to change into my PJs. I came back and heard the music for the main menu playing. I was going to press play and I would have had they not BOTH been fast asleep.

My expectations? Blown out of the water.
So to answer my own question: how did I do with the movie grounding? Shoddy. Terrible.
How did my grounded daughter do? She passed with flying colors. And she MIGHT have even reminded her mother twice yesterday that she shouldn’t be watching movies because she was grounded. Bad mommy. But learning from our children is a given, right?

Take yesterday, for instance:
PLEASE stop reading here if you have a weak stomach when it comes to any potty training issues.

The boy insists on potty training. He isn’t very good at it, mind you, but he refuses to wear a diaper. Did you know that when it comes to smelling, mothers of young children have superhuman powers? I can smell bleach from a mile away.
I can smell poop from five miles away. When I caught a faint whiff of poo, I ran to find the source.

And there he was. Absolutely fraught with anxiety. He needed help but he couldn’t stand the thought of asking because he was embarrassed. He’d tried to take care of the problem himself so I wouldn’t find out, but because he’s two… he just couldn’t. In the end we got him squeaky clean, but it got me thinking about how sometimes I find myself in a mess and try to clean my own way out. But I can’t.
Forgive this fairly AWFUL comparison, won’t you? My college roommates adapted themselves to my weird gospel comparisons (“Have you ever noticed how much the church is like a fully-grown fetus?”).
But really! Seeing my son there, trying in vain to clean up the mess he’d made and only succeeding it making it worse reminded me that when it comes to wiping the slate clean (pun intended), we can’t do it alone. The hard part is asking for help. Whether it’s because you’re embarrassed or scared of getting in trouble, no amount of negative emotions can compare to what you’ll feel when the weight is lifted off your shoulders. To have someone come in and clean up the mess you made is a humbling experience that you’ll always looks back on with gratitude. It’s also pretty good at making you NEVER EVER want to get that messy again. I’m hoping that’s how my son feels, anyway. No offense to my vigilant potty trainer, but that was nashty.

And so, if you’ve read this far without gagging, bravo. And I’m sorry to have written about potty training in detail. It goes against a rule of mine, but I felt this time that I should share.
I hope you’re not eating breakfast right now…

One last story: while we were planting seeds in egg cartons, the boys all asked me what I had in the bag next to me.

“Is it dirt?” They asked.
“No,” I said, “It’s potting soil.”
They all nearly busted their guts laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“YOU SAID POTTY!” They cried.
“I said POTT-EEN-G. Like… for a POT.”
“Oh…” they kind of hunkered down.
“I didn’t say POTTY,” I continued. Then I looked them in the eyes and said, “But now I did.”
And the laughs continued.
Oh, boys… I love them.

Eating Out

We went for two months without eating out.  We had one paycheck that was short, and we issued the challenge to ourselves: no eating out this paycheck.

I say “challenge” because it sounds more adventurous than “rule.”
We stuck by it, man. I cooked this and whipped up that. I was amazed at how much food we really did have in our cupboards. It isn’t like we eat out all the time. We tend to order pizza about once every two weeks. During a particularly hairy time, we might average one take-out meal every 10 days. But because we did so well NOT eating out, we extended the challenge to the next paycheck and the next and the next.
Before I knew it, we had gone TWO MONTHS without eating out (except for the one time the kids and I ate hot dogs at the food court in Sam’s Club, but I don’t really count that since there was no way around it. Also it cost me all of $5.)

Last week on Thursday, I had HAD it. I was tired and the kids were tired. I was hungry and the kids were hungry. I’d had a hankering for cheese sticks and I didn’t have any appropriate cheese on hand to make any, so I asked my husband if we could eat out. He was fine with the idea, so we decided to eat at Denny’s. I felt terrible about it, really. All this time, I’d saved and saved and saved and cooked and cooked and cooked, only to be overthrown by a hasty decision essentially made by my stomach.
I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t.
Even when my plate of cheese sticks was placed in front of me and a voice inside was crying out, “YOU DESERVE THIS!” I still couldn’t shake it.
The next day, we went shopping. It’s been a while since my husband went shopping with us, and he really hates watching prices go up. By the time we were done checking out, he, ahem, wasn’t the happiest camper in the world. So I took a slight detour on the way home. That is to say: instead of depositing our car on the highway and heading home, I deposited our car at Sonic and ordered up some greasy grub. Food always makes my husband happy.
After we’d eaten (for only $8! Can you beat that?! If you’re not Sam’s Club, I mean…) we drove home. The next morning, we woke up, packed up, and headed to Thatcher.
My sister was graduating, and after her ceremony we… ate out. As a family.
I didn’t even come CLOSE to finishing my three creamy chicken enchiladas. Something just tasted… off.

And something WAS off. I tossed and turned all that night, falling in and out of sleep as my stomach would allow. The next day, I woke up and the family and I made our way to Denny’s again -this time with the rest of the family. We had one more family meal (breakfast) before we all split up and headed our different directions. I ordered one Grand Slam for me and the kids.
The kids ate more than I did. I mean… the kids ate more than I COULD.
I tried all day to shake the ache in my stomach. We stayed with my good friend, Stephanie, and I felt like the biggest jerk ever -plastered to her couch sipping on Sprite and cursing Casa Manana and their chicken enchiladas.

We finally made it back to our own house around 10:30 at night. My poor husband took the wheel for the long ride home, and I sat passenger, clutching my trusty Sprite and a pillow.
I collapsed on the couch when we got home and woke up a few times in the night with a roaring stomach ache. I’m not exactly proficient at.. purging (shall I say?) so the stomach ache simply stayed with me with no way to really work it’s way out.
I did make it to church, but only barely.

But I will tell you this much: the challenge is BACK ON.
No eating out! NO EATING OUT!!

In other news: here’s the only picture I took this weekend. I only took one picture for three reasons: my camera is dead and I can’t find the charger, my phone camera’s zooming function quit working, and I was plastered to poor Stephanie’s couch.
It’s a nice, relaxing picture though. Isn’t it? The kids were enjoying an afternoon splashing away in a kiddie pool. I enjoyed the sunshine and the green grass and the mountains in the distance.

As for yesterday, I snapped a couple of pictures with my zoom-less camera phone. My grandmother has a merry-go-round in her backyard. She’s had it for as long as I can remember.
When it comes to company, the merry-go-round has never been found wanting.
(no, I didn’t let them ride around like that. But I did have to get a picture before telling them to dismount.)

I left the kids to their playing and made my way into the house where I was greeted by THIS:

A necklace my aunt had made that I admired. I’m not big on jewelry, but my aunt’s taste is FANTASTIC!

Am I planning today’s hairstyle, make-up and outfit around this necklace?
Of course I am.

Just before heading to bed, I snapped this picture of two of my favorite people sharing a late night snack while they watched the game highlights on ESPN.com:Photobucket

That, readers, is my weekend report.
Today will consist of wearing my necklace (priority!), cleaning the house to get it ready for a day of fun with my nieces, taking the kids to the cemetery to clean-up, taking the kids swimming for an hour, and then heading to a friend’s birthday BBQ.

Days like today should always begin with a necklace like mine.
Please excuse me, the boy is drinking from the toilet.

Eggs for Breakfast

Growing up, we bought a lot of groceries. There was a time when Mom would come home from the grocery store with 8 gallons of milk. They would completely fill the top shelf of the fridge and then -one week later -they would all be gone. We could go through one gallon during breakfast alone. Needless to say, grocery shopping could be stressful for Mother. When she got home, all of us kids knew it was our job to bring everything in so Mom wouldn’t have to. I always had a competition with myself to see how much I could carry in at once. I got to be fairly adept at grocery-toting, a skill that has come in handy all my life. One night, as I joined in the bustle of bringing in the groceries, I carried the eggs inside. But being the pro grocery-toter that I was, I also had about three other bags on my arm. By the time I reached the porch, the load was too heavy for me and I…

dropped the eggs. They didn’t go flying over our concrete porch or anything. The bag just fell flat on it’s bottom. The cartons stayed closed. Instead of instantly cracking a carton open to see the damage, I hurriedly picked the bag up and decided to mentally deny to myself that the dropping had ever occurred. But the guilt could not be denied. Why didn’t I just TELL Mother? Because Mother was already stressed out from spending an absurd amount of money on food that three preteen boys and two girls would easily throw back like it was nothing. In a few days, everything she had payed for would be totally gone. I didn’t want to tell her that something might have happened to the eggs! Can you imagine the wrath that might have been unleashed on the girl who may or may not have broken 3 dozen eggs?!?!
Well it turns out I DID break them.
And I never, ever spoke up. I carried that guilt with me for years. In fact, I never told my mother until a few years ago. By then she wasn’t mad anymore.

Well, guess what Mom? Groceries cost more now. I only have two small kids and I only need to purchase TWO gallons of milk instead of eight, but grocery shopping can really get me sometimes. We went last night, you know. I haven’t taken my husband with me in awhile, and he cursed just about everything for going up in price. To soothe our souls, I took a detour home that included Sonic. Sonic always helps everything.
As we all unloaded groceries -the kids are old enough now and LOVE to be “big and strong!” helpers -I dropped the bag with 18 eggs in it.
Just as I was gingerly plucking eggs from the bag they spilled in, my husband came up behind me.
“What happened?” he asked, surprised.
“Karma,” I sighed, “It was bound to happen someday and I deserve it.”
“Eggs for breakfast?” He laughed.
Yes darling.
Eggs it is.

Why Not? aka My Mother’s Philosophy

Mother’s Day was yesterday.  Do you know what that means?  That means I can finally show you what we got our mothers for Mother’s Day 2011!!  But first:

My husband was asked to speak in church on Sunday, and he did a great job.  He always does a great job, but yesterday was special -not just because it was Mother’s Day.  Lately, he’s been studying up on teaching by the spirit.  He studied his topic (Mothers, of course) by reading talks and researching and then instead of writing a talk, he just got up and GAVE a talk.  No notes.  No outline.  He just spoke the words that came to him because of his studying.  He did do some reading from the pulpit because he printed out a couple of the talks he’d studied, but he didn’t plan out what or when he was going to read from them.  He did an amazing job!  I would have been so lost.  I would have surely said something to embarrass myself because that’s what I do when I get nervous.  While he spoke, he talked a little about his wife.  That’s me.  Hi.

He remarked to the men in the congregation that they should always do whatever they can to help the women reach their potential.  He then went on to say that his wife (me.  hi.) likes to learn new things and that whenever she sees something she likes to learn, she googles it and then does it.

I realized that he’s right. I love to learn new things. I love getting my hands into a project and learn along the way. Then I thought about my sister. She’s the same way. Then I thought about my brothers. They’re the same way! We’ve always got our noses in some kind of informational book.
Bee keeping.
Healthy eating.
Rocks, rocks, rocks!

Why is that? I wondered. Then I realized it all has to do with something we all have in common: our sainted mother. Whether she realizes it or not, my mother has a philosophy that she passed onto all of us. I like to call it The Why Not Philosophy.
As she nurtured the six of us under her wing, she encouraged us to fly the nest even before we were completely ready.
“Do you think I can fly to that branch?” We’d ask in essence, pointing to the next branch over.
“Why not?” She’d ask. And so we would.
“Do you think I can make it to the top of the tree, Mom?”
“Why not?” She’d ask. And so we would.
“Do you think I can fly away, Mom?” We’d ask, shaking in our beaks.
“Why not?” She’d ask, and nudge us to the edge of the nest.
We always came back, and we still do.
Because my mother has never doubted me, I have never doubted myself. My husband has reaped the rewards (? consequences?) of this. When through my reading and researching I come across something I’d like to learn or try, I hold the picture up and pronounce that I CAN do it! And I SHOULD! Because… why not? And one day and a messy kitchen later, I have a loaf of French bread. One day and a terrified sewing machine later, I’ve got half of an apron.
My very first apron, I might add, went to my sainted mother. She regards it the same way a mother might regard a child’s first hand painting… so messy it’s too cute to toss out.
I went through my journal a few months ago. With each entry, I had taken the time to write ten things about myself until I’d reached 100.
I read through them and laughed.
“I hate my nose.”
“I have long legs.”
“My favorite animal is tigers.”
“I don’t know how to thread a sewing machine.”

Say what? That was just a few years ago! Four years later, I made my daughter’s Easter dress. Was it crappy? Yes! But did I thread my own sewing machine? Yes! And all because I looked at three yards of pink poly/cotton and thought, ‘why not?’

It all started when we were little kids. My mother always encouraged us to increase our understanding of anything we were particularly interested in.
With Steve it was nature. He’s now a geology major -soon to be graduate.
With me it was music and writing. I’m now a piano teacher with a degree in Music Education. And I sometimes blog. I guess.
With Ju it was horses. She now has a trained horse and a brilliant agricultural career looming: after her mission.
With JC it was cars. He’s now working the family mechanic business brilliantly.
With Mike it was anything hands on: cars, fixing things, woodshop… he’s now a carpenter with an amazing knack to do anything he sets his mind to. He’s the go to man! The can do man! The one everyone wants a piece of! Just ask any of us.
With Jim it’s art and creativity. He’s still in his formative years, and Ma is slowly coaxing him around the nest, whispering to him words of self-confidence and encouragement.

Steve happened to remark to one of his professors a few months ago that his mother has taught him everything he needed to know to live comfortably while away from home.
“Have you ever thanked her for that?” He asked. Steve called home almost immediately.
I’d like to take that a step farther and say my mother gave us the wings of independence and experience. Did she teach me to cook? In her own way, yes she did! She didn’t sit me on the counter next to her and show me what teaspoons are. She let me open the drawer and discover the teaspoons for myself.
“Can I make cookies, Mom?” I’d ask.
“Why not?” She’d ask.
And so I would. On my own. As I measured out the flour and oatmeal for the no-bake cookies I made for about 5 years of my life, my wings spread a little farther and Mom’s Philosophy instilled itself deeper into my soul.

And now that I’ve left her nest and started carefully building my own, I find myself reverting to The Why Not Philosophy daily.
Can I get married, Mom?
Can I make a studio apartment a home, Mom?
Can I live with you for a little while, Mom?
Can I actually push this little baby out of me, Mom?
Can I make it on my own for a few months while my husband leaves for training, Mom?
Can I have another baby so soon?
Can I move again?
Can I sew?
Can I make that?
Can I grow that?
Can I learn that?
Can I have the world, Mom?

Why not?

Her two words of subtle challenge and encouragement will follow me forever -a constant beckon to never let anything stand in the way of my journey.
“Thank you, Mom” seems ridiculously insufficient.
So maybe you’ll accept this nest. Think of us when you wear it. Think of all six of us. Remember the days when we could only fly to the next branch over. Remember the days when we could fly to the top of the tree. Most of all: remember that we owe our wings to you.

(Granny, Mom, Me and Lacy ~~~~ 2007)
VW5uYW1lZC5qcGc-43.jpg (Granny, Mom, Me and Lacy ~~~~ 2011)

I love you, Mom.

Buyer’s Remorse and Piano Hacking

Last summer, I unwittingly bought a piano at a yard sale.  Well, that’s not totally true.  I bought the piano on one condition: if it didn’t work, the owners would buy it back.  I hired a piano technician to come take a look at it, and lo! it would not could not should not be fixed.  The owners paid me for it but declined any interest in taking it back.

It took about 6 big men to get the antique upright piano into my home.  After we settled it against the wall, my husband swore, “That piano is NOT leaving this house unless it’s in pieces.”

I smiled when he said that, thinking… ‘how naive he can be… thinking I’d leave a piano behind.’

I researched my treasure.  I found it was American made -in Missouri, 1918.  I was enthralled with my 1918 treasure.  I told EVERYONE who asked about it.  Soon, my father came to know about another -fully functional -piano.  We secured it, and put it against another wall in the house.  Have I mentioned before that my house isn’t all that big?  Having two pianos around just hasn’t been ideal or comfortable or ideal.  Pretty soon, the novelty of the piano wore off.  With a saddened heart, I put her up for sale.  Imagine my surprise when no one wanted her!  I finally took her off the market (after six months), and resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck with her.

Until… looking at it one day, my dad said, “you could really make something out of that wood.”

BRILLIANT!  After that comment, I spent approximately 6 hours total just STARING at the piano and mentally chopping it into pieces, dreaming of the possibilities.  My husband called yesterday morning to let me know he’d be home early from work.

“Feel like chopping up a piano?” I asked.Photobucket
He did.
As we chopped it up, we came to realize just how much this piano wasn’t worth. Most everything had been redone! The ivories on the keys -which most likely would have been real ivories in 1918 -had all been recovered by someone in Arizona.
Anyway, I didn’t want to toss them out. Even if they had lost significant property value.
Before you go and report me to “hoarders” (can you imagine what they’d say to the woman who had TWO pianos in her small house?), hear me out…
These keys are going to make some of the MOST AWESOME frames -not to hang pictures in, mind you… just to hang.
I was so delighted with the idea that I showed my Dad, who happened along about that time. He was excited too and started instructing me as to how it would be done, since (let’s be honest) I have no clue.
We had to vacuum the area under the keys on account of the mice nest. A mouse actually BIRTHED BABIES in this piano. You can practically hear the antique value crashing down.
No mouse babies were found -thank goodness.
What happened next wasn’t anything I’m terribly proud of. As I was removing the FAKE ivories from the keys, just to see what it would look like, two of my piano students walked through the door.
Two students catching their piano teacher in the act of hacking up a piano? FAIL!
But they were terribly nice about it and even started helping. I needed all the help I could get. I’m not exactly cut out for this kind of thing.
This is more my husband’s line of interest -tearing things apart.
I was absolutely thrilled to find things that actually did originate in 1918. We’re talking hardware. And these amazing pedals!
They’re going on the wall, you know. Just like that. Coat hangers, anyone? Don’t doubt my decorating! I’m only saying that because my husband always does until I get it all done. Then he says, “Wow.” And I say, “Don’t doubt my decorating!” It may never be featured in Pottery Barn, but there was a reason I was voted “most original girl” in my senior class…
Last week, I hacked up a dictionary. This week? A piano. What’s next? My self respect? I feel like I’m hacking up everything I believe in.
But look at the cool wreath I made from the piano strings. All it needs is a little t-w-e-a-k-i-n-g and some spray paint.
This took us a total of six hours. And we had buckets of fun. I’m glad we did it. The piano wasn’t worth much and it would have cost thousands to get it fixed. There really wasn’t any point since the only thing that was original was most of the wood, the hardware and the thick metal interior harp.
My husband’s prophecy was fulfilled.  The piano left the house… in pieces.  Thankfully Dad popped in to help haul that out. I could not. The strings -I might add -had mostly all been replaced.
My keys are now my special project. As soon as I’m done with the wreath, I’m going to start on the keys. They all fit nicely into a drawer, and the drawer fit nicely under my bed. Photobucket
I feel like my old piano somehow has donated her organs to us.
And oh! the things it will be! A bench, two shelves, a myriad of hanging frames (not to mention my ultra awesome piano key frames) and so many other things I could bawl with happiness. And I just might bawl, if we don’t get the projects done and OUT of my living room so I can move my functional piano into her right and proper place.
It’s sort of dysfunctional really -treating our pianos like some antiquated Royal bloodline. Out with the old, off with it’s head… in with the new.

Also, if you’ve got a spare minute, send a quick prayer my way. I’m going to be getting my house ready for an unfancy (not a word) dinner party tomorrow and I’m feeling a bit harried about the whole thing.
Also, happy Day before Mother’s Day. Soak in the beautiful weekend, and if you’re bored… find an old practically worthless piano to hack. It’ll be just the medicine you need to get your creative juices flowing.
PS: can I have the keys and pedals?