Monday, May 31, 2010

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

Over a year ago, I wired a light into the garage. It was a simple bare bulb, but I wired it to a switch at the door so one wouldn't have to traipse clear into the darkness before pulling the string. It was part of a much larger wiring event so when I flipped the switch and it didn't turn on, I was too exhausted with the project to investigate. We did try a couple of different bulbs with no success and I knew that it was likely something simple like a solitary connection that barely slipped out of the nut. I had no motivation to turn off all of the power, haul out the ladder and spend the time to fix it.

So, I didn't. For fourteen months.

For fourteen months, we searched around in a dark garage (that was dim even in daylight) with flashlights, tripping over bikes and coolers; each time I was wishing I had taken the time to fix the light before it was ten o'clock at night and a search party was required to locate whatever item was needed.

Tonight, my daughter ran inside saying, "I just fixed the light in the garage!"

"That's impossible," I said to my husband. She seemed sure, though, so we followed her out.

True to her word, she had fixed the light. "Honey, how did you DO that," I exclaimed, dumbfounded.

"I pulled the string."

Oh, how I wish I were only kidding.

The Cousins!

After they left, and came back to let the stow-away's disembark, then left again, my girls came in the house and started packing because, "We ARE going to Aunt Mollie's!"

Thank you for taking the long drive to see us, cousins.  We love you, love you, love you. 

However, I think we all need a nap.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Angels

My mom posted this on Facebook about my brothers. I had to share:

Nobody can have as much fun as I did last night watching the American Idol finale... watching it with 2 Down Syndrome sons was a party. Really! They clapped, woohoo'd, laughed with the crowd over what they could not understand, got sentimental and LOVED it.

Daniel said "You're welcome" every time someone thanked anyone-- just as if he was the bestower of the good fortune. Zack would turn to me after every performance and say "I love this... you mom?"

They jumped about hollering when the winner was announced. They hugged each other and then me. (It would not have mattered which one was the winner, they would have reacted the same.)

During the final song, with confetti fluttering everywhere, they swayed with their arms around each other and sang along. So what if they had no idea what they were singing.

One of the joys of living with angels.

Guest Blogging

Okay, my friends, I've done something I've never done before. You're always doing that, Emily. Yes, I know, but this is particularly nerve wracking.

Brandi Douglass, from the Douglass Diaries, was having a bad couple of days following surgery. She asked, rather casually and probably not really seriously, if anyone wanted to do a guest blog.

Her blog is often a tad irreverent and she tickles my funny bone. She kind of reminds me of my sassy sister, whom I adore. Without thinking, I quickly typed up an experience, attached a couple of pictures and sent it away. It is the kind of thing I probably wouldn't put on my own blog because my readership is a little more tame (the post is about kids' varied understanding of the birds and the bees).

Well, now she's gone and POSTED it. I read it on her blog and thought, "Oh, my gosh, Emily. That is a stupid post!"

I feel like an idiot and may need to give up blogging forever. Or maybe I'll just post about safe things, like sunshine and tulips.

If you want to, head over there, skip my post and giggle at her attitude.

Goodbye forever (or at least until tomorrow).


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Draw of the Scissors

Why can't my children be normal like other kids? When my daughter picked up the pair of scissors, why didn't she just cut her bangs too short or snip a hole in her dress?

I don't know.

All I know is, she now has only one eyebrow.

And I can't stop laughing about it.

Master Bedroom

This is the second room in our formerly dungeonesk basement. This room used to have crumbling walls and chipping paint. I was always worried about lead from this room finding it's way around the house. Also, even though it was in the shape of a bedroom, it couldn't be used as one because of the tiny, screwed shut window. We probably should have had caution tape all over the basement!

Now, with a window!

Being a basement bedroom, we obviously don't have much of a view. I've planted a little garden in the window well, including mosses, cascading moneywort, sedum and thyme. It is a secluded, green little spot that is much prettier to look at than my neighbor's tires. Sometime this summer, when it is nicely filled in, I'll show it to you. A basement view doesn't have to be corrugated metal.

The ceiling is 6'2", so you can't be a tall one to live here! I wanted to make the room seem taller than it was, so I painted a short, chocolate brown wainscot with a light, misty blue on top, including the ceiling. I chose a high sheen paint to reflect light and put several mirrors on the walls. I think all the optical illusions worked--the room feels much bigger than it is.

Years ago, my mom painted the four seasons oval paintings. I stitched a simple abbreviation of the Ephesians scripture To Every Thing there is a Season and framed it in a rectangle to balance the round of the paintings. I do not know why, but winter is upside down. Maybe somebody in my house is mad that it snowed in May.

There is no room for an actual headboard, so I just put a small shelf above the bed with the lamps on either side. It makes a focal point and gives the illusion of a headboard.

My mother painted the flowering vine to mimic the pattern on my bedspread. It gives the room so much character--it feels like a Bavarian retreat. In fact, though I (barely) didn't deliver at home, my last labor was a comfortable one because of this peaceful, soothing room.

Every time I walk in my bedroom, I can feel my shoulders relax.

And this crazy mothership NEEDS that kind of a room.

Game Room

Our basement used to be a dungeon. It was dark with low ceilings, cement floors, and a ton of wasted space. There were pipes, wires and ducting laced throughout so you had hold your head in a constant duck. There was water damage and tiny windows which were screwed shut. We haven't solved all of the problems down there, but we have a couple of nice little rooms carved out.

This is the game room. I chose the pink and orange color palet based on the Candy Land board game. It is bright and open--and not basementy.

This wall, in particular, was a mess. There was an ancient workbench with live wires dangling above it. It was all painted a dirty teal and the floor was 100 year old cement. We pushed and pulled and shoved and cried the heavy workbench into the opposite side of the basement and built a wall to seperate the rooms. I re-wired and put in canned lights with an actual wall switch, rather than the several chains that teased you from across the dangerous room.

The built in cabinets were a total surprise. I took "before" pictures, but I can't find them anywhere. I'll try to describe the disaster.

One panel of glass was painted car primer gray, another was covered in press board. On the other cabinet, one panel was broken with shards sticking out (a special treat for my children, I'm sure) and the other had peg board nailed to the front of the cabinet door. The doors were completely painted shut with the same dirty teal and there was a huge, dead fridge parked in front of it all.

You can tell it's getting toward the end of the season because many of my canning jars are empty. (:

When the room was finished, I went to my books and picked out a selection based solely on color.

This is one of my favorite parts about the room. The books were chosen because of their color, but look at what fabulous books are on that shelf! Edgar Allen Poe, Robinson Crusoe, Cheaper By the Dozen, George Bernard Shaw, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watership Down, Robert Louis Stevenson, A Little Princess, Little House on the Prairie, A Wrinkle in Time and so on. What a wonderful library we are building, if such a criteria as color displays a selection of great works.

I have a little work yet to do, but at least it is a safe, enjoyable room, now. Oh, yeah. . . WITH CARPET! Ahhh, so nice.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To the Earth!

I recently watched Food, Inc. You know how Super Size Me made you never want to eat at a fast food restaurant again? Well, this movie made me never want to eat food from a grocery store.

So, here's the plan.

We're going to buy forty or so acres. Twenty acres will be dedicated pasture land for grazing or alfalfa fields for harvesting. We'll raise a dairy cow and one or two steers to slaughter annually. We'll cultivate a good stock of poultry for eggs and meat. The few families (including my parents) will build a house on the property (which will be close enough to town for a commute to work), so we will all contribute to the work and the harvest. My dad, who knows this stuff, will tell us when and how to do the farm stuff and to keep the machines running. We will share in the big things, like the cattle, but we'll each have our own gardens and yards. We will not be subsidized, we will be mostly organic. I may start wearing a bonnet.

This might be a knee-jerk reaction, but my great-great grand father, Nebraska homesteader Grandad Derrick, would certainly approve!

Who's with me?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missing Doll

(The doll, not the girl)

I know this desperate plea will only apply to some of you, but we need your help.  My daughter's beloved doll is missing.  I'm sure she has just been "put to bed" in a box or drawer somewhere, but we can't find her.  I usually don't let her take Daisy anywhere, but she doesn't always obey me (!!).

I think she is wearing an orange and white dress, though she changes often.  She may *blush* even be sans clothes.  She has been missing for a few weeks, now, and my little girl is so sad.  Please, please check. 


The mother of Heartbroken

Thursday, May 20, 2010


He didn't say yes, but he didn't say no either. Because of a business relationship with another company, he couldn't commit.
(One of the designs I put together.)
But he's going to think about it. Cross your fingers for us--there is hope.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Here's the deal:

My son has taken dance for 3 1/2 years. He is now eleven and a pretty fair dancer (he's a great performer, a fair dancer--you can teach dance, it's a lot tougher to teach stage presence). His dance teacher is closing her doors which means we need to find a new place. Last weekend, I took him to Swan Lake, a production by our local ballet academy. The leads were played by professional dancers. It was the first time he had seen a live male dancer. (I know it's lame, but You Tube is affordable.) As we walked home, I asked him if he wanted to dance like the men he saw that night. He gave an emphatic, "YES!"

Now, we're not talking about a five or six year old who thinks it's fun to be in the spotlight. He has a taste of how much work goes into a dance, he knows that ballet is his favorite form of dance and he is old enough to learn.

This particular ballet academy is Expensive, with a capital E. It's not unreasonable for what you get, but it's not anywhere near what our current super-below-poverty-line income will allow.

When I was trying to research said academy, I could not find it on the web. It's address and phone number were listed on Super Pages and the like, but no web page. There was no page to describe the caliber of talent running the studio, no page to highlight students receiving scholarships or awards, no page with a list of classes offered, tuition required or dress code accepted. There was no page to detail upcoming summer programs, advertise or sell tickets to big shows.

Would I be completely nuts to offer a trade of dance classes for a well maintained web page?

That I don't know how to build?

Is it worth my hours of work to get this for my boy?

Could I even build a web page?

Please advise.

A Grandma Weekend

And I didn't do the dishes once.

I love you, Mom.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


My husband has a wholly different level of tolerance for scary stuff than I. While I can simply not handle scary, for him, it is entertaining and imaginative. (It's not real at all, he tries to tell me. I can suspend reality and believe that people will suddenly jump into song and dance in the middle of the market--and fully expect that to happen for me someday--I can't do the same for horror.)

Lately, they (meaning my husband and his spawn) have been watching The X Files on Netflix. I have no problem with fantasy and science fiction, but sometimes this show crosses the line into freak-you-out land. Some of my children have been scared by the "evil" aliens on the show. After too many kids in my bed for too many nights, I finally sat down with them and explained aliens.

"Yes, there are aliens. Heavenly Father created billions of worlds and His children are on many of them. Just because we haven't found them, doesn't mean we don't know what they look like. Do you remember who we look like?," they answer. "Yes, we were created in the image of God. Does that mean we are all twins with God? No, it means we all have two eyes, a nose, mouth and ears. It means we all walk on our feet. We might have green eyes or brown eyes, yellow hair or black hair, red beards or no beards, but we are all in the image of God. Now, do you think that aliens, who are also created in the image of God, look like crazy green blobs? No! Do you think they are fire spitting monsters? Of course not."

We looked up some scriptures to back up my arguments and no one was afraid of aliens when they left my side to go play.

Fast forward to the top of the hour news.

"MOM! There are ALIENS in Arizona!! I just heard it on the news!"

Oh, crap. Let's start again.

"Yes, there are Extra Terrestrials . . . "

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Favorite Book

You know how people are always asking for your favorite? Favorite color, favorite season, favorite movie, and et cetera. Some answers are black and white; my favorite color is red, my favorite number is 8, my favorite tree is a Sugar Maple. But some answers are tricky; my favorite food changes depending on whether I'm pregnant or the season, my favorite movie can only be narrowed to favorite of the genre. One "favorite" question that trips (Okay, is that "trips" as in makes me stumble or "tripps" as in Linda Tripp, the tricky friend? Hmmm . . .) me up is the "What is your favorite book" question.

Really? You want me to pick my favorite book? Out of all of these?

The other day, though, I picked up a book and plopped in my reading chair. I flipped to a section about braided rugs. (I love braided rugs. I would marry a braided rug, 'cept they won't let me because of the polygamy laws. Whateves.) It is my go-to book.

After studying several pages, I sat up, closed the book, held it out with both hands and declared, "This is my favorite book!"

I was so excited to be able to say that!

I ran out to my husband and announced, "I know what my favorite book is! If I had to choose one book besides the Bible to take with me on a desert island, I know what book I would bring. This is such a LOAD off my MIND. I can go to parties again. I can fill in questionnaires about myself. I am whole!" He grinned at me and clucked appropriately. I took a deep sigh and held it to my chest. What a feeling.

Do you want to know what it is? Reader's Digest's Back to Basics. If you have ever wondered how to do anything, this book will teach you. There are instructions on milking a cow--then teaches what the heck to DO with the milk you just . . . um . . . milked. Ever wondered what was in every good housewife's apothecary bag? It's in the book. Want to build a stone wall? Gotcha covered. If you want to move off the grid and build your own stinking house, this book will teach you how. Be it straw, sticks or brick, the instructions are here. It will even give hints as to which way your house should face and what kinds of trees to plant to be protect against the weather. Make a quilt or jam or a poultice for your burn. Grow a garden in a city, build a sweat lodge, or make ice cream using your own fresh cream and berries. Stack your firewood the right way, build a chicken coop, or organically rid yourself of pests. I'm telling you, turn one page and you'll be completely sucked in.

And, seriously, if you were stranded on a desert island, wouldn't you want the book that would teach you how to, not only survive, but enjoy your time?

That's what I thought.


Emily, who has a favorite book.

Mother Gifts

My family made me a wonderful breakfast in bed, they cleaned up the kitchen after, they bought me a beautiful bird bath for my gardens, they made me sweet cards that said sweet things. All of these things were special and helped make my day, but the real gifts came this way:

  • When the toddler was acting up in church, the nine year old took her out in the hall. When she was brought back, she made huge hand motions and declared, in no uncertain terms, "Noooo! I don't want Mama!" It didn't hurt my feelings at all because the person she wanted was her sister. Gift for Mom.
  • After dinner, one child was directed to do the dishes, her sister did them for her. Gift for Mom.
  • At a random, quiet moment, the four year old came to me and, with a big hug, said, "Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I just love you so much." Gift for Mom.
  • "Mom, I'm going to make myself some lemonade. Do you want some?" Gift for Mom.
  • "Thank you for doing the dishes for me," said the served sister with a grateful hug. Unprompted thank you, mind you. Gift for Mom.
  • When I laid down on the couch for a moment to rest, someone took off my shoes and covered me with a blanket. Gift for Mom.
  • Big brother helping his sister get ready for church. His gentle care brought tears to my eyes. Gift for Mom.

Thank you, family, for all of the gifts you gave me today. The ones that show your goodness were the greatest of them all. I did indeed have a Happy Mother's Day.

(Of course, I would have been sulking and not noticed the kind words and deeds if I hadn't gotten the breakfast in bed. )

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Blues

When I was a brand new mother, I remember being thrilled with the prospect of Mother's Day. It was exciting to be a part of this uniting celebration. We all have a mother.

I went to church that day and was surprise at how many women said they always dreaded Mother's Day. That, I could not understand. How could a holiday that honors you be dreaded?

But, as I became a more experienced mother and learned how hard it can be, how many ways you can fail, how many more ways you can come up short, I understood how those mothers anticipated Mother's Day with a sense of foreboding. If you haven't bought that piano (or those lessons) yet, there is sure to be someone praising their mother for making the piano a central part of their home. If you lose your temper now and again, you'll hear someone telling how their mother never lost her patience, and so on. In other words, whatever your shortcomings, they are bound to be some other mother's strength.

So, I decided in those early years, that Mother's Day would always be a happy holiday for me. I wasn't going to wallow in my failings. I would try to use it as a day to be grateful that I have this houseful of mess-makers, noise-makers and joy-makers. When I start to feel guilty, I catch myself and find the peace that Heaven can send. Sometimes, happy is a decision.

I have begun to see a new side of Mother's Day; many of my friends have lost their mothers. I see them struggle to celebrate when their mom is no longer there. I see them miss their mothers--a miss like I've never known and probably won't until my own mother goes. My heart aches for my dear friends.

My mom is still with me. Today, I will try to value her a bit more as I learn more about how fleeting life can be.

I sincerely hope that today, for you, is a Happy Mother's Day.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Shorts Weather

This was taken a couple of days ago.

This was taken yesterday.
I'm not blogging so much about the freak May snow storm as I am that the snow proved that summer is not here.
I need summer to get here soon.

All of the boy's pants are too short.

Like waaaay too short.

Like I can hear people whisper, "Where is that kid's mother?!"

Come on, shorts weather!