Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Today is the Day!

Back to School Day!! Yay!! Yeah, until he gets on the bus and waves good-bye for the day, then I'll be all sad and mopey, wanting my Bug back home with me, just because I'm crazy that way...Fourth grade. My baby is going to be ten next month. He's all legs, as skinny as I always was as a kid (gotta fight to keep at it these days!) Where did ten years go? A pre-teen!! He definitely has all the attitude he needs for the teen years...My sweet baby, so tiny I carried him around tucked in one arm, dark brown fuzz sticking up every which direction on his delicious, adorable little head. He cried, screamed, non-stop for the first six months of his life. Colic, I guess, or so the doctors said. That was the most unbearable time of my life--not being able to get him to stop crying...for five minutes...of peace...I had to sleep with ear plugs to drown it out at night. Bill would stay up with him 'til two or three, then I'd get up so Bill could sleep for a few hours before he had to go to work. I don't know how we survived, but we did. Babies can drain the will to live out of you at times...or at least the last viable shred of sanity. But, eventually the crying stopped, or diminished, or we just grew numb to it. He still has his bouts of screaming temper tantrums--yesterday's was over Angry Birds. I had to kick him off the computer then listen to him tearing up his room over being so mad that he couldn't clear whatever level he'd been on. Seriously...it's just a stupid game. He doesn't understand there are so many much more difficult circumstances he has yet to face in this life. Crying over Angry Birds?? I can uninstall that in a minute--game over. Chill already.

He's always  been an inquisitive kid. Curious about everything. He asks a million questions a day. Mostly when you're trying to watch TV. "What happened? Is he/she/it dead??" Dude, you're watching exactly the same thing I'm watching, if you didn't see him/her/it die, then neither did I!! How do I know?? It can be exasperating. He really should've had a little brother or sister--I think he'd be a lot happier to have someone to boss around, to show the ropes, to tease and torture as only siblings can do. Instead he tortures the dogs and thinks he's their boss. Mmm, nope--that's still my job. Everything is so unfair to him. Maybe if he experienced a sibling being punished for the same things he gets punished for, it wouldn't seem so unfair. I'm just guessing...I think kids still think everything is unfair. Life is unfair when you're not in charge and can't live by your own rules. Even if the rules are meant to keep you healthy and alive up until that point when you can be in charge and make your own rules. Who doesn't want that measure of freedom? We just have to remember how much we hated being ruled by our parents only to later realize how much we appreciated all that they did for us while we were growing up. Maybe, hopefully, one day he'll appreciate what we've done as his parents, when he's got a screaming temperamental almost ten year old trashing their bedroom over a stupid video game.

So, I'll send him off to school this morning to start a new year, a new chapter in his young life. I hope he'll make some good friends this year and have a teacher that he likes. He's brilliantly smart and always does so well academically. Makes his Mama proud. Soon we'll have fights about finishing homework and going to bed on time, relentless nagging to make his bed, brush his teeth, find his backpack, get his shoes on, where's his jacket...same thing, different day. We just have a bus to catch now--let's move!!

RAWR!!!

OH NO!!! There's a Squiggy on my chest!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Movie Time

It's been a great week for old movies. Fried Green Tomatoes, The Secret Life of Bees, and Untamed Heart are all now on my dvr. The first two make me long for the south. Life is simpler, slower, and sweeter down south. Steel Magnolias is another favorite great southern movie. But, I've lived down south--and life wasn't anything like these movies. Okay, I know cinema romanticizes everything and both Fried Green Tomatoes and Secret Life of Bees are set in a much earlier time period, so maybe life was a little more romantic back in those days...Maybe we just weren't far south enough, or maybe because we were Yankees we weren't embraced as heartily into true southern culture. Maybe I'm just a sap who needs to spend more time in reality rather than lost in movie land...

Untamed Heart just taped last night so I haven't had a chance to watch it yet--hopefully later on today I'll find some couch time after the chores and taking Michael down to pre-bowl are done. Talk about a romantic movie--this has to be my favorite love story of all time! I've always loved Christian Slater and the sweet innocence of his character in Untamed Heart will melt anyone's heart, for sure!

But, back to reality--one last day to enjoy or endure before school is finally in full swing tomorrow. I have a short list of chores to take care of and thought we'd run down to the bowling alley and have Michael pre-bowl a series. They'll let you save pre-bowl scores just in case you can't make it to the regular league session. I like to have at least a couple pre-bowls under our belt in case Michael ends up sick one week. It's always better to be prepared, in my opinion. Then maybe we'll have a farewell to summer ice cream treat after dinner tonight...and an early bedtime...That big yellow bus will be here bright and early tomorrow! Yay!! But the truth...it'll hit me how much I'll miss my Bug once that big yellow bus pulls away with him on it...*sigh* It's been a good, good summer. I love you Bug!!

Look at ME!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I am Ready Eddie Eddie Eddie!!! Well, almost...

Okay, those of you who've been keeping up with my babbling rambles on here, you know by now I'm OCD and crazy about lists, schedules and routines. I love having my days planned out as much as possible, schedule cleaning chores and menus at least a week in advance, more when possible. So, as the first day of school approaches, my heart rejoices! That means I can get back on track with my normal routine and schedule, and life just goes oh so much better when I'm engulfed in an organized day.

We started last night with getting Michael back on to his school night's bedtime schedule and I sat and configured bird and dog feeding times for the morning, then my breakfast and workout times, which will have me home and showered before it's time to get Michael out the door for the bus after which I can scoot over to Walmart and Aldi's, still early enough to avoid the crazy Walmart crowds, and home again to clean (and write!) Yay! I'm sooo ready!!

I'm also ready to have the peace and quiet of the weekdays with Michael at school and the dogs all contentedly sleeping with no one here to chase them around or agitate them out of boredom. It's so much easier to get my To Do list accomplished without the constant badgering of summer-"What are we gonna do today?" Like I'm the cruise director. Or worrying about where Michael took off to on his bike since I hadn't seen or heard him for the past several minutes. He'll be at school all day. He won't be roaming the neighborhood, looking for someone to play with, or whining because he's mad at one of the neighbor kids, and I won't have to come up with plans to entertain him, that's what they pay his teacher for the rest of the year. Hallelujah!

Am I rushing the season wanting to start my Christmas planning already? Maybe. Maybe it's just been a long summer and I'm ready for a break. I'm tired of the arguing and whining and telling Michael for the six millionth time to leave the dogs alone, get off the computer, go outside, wash his hands, make his bed, get in the tub, go to sleep...Yeah, I'm ready...two more days...two more days...

Hung out my fall flag yesterday

Sunday, August 28, 2011

119 Days Until Christmas!

Oh yeah, it's that time of year again! Michael heads back to school this week and I get to break out my Christmas planner! Today begins the first week of both the Houseworks Holiday Plan and the Holiday Grand Plan--my favorite countdown to the holidays from Organized Christmas online. They offer cleaning and organizing schedules to get the house prepared for guests and holiday meals along with shopping and wrapping planners, gift lists and recipe ideas. Joy!! I've got a little start on my Christmas shopping and now it's time to really get crackin'! List making begins in earnest. Seventeen weeks between now and Christmas, which may sound like a lot right now, but as fast as this summer has gone, you can trust the rest of the year will go just as quick!

Now, there are two main organizing plans to this program--the Houseworks Holiday Plan and the Holiday Grand Plan. They both cover cleaning, organizing, shopping, menus, with every little detail you need to attend to between now and Christmas, then even carry over into New Years. I'm game for anything that helps me stay grounded and focused on what I can do to make the holidays go smoother! Life is stressful enough on a daily basis without added shopping, budgeting, baking, wrapping, cleaning, and decorating all heaped on top that pile! Then, later on there's a six week Christmas Countdown, mainly for those who aren't as eager to get such an early headstart, and I'll incorporate the tasks from that list into my ongoing master list just to be double sure I don't miss a beat.

This week I'll be busy going over lists: creating a master gift list, Christmas card list, goodies to bake list, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner menus, a master ingredients list, inventorying leftovers from last year--cards, wrapping paper, cookie and candy tins--all getting an idea in my head of what I need for this year, spreading all the shopping out over the next seventeen weeks so the expense is that much easier to bear, especially considering we don't use credit cards at all. No cash, no buy...that simple.

I know a lot of folks don't want to be bothered with thinking about the holidays so early on, but basic planning along with watching sales coming up from back to school, Labor Day and Black Friday, can save a huge chunk of cash, time, and aggravation. Plan your Thanksgiving menu now and buy the non-perishable items as they go on sale at the grocery stores. Then you won't be hit with a whopping charge at the check out like you would if you wait until the last minute. And who doesn't need to save money these days? Seriously--introduce me...it's always good to have rich friends! Haha! 

For those of you who are curious but not at all anxious to jump on the early Christmas bandwagon, there is a link on their page for Halloween ideas...and that's not far off at all! Michael wants to be Mordecai from the Regular Show this year--really?? I don't sew and somehow I don't imagine this will be a pre-made costume one can buy off the rack at Walmart...I wonder how crafty Grandma is feeling??? Hopefully we can convince him to be something different this year instead.

So here's the link: http://christmas.organizedhome.com/ Take a peek when you get a minute. You might just find the inspiration you've looking for and get swept up in the Christmas spirit just a little bit earlier this year!

Squiggy at home in his new cage

Cuddling with his buddy


I thought this morning that maybe I should've kept Lenny a little longer to help Squiggy learn to wean--it's supposed to be easier if they have an older 'sibling' to show them the ropes. But after his morning feeding, I refreshed his dish of seeds and egg food and he dug right in, crunching away on his own! Mama's so proud! He fussed a little bit last night at having to go to bed without the brooder light on, but settled down soon enough. I think having his giraffe buddy is helping the transitions go a little easier for him...someone to keep him protected and warm when he feels like he's all alone in his big new cage. Baby Squiggy's not so much a baby anymore...they all grow up too fast!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Big Day for Squiggy

Today Baby Squiggy moves to a big boy bird cage. His feathers are filling in beautifully, looking lush and green with brilliant blue accents on his wings and rump. My little pink, blind baby is no more. He’s learning to perch and loves to nibble on corn bread and millet now. Pretty soon I expect him to try out his wings and give the room a whirl. Ah, how fast they grow up…I want to teach him to talk and whistle like our cockatiel, Brodie. Can’t wait to hear what his voice sounds like!

Today is also a happy one for Michael as the youth bowling league season begins this morning. I think we’re both looking forward to catching up with our old friends and other  familiar faces from last season and seeing how well Michael can improve on his average this year. I hope to enter him in more tournaments this season, and maybe even win him a little scholarship money along the way. The kid can really bowl and I love watching him improve every week.

Our only sad note this morning is about our Ruby girl. I had to run her to the vet’s yesterday with a severe ear infection.  As many ear infections as she’s had over the years, I’ve never seen her look as bad as this. Her poor ear is swollen and pussy and was even seeping blood yesterday before we made it to the vet. My main concern, aside from the severity of the infection, is that it’s on the same side as her sinus infection last month. I worry that this is cancer presenting in outward infections. The vet put an antibiotic cream in her ear and I have drops to give her twice a day for the next two weeks. Then we go back for a follow up visit. She’s rather mopey this morning, which I can’t blame her at all. If my ear felt as bad as hers looks, I’d be pretty sad myself.

I tried to snag a snapshot of our neighborhood’s blonde squirrel yesterday as it scampered along the telephone wires across the street but he was way too fast for me and all I got was a tiny blurry shot of his rump. We are also host to an albino white squirrel and frequently see the two of them nibbling on seeds and such in various neighbors’ yards up and down the street. I found a couple shots online of white squirrels since I never have my camera on me when ours is out and about…so these will have to substitute for my photo of the day. Deal with it…



Friday, August 26, 2011

Digging for Mole Gold

Life with dogs is certainly never boring. I've lived with cats and fish and lizards, still live with birds, but there's just something about dogs and a natural comedic sense they have about themselves. They're childlike in their view of the world, playful and happy, easily entertained and they gobble up love like candy. And they graciously return that love a thousand fold. I just can't get enough of dogs. My dogs, God love 'em, are a spoiled and ridiculous bunch of clowns. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Yesterday's great dog adventure was mole hunting for Pea in the backyard. She used her incredible Basset sense of smell to track down this voracious menace cleverly hidden in a underground tunnel beneath a rock in what used to be my flower bed. I could hear her excited barking and looked out to see her tearing up the ground like she was digging for Yukon gold. I sent Tucker out to see what she was up to--like he's a great help. He commenced bouncing around Sweet Pea, obviously enticed by her excitement over the hunt, barking his encouragement to Dig Pea, Dig!!! Brilliant. Pea wasn't sure that she liked him being so close to her potential prize and occasionally looked up to snarl and charge the bouncing Tucker. He found this intensely amusing and only bounced and barked all the more eagerly. Is it any wonder my husband calls them 'The Idiots'? Well earned, their nickname.

Half the yard dug to mud later, Pea had grasped her precious mole-but now what? She would pick it up ever so tenderly, like a mother with her newborn pup, only to quickly toss the squirming vermin away, hopefully unlike a mother with a newborn pup...Tucker was still in Tigger mode, bouncing and barking in mad circles, hoping for his own turn at this new Toss-a-Mole game. Pea was not sharing. You try to teach them manners, but they go off into the world of their own accord...what's a mother to do?

I took pity on this poor, petrified little mole, trying to scamper away from the slobbery Pea and bouncing bonkers Tucker. Who turned the lights on anyway?? I scooped him up in a fallen leaf and tossed him over the fence to safety. He probably squirmed his way back to the same shallow tunnel that gave him away, but maybe he learned to dig a little deeper. Moles can't be very bright. Sweet Pea is anything but stealthy in her hunting techniques, nor is she super fast. If half an hour of mad barking and ground shaking digging aren't warning enough to go find another branch of tunnel to hide in, I don't hold out much hope for the survival of that little mole. Kinda makes my dogs 'idiotness' not seem so bad in comparison...kinda.
Let me help!

I think I see him!

You can't have my mole!

Ruby, during all the great hunting excitement

Tucker with his reading, er, shredding material

Gorgeous baby boy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life Lessons

I'm having one of those weeks...ugh!! I ran into Petco the other day to get Ruby's glucosamine tablets, which run about $28 a bottle. Later that afternoon, I received a 10% off coupon from Petco in the mail...really?? Then, just yesterday, I stopped in at Borders Express in the mall after seeing Harry Potter again one final time (aaahh...Harry, how I love you!!) Our Sunday school class will be doing Rob Bell's "Love Wins" this fall and I thought I'd pick up a copy while Borders was having their Going Out of Business sale. I got 40% off yesterday. This morning in my email I get a notice from Borders stating that now everything is 50%-70% off...really?? *Sigh* This is so my luck...rotten at best...

Mr. Michael has been keeping himself busy the past few days wiggling a loose tooth, wanting someone, anyone, to pry it out for him. I'm sorry, that's just not in my job description as a mom--ripping teeth from my child's gums, I can't do it. He's also at that age now where he's questioning the truth about the existence of Santa and the Tooth Fairy. He wants to believe but he doesn't want to be fed a fairy tale either. He simply wants the truth. He boldly proclaimed to his friends the other day at the park that he knew there wasn't a Tooth Fairy, that I was the one who took his teeth and put the money under his pillow. Strong words for someone wishing for Hot Wheels cash, little man...

So he finally yanks this tooth out yesterday afternoon and comes running to show me, all the while proclaiming still that he knows I'm the one who'll take his tooth and give him the money, there's no real Tooth Fairy. Yeah, all right...we'll see. Later then, that evening, I caught him bullying Tucker, twisting his ears and trying to yank him around like that. I grabbed him and sent him to his room for the rest of the night--thinking to myself, 'No Tooth Fairy for you, mister!!'

Well, I think he must've laid awake all night hoping to catch me in the act of exchanging his tooth for cash. Around three we got hit with a pretty good thunderstorm which woke up Tucker, who started crying and whining. I got him out of bed, thinking he should go outside before we have an accident in the house. Next thing I know, Michael is right on our heels, yelling, "Game over!! I still have my tooth, there is no Tooth Fairy!" I ushered Tucker out the back door for a pee and turned around to face Michael's accusations.

"Maybe because you were so mean to Tucker yesterday, the Tooth Fairy decided not to come!" I answered him.

"Ever?", his incredulous reply, eyes wide and mouth hung open with the guilty implication at the thought of costing himself a chance at cold hard cash. I simply shrugged. I'm not awake enough at three in the morning to have a morals discussion on behavior and consequences. I don't know what to do to get through to him most times. He seems to think rules don't apply to him, that he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Not this time. No tooth money for you. So I'm a mean old mom. He knows that already. But one day he'll learn--I hope anyway--that rules are there for a reason, and they most certainly apply to him and he can't always get away with doing whatever he wants. It would just make life a little easier if he'd learn this lesson a little faster...

Another tooth bites the dust

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I love my Soft Soap

I seem to have the sort of luck that when I fall in love with a product, all of sudden the company stops making it or the stores I shop at stop carrying it. Be it a favorite shade of lipstick, perfume fragrance, cleaning products, candle scents…once I’m hooked they all seem to mysteriously vanish from the shelves and I’m left hanging in the balance, trying to find a suitable replacement and nothing ever seems as wonderful as the original. It’s so disappointing and frustrating! Why can’t things stay the way they are? Why can’t I have these simple little things I love that make me happy or make my life seem just a little bit better?

Case in point, a few months ago, I found a new (to me, anyway) SoftSoap scent at Walmart-their Sea Mineral hand soap. It’s this beautiful shade of blue, perfect for our bathroom, and I love the fresh, clean fragrance! Well, once again, when I noticed the bottle was getting low and I went to buy a replacement at Walmart, I couldn’t find it. They weren’t carrying it anymore. Not at Target. Not at Walgreens. Gone—augh!! Fortunately, I did a search online and found out that Lowe’s carries the Sea Mineral soap, so I did a mad dash after dinner the other night and bought four of the six bottles they had on the shelf. The cashier reassured me they would be getting more in again soon, so I can at least buy my favorite soap at Lowe’s…for a while. Whew!


But this whole experience got me to thinking…I recalled a Scripture about not getting comfortable here in this world because this is not our permanent home. We have better things to look forward to in heaven.


“Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it”.
~1 Peter 2:11a The Message


“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  
~Hebrews 13:14 NLT


So perhaps, in God’s own unique way, He’s reminding me that these meager creature comforts are not what should be making me happy. I shouldn’t come to rely on these simple goods because there are much better things in store for me. So, the next time I discover another product I love has been discontinued or the stores are no longer carrying them, I won’t feel so frustrated and instead I’ll remember:

 “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
~Lamentations 3:24

Fun at the park with Bryce and Matthew

Look who's lookin' a little green!



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monster Mushroom

It’s cold this morning! Only 46° as I’m sitting here out on the back porch—chilly! And I want to go back to bed. I’m tired. Tucker had me up twice during the night to go out. He’s still sick with diarrhea and even after being let out twice, he left me another little pile to clean up in the hallway this morning. Nice. But, for August, I’m stunned at how cold it is outside! I went for a run yesterday morning and it was a perfect 55° and I thought of how it didn’t seem all that long ago I was so happy to finally be shedding my winter running gear for a warm spring morning run. Then how quickly that turned to be too hot and muggy to run outside, and here we are again, at last, finally into cooler fall temperatures that make for wonderful runs. This is certainly my favorite time of year. But for sitting out on the back porch in the early morning hours, this is just a little too chilly. I think we only shut the air conditioning off last week! I’ve given up and am now sitting in the warmth of the kitchen, waiting for a small pot of water to heat up on the stove to make Squiggy’s formula for his morning feeding. I could use another cup of coffee to warm myself up.


So here it is, the end of summer. Some kids are already back in school, others start this week or next, and I know a couple lucky ones who won’t go back until after Labor Day. Where did the time go? Every weekend we’ve been busy running here and there, and Michael’s schedule was packed with day camps and swim lessons. Somehow we’ve missed out on Kennywood and Sandcastle—we’ll have to try to squeeze that in next year.  I am ready for fall. One neighbor already has a pumpkin sitting out in their flower bed and mums are filling the gardening shelves at Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart. Next the Halloween decorations and costumes will appear in the stores and I’ll be avoiding the temptation to buy candy corn and harvest mix—I love the little pumpkins!! And of course, Christmas trees and wrappings will be soon to follow before any of the Halloween gear is even packed away! No wonder our years become whirlwinds, flying by faster and faster—who can possibly keep up?


Yesterday’s picture of the day is of a monster mushroom in a neighbor’s yard. The picture hardly does it justice. It had to be a good eight inches across or more atop a trunk of a stem—massive! Tucker gave it a good sniffing over and I made the mistake of showing it to Michael who, in typical boy fashion, only wanted to smash it. I warned him not to but he took his friend Christian up to see it later in the day and the mushroom is now no more. Boys—why can they not be happy unless they’re destroying things?
Gigantic Shroom


Monday, August 22, 2011

Scoot's Birthday

Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions. It started out sad as I had to say good-bye to Baby Lenny. He went back to his original owner who will find him a wonderful, loving home. I didn’t realize how quickly I had become attached to his sweet face and charming little antics. He will be an incredible pet and friend for some lucky person.  I know our house seems that much emptier without him here. We miss you Baby Lenny!!

The day fortunately had a happier turn to it. My sister and her husband were coming out from Ohio to celebrate our uncle’s 68th birthday. Now, this is our blood uncle who helped get us back in touch with our brother, Ron, who sadly couldn’t be with us yesterday since he lives out in Iowa. Another time…another time. But Dave and Andrea appeared, gave Uncle Scoot a buzz, fed Baby Squiggy, and we headed out for the day!

I wanted to take everyone to this beautiful little restaurant Bill and I stumbled upon one afternoon as we were out and about after having his car’s oil changed and we were looking for a place to have lunch. I think we were planning to stop in Volant that day to eat at the Neshannock Inn, another favorite of ours, until we came across this quaint looking restaurant called the Tavern on the Square in New Wilmington. The building itself is a home originally built in 1849 and actually served as part of the Underground Railroad back in the abolitionist days. Later, in 1931, the house was turned into a restaurant, geared towards serving the families of New Wilmington’s college students. The food and the service are as wonderful as the history of the place. Inside, the walls are covered in beautiful hand painted murals of the Amish countryside. There’s a rustic little gift shop in the entrance that offers all sorts of country and primitive decorations and signs. I fell in love with a framed print by Bonnie Mohr we saw there on our first trip and was determined to buy it this trip if it was still there…and it was! Yay!

We had our lunch and I bought my print, then we headed out the door to continue on our day’s adventure. New Wilmington is right next to Volant and I’ve wanted to take my sister there for a long time. Volant is this sweet, quiet Amish town and their main street is all gift shops filled with Amish furniture, candles, primitive country d├ęcor and so much more. We browsed some of the stores, though we didn’t get to see all of them since it was already late in the afternoon (too much time gabbing in the Tavern!) So we’ll have to go back some day…darn the luck! Ha-ha! We also found a nice lady who was willing to take a few family photos for us back by the creek dam-a little memento for our day.

So all the shops had closed and Scoot wanted to stop for ice cream somewhere, so we hit the road once more. We ended up in Portersville at a little place called Brown’s Country Kitchen. Fortunately we were blessed with a very patient waitress who brought along her sense of humor for the day. We were all wound up at that point, feeling sarcastic and silly. I apologize to any patrons we may have annoyed with our loud laughter and goofing off—but it’s not a very sincere apology…we were having fun. Let us laugh! And we did.

From Brown’s Country Kitchen we ended up driving past McConnell’s Mill for Andrea, who’d never been there. Again, it was late and the mill was closed, plus there was nowhere to park, so we’ll have to go back…more rotten luck! The plan is to bring the dogs next time and go hiking through the massive rocks in the park sometime this fall, which will be beautiful! Definitely will look forward to that!

Finally we headed back home to check on the pups and feed Baby Squiggy again. We broke open a bottle of wine and sat out on the back porch for a while before everyone had to head their separate ways. It was a very good day and I hope Scoot enjoyed celebrating his birthday with us. He has given us the precious gift of our family back and I know I can never thank him enough for that. Happy 68th Scoot and many, many more!!
On the bottom of the Bonnie Mohr print I bought is this quote, which is what I fell in love with that day at the Tavern with Bill:

"Life is not a race - but indeed a journey. Be Honest. Work Hard. Be Choosy. Say "thank you", "I love you" and "great job" to someone each day. Go to church, take time for prayer. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Let your handshake mean more than pen and paper. Love your life and what you've been given, it is not accidental ~ search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry, less wrinkles are more becoming. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself ~ Plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you've been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment.”

Amen.




Sunday, August 21, 2011

Marshmallow Madness

So I am a sucker for novelty. I am the consummate American consumer that is pandered to because they expect me to be a sucker for novelty. Cute tiny cookies. Pretty rainbow cupcakes. I can pretty much resist buying candy bars all year long until the holidays come along and they put out pumpkin, egg shaped, or Christmas tree Reeses cups, and the Hersheys ghosts and peppermint patty bats. Complete sucker. Why do I have to eat something just because it’s cute?? So, of course, when I saw the bags of giant Campfire Roaster marshmallows, they may as well have pre-loaded them into my shopping cart. I couldn’t pass up the enormous marshmallows—just imagine the S’mores they would make!!

Okay, so one of these monster marshmallows contains ninety calories and fifteen grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of three normal size marshmallows. It’s ridiculous. I let them sit in the pantry for almost a month, not quite willing to eat that much sugar and crash my calorie count for the day in one bite. Well, it about drove Michael right out of his mind looking at that unopened bag of marshmallow sugary goodness day in and day out until he just couldn’t bear it anymore.

“Pleeeassse??? Please can I have a marshmallow?”, he pleaded with me yesterday. I confess I was in a weak spot. My heart was breaking because we have to take Lenny back today and I am a big time emotional eater. Sadness is trumped by sugar every time. Yes, we can have the marshmallows. But I wanted to have a campfire and toast them up—that’s just too big of a marshmallow to eat cold, straight out of the bag.

I sent Michael out back to gather up some twigs for kindling. I think he found five tiny sticks and tossed them carelessly into the fire pit. Yeah, thanks, that oughta do us! I scraped up some more twigs and built a little teepee starter, tucking a few twists of newspaper in between and doused it all with lighter fluid to give us a good start. The little flames motivated Michael to go gather some bigger sticks and we soon had ourselves a nice warm fire going. Time to break out the roasters!

We have a pair of hotdog roasting forks for camping that also make great marshmallow sticks…normally. Two of these mammoth marshmallows barely fit side by side on the fork prongs. I should’ve listened to that little voice in my head to only make one, but there’s two prongs! You can’t have an empty prong! That’s clearly a wasted roasting opportunity! Michael can be much smarter than me at times, he stuck to only roasting one. Into the fire went our forks, laden with marshmallow goodness. Michael likes to hit the flames and his quickly caught fire and almost fell off his fork. We blew it out and he let it cool a little bit before trying to eat the burnt sticky mess. I took my time with my two marshmallows, twirling them slowly just above the coals, watching them puff up and gently brown in the warm red glow. Soon enough they were golden toasty and ready to eat. I slowly slid the first marshmallow off the fork and took a bite of the melty treat. Gooey sweet goodness! One definitely would’ve been enough, but I made two and Mom always made us finish whatever we put on our plates so I slurped up the second one as well. I rolled up the bag and put the rest back in the pantry. I’m thinking of using them up in Rice Krispy treats. I can’t imagine trying to make myself eat another one on its own—too big, too sweet, too much sugar even on the saddest day. But, they’re still pretty cool—who wouldn’t love a giant, gooey marshmallow? Brilliant.
Our roasting fire

Michael's marshmallow aftermath

I can help clean up

I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet, yeah...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pea's Morning

There is no sleeping in in this house, at least not for me. Of course, sleeping in for me is really only sleeping until five o’clock, which is rather sad. Not that I don’t enjoy sleep—I would happily be in bed by seven most nights. But I’ve had to make the effort to stay up later with Michael this summer. You just can’t make a nine year old go to bed at seven (unless he’s gotten himself into some sort of trouble and you can ground him and make him go to bed early, but then you spend several hours arguing or listening to him yell and moan about how horrible and mean you are, so there’s still no sleeping at seven…aaahh, how I miss the good old days….)


Pea woke me up at a little after four this morning. Someone neglected to put her in bed last night (that someone being Bill whose responsibility after I’ve gone to bed is to put Pea in bed since her short little legs can’t get her there on her own.) He’s left her sleeping on the couch lately, which surprisingly has worked for her. Well, not really surprisingly. She grumps at anyone who dares touch her space during the night, either rolling over or stretching legs, human or other canine-wise…Pea’s space is holy territory and you better keep away if you don’t want to incur the wrath of Pea and be grumped at! And now that Tucker is sharing the bed and his legs reach somewhere to California and back, invariably he will stretch into Pea’s space during the night, erupting grumping from her holiness, who then has to get up and rearrange herself and reclaim her Pea space before settling Pea-cefully once more for the night. Well then, one might conclude that sleeping on the couch by herself would make her happier with no one there to disrupt her space and we would all sleep more soundly through the night. But, life is never that easy in our house and Pea is not that easily aPea-sed.


So, just after four, a disgruntled, lonely Pea pushed the bedroom door open with a loud popping of the paint sticking from the humidity in the door jamb. She wanted to go out. Fine. Maybe I could get something accomplished before it was time to feed the babies and get the rest of the day underway. Tucker yawned and stretched—once one dog is up, the rest will follow. Well, Ruby will follow when the treats are being passed out, thank you very much. I let the other two outside and went back to the kitchen to turn the coffee on. Broke out the laptop and Bible before Tucker was back at the door asking to come in again. Pea stood stock-still just around the corner, intrigued by something on the ground. I thought she caught a moth or some other bug so I let her be for a little while,  figuring she’d be right at the door once she heard the other two gobbling up their morning treats. Ruby had her glucosamine chew, she and Tucker devoured their puppy Oreos and still no Pea. So I headed back out to see what had her so riveted that she wasn’t interested in her morning treats. There she stood, towering over a fat brown toad. Probably the only creature in the world that could be intimidated by a Bassett is a toad. It was frozen to the spot, not like it was going to outrun even Pea, so I pulled her away and got her inside for her treats. She wanted to go right back out and I thought, or at least hoped, the toad would’ve made haste and gotten the heck out of Dodge once the giant Bassett road block had been removed. Nope. There he sat, same spot. Toads must not be very bright. I gathered him up and put him over the garden fence. Lots of good bugs for a toad to eat in there and no Bassetts pinning him to the ground trying to determine if toads taste better tartar or ceviche? Go Toad, go…


And now we can get on with the rest of our Saturday. Our Pea is fast asleep under the dining room table, probably dreaming of fat brown tasty toads on toast points...mmm. Blech!
So, do you come here often??

Friday, August 19, 2011

Letting Lenny Go

Well, I finally decided yesterday that we would not be keeping Lenny. Our bird room is full with Brodie, the parakeets, Crash and Burn, and soon Baby Squiggy will move in there, too. We just don't have enough room for another cockatiel cage. I thought about moving them all to the back porch if we could use some baseboard heaters for the winter out there but realized we'd still get an awful draft everytime the doors were opened to let the dogs in and out. So, no bird room back there. And now Mama Jenny will come to pick up Baby Lenny Sunday morning. I'll be sad to see him go, he's been so much fun. He's such a sweet little cuddler and loves to snuggle up for kisses after eating. We're all going to miss him!

Tucker finished puppy class last night. The puppies got to run around and play for a bit before getting down to business reviewing all the skills they've learned through class: sitting for attention, downs, staying, heeling, recalls, and then they got to show off any extra tricks they'd learned at home. Sisters Nola and Harley both learned how to roll over. Sonny danced. Gracie gave a double high five and Tucker did a military crawl. Smart, smart puppies. We had a quick relay race and Tucker finished third after Harley and Gracie. We had some snacks and drinks to celebrate their graduation, then, the big moment we all had waited for-the drawing for the class prize basket....and Tucker won!! He got a huge stash of treats and toys, along with a new leash and a treat training pouch--lucky, lucky Tucker! We scooped up all our prizes after class was over, saying a sad farewell to all our puppy friends. Hopefully we'll get to see them again at the Doggie Fun Day next month at Alameda Park.

We've got a full weekend ahead, playdates and bowling with Michael's besties, Shane and JJ, and Sunday my sister's coming in from Ohio so we can take our uncle out for his birthday to my favorite little restaurant in New Wilmington-the Tavern on the Square, then spend some time browsing around town or maybe over in Volant for the afternoon. Sounds like a perfect day to me!
Lenny and Brodie

Bug 'n Tuck

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Fruits of Summer

Nothing says summer like a fresh from the vine tomato sammich. Even better if the tomato is still warm from the sunshine, juicy sweet, lightly salted and smeared with Miracle Whip then tucked between two slices of the softest bread. Now that's eating!! I think the whole point of having a garden, for me anyway, is to have tomato sandwiches. I'm not big on canning. Okay, I don't can at all. I froze some of our beans, sauteed up quite a bit of yellow squash and zucchini, sliced some cucumbers into my salads, and we're still waiting on the beet harvest. But none of those ever get me as excited as a big fat tomato screaming to be sliced into a sandwich! For some reason, though, I only planted cherry tomatoes this year--the tomato in the picture is from our friends' farm. It's kind of hard to keep those little cherry ones from sliding out the sides of the bread! So next year...next year I need to plant some bigger sandwich size tomaters! Definitely.

So the summer is quickly winding down to a close and I'm already looking forward to fall. Cooler temperatures and much less humidity. School buses and homework. Colorful mums filling in beds and planters as the trees slowly change over to shades of gold and orange, deep reds and rich browns. Soon pumpkins start popping up on doorsteps and porches. Life finally seems to slow down again after the summer rush as old routines and schedules take over once more. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year...and then...then there comes snow!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For Kathy

Well, we got some sad news this morning through my mom’s cousin’s Caring Bridge page. Her daughter posted a message stating that Kathy has been in the hospital fighting pneumonia on top of her lung cancer and the oncologists have told the family that there’s nothing more they can do for her. They are making preparations for hospice now and Kathy has opted to forego anymore treatment. She has fought a brave battle, with such strong spirit--you couldn’t help but hope she would pull through this victorious. But, unfortunately, cancer is claiming yet another victim.

I went off to run after reading this news, hoping to clear my head and shake off the blues. Running has a good way of tapping into your heart though, and instead of erasing the sadness, it made me realize something else. So many years I spent resenting being given up for adoption, hating my birthmother for not loving me and my sister enough to keep us together as a family, angry at the years I’d lost not having my sister or brother in my life. This morning, though, I thought of the family I wouldn’t have known had I not been adopted. My dad, who passed away almost three years ago from lung cancer, is still a huge anchor in my life even though he’s gone. Memories flood my heart with love and laughter--what a wonderful gift he was and always will be in my life. My two sister-in-laws, my nieces, and nephew--kindness, unbelievable talent, beauty and brilliance wrapped up in that crazy bunch! My Aunt Marion who is a radiant beam of sunshine and love in anybody’s life who is lucky enough to know her, and Kathy--sweet, kind, funny, and loving, just like her mom, my Great-Aunt Katherine…All these precious people and so many more I never would’ve gotten to know if I hadn’t been adopted into their family. I love them all and am so thankful for all they’ve been in my life.

And now, how lucky am I that I’ve been granted the gift of having my birth family back! I have my sister and brother, their spouses and kids, my uncle, aunt and cousins, filling in those empty spots in my heart from so many years ago! God has been so good to me, so good indeed. I am blessed!

So, I will not be sad, well, I will, but I will also be happy for the gifts of love God has given me in this life in both of these families and when I think of Kathy, I will remember her beautiful spirit, her strength and the light in her smile and be thankful she, too, was a wonderful part of my life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Big Day for Lenny

This morning started off in much less than a favorable manner. First, I discovered two not so lovely messes in the kitchen from Tucker last night to clean up and stepped in another in the livingroom. Nice. Then I also had a dentist appointment to look forward to later in the morning and we all know just how much fun going to the dentist can be, right? Yeah…pretty much a second Monday to the week, how lucky am I?

So I turned the coffee pot on and got the smelly little messes cleaned up. Fiddled around on the computer for a bit until it was time to feed the babies. I decided today would be a big day for Baby Lenny. He’s now fully feathered and looking beautiful. He’s really anxious to try out his wings and flaps them for a few minutes here and there to give them a good workout and build up his growing muscles. The only problem with that is the brooder is too small for him to really stretch out his wings and he kept whacking poor little Squiggy something silly. He’s been demonstrating that he’s ready to learn to perch during feedings and only wants to sit on my finger to be fed now. As soon as I sit him down, he climbs right back up on me again, demanding his prime seat as the center of attention. Poor little Squiggy just sits alone, peeping softly and resigned to the towel, waiting for her turn to eat. Today Lenny would move to a big boy cage.

I dug out our parakeets’ old cage from down the basement. I gave it a good dusting off as it’s been down there in the dark for well over a year. Fortunately no spiders or other creepy crawlies had tried to take up residence--definitely not what I needed on my less than joyous start to the morning! I put in one of the perches as close to the floor of the cage as possible, just high enough for Lenny to climb up on and check out the world around him and also set at the level the food dishes will go once he starts to wean. He’s already nibbling on millet sprays, more or less just pulling the seeds off the stem for now, but soon enough he’ll learn the seeds can actually be eaten. And now that he’s in his big boy cage, he’ll get to sample some other treats, like whole wheat bread, crumbled corn muffins, samplings of fresh fruits and veggies, and eventually other seed mixes as well. Yes, it’s a big day for Lenny.

Well, then there’s our precious little Squiggy, all by her lonesome now in the brooder. Lenny’s cage sits right next to the brooder so they can still see and hear each other, but Squiggy had no one to cuddle with anymore. So I looked around my room for something soft she could snuggle with and settled on a little stuffed baby giraffe. Super soft with just the perfect cuddle spot beneath its belly, tucked in between its legs, which turned out to be just the right size for Baby Squiggy to curl up for some sweet baby dreams.

After the babies were done eating, they went to check out their new living arrangements. Lenny wasn’t quite sure at first about the cage and perch. He fluttered about for a minute or so, trying to decide where to sit. He slipped off the perch at first, stared sullenly at it a while, then climbed back up, determined to conquer this new challenge. Lenny is a big boy now! I tucked Baby Squiggy in beside the giraffe and it didn’t take her long to fall fast asleep, safe and content in the arms of this new warm and fuzzy friend. Soon enough she’ll follow Lenny to the big cage and learn to perch like he does, but for now she’s still happy to be a pampered little baby. Sweet dreams little Squiggy!!

Peek
Sweet dreams Baby Squiggy

New digs for Lenny

Mom & Dad

Handsome Brodie

Indifferent Pea

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School Soon!

We finally finished back to school shopping yesterday with a trip to Famous Footwear to take advantage of their 'Buy One, Get One Half Off' sale. Michael, like all boys, is ridiculously rough on his shoes and, as much as I love Walmart, I have to sadly say their shoes barely make it a month on Michael's feet before they begin to fall apart. I'm hoping that spending a little more on some better quality shoes will pay off in the long run by lasting him more than a couple months before I have to buy him yet another pair. Plus we hit the clearance rack and found a pair of Shaq Platinum basketball shoes that cost less than what I've spent on his shoes in past years at Walmart! Now that's a deal!

I have a stash of jeans and a few new Tshirts all ready to go for him, along with a new backpack and lunch bag, pencils, pens, erasers, folders, and book covers. Aaahhh...I love back to school shopping. I'm an office supplies junkie--you should seriously see my stash of pens, it's ridiculous. I have just about every color of the rainbow in ball points and gel pens, glitter, metallics and milkies. I could never buy another pen the rest of my life and still leave a good supply to pass along to Michael in my will (haha, and he wanted money!!) Fat, pretty notebooks also call out to me...I love to journal along with obsessive list making, so I have another good stash of half-filled notebooks from years past, tucked here and there throughout the house. It's far more tempting for me to walk through the back to school aisles than it is the candy aisles this time of year! I want!! I want!! But I don't need so I look, sigh a little sigh, and force myself to focus back on the shopping list at hand.

My not so little anymore Bug will begin fourth grade in a couple more weeks here. He's not nearly as excited as I am. I believe he could live an eternal summer break. But after three hot, sticky months of back talk and bemoaning boredom, I'm ready to have my house and schedule back on track once again. Hubby out the door to work, kiddo on the bus to school, then it's just me, the birds and dogs, and peace reigning for a few blissfully quiet hours...aaahhhh! Yes, I believe I'm ready.

And once life's order is restored to the Maurice household, my attention turns quickly to the holidays. I break out the Christmas planner at the end of the month here. I've already got a good start on shopping, having found a few good deals to snag throughout the year. But I have a favorite website: http://christmas.organizedhome.com/ that offers the list-a-holic a few different holiday planning guides, all with printable to do lists, gift ideas, recipes and more. Fantastic!! I used to dread the coming of Christmas every year until I discovered this website--I actually hated the holidays altogether! But a little headstart with good early planning has made it a much more enjoyable experience and now I always look forward to getting that jump on things every year! As Spongebob would say..."I'm ready, ready, ready, ready!!!" Haha!

Picture of the day: Phase Three of the back porch, the tile is all laid, needs grout and baseboards. Lookin' good!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weckerly Corn Roast

Yesterday was the annual Weckerly Corn Roast. I don't know how many years they've been doing this, but my husband's been going for the past forty-five years, longer than I've been alive...and except for the years when we had moved away, we look forward to this event every summer. The Weckerly's grow the best sweet corn around--I have no idea how big their farm actually is, but it's just miles and acres of rolling hills full of fields of sweet and field corn and every year to celebrate the harvest, they invite all their friends and family for this huge picnic. People come from all around, bringing a dish to share, to sit and catch up on the past year, relax in the sunshine, and enjoy good friends and good food--the best way I know of to spend a summer day.

Michael tried to be everywhere at once. His first stop was the inflatable pool and I think he spent the entire rest of the day running around cold and dripping wet. We went to visit their last pig, Petunia, who saved herself from slaughter by becoming pregnant. She lives a pampered life for a pig, listens to the radio left on along with the lights so she never feels alone or scared of the dark, and she feasts on all sorts of garden goodies, corn meal, and, her favorite: lots of Twinkies. There's also a chicken coop this year and Michael got to pet some of the hens. So now they've got farm fresh eggs to go with all that bacon and ham from the piggies!

I have a favorite tree there that sits out in the middle of a field all by itself. It's huge and magnificent, looking out over the rest of the farm. I always walk out to see it and take some pictures. I imagine if I lived there, I'd want to sit out under that tree every day...either reading, relaxing or just daydreaming, enjoying the peaceful scenery under the cool shade of the branches above.

Then there's the food...Every possible picnic treat you can imagine, lined up for all to enjoy. Stuffed hot peppers, rigatonis and sweet sausage, all sorts of salads and side dishes, and the desserts! Cakes and pies and cookies, oh my! There's usually a few piles of watermelon to dig into, and chips and dips to nibble on as well while waiting for the first batch of corn from the roaster. Oooohhh...the corn!! I did say they grow the sweetest corn around--truly, no other corn compares. We've even had the privilege of picking a few ears straight from the field and eating them raw--so sweet, so crisp! I can't even buy store bought corn anymore--it just always disappoints after you've had Weckerly's corn. It's really that good!

So, here is a picture of my tree and a few other shots of the farm:


My tree




Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baby pics

Today's blog is all pictures...I'm tired and I need to go for a run this morning before I have to get the pork butt in the oven here soon so it's ready in time to take to our friends' corn roast this afternoon. I'm thankful the rain looks like it's going to hold off today after the torrential downpour we had last year for the corn roast--blue skies and clear sailing ahead!

So our little babies are growing so quickly! I fall more in love every day with their quirky little personalities...and I may change Squiggy's name to Cricket since she chirps just like a cricket when she's hungry! Too too too cute! Lenny is learning to perch, he'll sit up on the side of the bowl and climb over to my hand to watch while I feed Squiggy--like her protective big brother, or maybe just jealous, still hungry sibling, like 'Don't forget about me up here!!' Haha! They're always cuddled up close in the brooder--Squiggy will even climb up on Lenny's back to sleep sometimes-so sweet! It's been a really tiring week getting up early to feed the babies and staying up late to feed them before bed, but I'm so thankful to have had this experience! Watching them grow and seeing their personalities emerging is so much fun! I wouldn't trade it for anything!
Snuggled up in the brooder, baby Squiggy likes to cuddle for extra warmth

Fed, full, and happy, Baby Squiggy falls fast asleep in my hand
Lenny, almost four weeks old, is a total ham for the camera--this one is chock full of personality!

Lenny learning to perch on the side of their bowl and baby Squiggy ready for sleepies

Best friends

Just a refresher--baby Sqiggy at three days old...how quickly she's grown!