Sunday, May 31, 2009

Family Fun

We had big-time, family-style fun today. There are lots of us in our immediate family. The current count is eleven if we are all present, but it will be twelve come October (thanks Joe & Mindy!). How do you transport eleven and a half people on a family excursion? Well, it helps to have a brother who's in a band and whose band has a big van for tours.

We stopped in Tampa to have lunch at Chipotle. Yum. Unfortunately, we don't have one here in Lakeland, so eating there is a real treat. Then we all walked across the street to the cupcake shop. I don't remember what it was called, but know this: all the boys ordered the Guinness and chocolate flavor. Andrew had a s'mores one with freshly-torched marshmallows on top and Emma got a pina colada one. Me? Well, I didn't get one. They didn't have any vegan ones. Dang allergies.
Then we headed over to Channelside in Tampa to watch "Up." It was really a sweet little movie. I definitely enjoyed the story, but I thought the score was really striking. It sounded so classically Disney - magical and swooping, sweet and sparkling.
It's such a blessing to have our family close by and to be able to do things like that together. I think it has made a world of difference in the raising of our children.

On another note, I don't know if you noticed the little progress meter over there on the side, but my mom's birthday (February was a long time ago!) shawl is finally finished! It's so soft and beautiful that I wanted to keep it for myself. But I didn't. She has waited patiently and I think she likes it.

In case you were wondering (and you all know you were), the pattern is the Japanese Feather Stole by Anne Hanson of It was a pretty easy pattern, even though I'm not by any stretch an experienced knitter. It came together smoothly and beautifully and my fingers really loved the 100% cashmere yarn, too.

Daily Bliss: laughing so much my face hurts
Wake-up Playlist: My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Movie Hair, Mushrooms and a Little Music

Haircut day! Haircut day! It's my favorite.
No matter how yucky I feel when I get there, I always leave my hairdresser's chair feeling like a million bucks. Usually, he asks me what I want to do with my hair and I shrug and tell him to do whatever he feels like doing. It's always good. But I'd just recently made Chris sit down and watch Amelie with me, one of my favorite movies. It has subtitles. It took me a long time to convince him it was good. He did like it. Please don't take away any of his man points for that. I promised him his points were safe, but I think we will have to watch Wolverine and the new Star Trek movie to make up for the fact that Amelie is a French movie. And possibly a John Wayne movie too.
Anyway, I love her hair. So, I asked my hair guy for something like it, but a little less severe. He pointed out how nice it is to have a hairdresser that likes foreign films, because he knew exactly what hair I was talking about and also knew exactly how to adapt it to make it work on me. He and his wife own the movie. He's so cool.
I tried to make an Amelie face for a picture, but it was really, really awful. So here's a couple of less-awful ones:

Also, there were some cute little mushrooms growing out of a tree root by our neighbor's fence. I was taking pictures of my hair when I saw them and they distracted me. I went down on all fours in my pink sundress and started taking pictures and trying to get the aperture and the shutter speed set just right. Oh me. What must my neighbors think?

I love these sneaky little ones, stretching out after their nap in the cracks of the bark.

Aaaannnnd, the kids had their last recital of the school year this evening!
Emma played three pieces on the recorder and one of them was an original composition! I am so proud of her. She wanted to play the flute, but her arms aren't quite long enough to reach, so her teacher started her out on recorder. She was extraordinarily nervous and, though her performance was nearly flawless, she burst into tears the minute she stepped off the stage. My poor girl. I understand exactly how she feels.
On the other end of the spectrum is her brother, who is quite the confident performer. He played two piano pieces, a euphonium solo, a duet with another euphonium player and a brass ensemble piece. He was brilliant. He was not flawless, but he shrugs that kind of stuff right off and keeps going.
I am so blessed to have been given charge of these two amazing people.

(warming up)


Daily Bliss: Clearance lip balm from the happiest place on Earth - Anthropologie! I really like lip balm and it's in a fancy little tin. Lurve.
Wake-Up Playlist: Some piano song that I wrote in my dream. It's gone now, but I am left with a lingering desire to return to my first instrument

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Fun

Today was the big Typhoon Lagoon field trip with Emma. We really had a good time. We ran into one of her girlfriends first thing, so we spent the day hanging out together. This girlfriend has a mom I actually really like, so that's a bonus. There were a couple of water slides and a long ride around the park in Castaway Creek and mostly there was the wave pool.
I went to Typhoon Lagoon when it first opened with a friend of mine. We must have been in our early teens, though I'm not really sure, so it was fun to go back and see the things I remembered. Theme parks are not really my thing, but I was able to set that aside and just enjoy the company of my Best Girl, which makes any day a great day.
The swimsuit/coverup debacle is another story.
I found this cute little shirred-top strapless dress-ish, skirt-ish thing that you can wear up like a dress or down like a skirt. It's polka dotted, which I adore, and has a ruffle at the bottom, which I also adore.
I'd planned to stay mostly dry. But that ended almost immediately upon entering the park. The first wave in the wave pool soaked me and I spent the rest of the day in a dripping wet, woven cotton, droopy dress thing.
Oh well.
I have never really been able to pull off the whole "glamorous" look, so it was not surprising at all. Nor was it upsetting. Whatevs.
We dug around in the fridge for leftovers to serve as supper and played a couple rounds of Dirty Uno (No, no. It's not that sort of dirty!)while listening to Anberlin, and the face time with my kids has done my tired heart some good.
Tomorrow is haircut day! Maybe I'll get around to taking some decent photos this time around. I don't believe I've properly shown you my super-short hair! Ah well. I'll only take pictures if it's cute. Deal?
Emma has got the sun-sleepies and was out like a light within five minutes of laying down and I think I may be heading in the same direction.

Daily Bliss: a giant bag of cotton candy and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from eating leftovers instead of eating out.

Wake-up Playlist: I actually woke up singing some song my brain wrote while I was sleeping. I don't remember it now. Does that happen to anybody else out there? I write songs in my dreams all the time. I've always wanted to be a songwriter, but I never can seem to break the barrier when I'm awake and access the music that lives in my heart.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Rescue and Some Beards

I came in to work today and met a turtle outside my office. He was very lost. He looked at me helplessly and I knew instantly that his name was Petie Turtle. It turned out not to be Petie the Turtle, as I'd initially thought. We have no lake or retention pond anywhere near my office, so I have absolutely no idea how he got there. But I called Katelyn who hadn't gotten in to work yet and asked if she and her sister (who is visiting from Michigan) knew of a lake that we could help Petie find, since I don't live nearby and have no idea where a lake might be. She said yes. I put him in a Staples paper box and he tried to get out. A lot. He was very scared but he liked for me to talk to him. So I spent a good hour leaning over a box talking to a frightened turtle this morning. And by the time he left, I really loved him.
The final report was such: as soon as he saw the lake, he got very excited and scrambled straight to it as the instant his feet touched the ground. He jumped right in the water and swam around a lot. Goodness only knows how long it had been since he'd been in the water! The girls stayed a while to watch him and make sure he was happy. And he was. Consequently, I was too.
So, it's been a good week, in which I rescued Petie Turtle (maybe it's spelled P-e-t-e-y but I can't be sure as he did not bother to spell it for me) and exactly three ants, whose names I never did find out, that had snuck inside on some gardenias.

And also...why didn't I know about this earlier? There is a World Beard and Moustache Championship!! We all know I'm a fan of the facial hair. I don't know how I missed out on being a judge. With great categories that include "Freestyle Partial Beard" and "FuManchu," this is a really comprehensive showcase of the ridiculous things testosterone can force a person to do. I'm just sayin'. You will get a good chortle out of perusing the galleries of present and past winners.

Daily Bliss: an hour in the fabric store by myself and the lovely anticipation of a new project in my mind
Wake-up Playlist: It's Not Easy Bein' Green (In my defense, I was dreaming about gardening. This much I do know. Whether this ties to the deeper meanings of this silly tune I can't say.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My boss is out of the office for the rest of the week. I had planned on really digging into the blankie I'm knitting while he's away, but I didn't get much done today. I mean, it isn't like I had a lot to do. My job is pretty easy and once I've finished the main task for the week (which takes me about one full work day), I'm pretty much done. But I had a copier repair man in my office all day and the Treasurer was in to do some paperwork and the Director of Music came in to do some of her practicing for Sunday. So, with all of that company, I had to try and look busy - you know, like I was doing actual work. So, I checked my email 50 gazillion times and read lots of blogs so that I looked like I was doing computer-ish work. But knitting on a huge red blanket would have probably looked bad. So I even cleaned out my purse for heaven's sake.
But I had a fun evening. I had to shop for a swimsuit coverup and I took myself out to the movies. People look at you in an understanding way when you go to the movies by yourself. But I didn't mind.
But the shopping. Ugh.
I have to go to Typhoon Lagoon on Friday for a field trip.
Now, I am a self-confident, intelligent woman. I have long since given up judging myself based on the size of my thighs. But you know, I have never enjoyed wearing a bathing suit in public. Not even when I was a pocket-sized teeny-bopper. And I haven't been swimsuit shopping in probably six years. I'm really not kidding. I haven't owned a swimsuit for that long. If necessity dictates that I must invent a way to get in the water, I usually cobble together something decent out of my mom's selection of suits or my own collection of tank tops and shorts or something equally ghastly.
I did find a nice suit on the first try. It seems to hold me up in all the right places and hold me in in a few other places, which is good. But those places aren't the ones I'm concerned about. It's the parts that are going to be naked regardless of the type of suit that worry me. So I went out searching for a lovely sarong.
It seems to me that fashion has told us sarongs were the way to go for water-side glamour for years now. But does any store have a sarong? No. No, they do not. I will not be glamorous after all. I have brought home two skirt-ish options and I am about to take a deep breath and try on the ensembles in order to choose the least offensive option. That will probably happen after I glug down a glass or wine or two for courage.
Wish me luck.

Daily Bliss: cherries for supper
Wake-up Playlist: Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire (I know, right? It doesn't make any sense to me either)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Focused? Nope.

I was utterly bored today, for a good portion of the day. That made it so very difficult to focus on anything important (not that I have much important work to do).
But once I got home, things started looking up. Or at least more entertaining.
I followed a couple of new-job-idea-leads while the kids practiced their myriad instruments and generally made noises all around me. I managed to get some dinner going and to suddenly toss a serious, future-iffic conversation at my honey the minute he walked in the door (Honey, what about if I just join the circus? I mean, I'm talented, right honey? Right? Honey, why are you rubbing your temples already?). It's not wonder that he sometimes comes home late.
He did the dishes for me, even if it might have been an attempt at finding some peace & quiet, because I will generally not be found anywhere near a sink full of dirty dishes.
I forced the elder of my noisy children to play Uno with the youngest of them and they managed to turn even that into a serious competition. And I tried to knit. But I was reading blogs too.
My head is just elsewhere and it is refusing to be put back in line. I have my little tricks and gimmicks for reigning in my mind and I will use them when it becomes absolutely necessary. It is almost absolutely necessary.
But maybe not just yet.
Chris has some money in his iTunes account that's been sitting there for a while. It's a good thing I didn't know about it before. It might have mysteriously disappeared. He bought a couple new albums of which I highly approve (Iron & Wine's new one and the She & Him album that I've heard is really good - he kinda looked a little dreamy-eyed about Zooey Deschanel, but I don't mind.). I've been on something of a folk kick for a while. It seems that's all my subconscious is singing in the morning these days, too.
Oh my. I lost track of my point. Surprised? Me neither.
So, he called me down to check out M. Ward's new album because he was liking it and that was his first mistake. iTunes, for me, is like an endless tunnel. Once I get in, I will never find my way out. It was not long before I had commandeered the mouse and found two or three more albums that I was strongly suggesting he should purchase. Um, Patrick Watson? I might love you. It's a good thing he's so open to suggestion. Or else it's a good thing that he thinks I'm cute enough to buy music for.
Now, I have a shawl to block (hear that, Mom?) and I need to obey some lovely rain that is calling me to the bathtub.
Maybe that doesn't happen to anybody else.
I love to open my salvaged window right next to my claw-foot tub and listen to the rivulets of water smacking the pavement of the driveway as they roll off the side of the roof. And sometimes, that is even a trick I use to bring my brain back into submission when it has decided to go a-wandering - giving it something so lovely on which to focus.
But we are not resorting to tricks yet, are we? That's what I'm telling my brain for right now. I suspect it is a little skittish and I don't want it to run off in the other direction under the threat of being forced to behave.

Daily Bliss: watching a papa cardinal and his baby peck around by my mom's bird feeder

Wake-up Playlist: Iron & Wine - Resurrection Fern

Monday, May 25, 2009

Just Nothing

How can I even write of the nothingness of this day? Honestly, I'm just making up a post so that I can keep putting my daily wake-up playlist here. Because I like the song that was in my head this morning (which is not always the case).


We bought some dirt to put my squash seedlings into.
And then we put them into the dirt.
And watched another movie.
And I knitted.
The end.

Daily Bliss: cupcakes for breakfast :)

Wake-up Playlist: Fleet Foxes - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wide Open Weekend

Holiday weekend. Oh how I love those words.
Yesterday, I slept in. Well, I slept in a little bit. But I had stayed up awfully late the night before, so I don't think it counts. We had a really hard time getting things moving and I kind of took that as a sign that we weren't going to get moving. Yesterday was the first Saturday in weeks and weeks that was wide open - no parties, no recitals, no tournaments, no sewing projects planned, no house chore plans. It was a good thing, too, because my head was so foggy. I just could not get going. Somewhere late in the morning I decided to start working up a summer schedule. I did one last year to manage all the camps and activities. This year, we have fewer camps, but a more scattered child care arrangement. My friend Denise is taking the kids Tuesday through Thursday every week. My dad will have them on Fridays because he works for the school board and they have switched to a four-day work week to save money. I will have to drag them to work with me on Mondays. For the past couple of summers, I have cut my work week down to four days as my work load really decreases and child care needs increase. My boss decided, in his passive-aggressive way, that this year I should just bring the kids in with me on Mondays instead, since it's "working out nicely having you here all five days." I think that means he doesn't like to answer the phones when I'm not there.
Anyway. Where was I?
Oh yes. I was trying to make the schedule and I just couldn't make any sense of it. I mean, staring at the screen and eyes glassing over and brain just not budging. After maybe two hours of this, my head hurt so badly that I decided to lay down. That's big business around here. I don't just lay down in the middle of the day-ever. And after about 30 minutes of laying down, my husband came in to check on me. Suddenly a question burned within me and I had to ask him - had he made decaf coffee in the morning?
Oh yes. Now that I mentioned it, he had. I guess we were out of regular.
And suddenly, the world made sense again. Then we went straightaway to Starbucks.
We have been renting movies and I've been baking (vegan cupcakes today for a moving-away party that were a really big hit! did I mention the oreo cookie frosting? ok. so the frosting wasn't vegan...but I used organic oreo-type cookies instead of real ones.) and we had a big-time Wii bowling tournament last night with nachos and soda and everything. Tomorrow? It's also unplanned.
But I do hope to start the day with caffeine.

Daily Bliss: watching Andrew feed a baby blue jay (our friends rescued it and have been preparing it for release) - he really loves critters in such a special, tender way
Wake-up Playlist: Switchfoot - This is Home

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memories in a Box

Andrew got his first medal this week after his band concert for a superior rating at Solo & Ensemble Festival. I had been meaning to pull my medals out and show him what his Mama used to do, so I decided to just do it tonight.
Chris and I put all of our keepsakes into Rubbermaid tubs and chucked them in our utility room when we moved into this house some six years ago. The utility room is basically an attached shed, so I have ever since been worried about the condition of our keepsakes and such. Bugs and mold and stuff really like the climate here.
Of course, my box was the last one in the row on the bottom, back corner. It was also the biggest and heaviest in spite of the fact that I have gone through purging phases over the years and cleaned out/thrown away many of my "keepsakes." The molded-sugar Chuck E Cheese from my 8th birthday cake? That one was finally discarded during our move here six years ago. One time, I detached all the space-wasting tops of my trophies and awards, which makes them easier to pack away and still preserves the bar across the base that describes what the trophy is for.
We sifted through the evidence of vermin, the moldy band t-shirts and mildewed photos and I found lots of wonderful things. Certainly, the elements did eat away at my special things, but most of it is fine. I found photos of boys I knew and a 7-page Valentine's Day letter from a precious(male) friend professing his love for me in the 10th grade without actually saying it directly. I remember my heart beating terribly as I read it, knowing that everything about our friendship would now change with this bold advance. I remember the heartache of trying to find a way to let down his hopes without acknowledging that they'd been actually communicated to me. The good news? We're still friends. Still. However it is I responded must have been sufficient.
I found my 9th grade boyfriend's jacket. He wore a bullet on a chain around his neck and I thought it made him look awfully dangerous. He still does look kind of dangerous, actually. He might really be kind of dangerous, actually. There was also an article in the paper, maybe five or seven years ago, about his artistic, unique. I saved it in the box with the jacket he let me keep. It's acid-washed denim and covered with air force patches.
I found my medals and the adjudication sheet from my first solo and shared that with Andrew. He was impressed. I had lots of them.
I'd like to think we made a connection on a deep-below-the-surface level over that. Maybe even something that will help carry us through the difficult teen years that are just ahead. Maybe it's some basic knowledge that his mom was a little bit like him once - taking home every trophy and ribbon available and tucking away every scrap of paper, deeming each bit important enough to preserve.
Tonight I'm really glad I saved so much of it.

Daily Bliss: coconut milk "ice cream" delicious and dairy-free! happiness!
Wake-up Playlist: Jon Foreman Your Love Is Strong

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fairies are the Best

Well, the fairy costume was a big hit with the little one. I woke her up when it was finished, late at night, and made her try it on - just so there would be no emergency fitting issues in the middle of the morning rush. Talk about the 11th hour! This is the last day she could give her book report without getting a late grade. I did not have time for mistakes.
(sorry for the flash photography - wanted you to see the hemline)

It fit her just fine and I was pleased with the overall effect, but I felt it needed a little something. So I took apart some of the flowers that we used for her crown and sewed them onto the glitter organza tunic in random places. We put some sort of silk wisteria thing on one shoulder.

That gave a nice, asymmetrical effect, in my opinion. She gasped in the morning when she picked it up. In a good way. She kept exclaiming, "It's even better than I imagined!" The thing is, I had imagined it being so much better - french seams and actually-hemmed sleeves and stuff. I have got to stop setting these ridiculous standards for myself.
Every moment put into it (which weren't many, by any account - more moments were spent on procrastinating) was worthwhile when we came to school. Her friend Cassidy stopped in her tracks on the sidewalk, rolling backpack and all, and breathlessly exclaimed, "Oh, Emma! You're so beautiful!" And my little girl, who is shy and hangs in the background as much as possible, but still craves such praise with every fiber of her being, beamed from top of her be-crowned head to the tip of her pink organza peep-toe wedges-clad feet.

Oh yes, I remembered. This is why I do these things. And this is why I set such high standards for myself. Because even when I miss my own mark, whatever I am doing still turns out to be impressive in the eyes of my children.
As for me, I found an hour for myself this afternoon. I came home, sat backward in my chair and watched the rain fall outside my window.

Thinking about things I don't want to think about and trying to make decisions about some things. It didn't go very far. I need long bits of time to really think. I'm sort of Winnie the Pooh-ish on that sort of thing. I have to sit down and concentrate very hard in order to think properly.
It didn't work out well, as I got a call from my son about 10 minutes into my hour-long think. Chess club had been cancelled for the day and I needed to pick him up. Now.
Oh well. Thinking will have to wait for another day. It always does.

Daily Bliss: I have a wee little pumpkin growing on my jack-be-little vine! so far the squash vine borers haven't gotten it!

Wake-up Playlist: Ray LaMontagne Let It Be Me...which was unfortunately and quickly edged out by You Are My Sunshine (yup. the Anne Murray rendition. ugh.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh, Brother

Sigh. Okay. The fairy costume still isn't done. Most of it is, though, and I've made a crown of flowers for her delicate little head. Do you know that it is really hard to find fairy wings when it isn't Halloween? Emma has long since outgrown hers and I just figured I could run to WalMart or whatever and just grab a pair for $5 or so. Not so much. Two stores later, I finally found a pair at Target. For $12.
Stupid book report.
I'm just putting this off because I'm tired. It's counter intuitive, I know, to procrastinate on something because you have little time in which to finish it. But there you have it. A lot of what I do is counter intuitive.

We almost had some sunshine today, but it changed its mind. I don't care too much for sunshine anyway. I think I'd be happy living in the Northwest. What's for dinner on another rainy, unseasonably cool day? Homemade bread and white chicken chili is the answer. Cooking on a rainy day while listening to Iron and Wine is also the answer.

Emma has expressed an interest in learning to play the drums. I don't know if it'll be her thing, but we are well-connected for experimenting with that sort of thing. My brother came over bearing the gift of a sparkly snare drum and two pairs of sticks. We had a rudimentary (drummer humor) lesson and lots of fun. Somehow, the kids talked Uncle Jon into staying for some Wii games and somehow, now that they've been sent to their rooms to settle in for the night, Chris and Jon talked each other into more Wii games.

I, for one, am going to finish up this dang costume after my brother goes home. And do you know what I'm going to do then? No matter how late it is, I'm going to pour myself a tall glass of wine and take a nice, hot bath. Because no matter how late it is, I know that I need some time to myself today.

Daily Bliss: the way my brother makes me laugh - a deep, giggling way that nobody else can quite inspire
Wake-Up Playlist: Iron & Wine White Tooth Man

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Soaking It In

My heart is full, my eyes are tired, my belly is still trying to make sense of dinner (pasta? at 9:30 PM? what?). The fairy costume has remained untouched today. It's a good thing they can choose to do their reports on Wednesday or Thursday.
The entire day has been saturated with Yankee rain. You know the kind? Well, if you don't live here you do. Florida's rain drops are fat and violent. They splat and pelt. And when Florida's rain comes down, it's accompanied by startling cracks of thunder and lightning. But today's rain has been more what I remembered from my Midwestern childhood. All day long it rained, heavy clouds hung in the gray sky, and it was a soaking, deep, gentle rain. At one point, it was even misting out there. Mist! The snow of the above-freezing precipitation world. It drifts and floats to the ground, getting there whenever it feels like it should and not a moment sooner. The mist brought a very un-May-ish chill to the air. I rather enjoyed the change.
Emma's SAT scores are in for the year and they were astounding. I was explaining the results to her while we were still in the classroom and her teacher actually asked me to move out of earshot of the other children. I think I won't post them all, but know that my second grader received two post-high-school scores. Awesome.
Andrew's spring band concert was this evening and it was so impressive. The director is very talented and she's got, I think, a fantastic music program going. It's fun to see all those kids on stage. Some of them are nervous, some are having fun and some are more in tune with their instrument than others. He did well and enjoyed himself immensely, which is the whole point. We went out for dinner afterward, since we hadn't time to eat before the concert. He was behind a music stand the whole time, but I took a picture anyway (Drew's the one in the middle):

And now I find my eyes will not stay open any longer. Fairy costume. Tomorrow.

Daily Bliss: English peas for a snack! It's so fun to unzip their little pods and see all the peas lined up in there, just waiting to be eaten. The kids liked them almost as much as I did. which is saying a lot.
Wake-up Playlist: Winter Birds -Ray LaMontagne

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Should Be Doing Other Things

Well. I should be doing paperwork for the kids' summer camps and adventures. But I'm not. I should be at the grocery store. But I'm not. I should be ironing tomorrow's clothes. But I'm not. I should have served frozen fish sticks for supper in order to save time. But I didn't.
I invited my sister-in-law over for dinner instead. My brother's out of town for a couple of days. And if I'm completely honest, I want her little pumpkin of a baby to love being at my house before it even gets out into the world. So I like to feed it. I figure the tiny one will associate the hum of activity at my house with the feeling of a happy, full tummy right off the bat.
The problem is, when I invite my Mindy over for dinner, I always end up having the craziest cooking adventures. I'll call her up at 4:00, on my way home from getting the kids and the dog and say, "Hey. You wanna come over for dinner?" And she'll say she'd love to and ask what she can bring. And I tell her that I don't know what we're having yet. I'm going to pick something up at the store and I'll call her if I can think of a contribution for her to make.
Then I walk through the store, just looking for inspiration. Wandering open-mindedly through a grocery store is dangerous. That is how I ended up making pumpkin ravioli once from scratch. Oh my. I think I even served it with brown butter sauce or something like that. That is also how I invented the New Year's Eve pasta (I think). And that is how, tonight at 5:00, I decided we'd have homemade bread, roasted beets and pork chops with lemon caper sauce. None of which I had recipes for or experience with.
But it was good.
I've only roasted beets once before, but it's easy and they're so tasty. Even if my fingers are a stained bright pink now.
I made some progress on the fairy costume tonight. The tunic/slip for underneath the flowy part is done and outer part is mostly cut out. A run to the fabric store is in order because I used up too much material cutting out a piece that I didn't need after all. Because I'm not very good at reading directions. Whatever.
This will be a lesson in good-enough for me. As in, what I have time to do will have to be good enough. My mommy instincts have already dictated plans for a matching organza flowered head piece and homemade wings. Of course a wand and glitter and a fancy hairdo that we'll have to wake up at 5:00 to do would be perfect. And wouldn't it be great if I had mad embroidery skilz? I mean, I could pimp out that purple tunic like nobody's business! Twining vines and pink flowers climbing up her pink leggings? Ah. Magical.
But I need to put on the brakes.
A simple lavender slip (that I altered into a tunic) and a sparkly but plain organza peasant shirt (that I altered to make it really long) will be worn over pink leggings. No headband and no purple-boot-shaped shoe covers (the fairy in the book wore purple boots). And absolutely no embroidery-that-I'd-have-to-stay-up-until-3:00-AM-researching-online-because-I-don't-already-know-how-to-do-it.
Okay, well, maybe the do I make organza flowers anyway?
Because I will be lucky to have this finished in time for her book report on Wednesday, what with tomorrow evening being spent on Andrew's spring band concert and a trip to the fabric store being necessary.
(shaking my head at my crazy self)
I will laugh abouto this one day.
Probably tomorrow.

Daily bliss: dinner turned out okay, even if I almost wrecked the bread
Wake-Up Playlist: Lovesong of the Buzzard by Iron and Wine
Oy. Has the weekend already ended?
I decided on Friday that I'd feel better if I really dug in and finished some things that have been on my list for a while. Of course, my list was overly ambitious and I knew I wouldn't finish it, but the list sort of made itself.
I finished a tunic - another one of those summer blouses from my Weekend Sewing book. Love it. I also made a dress from a seriously beautiful vintage sheet. I love the pattern and I'll definitely make it again. I have this vision for a summer wardrobe of filmy, gauzy dresses in faded, sepia colors, layered with cotton slips that have ruffles on the bottom. Pretty specific, I know. But I finally made a dress that fits the bill.
Pictures? Yeah, well...I tried. They were really bad. I'll try again soon, I promise.
I also started on the fairy costume for Emma's book report later this week.
Oh. And knitting. I knitted quite a bit.
And even though my hands hurt a little bit, I'm really glad I did all of that. Of course, I didn't get any of the other essential things done, like grocery shopping and paperwork and stuff. But I'll try for all of that stuff tomorrow. After I finish the fairy costume.

Garden update: We are suffering hemorrhagic tomato losses. Southern blight, or stem rot, has gotten us pretty badly. We had gone into this knowing it was sort of a practice garden, so I am trying not to be sad. But I guess I had really hoped for tons of practice tomatoes from my practice garden. We still have a few plants and are trying a couple of things to fix the problem for future tomato plants. Time will tell. Chris built a raised garden bed today, though, for some squash. It has sprouted nicely and is totally ready to get into the dirt and spread out a bit. The black-eyed peas are growing ten times faster than our dragon's tongue beans. I'm really excited to see how they do.

Hm. What else?

Feeling too sleepy to make much sense of deep thoughts.

I loved all the suggestions for the morning soundtrack footer. Mary? I loved your ideas and could listen to more of them for hours! And Hannah? Thanks so much for de-lurking. Hannah and I share a super-cool friend who's in China doing mission work right now. I briefly considered cancelling the whole thing once I realized that there might be an actual window into my actual self going on here. Y'all just think you know all my bizness. But really, I like to be in control of what parts of me people get to know about. Then I decided to just keep it up anyway. Why not? It's fun and it probably won't always be some cry for understanding from deep within my guts. And I think I'm going to try on "Wake-up Playlist" for size (combining Hannah's and Mary's ideas). We'll see how it goes.

Ugh. I think that's all the typing I have in me tonight.

Daily Bliss: a new garden box (oh, the possibilities) and more delicious rain
Wake-up Playlist: I know it was Jose Gonzalez and I think it was Fold

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Little Freak-ay

So, about this whole morning wake-up song thing:
When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, "what's the song?" Because now I'm paying attention and I think it's interesting. But my mind is always clouded by Chris' cell phone alarm, which plays the theme from Voltron, so it's tough sometimes to swim past that and find the song of the morning. But I laid there for a while and Amy Grant's It Takes A Little Time seemed to be the song. And I thought, "This can't be. I'm cooler than that. I listen to alt country and indie rock and indie folk." Or, you know, I thought something similar to that. I can't be sure.
But I got in the shower and slowly started to wake up and, sure enough, that's the only song that was there, except for yesterday's song, which was there once I thought about it.
And I was a little disappointed. I don't mean no disrespect. Any Christian girl that grew up in the 80s holds Amy in the highest regard. I really like her. Her Unguarded album was the first one I ever owned and I still know it by heart. And, just between us? I will always love her. seemed a really odd song to be in my head.
Then I noticed that it was really in there with yesterday's song at the same time and I remembered that the same thing happened yesterday, the overlapping songs. And as I awakened a bit more, rinsing the conditioner out of my hair, I realized it was just snippets of each song that had been looping around in my head, and when you mash up the snippets, you get something very interesting.

You know how I've been a little down-in-the-dumps? I mean, I don't think I've really been 100% honest about it on this blog, but I'm sure it's come through. Things have been a little hard on me lately. And I'm feeling the need for something to change on a very deep, personal level. Especially since nothing I'm trying to change in my exterior life is working. House? Nope. Not gonna happen. Job? There isn't one to be found (though I'm not going to stop looking). The list goes on.
But those songs...
Get this.
Here are the fragments of them, nearly in day-order:

"My young bride, why are your shoulders like that of a tired old woman, of a tired old woman?"
(Midlake Young Bride)

"Cause I got a couple dents in my fenders, got a couple rips in my jeans"
(Francesca Battistelli Free to be Me)

"You can't always get what you want"
(Rolling Stones)

"My young bride, why aren't you moving at all?"
(Midlake Young Bride)

"It's just the tickin' of time"
(Kings of Leon, 17; research proves my brain heard that lyric wrong...but still)

"It takes a little time sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground."
(Amy Grant Takes A Little Time)

Kinda spooky, huh? That freaks me out a little bit. Because it makes sense. And it applies to me where I am right now. So, I think I'll keep paying a little more attention to what's on my mind. I think I need to re-connect with my inner quietness. And even if nothing else really changes, that is sure to help me cope with the daily grind a bit better than I have been.

Daily Bliss: Knitting night! Raucous fun with my girls and a little bit of progress on that nephew blankie to boot.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We had so much rain today! Hooray! It's still raining, actually.
This afternoon shoved me around a lot, from place to place, and I only accomplished some of what needed to be done, but sometimes it's good to be busy. At least that's what I'm trying to tell myself today.
There was gardening to be done, children to pick up at clubs, dinner to be made, a grocery store errand and a hair color purchase (it's been too grays have grown out at least a half-inch on top!). Emma and I left early for ballet and dodged the torrent as we headed toward Hancock's for some patterns and fabric goodies. They're having a good sale and Emma has to dress like a fairy for an oral book report. Obviously that means I have to make her a fairy dress and obviously, that calls for a trip to the fabric store, yes? So that's what we did. We dashed in and out of the store and dashed into ballet where I

just sat

and knitted.

And that was quite wonderful. Knitting has fallen a bit by the wayside in the crush of end-of-school-year schedules. Not entirely, but I'd say it's been several days at least since I had a chunk of knitting time.
I had beautiful thoughts throughout the day that were going to be turned into a post. They have all evaporated. I know there were deep and lovely things about the beauty of daily life, I just can't remember what they were.
What I will do is update my project progress bars and leave you for now. Perhaps tomorrow will bring time to mull over dreams and plans and the changing landscape of my inner life. The rest of tonight shall be spent listening to the rain falling in the dark, cascading over my porch steps and soaking my garden.

Daily Bliss: laughing out loud at sitcoms with my honey
Morning Tune: bonus! two songs today! Young Bride (Midlake) again and 17 (Kings of Leon)

PS: I need help naming that song footer that I decided to start including...Subconscious Soundtrack? Dream Tunes? I'm looking for just a couple of words (or a few words) to indicate that they are songs I do not pick, that I just wake up singing and don't know why :) All suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I've noticed something about myself this past week or so. I don't suppose this is deep, revalatory knowledge, but I have caught myself singing the most random songs in the mornings. I mean, I sing all the time, right? Who doesn't? It's fun and it embarrasses my kids and what could be better than that?
But I guess I just noticed that I was singing songs that were so random and so eclectic and seemed to have nothing to do with anything. I've decided that they must be the soundtrack of my dreams, since I find myself singing, say, Led Zeppelin at 6:00 AM, as I'm about to take my first sip of coffee. Pre-coffee Christy's subconscious is an open book. Post-coffee Christy has very little recollection of what Pre-coffee Christy did on any given day.
This morning, I was singing You Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones, of course. Yesterday it was Midlake's Young Bride. I don't even know why. I do like those songs, though.
Sometimes it's a song that I don't like at all, like Francesca Battistelli's Free to Be Me. Honestly? I just had to Google the only snippet of lyrics I remembered to see who sang the song and what it was called. I have no idea where I picked that one up. Plus, it's a little on the pop-country side of things for my taste. Nonetheless, it was in my head before my first sip of coffee three days ago.
It's just an interesting thing to pay attention to. I might start a "Morning Soundtrack" section of my posts, in addition to those blessed "Daily Blisses" - just for funsies. Just for laughs. Just so you can make fun of me as you go about your day. And some of the music is bound to be good, so you might want to check it out too. But some it if will probably not be good. I don't pretend to have good taste.

Daily Bliss: cooperative children this afternoon, who finished all of their responsibilities and then some

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

At Long Last

The sky broke its long silence today.
We finally had a good, heavy rain.
I'd heard it was going to happen, but I doubted.
I watched the sky all day, straining my eyes for a heavy-laden cloud.
It felt a little muggier, but it has been so hot and dry (record-setting, in fact) that I decided it had all been a cruel joke. No rain would be coming.
I picked up Emma and we settled in at home to read a bit of Anne of Green Gables before we picked up Andrew from an after-school club, and when we stepped outside to get get back in the car, the air was still. And that's when I knew it was coming.
There's a special kind of before-storm still that we get around here. It's like the trees and the air and the critters have all drawn in a deep, anticipatory breath.
By the time we got home, the clouds were darkening and ganging up on our town.
At the first crack of thunder, I put down all my chores and went to my porch. My porch and I haven't spent enough time together this year. Blame it on whatever you will. But this was a moment not to be missed. So I snuck the book out there with me and got caught. Emma was also drawn to the porch and scolded me, "are you reading ahead?" I just nodded.
We felt the cool air swirling around us, fighting with the hot air as the winds picked up.
Andrew joined us soon and my two children were suddenly very chatty.
I admonished them to hush. Listen. Wait.
And finally, the rain came. It kicked up the dust and surprised the love bugs. My parched yard flooded. And the wind knocked my corn clean over. We didn't think about the side of the house and my neighbor's fence forming a wind tunnel when we planted all those seeds. Some of it may recover. If not, it's just a lesson learned.

And when it was all over, an amazing double rainbow spanned the sky.

The first rain after our long, dry season is always so welcome. We were not the only ones in our neighborhood sitting on a porch, waiting for the deluge.

Daily Bliss: finally finishing up a dress that's been sitting around in a state of error. it was a small fix, but i'm glad it's done.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Did Somebody Say Blueberries?

Do I even need to type words here? I think the pictures tell enough of the story. Five and a half pounds of blueberries in less than an hour. Can I brag a little bit? The girl at that weighs the berries was impressed with us. The main aisles are pretty picked-over by now. Obviously, we went deep into the bushes to get so much so quickly. What are you to do when you are two lonely girls living on a desserted island, whose only source of nutrition is the wild blueberry? You must forage thoroughly. That's what you must do.
Regrettably, the pies once again escaped the eye of my camera. I apologize. Perhaps I will have to be more stealthy next time. Yes. There will indeed be a next time.

Mothers' Day Weekend

I had a very nice Mothers' Day weekend. I hope you all did as well.
Saturday found our family as busy as ever, maybe even more so. Andrew was due to arrive at his first-ever Lego Mindstorms competition at 7:30 AM. I don't think this is an official club yet, but they are planning to create one locally, so this was something of a practice round.
They all built and programmed their bots and brought them to a local school to compete.

My son does not always wear a redneck hat. Their team's acronym is B.R.R., so they are Team Brrrr. They were all supposed to dress like lumberjacks (get it? Team Brrr? Timberrrr?). Obviously, the flannel shirts got ditched within an hour or two of the Florida sun rising. So, he's left with just a redneck fishing hat, borrowed from my brother.

They won a teamwork award, so they didn't go home empty-handed, which is good. Most of the teams had older kids on them and had more experience (Drew's club is only three months old or so), so I think they did really well, all things considered. Their bot didn't complete all the challenges that were available because they just hadn't had the length of time to prepare that some clubs had, but the things it did, it did well. And from what I understand, that's commendable.
I snuck this photo on Sunday morning of my champ, seriously reading the funnies, holding our birds. Sorry it's dark, but when you're sneaking around with a camera, there isn't much you can do. He's growing up so much.

It's been very hot and very dry lately. We are all waiting impatiently for the rainy season to begin. Especially the bees. They need to drink somethin', y'know? My neighbors bees have begun to get very excited about watering-time in our garden. We go out twice a day, morning and evening, to make sure nobody's too thirsty and the bees all buzz about excitedly. They burrow into the black soil and, abdomens throbbing, suck down as much water as they can. They are so focused that we are usually able to observe them up close.
Here's one on Andrew's milk weed:

They tend to congregate at the holes in the bottom of our upside-down vegetable pots. There were at least eight bees under this very same pot this morning!

And some of them take the lazy way, just landing on top of whatever is open and wet.

Know why I love these bees so much?

Fresh honey. How can you not adore a little somebody that makes you fresh honey?
That's what I gave my mom and grandma and sister-in-law for Mothers' Day - honey from my neighbor's bees with a little tag that says "Happy Mothers' Day, Honey!" Simple, but very sweet.
I spent my Sunday doing absolutely nothing. It was very difficult. I mean, I know I needed it and everything, but it's hard for me to nothing. My needs were taken care of, though, by my wonderful hubby and two amazing kids. My card at breakfast promised me the following niceties:
From Emma, a back rub and shoulder massage
From Andrew, "unlimited free drinks all day"
and those things made me cry a little bit.
Oh, and? Emma and I picked blueberries on Saturday because I made blueberry ginger pie for our Mothers' Day lunch. Oh yes. I did.
I sat around all day on Sunday, getting my shoulders rubbed, having my ice water re-filled and eating blueberry ginger pie. This motherhood thing is really working out for me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Here's m'new nephew, born on Thursday, states away from me. That's way too far away.

His name is Maximus Solomon. And I know just what you're thinking, but don't worry. Genetics foretell that he will definitely grow into such a big name. It'll be a cinch, probably.

Mom and baby are doing fine, from what I hear.
The blankie I'm knitting for him is coming right along, but now that he's here, I have to really hustle!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blackout Night: Finally

I called for a Blackout Night last night. We haven't done one in a while. It's not like we had time on our hands or something crazy like that, it's just that we really needed to shut out the world and focus inward for a bit.
My sister-in-law, Sarah, had given me these pretty black lanterns when she and Jon moved to a new house. I had secretly coveted them ever since she bought them. So, you know, that was awfully nice of her. See my silly poodle behind them? She's sniffing around, trying to decide what we're all doing.

My thought was that I'd clean them up and light them to use inside while all the lights were out. But once they were wiped down and lit, the oil smelled really strong and we decided not to bring them inside.

But that's okay, because most of this Blackout Night was spent outside. I won't say that the kids were filled with glee. My children, like most modern children, would much prefer to be inside, curled up with a video game, a movie or a book. Outside, it is already summery and sweaty around here. Nobody likes to sweat. Well, at least none of us do.
We took a walk to the park and did some work in our garden.

We ate a lovely salad, full of pretty tomatoes (not our tomatoes just yet...but soon!) and garden-fresh squash (thanks again, Jeffries family!). Chris and Andrew tossed around a football and Emma generally pretended things around the yard while I fussed over the southern blight that seems to be infecting some of our plants. And by the time we noticed the misty moon high above the trees,

it was too late to even bother going inside to read.
We sent the kids to the showers and lingered outside just a little longer in the twilight, drinking in the evening breeze that's still hanging around since it's still spring.

DAILY BLISS: My baby nephew, Maximus, will be born today! Wahoo! This is the second little fella for Chris' brother and his wife, and we couldn't be happier for them!