26 aug 2018

She had eaten frozen blueberries – but it looks so much worse, like she’s straight out of a Dickens novel. Ryan’s reading a story to them about a magical pig that, in one chapter, helps kids learn table manners. The next night when we ate spaghetti we looked over and Annie was shoving a fistful into her mouth with the tendrils all dangling down. Anyway, all I wanted to show here is that the page said to “draw an animal with spots” so she wrote Tiger and drew spots around it. She was dead serious.

They’ve been sick all week and grandma sent us a care package. New coloring books help everything.

Ryan got a taste of being needed in all directions for 15 minutes: Annie wanted to do puzzles with him, Ruthie make jewelry, and Gertie standing up.

Annie said today that she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be a swim teacher or a pirate when she grows up. Ryan suggested being a swim teacher on a pirate ship.

28 July 2018

Ryan, tonight, reading to his three girls. A new book about two cats on the run.

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We’ve changed their room around again. I just couldn’t get behind the practicality of  bunk beds. I wanted to be nostalgic. So we got an antique full bed and now Ruth and Annie sleep together. I shared a bed with my sister, my mom did with hers, and I know for sure my grandma Gertie did with hers. The thought of carrying this on feels right.

Little Gertie will be transitioning to a floor bed this summer, right next to them. I’m a little nervous, but am hoping it’s one of those things where I’m lowering the standard too much. She loves being close to her sisters.

We got a new water table and spent all Friday morning, right up until lunch, outside.

The older two played hopscotch and Gertie, after getting frustrated at not being able to reach a rubber duck across the table, finally stuck her head under the waterfall and pulled it back, then kept throwing it to the other side so she’d have to stick her head under again. Hearing her laugh at herself made me smile. We’re getting closer, she and I. A lot closer. Like, I wanna nuzzle her neck and kiss her cheeks all the time closer. Something is changing and it’s probably (annoyingly) me.

 

8 june 2018

I said, You guys. It’s just me and three of you. Please just listen to what I say and don’t go nuts. 

So we went to the Splash Pad, which on the scale of venturing out solo is like a 2, but you just never know. And honestly, I always expect the worst, especially hauling Gertie around. I should’ve known there’d be no issue though since she and water are best buds.

Right off, they found “Camille” in the plants. She’s the lady bug that I somehow convinced is the same one they’ve been seeing since last year when they had to send her back into the garden. They were so worried about her, but ended up reuniting this spring. How amazing that she remembered where they lived and even visited them at the splash pad. What a great gal.
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Ryan and I have a few fun things coming up this summer. One of which is leading a new small group through our church. I really never thought we would, but the stars have aligned with another couple to get one going. And, after taking a year off to rest on Sunday evenings (which I absolutely needed and was thankful for), we’re ready to jump back in. You can get kind of eyes-glazed-over when you hear them say over and over while urging people to join one: We’re not a church with community groups, we’re a church made up of them. But now I fully understand the need to have a constant small circle around you.

I’ve only shared with a few people, and not even with my family, but about a month ago I had what I think was a nervous breakdown. Ryan had to come home early every day for almost a week. I was incapable of doing much beyond a simple meal: (think pb&js for dinner). I spent most of the week crying: in bed, in Gertie’s therapy waiting room, with her therapists, in the shower, at dinner. During nap/movie times, I would walk around the backyard sobbing and praying for help. From my core praying. It was probably the scariest it’s ever gotten. I guess in the midst of the news recently, I should add that it  never got to a point where I was worried of what I’d do, but I wonder what it would’ve looked like if I didn’t have that single thread of communication directly to God, the frailest of threads that was somehow strong enough to keep me upright.

Afterwards I casually shared that experience with a friend and she asked me why didn’t I reach out to her. She would’ve been the first person called too. I can share the deepest of my neuroses with her and there’s no judgement. We’ve done online bible studies together. She is a children’s pastor for goodness sakes. So why when I hit bottom did I not call? But I do know why. For someone, and maybe you’re the same way, it’s hard to ask for help. I want someone to just know without me having to explain everything. I want them to proactively send me a text. I want them to show up with a dinner (because everyone knows that’s a mom’s holy grail, a pre-made meal). Even Ryan said that he does me a disservice because whenever anyone asks about us (alluding to life with Gertie), it’s always positive. It’s always, “Great! She’s continuously improving! Hooray Tada!” And while I can see his point of only sharing the good news, it also isolates us from help when we need it. On the flip side, it’s helped me learn what I need to look for and do for others.

This is why we’re excited to start back in with a group. To have people who keep up with us (and us them) weekly, where no one will be expected to cold call a friend from ground zero. Where we can see the progression of a snowball going down hill and either all stand in front of it mid-descent or rebuild it after it shatters at the bottom. I so understand now why these face-to-face relationships are important.

And just to update, I feel really good right now. Another friend mentioned that trauma and the brain go through cycles, showing its recurring face like clockwork. Is it related to when Gertie was born and all that followed? I don’t know. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had a little to do with it. But in the aftermath of everything a month ago, I feel different. I’m starting to be intentional. I am repeating to her the same things I say to the others: I am proud of you. You are a good girl. You make me happy. And she does. She really does, if I’ll just let her. But I do feel it happening. Her personality is coming out and I find myself laughing a lot at her.

Here she is stringing two “words” together (don’t mind her stained shirt). Two words/sounds in a row are a critical step in speech. Yesterday, when Ryan came home, I carried her out to meet him and he said “Hi Gertie!” and she responded without me cueing her a clear “Hi Dada”. Today, at the splash pad a girl came up to her little fountain and said Hi and Gertie said Hi back. To understand conversation, the back and forth. We are so hopeful.

Ryan has been amazing at giving me the evenings to run. And while I can’t do anything but gain weight, it has been very therapeutic mentally for me. Those evenings have been, along with my monthly meeting with a mentor, and then our book club that’s been meeting for the past six months. It has shoved me back into reading, where now I want to do nothing else at night except read. A friend’s therapist told her that reading activates the same part of the brain as hypnosis so is a great way to “self-medicate.” But the book clubs! We’ve been choosing restaurants/flavors relating to the books and it’s so fun. I love the different personalities and we’re at the point now where no opinion goes unsaid (I kicked that off with my book choice that no one liked, ha!)

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Our first night. When I made everyone wear name tags and answer an ice breaker question. That lasted one time.

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And Ruthie has already asked when we can do a book club together. The other night she wanted to lay in bed with me while Ryan worked in the living room. So she got her reader books, I got mine and it was so comfortable and exactly what I’d hoped to do with my child. I told her once she gets into 2nd or 3rd grade we’ll start it up.

G-Parents, Round Two

Ruthie’s one lucky gal. Yet again, she got a back to back visit from both sets of grandparents.

My parents swung through Arkansas on their way back from a three week RV adventure to the southeast and stayed a couple nights. There’s a decent golf course/rv park where they used to stay at until the park owners decided to only allow RV’s of a certain age. Well, our little Beulah (#2) didn’t make the cut, but they still called and asked to park there anyway. After admitting the year of the RV, there was a long pause and the guy said, “What condition is it in?”

Man, this is like the Spanish discotheque of RV parks. I remember once (okay many more times than once) while studying in Andalucía having to be surrounded by a group of people in order to get into a club because I (gasp!) wore tennis shoes. And, okay, a sweatshirt. Sue me. I was not a fancy college student. And it was cold. And I felt like wearing sneakers. My outfit in no way hindered my awesome Elaine Benes dance moves.

elaine-benes%20danceAnd if anyone would like a visual tool on how to perform said dance moves, here ye be:

elaine teachDid you hurt yourself? I know. Leave it to the professionals next time.

Anyway, so Beulah barely made the cut and be-bopped her way amongst newer versions of herself. Ruthie didn’t know the difference and of course immediately got comfortable at the wheel of this old beast. My brother and his dog came up to visit as well.

DSC_7125We talked about Survivor, their travel stories, and work.

I sat around waiting for someone to ask about any stories on the stay-at-home front. No one did, so we broke out the bubbles. This girl could chase bubbles all the live long day.

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And then the kite was broken out. My mom said that my brother test drove it before we arrived and had to tell all the passers-by that the princess kite was not his. I wonder what kind of kite the newer RV’s brought. Probably hot-air balloons instead, actually.DSC_7132 The girls went inside to get supper ready. Ruthie wanted to stay out with the boys. DSC_7133Probably to avoid getting attacked by the lotion monster. Every time we see Grandma (which turned into Me-maw because my mom didn’t think Ruthie could pronounce Grandma…. which then turned into Mamie because Ruthie couldn’t pronounce Me-maw either. But Mamie was the name of my mom’s grandma so it worked. Anyway, every time  we see grandma/me-maw/mamie, she lotions up Ruth’s cheeks. Maybe I should quit sticking her face out the window down the highway.

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After a quick dinner during which I made Ruthie show off everything she’s learned so far. (I only do this in front of her grandparents, but besides.. they love it.) My mom commented that Ruth comes off somewhat serious on the blog and was happy to see her silly side rearing its head in person.

Before we left, I asked for a photo of the three of them.

And that’s when I wanted to stand in front of an oncoming new RV.

How many times does it take? Seriously.

Open your eyes, dad:DSC_7138
Open your eyes, dad. Show me your teeth, Ruth:DSC_7139
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Okay, go back to closing your eyes. Please, for the love of God.DSC_7137
And finally, a decent one. DSC_7135
I was so happy they popped through!
The next weekend, Ryan’s parents came down on Ryan’s birthday for a couple nights. I made black bean brownies for the occasion because, let’s face it, I sure as heck wasn’t gonna be the only one with gas.

Ruth helped blow out the birthday candles. His mom’s birthday was a few days prior, so it worked out!

DSC_7164The weather was rainy, but we managed to sneak out of the house for a bit. Our library had a book sale going on, buy one get one free. With a car full of bibliophiles (including Ruthie), we walked away with a large loot.

Then we popped into our small town’s museum. And by ‘popped in’, I mean it literally took 8 minutes to walk through.

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So we hurried home to go through our books. It’s like Christmas for us!DSC_7166
Then Ruth took a nap and Julia & I went garage saling. I can’t even remember what I bought, but I’m sure it was extremely essential to have. When she woke up, we broke out some of the things Jama made for her. I’m going to do a separate blog post on those things, they’re so fun! One of which was this Eye Spy game:DSC_7171
…complete with a camera to look through…DSC_7170I love games like this. Mostly because Ryan had just told us about an article he’d read about kids now needing therapy to quit their addiction to iPads, iPhones, etc. The therapist in the article said that detox was like coming off of heroin. We were Shocked! Appalled! Disgusted!

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Hmmmm…. Looks like Ruth’s gonna get her first Intervention. She’ll only think it’s her second birthday party and then, bam! Off to Southern California to live with other addicted toddlers.

In other news, our mini library was rummaged through by Randy.

DSC_7189When Ruth went to sleep, Ryan and his dad peeled out of the drive drove off to live music while Julie and I watched a movie. It was a no biggie, nice weekend.

The next morning, Jama read Ruthie some stories before getting ready to visit Ryan’s brother and wife.

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…so I asked them for a picture as well, dreading what I was sure to be an excruciating process like with my parents.
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Heh. That was the first try. Take notes, dad.

Can’t wait for everyone to visit us again… it’ll be coming up quickly!!

A Good Saturday

I love me a full day. Granted, ‘full’ could be also construed as watching a Survivor marathon 8 hours straight, so please feel free to define it any way you’d like.

But today I felt productive: both in chores and quality time.

Everyday we officially wake up to this little lady staring at us. I say officially because it’s only the last couple of hours that she’s in bed with us. Yes, I’m still breastfeeding. And yes, I have moments where I want to chop off my breast Amazon woman-style just to be done with it, but most other times I enjoy holding this growing girl in my arms.


So when she wakes up at 5:30 for her early morning feeding, I stumble back into bed with her and we sleep for a couple more hours, if we’re lucky. She wakes up, yells at both of us mamamamamadadadadada, then Boo (minus the K), and I reach down for a couple books for her to read as we close our eyes a little while longer.

Some days we have energy, others we don’t.

This day we did, so Ryan fixed us his homemade sausage, cheese, and egg mcmuffins. Protein points for this pregnant lady.
I literally could eat those all day long, but controlled myself and managed to squeeze a day’s worth into a morning meal. I took over breakfast duty to let Ryan and Ruth watch Saturday morning cartoons, which consisted of (what else?) He-Man & She-Ra the movie.

Ruth just wanted to read. That’s all she wants to do now. She’ll pick a book from the shelf, hand it to you, then scoot backwards into your lap. No matter what I’m doing, I stop to read to her because if there’s one activity I want her to enjoy, it’s reading. No batteries, no electricity, no controllers needed. Just you, the printed page, and preferably something to eat. My mom remembers holing up eating buttered popcorn with a book in hand when she was younger. It will take me less than a nano second to continue that tradition. Because, really, the only qualification needed for a family tradition is buttered popcorn.

So while Ruthie read by the sunshine, I hung out laundry in the sunshine.

To be able to still hang out clothes in mid-November is wonderful.

I had vintage laundry cart that I’d wheel up and down the line. It looked like this:

(source)

But the cloth was coming apart and it was hard to transfer clothes easily from the dryer, across the living room, to the vintage hamper. So I’d have to use a regular platic hamper to make the transition. One thing I hate is having several different things that do the same job. So after searching online, I found this guy:


(Source)

I want it if only to have an excuse to wear a jean on jean ensemble. Whomever has me as a secret santa, this is available for just $40 more than our max budget of ten bucks. Go ahead, splurge.

After I got a little sun on my face, I plopped chicken into the crockpot to cook for the day.

After it’s done, I use the bones and fat along with left over vegetables to make broth overnight. After straining it Sunday morning, I was able to get 10 cups out of the deal. Two birds, one stone. Lovely.

After a morning nap, the family drove to The Dollar Store because we were on a mission. I wanted to start a family tradition each Thanksgiving of volunteering, but Ruth is not old enough to scoop soup out without a baby spoon. And I can’t imagine the agony of being hungry only to have your food ladled 1 teaspoon at a time.

I thought we could do something else in the meantime. We chose to participate in Operation Christmas Child. You fill up a “shoebox” with toys, sanitary items, etc, attach a label with the age and sex of who you are buying for, and drop it off at various locations. The label also has a bar code that the company scans so you can track where your package is going.

Since there were three of us, we had three shoeboxes, one for each of our sexes and for the age range closest to us. 1 male: 10-14 years, 1 female: 10-14 years, and 1 female: 2-4 years.

Ruthie was a blur of excitement as we shopped for her girl.


I had absolutely no idea what to buy the boy. Ryan said, “Don’t worry, I got this.” And promptly came back with an armful of boy games. I nixed the snot rockets, but everything else was solid. Even though Ryan would be a perfect dad for girls, I still hope he gets a little boy someday. He would be so excited to build and destroy with a mini-him.

Ruthie, in the meantime, really only wants a green apple and she’s happy. Not quite into destruction… unless it involves spaghetti.

I’ll give you three seconds to spot my belly button. Go.


We arrived home after buying a ton of items only to have it total to much less than expected. Gotta love the dollar store. And gotta not love walking in and seeing that you never plugged in the crock pot. Ah, the trials of a homemaker.

It almost ruined my day. Almost.

But luckily we headed to the park and that always perks me up.

Ruthie thinks she’s a big girl playing on the slide by herself. Don’t you dare try to help her either. And Lord help us if another kid shows up, because then Little Miss Show Off comes out to play. A boy joined her in the playhouse and she at first stood there, repeating ‘Hi’ a thousand times. He didn’t notice. So as he hesitated at the slide entrance, she got a determined look on her face, basically pushed him out of the way, and slid down.  



Do you like how we never take her out of her pj’s?  I mean, if we’re all in pj’s then we’re just a really cute mitchy-matchy family, right?

Besides, after our park jaunt, we went home and immediately all took a nap. So basically we’re just super prepared.

When we woke up, dinner was made and kombucha was drunk. By Ryan, at least. It’s not advised to start drinking kombucha regularly if you’re pregnant. It’s really good for your digestive system, but it detoxes your body, so you don’t want the detox to think the foreign entity trying to grow in your uterus is not supposed to be there. If you’d already been drinking it regularly, I guess I’ve read it’s safe.

And since Ryan’s stomach was troubling him the past couple weeks, what better timing to force him to start!

I mean, look at this!! Doesn’t it look yummy???
Mmmmmmmm, pulling out the mother. Tasty!
You don’t eat the mother. Save it for your next batch. With each batch a new mother is grown. You can see in the first picture there are several mothers floating at the bottom. Pretty appetizing. 
But for how much they’re going for in health food stores, it’s nice to see I can get a good batch out of only 4 bags of tea, water, and sugar. Amazing.

So after Ryan choked it down (although he did say it tasted like apple juice), we played with Ruthie, hiding Cookie Monster in various places for her to find.
Thankfully she’s a serious child. And finding cookie monster and pulling off his head was serious business indeed.
The day felt long, like mid-summer-it’ll-never-go-dark day. And we needed that, big time.

Hunkering down before the holiday storm. And I couldn’t ask for a better pair to spend it with.

Hanging with the In-Laws

We had a great weekend with my in/out-laws.  R took Friday off and we took our time driving that morning, stopping at Ropp’s Bakery (an amish/mennonite farm that sells the best donuts around), and taking a different route than normal. I drove most of the way because I’ve found that if R is trapped in the passenger seat he’s more likely to have a conversation with me. Otherwise, he drifts off into his own world while driving.

When we arrived, Ruth (as always) attacked her family.

She was happy to be out of the car seat and in her grandma’s arms. I was happy to be there too, because our visits normally revolve around one major thing: FOOD. There’s a plethora of snacks that I really shouldn’t eat, but do. This weekend I tried to hold off as best I could…

until they ordered BBQ for dinner.

Hello, ribs. Is this seat taken?

I literally could not stop myself from sucking every last bit of meat off that bone. It was bloody. I’m pretty sure I was a T-Rex in my past life. Probably the best BBQ I’ve had in a long time (not counting the homemade ribs my mom made that are de-LICIOUS).

And the carcass on my plate proved it.

Ruth was in shock and watched my every move.

Ah, drooling in the face of ribs.

She really IS my daughter. I knew it.

We also read bedtime stories.

and laid beside her as she struggled to fall asleep.


5 months must have brought out the full moon in her, because for a baby that went down pretty easily (despite a few rough moments here and there), she has begun to fight naps consistently. Arms locked in the upward dog position, screaming bloody murder.

The first few minutes are cute. And then frustrating. And then draining. Doesn’t she know we’ll be here when she wakes up, ready to play?

Mornings though, are the best. Despite going down with a grimace, she always without fail wakes up with a smile.

At breakfast, grandpa showed her how to let birds land on her finger.

When R was younger, after watching a bird land on Mary Poppins finger, he decided that he was going to catch a bird too. He stood outside with his finger in the above position for a very long time, waiting for a bird to hang out with him.

So serious. It’s both funny and sad at the same time. I hope Ruth has a little of that in her.

The weekend was spent relaxing, watching old movies (think pre-1960s) which R and I have become obsessed with, having passionate rants about this subject or that (like my FIL’s article for a newsletter that was butchered by the editor to the point that it made him sound like an idiot – or so the story goes.. we’ve yet to lay eyes on said story.), organizing the newly finished basement, looking at J’s cross-stitched artworks, ogling over primitive-style decor in magazines, napping for both adults & babies, and generally hanging out.

Our last day we went to church and R’s mom joined me in the cry room for most of the service. It’s located in the back with a big window looking into the auditorium so you feel like you’re still actually a part of the congregation, unlike the one at our local church where I feel quarantined in a small, windowless, florescent-lit, white-walled room. This one was a breath of fresh air.

And after the preacher made a joke about having to always listen to “the same lame stories at family get-togethers”, J and I started giggling really hard. So hard in fact that we glanced down at sleeping Ruth and she had her eyes wide open staring at us. We couldn’t stop laughing and she couldn’t stop giving us a confused stare.

But it’s those same worn-down stories that we’ll be telling when we’re grandparents too. And you’ll be happy we did, Ruthie, because they’ll give you comfort when we’re not here anymore.

Trust me.

Moments to Remember

Having a handy laundry helper.

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Watching how concerned she gets when Pilar, the glo-worm, burns from the inside out. Side note:  For some reason I though it was a caterpillar, hence ‘Pilar’. Nevermind.

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Basking in the afternoon sun.

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Catching her just as she wakes up.

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Staring (and kissing) the back of her soft little furry head. I had to roll her to the side to get a shot. She liked that a lot.

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Bedtime stories – she absolutely loves be read to. Makes me happy.

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Feet in my face. Constantly.

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Pruny skin after a bubbly bath.


And, boy, there are so many more that I don’t capture. Love this girl.

Apparently being hip is not a requirement.

I don’t know how I snaked by. Unless it means that only mamas with hips can join. In that case, I was a shoe-in. In fact, I’m sure there’s an email in my inbox right now requesting that I be the spokesperson for that group of mamas with hips. If that were true, though, I don’t think the current clipart is appropriate.

Either which way, I’ve joined this local group.

It’s confirmed, people, I’m hip. So you can stop sending me emails on how to up my cool factor. It’s already been achieved.  After I read the acceptance, I strutted around The Shack pointing and winking at everything.

Then I looked at Ruthie and she gave me her ‘I can see through you and you’re not as cool as you think’ look. Oh yeah, Ruth? Well, for your information I’m now a hip mama. Eat it. So she did. And after 15 minutes gave me the look again.

Whatever. I’ll show you.

But before I walk through this nerdy wardrobe into the Chronicles of Hipness, let’s take a look at my past life. My past awkward life.

Like how I forced R to participate in Thrill The World with me and another couple. It was a bid to try and have the most number of people dance the Thriller at the same time. People all over the world did it. See? I’m not alone. We showed up for the practice and were swarmed by 14 year olds.

If you want to watch the video, here it is. Don’t hate. We spent the day leading up to this at an Oktoberfest festival. It took me nano seconds into the first lager to forget the steps. My friend, J, and I are on the left side (I’m in the black dress and she is in front of me in pants and small jacket.) T & R are on the right, (T wearing a tuxedo shirt and R right behind him.) R’s favorite part is the high-five they did at the very end.

Or what about the time I slipped on stairs in college, landed on my back, and laid there as a high school tour walked by? That will never happen again. Because I’m hip now, ya’all. (maybe I should quit saying ya’all, then.)

If you’re interested in getting a glimpse into my disturbing psyche, in which I obsess over a graceful girl all through class and then try to emulate her, click on the photo. It will take you to the post.

And talk about disturbing. Me, in the woods, with a Jane Austen book. What would Jane think? And why would she be walking around with a copy of her own book? I don’t know, but she was cool… why couldn’t me reenacting mesmerizing looks not be? Well, that’s in the past now. I’ll only be throwing around hip looks from now on, which means I may or may not acknowledge you now that I’m several notches higher.

Click on the photo if you’re into the neuroses of a jane-aholic and would like to be hypnotized by my captivating stares. You’re getting very sleepy….

Upon being accepted into this group, I started looking around at the various meet-ups and found one that would fit Ruthie’s age. I remembered R’s word of advice: “don’t just throw all your cards out there at once, Carrie. Let people know you’re nice and then drop the weird jokes on them.”  So I RSVP’d for an event, and told myself to write something short and sweet. Don’t always try to go for the laugh, Carolyn. They’ll get to know you soon enough.

I’m screwed.

What is Essential is Invisible to the Eye

One aspect of this approaching 18-yr marathon on which we’re about to embark that makes me especially happy is all the book buying. I mean, I’m pretty sure my baby’s going to come out reading, right? At a 5th grade level?

Oh just kidding, folks. Maybe a 3rd grade level. I don’t want to put pressure on the kid right away.

So despite (or because of) my ignorance to age-appropriate books, I’ve been scooping up all sorts of fun things.

Like this lot from an estate sale for $5. The Collier Junior Classics (if only because our name is on it) as well as a 15 piece set, ranging from fairy tales to biographies.

They threw in the Little House on the Prairie bonnet for free. You know I’ll force them to wear that while reading certain stories.

But you know which book I simply cannot wait to read aloud?

The Little Prince.

I was studying in Spain for a semester and lived with a host family which included a 10 yr old girl. It was in her room that I slept. One day, after a 5 hr intensive study class, I came home and plopped on the bed. That’s when I noticed it: The Little Prince sitting on her desk. I think the shock of seeing English was what caught my eye, so I hungrily grabbed it.

And then promptly laughed and cried. Antoine, you killed me that day.

Right from the start, he captured me. Like, when describing how the protagonist, as a child, drew a picture of a snake eating an elephant. But the grown-ups could only see a hat (above).

They couldn’t see this:

So as an adult, he would test people with his drawing of a snake, saying:

In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them.

Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so if this was a person of true understanding. But whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

“This is a hat.”

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars.  I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

Or another favorite part of mine: the fox.

Sigh. The fox…who asked to be tamed by the little prince:

“But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…”

……

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–

“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”

“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”

“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.

“Then it has done you no good at all!”

“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.”

I tried reading this aloud to R and ended up crying through it all. We’ll see if I can buck up with my little one.

Thrifting

I always love to point out how much I hate to shop.  And I do… for new things. Give me access to pre-used, bargain deals, then my mouth salivates at the thought of going store hopping. It’s to the point where I can’t even stand being in regular stores, because I think, “Oh I’m sure I can find a better deal on this.” or “Who would pay that much for this?!”

In effect, I’ve become a snob. A reverse snob, I guess.

There’s a thrift store trifecta that I hit every time I’m in the neighboring town. Even if it’s for a quick run-through due to limited time, I cannot not stop. They all help satisfy my different needs, so the steering wheel literally takes on a life of its own and plops me right in front of the door. It can’t be helped.

First stop, Goodwill.

Here I get clothes, books, bric-a-brac, and occasionally a piece of furniture.

It was at this place that I landed on a pile of discarded Eddie Bauer sweaters. If you know me or R, then you know of our love affair with EB (or Ed, as he likes us to call him.)

Then onto the Salvation Army.

Here you can find a great piece of furniture and bric-a-brac. The clothes are still too pricey (can you believe me!?), and the kitchen ware is slim.

Okay, I’m not a complete imbecile.. where I refuse to buy anything new. It’s just become a knee-jerk reaction to question the need to pay such inflated prices. I mean, yes, I will buy new and unused underwear. (However, I did buy and wear a vintage 1940s swimsuit for a summer. Discuss.)

A hairbrush? New. (This has especially been cemented in my head after working in an elementary school where those insects whose name rhymes with ‘mice’ tend to congregate. Shudder.)

If I were to jump out of a plane, then yeah, I’d pay extra to make sure the parachute was new and in working order.

See? I’m not demented.

The last stop on the holy trinity trail is just a generic THRIFT STORE (per the sign). I found this puppy while getting lost one day.

It feeds my do-it-yourself projects, my kitchen ware, knitting, and occasional piece of clothing.

It was there that I bought these bushel baskets. R thought it was a great idea, since we have an orchard not growing anywhere near us. (He never appreciates my purchases).

And who could forget the great book buy of 2010: a Gardening Encyclopedia set. The cashier rang up each book at 25 cents when I thought they’d be a dollar. Will I read them? Probably not. But I saved almost $14 people.

And I love how they look in our eames style TV stand. We found that curbside in our old KC neighborhood and I made R carry it three blocks home. You know, instead of me running ahead to get the car. I was afraid it would be snatched.

Yes, I am that person. A dumpster-diver.

There, I said it. I’m a dumpster-diver and I love it. During my sister’s annual neighborhood large-item pickup day, she and her husband would grab a six-pack, sit in their screened porch, and make fun of my fellow divers.

They don’t understand.

Then what about the Shack’s mini, almost microscopic wine (and champagne?) cellar. With my $4 wine rack and $2 carafes. I bought the carafes back when we lived in KC and they were next to 12 mini wineglasses of the same decor. Those glasses still haunt me to this day. Why I didn’t buy them, I’ll never know.

I think I didn’t want everything to be mitchy-matchy. I still get queasy about mitchy-matchy, but in this case I would’ve come to love the matching set eventually.

Note Klimt’s and my mutual friend, Judith, gazing longingly for a glass.

And then my ‘Medicinal Plant’s’ poster. At the checkout line, a lady said that she was this close to buying it.

Half of the fun is the competition. There are not several of these in the store, with more in the back storage room. It’s a one and done deal. Who knows when you’d see it again, if ever. So you have to grab fast if you like it, because others are just as quick.

For the record, I have no idea which plants these are, as they are all written in the latin names.  I know one day I’ll see something outside that looks similar and then end up with poison ivy on my tongue.

But when you live in a Shack with limited storage, you have to be creative. So when I found this 60s (maybe earlier?) laundry basket, I immediately thought where it could go.

In front of our kitchen window, where I am desperately trying to revive my grandma’s plant. Remember? I said I’d baby this one forever here. Turns out I’m a liar. It’s hanging on by a thread. Sorry Mary Margaret. I’m trying.

It also holds the cute set of vintage mixing bowls, one of which holds our compost goodies.

You need storage, Carolyn? Then voila! That little guy opens up to find all of my awkwardly sized bottles. These have been stashed randomly in the kitchen, bedroom, and who knows where else.. so it pleases me to have them all in one place.

The Shack’s wallpaper & white linoleum, on the other hand does not please me. Oh well. I’m blessed to have a roof over my head.

Happy Thrifting everyone!

What have I been up to?

Nothing much, honestly. Reading on gardening and picking out seeds, harboring a second bout with back pain that is slowly getting better, and riding the waves of enjoyment and loss as we watched our rabbits (finally) have a small litter and then lose them.

But other than that, nothing much.

So let’s go over the last part of December, which was jam packed with warmth; from friends, family, and indeed the sun.

R had a rough couple of months; working long hours and generally stressing out. So we booked a quick trip to Florida to rest up.

I found a little place that got good reviews and was decidedly within our budget. Ever since sleeping in a hut steps from the ocean with no a/c or hot water, I can’t bring myself to spend money on a room. The hut (click here) had to be my favorite beach side experience.

This cutie of a building was juxtaposed right next to some towering ones which I’m sure charged double ours, and I smiled at our good luck. Plus, we had a tiny bar & grill located on the first floor. Isn’t that all you need?

I apparently couldn’t spend money on a taxi either, because I forced R to bus it from the airport. $3.50 vs $50? Um, we’re hanging with the locals, R. Somehow we made it the entire way without spending a dime, as the driver felt sorry for both us and a couple from Amsterdam for not knowing what we were doing.

We were only there for a couple days, so each morning we rushed downstairs to fall back asleep under the rising sun.

And then we’d wake up to take long walks along the deserted beach. Note to self: only travel during the week. What uncrowded bliss!

After our jaunt, we’d plop back down onto our chairs for a pina colada, or other rest-inducing drink.

I’d look over occasionally and find R testing out his US Army survival manual that he chose to bring along, by trying to light stuff on fire through his glasses.

I would periodically sit on the hammocks to remind myself to never stay where there is a bar & grill so nearby again.

Or we’d go body surfing for a couple hours. I was the judge this time around.

We’d see guys running around with a football, and R would have gaze longingly at them. He stood nearby like how all young kids do when they want to play, but don’t want to ask. Politely, with hands behind the back.

Alas, he was never asked.

After our beachside retreat ended, I called up my cousin that lives in the area. She picked us up and promptly took us to a 5-star quality dinner… in their backyard! I have never, never had such thick and well-prepared steak before, in restaurants or at home. It was delightful, and B served us up some official drinks along the way.

I mean, has anyone ever used that measuring cup before? I didn’t even know what it was.. maybe to hold whole eggs for an English dinner?

No, it actually has a use, and by golly she used it. I was impressed.

After they put their son to bed, we headed outside to the hot tub for loud laughs and fun conversation, and even an occasional push into the pool.

And yes, they provided us with robes! Where are we?? This is a long cry from the hut, my friends.

Thus ended a great few day escape for the two of us. If I could put that trip into a bottle, I would. It’d sell, I’m sure of it.

Wild Wild West

Have I mentioned how much I love our library’s bookstore? We’ve had to take out a second mortgage on The Shack to keep up with my addiction, but it’s been worth it.

And if my future kids don’t just curl up in a corner and daydream about the wild wild west after reading these, I don’t know.. I’ll throw a fit.

I mean, look at those embossed front covers!

And the wonderful colored pictures that just beckon you to step right through them to another century of lassos and Native Americans and ghost towns…

You just cannot put a price on these two-page photo spreads either. The books are full of them! …And for a buck a piece, I think I got a steal.

Happiness.

Jane Austen Festival, Part Two

On our way to Louisville, mom asked me to try on The Dress. She’s had this puppy since the late 60s when she wore it. So with a groan, I grabbed it from her knowing it would end just like when we tried on The Wedding Dress: A tug here and tug there only to get it over my knees. Man, she was a twig.

So I grabbed the thing, went in the back of the RV and threw it on, all the while trying not to be thrown from one side of the vehicle to the other. Afterwards, I noticed that all of the windows were open to the road.

You’re welcome drivers of Interstate 277.

So you  already know the outcome: Lots of letting out.

Whatever. Women were fuller back then anyway, right. Right?

Once arrived, we suited mom up in her (Bavarian maid?) outfit and headed over to the festival. We didn’t have long to explore the grounds because we’d signed up for a reticule class.

It should’ve been called the ridicule class, because my gawd I have no skills in sewing or embroidery.

At one point, mom asked something to the effect of “Can you not even tie a knot?”. And I replied that she had had almost 30 years to teach me.

But no, I can’t tie a knot with thread, thankyouverymuch, so please just do it for me Bavarian Maid. And after you’re done, go bring me some tea.

After the class, we wandered around the property slowly due to mom’s back. But this gave us ample time to throw myself on unsuspecting people trying to enjoy their day.

Oh, you’re relaxing in the shade and eating lunch? Well let me join you!

Click

Oh, you’re seconds from going on stage to do a runway show? Well let me join you!

Click

Oh, this is an all-male club? Well, then I’m definitely joining you because it will make the boys on my husband’s side annoyed.

Click

Oh, you’re trying to have a pleasant walkabout with your husband? Let me join you!

Click

And it went on and on and on…. No one escaped the tornado that was Carolyn (and her maid).

Later, we toured a refurbished home on Locust Grove.

Mom couldn’t make it to the top floor, and how she would’ve enjoyed this tour guide! She was so serious and engaging. “…oh now this is really interesting!” and so on and so forth.

After the tour was over, mom asked what time our tea was to be served because she was quite hungry. Wondering why I wasn’t on par with her hunger level, I remembered having found her near some peculiar-looking larger than life plants.

So we headed to the tea room for lunch.

On both days we had interesting companions.

On day one, we sat with a quirky lady (and you know how much I love quirkiness) from Chicago as well as her sister.

The next day we found some kindred spirits. A mother and her daughter had come to share the day together.

We first toasted to Jane Austen, clinked our glasses, and then cried. No seriously. We teared up. It started when J asked if we watched the series Cranford. Not two seconds after she got the word out, mom and I squealed. And then promptly teared up.

It’s hard to explain. But when you meet people who have the same exact interests as you and love it to the same degree as you, it just makes you feel connected to them.

After tea, we had another class to attend. But the sunny skies and green grass called out to me. So I parted ways with mom and set off on my own. I could’ve walked those grounds all day long, it was so relaxing.

And then I stumbled upon a firearms display: shooting several different styles from that era. Very interesting!

I got up in this presenter’s face for a photo, but I’ll save that for a later time. It has something to do with a husband of mine.

Anyway, all-in-all we had a good time. The weather was perfect (considering it rained all the way up and all the way back from KY) and there were interesting presenters. I wish mom’s back had been better and we’d done a couple things differently, but like I said, it was fun.

It’s even spurred me to find other regency-era events in my area, possibly to partake in? We’ll see. And then so will you.

Jane Austen Festival, Part One

We’ve only just arrived home from our trip to Regency England (aka, Louisville KY) and am enjoying reliving memories from it….

…Like my senior portraits from the graduating class of 1798. I was voted Least Likely To Die During Childbirth.

Thank you, birthing hips.


And then there was the Regency Ball…

I think I may have set my expectations a wee bit high that I’d be dancing until my slippers hurt and I blame it on the Contra dancing group from a couple weeks ago. They had explained to me that it is considered rude to dance with the same person the entire night, even if he/she is your date…. Especially if there are more females than males, or vice-versa.

This was not the case Saturday night for little Miss Carolyn. Sigh.

When we arrived, a nice lady did ask me to dance for one of the first songs and I had to endure feeling like Sasquatch next to her petit little thing.  She was exceedingly sweet, though, and I was grateful for helping me segway into a dancing mentality. I’m new to this whole dancing without caring thing. And since mom was out of commission due to a back injury, I was on my own.

Afterwards, I sat down and we eagerly waited to be asked for the next song. We waited. And waited. Ogled at pretty dresses… and waited.

Song number two came on, so I used this as an opportunity to get a snapshot because there would be like absolutely no time to do so when I dance the rest of the night away. Poor mom will be just so lonely having no one to talk to.

Song numbers three through six: Mom started to get worried. I was becoming convinced that the wallpaper behind me was also green with pink roses and therefore no one could find me even if they wanted to. So I stood up and paced for awhile until the song ended.

Song number seven: Mom is now despondent and almost irreconcilable.

I’d have given my right leg for someone to ask me. And I probably would’ve danced better without it, too. Maybe not as happily, but definitely with more rhythm. Instead, I sat gloomily feeling more like Mary Bennett than Elizabeth.

You know who Mary is.

Take a guess.

Looking back, why didn’t I ask anyone? If I’d had a glass of champagne in my hand, then game on.

But (in case you’ve forgotten) I’m a functioning INTROVERT, people. No way am I going over to strangers under flourescent lighting and lead them to the dance floor. If I had been with someone more shy, then I would’ve mustered up the guts to do something.

Have you met my mom, though? She is decidedly unshy and tried to get every living creature in breeches and dresses that passed our way to dance with me. My god, you would’ve thought our family was on the brink of financial disaster and she needed me to throw myself at anyone in a cravat. Yet, still no luck.

So instead of acting as my dance pimp, she suggested I improve my countenance. “You know, people are more likely to ask you if you’re smiling, Carolyn.”

Okay, so like this?

“No,” she said… “Try to add a touch of desperation to your smile. Dance partners love that.”

And what d’ya know. Within two seconds of my face exploding from sheer force of countenance, a guy came over and lamented that I wasn’t dancing.

Huzzah!!

He really acted the part too, which I appreciated. All gracefulness and toe-pointing.; I was taken aback by his unabashedness on the regency dance floor.

The night quickly ended, though, before I could come out of  my shell. But I was happy with the dances that I was able to experience.

One note of worthy, however. A lady came up and asked my age. She thought I was 19. Let me repeat that, Nuh-ineteen. That’s for all my fellow gray-haired friends, you know which nursing home you are.

As for the dancing, this Saturday night is another contra night and I’m looking forward to sweating dancing in the rounds I missed out on at the Ball.

However, this time I won’t wear white. Okay, yes I will. Maybe it will ensure me a dance partner.

Wanna read Part 2 of our adventure? Click here!

Death, Be Not Proud

I love when I stumble upon a movie that serves me a new slice of literature pie. I watched 84 Charing Cross Road the other night, where Anne Bancroft starts a correspondence with Anthony Hopkins, the owner of a bookshop in England.

Sigh.

What a good one.

At one point, Bancroft reads a sermon from John Donne on death (which of course made me cry.) So I looked him up and found a poem that also made me cry.

Per Bancroft, you have to read Donne’s literature out loud. So do it.

DEATH, BE NOT PROUD

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

I’m Feeling Lighter Today

Hello.

We had an interesting 4th anniversary. First Ryan sent flowers for the second time in all of our relationship. It made me feel shy, I don’t know why.

He knows me well, though, because I’ve been whispering into his ear at night that I’d rather he put money towards a plane ticket to Prague instead of on flowers. Besides, one day we’ll have enough rose bushes to have flowers all the time.

But I really enjoyed these. I’m reading a diary of a 15th century woman in Japan of her life as a concubine and then as a nun. Well, isn’t that the plight of every woman.

The Confessions of Lady Nijo. Only one copy of it remained until someone found in the 1800s and kept it way until the 1940s.

So R knew of my current obsession and bought accordingly. Loved it, R, thank you.

Later we went out to eat a neat restaurant in Fayetteville. They buy locally, organically, and have their own gardens in front of the restaurant. The inside was simple, making the food the main star. Mushroom fries – Hello! You made my day. We were in heaven.

And then hell.

I’d had a stomach ache since Tuesday and just kind of dealt with it. I don’t like taking medicine, even tylenol, so I think it has built up my tolerance to pain. And I really prefer not going to the doctor, because I have a fear of being given too many (unnecessary) medicines. I’m turning into a paranoid freak, I know. But you already knew that.

Long story short, my appendix is now bye-bye. It was in the beginning stages, so I was hoping there might be alternatives.

But I’m glad we went through with the surgery. My great grandpa died of a burst appendix and I thought of him a lot, leaving my grandma in a sad situation growing up.

Fine. Just take the darn thing out, then!

Plus, it meant that R would dote on me. That part has been my favorite.

By the way, how much does an appendix weigh? Maybe I’ll win the weigh-in this week with my roommates.

Reading Character At Sight

Not so long ago, I was digging through some books at an estate sale and came across these beauties. From 1918, they delve into how to read people’s character (and your own character).

As I skimmed the chapter titles, my eyes got bigger and bigger. Oh my… Oh wow… and I started to fan myself.  If only Geneva Wollard had read this before she went on her dating rampage back in 1915, her list may have been longer. You gotta see what was written in an old Charles Dickens novel!

So I took my time looking at the headings… Not really wanting to read the description, knowing it would dispell my first initial reaction.

The Refined, Sensitive, Beauty-Loving Man – Oh hello, sir. Look at that rose sunset. Sure, I’ll sit on this blanket with you. Tea? Why thank you, kind gentleman.

The Vigorous, Virile, Coarse Man – Yes, the sunset is divine isn’t it. But who is that laboring in the field below? He’s just so, so virile. I think I’ll take a walk. NO! Ahem, I mean, no thanks, you don’t need to accompany me. I’m just going to stretch my legs… right through those hay fields.

The Hard, Unsympathetic, Driving, Close-Fisted ManOn my way to meet Mr. Legends of the Fall, I trip and tumble down the hill. The 7th Earl of Carolyn’s Daydreams rode up on horseback and yelled at me to get off his property. Oh, how rude you are! I was only taking a walk. But I’m sure there’s a sweet man inside you somewhere.

[side note: this is taking the tone of Beauty of the Beast, one of my most hated Disney movies. But it is any easy plot, so I write on…]

The Impressionable, Indolent, Extravagant Man – The King is taking a tour of his countryside and happens upon the scene. He calls out for the nice young woman with graying hair to please ride home in his carriage. Why thank you King! While we’re in here, let’s talk about your son…

At the end of each lesson, you are given activities. One of which is to observe people and list where they rank in each category.

What have you learned at the end of this lesson? (Besides that Carolyn needs friends. Real ones this time.)

Resolutions

I’m copying Ashley and listing my goals for this year as well. Already, I’ve broken one of them today when we got lost a couple hours ago, but am now hyper-sensitive to it.

1. Quit cussing. Especially when lost. Although a nice F-bomb really does make you feel better every once in while.

2. Do one round of Power 90. I have a good 1.75 hours before having to pick up R from work. Why can’t I squeeze this in?

3. By eliminating those almost 2 hours of free time, it will help me spend LESS TIME ON THE INTERNET. Because we watch TV on it, email through it, write my blog with it, ugh… too much time. Setting a reading goal every month will help as well. I can’t decide to set the goal by number of pages or number of books.

4. No Coke. And by coke, I mean all of those sweet carbonated beverages. Growing up, we never drank it, why am I addicted to it now? R gave it up for all of last year and spent the past two days getting refill after refill in celebration. My mouth was watering. It sucked.

Side Note: Is ‘sucked’ considered a cuss word? If not, I may add it anyway. Along with ‘crap’.

5. Use a wider vocabulary: That’s crap -> That’s rubbish.  This sucks -> This vexes me.

6. Spending an hour each morning praying and reading the One Year Bible. All I have to do is get up an hour earlier.

Merry Christmas..

to ourselves. R and I spent Sunday christmas shopping. We ended up buying more things for ourselves than for anyone else it seemed like. Mama’s got a brand new pair of shoes and a book for starters. I talked myself out of a second book, but don’t breathe a sigh of relief. You just don’t see my hand hovering over the “Buy” button on the keyboard. It’ll come soon.
But this one! Oh, this one.
Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century.
Yum! I love the poses of the mannequins along with actual paintings of the clothing in question.

When the Cat’s Away…

R has a business trip in KC next week, so he wanted to drive up earlier to stay with a friend.

One problem.

We’re a one car family and I’ve had an antique shopping day planned with a couple girls from work for about a month now.

Solution? He took the bus. It left at midnight and arrived around 5am. R didn’t get a lot of sleep, between a man grabbing his shoulder in the dark and asking loudly “Where are we?” and watching the guy stumble to the front of the bus and getting off right before an exit on the highway to thinking about the KC bus station and hoping his friend, B, makes word on his promise to pick him up.

The KCMO bus station is not exactly in the best area of town and B has a tendency to get worked up about things.


So Little Miss Carolyn took off early Saturday morning for a full day of antiques. On the original email, it said “this is not for wimps.” And man, was she right. I was exhausted by the end of day.

 


We stopped at two Amish stores for breakfast and lunch.

D I V I N E — Fresh made donuts and a roast beef sandwich, respectively.

My bread never ever turns out this good. I ate it up, literally (and I guess figuratively too.)

We attacked a lady and her 4 month old English Sheep Dog as they exited the beauty parlor. I think I may have found my new favorite breed. I could’ve scooped him up and took him home with me right then and there.

He would’ve liked the Dorm, right?
Antiquing was a success. Found three more of my Butterprint Pyrex dishes for twenty bucks total. Easily saved ten dollars. R mentioned not too long ago that he read the new Pyrex refrigerator dishes are having issues exploding in the oven. And since living sans microwave, it was crucial that I find the older versions to be able to reheat foods. Right. Right?

I debated about mixing different styles of Pyrex, which I normally would not be opposed to doing. In fact, I kinda like that look better…not so mitchy-matchy. But we’ve talked of the idea of exposing the dishes (plates/cups etc) in our future kitchen, and so in that case, I prefer having similar colors, but different textures. That way it doesn’t overwhelm the eye (or at least my eye) but it still creates some interest.
Was that straight up HGTV or what.
Believe it or not, I felt like I had been too practical in my finds and had to get something tasty just for myself.

What’s better than snuggling up to a 1932 journal filled with outings, bridge parties, and trips to California?
Well, I guess one thing.
Snuggling my feet under someone’s legs with a 1932 journal.

Rainy Day

Not too long ago, we spent a rainy day in what we like to call our ‘candy store.’ Books organized haphazardly on rows and rows of shelves.

Nothing frilly. Just strips of white paper taped to wooden boxes marking which section you were looking through.
I have been on a diary kick lately. Interested in historical journals… and found a great one highlighting the women on the Oregon Trail. Mmmmm.. I could’ve slurped that one up for dessert. It was so insightful and interesting.

I hope you enjoy your rainy days!

Krumping & Humping

In between forcing the in-laws to watch my new favorite dance style (Krumping), thanks to Russell Ferguson and So You Think You Can Dance…
Popping into the local library for a good half hour of reading…

Going out to eat, playing a game of scrabble, and watching the movie “The Scarlet Pimpernel”…..

Watching Shady hump my husband’s leg….

Hearing the crackle of a fire being stoked…

And confronting “the other woman” during a football game…

All in all, a thumbs up.

My First Official Book Review Since 3rd Grade


Have you ever been sifting through books, randomly open one up, and fall in love with the first few lines? Where you really could’ve stood there for a few half-hours more and just read, shifting your feet back and forth to keep the blood flowing? Well, it happened to me at one of my favorite antique stores in town and was the reason I paid the outrageous $7.50 price for it.


But as soon as I arrived home, I threw it onto one of our shelves and promptly forgot about that connection… until one night when having already watched my weekly shows via Hulu.com, I was left feeling bored and restless. So I poked around the shelves and picked up this book. And while still not fully drawn to it, I reluctantly opened it again and reread those first few lines…. and it all came back to me.


A month or two ago, I had visited our adorable local bookstore “Books on Broadway”, bought a couple steals (remember, never have we had buyers remorse when books were involved), and started chatting with the cashier. She suggested that I send in some book reviews because she wanted the community to get involved.


So, finally, I did. And reading it on the website, my words feel disjointed and not at all how the book really made me feel. But, it was my first time, and not having done one since 3rd grade, I’ll give myself a pass.


So go on… visit our little bookstore. Check out what I had to say and believe me when I say that it was a really really good read.


Impulse Buy

Books are one thing I don’t feel guilty buying. Ever. And I’m lucky to have a husband who agrees. I mean, my goodness, we have books just waiting in our amazon shopping cart for us to push “buy now.” But we have to control ourselves.

So when I find a little treasure that is also really affordable, I get all giddy.

We were rummaging through bargain bins at our local bookstore when I found a neat art book. Elementary to some of you, but to me? Magical.

It’s called Art Masterpieces in 3-D.

On each page it describes a particular piece of art. And then you see two miniatures of it on the following page. Why?

Because then you flip up the front cover to look through the built-in spectacles. It’s so neat! And it’s when I’m oohing and aahing over 3-D art in the middle of a busy bookstore that I realize how I need a 10-yr old beside me. Sometimes I purchase things just because I hope my future kids will enjoy them with me.


But R suffices for now. Thank goodness he gets me, otherwise I’d be very lonely.

I’m not proud of this.

Her come-hither look. Sigh. I’ll just never achieve it.

Nope, not proud one bit. I blame my mom and my husband, because well, they don’t necessarily keep me from making a fool of myself and I think sometimes encourage it. I mean, why else would she suggest Jane Austen movies to watch and why would R agree to have a Netflix account? They both must be out to get me.

So I watched one of those movies my mom suggested on Netflix to which R agreed to subscribe. Not a good thing since it dealt with a modern girl going back to Jane’s time and becoming one of the characters in her book. Isn’t that what I’ve been trying to do my whole life?

Of course, I had to try and recreate it. One scene in particular involved learning how to use a fan to convey (or conceal) emotions. So I grabbed my trusty Pride & Prejudice book, fanned myself with it out the door and to the car.

Then I fanned myself behind a dump truck, through the forest, and to a hiking trail.


Finally. I was alone and could practice my fan moves. I even pulled my hair back into a bun and walked sans make-up for probably the second time in my life. No seriously. My first words to my mom were “please cover up the dark circles under my eyes, mommy. thanks a bunch.”
All of this for Jane.

So, here goes nothing:

Cough, ahem. Uh, so yeah, come hither you tall thing, you.

How dare you come hither! Stand back!

Okay, okay, just kidding. Come back and hither a bit more.

What did you say? Don’t you hither away from me.

Hey you — You have a fast hithering pace, but I caught up. Don’t you like me?

Hee Hee… I knew you did. I hear other people hithering on the trail. Let’s get out of here!

I seriously could have done this all day. Point, shoot, click, hither. Point, shoot, click, hither. All day. But my spell was broken when I looked down. Sigh, again. I just can’t get in the regency era mood in these honkers. Next time on the trail I’ll bring my ballet flats. That will surely do the trick.

Shady

Meet Shady. You’ll never forget her. She’s R’s parents’ adopted dog of their son, N. Did that make sense? Anyway, there are two things I get excited about when traveling to my in-laws. The first is what type of nut/dried fruit/candy mixture will be on their table and the second is Shady. She makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

She watches you unpack.

And watches you wake up.

And watches you tickle her.

And watches you read.

I am officially cross-eyed

Yes, cross-eyed and frustrated. A deadly combination. Now that I am without TV and R and I have run out of things to talk about, I’ve tried to find other interests (i.e. baking)..and now knitting. I bought this book a couple weeks ago purely based on the title. I figured if I could have a 50% lead going into knitting/stitching, I’d have a better shot at it.

If any of you knew me during my “women’s studies” phase in college (a hard core mentality that only lasted, oh…about 2-3 years, yet some remnants still linger), you’re probably laughing at the idea of me quietly knitting on the couch at night. I giggled too, until I read the introduction to this book and it quickly shut me up…. So if you’ll allow me to stir things up on Cue the Banjo, please read below…

“[When describing her experience of letting her friends know she had taken up knitting] Soon it occurred to me that if I had told these folks I’d been playing soccer, or learning karate, or taken up carpentry, they most likely would have said, “Cool,” because a girl doing a traditionally male activity — now, that’s feminist, right? But a girl doing a traditionally female acitvity — let alone one as frivolous and time-wasting as knitting — well, what were they to make of that?

It made me think of my original feminist position. … Why was [knitting] so looked down on? It seemed to me that the main difference between knitting and, say, fishing or woodworking or basketball, was that knitting had traditionally been done by women. As far as I could tell, that was the only reason it had gotten such a bad rap. And that’s when it dawned on me: All those people who looked down on knitting — and housework, and housewives — were not being feminist at all. In fact, they were being anti-feminist, since they seemed to think that only those things that men did, or had done, were worthwhile.”

Having this little boost of sassiness integrated into the hobby helped me maintain my patience… when, after an hour of practicing, I could only successfully do cast-ons. This is the step prior to actually knitting. Every time I started to knit, all of those nice cast-ons would slide right off the needle, leaving everything unravelled. I told my friend on the phone today (K — also a knitter), that I would be quite happy with a small dishcloth. Now I’m hoping for a one-inch swatch of fabric… and a one-inch square seems daunting to me at this moment.

My cast-ons. The beginning of a beautiful, luxurious swatch.

LCI

We got lost not once on Little Corn, but twice. TWICE. You can walk around the island in about 35 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from wishing we had a GPS system. When we hopped off the panga, we got general directions on how to get to Carlito’s, which was my first hut choice. In my first blog post, way back last year, I alluded to the fact that I am a planner. Not laid back at all. So when I called Carlitos this past summer to “reserve” a hut, the woman that answered kindly laughed. Really hard. She kept repeating the year in which we would be arriving. Was 6 months too far in advance? Guess so.

So even before lying on a beach for 7 days, I was already thrown into nonchalant mentality… even if I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

We took the directions given to us and started down the main road, which in reality is a sidewalk (no cars are allowed on the island.)

After taking a few wrong turns and asking everyone we passed where the huts were, we finally made it. We snagged only one of a couple available.
Whew.

There were constants that we noticed happening daily throughout the week. For one, I never brushed my hair. Secondly, we talked about food nonstop. Where shall we eat today, what shall we eat, wasn’t that meal good, can’t you just wait until tomorrow’s meals, why can’t tomorrow come more quickly, etc etc etc. Food was the surprising star of the trip.
More on that later.
Some other constants were:

Waking up to the sound of waves and watching the sun rise.
R washing the one shirt he wore all week.
After reading for a couple hours, taking a dip in the sea.

Lying in our netted bed to read while our sunburnt skin healed.

And lastly, playing Boggle every night after dinner (Can you believe I brought that in my carry-on? It made me giggle to myself). R was great competition and I don’t think I won once.

Another pastime was walking. and walking. and walking. We went everywhere on that island …trying to find coves to snorkel and relax by. The jungle we walked through was absolutely gorgeous though. And because of the small dirt paths, it felt like you were the only ones on this little place.

A random sand volleyball court.

R and I noticed a pattern in how we walk. I always look up and he always looks down. I can’t help trying to soak in everything around me, and R can’t help being practical with everything around him. One time, as normal, my eyes were to the sky and his were to the dirt. Thank goodness too, because I almost stepped right on a boa. I’m not exaggerating here. R screamed at me and pulled my arm back before I did.

Another day, we decided to head to a lookout tower. And yes, we got lost. We were cutting through random people’s yards when a father & son duo helped us out. We were probably walking all over their garden or something.

We finally made it and my heart palpitated a bit. Does anyone remember when R, his brother, and I went up the one in Arkansas? I think back and wonder why I was so scared. At least there were actual landings to brace yourself there. I forced myself up this one and was so glad I did.

I was gripping the pole with all my might. Notice my hair.

I mentioned how much we enjoyed the food. There was so much to choose from (and really, at the same time, not so much. It was pretty much the same food, just different preparation styles). My favorite snacks were the ‘pan de coco’ (coconut bread) and cinnamon bread. Children would go from hut to hut with their freshly baked goodies and we’d gobble them up (the bread, not the children. Although, from the look in my ravenous eye I’m sure they thought I lived in a gingerbread house back home.)

R discovered french toast all over again, with coconut syrup drizzled on pan de coco. It was a crowd pleaser and we got excited just thinking of it when we woke up in the morning. Good food does that to ya.

Our last night in LCI, we splurged and bought some of our favorites. The lobster, fish, and shrimp platter. The cook brought her husband over to double check her english skills, because she didn’t believe that we would order so much. We did and we loved it.

We said goodbye to LCI and made our way back to BCI for our flight home. We had met some interesting people while vacationing, a couple of whom we ran into again before we flew home. Up next: Searching for the soul of the world on Big Corn Island.

A Wrinkle in Time

Some people divide their life up by the fashion they wore, their hairstyles, or even the boys and girls they liked. When I look back on my 28 years, it can be easily segmented out by books/genres I read. My nose has been in a book since ‘See Dick Run’ sentences finally lept from the pages. In my childhood home, we had a built-in bookcase in a narrow hallway. I loved the feeling of swinging the two doors wide open, pushing them against the wall so people could pass by and sitting cross-legged in front of a tower of written worlds. It was never organized, which lent itself to the feeling of discovery and triumph when a book popped from the back of the shelf. These escapes helped energize my childish curiosity and, later, helped ease my adolescent wounds. Both my adventure and safe haven.

In my parent’s house, there is a little nook in the living room with an antique table set next to my great-grandmother’s chair, re-upholstered by my grandma. On the opposite wall is a free-standing bookcase, filled with the same books of my childhood.


In my earliest reading days, I read fairy-tales of course. This naturally led into my first “novel” in third grade: Alice in Wonderland. I was so proud of myself and remember bragging to my sister that I had finished it. She didn’t believe me, which made me upset. Then came the Beverly Clearly stage, followed by Anne of Green Gables & the Indian in the Cupboard series. Then, in fifth grade my teacher decided she would read to us after lunch in an attempt to smooth the transition of our red & sweaty faces to a calmer classroom. She chose C.S. Lewis and by the end of the first day, I insisted that my mom buy me the Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe set. My high school days alternated between historical romance novels (if I couldn’t get kissed…I might as well read someone else getting it), Stephen King, and the classics (British mostly.)

This was my favorite fairy-tale book as a child. I was enthralled by the princesses’ perfect hair and how it always separated into three different strands. I looked at it with envy and resented my own.

To me, books are like smells & photos. They instantly bring me back to a specific time in my life. I remember characters like old friends I haven’t kept in very good contact with, but still can recall good memories. Or like places I’ve visited long ago and have a vague, almost blurry picture of in my head. I can’t separate my past from them, and can’t wait to introduce my own children to them.

Eat, Pray, Loved It

When I sat down to write this post, I immediately had a flashback to writing my third grade book reports. For some reason, I always insisted on drawing a big fish and then writing my book report within that fish. The title and author would be inserted in the tail and the body of my review would be written, well, on the fish’s body. In order to be done with my homework as soon as possible (so that I could play GirlTalk), I would normally write really big and use very similar, very repetetive adjectives in my description. Little did I know that I would be foreshadowing my college career in writing term papers. Expanding the margins by .25 and then increasing the font by .5 at a time until I achieved the desired length. In my spanish papers, I also used the word ‘muy’ too many times to count… Until by the end of it, the teacher couldn’t remember if it was muy good or muy bad, but just that it was muy something.

One time R used the word ‘nay’ a couple too many times in a paper. For instance… “I liked it. Nay, I loved it.” Until his English professor pulled him into the office and asked him why he was doing that. The teacher rose his hands in a shakespearean fashion and said “Nay… NAY!”..mocking the melodramatic implication of the word.

But I digress. Eat, Pray, Love has many simple reminders for us to hold onto throughout our lunch hour, our workday, our weekend, our lives. So, if you will indulge me, I’ll just post one passage.. Controlling our thoughts. If we feed the negative lion, it will become stronger. But if we deny it, and try to let in only elevating positive thoughts, we become stronger. But at the end of the day, it really is our choice and we must hold ourselves accountable.
“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. There are certain lottery tickets I can buy, thereby increasing my odds of finding contentment. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, who I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life — whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can’t rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I’m feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook.) I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts…..

…You may not come here anymore with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts — all these will be turned away. Likewise, any pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways — you may not come here anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened carefully, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquillity. If you can abide by these new laws, my dear thoughts, then you are welcome in my mind — otherwise, I shall turn you all back toward the sea from whence you came.”

A reproduction of my early, nay, my current work.