Monday, October 31, 2011


This is so funny, you guys.

I am sitting down on a kitchen chair waiting for my kids to voluntarily clean their room so we can carry on with our day.

No, you read that right. To clean their room...voluntarily.

It's all about a new sticker chart we (okay fine, hair-brained yesterday I) implemented last night.

Pictures to follow soon. I'm too busy enjoying this natural prize induced phenomenon.

Grayson's working for silly Spiderman string.
Abby's working for a baby doll. Because 89 baby dolls just aren't enough for her.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

These are So Not My Children

Sometimes I don't recognize my children when my husband is home.

They love having him home just like I do but they have a funny way of showing it.

He's still on that 50% work/travel schedule.  Home for 2 weeks (not always consecutive) and gone for 2 weeks (again, not always consecutive).  All in all, MUCH better than 100% gone.

So, he just returned from a week long trip to California and I have been looking forward to this weekend since he got on that plane to San Diego Monday morning.  The kids and I even had a good (super busy, that's key) week at home without him.  It was a lonely week and the house is totally haunted when he's gone, don't get me wrong, but I never once opened the Bacardi rum on top of the fridge and Abby walked away with only one new curse word  (I'll save that one for another post).

It's just that I think the kids have bloodhound senses and they know that we (the adults) haven't gotten things figured out yet.  We are all still adjusting to the adjustment, so to speak.  What I mean is we're now over the post deployment thing and now we're fleshing out the next chapter of  Back and Forthness.  Along with so many families out there in this economy, we are doing the best we can and thankful for even one of us making a good living.  One byproduct is simply having to hash out the rules and boundaries of both life with and without two parents in the house at any given time.

Since the deployment, I've gotten really good at handling the children and they in turn know how to handle me.  We are a formidable tripod.  Then, when Andy is here, suddenly we have to morph in to a square with four sides instead of our comfortable three.  That sounds bad, it's not that I don't wish for a comfortable square, it's just not for any of us right now.  I realize it will get better but OHMYGOD you guys, do they make it hard on him.
The whining, Oh, the alley cat in heat like whining.
The oppositional defiance, downright refusals of his requests.
The twisted glee they show when finally getting him to mutter up a blue streak under his breath.

The resentment I feel when I have to explain to the children that Mommy will have to wear a white jacket that holds all her limbs in place if they do not, in fact, allow their father to bathe them/feed them/play with them without making it the most miserable experience on the planet for all involved.

Do your kids do this?  If you don't have kids, do your friends' kids do this?  If you don't have friends with kids, just use your best single sighted preconceived notion judgy judgement here.  What do you do?  What do your friends do?  Are they begging for stricter boundaries that exist no matter who is here when?  Do I need a SuperNanny flowchart scotch taped to my kitchen door? Should I capitalize on all our pent up angst and sign all of us up for Muay Thai?

I think I'm up for that bottle of Bacardi now.  Who's in?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Golden Rule

Maybe it's the sun's last sweep over leaves in the afternoon.

Maybe it's the wintering of our Sweet Sadie.

Maybe it's the many more gray hairs on my head.

I'm not sure why but I believe all things go back to gold eventually.

Then and only then, when we can't see with our eyes or hear with our ears or touch with our hands will we understand the times we spent acting with love, out of compassion, only with heart was not time at all. 

It was above earth, over habits, in the will of hummingbirds

We won't stop at the beginning of the dark tunnel,

we will go through and through and through the sun, the mind, the Holy Spirit until

Everything is gold again and hours are not spent but slept upon

in dreamy realms of understanding.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Haunted Mansion

As promised, here are the pics of yesterday's DIY project.  I managed to actually accept the fact that this is for the kids, not their perfectionist mom.  I even prepped myself beforehand.  "This will get messy, broken, and probably pretty gross overall.  Don't go all Matchstick Men on them."  So me and my inner Nicholas Cage prepped and shuffled to the background to be audience members instead of center stage with a wet paper towel.   

And the kids?  They did amazingly well.  They didn't bicker over candy balls.  Abby took direction from her brother as to where exactly the gumdrops should go.  Grayson took direction from me when I reminded him gumdrops weigh less when cut in half.

OK, here's what the Haunted Mansion was to look like:

This is what ours shaped up to be in stages:

(What?  You thought she actually had pants on?  Never.)

Some pumpkins and a rubber rat for effect....

Exactly like the first picture, right?

Not exactly, but I like our version better.  

My favorite part?  The arrows (not pictured, my computer is taking 30 min. to upload these images so I aborted the last one since I should probably get dressed some time today) that Grayson spent a good long time on.  I love the way they add a little creep factor.  Just a little though, the house, to me at least, is still pretty adorable.  It will sting a bit when the kids decide it's time to eat it.

Not that Abby is waiting for that invitation.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIY Spiderweb

Tooling around the interweb last night, I found this site called, A Soft Place to Land.  A wonderful find by a creative lady who fills her home with lots of Do-It-Yourself projects that look professionally done.

We thought we'd try our luck with this spiderweb idea that looks rather easy on first glance.  I say first glance because second glance requires a trip to Home Depot, Michaels, and Chick Fil A because it'll be past lunchtime and the kids will be making you wish your purse was overflowing with Bento Boxes and pressed fruit.

So here's our version of the DIY Spiderweb:

Step One:  Let the girl have her pink sparkly Vegas yarn.

Step Two:  Allow the boy to choose sky blue yarn because black is too scary for his gentle soul.

Step Three:  Stop obsessing over getting to Home Depot and buy the damn styrofoam board already.  Make sure the girl gets her powder puff board to match the hooker pink flapper yarn.

Step Four:  Make sure the children are out of the way while you push all the pins in the boards by yourself. This is when they will cry because you're not letting them do anything.  This is when you realize you should have just taken them to the park.

Step Five:  Show the girl how her yarn goes, let her try for 50 seconds when a pin comes loose and you freak out because she might prick her finger.  Then go ahead and tell her not to touch because the pins will surely make her bleed out and earn everyone a wild ride to the ER.

Step Six:  Do same for the boy.

Step Seven:  Let the children add plastic spiders over their webs for heaven's sake. Whose memory is this, anyway?

Step Eight.  Look at the back of the boards and kick yourself for not going to Home Depot like you were supposed to.

Step Nine:  Smile anyway, you've decorated for Halloween!

(Right, that pic was taken a week ago but I think it illustrates the crazy I felt after yesterday's "DIY Spiderweb" quite well.)

Step Ten:  Try your luck at a gingerbread Haunted House the next day.  Because you just can't get enough of all this obsessing and micromanaging.  If they are lucky, the children might get to actually frost a window.  Oh yes, there are pictures soon to follow...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Leaves I Love

A big storm is its way.

The rumor of heavy rain shudders through hundreds of yellowing leaves, gossiping away out my window.

We must run to go get bread, butter, flour (for cookie dough yes, how did you know?), and probably tea.  A house without tea might as well not have a roof.

Today will be inside for us chickens.  We will cluck here with a hammer, cluck there with a paintbrush, and finally squawk for a hot cup of soup at lunchtime.

Yesterday was outdoors. 

I love the way children see a pile of leaves as an invitation.

Adults (like me) have to work at forgetting the dirty bowls of oatmeal in the sink.  We have to willfully ignore  the 24 thousand toy pieces left for maybe later maybe not and so loudly out of context or the fact that we have not yet figured out dinner.

"Jump in with me, Mommy!"

My mind goes back inside to where I know the hermit crab's dish needs more water, the phone is ringing and Thank You notes for Grayson's birthday gifts go unwritten one more afternoon.

"Throw them up in the air like rain, Mommy!"

I sit down.

Consider my options.

And throw some leaves high into the air.

I am outside with them now.

Important things can't wait.  If they wait too long, they start going to sleepovers, high school, college, boot camp, the moon. 

And as far as I know, there are no piles of leaves on the moon.

At least not the kind of leaves you will love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Caramel Apple

Over the weekend, we went to a faraway orchard for apple picking and fall activities with Nammy and Pop.

All those pictures are on Pop's camera because I wanted to live in the moment instead of behind a lens for once.

I'm so glad I did too because the day was simply beautiful. 

The cloudless Shenandoah sky was big as Texas as we took in the afternoon.

Grayson's favorite thing was roping a plastic steer.  He swung the lasso over his head like he was an understudy in Gunsmoke.  He'd toss it over the steer's horns, catching one horn every time.  Dropping the slack, he'd then meticulously walk the remaining rope away from the steer.  Turning around, he'd give a solid yank of his line and smile like Hopalong Cassidy when the plastic beast hit the dirt with a heaving thunk.  My son is a cowboy.

Abby preferred the mile long tunnel slide.

She ran up a steep hill of grass to get the to slide with the most determined uphill prance known to man.  Even her daddy (a fast runner himself) was impressed with her fortitude.  Andy watched at the top as she climbed into the tunnel slide and I waited for her little familiar face to pop out of the darkness at the end.

Because there were ridges in the tunnel's tubing, you could hear her little voice singing a made up happy song with the vibrato of a baby lamb long before you could see actually see her.  That's the Boompa in her.  Abby hums a made up happy song when she is busy doing something she loves.  No words, just a little tune that wanders along with her mood.  It's like hearing what's inside her uncluttered heart.  There is nothing better.

My favorite was the jumping pillow.  Which is a misnomer.  There is nothing soft and cushy about that thing;  that sucker was hard.  When I was freed from the worry of crashing disastrously into one of my own children, I plowed my feet hard into the pillow with the promise of being sloppily propelled into the air so high my stomach dropped..  That was a very good time.  I want one.

Not sure what Andy's favorite activity was but if I had to guess it would be the entire day.  His parents, his family, his favorite orchard and acres and acres of open land absolutely bursting with the tangible baton pass of one season into the next.  I could see his eyes devouring wine colored leaves while we all inhaled a ciderbreeze coming from fallen apples worked over by the autumn floor.

Magical fall, the only one around who knows how to age gracefully without even trying.

 Also, we almost didn't get The Caramel Apple because the kids were tired, we were beat and it was getting late.  Last minute, Pop and I scrambled up to get a few and thank goodness we did.  So much joy comes from a dipped fruit on a stick.

Always get The Caramel Apple.  It's the best part.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Etsy, Baby!

Finished the photoshoot with my friend's boldly delicious necklaces.

Wanna see the finished images?

Please click here on Marisela's store.

She's on Etsy which means, so am I!

More inventory on its way. There are lots more of these lovelies awaiting their turn in front of the camera lens. She is a fabric beading machine and I will be doing well to keep up with her.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For Anna

If you use Twitter, please read and get to tweetin'!

Here is Anna's blog and this post (please click here) will explain.

Thank you for your support.

If we can get the right people to see the tweets, retweets, messages and blog posts maybe just maybe Jack's little sister, Margaret, will get to meet Justin Bieber.

And in doing so, a little family in Virginia (who I wrote about here) will know what it's like for some miracles to come true.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Job Op

A good friend of mine is making and selling these necklaces on  She asked me to take the pictures for her site (not these shown here, still practice photos).  I am so honored that suddenly there is much procrastinating because my brain believes it must be perfect.

I've played with backgrounds, foregrounds, necklines, and natural lighting versus indoor flashes.

I've messed with the macro lens, manual vs. automatic functions, and finding the best angles to showcase her artistry.

You know what? 

I'm learning how to use my camera, you guys.  I feel so grateful to my friend for the opportunity and the chance to combine our efforts to help her new business grow.

Her necklaces are honestly one of a kind.  She is a gifted quilter who has branched out into designing and creating jewelry.  I love these necklaces (bought a pink one two weeks ago in fact!) because they dress up a T-shirt and make me feel like I'm wearing a piece of art instead of the usual cheap costume jewelry that breaks before I get it around the nape of my neck.

Happy Friday, All!  I'll provide the link to her site once we get the pictures and descriptions altogether.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  I know I will be spending mine in the sun room with about 20 of these little beauties and hopefully a babysitter or two.