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March 2008
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May 2008

Waiting for the magic

   

Today is bright and sunny (although a wee bit brisk), so I have big plans.  As I've said before, I get twice as much done on a sunny day, and believe me, today I NEED to get twice as much done!   My fairly large house is in a really large mess, and I have some unknown number of people from our homeschool group coming over Friday afternoon to see pictures of Europe.  However, I well know that pictures of Europe is not all they'll be looking at, thus I must clean my house. 
   
     I hate cleaning house.

    Yes, I realize that very few people truly enjoy housecleaning (and the few that do should probably look into therapy of some sort) but I really dislike it.  There are so many other fun and interesting things to do with my time!  Not to mention the fact that many of those things  produce a finished product that stays finished.  Unlike housecleaning, which lasts a day or less at best.  It really strikes me as an exercise in futility.  Oh, I know it has to be done, and I do my duty, but really - given the choice, wouldn't you rather read a good book than scrub the toilets?  Or knit something luscious, rather than dust the bookshelf?  I know I would! 
    There is a certain satisfaction in bringing the house to a state of sparkling perfection, I admit.  And it is definitely easier to do that in a larger house (at least for me) - I actually have appropriate places to store things, rather than just shoving it all into a closet and hoping it doesn't explode.   The thing is, it's still just busy work, and it's sickeningly repetitive to boot.  If I could wash the dishes and know that they'd stay washed for a week or so, I wouldn't mind so much. 
    Have you noticed how many of the things in life that drive us crazy are like that?  It's not the big, dramatic, difficult things that drag us down.  It's the mindless, repetitive, soul-numbing weight of the routine that chips away at us.   The  constant stream of dirty dishes, the ever-renewing laundry pile, the endless requests for "something GOOD to eat, Mom!" - it can drive a person mad.  But you know what?  I refuse to lose to the mundane.  So here's what I'm going to do.
    Today, I'm going to enjoy the sunshine, even if it means I have to clean the windows to let it in.  I'm going to play pick-up-the-stuff, and be thankful we have so much.  I'm going to look at my big, messy house, and be grateful for a place where we can enjoy friends and family in comfort.  I'm going to stop wishing for a fairy godmother to whisk it all away, and instead be glad that I'm healthy and strong enough to take care of my home and family myself. 
    And then tomorrow I'll probably scream....but I'll scream in a clean house.


Home again, home again

   

Well, I had my big weekend away with Melinda, and now I'm home, ready to tackle Mt. Washmore, fractions, and puppy training once again.  We didn't do anything particularly exciting, but it was fun.   As you may have noticed, we tend to provide our own amusement, and that was the case this weekend.  We packed, we ate, we shopped, we ate, we gabbed, we ate....wait, did I already say we ate?  (tee hee)  It's okay, really - any foods consumed during "sisterly bonding" events immediately lose all their calories.  Honest. 
    Melinda is going crazy trying to finish up her paperwork for the semester, pack up to move out of her apartment, and - oh yeah - plan a wedding.  So we spent some time sorting and packing some of her stuff, which was kind of funny, because I came home with some of the things I'd donated to her before we went to Germany.  Can't say we don't recycle!  We also went shopping, mainly to look for my dress for the wedding. 
    Now, I'm the matron of honor (gads, I hate the word "matron"....can't I just be a bridesmaid with life experience?) so we wanted to find the perfect dress.  The wedding is going to be black and white, so we're all wearing black dresses, but each of us has a slightly different style.  Melinda, of course, had ideas for me, so we went to JCPenney and began browsing.  You have to understand that we have vastly different personal styles, so when she started pulling dresses off the racks and handing them to me, I was a little alarmed.  Everything she chose was some sort of polyester fabric that just screamed "CLINGY!"  to me, in styles that I was sure would make me look like a fat white maggot wearing a black tube sock.   But hey, I didn't have to buy anything, right?  So we reported to the dressing rooms and I braced myself for extreme humiliation (dressing room mirrors are not my friends).  I figured I'd humor little sister and then we could go someplace and drown my sorrows in cheesecake or the like. 
     That plan lasted until I got into the first dress.   Again, I did not expect any of these dresses to be flattering - I would have been tickled  just to be presentable.  But wonder of wonders, they were all presentable!  In fact - dare I say it? - I looked pretty darn good!  Apparently my efforts at weight loss are paying off.  I definitely need to continue working on getting healthier and in better shape, but this was a huge ego-boost for me.  I'd begun to fear that I would never again look like anything but a frumpy, middle-aged blob.  Now I think I can do better than that.   I'm not posting any pictures yet, but by the time the wedding rolls around, I plan to be a  much hotter  mom!   Not bad for a simple weekend away, eh?
    But I never did get my cheesecake. 
    


Mom on the run

   

Today - in less than an hour, in fact - I am running away from home.  My bag is packed and I am getting out of Dodge, people.  And you know what?  I can't wait!!!
    Isn't that awful?  What kind of mother am I, anyway, that I'm so eager to leave my precious offspring?  How unfeeling and harsh!  How - oh, wait - how tired and overwhelmed, maybe?   Yep, I think that's it.  I'm needing a change of scene, a little boost out of the daily rut.  So I'm going to visit my sister, which is a lot like visiting an amusement park.  There's always something going on around Melinda.  She just attracts excitement.  I know I'm not going to be bored this weekend. 
  Now, off to get the last few odds and ends in the car, and I'll be on the road.  Yee-haw!


"S" is for Sucker

   

Sometimes I really think God just laughs at me.  Really.  I mean, how else can you explain life?  Wasn't sure I wanted a third child, and boom, I'm pregnant with No. 3 on No.2's first birthday.  Never liked cats at all, and darling daughter adores them and collects them like black pants collect lint-balls.  Told youngest son we'd find him a big black dog from one of the area rescues to be his buddy - one that's already housetrained, blah blah blah - and what do we get? 
Zeus_pics_001 This.
A mutt puppy from some people in the next town.  We don't even know what the heck he's mixed with - mom has some border collie characteristics, but she's definitely not a purebred; dad was a black Lab mix, but we don't know what the "mix" might have been there, either.  This little guy is a definite Heinz 57.  He's got webbed toes, like a Lab, but the face looks more like a boxer.  His coat is very, very short and fine.  And his paws are enormous!    Seth has named him "Zeus". 
    This is not what we planned, but there are advantages.  He's awfully cute.  Seth is completely infatuated, and he's really doing a good job of taking care of the puppy.  And Shyla is doing great with him!  Most of the time she checks him out and walks away, but she's played with him some too.  It's funny to watch - you can tell she's intrigued, but she doesn't quite know what to do with the noisy little thing.  Kind of like a confirmed bachelor who's just been handed a baby.  "Okay, it's....kinda cute....now what?"  Over all, we're doing fine.   I guess being a sucker isn't so bad.
    Next time I'll tell you about the kitten we brought home with Zeus.


Gobsmacked

    Last night I got to go see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee speak in Ann Arbor, one of the (many!) stops on her new book tour.  I've been a fan of her blog for quite some time, have all the books, etc. so I was pretty excited that she was actually going to be that close to me.  I mean, Ann Arbor is, what, 30 minutes?  40?  That's nothing!  The last time I saw Ms. McPhee, two years ago, we drove to Lexington, KY from our home in northeast Indiana.  (I cleverly let the family think we were going to visit the Kentucky Horse Farm, and just happened to notice that she was in town that weekend. )  She signed my book, took a picture, and off we went.
    Now, at that time, I knew she would recognize my name, because I'd recently sent her this.Beads_002 This is a wee little glass wool-pig bead.  I was rather taken with the little fellow, and Stephanie seemed fairly pleased with him as well.  So I had some basis for thinking she'd remember my name.  (The fact that we share the same first name is also helpful).
    However, last night I did not expect her to remember me.  Not really, anyway.  After all, it had been two years, we'd met face-to-face one time for approximately two minutes, and the woman meets hundreds - nay, thousands - of people every year.  I mean, she's a knitting/writing celebrity!  Why in the world would she remember me?  Oh, I had a lovely little fantasy playing out in my mind, where she made eye contact and instantly recognized me and remembered who I was, etc. etc.  But that was a fantasy.  I do have a fairly firm grasp on the difference between what goes on in my head and what goes on in the real world (most of the time).  I'm one person out of thousands, so the odds were against me. 
    So last night I patiently stood in line, inching my way forward through the crowded, humid room full of other  Yarn Harlot fans, figuring that I'd get a "Hi, so glad you could come, where would you like me to sign your book?"  And I would have been just fine with that.  That was how reality would play out.  Until I stepped up to the table, and she looked up at me and said "Hi Steph!  How are you?  So good to see you again!" 
    Gobsmacked.  Absolutely gobsmacked.  I was so stunned that the first thing out of my mouth was "Oh my gosh, you remember my name?"  Brilliant, eh?  Stephanie looked at me reproachfully and replied "I'm smarter than I look, you know."  Then she said a couple other things about sharing a name and connecting through our blogs (ohmygosh, has she read this???), signed my book, and waved a cheerful good-bye.  I wandered out of the building in a fog of disbelief, shaking my head and muttering to myself "She remembered me!"   The woman is a flipping genius. 
    I, on the other hand, am not.
   


Cesar Millan, where are you?

   

I believe I've mentioned before that our dog, Shyla, is about as good as they come.  She is sweet, loving, well-behaved, sheds very little, and always knows when a snuggle will be appreciated.  I love her to bits.  But recent events have unearthed one small flaw in her otherwise sterling character.  Shyla does not share her space with other dogs.
    Now, obviously this is a minor issue, since she's our only dog!  Right?  Right.  Sorta.  See, youngest son has been campaigning for a pet of his "very own" for quite some time, and after a lengthy period of negotiation and observation (yes, he has been doing his chores faithfully, and the schoolwork is being accomplished with far less grumping) we decided that he had, indeed, earned his critter.  Then he had to decide what he wanted.  A tortoise?  Interesting, but not what you'd call cuddly.  A chinchilla?  Ummm....let's just say we haven't had the best luck with rodents.  Birds are a no, as are things like tarantulas and scorpions (Mom is so unreasonable!).  But then it occurred to us that a second dog would be okay.  A dog?  Of his very own?  MORE than okay!!!   So we began searching for another dog.
    I am a big fan of animal rescues as a source for pets, so that's where we started looking.  Seth wants "a big boy dog - probably black - that will be my buddy".  Okay, soooooo, black Labs and Lab mixes were an obvious starting point.  Lord knows there are a ton of them out there, so it shouldn't be too hard to find one, right?  Ha.  Ha ha.
Finding one that's good with kids, doesn't have weird aggression issues, etc. is kind of tough.  Apparently we were really lucky with Shyla, because she's pretty much an affectionate black rug.  With one exception.
    We finally found a dog that was really great.  He was a beautiful Great Dane (horse!), laid-back, well trained, the whole shebang.  So we set up a meeting for he and Shyla.   She was scared of him at first - of course, she could have walked under him without lowering her head, why wouldn't she be scared? - but then she got her act together.  The big guy wanted to play, sniff, romp, do all that good doggy stuff, but Shyla wasn't having any.  He pushed it a little too far, and RRRWOOOOF!  She was at him.   A few rounds of that, and it was clear we weren't bringing home a Great Dane.  (I was really disappointed....I'd had visions of setting up a traveling dog and pony show.  Sigh.)
    Next dog on the list was a Lab/Mastiff mix, with the personality of a teddy bear.  Shyla did a little better with him, but there is still some definite guarding of "her" space going on.  We're going to have a home visit (he comes here) and see what happens then, but I was feeling pretty discouraged about Seth's chances of getting a dog.  Then I watched The Dog Whisperer yesterday, and it hit me.  I need Cesar Millan!  If he can teach two bulldogs to make nice instead of eating each other, and turn a possessed Chihuahua into a cuddly lapdog, surely he can teach Shyla to share her space with another dog.  Cesar, where are you? 


Here comes the sun

    HALLELUJAH!!  The sun is out! 

    Sorry for shouting, but I have to tell you that the unending dull greyness was really starting to get to me.  Cold is bad enough, but cold and grey?  Torture.  (If anyone ever wants to drive me insane all they'd have to do would be deprive me of sunlight.  It wouldn't take long for me to go completely round the bed, I guarantee it.)
     I have been pretty gloomy this winter - okay, downright depressed most of the winter - so spring is even more welcome than usual.  It's amazing what a sunny day can do for my mood, as well as my energy levels.  I can get twice as much done on a sunny day as I do on a gloomy one.  Isn't that weird?  Of course, emotions play a big part in how we feel physically, so I shouldn't be surprised....but I am! Hubby is all for moving somewhere that's sunny all the time.  He always says he just hates cold weather, but I've wondered if he isn't looking to help adjust my moods a bit as well.   And it would probably work at that!  (Not that I would admit as much to him...at least not immediately!)
    So, since I have beautiful sunshine streaming through my windows, I'm going to go get some things done.  Hope the sun is shining where you are!