Wednesday, September 29, 2010

there is not much better than presents of pretties

My girls have died and gone to hair pretties heaven. My good friend Liz who has a shop on Etsy called Brookies Cookies Bows, has the gift of creativity. She makes gorgeous bows, headbands, necklaces and hats. She also has an additional gift. She has the ability to make you feel one hundred percent pampered even though everything is done via the wonderful world wide web. Liz wraps the hair doodles in tissue paper and packages everything up in a little gift bag and ties it all up with, what else?, a bow. She also includes a handwritten note. Little touches that make the whole experience so very special.

Katie could not have been more excited about the beautiful rosette headbands she found in her giftbag. In fact there are so many, she changes headbands every time she turns around.

Look at all the loot. Mind you, I did not order all this. Liz always throws a few items in she thinks your little one would love. She outdid herself this time and the girls could not believe the assortment of bows, headbands and pony bows she included.

Teresa picked out this pink and black cheerleader bow herself from Liz's Etsy site and insisted on putting it on as soon as it came out of the bag. She has worn it for two days straight. As you can see from the photo she could not be more tickled with how it looks in her hair.

Katie loves the stretchy crocheted headbands that give you the option of changing out bows depending on your mood or outfit. But she saw these rosette headbands and had to have a couple. Thanks to Liz she now has one to match any outfit.

Liz's handmade creations are one of a kind...and so is she. Thank you Liz!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sweetie is five

Katie was nicknamed Sweetie by her siblings while still in utereo. It's a nickname that suits her and one I use to this day. Five years ago this deliciously wonderful happy little girl came into my life. Happy Birthday to our Sweetie!

Monday, September 27, 2010

happiness is a nap with a friend

From the very beginning, from the day we brought Daisy into our home, Katie decided that she was Kate's dog. This was never more evident than when the two of them cuddled up into each other and fell asleep. Katie would crawl up next to Daisy and wedge herself into what looked like an uncomfortable position and after some thumb sucking, a few slobbery kisses (both puppy and human) and a couple happy sighs (both puppy and human), they would both drift off to sleep. Katie has told me that she thinks snuggling with Daisy is the very best way to sleep.

As you can see, the feeling is completely mutual.

Monday, September 20, 2010

the fruits of, well...not my, but someone's...labor

My husband thinks I'm nuts because I take photographs of my CSA share. I concede that taking photos of produce is probably a little different however, I have loved being a part of this program and plan on dedicating a couple scrapbook pages to these lovely fruits and vegies sometime in the future. I know, it's weird, I didn't grow them but I want to document this experience.

We have been eating seasonally and locally all summer long and it's been an eye opener. We've learned to relish the incredibly yummy freshness and taste of fruits and vegetables picked at their peak, that very day! My kids now ask me "Are these fresh picked?" And that phrase "fresh picked" is enough to get them to try anything. They are learning that fresh local foods taste better than ones shipped and preserved. We are also supporting a local farm and learning about new foods. I've had to cook beets, leeks, and squashes the size of a toddler. Many of the berries and sugar snap peas never even made it into the refrigerator crisper. They were gobbled up almost as soon as I could unpack them. It's a bit sad that our program ends in a few short weeks and we'll have to go back to supermarket produce. You can bet we will be waiting at the farmstand next June accepting our bags upon bags of lettuce with enthusiasm.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

not a subtle suggestion, more like a brick over the head...but it was called for

We are still living in the land of limbo. Let me tell you, Purgatory sucks. Remember, I do not do this whole, things everywhere and nothing in it's place kind of thing very well at all. The floors are almost done. Hallway and part of the kitchen still need to be done. It's looking wonderful but I'm having a hard time seeing that. I'm so wrapped up in what needs to be done now, tomorrow, and the next day that it's just stressing me out. I had to run out again tonight with all three kids in tow to pick up some felt pads to put under the furniture. Mind you, I had already purchased felt pads last night but Tony put the pads on the wrong feet. I couldn't fix it so I just had to pull them off and get new ones.

Which is way tonight found me rushing my kids through Walmart. I figured since I had to go out I may as well go there and replenish my food supplies. We are going to be downstairs AGAIN tomorrow so the crew can finish up and I need foods that are easy to prepare and are portable. Think grapes and bananas as opposed to melon. So there we are in Walmart and I am practically jogging down the aisles trying to get what I need and get the hell out of there. I have to call to the kids every so often to keep up. It's hard to keep that annoyed tone out of my voice when I do so. I notice Teresa has come to a complete stop at a display of instrumental CD's. The kind that are displayed with the candles and potpourri. I had already asked her to move along a couple times but she was off in her own thoughts and she hadn't budged. I heaved a huge sigh and wheeled my cart back to where she was standing. She saw me coming and lit up. "Mumma, you REALLY NEED to have this CD" and she pulled a CD off the shelf and held it up to me. It was titled "RELAX."

Point taken Teresa. Thanks

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm looking for my gold medal

Today has been like a herculean Olympian test of my strength and will to survive. I just know, at the end of this day, someone will come forward and lay a laurel of leaves on my head and inform me I've passed some test I hadn't even realized I was attempting.

Let me back pedal a bit for you and set the stage. We are having our living room and kitchen floors ripped out (Goodbye cracked and loose tiles and NASTY green carpet) and hardwood floors will replace them. While this is generally a cause for celebration, it just makes my life all that much more complicated. You see, I work from my home. I can't leave at 8 am and come back in the door at 5 and be amazed at the demolition and progress. I get to live it. The kicker is I get to live it with lots of little ones in tow. This is where the Olympian test comes in.

First off, I had to clear the rooms of knick knacks and all that stuff that accumulates in your life without your permission. Stuff like catalogs, dust, bouncy balls, newspapers, dog toys, random pieces of toys, shoes. It's all in there and I walk by it every day of my life and then something like this happens and I HAVE to sort it or toss it or find someplace for it. I don't do disheveled very well either. It is like having grit in my eye to have things out of place. Those cubes do NOT belong in my bedroom and the blanket basket needs to go back in the living room and nothing is where I expect it!!!! So anyways, I spent a few hours over the weekend getting all the extra stuff out of the way.

I also made lists, you know there had to be lists involved, of what I would need to bring downstairs when the dreaded deed takes place. Lucky for me I have a playroom in the basement. It isn't fancy but it would do for a couple days. Oh, I forgot to mention that this playroom had to be sorted and cleaned and stocked with toys as well before the week could begin. As I sat making my lists I looked at my attendance sheet to see how many children I would have on the days when the dreaded deed would take place and HORRORS!!! I discovered that day one was a half a day at my children's school. Which would mean the bus would return my children to me three hours earlier than normal. What in God's name was I going to do with them? How would I keep them from waking up my little ones because as we all know, naptime is the Holy Hour and don't you ever go messing with the naptime! I was all in a panic. Thankfully my son requested that the wii be set up in the basement and with a brilliant spark I realized I could set up the wii in the screenhouse out in the yard. That would keep them separate from the sleeping little ones and occupied forever if need be. So they play a bit more video games than the afternoon won't kill all their brain cells. I added the wii and all it accessories to my list. At this point, I actually had several lists. One for food, one for food related things (like knife, colander, etc), one for the kids and school necessities, one for miscellaneous things like my camera and laptop and one for project related materials.

The night before the dreaded deed my living room and kitchen were stripped bare of everything but the big stuff. In other words, things I could not physically move myself. One of which included my husband, who sat lounging on the loveseat as I scurried to and fro carting boxes of essentials down into the basement. I cut up all the vegetables for my omelet in the morning. I chose clothes for the kids and laid them out. I finally collapsed into my bed.

The next morning I rose bright and early. Okay, I just rose early. Not too much brightness going on. I brought down the last of the food and sorted everything into it's place in the basement playroom. I plugged in the toaster oven and cd player. I counted out diapers. I forced myself to do a workout and shower as fast as humanely possible. Then I started to make my breakfast. My first little one arrived and I got her settled with a few toys as I finished up my omelet. I woke my kids and chivvied them into their clothes before they even had a chance to stretch and had the lot of us downstairs in the blink of an eye. I went back upstairs and let the dogs out of their crate and out into the yard. Started breakfast for the kids and made myself a cup of tea. I meant to bring the dog's crate down but the kids stated arriving and I realized I had run out of time. The dogs did their obnoxious jumping to the first daycare friend's parent so I nabbed them and shoved them into the basement workroom. No sooner had I turned around when both dogs came wriggling with joy out the door. I swear these two are descendants of Houdini. They can escape from anywhere. I shoved them back in the workroom and braced a cement cinderblock against the door adjoining the playroom so they couldn't pull their escape trick again and got my daycare kids settled in. The work crew arrived and my friend Tony comes right through the basement workroom and out the dogs go again. Seriously, I do not have time to be chasing them this morning. But, I have to, so I cajoled them in with treats and scolded Tony. Breakfast for the kids was ready and I got them fed and had the older ones brush their teeth. They donned their backpacks and headed out to wait for the bus. I thought once they left things would settle down.

At one point I realized the phone was not working. My phone is all bundled in with cable and internet. So I ventured upstairs and discovered when Tony and company moved the tv they disconnected the cable. I plugged it back in and tried the phone again. Success. Ah, but success was shortlived. Not even ten minutes later I had lost phone/internet/cable again. So back up and plugged us back in. Once again, it was short lived. This time I took a good look at the plug end of the cable and found the little wire inside was bent. So I unbent it and plugged it in tight. That seemed to solve that little dilemma. The kids were all happily playing outside so I decided it would be a good time to set up the wii in the screenhouse.

One of the glories of the wii is the simplicity in setting it up. You just plug a couple wires in and you're good to go. I was feeling so smug that I had it up and running. Well, up anyways. I pushed power on the tv and got zippo. Nothing. I kept pushing thinking it may have stuck or something. Nope, nothing. No, no, no, no! I had to have the wii. First and foremost it was all I had to keep Sam and Teresa out of my hair for the afternoon. And second Sam expected it to be ready for him when he got home and it is a disaster if things are not as Sam expects. I tried the stereo. Nothing. It seemed there was no power going to the screenhouse. I checked the plug on the extension cord and made sure it was plugged in. Yep, nice and snug. But still nothing. I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Still nothing. At some point I figured out that there was no power in the basement workroom at all. I finally realized this was beyond my expertise and called Joe. He advised me to check the circuit breaker panel. Now I am not real accomplished when it comes to house maintenance stuff but I can handle flipping a breaker switch. Unfortunately none of the switches were in the off position. Joe is only slightly more capable than I am. He told me to flip all of them anyways and see what happens. Besides pissing off Tony and losing Joe because the phone lost power, nothing happened. Still no power to the screenhouse. I was nearabout a panic. I tripped over a basket full of heavy duty extension cords and while cursing them realized they were actually my salvation. I strung a couple of cords from the laundry room out to the outside extension cord and voila! Power was restored and my world was back in balance.

I decided to serve lunch in shifts and fed the little kids lunch before the school bus arrived with my school aged darlings. This worked out really well, I was shocked something actually went smoothly!, and the little guys headed back out to play as the big kids ate. I laid out mats and put on the lullaby cd and my little ones headed off to sleep. The wii kept the big kids busy and I managed to eat at breakneck speed my sandwich and nectarine before writing up all the daily notes.

My blissful peace was all too soon over as naptime ended. I kept the kids outside and the dogs on their runs and managed to keep the chaos to a minimum. Joe came home and began fiddling with the circuit box and switches and cords. After a fruitless 45 minutes of fiddling he sat to take a break when we both realized...gymnastics!!! The girls were supposed to be at gymnastics in less than ten minutes. Neither were wearing their unitards and it was at best a ten minute ride. Joe chased them upstairs, into their clothes and out to the van while I stayed behind with the last couple of daycare kids. After their parent's came to collect them, I indulged in a snack that I actually sat down to eat and started gathering up my stuff to meet Joe and the kids at the gymnastics school. I had decided I was not preparing dinner. If any night called for a night out, this one was it. As I was heading out the door I noticed Sam's sneakers and socks right in the middle of the floor. Hmmm...that was weird. What was he wearing on his feet? Joe wouldn't have let him go to the school without anything on his feet; would he? I went out to the van. Something, call it a sixth sense or Mother's Intuition, made me call Joe before I left to double check if Sam was wearing shoes. I nearly fainted when he said he had no idea if Sam was wearing shoes because he didn't have Sam. Where the heck was he???

I called for him in the house and got no reply. I yelled out the back door into the backyard and heard a faint "what" coming from the direction of the screenhouse. Sam was in a wii coma. He was oblivious to everything else going on around him and nearly got left behind. Yeah, Mother of the year here, video games and abandonment all in one afternoon.

Later, I reflected that I had made it to the finish line as I sat back in my chair at the restaurant and sipped on my glass of wine. That was poured by someone else. Waiting for my meal that was prepared by someone else. I'll take dinner and wine over a laurel of leaves any day. Oh, and guess what? I get to do this all over again tomorrow.

Friday, September 10, 2010

my sewing buddy

I've been trying to do some sewing on Katie's quilt every night. I am, surprise...surprise...a little bit behind schedule but slowly chugging along with it. Katie asks me about every other minute when it's going to be done, poor kid. After I put the kids to bed and chase all the toys, dishes and laundry back where they belong, I sit down at the kitchen table and pop open the big tupperware container I've got all the bits and pieces of the quilt stored in. About thirty seconds after I open the container, I hear the pitter patter of feet. Nope, not the kids. Not that they don't make frequent appearances to stall bedtime just a little bit longer.

No, it's His Royal Highness Himself, Sir Benjamin Baadaabooty. He patters in and hops to the table and settles himself down on the lid. Always on the lid. I'm sewing some little squares to the big squares at the moment, and will be I think forever, and I do them in a chain link fashion so I'm not constantly snipping the thread. As I sew, the pile at the back of the machine gets bigger and bigger. Baadaabooty eyes this and occasionally reaches out to pat it with a paw. At some point he decides it's perfect and he gets up and claims a new spot...smack dab on top of all those sewn squares. He spends the rest of the sewing session glaring at the fabric as it comes through the machine and piles on top of him until eventually he can take it no longer and he gets up and goes back to the lid. He and his silly little ritual never fail to make me smile.

My time spent at the sewing machine is time I spend on me. While the actual product isn't mine, the process nourishes my soul. And Benjamin's quiet company has become part and parcel of the entire experience. The humm of the sewing machine, the kaleidoscope of colors in the fabrics, a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) nearby, and the crazy fluffiness that is our cat all work together to bring me back to myself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Last year, sometime in the dead of winter, I attended a professional development conference. The focus of the conference was teaching children about science. It was a fabulous conference. One group from a panel discussion was from a place called the Heritage Museum and Gardens. A place I'd heard of but never really gave much thought. What these women had to say though made me sit up and take notice. They spoke about a new feature of the gardens they were working on called the "Hidden Hollow." It was going to be created in a natural kettle basin in the gardens and would consist of several different areas. Areas for building, gathering, climbing, digging, acting, singing, dancing, investigating. Most of the materials to be used would be natural materials, even found natural items like branches and fallen trees. I was more than intrigued. I was ablaze with curiosity. From the pictures they showed of similar spaces around the country, I decided I wanted to try and create something similar in our own backyard. But as it was mid-winter, I wasn't inclined to head out and tackle it right at that moment. So I mentally shelved it and given my abysmal memory, forgot all about it.

Last week a friend of mine sent me an email about a place her friend raved about that had just opened. guessed it...Hidden Hollow. So a few days later I dragged my kids and we could have spent the weekend there we had so much fun. I am even more determined than ever to create something along the same lines, obviously on a much smaller scale, in our yard.

It makes sense that this is the perfect way for kids to explore the world around them. This is the kind of play that inspires the questions that lead to learning even more. I love that the materials are found from nature. Most kids are so disconnected with nature and this type of playspace helps to reconnect them to the world around them. It encourages problem solving and creative play. It kind of reminds me of how my siblings and I used to play as kids. We were sent out into the yard to play and there were no adults standing around directing our play. When we wanted to build a fort, we dragged materials we found in the yard, barn and house and got going. We climbed trees and rolled in the grass and created games with rules that changed when convenient. We made crowns out of dandelions and pots upon pots of weed/leaf/grass soup.

I realize that I can go to the Nature Explore website and buy all the materials I need to set up our own personal Hidden Hollow. I think it would be much more appropriate to pick up branches, pinecones and rocks in the woods near our home. We have some fallen trees in the woods that are just begging to become seats, tables, steps or whatever else my kids may come up with. I need to give my kids, and the children I care for, more opportunities to experience the world on their own terms. I can't wait to see what we come up with.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

left behind

I have been taking care of A since she was a year old. In fact, Katie doesn't remember a time without A. The two of them are attached at the hip. They are like two sides of a coin. They are the fiercest of enemies and the best of friends. Like sisters actually.

Today was A's first day of Kindergarten.

Katie was thrilled for her. They walked hand in hand to the steps to wait for the bus and giggled and whispered together. A was a little nervous and Katie gave her hugs for courage.

The bus pulled up and after one last squeeze of the hand, she climbed up the steps, took her seat and the doors closed. Katie waved and waved and waved. She waved until she could no longer see the bus.

Then she stood and looked down the road and realized the bus had just taken away her best friend.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

lovely leaves...or knot

We had the opportunity to visit the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich and I came away a huge fan. We had such a wonderful time, I signed us up for a family membership right then and there. I highly recommend it to anyone. While we were strolling through the gardens, the kids were enthralled with the ginormous leaves. I'm talking time of the dinosaur gargantuan. And many of them are shaped like hearts. I couldn't resist taking pictures of such lovely foliage.

Even the knots in the trees are heart shaped. This place and me were meant to be.

Friday, September 3, 2010

a snake in the grass

The other day Teresa and Katie came screaming into the house to tell me " A SNAKE!!! A SNAKE!!! THERE'S A SNAKE IN THE YARD!!!" I grabbed my camera and ran out to investigate. Mind you, I'm well aware that there are not much in the way of poisonous snakes around these parts so I wasn't too frightened of what I might find. And as much as a teensy spider can send me screaming for the hills, I'm not too scared of snakes. The girls are not as calm as I am concerning snakes. They pointed me in the general direction of said reptile and then cowered back about a hundred yards. I slowly walked over behind the screen house and upon some careful investigation found this little specimen.

Can you tell that it's totally fake? I nearly started to laugh but stopped myself because I got an evil idea. A wonderful awful idea. (source anyone? ; ) I picked up a small twig from the ground and hooked the little snake on the twig.

I made sure to scream in fright as I thrust the snake on a twig in the girls' faces just to up the terror factor. Because that's the kind of mother I am.

I will have only myself to blame when they end up in therapy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

family, people, caring and love...a monologue by Katie

The other night as I sat working on my September curriculum, Katie sat at the table writing furiously on a piece of paper. She filled both sides with her strings of letters and wavy lines. Then she marched over to me and began to read. I rapidly switched gears and began typing her monologue right in the middle of my curriculum. I knew in subsequent readings her speech could be completely different or even forgotten altogether and I was enchanted with what she read. So now, without further ado, here's what Katie has to say...

I love Teresa and she's very sick. She was kind of throwing up and not breathing and it's a good time to really help her and when she goes to the doctors and I care about her. Even when she goes to the hospital and doctors. And it's really nice to hear Sam being fun. He's kooky sometimes, dancing and making me laugh. He lets me do his ear too. I like people and it's important to care about people. It's really nice to hear when they are helping. It's really nice when people care about people and it's good. That's what I want to do. And what I want to do, I do. My Mom is really cuddly. Teresa is nice and she's kind and she helps me. Mom is kind and she helps people. When I fall off the door, she helps me because I'm crying. I care about Mom when I'm sleeping and when I'm smelling. Dad is always joking and he does the jokes again and again and he makes me laugh. I take care of the Julia or Molly. I ask, "does she need a paci, is she hungry, is she tired?" Well, I just love people. I love you.