Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Little Photo Documentary

Jesse sees Thor lying in the grass. He takes Thor's dog bowl off the patio steps, and, spilling dog food left and right on the way, carries it over to Thor and drops/chucks it at him.Seeing Thor appears uninterested in his offering, Jesse sits in front of him and attempts to force feed him the food.
Thor tires of this business and removes himself to a distant part of the lawn. Undaunted, Jesse scoops up handfuls of dog food and . . .
carries them to Thor. He then throws the dog food, helpfully, at Thor.Knowing this was a good plan for getting that darn dog to eat, Jesse returns for more handfuls.More handfuls to throw at Thor -- Thor, who, according to Jesse, often says, "Bock bock." Yes, like a chicken.
After many rounds of tirelessly carrying Thor handfuls of food, Jesse stops to evaluate the situation. It would appear that Thor is surrounded by food and has yet to ingest any of it. Jesse stands. Pauses -- wondering how best to proceed. He then notices Thor's tail, and so steps on it -- checking for Thor's reaction as he does.
Then, to teach the ungrateful lout an even better lesson, Jesse removed himself to Thor's water bowl and proceeded to fill it with handfuls of compost. I would have captured this in my Jesse-umentary as well only I was unaware it was happening 'til Jesse appeared again at the patio door soaking wet and with muddy little hands and feet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mike Away = Bad Things Happening

It seems that all bad things happen when Mike is not here. Hamsters die and need burying. Dogs attack and leave half dead chickens. Goats that are found wandering the road get tied to our mailbox (yes, that one really happened). Horses escape pastures and run off down skinny busy roads. Dogs dig out of yards and right into very proper neighbor's yards where their very proper small dogs reside.

Sigh. I suppose it should come as no surprise that most bad things happen when Mike is not here. Given that the greater portion of time finds him away from home, I guess, statistically, most bad things would fall during those absences.

Mike is out of town this week.

Last night I was up 'til about 12:30 organizing old photos. At around 3:00am I woke to some loud sound outside our window and then a whole lot of clucking and flapping and over all crazy terrified chicken sounds. I lay there frozen – trying to process what might be happening. Then I heard Thor coming over -- barking insanely and rushing from outside our window back towards the back yard. I decided he was probably chasing a cat or raccoon that had come snooping around our chickens. I was still a little terrified though . . . because, maybe it was a raccoon . . . or, you know, also it was maybe a murderer who wanted to rile up the chickens before coming to kill us all.

Still, Thor's barking was far too loud to go unnoticed by sleeping neighbors, so I went to the patio door and called out to get him quiet. I still was afraid to go out, so I went and tried to look out our bathroom window to see what was going on with the chickens. Of course, I'm pretty much blind with out my contacts and it was very dark. I could sort of make out the shape of something that appeared to be climbing around on the chain link of our dog run (where the chickens now make their home). There is wire over the top to keep them in, but I wasn't positive that this critter hadn't somehow gotten in as well (raccoons are smart little fellas, you know), so I figured I better go out. So, I got a flashlight and headed out back. As I walked around the side of the house I felt very much like the foolish girl from a horror movie who says, “I think I hear a sound in the bushes. I better go out all alone in my frail little nighty (although I was actually wearing cut off sweats and a t-shirt) to see what it is.” Luckily, whatever it was was gone. I shined the flashlight around to make sure there were six live chickens and then scampered nervously back to bed.

It only occurred to me later that Thor was over barking on our patio while the raccoon (or whatever it was) was still climbing on the fencing . . . which leads me to believe he was barking in terror rather than in brave protector mode, and had been running away rather than chasing away.

I tried to go back to sleep, but with no Mike here I kept thinking again how that raccoon probably meant more murderers lurking about. Minds think very differently when it is late and dark and they are alone, I've discovered. When I did finally fall asleep it was only to bizarre dreams of a dog coming into our yard that looked just like Thor and Mike aiming a gun at it and then me noticing that its paws looked weird and then realizing it was because it wasn't a dog that looked like Thor, but several people crammed into a dog costume. And, oh no, Mike was about to shoot them . . . even though I am not sure why a dog that looked like Thor would need to be shot.

Even that disturbing sleep didn't last long. At 5:00 am Goldie woke up with a bloody nose that could not be stopped for about 45 minutes – which was, of course, another bad thing happening with Mike away.

Oh well. What's to be done? Let's just look at these happy pictures instead.

Wait, that's not happy. That's very sad.
Oops. Still very very sad.
Now we're talkin.' Happy to be throwing the towel I carefully placed over his lap to catch all his crumbs and spills.
Oh, and happy to be with his two favorite items in the world -- monkey and a half deflated rubber ball that if anyone else ever even touches sends him into hysterics of sobbing. Now that is MUCH better. Even Penny is happy now.
And you better believe that's Mike teaching his kids nunchuck skills. Practicing violin with Abe. Let's hear it for TV!
Abe and his pal Zach teaching Jesse to play Connect Four. Zach is the youngest in his family, and he thinks Jesse is one of the coolest things at Abe's house. P.S. For those of you who don't use google reader and just come straight to my blog, there is actually another new post just below my Mister Steamy post. I'd typed it a few weeks ago but never published it because I kept meaning to add some pictures to it -- which I finally did tonight.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mister Steamy

For Father's Day I got Mike "Mister Steamy." Goodness. Now that I type that, I realize it has a bit of a scandalous ring to it -- like perhaps a Father's Day gift I should keep a little more private, but wait, let me clear things up by telling you just what Mister Steamy is.

It's a little green ball that you put water in and then put in the dryer with your clothes and they come out looking like they are straight from the dry cleaners! I first saw Mister Steamy on an infomercial, and in my mind's eye, I pictured my poor husband -- as he is to be found on many a work morning -- getting a towel damp and tossing it in the dryer with a wrinkly work shirt, and I thought, "What if he didn't have to use the poor man's wet towel trick and could instead enjoy the luxury of Mister Steamy?!"

But, I've never ordered anything off of an infomercial and it intimidates me -- plus, I'm wary of it. Can you really just order things off of infomercials? Just like that? I keep feeling like it can't be that easy and somehow you'll get taken. But, that can't always be true. Mike has very fond memories of the time that his mom let them order a cool sandwich maker off of an infomercial -- yes, just like that.

Mike loved it. In fact, when that same sandwich maker became available at a store near you, he bought one just like it for us so that we could re-experience the happiness that purchase brought him as a child. And, now that I call that sandwich maker to mind, I realize that I haven't used it for far too long. I am going to use it tomorrow. And do you know what I'll use it for? A tuna melt! That's right. Mmm. I can't wait. Mike's out of town, so I can freely drown my loneliness in foods he detests -- like tuna melts. The little sandwich maker is so great because it grills your little sandwich and seals the edges around it like you have a little sandwich pocket. Oooh. The kids will think this is so fun tomorrow! Well, they won't think the tuna is fun. But the other part -- the part where we grill their little sandwiches shut. They will love that. It might be a highlight of Summer vacation for them. I'm so glad I remembered the sandwich maker!

Except that it has gotten me way waaaay off track. I have no idea what I was even talking about. Hmmmm. OH! That's right. How I don't trust myself to order something off of an infomercial. That is partly just because I am always very afraid of doing anything that is new and unfamiliar to me. Picture, if you will, a man taken from some hitherto undiscovered jungle tribe and shown his reflection in a mirror -- or maybe his image taken on a digital camera. The kind of shock and horror he would feel is kind of the panic and horror that possesses me when called upon to do something new -- no matter how simple and safe it may be. (And I know they do feel shocked and terrified because I saw a documentary of just such an occurrence years ago and those tribesmen truly were jumping back in panic from that small mirror). BUT also because once, all my girls wanted to get was the "InStyler" hair straightener from an infomercial. I wasn't going to dare, but it said it was only 14.99 and I thought of how fondly Mike recalled their childhood purchase of the sandwich maker (it might be called the Snack Master), and I decided I'd do it. Luckily, I looked online at the small print first and realized that the 14.99 was not the final price -- it was the price you paid along with three easy payments of 39.99! WHAT? Yipes.
Luckily, Mike, bless his heart, found some poor teenager who had bought it as a gift for his girlfriend (And I'll have you know that no son of mine will be buying an InStyler for his high school sweat heart . . . not while he lives under my roof anyway). Apparently the gift wasn't properly received so he sadly sold it to Mike for a measly amount. Poor kid.

Anyway, I have no idea what I'm talking about again. How is it possible to get so off track? It might have something to do with the fact that it is 11:30 pm. I am up typing this because my husband has flown far far away (a 2 hr. time difference away) for work, and I still haven't heard from him. And being as I always start fearing dreadful things when Mike isn't easily contacted, there is little chance of me sleeping til I get his call and know he is safe and sound.

Anyway, I'll try and clear this up by explaining that I was at Wal-Mart one day and they had an entire little isle dedicated solely to infomercial items! I almost bought every single thing there. I reigned in the excitement however and simply bought Mike "Mister Steamy." I tried it with all our church clothes this morning and can't say I was completely sold on the product. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but I envisioned all of my girls little dresses coming out looking as if they'd just been starched and ironed to perfection. And . . . it wasn't really like that. So, well, Happy Father's Day to you, Mike, wherever you are. And, I hope I don't accidentally eat all your chocolate covered Father's Day cinnamon bears before you get back. I did tell you to take them with you.

Also, before I end, I feel that I need to make two notes.

Note 1: I would happily iron Mike's wrinkly work clothes. I have often told him to just tell me if he needs something ironed. I suppose I should just iron them all long before he needs them, but I am not the proactive ironer I once was.
hhhhhNote to Note 1: I really did used to be a horrifyingly efficient ironer. In high school and early college, I would generally choose my outfit out the night before. I would then proceed to iron it -- t-shirts, jeans and all. Now, sadly, I have several articles of clothing in my closet that haven't been worn for months simply because they need to be ironed first.

Note 2: Why do I know so much about infomercial products? I rarely watch any TV. Quibo is to blame. We don't have cable, so our kids have only ever been allowed to watch PBS cartoons. However, with the new digital box business, we also get access to Quibo -- a channel that plays safe cartoons all the live long day. Take, for example, Tales From the Book of Virtues. A large wise buffalo tells young children stories from history and the bible with lovely little morals. (Not, until I typed this, did it occur to me to wonder why a buffalo is telling these stories). Still, I have embraced Quibo for the occasional alternatives to Clifford and Curious George it has offered us. The only problem: between each cartoon they play infomercials. Even Abe, when he saw Mike's Father's Day gift said, all too knowingly, "Oh, you got Mister Steamy, huh. That's cool." And awhile ago I caught one of them telling me which acne treatment they were pretty sure was the most effective on the market (and my kids don't yet have acne). But, it is a small price to pay for the wise words and lessons they glean from that buffalo.

Whew. Enough typing already. I need to go eat a chocolate covered cinnamon bear. Oops.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vegas with Mike and Ike. Actually, Just Mike.

I got to go to Vegas with Mike for the weekend. His niece Sara (along with her younger sister Anna) agreed to come watch our kids for the nearly four full days. I was completely calm and relaxed about leaving my kids -- as evidenced by this wall. I just thought I ought to make sure that Sara knew what to do in case . . . you know . . . like someone was hungry . . . or thirsty . . . or tired. (To my credit, I resisted the urge to call and tell her which pair of shoes fit Jesse best and which sippy cups went with which lids -- things I'd forgotten to write on the notes).

Turns out, she is a genius though. She knew all those things already, and she knew a whole lot more like that she ought wake Jesse up a little early from an extra long nap so he'd go to bed fine going to bed at night, and that Goldie was maybe a little emotional because I wasn't there, and how to take five kids to church, and make them spaghetti, and how to drive them in our giant van to swimming lessons and piano lessons. WHAT? I know. Every time I talked to her I was so calmly and happily reassured that my kids were in great hands that I almost decided they didn't need me to come back after all. Really, it was such a blessing having her there so calmly in charge and Anna there entertaining and crafting away with my kids. When Abe was a toddler and Daisy was a baby, the first two times I dared leave them both with a babysitter, we came back to not only a screaming baby, but a weeping babysitter. Two times. With two different babysitters. I think after that I have always felt a little like asking someone to babysit is akin to asking them to spend an evening in complete and utter despair, so Mike and I don't leave very often, and this was nice. Very nice.

I don't know that Mike and I did anything spectacular. When we first got to the hotel, I started saying how I could picture exactly what our kids would be saying if they were there -- as they ran around checking things out. "Daisy! Look there are two ways to get through to the bathroom!" "Oh! Look! We can see the pool right from our window! OH! And there's a deck! How do we open the door to the deck, Mom!?" "Hey! You guys! You're not going to believe this! There are TWO TV's!" and so forth. After describing our hotel to Mike through our kids' eyes, I told him he should stop talking about our kids so much. Then I told him how I was so proud of Jesse when he ambled into the kitchen and asked me for a chip the other day.

After that, we were able to have nothing but full and total grown up conversation. Like about whatever happened to Mike Tyson, and what frozen yogurt flavors we would choose instead of the ones we did choose.I meant to document the whole trip in photos, instead, it never occurred to me once to get out the camera anywhere on the strip, only to once or twice take a photo of us while we held the camera ourselves in our hotel. Then I snapped a shot of him shopping for shoes and he took a picture of my reflection in a mirror as I waited for my Caesar Pita at Chili's. That was about it as far as pictures went.But, I do love being with my Mike. I see him so few hours of most days, that it is nice to see that even when I get to spend all hours of several days with him I still want . . . well . . . to just keep being with him. We drove home and I read to him. We used to read a lot together before we had kids and when they were littler, but have gotten out of the habit, so that was enjoyable for me. I had to drop him off at the airport to pick up his work car that had been left in long term parking from a business trip earlier in the week, and found myself liking that even for the last hour of the drive we chatted a bit on our cell phones and didn't seem to want to hang up.

I know there are times and seasons for things, and mostly, between lacking vacation hours, availability of reliable tending, cost of everything, etc. this is not the time and season for Mike and I to have lots of vacations all alone together, but I sure wish it was! I would love leaving with just the two of us a little more frequently!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crying Over Spilt Milk

Last week I had one of those days where I kept blubbering about everything (blubbering is a word my dad would use . . . although, if I actually think about the image of someone "blubbering," I don't really think I was doing that). Anyway, the things I kept crying over were so not cry worthy that when Mike, trying understandingly to help, asked, "Now, what part of this exactly is upsetting you?" I blubbered all the more because I couldn't possibly defend why I was crying when even I saw there was absolutely nothing at all that I was telling him that warranted a cry.

When Mike got home, in his wisdom (or perhaps for want of knowing what else to do with me), he sent me off to Target while he put the kids to bed.

I wandered about -- sniffling a little -- looking at books and kids' clothes, and trying all the samples by the bakery with no shame because, I reasoned, it was only me sampling (and not my entire usual little posse) and because they would be closing soon and would probably have to throw their little donut and brownie pieces out and also because I was sad for absolutely no logical reason.

I found some cool shorts for Abe and called him to describe them to him before buying as he has begun to question my judgement of cool (even though my cool judgement is super great). I made sure to describe the Hawaiian themed shorts more in terms of palm leaves than large flowers, and he was on board. I also bought Goldie a little clearanced panda bear shirt because she loves a good panda. Then I tried to really determine which watermelon was best by studying them all very closely even though I wasn't positive what I was studying them for.

On my way home, I buckled the watermelon I'd purchased safely and snugly into Jesse's car seat. It seemed the natural thing to do what with watermelons propensity for rolling and my habits so accustomed to buckling up car seats anyway.

When I got home, I told Mike he was a nice husband for listening to me cry over things that even I myself could see no reason to cry over. Then I added, "What would I do if things were reversed and you were the one calling me and crying all the time? I'd probably tell you to quit your whining -- that I got enough of that from the kids all day." Then I asked, "So why don't you cry all the time?" He assured me that he did -- that that was what his long commute each day was for. So I laughed. Then I realized that our little dish scrubber was smelling moldy and I'd forgotten to buy a new one and I nearly cried again. Ohh it makes me laugh now. Girls are crazy. Being one is awesome.

P.S. I'm very happy, and often I go so long with out crying that I can hardly remember the last time I did cry (which actually makes me feel hardened because what kind of a girl does that? Were supposed to cry A LOT . . . even though that's CRA-ZY. Hmm. Danged if we do and danged if we don't).

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