Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Small Stone #30

The big dog in the little car, his barks resonating in my ears, his claws click clack skittering on the glass, his forceful lunges rocking the car, so glad he doesn't have opposable thumbs.

I Eat My Cookie First

I do not believe in saving my cookie for dessert.  Why should I wait?  What if I eat my salad and my apple and when I'm finished, I'm too full?  I'd rather start off with a cookie, while I'm hungry and savoring every single crumb.

But, I also do not believe in saving my cookie for lunch or dinner.  If I have cookies in the house, I'll eat one with breakfast.  Or for breakfast, depending on how fast time has run out and if I'm in a race to see if I get to work on time.

Some more shocking news: I don't care if my kids follow in my cookie footsteps.  Of course, lately our cookies have all been oatmeal and that makes it feel more breakfasty, but even if it's a chocolate chocolate chocolate cookie, and I spy a kid eating one as they walk out the door for school, well, that's okay.

I feel less guilt then when I sit down with mine!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Small Stone #29

Waiting for the dryer to buzz, warm clothes fold best.  Would call it a night, but the desire for clean underwear is stronger than desire for sleep.

Lonely Single Sock Heaven

I've got a basket of single socks.  Single, unmatched, lost mate, socks.  I go through it periodically, usually after a day of loads of laundry, and match up ones that got separated in the wash, but I still have a very full basket. I've got socks in there that I have not seen in a pair in years.

My husband recently went through it and ruthlessly culled any the kids said were lost causes, never to be seen again socks. I couldn't bear to look.

I'm not sure why, but it seems so wasteful to get rid of the one sock.  Who needs one?  It's not going to be used.  At least in my basket, it's having a nice cozy end of it's life.

But word must have gotten out that our house is lonely single sock heaven, because when I did laundry yesterday I pulled out three unmatched socks that Do Not Belong To Us.  Add those three to the one hanging on the chair and the other 4 in my basket, I have eight socks that do not actually have a foot here that belongs to them.

I don't understand how kids who sleep over without a pillow or a change of clothes, can go home with only one sock......

I will do what I did with the other socks.  I will ask every person who comes into this house if they are missing a sock, and when the answer is the inevitable "no," I will add these lonely socks to my basket.  Who knows, one day I might have a brilliant idea of how to use all these single socks and then it will party time for the socks that thought their usefulness was at an end.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Small stone #28

Crisp.  Clean.  Sheets.
Bedtime isn't coming fast enough.

Honeymoon Or Family Vacation?

My husband and I have known each other since we were 14 years old, when I got on the school bus for the very first time.  He'd heard rumors I'd just moved back to town from Alaska and he'd been born in Kodiak, so he figured we'd have something to talk about.  It's been more than 23 years since that first moment and he was righter than he knew.

We graduated from high school, he joined the Coast Guard, I put my career training to use and worked in medical records and we wrote to each other all the time and tried to plan a wedding.  I guessed at a Saturday that he thought he wouldn't be gone on a four week patrol...I sort of guessed right.  He had a week of leave saved up that he used for the week before our wedding, and then one lovely Saturday in August, we joined our lives together.  

But, his cutter was set to sail that Monday.  On Sunday we got up, met my Mom and sisters for breakfast  and then my sisters got in the car and the four of us drove south to California.  Yes.  I did say my sisters.  My Mom had worried that I would be too upset to drive back home by myself after sending off my husband of two days, so she put my sisters in our car and that was the start of our honeymoon adventure.

The military requires so much paperwork to get things done, and one of those things I needed to guard with my life was our marriage certificate, proving that we were indeed hitched and that I should indeed be given housing.  I had it up front with me but I worried that it would fly out the window (no AC in August, we had all four windows down) so I moved it.....and it got sucked out the window.

I could see it fluttering down the side of the highway.   My sisters and I were round eyed with shock and horror.  This was bad, this was very bad.  My new husband pulled over, got out and chased that paper down the road.  He came running back to the car, grinning, triumphant and laughed for miles (and years actually). 

Nothing in my childhood had prepared me for a guy that greeted unexpected stressful moments with a smile. It was a life changing!  But we still had to get to California, and in the process my sister got a speeding ticket, we fought too much, our hotel rooms were side by side and I was not in the mood to take care of anyone but myself.  It was a not a honeymoon so much as one of our typical family vacations.

After we stood on the pier and waved goodbye to my husband, I was glad to have my sisters.  One drove, one talked, and I just coasted along, already beginning the countdown to when the cutter returned home, bringing with it my husband and the real start to our newlywed life.  Honeymoons are overrated anyway......or so I still tell myself.....and besides, we have a crazy story to tell.   There is nothing we love more than a story that makes us laugh in the retelling!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small Stone #27

An unexpected kid free night: it's dinner for two, a movie on TV and a love seat that fits just right.

A False Earthquake Drill

Youngest Baby Sis,

Thinking about that first year in Eureka, I couldn't help but start chuckling when I thought of the middle of the night earthquake drill I put you through!  You'd come to visit after we'd been married several months, and I  woke you up in the middle of the night because I felt an earthquake, that really was just the dog shaking the bed.  Hey, I was just thinking of your safety!  Standing in the door jam of the guest room screaming "earthquake" and jolting you out of a sound sleep seemed perfectly logical at the time.  But then when we were awake, wasn't it nice that I had really good cable and no rules and we could watch Beavis and Butthead until we fell asleep on the couch?

I think we also spooked ourselves in that weirdly echoing house, just the two of us and my fear that someone was living in the crawl space stealing my stuff (sure glad we discovered it wasn't a crawl space guy or me going crazy, but a fellow Coastie's psycho girlfriend).  We spent lots of nights sleeping in the living room!

Wasn't that also the visit where the alternator went kaput and we spent hours in the parking lot waiting for E to fix it, then the only way to get it to turn over was him and me pushing, and you popping the clutch and then you were in a moving vehicle, in the drivers seat, driving, when you were only 14?

Then we stuffed you in the back seat, packed a ton of belongings around you and made you hold my beloved, but really smelly, dog on a twelve hour drive.  Remember that?

I think I might have been the coolest big sister ever!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Small Stone #26

Thank God for daughters who like to  cook and bake....who can make dinner when Mom's not feeling well....who can whip up a batch of lemon bars just for funsies.  Thank God for daughters, period.

Sweet Memories

Hey Sis!

I should keep you better updated on life here!  E started his new job and he loves it.  Remember when we drove to Eureka to bring him home for the wedding?  And we showed up at the pier, in awe of the Coast Guard cutter and all the Seamen (ha!)?  And when he came off the boat, he was almost unrecognizable with all the engine grime on his face, his coveralls and hardhat?  Remember how he was grinning (and not just because I was there and we'd been apart for 5 months)?

Yes.  That is how he is when he comes home from his job; dirty with engine grim and grinning (and not just because I am here, cooking dinner)!  The first night when he walked in the door, so happy and pleased and barely able to wait for dinner to share all about his day, I flashed back to that moment of seeing him walk towards us on the pier.

It's put a euphoric spin on the week, filling me with sweet memories of being young and starting out.   I know you'll know what I mean.  You were there for most of it! Including the dreadful 'honeymoon' trip, but I will write on that later. Maybe.

For now I'll just go back to the reality of life, and how good that life is when the right job finds the right guy!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Small Stone #25

The sink is piled high, dirty dishes of every shape and size.  I should fill the sink with hot water, let the suds mound up and plunge my trusty rag in and start scrubbing.  I should, I should, I should.  I will.  Tomorrow.  Tonight I will turn off the light and leave my troubles for tomorrow, when I am looking for one clean bowl. But that is tomorrow's trouble.

When The Wind Blows Wild

When the wind blows wild,
Hat held down while Hound's ears flap,
Frenzied gusts urge us into motion,
It's drag or be dragged.
Can't we walk all one pace?
"Not I," says the big Beagle.
"Not I," says the small Beagle.
"Not I," says the fluffy Badger.
"Not I," says me.
We'll just take turns being
The dragger and the draggees.

This post was inspired by prompt # 2 at Mama's Losin' It!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Small Stone #24

He found Gandalf's staff, or a stick that looked just like it, on the beach.  He may have out grown it....the staff sits in a corner of our dining room.....it may have gone back to being just a stick.  He may have forgotten, but I will always remember his joy the day he found Gandalf's staff.....so it sits in the corner, getting dusted occasionally by me.

And It Was Free

Meal planning is actually a thing I enjoy.  I lay out several cookbooks, I review the previous month's dinners, I check out the pantry supplies.  I may hate cooking dinner some nights, but at least I've usually got a plan for what should be cooked and two kids and a husband who can follow a recipe so I don't have to!

When I visit the library, I always check out the Friends of the Library book sale.  Before I even leave the house, I make sure I have at least two quarters.  There is nothing worse than getting to the library, finding a book a I desperately want, but not having any money to purchase it.  On occasion, there is a free box.

Is there anything better than a box of free books? 

Sometimes, the box is full of weird, smelly books.  But then I hit the jackpot.  I can't believe that this book is  in the free box.  A cookbook the likes of which I have never seen!  Spiral bound at the top, winter and spring one way, turn it around and summer and autumn the other.  

 Today's meal plan would be:
At which point my daughter seriously questioned whether this book was really the jackpot I thought it was, because it might not smell, but it was weird.  What is a shirred egg anyway, she asks, and I say the recipe is at the top of the page.  She reads it and says nope.  No way does she want to eat anything out of this cookbook.

I'm not rushing out to make a cottage cheese and date salad or stuffed onions, but I do love this book.  It tickles my meal planner heart.  And it was free!  That tickles my frugal heart!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Small Stone #23

It was a trying day, a good day, a long day......then Good News!  The new job is the perfect fit and half the tests results have come back okay.   It was a race to see which phone plan was faster as we texted, "Yeah!" and "Wonderful!" and "Margaritas at LaHa!"

Covers Up To Our Belly Buttons

There is something so magically wonderful about clean sheets, about a freshly made bed with covers smoothed and pillows fluffed.  This is not one of those times.

Last night when we got into bed, the covers were just all wrong.  There was no getting comfortable. My husband groaned, "Why are the covers only coming up to our belly buttons?"

The logical explanation is the monster under the bed was pulling the covers his way and we split it down the middle.  Everyone had covers to their bellies and no further.  With a herculean pull, my husband wrestled the covers from the grip of that under the bed monster, and we were able to cocoon ourselves in a nest of well worn, dog furred, ragged edged blankets and quilts.

That lasted about five minutes for me, then I had to throw back the covers (on my side only, because I am aware that my bed mate does not run hot like me) and search out one last bit of cold sheet......

I heard a weird noise and thought it could have been a monster (the under the bed monster getting chilled?) but it turned out it was my son exercising after we'd gone to bed.  I think the monster theory makes more sense then the late night exercising!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Small Stone #22

It's all sunshine and happiness and all is right in the world....friends and family are hale and hearty.  But it can't last...this is life after all.  A suspicious spot and doctor consults and suddenly the shadows are darker and closer.

To The Deer Masquerading As A Dog

Congratulations!  You succeeded in scaring the bejesus out of me.

In my defense, when I first saw your shadowy shape across the dark grassy field, your head was tucked down and all I saw was four legs and a body.  My first thought was Big Dog coming my way!  Then my brain registered the very un-dog like way you were moving and my thoughts turned to Something is moving this way!

I may have said as much in a panicked voice to my husband, and he may have looked up and everywhere trying to pinpoint the threat, the slobbering, red eyed, rabid dog that was charging our way.....then when we ascertained it was just you, a deer, my husband was surprised I stayed.

There are three things I do not want to meet on a dark field (or anywhere else): a deer, a bear and a dolphin.

But I held my ground and the dogs remained (as always) oblivious and you wandered away from us and I felt shaky and weak and my pulse was pounding.  That was a close call.

Later I heard a neighbor talking about how exciting it was to walk out to her car and find you (because how on earth could there be two deer in a half block in town at about the same time) and you were so lovely and cute.

Huh.  Not at all the impression you gave me.  I count myself lucky to have walked away from our encounter!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Small Stone #21

I love a good eraser, I love the disappearing mistake, I love brushing away the shavings.  I hate the idea that isn't transferring from my thoughts to my hand to my pencil to my paper.

My Sunday Preschoolers

I've been teaching Sunday school for years.  I've taught 6th grade all the way down to preschool, and my favorite age by far is preschool.  This year is the biggest class of preschool age students I can remember having.  Today I had 10 in my class!

If no one has taught preschool, I can tell you, ten is an insanely huge number.  Thank goodness for my husband, who stays in the room and helps cut out crafts, and supervises bathroom visits, and occasionally uses his dad voice to help but a lid on some rambunctious chaos.

As hard as I try, I can not keep the class running smoothly and cohesively with so many students.  Asking an open question, such as in today's lesson, "have you ever lost something?" leads to every child having a story to tell, and wanting to tell it all at the same time because of course Teacher can understand each individual story in the cacophony of voices.

I've been starting class of with reminders of how we behave in church.  Do we run in church?  Do we yell in church?  Do we do somersaults or throw crayons in church?  No?  Well, we don't do it in Sunday school either.

Today, after my husband used his dad voice to encourage the kids to be quiet and listen to me, one child quietly asked if they could raise their hand to ask a question or give an answer.

Yes!  Raise your hand!  That would work out perfectly!

Ten hands shot up into the air.

When we left church, my husband said he thought I had it under control, that was, until I said they could raise their hands.  After that not even a dad voice could save the situation.  True.  But that didn't stop me from putting  away today's lesson with a care for future classes.  You'll find me in the same place next year during Sunday school.  Preschool class, corner room.  There's just something about their exuberant shouts of "God!" to almost every question I ask, that I enjoy.

And, we get to color and glue.  I really, really enjoy that!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Small Stone #20

The snow is melting.....slushy lake sized puddles outside.....inside two pairs of gloves and one pair of boots sit by the heater, one lone sock under the table, one glove without a mate on the counter, a pile of scarfs and hats on the dryer.....the snow is melting, leaving behind the accouterments of snow days well played.

What Parenting And Bicycling Have In Common

As I lie on my bed, collapsed in a half zombified state, exhausted from a one night and half day sleep over with a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I couldn't help but think what's wrong with me?  I've raised two babies into their teen years; I've had a 4 year old and a 2 year old of my own day in and day out and don't ever remember feeling this wiped out.

It was less than 24 hours.  They slept all night long.  They didn't fight and they didn't expect me to get down on the floor and build elaborate block castles.  I'm barely 37, still a spring chicken.  It should be a peace of a cake!  And yet, I found myself purposely cleaning up my room after the boys went home, just so I could lie down and take a little nap.

I decided parenting and bicycling are a lot alike.  I haven't forgotten how to bicycle, and I haven't forgotten how to take care of little kids, but it's been years since I've done either and the first back in the saddle ride is going to leave me sore and tired!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Small Stone #19

Reading unlimited bedtime stories to sleepover nephews......I can hear my Grandma's voice and the rhythm of Arthur Cluck and Little Bear......I hope I sound just like that as I read Green Eggs and Ham.

Dairy State Of Emergency

As previously reported, the Pacific Northwest is being hit with a winter storm that has brought snow and ice and dangerous driving conditions.  My family has been scooting along just fine: the kids can walk wherever they want to go, I could walk to work but my parents are actually picking my sister and I up every day, and my husband is loving driving in all of this.

But yesterday, Gov. Gregoire declared a state of emergency, and this proclamation seemed to declare first and foremost that it waives restrictions of work hours for truckers hauling milk shipments from farms to dairy facilities.

Huh.  I didn't know we lived in such a Milk Mafia state.  Who is pulling the strings that we need to make sure milk is going from farms to processing plants asap, even during these days of terrible weather and jack knifed semi trucks up and down the I-5 corridor?

My sister and I had a good laugh over it yesterday at work, and when her husband called to say he was on his way home and stopping at the store first, we cackled, "Don't forget the milk!  There's a milk crisis happening in our state!"  And it was good funny.

Until this morning, when I opened the fridge and saw that we Had No Milk At All.  Last night, the boys made brownies (from scratch of course) and fresh baked brownies require tall glasses of milk and that results in no milk for Mom's cereal in the morning.

Quick!  Defrost the truck and hit the store!  Stock up on milk!  It's a Dairy State of Emergency!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Small Stone #18

Three dogs on the couch....a nest made from a blanket and a pillow and warm furry bodies.  I'd sink into it too, but I don't want to disturb them.  I'll find my own spot, albeit colder and less dogged and not as good.

Living Dog Crazy

I am dog crazy.  Always have been, which was a little hard growing up with a Mom most definitely not dog crazy, but she's a good Mom and sacrificed her clean smelling, flea free house so my sisters and I could have dogs, one at at time, not like me with my three dogs.

I got Murphy from the pound when he was about 6 years old and I was about 13, which turned out to be the perfect age for both of us.  I was old enough to take care of him, old enough to say he moves with me when I move, and old enough to make that true.

He was patient and good and loyal.  He never warmed up to my husband (who he'd known for almost as long as he knew me) but that was okay.  Murphy moved with me from Alaska, to Washington, to California and finally, New Jersey.  He did the 12 hour drive from California to Washington so many times, he could have driven the way himself, blindfolded.  He suffered through bows in his fur and blue sweaters during winter and was okay with that.

Then one day he was gone.  His back finally gave out and he couldn't move and I had to make that hard decision most pet owners fear and dread.  It was the right one, but after 17 years, I still miss him!

Years later, our kids were older, we had a nice big yard, and we decided to get a dog.  Specifically, a puppy.  I'd never had a puppy before and it was all new and strange and terribly hard!  My Grandma (who is just as dog crazy as me) asked me if I loved our pup Emma Beagle as much as I had loved Murphy....I said no way.  There was no dog who would ever knock Murphy out of his spot as best dog ever.

Well, I was not quite right!  Emma (and Sarah and Olive) are just as beloved as Murphy, just as spoiled, just as  treasured, just as naughty (the garbage is a universal dog love) and just as perfect.  I count myself lucky to be living dog crazy with such great dogs.  And a great husband who put up with one dog who actively hated him....and said it was okay to try again and own three dogs at once!

This post was inspired by prompt #2 over at Mama's Losin' It!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Small Stone #17

My toes are frigid bits of ice, which I tuck against his warm legs.  The rest of me is hot, covers thrown off and fan turned on.  He tucks the rest of his cold self around me.

The Door Is Always Open And The Laughter Is Free

My dream of having lots of children has actually come true.  Sure, I can only claim two on my taxes, but our house is always full of kids!  If it's just the four of us sitting down for dinner, I am surprised and shocked.  The kid's friends know they can come in, any time, even if we aren't here.  I stock the cupboards with the extra kids in mind.

A snow day today meant a party last night.  My daughter had two friends over, and they went off sledding, ending downtown for french fries at a local diner.  My son's friends came trooping into the house after 9:30, and the fun really got started.  We could hear the laughter, the chatter, the music, the friendship.

When they came clomping down the stairs at 10:30pm, and started putting on boots and coats and gloves, I was getting ready for bed.  Where did they think they were going?  Oh, you know, outside to play football.  Where?  Our yard.

Watch out for dog poop, I said.  They laughed and went out to play.

I went to bed with a smile on my face.  Our house is that house, where hanging out is fun and the parents are kind of cool, the food is plentiful, the door is always open and the laughter is free.  And loud.  The laughter is so very loud!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Small Stone #16

The trees are alive with birds....round, plump, fluffy feathered birds....perching on tree limbs, snow falling.  They look cold.  Maybe we should invite them in?  We'll send the invitation out via the dogs......funny thing, no takers.  The sky is alive with birds in fright.

Snow Fall

Today the PNW is being hit with a snow storm, and like true Pacific North Westerners, we are all freaking out.  School is closed, cars are abandoned on roads, businesses are shutting down early so we can all be home before dark.

We have lots of snow in our yard, with more predicted to fall tonight and tomorrow.  I thought I'd find kids here building snowmen, but nope.  They have taken sleds and ventured off to the perfect sledding hills around town.  It's just me and  two of the dogs standing out in the deep snow (our older and wiser Beagle stayed inside near the heater).

It's still in that lovely stage, barely trampled, pristine white.  Is there anything cuter than dogs frolicking in snow?  Well, kids I guess, but since my kids are out of camera range, I settled for taking a few of the dogs.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Small Stone #15

That's not the way I do it, I think as I watch him wash the dishes.  But I will bite my tongue because if he is washing the dishes, that means I am not.

The Only Time To Wake Him Up Early

My kids are typical teenagers in regards to sleep.  They like it.  They sleep on a school day until I wake them up, and on a day we have nothing planned, they will sleep till lunch.  I'm a firm believer in sleep, so if I don't have to wake them up, I'm not going to.

Last night, as my husband and I were headed to bed, our son and his friend were settled in for a long night of a new computer game that has even sucked my husband in.  We said good night and don't forget to turn off the lights and he said he would and oh, by the way, if it snows in the night, and it's not just a dusting, please wake up him when we get up so he can see it.

Wait, what?  We're getting up early.  Yes.  He knows.  Wake him up please.

Okay.  Apparently, the only time when it's okay to wake up our teenage son at an "ungodly" hour, when there is no school, church or work, is on a snow day.   I'm currently sipping my morning coffee, listening to some classic country, with the blinds pulled up so I can see the snowy yard, and my son is awake and talking to me.

It's nice.  I usually don't get excited about snow but today, I'm thinking I'm changing my mind.  This quiet moment with just him is perfect.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Small Stone #14

Judging by the finger licking and the moans of mmm-mmm-mmm and the half empty pan of freshly baked and barely cooled lemon bars, I did my Grandma's recipe justice.

Back To Back Measuring

I am taller than my Mom, as are my sisters. I don't remember when it happened, it is just something that has been true for a long time.   When my kids were two years old, I did the math according to the old wives tale, that if you double your child's two year old height, that is how tall they will be when grown.  According to that formula, my son would be 5'7" and my daughter would be 6'2".

Needless to say, I wasn't wild about those wildly different predictions!

When my son edge past me in height, I was super pleased.  He proved the old wives tale false, and also, it was an exciting moment to realize that little guy I brought home from the hospital was now taller than me.

But now it's my daughters turn.  After a very slow, painful slow (so slow she complained that she had stopped growing) year of growth, she has gained on me.  Today she said she's taller than me, she knows it.  I said there is no way.

There is no way that my baby is taller than me!

Well, I was sort of right.  We stood back to back, and my husband said it was too close to call.  So we stood against the door jam that has been recording measurements for the last eight years and did it officially.

Officially, she is not taller than me.  Officially, we are exactly the same height.

I think I've got to accept the fact that I am done growing tall, but she is only 14 and will keep on growing.  She's pretty excited and I'm thinking I should have let her drink more coffee when she was young!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Small Stone #13

When do people know who they are to be?  When do they look around and realize this life path or not, I am settled or I am not.  I was born knowing, old soul trapped by youth.  I know and became and am content.

When Wasting Bacon Isn't A Bad Thing

Last nights dinner was going to be the long awaited, and twice postponed, pancakes and bacon for dinner.  I have actually turned into a rather bad bacon cook, so my husband usually does it. But he was running late, and everyone was hungry, so I started cooking.

It wasn't bad.  The first batch was burned but the next few batches were only slightly charred.  Then tragedy struck.  As I was putting the cooked bacon in the oven to keep it warm, I dropped it.  Bacon was everywhere: in the oven, in the drawer underneath, scattered on the floor around the stove.

The dogs quickly got the floor bacon and I was trying to get the bacon off the bottom of the oven when I just decided to give up.

Yes, indeed, not my finest moment, but it was late, I was so very hungry, and picking up bacon covered in oven junk just became too much.  I turned the warmer off, closed the oven door and walked away from the whole mess.

Today I knew all my wasted bacon was waiting for me, except the few pieces I'd put on the plate.  My poor husband didn't know they were kind of dirty and ate them.  I guess that proves I could have just dusted them off and served them, and the family wouldn't have been any wiser, but I didn't and actually couldn't.  Too gross.

Well, I peeked in the oven and shuddered.  I like to dust and mop and scrub the fridge and keep a mostly cobweb free house, but the one thing I never do is clean out the oven.   So I did the only thing anyone could have done.  I got out the shop vac and cleaned out the whole stove.....there is not a crumb to be found in there my friends!

As I was running that noisy beast, and freaking the dogs out of their minds (first, I wasn't given them the bacon they could smell, and second, that shop vac is scary loud) I couldn't help but think this might be the only time wasted bacon actually was a good thing.  If I hadn't spilled it all in the oven, I never would have cleaned it out.  And it's so clean and lovely now!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Small Stone #12

The floors shine, the tub sparkles, the sheets fresh, the satisfaction soul deep. In my book, housework is not a dirty word.  It's a darn clean one.

Hand-me-down Recipes

I have an overwhelming urge to read recipes.  I collect old cookbooks, subscribe to two cooking magazines and peruse the cooking section in the library every time I visit.  Just the other day I picked up a heavy book filled with delicious sounding breads, cookies, cakes, and pies.  I'd tagged a few in my mind as ones I'd like to try out.
That is, until I received this gift from my Grandma.....
 Thirty-seven handwritten recipes, from her kitchen.....recipes from my childhood, recipes that I will always associate with my Grandma.  I could not wait to get home and read every single one, and decide what I would make first....
 My daughter voted for Acini Salad, but I'm going to go with my favorite, Grandma's Lemon Bars.  I have everything I need and a day off work that I was going to spend cleaning the house......
Following my Grandma's instructions, reading her carefully printed words, thinking of how much time and love she put into this gift, along with the smell of fresh baked lemon bars, seems like a much better use of my time!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Small Stone #11

We meet at the dinner table and I say
Ready, set, go, how was your day?
Minute by minute details unfold,
Laughter shared, moments retold.
Our day isn't complete, isn't solid and good
Until events of the day are shared over food.

This small stone is inspired by the writing prompts at Mama's Losin' It!

I Still Get Butterflies

Our kids told us something shocking.  They don't think my husband and myself are still "in love."  Sure, we love each other, but in love?  They don't think so.  We've been together 21 years, and our kids believe that the romantic stage of 'in love' just doesn't last forever.  Being in love turns to just love, and that's okay with them.


I disagree.  I still am giddy with anticipation, counting down the minutes till my husband gets home.  I can see him across the room and become flushed with pride that this handsome guy is mine.  There is that smile he has when he looks at me, and I know he thinks I am the most beautiful girl in the world.   I'm still amazed that his hand was designed to hold mine.

I am so in love with my husband that being apart is brutal and sitting together is heaven.  He can tell the same story over and over and I will pretend it's the first time I've ever heard it.  He brings me flowers for no reason and I keep them until they dry (and then I'll save some petals in jar that has been saving petals for 21 years).  I think he's funny and he thinks I'm funny and together we know how to laugh even during hardships.

I still get butterflies when I think of him.

If that's not being 'in love' than I don't want to know what is.  I don't think I could survive much more intense romantic feelings than what I live with day to day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Small Stone #10

I caught the tail end of the sunset....so beautiful, it held all colors of the rainbow....yellowy orange pinks and greenish gray blues....every branch of the distant evergreen tree line silhouetted against pastel swirls.  It's 35 degrees outside and my thoughts are ensnared by the idea of spring.

And For That, I Am Not A Fan

If I wasn't in a class where I did not go by "Michelle C" in order to differentiate from the other Michelle, then I must have been dreaming, because the reality of my school years was sharing my name with several other girls.

In high school there were 4 in our class , plus several in the grades ahead and behind.

It was a popular name.

As popular as Michael? No. We had 9 in our class alone.

Was I sometimes called Michael by a teacher who glanced at the roll call and read my name without really reading it? Oh yes.

Let's not even get started on how many Jennifers I went to school with!

But I blame the popularity of my name on the simple fact that in the late 60's, the Beatles came out their "Michelle My Belle" song and I have had people through out my life sing it to me and one teacher in the 8th grade sang it every day when I walked in the room, and for that, I am not a die-hard Beatles fan.

I really hate that song.

My daughter has always had obsessive passions for things.  For years it was The Wizard of Oz, and she collected Oz everything and there was never a question as to what she would dress up for on Halloween.  Now, in her maturity, she loves and adores The Beatles.  All things Beatles.  Her room is postered with pictures of them, and she has arranged all of her vinyl records for display.

Guess what her newest album has on it?  Yep.  My favorite song!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Small Stone #9

Powdered sugar, stick of butter, splash of milk, dash of vanilla....creamy white.  8 drops of red, 2 drops of blue....dusty rose.  Birthday cupcakes frosted for the nephew who likes pink frosting but hates cherry flavor.  His Oh-Cho agrees: artificial cherry anything is not worthy of birthday wishes.

Do You Like My New Perfume?

It's called Spray 'n Wash and I may have accidentally drenched myself in it....not to mention the floor too.  My troubles started when I noticed a spot on one of my favorite shirts.  I can't let that go untreated, so I rushed it out to the laundry room.  I grabbed the spray bottle and booyah!  Catastrophe!

The top was not really screwed on the bottle so when I picked it up by the top (of course) it was okay for the second it took for me to move it towards me, then gravity took over and the bottle fell down, spilling most of its contents on its descent, and by the nature of things, all over me.

I picked up the bottle as soon as it landed, but it was all over.  I was wet, the floor was wet, and I stood there staring at the mess in disbelief.  There is that moment when something unexpected happens that I am stuck in shock.  I can't even begin to process how to clean the mess up.

Thank God I have a husband who is the king of cleaning up bad messes.  Kids puke on the floor again?  He's got it.  Dogs sick in their crate?  He's taken care of it.  Wife spills Spray 'n Wash and just stands there staring at the puddle advancing towards the great unknown (otherwise known as under the washer and dryer)?  He grabs the mop and bucket and cleans it up.

I changed my clothes and washed up, but I have a lingering scent of stain remover.....I'm just going to roll with it.  It's my perfume of the day!  And, it's a reminder that makes me smile, remembering how wonderfully helpful my husband is.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Stone #8

The golden glow that calls us home, the promise of light and warmth and love, buoys us along as we leave our nine to fives...me walking, him motorcycling....the going is dark and cold and wet.....but the welcome home kiss we share in that golden home light is plumb.

I Am A Creature Of Habit

I am a creature of habit. I tease my son about how he used to get so upset if  his schedule got messed up or how time anxious he was, but honestly, he got that from me. I have a schedule and I like to keep it.

Might not seem like it lately, when I haven't been getting to work at 9 like I plan, but more like 9:15 or 9:30. But I can explain. It's not just because I'm blogging every morning, it is because I am now trying to get four people ready to leave the house at the same time, with only one little bathroom.

I can't get in the bathroom right now, because my husband is shaving. So I sit and wait. I could be doing something to get ready, but this is where the creature of habit thing kicks in.  My morning routine is: I walk, I read, I blog, I shower, I dress, I pack my lunch, I do my hair, I leave for work.

In that order. If I skip one thing, the whole system shuts down and I'm walking out the door to go to work in fuzzy slippers. True story. Luckily, I realized I was wearing slippers as I started the car, so I ran back in the house and found my shoes.

It's not so much that I have to be doing the points on my schedule at a certain time, it's that I check off each point in that order.

I am late today because I am a creature of habit. I don't want to pack my lunch while I wait for the shower....that's not the way things are supposed to go!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Small Stone #7

Sharp silver sewing needle, I pin cushioned you here, for when I'd need you next....how dare you disappear? And worse, I know you will make your presence known to me by finding my bare foot.  I could say at least you wouldn't be lost anymore, but I am not looking forward to your painful recovery.

When Doughnuts Are For Dinner

This past week, my kids got a hungering for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  We hadn't treated ourselves to those glorious glazed pastry perfections in ages and they desperately wanted me to drive them north 30 minutes to the Krispy Kreme in our backyard.  I said that since my son has his driver's license, he could drive up there any old time he wanted.

So it was settled.  They would wait until I or my husband was able to go too.

Then yesterday, my son decided he would drive there himself.  =)  He went online to get the address and came back to us with distressing news.  Our local Krispy Kreme is closing!  As of today, at 4pm, we will no longer be able to zip up north to satisfy our Krispy Kreme craving.....

That settled dinner plans.  Doughnuts for dinner, with tall glasses of milk, until we pushed away from the table, full or in the case of two teenage boys, over-full.  And it was very good.

My  husband loves to tell the story of eating ice cream for dinner once when he was a kid and I always hoped our kids would have that kind of story to tell their own children.....now they do.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Small Stone #6

I started a dream, so long ago, of baby things in pinks and blues, of small hands clasped in mine, of a child knit together of him and me and us.  Seventeen years ago, that dream took hold and grew and moved and became the son I see today.  Everyday I dream some more because everyday I see his promise grow.

Saturday Morning Happiness

Saturday morning has rolled around again, and for once it feels like we do not have anything we are running to. We slept in a little, we walked the dogs, we talked to a new neighbor about how much she enjoys our dogs (thank God, since our dogs are very noisy), we discussed how many spoonfuls of coffee grounds should be added to make a perfect pot of coffee (my husband says 8, I just dump until it looks right), we ate Corn Pops for breakfast, and agreed that the coffee I made this morning was a wee bit strong.

We discussed my husband's favorite book (Earth Abides) which he read four times last year, and I just finished, we agreed it is the kind of book that you think about from the moment you read the first page, all day while you can't read it, and when you finish the last page, you set it down and keep thinking about it.  I told our kids they had to read it so we could all discuss it, and this morning our daughter picked it up and is giving it a try.

She says it is pretty good.  My husband's heart is about to burst with happiness that she likes a book he likes!

And even though I have a dirty kitchen and several loads of laundry to take care of today, this Saturday morning happiness is going to spill over into the whole rest of the day.  I'm smiling and ready to tackle the work and of course, we have our date to look forward to: grocery shopping at the commissary!

That's a slice of true Saturday morning happiness. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Small Stone #5

Today I feel the tick-tock of time, the awareness of how fast the years fly, all because I just swept up-and threw away-a Polly Pocket clothes hanger.  It is the size of my pinky nail and is so very useless in real play, but the sight of it invoked memories of our daughter when she was young. I hesitated with the broom in hand....now I wish I had put it back in the china closet.  

Why I Need A Mini Flat-Iron At Work

I could have easily titled this post "Why I Wish I Didn't Have Bangs" because that is the root of the problem.  My bangs have a crazy, curly mind of their own and the only thing that keeps the cowlicks tamed and the curl from q-ing is a flat iron. Before, when I didn't walk to work, it was fine.  The last thing I'd do before I left the house was iron my bangs into smoothness and jump in the car, secure in the knowledge that the weather would not have time to wreck havoc.  Now, I may smooth my bangs, but by the time I've walked to work my bangs look like this: 
 And this is actually a good day.

I'd give up on bangs entirely except for one thing:

Yep, as my daughter says when I do clip my bangs back, "No.  Just....no."  I do not have the forehead for a bangless look.  I wish I did, though, because in addition to cowlicks and curl that refuse to let my bangs to anything but tweak and feather, bangs need to be trimmed every few weeks.  My family really hates it when I trim my own hair because it leads to a crazy time where I can't help but trim a few stray hairs every time I see myself in a mirror, and then moan over the fact that I've cut my hair and it looks like I've cut my own hair.

So I'm sticking with bangs, sticking with the occasional freak out over trimming them myself, sticking with walking to work.....and that leads to the fact that if I had a mini flat iron tucked away in my desk, it would take a minute for my bangs to come back to this:
I've given up the need to have the smoothest pony tail hair in the world, but I will never give up my desire for straighter bangs!

Photo's courtesy of my daughter, with her artistic flare and guaranteed willingness to snap pictures off as fast as the camera will allow, and for looking at said pictures and saying I maybe should try smiling without so much crazy eye......

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Small Stone #4

A river of rain water runs across the concrete...moving, flowing, picking up flotsam and jetsam....carving out a sliver of sidewalk riverbed.  How swiftly it goes!  I'm entranced with its movement....it's twists and curves and ripples....until I step in a deceptively deep bit.  Water envelopes my shoe and it is shockingly wet.

The Joy Of Being Dry

One fantastic thing about my husband's work change is he does not have to leave the house until 9:30.  So he has plenty of time to walk with me and the dogs in the morning, and still go for his run after that.  His being willing to walk with me in the dark creepy early mornings has made a difference in whether I walk or I Wii.

And while I firmly believe in not having New Year's Resolutions, I did decide to pull my big girl panties up, and walk more.  Rain or wind, cold or only slightly cold, I'll be out walking in the mornings.

Today I popped my head outside to see what the weather was like.  Raining.  Huge, fat plops of rain, but it didn't seem to be too heavy.  My husband and I harness the wild dogs, and put on hats for ourselves and take off.

And it is good.

For a mile.  Then the rain started coming down harder and faster in that last half mile, and we were soaked to the skin by the time we made it back home.  Shoes and socks, pants, coats saturated through to shirts, drips rolling off the brim of hats.  We hang the coats and set our shoes by the heat vents to dry, we towel off the dogs and two out of three of them appreciate the drying off.

Then I can peel off my wet clothes and pull on warm, dry ones.  There is that moment of bliss when clammy skin is suddenly encased in warmth.  Ah.....the joy of being dry!

I said I wasn't going to walk to work in this deluge, but since my son needed to drive the car to school today, I suppose I will Mom up and walk.  It's only half a mile.  How wet can I get?

Very.  I better pack dry clothes to change into!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Small Stone #3

He has things to do, so he stops playing fetch.  The dogs freeze, toys caught between teeth and paws, ears alert, eyes fastened on his retreating back.  Is he coming back? Is this part of the game?  But the door shuts and he is gone.  There is a halfhearted toss of a fuzzy toy, a squeak produced with a tired bite.  They drop their toys and find a spot to doze, with their eyes half open, ready to jump up with his return.

Tell The Other Creatures What You Saw Here Today

Mornings at our house have a routine.  I get up, I get the dogs up, I get the kids up, I get the husband up.  But this morning when I came out of the bathroom, I let out a smallish scream at the sight of an arm in the kitchen.  It was just my husband, finally heeding my advice that if he wanted a spot in the bathroom, he needed to beat the kids to it.

He let the dogs out and I had a few minutes to putter, when I heard this terrible howling bay.  I'd recognize our Beagle's bray anywhere, and we have strict rules about quiet hours (9:30pm to 7:00am) and this was barely 6:00am.  I go to the back door and it's standing wide open.  I can hear the dogs going crazy in the yard, and one occasionally runs through the carport, hot on the scent of something.

I cautiously call to my husband, not sure where he's got to, and he emerges from the dark yard, bare footed and grinning.  What on earth is going?  And why are the dogs being allowed to explode in barking frenzies?

Well it turns out as my husband was opening the inner door to the mud room, to let the dogs gain access to the back door and it's doggy door, our smallest dog froze on her way out, then charged full steam ahead at something coming in through the dog door, and the other dogs followed her lead with frightening speed.

My husband didn't get a good look at it, but it was bigger than a rat (thank God), about the size of a cat or a small dog or a raccoon, but it looked to be all black.  Whatever the creature was, our girls chased it right out of the house and the yard and then ran around chasing the scent of it.

My sister in Virginia recently had her house broken into, accessed by the dog door.  I'd thought I wasn't worried about burglars so much as I was worried about raccoons.  Turns out, my fear was right on the money.  My only consolation is that whatever that creature was, it wasn't expecting to be met head on by three fierce dogs.

Maybe it will spread the word to the any other wandering creatures.  This house might smell inviting, but we have our own version of Cerberus, and they can be very intense.  And I keep telling myself, just because my husband didn't recognize what it was, does not mean it was some kind of boogieman monster......and since that was a serious thought, I'd better lay off the fantasy sci-fi reads for awhile.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Small Stone #2

I like the way our shadows move in tandem as we walk.  Step, step, step.  Arms swinging in time to our private song.  The unseasonably warm wind feels so nice, brushing away the last of the sleep.  The beagles walk together, shoulders touching, casting one dog shadow, six legs.  It makes you laugh.

A Rule For All And All For A Rule

Yesterday was the first day back to school after a lovely, wonderful, relaxing two weeks off.  My kids were less than thrilled to be going back.  I was less than thrilled to be sending them.  I've never been a Mom who counts down the days until school starts.  Hated school as a kid, hate school as an adult.  I almost break out in hives when I go into the high school today, and it's not just because I see teachers I had way back when I was a student there.

Yesterday there were moans and groans and complainants of not feeling well, and I said I was so very sorry, but we all have to do things we don't want to, and school was a thing they had to do.  No fever, no cookies being tossed, no wracking cough, so no sick day.  And they went.

Today is my first day back at work.  There are moans and groans and complaints of not feeling well, but I must apply the rule for the kids to me.  I am not feverish, coughing, or tossing anything.  I just do not feel like going to work.  But we all have to do things we don't want to, and today, work is that thing I've got to do.

I will take a page from my daughters book and add cream to my coffee and one from my son's book and take some tylenol, and one from my own book and feast on buttered toast for breakfast.  Buttered toast makes my day so much better!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Small Stone #1

Music fills the house, old country songs-Oh, I love that one!-then one that sends me back to childhood, our sister song, the one we still know all the words to and sing when we are lucky enough to travel together-Your nobody called today- the lyrics bounce through my head all day long and so do the memories of our good times.

2011 Roll Call Of Good Reads

This is my second year of keeping compulsive track of what books I'm reading.  The first year it was a challenge, of sorts, from my husband: do I read 100 books a year?  Oh, yeah.  I so read 100 and then some.  I kept up the list for 2011 because I liked being able to re-read a book I loved without having to go insane trying to remember the title!

I read 131 books this year, with two half finished at the stroke of the New Year.  A few were real yawn fests, but others I really liked, and marked them with three stars.  I started the 2011 with the goal of reading mostly from my own shelves of books, but then I would hear about a good book, or read a review that sounded really interesting, and it was off to the library to place a new hold!  Yes, I am and will always be a huge fan of romance novels, but I do read other things, I swear.  I started my new year off with a stack of auto-biographies, and I still wish Rose Marie would have answered the question of why she wears that little black bow in her hair!

3. Hold the Roses
4. Brokeback Mountain
6. Dark Road To Darjeeling
7. The Shadow of the Lynx
12. Lets Take the Long Way Home
15. Cress Delahanty
16. You Caught Me Kissing
26. River Marked
35. Shadowfever
37. Dreams of a Dark Warrior
40. Call Me Irresistible
41. The Crimson Rooms
43. The Brides Farewell
46. Siege in the Sun
49. Sleep in the Woods
50. Hint Fiction (so good I read it twice)
52. What Angels Fear
54. Eternal Rider
55. The Peach Keeper
58. Kingdom of the Heart
60. When Gods Die
63. The Blue Cotton Gown
65. Why Mermaids Sing
68. Where Serpents Sleep
71. A Thousand Dogs
74. What Remains of Heaven
76. Where Shadows Dance
77. Hard Bitten
78. Magic Slays
79. The Well and the Mine
84. Pale Demon
87. The Mercy of Thin Air
95. Sweet Jiminy
97. The Many Sins of Lord Cameron
99. Heartless
100. North of Montana
105. Gone with a Handsomer Man
107. Fallen
108. Kiss of Snow
109. The Dark Enquiry
111. Dark Desires After Dark
112. When Beauty Tamed the Beast
114. Bossypants
115. Never A Gentleman
119. Kushiel's Dart
120. Kushiel's Chosen
124. What Alice Forgot
126. My World of Fairy Tales

I discovered a series by C.S. Harris, the Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries, which I devoured until I came to the end....and now have to wait until March 2012 for the new one.  But my favorite book of this year, the only one I gave four stars to, was a book I read in January, at my daughters insistence.  I was half embarrassed that I, who love to read and actually owned this book, had never really read it.  For some time in my younger days, I was obsessed with Readers Digest Condensed books, and read it in that form, but really, a classic should be read in its original form.

I gave in to my daughter's pressure and read To Kill A Mockingbird, and knew that even though I was only at book 11 of the year, it would be the best book I read in 2011.  Possibly the best book I've ever read!  I want to thank my daughter for being so bossy.  In this, she was absolutely right.  I love, love, love this book!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Eve's Aftermath

We rang in 2012 with joy and laughter and several shouts of glee......
And this morning I woke up with a smile and even the aftermath of a party well done can't take that away!
Welcome, 2012!
My husband just came in from his shop, for a kiss and to tell me he's a lucky guy to start another year with me and that made me smile even more.....
My New Year is off to a very sweet start!