Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Toy that Made me Jump out of Bed Screaming - True Story


See this innocent wooden skewer? Well, last night it had me jumping out of bed (in the dark) screaming.

Why, you ask? Well, sit back and relax, because after the story you might not be able to relax.

The week before Christmas I was rushing around to get my boys off to school. It was a chilly morning, so I watched for the bus from the front door. As soon as the bus pulled away I noticed that the boys had left their bedroom lights on. Which is a cardinal sin in our house. Punishable by loss of computer time. So I went upstairs to turn off the lights. And then I remembered it was Tuesday. And Tuesday is the day I strip the bed and wash the sheets. (It used to be Friday, but with Spenser's new preschool schedule this year, it is Tuesday. It's subject to change next year when Sawyer starts preschool.)

So, as I picked up Joe's pillow to take off the pillowcase I noticed something. It was a freaking mouse sitting on my bed between our pillows. (See, I warned you that you wouldn't be able to relax after reading this.) Well, being the Lera that I am, I screamed. And then I screamed again. And then, because I am very good at screaming, I screamed again for good measure. I picked up the phone to call Joe, but soon realized I was on a corded phone. In a room with a mouse on the loose. I hung up the phone and ran to the kitchen and placed a frantic 9-1-1 call to Joe.

At first he couldn't understand me because I was so hysterical. I had to repeat myself. Luckily he had stopped for gas after leaving the house and was still local-ish. He came right back home. In the meantime, I sat in a chair in the dining room with my head in my hands, rocking back and forth, saying, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! OH MY GOSH!!" repeatedly until I heard him come home. I was on the verge of losing all sanity.

To make a long story short, we found the mouse. And his friend. And I nearly moved out of my bedroom. I wanted to sleep in the family room, in the rocking chair. My mother suggested I find a way to suspend the rocking chair from the ceiling and I did contemplate the logistics of it. It just wasn't going to work.

So, what does this have to do with the wooden skewer? Well, you can imagine the uneasiness I feel every time I walk into my bedroom. (Yes, it has been two weeks. I realize this. But I have been sorely violated.) Last night as I rubbed lotion on my raw hands, Joe turned off the lamp. As I nestled into bed and slithered down the sheets, I felt something strange between my legs. Within a split second I was screaming, jumping out of bed, turning on my lamp and throwing down the blankets to discover ... a wooden skewer.

Never have I been happier to see a toy in my bed. It reminds me of the rubber and plastic bugs the boys put in my bed after the big lice incident. I laughed at each one. (Until a few months had passed and the bug placements stopped and suddenly started again.) I don't think anyone put the skewer in my bed on purpose. And Joe wonders how I made the bed with it there without noticing. My defense is that I had "helpers" (Spenser and Sawyer) making the bed and it just wasn't as perfect as it usually is.

(We think the mice hitched a ride up the laundry shoot that is in our closet. I am seriously considering getting rid of the sucker. It brings more harm than good.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Buckwheat - RIP


We had our first chicken tragedy on Saturday. I went out to gather eggs and check the chickens, and noticed one wasn't running when I made my "kissing" sounds that make them come running. Without even looking at her, I knew she was dead.

Buckwheat. She was my favorite. She was an Aracauna with black and white feathers. She was beautiful. The kids sometimes called her Roadrunner because if she got out, that girl could run.

I ran up to the house to get Joe. Carter knew something was wrong. He is so attached to these chickens. He nearly beat Joe out the door trying to get there as fast as he could. Carter cried and, as I hugged him, I gave him the "life on a farm is tough" talk. Not that we live on a farm. But we do have a chicken coop, smokehouse, and barn on our property. It was once a little farm.

Joe scooped her up with a shovel and asked me what he should do with her. And, being the practical farm girl that I am, I replied, "Oh, just toss her over the fence into the brush near the railroad tracks." And he did. And now I almost feel guilty that I didn't prepare a proper burial for my favorite chicken.

And so Sawyer keeps asking if Buckwheat is coming back to life. I told him she is in chicken heaven. And then I said, "I bet Aunt Krissy is taking care of her." Which made me laugh. I can so hear Kristen's voice saying, "Thanks, Lera. Thanks for your chicken." With barely a smile on her face.

RIP Buckwheat. You were a good girl. And you laid some pretty eggs. We miss you lots. Even if I didn't cry that you're gone. And tossed your body over the fence. I'm sorry your chicken sisters started to eat you. It's just not fair.

*These photos were taken in the spring when we first moved them to their coop. The first picture is not a picture of the dead Buckwheat. Although Carter took some with his new Christmas camera and emailed them to his best friend.*

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

from our family to yours.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Candy Cane Pillows

First it was the candy corn craze and now it's the candy cane craze. Last Christmas I made a few candy cane things, but had ideas for many more. I just didn't have time to do anything about it. One of the things I wanted to make was a new pillow cover for the candy corn pillow.

After a quick stop to the fabric store for something last week, I noticed this candy-cane striped fleece as a remnant. I thought it might be the closest I would get to a candy cane pillow this year, so I snagged it. I washed it immediately and whipped up a quick pillow.

The kids love it, but it wasn't what I had in mind. And when Lera's mind is set on something, it is set on something. And there is no room for negotiating. So yesterday, amidst all the hustle and bustle of the holiday-birthday season, I sat down to think. And that usually translates into running or sewing. Since I had already run that morning, it only left sewing as my option.

I grabbed scraps of red and white and worked on it until it was finished. I worked around kids and homework and getting our last and final Christmas tree up and dinner and town council meeting. It was going to be finished.

And I'm so happy that it is. A year in the making.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I am the Mom of a Teenager

This teenager, in fact.

This boy has up and turned 13 today. It kills me. How did this happen? I was so not ready to have a teenager. And it suddenly makes me feel so old.

This is the boy that made me a mother. This is the boy that made me labor for days before he would exit my body. The boy that made this mama have contractions every five minutes for over 40 1/2 hours straight. The boy that was so large for this mama (a big 8 lbs. 13 oz.) that she pushed for an exhausting two hours and 42 minutes before he came into this world. The boy that was so very bloody that he looked like he had been dipped in red paint from his waist to the very top of his wee giant head. The boy that made his mama lose so much blood during delivery that she passed out and went into convulsions shortly after he was born. The boy who nurses nicknamed "the bloodiest baby we've ever seen," who made this mama nicknamed "the one who passes out."

Yes. It's that boy. The birthday boy.



What a fine young man he is turning into. The boy who finished his last merit badge (this past week) to earn his Eagle Scout award. The boy who will be an Eagle Scout after his project, which will be in the spring. The boy who is taking all accelerated classes in school. And taking Algebra (for high school credit!) while only in the seventh grade.

Happy birthday, my teenage boy. I hope you have a wonderful 13th year. I hope it's magical and fun and groovy and in all ways happy and merry. Happy birthday, Taylor. I will love you forever and ever.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Beginning to Look {a little} Like Christmas

Truth be told, I haven't really been full of the Christmas spirit this season. I think I could be in Christmas denial, but I want to blame it on the heavy birthday season that is coming upon us. I couldn't really think about Jackson's birthday (party) until Thanksgiving was over. And then, I couldn't start thinking about Taylor's birthday (this Sunday) until Jackson's was over. And then we have Christmas and Carter's birthday to end the year.

I've been going through the motions, just hoping for survival at the end.

Earlier in the week I decided it was time to start getting our Christmas trees up. Through past experience, I know better than to decorate the house before Jackson's party. If you recall the party from two years ago, the party goers flipped over my sofa during their banshee-style siege on my house.

As I started to decorate the tree in our formal living room I came upon an ornament that said, "celebrate" and another that said, "peace & joy." And I burst into tears. (I think the Christmas music in the background had something to do with it, too. It was "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.") It was a sweet and tender reminder that I'm not doing all of this for my children or myself. I'm doing it to celebrate the birth and life of my Savior. And suddenly, everything seemed much more important and took on a new perspective. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

And I realized that Mrs. Scrooge was gone and Lera was back.

And while I was busying myself in the red room, two little helper elves were decorating our little white tree in the upstairs hall.

Complete with a snowy village. These vintage houses belonged to Mom-Mom. Sawyer was so happy when he saw a temple (really a church with a steeple that he called a temple). We used some scrap white fleece and tulle to make it snowy and magical.

And then I remembered I had a few vintage ornaments from Mom-Mom that needed to go on the tree. Many decades ago my grandparents loved to bowl. I guess someone gave them this ornament for Christmas one year.

And this sweet vintage candy cane, which was one of several, but the one in the best shape.

I am grateful for the tender mercy given to me to that reminds me of the true meaning of this Christmas season. It is such an important thing and I lost sight of it. But in the end, I found it. Or maybe it found me.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Flower Shirt


I have already publicly professed my love of white shirts. So, when the idea of flowers hit me it was coupled with another flower idea. I knew it would have to be in white. I am the kind of gal who wears white after Labor Day.

This was so very quick and simple. It's just a $5 long-sleeved shirt from Target (not even on sale). I took an old white tee and cut a strip off. Then I did a long basting stitch along one long edge of the strip and gathered the bobbin thread. It ruffled perfectly. Then I sewed the ruffle directly onto the shirt, in a circle, close to the basting stitch. Easy peasy. Done and done. How's that for simple and quick?

I wore it Thanksgiving Day and as soon as I removed my cardigan, my sister exclaimed, "I just bought a shirt like that!" And then she admitted she spent more than $5.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sweater Capelets Times Two

After seeing this cute sweater capelet tutorial, I thought it would be something that I'd like to do. Especially because I had been invited to attend a charity concert and knew I'd have to dress "more professionally," according to my mother. So off to the thrift store I went. And let me tell you, there are some ugly sweaters out there in this world. And I do mean Ug.ly. With a capital U. Most made with nasty-feeling acrylics.

Anyway, moving forward ... I went into the thrift store and could not find a decent sweater. I finally settled on a gray cotton sweater that seemed to be in good shape. I came home and threw it in the wash, only to discover that there was a huge hole at the bottom hem. I had planned to use the hem of the sweater as the top of the capelet, but oh well. The sweater was so extra large that I had plenty of sweater left to make my own hem. (It just would have gone a lot quicker if I could have used that hem.)

So I made the capelet and then after I tried to wear it I realized the cotton didn't have a lot of give and that I would stand on my toes to be able to move my arms better. It wasn't going to work for me. So all that extra work was for nothing.

I went back to the thrift store a few days later armed with the knowledge that cotton was not the best sweater material to make this capelet if you want to have full use of your upper extremities.

It was then that I ran upon this charcoal gray wool sweater. Without any holes. And it was $2 cheaper than the sweater with free holes included. The sweater had some stretch to it and I thought it would be perfect.

I really liked this capelet, except, it did start to get stretchier and stretchier as I wore it (as evidenced in the above photo). I have since taken it in on the side a few times. I'm hoping eventually it will fit perfectly.


And what would a capelet be without any embellishment? I whipped up three flower pins to wear on my capelet. I used jersey, muslin and tulle to create them.

* * * And here's a funny little story that goes along with the charity concert: * * *

Being on town council, I received two complimentary tickets to a concert that benefited victims of domestic violence throughout our entire county. The letter that accompanied the tickets asked me to R.S.V.P, so I did. That evening at the concert we were sitting really far in the back of about 700 - 800 people. At the beginning of the concert the hostess introduced herself and the person who played the prelude music. And then she said, "Tonight we have a distinguished guest with us ..." At first I wondered who it was. And then a sick, sick feeling came over me. And then she announced my name and the town that I represent. I wanted to die. I didn't know if I should stand up (remember, I was in the way back) or just stay seated. I was freaking out for a moment and then I just waved my hand. Oh, I wanted to die. I was totally not expecting that. At the end of the concert I felt a tap on my shoulder and a lady asked me if I was from the town council. I confirmed I was and then she asked me if she could take my picture next to their domestic violence display. (I made Joe get in with me.) Sadly, all the county's town councils and mayors, and state delegates and senators were invited and only one sent a letter, which was read.

And a side note: That cute little gray flower was lost the night of the concert. I don't know if I was applauding too wildly or what, but I noticed it was missing after the picture. I have since made a replacement.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Nine


Jackson is nine. My artistic, fun-loving boy is nine.

It seems like yesterday my water broke before bedtime and my doctor tried to convince me it was only urine. And so I waited until it happened again. Only minutes later. So off we went to the hospital. After getting checked into the hospital, they started to induce labor. At 4:20 a.m. I was 5 cm. But by 5:15 a.m., I was in full panic mode. I told Joe I felt like I needed to push. He gently reminded me that I was only 5 cm and couldn't push yet. So I ignored it. Until the next contraction. It's hard to explain, but I could feel the baby's head "clunking" down through my body. He was definitely engaged. I told Joe, again, I needed to push. And he gave me the same advice that I couldn't push yet. That's when I had a mini freak-out. I fumbled around in the bed to look for the nurse's button and as soon as I saw the red button, I pushed it. When the nurse called back in, Joe casually told her, "she thinks she needs to push." And with that, the room was filled with nurses and my doctor. And Jackson was born at 5:22 a.m.

Jackson has been the victim of his older brother's antics and has survived. He currently has a Christmas ornament hanging on the state's tree in Annapolis. Jackson is very loving and compassionate. He has had two very good friends with Downs Syndrome. One he was going to marry in preschool and the other came to his birthday party on Saturday. Jackson just has a way about him.

Jackson, we love you. Thank you for being in our family. Happy birthday, my boy.

I am noticing how yucky that cake pan looks. I made gingerbread and you were supposed to mix all the ingredients in the ungreased cake pan. I guess I scraped down the sides and didn't notice how ugly it made it look. Sorry if I'm grossing you out.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ruffled Lampshade

A long time ago I thrifted some really fun milk-glass lamps. I instantly fell in love with them, but they were shadeless. For months I had searched high and low to find the perfectly-shaped shade and, I was convinced, it was not to be found. So I settled on regular-shaped shades instead.

I found some fabric from my stash that would accent my bedroom (and "new" table) and decided upon white pompom trim for the bottom. Well, that's been the hold-up for a year and a half. I could not find white pompom trim. Every. Single. Time I would go into the fabric store, they would have pompom trim in every color under the sun. Except white. I had a teensy bit left from Spenser's Easter capelet, but it was only enough for one lampshade.

Well, maybe the white, pompom-fringed lampshade was never meant to be because a few weeks ago I had the brilliant idea to make ruffles for the lampshade. And as soon as I received said inspiration, I could not rest until they were finished. And really, it only took part of a rainy Saturday afternoon.


I am so very pleased with them. I guess good things do come to those who wait. And my poor little milk-glass lamps were very patient for a year and a half.

Randomness:
  • On Tuesday afternoon I was outside spray-painting a picture frame. I was returning to spray on another coat, shook the can and, as soon as I bent over, heard the sound of someone running up behind me at full speed. I seriously thought I was about to be attacked right in front of my house. I spun around to see a deer (!!) running down my sidewalk, just 5-6 feet away. It scared the living daylights out of me. Of course I jumped 50 feet in the air and screamed. With a witness down the street. I can't seem to do anything without being seen these days.
  • A quick knee update: Still bruised. It has been almost six weeks. SIX! I also have a pocket of water on my left kneecap. It hurts both knees to wear jeans. Especially if I have to bend them to go up or down stairs. The bruise from my chicken coop fall is still on my shin. That has been just over six weeks. My shin is still tender, too. Even knee-high socks hurt my shin. (I did start running again, but the knee has me sidelined again.)
  • I stink at Advent. The first night I put red pens in the stocking for the children's scriptures. I made Sawyer cry. When I asked him what was wrong, he answered (through his sobs), "I don't have any scriptures." Broke my heart. I guess he will be getting his very own for Christmas. At the tender age of three. Gotta love him.
  • Last night, I forgot about Advent. Until five of the six kids were in bed.

I guess that's all for now.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Town Council Funeral Skirt

So, the day before the funeral my mother asks what I'm wearing. And then she reminds me that, now that I'm on town council, I need to dress "professionally" for some events. Uh ... I don't know. Joe is wearing his "dress blues," which is the equivalent of the military's tuxedo and I'm wearing .... Ohmygoodness! What am I going to wear?!? You would think after a decade or so of only wearing black, that I'd have a bunch of black in my wardrobe. But I don't. I still have the skirts I wore to Kristen's funeral, but they are seven years old and I was two-weeks postpartum then. And I have a black pencil skirt, but that just didn't seem right to me.

So what's a girl to do? Well, whip up a black skirt as quickly as possible.

I gave the fitted A-line skirt another go. And, again, it was too large. But it just had to do. I used some velvety soft black, no-wale corduroy that I had bought to make a Halloween dress for Spenser. I had exactly enough for the skirt.


I've been finding creative enjoyment out of fun facings. It's a little bit of my personality coming out and only I know about it. And, well, now all of you, too.

(I also wore a gray ruffle shirt that I made a few weeks back. I can't remember if I blogged it then. I don't think I did, but it's similar to the mod green shirt. And I wear it all the time.)

Edited to add: labels are from here.