Friday, June 25, 2010

Celebrating

There's always a reason to celebrate, no?

Joe and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary last week. Except, we really didn't do anything special to celebrate. Unless, of course, you count my fixing dinner for the family and eating together. We had wanted to go out to eat, but Joe didn't get home from work early enough, so we didn't get to do anything.

With Fathers Day just a few short days after our anniversary, I didn't really know what to get Joe for either. I decided to buy him a French-cuff shirt for church. After four stores, I finally found some at Boscov's. They were half-price, so I bought him two. (As hard as they were to find, I don't want to have to worry about it again for a few more years.)

I didn't want to buy him cuff links until I knew I could find the shirt, but I had a pair in mind. A fun set of buffalo-head nickel cuff links from Etsy. They look giant in my hand, but they are real nickels in real nickel size. (I just ordered a pair of Indian-head penny cuff links on eBay for Joe. They were much, much cheaper than the ones I found on Etsy.)

The boys love the ideas of cuff links. Carter asked if we could find some pennies from his birth year (1998) and make him a set. I thought it would be a very cool thing to do for all of my boys. I imagine my boys as young men wearing cuff links on their missions or something. (They sell cuff link blanks on eBay and Etsy.) As soon as things settle down here, we're going to get serious about this.

And while I was shopping for Joe's cuff links, I found the most awesome ring on Etsy for myself. It's made from an old typewriter key. Seriously, how fun is that?!? And, seriously, how dry can my hands be?!? I'm a constant hand-washer.

For our anniversary, Joe told me to order myself something. As luck would have it, I had just "sampled" some new perfume the day before while hunting for his dress shirt. It arrived in the mail just yesterday. It smells soooo good. My nose is very finicky with smells and I need to "test" all new perfumes for a full day before committing to buy. It passed the test.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Parties and the Morning After

Our sweet Laney and Timmy are visiting from Kentucky and are about to go home soon. My mother wanted to get together on Friday night for a weenie roast. She was going to have it at her house, when I started to think our house might be more kid-friendly. After all, we have a pool, a trampoline, snakes, owls (we were up to six owls), chickens, and a big backyard.

I don't remember how many came. But I think we counted 20 kids. Just some of the nieces and nephews on my side. Taylor and one of his beloved cousins got into the kiddie pool to "pool wrestle."

It was dark and late when the party ended. We cleaned up what we could see and thought we had it all. Until the next morning. When we spied:

little forgotten sandals on the deck,

flip flops, towels, goggles, bracelets, shorts, water guns, a football ...


leftover watermelon,


more sandals, and the small sliding board that was dragged all over the yard. Really, it was all good. It was like re-living the party all over again.


And because it felt so good, we decided to do it one more time on Sunday after church. We had an impromptu Fathers Day gathering at our house. It started with Alana asking to come to my house and ended with Joe's family and my family all together. We feasted on rotisserie pork, more weenies, homemade ice cream, and anything and everything we could scrounge up at the last minute. It was all so good. The camaraderie, the food, even the 90+ degree heat (and Maryland humidity) didn't bother us.

It might sound excessive, but we're planning another daytime party on Tuesday.

I think it's safe to say that summer is here. It's very here. And we are loving every minute of it so far. After today, the days will start getting shorter and I don't want to waste one minute of it.

How are you celebrating your new season?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things I Hate Shopping For

There are a few things I really, really hate shopping for. Bras. Let's not even go there again. Jeans. Ugh. I just want to know who doesn't loathe jean shopping.

I'm adding mascara to my list of "Things I Hate Shopping For." First, I should explain that I hate change in some things. I hate going to the store for a trusted, beloved item, only to discover that it has been discontinued or the store no longer carries such item. This happened recently when I went to buy new mascara. I left the house knowing I needed mascara and knew it was "2,000 Calorie," but I couldn't remember the manufacturer. After scouring the makeup department for a long time, I decided I just needed to move on and find a new brand. I spent over 20 minutes studying mascara. 20 minutes. With Sawyer in the shopping cart.

Why so long, you ask? Because there are numberless variations of mascara. Waterproof or washable? Curved or straight brush? Lengthening or thickening? Um ... yes, please. I studied mascara and tried to weigh the pros and cons of each one. I was overwhelmed. All I really wanted was my trusted "2,000 Calorie."

Well, I finally settled on one and I don't like it. As a person with blond eyelashes, I need mascara. I think it's the one item I cannot live without.

(After a little research, I realized that Max Factor no longer sells cosmetics in the United States.)

The other top-ranking thing I hate shopping for is pantyhose. Tell me if you don't hate it, too.

A few months ago I had another "official, town council" funeral to attend. This funeral was for the sudden, unexpected, tragic death of the husband of a town employee. On my way into drop Spenser off at preschool, I was talking to a fellow council member about the funeral. She stated she needed some black hose and didn't have time to pick them up. I offered to help her out since I was in town anyway. And then I decided I'd buy myself a pair, just in case I didn't have any.

Holy moly. I think I spent 15 minutes perusing the pantyhose aisle. If I were a man, I might have been called a pervert or something. Black? Off-black???? Reinforced or sheer toe? Control-top or sheer panty? Once I figured out the criteria for the hose, I had to find black hose with the reinforced toe in a control-top in size B (or Q or whatever). It's not as easy as you'd think. I think I picked up the off-black three times in a row. I finally found black hose for us and I vow to never buy hose again.

So, please tell me, what do you hate shopping for? There must be something.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Teachers' Gifts

The end of the school year always sneaks up on me. I know it's coming, and then suddenly WHAM! it's here.

We've attended a lot of concerts, Carter's 5th Grade Musical (which was excellent), parades (both Taylor and Carter played in the band at a parade last night), and other year-end activities. And we are beat. Today is the last (half) day of school. While two of the boys were excited, the other two were dragging this morning. And fighting. I sure hope that's not a sign of what's to come this summer.

Anyway, I have been struggling with teachers' gifts again this year. With so many children in the same elementary school, it is hard to find a gift that hasn't already been gifted to the same teacher by a different child. And I'm fresh out of simple ideas to mass produce. We had ten female teachers this year (including the school nurse, Maureen). And I totally took the easy route: lavender (again) and chocolates. I seriously love lavender and love to give it to the teachers every year. This never changes. I know some teachers have gotten three, four, five (?) lavender plants from our family and I don't even care. It's a lovely perennial and, in my opinion, there is not enough in this world. Or in my flower beds. (And, because it's a perennial, it's a gift that keeps on giving.)

I bought two large bags of Ghirardelli chocolates at the wholesale club. I took some clear "party favor bags," cut a few inches off the top and stapled a little piece of folded scrapbook paper to the top.


And for the male teachers (Taylor's homeroom and Carter's band teacher), karate instructors, and bus drivers: giant chocolate bars. This, too, has been a tradition over the past few years. It's just a little "thank you."

This morning as soon as the boys crossed the street to board the bus, the bus driver turned off all of his flashing lights. I was standing at the corner with another mother when I noticed it. The bus stop is at a four-way intersection, and there was a car waiting to turn towards the bus and a car behind the bus, and the children were still in the street by the bus door. I couldn't believe he did that. Just two mornings ago he forgot to turn on the red flashers when he picked up the my kids. I didn't report him then because there were only two days left in the school year. Today, I reported him. I don't care if it's the last day. He messed with the wrong children's mother today. (And I told them about the incident two days ago.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

End of Year Fun

Last night my girl had her first karate exam. She was promoted (from white/beginner belt) to orange belt. She was very excited. She started karate in January and has been loving it. Joe had called the karate association to see if they would give us a discount because she would make the fifth child we have enrolled in their program. They graciously said she could take lessons for free. When we told her she was going to start karate, she was not happy. We thought she'd be happy, but she did not want to take karate. We told her she had to go (and even though she fought us just a half hour earlier), the second she put on her karate uniform, she was singing and dancing and skipping through the house. She absolutely has loved karate from that moment on.

Today was Carter's 5th grade promotion ceremony. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell me he was supposed to dress up and wore shorts and a tee. And his raincoat ? ?

They showed a slideshow of all the children with a baby photo and the career of their dreams and then it showed a current picture with the child's name. It was very sweet. I got a little teary-eyed when I saw Carter's big, drooly baby face on the big screen and then a current picture of him holding a chicken. He said he wants to be a police officer, which is news to me. He's always wanted to be in the Army, like Joe. But, whatever his dreams are, I will happily and lovingly support them.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Planting

Our garden is in, but somehow we just can't stop planting stuff and preparing stuff to plant. Our garden flopped big time last year. This year we are determined not to let that happen again.

We moved our garden to a different and, hopefully, more sunny spot in the yard. (Darn mature trees that line our property.) The new spot is closer to the water source. And it helps that Joe and his father got plumbing out to our barn now. The garden is smaller this year, which I hope is more manageable.

My herb garden has been in for awhile. Some critters have eaten almost all of my basil (my dill and one of my jalapeno plants), so we are planting more and are in the process of scaring away the critters. Apparently, they like to feast on marigolds, too, so our first solution did not work. Human hair has been working. Joe cut the boys' hair a few weeks back and we sprinkled the herb garden with hair clippings. Seems to be working for us so far.

I planted rhubarb last week. Apparently the stuff I had hoped was rhubarb wasn't rhubarb. (I was visiting a friend's garden and saw the same thing growing at the base of her tree and she said it was a weed.) I ordered four rhubarb plants on eBay and I'm hoping they survive. Luckily we have an endless supply of chicken poop for fertilizer.

This morning Spenser and Sawyer were ready to plant some more seeds. We started four more basil plants, four chamomile, four more fennel bulbs, six spinach and nine poppies. We have seed starts all over the place. And the kids have loved helping and watching.

What are you growing? And how are you involving your children?

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Week in Review

We attended a war memorial park dedication on Sunday after church. It is in our neighboring town. Joe's father (a two-time Vietnam veteran) and Joe's maternal grandfather (also a veteran) participated in the ceremony.

My boys made front page of the paper on Monday.

And so did my father-in-law, Ed (middle back).

On Monday morning we attended perhaps the longest and hottest (and most humid and sweatiest and ...) Memorial Day parade in the town I grew up. I think this is almost my favorite parade of all time. Lots of patriotic music and bands and boy/cub scouts and veterans.

One army jeep broke down right in front of us. The jeep in front of it tried to pull it up Main Street with a rope, but it wasn't working. A bunch of men (including one of my brothers) jumped in and pushed the jeep up the hill into the library parking lot.

My town's fireman's carnival is this week. While we never go to it until Thursday night, we decided to mix things up (and try to keep our sanity and prevented the "when can we go to the carnival?????" nightly pestering) and went Monday night.

Mason (7) and Jackson (9) are tall enough to ride the "big-people" rides all by themselves. Yikes! When did that happen? I can barely look at that ride without feeling all morning-sick-like and I'm not even pregnant.

And Wednesday was our parade. Just like last year, the town council rode in the parade. I had a big bag of candy that I was saving for my end of the street. Many of my nieces and nephews were there with my kids. Plus all the neighbor kids. I had so much candy, I had to stand up to dump the bag in the street. And then I accidentally let go of the bag. Oops.

Yesterday was Play Day at school. Mason and Carter both ran the half-mile. This is Carter crossing the finish line. It was smoldering hot (and humid) by the time he ran in the afternoon. Poor guy. I cheered him on every lap.

Poor little Jackson was supposed to go to Play Day, but he awoke in the middle of the night with a stomach bug. Not only did he miss his beloved Play Day, he broke his perfect attendance record for the school year. With only six days left ...


And this very morning my lovely little Spenser graduated from preschool. I'm sad to say that next year she will be entering the world of kindergarten. And I'm so going to miss that girl. (But, on the other hand, I will only have one at home next year. One. I can't comprehend what that will even be like.)