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I have three kids and a husband.  I am reminded of that daily by their sounds, needs, and sometimes affection (but mostly their sounds and needs).  Two kids and husband left this morning for an adventure with Boy Scouts.  Missy Moodle couldn’t be happier to have all the testosterone removed from the house.  And I can’t say that I blame her.  Most times I am her favorite person and she always asking to do special things together.  I always make efforts at this, but often she has to wait because of her siblings and dad.  So I told her we’re having girly week.  We started the day by having breakfast together, her choice.  We played a new board game together, enjoyed the quiet a lot, talked about how we don’t miss the boys yet, went to her favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch, bought some new nail polish and shoes, went to see the Harry Potter movie (awesome!), and then picked up a friend to come over to play. And this is only day one!  I think we’d better slow down or we’ll burn out!

The most amazing thing about the boys leaving is the different feeling in the house.  No stress, so many less interruptions, and it’s more quality time.  It’s completely not reality, and I’ll be ready for the craziness to resume when the boys come home, but for now it feels like a dream for both of us.  I think it’s always good for a child to get a glimpse of what it would be like to be an only child.  And of couse a little spoiling is a good thing too. Each child is a gift and although the days pass slowly sometimes (summertime, when I’m home with them!), the years are a blur.  I need reminding sometimes to slow down and make some special memories with them.

What I’ll be missing this week is a bit of time for myself.  The boys often watch Missy Moodle (at nine she can stay home for short periods alone, but mostly the boys are with her when I run an errand alone).  I know she’ll spend time at friends’ houses for playdates this week and I’m sure there will be some time for me, but it will be few and far between I suspect.

I dunno about you, but this blasting hot summer we’ve had has put a real crimp in my knitting life.  It’s just too damned hot to knit.  Even in the cool A/C I don’t want to touch yarn.  Either I’m dying of some anti-knitting brain disease or it’s just too hot.  I choose the latter.  It’s a rare occasion that I find it too uncomfortable to knit.  I hope it cools down soon.  I’m dying to make real progress on this:

Flyaway Vest from SkeinCocaine (bought at SimplySocks.com

I had hoped to get it done soon before I go back to work for the semester. I actually had hoped to be wearing it back to work, but I guess I’ll be working on it during my breaks instead.  Anyway, it’s lovely and it’s supposed to be a quick, easy knit so I’m sure I’ll cruise right along. I got the Simply Socks newsletter via email in May and this yarn was the May project.  I bought the yarn and got pattern free.  I chose the yarn from the photo, (Dream Baby), hand dyed Lettuce.  It’s yummy.  I’ll post some progress photos if I ever make any.  In the meantime, stay cool and post a comment, please.  I feel like I’m on Mars here.

The New Dishwashers

My dishwasher went out last week.  Life was going along peacefully, or as peacefully as it can be in the summer with three kids out of school, when suddenly, with a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, there was water leaking through the kitchen floor into the basement.  After the panicking was over, the kids were employed as the new dishwashers.  I was astounded at how they stepped up to the task.  For nearly a week they washed not just their own dishes, but any that I asked them to.  For a minute I thought my kids had been abducted by aliens and replaced with extremely agreeable imposters, but no, it seems they didn’t really mind it, especially since they knew it would be short term.

Thankfully, it was short term because their agreeableness was wearing thin by yesterday.  I post this photo as evidence that 1) they actually did do dishes by hand, and 2) it did not kill them. Oldest kidlet looks pretty unhappy in the photo, but I have to add that he is a fifteen year old male and it seems to be what they do when a parent points a camera at them.  They were perfectly happy up until this moment.

I also have to add that every time I’ve been without a dishwasher in my life the kitchen tends to be more orderly.  After meals we tend to do all the dishes and it’s all cleaned up at once, including the sinks.  With a dishwasher it seems we are always in a state of doing dishes.  There are either dirty dishes waiting in the dishwasher to be clean, or clean dishes waiting to be put away, and a few in the sink waiting to be put into the dishwasher.

Sometimes I think if I didn’t work, or if I had more help from the troops, that we’d be a happier family without a dishwasher.  Then I come to my senses and realize that that’s crazythink and that I’d take hostages without one.  Or at the very least I would detest cooking and resort to writing people’s names on the plates and glasses to encourage them to only dirty one per day.  I found myself becoming a dish nazi this past week.  “Okay, here’s dinner.  You’re in charge of washing this when you’re done.”  Or, “HEY!  You can’t get another glass out, where’s the one you used a minute ago?”  I’m definitely a more laid back mom with a dishwasher.  But it’s nice not to buy into the  American pigginess that comes from using a dishwasher.  “Dirty anything you want.  Use four forks and three glasses for dinner if you choose. I have a dishwasher!”

I feel dirty every time I load a dishwasher.  Lazy, I feel lazy by using a dishwasher.  Without one I felt really good, like we are doing things the way we’re supposed to.  Chatting while doing the dishes in teams, and having it all done and tidied at once.  It felt real.  I am thrilled to have a dishwasher again.  The realness and tidyness are no more.  And I couldn’t be happier.

When I realized that Sherman would be at scout camp on his birthday I was bummed. He seemed okay with it. I sent him to camp with a birthday surprise to open on the day. He seemed not to care about any of it. As a parent it’s so hard to tell when to make to make a big deal of something and when no to. I chose to make his birthday special even if he acted like he didn’t care. Someday he’ll remember that and know he was loved. Right?
Yesterday was the family party at my mom’s house. My sister brought her new puppy, Skippy, who was the star of the show. He even outshone the two birthday boys. DH’s birthday was the day before Sherman’s. They share a cake every year whether they like it or not.

Sherman's awesome gift from his aunt and uncle

Sweet Skippy

Stella and Skippy

Sherman

 

 

Missy Moodle and her brood

A few weeks ago Missy Moodle asked if we could make a doll.  MAKE.  Can you imagine a child asking that?  It’s only a little unusual for me only because it’s sewing and it’s a bit out of my comfort level (note the knit scarf I added).  I made a trip to my local Joann Fabric store and found an awesome book called Sewing For Children.  This doll can be completely hand sewn, so it’s perfect for a beginner child or adult.

I began the doll on a Friday night and we both worked to cut out the pieces (it was finished on Sunday afternoon).  By the time we got to the sewing, Missy Moodle was off to do other important things.  I guess what she meant when she asked was not “can WE make a doll”, but “can YOU make a doll”.  But seeing her give it a hug and tuck it into bed with her made it worth all the effort.

made from a kit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coral and glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

glass beads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ended this year like I have begun the year – with unfinished projects, high hopes, and dollar signs in my eyes.  Although I have to admit, I have become much more realistic about my abilities and my time constraints.  I usually discover some great thing and try to produce many of them to sell and then get in over my head.  These bracelets are a perfect example.  I bought a kit at Stitches Midwest  in August and made it within two days.  Then I realized, “Hey!  I could sell these for big bucks and wouldn’t that be cool?”  I had visions of selling them at a boutique and cranking out several a month.  About this time I blabbed about it and posted a photo on Facebook and almost instantly had someone order two for $60 apiece.  They are made from anti-tarnish sterling wire (pricey!) and the store owner who sold me the kit told me they sell them to boutiques for $80.  What he didn’t tell me was that although the type of wire in the kit is easy to work with, it also breaks after wearing the bracelet a few times. So I got smart.  I bought heftier wire and made the red one in the first photo.  It hurt my hands to knit, took forever, and made me wish I had never started it.  I trudged along and finally finished it, and began the coral bracelet.  It’s to the point now where it only needs the final clasp, but I have put it in time out.  I have had it with the wire and beads.  What the hell was I thinking?

I distinctly remember my thought process.  It went like this:  I have this knitting talent.  I have a great deal of down time at my job and home in which to knit.  I know how to make socks, hats, scarves, sweaters, and anything else imaginable if I have a general pattern to work with. There has got to be a way to get a steady income stream from this talent.  Okay, so bracelets isn’t it.  At least not with this wire.  I’m considering wire baskets now.  Small, decorative wire baskets with beads.  Hmmm.  I wonder how many I could make in a month?

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin? I’m there. I have looked forward to this time all semester – the time when my job is done for summer, yet my children are in school, filling their litttle brains with necessary stuff, while I’m at home being incredibly productive. In my daydreams I’m organizing closets, making soap, painting the porch, hauling away things to Goodwill, weeding the garden, and the list could go on all day with things I never seem to have time to do in my daily life. The ugly truth is that I’ve accomplished almost nothing on this list in the four weeks I’ve been off work. I can tell you what I HAVE done. There is a connecting thread to all of these things – see if you can find it. Coffee and lunch dates with friends and my husband. Lovely getaway to Amana and Iowa City with husband last Friday, multiple shopping trips for summer clothes for me, a bit of blogging, exercising my head off trying to run and increase my distance (up to four miles!), which takes way more time than one might think, and getting my hair colored. Okay, so did you find the connecting thread? It’s ME! Me, me, me! Aren’t I special? Everything thing I’ve done in the past four weeks, save for getting caught up on laundry and cleaning a couple toilets, has been all about me. Isn’t it grand?! It’s been a great few weeks and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m realizing how little time I have left. The kids get done with school next Wednesday and I still have most of the porch to paint, and all the rest left undone. At at this point I have so little time left and so much to do that I am stuck. Where to even begin? I feel like I did in college after procrastinating studying for so long and the test being very near. Why even study now? What’s the point? Just hang it up and take your lumps.
The best part? It’s almost over. Soon it’ll be nothing but hanging at the pool, summer picnics and playdates, camps, ball games, and iced tea on the front porch while the kids play in the sprinker, or even better, while they wash the car.
I can only do what I can do, right? I’ll crank out a few of the high ranking tasks on the list and then coast into summer. No point in beating myself up over what I should have been doing weeks ago. Life is short. I won’t ever look back and say, “I wish I’d scrubbed the floor more often.” Or, “I wish I’d kept the closets neater.” I am pretty sure I won’t look back and say, “I should have taken better care of me.” I got that covered.

Steve's brother - best man, and my sister - matron of honor

Steve's brothers

The Happy Couple (or Look How Young and Optimistic We Were!)

I have no idea where the time went, but apparently we’ve been married fifteen years this week. Wow. I have no wisdom about marriage, no advice, no secrets of wedded bliss. I guess something is working since we’re still married and happy, but I have no clue what it is that makes it work. I couldn’t write a book about it, I can barely put these sentences together. It’s a huge mystery to me and the best I can come up with is: be nice, work hard, and say ‘thank you’. Oops, I said I wasn’t going to give advice, didn’t I? It’s hardly advice. Your mother was probably telling you that since you were born.

Some memories of our wedding day: It was a beautiful spring day. We got married at my parent’s home which was an historic victorican built around 1864. At the time it was just home and I didn’t give much thought to the setting except that it meant a lot to my parents that we have the wedding there. But since they have sold the house these photos are precious to me. Sometimes I drive by the house and don’t get nostalgic for the time I lived there, but just for the fact that we were married on the front porch and I remember how beautiful that day was.

My parents rented white tents, tables, and chairs for the ceremony and reception our on the lawn. It was an amazing sight. One of the neighbors took a panoramic photo and gave it to my parents. They still have the photo sitting on a shelf. They were so proud to have the wedding at their home.

One funny thing that happened that we still laugh about is that my sister clogged the kitchen sink the day before the wedding. We were making potato salad and other food for the reception and she put onion skins down the garbage disposal. (WHO puts onion skins down the garbage disposal??? I thought everyone knew that!!) So the Roto Rooter guys had to come unclog the drain in the middle of our cookfest. It was stressful, but it was soon over and we could laugh about it.

I remember the morning of the wedding I woke up with anticipation of what the day would bring. So much to do, so little time! I felt a bit overwhelmed, but very excited. And I’ve never really enjoyed the spotlight so I was looking forward to getting the ceremony over and moving on to the reception. I was looking forward to the food! We had smoked turkey sandwiches, german potato salad, and this amazing wedding cake with cream cheese frosting and raspberry filling. I know there was much other food, but that’s all I cared about. It was amazing.

Steve arrived early for the photos the morning of the wedding and I remember seeing him in his tuxedo for the first time. Wow – so handsome!   And I recall thinking how odd it was that we were getting married today!   Of all the things to be doing on a beautiful spring day, and we were having this huge shin dig and getting married. As Shrek says, “Can’t we just settle it over pint?” Really? We’re having this great big deal just to get married? It was surreal.

I also remember looking out at all the guests and wondering how many of them knew we were expecting a child in five months. I was embarassed that we were having a big wedding since I was pregnant (big by my standards – but only 120 guests and only our siblings standing up with us, no bridemaids or groomsmen.) I knew that soon enough everyone in attendance would find out I was pregnant, but I knew people would be noticing that I was showing, etc. The whole thing was weird and at one point during the wedding preparations I wondered if we shouldn’t have just eloped somewhere. I am very glad we had the wedding so that family and friends could attend and be with us. It was an amazing day. And it’s been an amazing fifteen years.

my niece, me, mom, sister

my favorite wedding picture

A couple days ago I made my first rhubarb pie of the season. Husband picked an enormous amount of rhubarb and I washed it and cut it up, which took three hundred years. But it was worth the effort just to have the incredible, sweet aroma fill the house. Baking pie for my family has got to be near the top of the list of my favorite things to do. And having Huey Lewis & the News on the ipod of course made the chore easier. As you know, I turned forty a couple weeks ago and as part of the week-long celebration I dragged husband to see a Huey Lewis concert. Since the show I’ve been listening to his old stuff and the Live at the 25 CD and completely O.D.ing on Huey and the boys. Total fun. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a teenager, but every time I see them live it’s like discovering them all over again.

In February while talking on Facebook to a friend about the upcoming Tom Petty show, another friend chimed in that Huey was touring this year. He had seen a billboard in Minneapolis advertising a casino concert in his area. I nearly fell over. I looked online at the band website and was elated to see a show date only two and a half hours from here at Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona, Iowa for April 22, two days after my birthday. Happy birthday to me!!! I called the venue the next day and was crushed to learn there was only one ticket left. I pleaded with the ticket agent to see if there were more tickets to be had. No luck. Then I turned to Ebay. Sorry, Huey. I do feel bad that I gave a scalper forty bucks that you didn’t get a cut of.  I’d happily paid that extra to you if only the show hadn’t been sold out.  Scoring those tickets completely made my day.  I was talking about it to everyone the rest of the day.  To which some people replied, “Huey who?”  So sad.  There should be a twelve step program for that.

When the concert day finally arrived, about two months after purchasing tickets, all things were in order. It was a beautiful, spring day. The kids were off to school and had arrangements with grandparents for an overnight, the dogs were being boarded at the kennel, and husband and I were taking the day off from work. This had definitely required more planning than hopping in my brother’s chevy and heading out of town after school for my first Huey concert in 1987, but I knew it would all be worth it.

We stopped in Pella, Iowa for a late lunch at the Smokey Row coffee house and then picked up some pastries at the Jarsma Bakery (it’s just what you do when you’re in Pella, trust me).   We were in luck in that the tulips were in full bloom.   What an amazing sight.  I’ve heard about the Tulip Festival in Pella for years, but have never gone and have never seen the Pella tulips.  Truly breathtaking!  We strolled around the gardens and the square just taking it all in.  Of all the days to leave my camera behind!

After leaving Pella, it was only about 45 minutes to Altoona.   We arrived in plenty of time to wander around the casino.  We gambled about ten dollars, won nothing, had a couple drinks, and headed to the show.  By this time I was completely giddy.  It was like Christmas morning.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it.  When I’d seen the band before at larger arenas so I think I was expecting a pretty big crowd.  I was stunned to find out that this venue only held 1200 seats.   Our seats turned out to be about thirty rows from the front, about 1/3 of the way back from stage, and centered in front of the stage.  Excellent seats!!!!   We saw some burly guys walking around with backstage passes hanging around their necks, they obviously worked for the band.  In my younger days I’d have considered finagling a way to get closer to the stage, or even a chance to meet the band.  But here at forty my only thought was how intrusive and annoying it probably is for the band.  And what would I say?  “Uh, I love your music.  I’m such a fan.”  Like they never have heard that before.  So we got some drinks and waited for the show to start.

I was amazed to see all the older fans at the show.  The band has been around for about thirty years, so it stands to reason that the fans would age, but I didn’t expect to see so much gray hair!  As the crowd filled in, the excitement was building.  A couple arrived and sat in the seats on my left side. They were in their twenties, the girl was a bit drippy and said nothing, but her date seemed friendly and said hello.  I wondered if these were the people I bought the tickets from on ebay.

I read online that at some venues there was an opening act, but at this one there was none.  The band took the stage and everyone was on their feet.  The first song was one I didn’t know, as were the next three songs.  They are all from the upcoming album I assume.   They were less rock and roll and more soul, fairly mellow.  I liked them and would definitely buy the album, but it’s a totally diffent kind of music than their other albums.  I wasn’t surprised, it feels like a natural transition for them since they seem to have been heading in this direction.  After the second song people in the thirty rows ahead of me began to sit.  I know I’m aging, but I wasn’t ready to sit.  So there’s the dilemma, sit and be a good girl, or stand and annoy everyone behind me.  I sat, but not happily.  A song or two later everyone was on their feet again and pretty much remained so for the duration of the show.  Huey is great at getting the crowd involved and so people clapped and danced throughout most of the show.  So entirely fun.

I noticed that Huey and the band made the decision to tour even though the new album isn’t out yet.  During the show Huey joked about the release date upcoming album “Later this year, or next, or the year after that,”  I suppose this is because they tour every year about 70 dates, so they probably would have been on tour anyway, new album or not.  Tom Petty, on the other hand, postponed about ten tour dates because the album release was being delayed.  This left many people out of luck who had non refundable plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc.   Not nice, Tom.  Interesting side note: if you buy Tom Petty.com membership and you buy concert tickets with the presale code, you get the Mojo album for free, which is just pretty stinkin’ cool.  But that’s a post for another day.

Why don’t rock shows operate as a ballet or stage production, with a program of songs so the audience knows what was played?  They did hand out ‘programs’, but they were actually more of an advertisement for the casino steak house and only gave basic info about the band.  So, needless to say, I have no set list.  I was pretty into the show and didn’t make note of the songs.  And to complicate matters, I’ve been watching youtube of old Huey shows and listening to the live at the 25 CD, so it’s a bit muddled in my mind now.  (If anyone out there has a set list from the show, please send it along.)  This much I know:  Back in Time, Do You believe in Love, Perfect World, Heart of Rock and Roll, Power of Love, Want a New Drug, Small World, Long Time/Good Time, Heart and Soul, If This Is It, Thank You #19, Workin’ For a Livin’, and two a capella numbers, one of which was It’s Alright.  I wish they’d do more live a capella numbers.  I really love them.  Mama Said is my favorite.  And 1-2-3 is just awesome.  And as long as we’re mentioning requests, I’ve always wanted to see Buzz Buzz Buzz live.  Just sayin’ in case Huey is reading this.  They played about 90 minutes which included one encore of three songs.  Workin’ For a Livin’ was part of that. What a fun song.  They played it just as good as back in the day. I hoped for Huey to do the jump during that song as he did in the music video, but I guess those days are gone.  The live version of You Believe In Love is a different arrangement than we all remember.  It’s slower and more groovin’.  I really like it.  I’ve heard it on Live at the 25 CD and it’s great.  But the crowd was trying to sing along to the old version and it just wasn’t working.  I love the old version too, but I know that as bands change they need to keep things fresh.    They were such a kickin’ band that it’s a little hard for me to see them now and have my old favorites be changed.  I do love the band they have become, more soul and rhythm and blues, but I miss the hard driving rock band they used to be.  They are a very interesting band, with the 50′ doo wop, rock, and soul all in one show.  It’s a bit of a ride, but I love it.  I gotta wonder what the twenty somethings in the crowd thought of the a capella numbers.    The drippy girl next to me definitely was not enjoying her Huey music education.  She texted on her phone all through the show.  She completely missed it.

Huey looked fit and sounded great, as did the rest of the band.  The horns were completely amazing.  And I found myself totally into a guitar solo at one point.  And that’s so not like me.  He was just awesome.   I missed his name, and he’s not listed on HLN.com.  He was a black guy, and did a fantastic job and was so fun to watch.  I gotta find out who he was.  My only complaints about the show, and I cannot believe I have any at all, is that Huey was doing something weird with the mic during the last couple songs.  He would move it away from his face and then the mic would not pick up the last word or two.  It got to be completely annoying.  I read a review online that mentioned this and the possiblity that his ability to hit high notes isn’t what it used to be, which is common for aging singers (though Paul McCartney seems to be the exception).  I didn’t notice him having trouble earlier in the show, but maybe it’s that toward the end of the show he has trouble hitting the notes.  I dunno, but it pissed me off.   My other issue: the band sounded perfect, like they’d done this a zillion times.  They were polished.  But it felt slick, not personal, and most of the songs sounded pretty much like the album version.  Huey is great at making nice with the crowd and talked about hitting a local golf course  with the boys earlier in the day, and etc., so he was  connecting with the crowd, but I could tell that most of what he said in between songs was the same thing he says at every show.  It felt canned at times.  And at times the music felt very packaged, like they play the songs the same way every time.  It was an awesome show, they are incredible musicians, the crowd was happy and dancing and screaming, and the band seemed like they were totally having fun.  But I would have liked to see them loosen up a bit more with their music and the banter with the crowd.  Especially in that size venue, it really could have been so much more incredible.  As Jack Black says in School of Rock, “One great rock show can change the world.” Indeed.  The next day I got online to see where Huey’s tour will take him later this summer.  July 22 they’ll be Illinois, near Chicago.  I could do that.

I found an interview on Youtube with Huey at his ranch in Montana.  He was giving a mini tour of the ranch and my husband thought it was pretty cool.  He is itching to visit the ranch.  Whadda ya say, Huey?  How about a tour in trade for a fresh rhubarb pie?  I think that’s pretty fair.

I just turned forty.  Doesn’t my hubby looked pleased?  He looks much more happy about it than I do.

Actually, so far forty is fine.  But then, it’s only been a week, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.  But if every birthday is this awesome from here on out I’ll take it!  I had about seven different birthday celebrations with friends and family.  It was completely awesome.  (Thanks everyone!  And Joyce, I had the best time Friday!  You completely rock!)  And the best gift?  I got some itunes cards, which is fantastic.  Husband bought me a can opener, among other practical gifts.  He still doesn’t get it, but that’s a post for another day.  One fo the best gifts was one I bought myself, of course!  I was chomping at the bit to buy the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live Anthology, but made myself wait until my birthday.  It is completely awesome.  Worth the wait, indeed.

I’ve always felt that birthdays are just numbers.  It’s how you feel and how you live your daily life that determines your age.  I know very young and active sixty year olds, and I know thirty year olds who can barely move from the couch without complaining about every little ache and pain.   I plan to be the former.  It’s definitely a package deal though.  Eating healthy, exercise, positive thinking, spending time with good friends who make me laugh, and keeping a healthy balance in your life about alcohol and spending.  I feel like I’ve finally figured it out.  For years I thought that if I exercised regularly that it was a pass to eat however I wanted.  It would all balance out.  Lately I’ve realized that food is medicine.  What we eat definitely determines how healthy we are regardless of the amount of exercise.  I feel like I need a party just for figuring this out.  On the other hand it makes me a bit sad because I love chocolate and desserts, cheese, and homemade breads – all things that my body has decided to rebel against in the last several months.  I feel so incredible without these things in my diet that it overshadows any sadness for what I’m missing.  Why does our society focus on such unhealthy foods, especially in celebrations?  We recently attended a reception for a retiree.  There were sloppy joes and a million salad varieties, all containing sickening amounts of sugar.  I felt ill the rest of the day.  How did our diets go so astray?  We don’t need all this sugar in our diets.  It truly affects how our bodies function.  (And don’t get me started on Aspartame and other sweeteners!) I try to limit my children’s sugar intakes but it’s an uphill battle since they’re not with me 24/7.  The school lunches are laden with sugar and salt, and they get treats at school and at friends’ houses.  Sigh.  But I do what I can because I know that very bit helps.   I think people don’t truly learn how to eat for health until they’re adults, or at least I didn’t.  It shouldn’t have taken forty years, but I’m thankfully that I’m in a good place now.   And if the next forty years are anything close to the past forty, I’ll be a very lucky duckie indeed!

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