Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pork Chops

Look at those little legs at the top of this page... aren't they the cutest things?

That picture is from about two years ago...maybe more.  Those are Wrenny's tan legs in her brand new pink shoes that she just had to have (they are long gone).  And I love those little legs...

Somehow a game formed between the two of us...I started grabbing her thighs to tickle them and called it "checking her pork chops."  This poor child is going to start Kindergarten in the fall and, when the teacher asks "what are these called" while pointing to her legs, Wren will yell with all her might, "PORK CHOPS!"  I already blame myself...

But I love her pork chops!  There is something about chubby little girl thighs that just wraps up the whole joyfulness of toddlerhood.  Maybe it's the last bit of "baby" that hangs on in a body quickly turning into a "girl" and no longer a "baby."

One of Wrenny's pork chops has a birth mark (so adorable) which we talk about a lot because I have one too and I don't want her to feel about hers the way I felt about mine as a kid (I used to ask my dad to cut it off...what's funny is it's on my butt - who sees it {but The Butcher...maybe}?)

I love to squeeze them and watch her wiggle and giggle with glee.  I love a good "pork chop check."

Check these pork chops from last summer...
Her pork chop cup runneth over...
or - pork chops in a bucket...

But those pork chops are disappearing.  It makes me sad.  She is fast approaching 5 and a half... Kindergarten in the fall... starting to read books...  no longer a baby, for sure.

And she's been doing gymnastics which is making them disappear even more quickly.

What am I gonna do without those pork chops?  (sigh)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Color Therapy

A year in a rental house with white walls is too much.  At least, too much for me to handle.  I would sit on the couch and stare at the white wall and think of all the colors it could be...if only I had the time, money, and inclination to waste all three of these on walls that were not mine.

It is hard to tell the passing of time with a white wall...the sun looks the same shining on it coming up as it does going down. 

It says nothing...conveys nothing...adds nothing to the mood. 

Have you tried enjoying a glass of wine in a white-walled room recently?  I barely survived.  I had to choke it down in ambiancelessness...(I am a trooper though)

So when we were under contract for this house, I started dreaming of colors...and spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest pinning any color combination I liked.

Until one day when The Butcher and I were walking through Target pricing vacuums (stinkin vacuums - still mourning my Dyson) and we passed a KitchenAid stand mixer in orange.  And an off-handed comment of "I really like this color for some reason" has turned into this...

"Donald Orange" it's called - and yes, we did find it in the Disney color section at Home Depot (however, "more saving" my butt).

And I paired it with a lovely grey, which is now looking a bit blue to me...

What do you think?

(and yes, those shoes - or a combination of shoes - are always in the hallway - and usually many more than this...)

But it's not that the color is looking blue-ish that bothers me... it is THIS:

Now, please don't start in on me...I know that I should mix two gallons (if using two gallons) so the color is consistent - but honestly, I have NEVER, NEVER done that before and things have always turned out great (and I have painted a lot of walls).  Until yesterday...

And after a weekend of busting my butt to get it all done (and asking my 11 year old to make her 8 year old sister's birthday cake so I could just keep painting), well, I'm just really pissed...

But on the bright side - I now have something new to obsess over, proving once again, I am my mother's daughter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Birthday Gifts

The problem is this... I have great expectations.

Years ago, before kids, when time was our own and so was the money, we created The Birthday Extravaganza Weekend (or week, depending on how the bank account was).  We went out to dinner, we went to shows, we went shopping, we spent a weekend at the coast.  We did what we wanted and didn't pay too much attention to the details...

But change is inevitable... and change is good.

And now, a story in which I look like a selfish child (and I was, for a bit on this day)...

Friday was my birthday.  It hadn't quite dawned and the evil cat was up to his chirping, scratching, and general PIA tricks.  Immediately I thought, "It's my birthday.  Certainly The Butcher will jump up and toss this stinkin cat in the laundry room (latch problem solved, by the way) so I can sleep in a bit."

But The Butcher didn't move... or make any noise, by the way, so my next thought was "Great, my husband has died on the morning of my birthday," only to be greeted by the softest of snores escaping from his mouth.  And the evil cat continued his antics.

So then I thought, "Wait a minute... I went to bed before The Butcher did last night and he certainly can't really be sleeping through this cat's noise, so maybe he left me a gift downstairs and he's pretending to be asleep so I'll find it."  There's nothing quite like thinking there's something good waiting for you to get you out of bed.  I grabbed the cat and we started down the stairs.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I scanned the kitchen.  Nothing on the table.  Nothing on the island.  But wait!  It looked like there was a box placed next to the coffee maker!  How brilliant of The Butcher!  He knew that's where I would head first.  And as conflicting thoughts ran through my head (a small box!  Wait, we can't afford things in small boxes!), I made my way to the coffee maker to discover it was not a small box.  It was a small sponge Abby had left out from her science fair project... sigh...

And then I felt sorry for myself... enter the selfish child.

Because as each person woke up that morning, they brought me an offering... nothing huge and extravagant, but heart felt...

Wren drew a picture of me blowing out candles on a cake and woke up early to slip into Ella's room for help with a bracelet.

Ella made me a card and wrapped one of her hard-earned dollars in toilet paper, placing it in a small box and then wrapping it with a picture she'd painted.  (And later, she asked for the box back... and a little later, she asked for the dollar back...sigh.)

And Abby made me a card too, declaring in it that I "work too hard."

And The Butcher handed me a card with a promise for dinner at a restaurant I've been wanting to go to.

But it wasn't just these things that were Birthday gifts to me.  My weekend was filled with small moments, and if I just looked at them for what they really were, I could see that they were all gifts...

On Friday night, we went out to dinner with the girls... a rare treat.  And not only was that a gift, but so was the fact that there was no sister fighting or complaining, or 18 trips to the toilet with Wren.

And then when I was tucking Wren into bed, she asked what she always asks, "What's tomorrow?"  So I explained that Aunt Caryl and Aunt Cheryl were coming for dinner and cake.  Wren asked, "What kind of cake?"

"Plum Pretty Cake - like Daddy makes me every year."

"What's Plum Pretty Cake?"

"It's red with a yummy frosting.  My Granny Bert used to make it.  I love it.  And you will, too," I answered.

"Granny Bert?  Who's Granny Bert?," Wren asked.

"She was Grandpa's mommy.  Her name was Bertha, but people called her Bert, so we called her Granny Bert."

"Oh, so 'Bertha' is a lot like 'birthday' and that's why you have the Plum Pretty Cake?"

Wow... how, in 14 years of The Butcher making me this cake for my birthday, did I not see what my five year old saw?  And my eyes welled up... what a wonderful gift she had given me without even knowing it.  And while I have always thought of my Granny Bert when the cake is made, now it's even more special to me.

The gifts continued with a full weekend of sun... SUN!

And a great dinner with great friends...

And awesome, powerful Easter worship at church... with tears in my eyes.

And playing in the dirt with The Butcher as we "surveyed the land" and got dirty and finally declared it Miller (Lite) Time so I could sneak in a tiny nap before a wonderful, memory-invoking dinner of leg of lamb, potatoes, and spinach (just like mom's!). 

I am truly blessed... thank you for everything on my Birthday.

Granny Bert's Plum Pretty Cake

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Surveying the Land

The Butcher and I have a ritual of sorts.  On nice evenings (or mildly nice because you've got to take what you can get), we grab a glass of wine and mosey through the yard checking to see what's new, making mental lists of things to do, and dreaming of what the yard could be...some day... with more money, more time, more motivation...

With each home we've owned we have done this.  It started with the first house we owned where the backyard was just a patch of dirt and we had unlimited weekends (and more money and no kids) to work away the day, or part of the day, and then stop when we felt like it for a beer.. or a nap.  And we've kept up the ritual with each house we've owned... sometimes it took 5 minutes (our downtown SJ house), sometimes it took a half hour (our Woodland house... so.much.to.do)...and now, with this house, it's also become a treasure hunt of sorts.

And so, let's survey the land...because the SUN came out on Monday.  And it was GLORIOUS... truly...

Our new casa - let's start in the front

A deserted nest in a sickly rhodie...

LOVE these moss covered stairs. 
The Butcher is NOT allowed to take the power washer to these.

They lead down to one of the old out-buildings that is made of what looks like railroad ties.  There's a horse trough in the corner of the small building. The kids have plans to take the building over this summer.

Nature is taking over.

The house has been vacant for nearly two years.  A neighbor told us the previous owner had put a lot of money into the backyard.  It slopes down pretty dramatically and there are two tiers of retaining wall.  I found this on the first tier... it's one part of the base of a bench.

Then, on the next tier down, I found this:
The top of the bench.

This was covered in mud and old grass.  I wasn't sure what I'd found until I dug it out.

Last Sunday, on a survey of the land, The Butcher and I found something we thought we'd keep to ourselves for awhile (or indefinitely)...

A ladder...on the side of a tree...
on the side of a tree that matches the height of THIS tree...

We thought we'd keep it from the kids... okay, mostly from Ella.  A ladder on the side of a tree?!  Are you kidding me?  She'd be up that ladder in no time... and then promptly falling OFF that ladder about a half a second later. 

So when I looked outside the other day to see what she was up to, it was no surprise to me to find myself yelling out the door, "Not any higher, Ella!"  (sigh)

Then I ventured to the "back 40" - okay, the bottom of the hill on our property.  It's overgrown and full of grass clumps and junk bushes and trees.  But I found this, which was so pretty...

And then I heard buzzing... and anyone who knows the story of the lawnmower and the bees (trust me - twasn't pretty) knows I will not stick around to find out what the buzzing is about... so I ran up the hill.  Yes, truly, ran... and then panted as I roamed around the front yard for a bit so the kids wouldn't know that running up a hill made their mother winded...(so out of shape).

And one more... because it's so pretty and makes me so happy and won't stay like this for much longer...