Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Weekend Jaunt

Maybe pilgrimage would be a better word. We went to Washington D.C. on Friday morning to see the Washington D.C. temple. This was a big deal.

It was a big deal because ever since I was a child, I've really wanted to see the inside of this temple. The temple's ground breaking was when I was six months old and it was dedicated when I was 6.5 years old. I remember driving past it and seeing it out of the back of my Dad's car. It's an awe-inspiring view, even from the freeway.

It's a big deal because if you're LDS, you want to go to the temple for your Endowments and to be Sealed to your family.

So we went, in weather that had cancelled school for the kids (we left them with friends at home and followed Justin & Sarah, our friends from Vermont) and that was so bad I honestly wondered if we'd make it alive to Altoona, but that turned to rain once we were past Tyrone, and we got to the temple right on time.

I know you'll want to know what the interior looks like. No cameras are allowed and the Sacred nature of the place prohibits me going into much detail about the experience, but there are lots of photographs taken of various temples after construction and before dedication or rededication, and this website has done a nice job of scanning them and showing them. Click around and read what this fellow has to say about the Temple. Pictures specific to the Washington D.C. temple are in the bride's room and baptistry section.

I found the first day a little overwhelming. By the time we left for dinner I was exhausted and just wanting to get to bed. We were staying with relatives of our Bishop who lived in Maryland, about 40 minutes from the Temple. We arrived at their house about 9:00 pm and visited with them for awhile. They were VERY nice people and staying with them helped make the trip possible. In the morning, Jolynn made us a fantastic breakfast (a german pancake. I need to google up the recipe.) and then we went back to the temple.

We went to the distribution center, which is in the basement of the temple, and bought more garments. Then we heard there was an LDS bookstore nearby, and since we were running ahead of schedule, we decided to make a run for it. We went, bought Christmas stocking stuffers and a few study guides, and then went back to the temple. It was time for the sealing.

We happened to be in the foyer when the kids arrived with Sherri G and the Bishop and his wife. Some of the women from the ward were there and Mike P and Brandy and Eric H were there, too. It was the perfect number of people. Sarah was my escort again and Justin and the Bishop were witnesses. The Sealer was an older man who gave a very nice talk to us at the start of the session. It was what you'd expect at the start of any marriage ceremony, really. We were sealed first and then the children were sealed to us. That's how it's done when your children are born before you are sealed together. If we were to have children from this point on, they would be born in the covenant and not need to be sealed to us. The ceremony is a lot like a regular marriage ceremony, but more intimate, and honestly--very brief. The ceremony doesn't negate or undo our civil marriage. If you were one of the 80 or so friends and relatives who attended our marriage in Sonoma, we didn't do anything that detracted from that--just added to it.

The day was lovely and before we left I added a few names to the prayer rolls. Just women I've had in my thoughts.

Afterwards we took a few pictures outside the temple. Then we hurried home to be there in time for Becca, Sarah's sister who lives locally, to come over. We had a nice dinner of soup, bread, and salad and cinnamon rolls for dessert.

There were so many people who made the trip possible. Gaye, who paid for gas, The C's, with whom we stayed overnight, Sarah & Justin, the Bishop, Lana and Sherri and their families, who cared for the kids Friday and Friday night and got them to the temple in time, Brandy and Eric, who came all the way down with their kids and went through the endowments and sealing with us, only to get in a fender bender, and so many more who were supportive and enthusiastic for us. We had a great time and we are so grateful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


You ever look back at a time period and feel even more grateful for something someone did for you then? I often look back at my pregnancy and marvel at the help that I got from Alice. She came over daily to help with Max so I could stay on bedrest, and she was with me the day that they finally said my at-home bedrest was over--and admitted me to full hospital bedrest. She looked after Max like he was her own son and if she found all the helping any kind of a trial, she never let on. She must have, it was a tremendous amount of work. I never found a way to thank her properly except to try to be someone that others can count on to help.

Thanksgiving often takes me back now to Thanksgiving 2001. The twins were 6 days old and my step-mother was visiting. She needed to go home for her own Thanksgiving, and honestly, I wasn't getting a lot of sleep at that point. My c-section recovery wasn't going as well as it could. Well, really, my recovery from 17 weeks of bedrest was just . . . tough. I had no muscles and you need muscles to stand and walk and hold two babies.

And so Donna came out and she really did an amazing job of holding down the fort at home. She visited the hospital, too, but I think she spent a lot of time with Max. That period of time is very blurry. One thing I know for sure was that she made sure we had a Thanksgiving meal before she left. I think it was a Turkey breast and I don't remember the rest, but I was very touched that we had turkey for dinner. She also did most of the shopping for the twins' newborn wardrobe. We hadn't done any of that, so without her doing that, the twins would have been the naked babies in the NICU. Anyway, I'm still thankful for her efforts to care for us all that year. We really needed her.

This year I'm thankful for having Gaye around. I almost said something to her the other day when we were out at lunch and she was feeling so sick, but I didn't. She's been so supportive of us throughout our marriage, and she only grows more so. We lean on her, and I hope she leans on us some, too. I hope I'm a good mom-in-law when the boys grow up. I certainly have a wonderful example of what it looks like to be a great one.

I'm also thankful to my brother, Jason, and my mom, Judy, who are coming up to visit on Friday. I appreciate all the effort they are going to to come visit. We'll have a nice lunch of leftovers and enjoy the nephews--his and mine.

Finally, I'm grateful to my husband who is being so incredibly supportive as I pursue this idea that I could go back to school and get that Master's I've been wanting since forever. I feel strongly that I've found the right program and I am trying to temper my hope, but it would be fantastic if it works out. He has so much faith in me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to Me!

I rocked the Miller Analogies Test today. I couldn't be happier.

My Christmas gift from my MIL arrived today--a new skirt and jacket set to wear to the Interview. It's beautiful AND comfortable, and after the interview I'm totally wearing it to work and to church.

Chris and I are going with friends to the Washington D.C. temple on December 19 and 20. It will be all decorated for Christmas, so hopefully we'll find a tripod and take some good pictures while we're there.

We're supposed to get almost 6 inches of snow over the next three days. Not enough all at once for a snow day though. Bummer.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thank You to My Sister and BIL, Vlad!!

A huge public outpouring of gratitude to my sister (and her hubby, Vlad) who braved the San Diego post office for me today not once, but TWICE!! She went once to mail a massive package of goodies to the twins for their birthday and then went back AGAIN after learning that I was taking the GRE later this month--she has the GRE study book and is going to save me the cost of buying it. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm off to bed

In the morning the kids and I will go vote.

After that the day is full of work and meetings and more work.

So just to be safe, first thing in the morning, the kids and I will vote.

And I hope it's the same for you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hope Floats

Anyone see that movie? I never did, but I always loved the title. It's true; hope floats.

Yellow is the color of hope. If I could, I'd go out and buy a whole wardrobe of yellow (winter, long-sleeved) dresses. I'd get yellow fleece tops and yellow cotton skirts (but it's cold out, so I'd probably wear tights on under them). Since that's not in the cards right now, I'm knitting the kindergarten teacher a buttercream yellow scarf in a soft, warm wool. I write a grammar activity, knit a few rows, write another activity, knit another few rows. It makes for some knitting progress and my editor says the grammar is some of my better work.

Wednesday I spoke with the director of the Math Ed program at PSU. The conversation went well and I will be going in December for an interview. There is a possibility of an assistantship.

At first I felt guilty. It is soooo Chris's turn to have something wonderful happen to him. But he's been reassuring and supportive and I can't help it. Hope keeps bubbling up to the surface. A math ed degree would be a dream come true and there are so many opportunities in the field right now, especially in Pennsylvania. When I'm done, there are jobs with BENEFITS.

In the few days since then I've contacted a few people about recommendations for the application. I need five people in all--three for the general graduate school application and two for the program-specific application. Everyone has been so enthusiastic in response.

I keep telling myself that maybe nothing will come of it. That I'd better keep focusing on what's in front of me and not worry too much about the future. It's all true, and very important that I make the deadlines I already have. But just in case, I picked my husband's birthday as a great day to submit the application. And just in case, I registered for the GRE; I will have taken the test before I meet with the faculty.

I keep plugging away at my grammar and my geometry and the wills and whatnot at the attorney's office. But in the quiet spaces in between I knit on the kindergarten teacher's yellow scarf and let hope bubble happily up. It just feels so good.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trio of Hats #2

Here's Max. Can you believe that skin? It's good to be 12.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

For Educat

It's called the Clover Yarn Guide and it looks like so:

I got mine for Christmas, but they look pretty easy to find on the Internet and my LYS has them.

Bad New for Vermont Red Heads

It fits!

Good news for red heads: There's plenty of wool left and a long winter ahead :)

All's Well That Ends Well

The boys won their championship game 12-0. That's about the narrowest margin they've had so far. Max didn't get to play as much as usual, but he played enough to feel satisfied with the job he did, so that's good. Afterwards they had a nice pizza party. It was cool out, but I'd brought a blanket and the rain stopped right before the game began, which was a tender mercy as far as I'm concerned. I don't think the kids cared, but those of us watching the game did.

Tomorrow will be a day full of geometry and boys' haircuts and school, but today is Sunday and that means worship, time together as a family, some time to relax, and some time to knit. I've got a hat on the needles that I suspect will be too small for its intended recipient, Milo. But it's coming out so cute that I'm going to go ahead and finish it for whatever child it ends up fitting. I also tried this widget that holds multiple strands of yarn on your finger for two-color knitting. I've always done one color in one hand and one in the other--but for the simple patterns in this hat, I decided to give the finger widget a try and it worked beautifully.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Mania

It's going to take a lot of caffeine to handle this day properly. It's only 2:00 pm and what I really want to do at this point is bury myself in geometry (No, what I really want to do is turn on the heat, but I won't!) but there is still so much left to this day.

Chris is on the youth temple trip being a chaperone. So he's in Washington D.C., and I suspect when he gets back he's going to gobble something up for dinner and then go to his mother's house to watch the football game.

So Gaye and I are on Max duty. Max would ordinarily have gone on the Youth Temple Trip, too, but he had both a piano recital and the championship football game today, so he stayed home to play football and piano. So far we're one down, one to go. The recital went fine. Max was barely prepared, but played the song well and called it good. Hopefully we'll be getting in more practicing now that football is about to be over.

After he finished his piece (with his teacher's permission) we all left and Gaye went back to her house and I took Max to football practice. In another hour I'll drop the twins at Gaye's and then go get Max and take him over to the big football field across town where the actual game will be played.

It is raining cats and dogs, so even with my new birthday umbrella, I expect to get soaked. Chris cannot watch his darling son play football as it wraps him around the goal posts in emotion. I don't have this problem as after three or four seasons of watching him play football--I still don't have a clue what the heck those boys are doing. Looks like a mess to me and then some kid gets the ball and runs and scores and we all cheer. I do try to only cheer when a kid in a red shirt gets the ball so as not to upset the other moms and dads on our team, but sometimes I slip up. Based on how the game goes the rest of the time, it's pretty impressive when someone gets to score.

Anyway, so that's what I get to do here soon. Since Max will have already been in the rain for over an hour when I pick him up from practice to take him to the game, I'm thinking I might bring the boy a hot chocolate to drink.

After the game, unbelievably, they're going to try to squeeze in a party for the kids back at the Assembly of God church. I say unbelievably because I have a hard time believing I'm the only parent for whom 1:45 pm to 7:00 pm is just. too. much. football. All I can think about is the lesson on locus I'm supposed to be writing. Nevertheless, I can't let Max miss his end-of-the-season party just because I want to write 7 worksheets on loci; so I'll get him to the party and get him in dry clothes and try to socialize and stay off the Bad Mom couch until he says he's ready to go, too.

Then I'll come home and do grilled cheese sandwiches or maybe even peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches, or something equally simple, so that I can say with a straight face that I fed my family dinner. Then send Chris off to watch the game and let the kids play the Wii till bedtime while I try to get a page or two of work done.

I'm glad tomorrow is Sunday. I could really use a Sunday at this point.

And now I think it's time to go make that hot chocolate.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Glass

I'm holding on for dear life with the wild ride we're on right now. Life is very much "sweet 'n sour." On the one hand there's the undeniable stress of Chris' unemployment and my over-employment. We're going down in flames financially. That's a huge stress. On the other hand it's a gorgeous, amazing fall; I love my husband so much; my kids are healthy and doing well in school; we're getting lots of help with the financial issues; I'm in a good place spiritually; I love my calling in the Relief Society; the job at the law office is going well; and I have a great dog. (She just came over to say hi and look hopefully through my bag for a treat.)

I keep hoping the geometry project is finally over. But then another assignment arrives in my in-box. It is by far the most challenging project in which I have participated and the time it takes me to complete each page isn't worth the modest pay. But we need the money so badly and it's math--every page is a fight, but I feel so satisfied when each page is done. I can't make the deadlines but my employer must be happy with the final result because they haven't said a THING about it and just keep feeding me more. I prefer writing math to any other content area and having to relearn the advanced geometry concepts is really more satisfying than anything else--it's just that there's so little time for figuring things out.

Living beyond frugally is TIME consuming. It's satisfying, but for example, I need to can up more beans for us to use for meals and that will be time this evening that I should be working on my grammar project. On the other hand, I simply CAN'T work around the clock. I get brain freeze. I need to get up and go knead bread or do a few dishes or lead the family in a whole-house pick up. These things clear out my head and make it possible for me to sit back down and make faster progress. Sweet 'n sour. I feel like I should be working when I'm doing other things. When I'm working I can't concentrate for the other things that are left undone. I'm trying to strike a balance so I can focus just on what's in front of me.

My glass isn't empty at all. As fast as it's being emptied financially, something else comes along to fill it up. God is merciful as long as I'm willing to open my eyes and look up from the checkbook and see the other things. I do have moments when I can't. I get tunnel vision and just see what is unpaid. Or I see how hard this all is on Chris and get to feeling hopeless about my inability to fix that for him. He's such a wonderful husband and father and I struggle with finding ways to show that. But the autumn sun is shining through my window right now and lighting up the quiz on vectors that I just finished and I feel hopeful in this moment and that's what it's about, right? Savoring the sweet and appreciating its contrast to the sour.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Live Blogging the Vice-Presidential Debate

I can't really Live Blog the debate. It's all I can do to listen to the debate and write a math lesson at the same time (I'm working on the technical art. I couldn't write the text and listen to people talking at the same time.)

But I do think there's a clear winner emerging from the debate--the moderator. Can I vote for her?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Apples and Beans

If I'm not writing it's because I'm working, if I'm not working and not blogging, then I must be canning--or attending a committee meeting of some sort. Things here in the house are rather "hairball" as Chris would say. The kids are good, the marriage is good, but the astrologists would probably say that Chris' work situation is in the house of "no good." Not being astrologists, Chris and I are fervently praying for it to soon enter the house of "looking up," or even "excellent." Chris was reading through the benefits package of one of the jobs for which he is being considered and when he got to part about dental packages, I stopped him right there. We haven't had dental insurance in 4 years. "I think this job sounds wonderful!" I half-joked. He knows. It would be a good match even without the dental insurance. It could also be another 3 weeks before he hears anything either way.

So today I took to the kitchen. We have some beans left from my last batch, but even I will acknowledge that they are SPICEY. So to help out the kids, I'm doing a batch of "not spicey" black beans. And, Cortland apples are in season here in Central PA, so that means it's time for applesauce. I'll be doing one batch today, one batch later in the week.

And that's all I have time for today. I need to go stir the applesauce and check on the beans, which are in the pressure cooker.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Labor Day weekend was Canning Weekend at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Ann Arbor. I went, not so much for the canning this time, as I was already feeling badly overscheduled and had sort of just eased into the idea that I wouldn't put up much for winter this fall. I just couldn't between the Geometry Project and working at the law office and all the Volunteer stuff. But I really wanted to see my Aunts, Uncle, and Grandmother and so when I was invited, I jumped at the chance to go. I took the twins, some pint jars and lids, and we drove the 6.5 hrs to Michigan.

I had a great time. I have great relatives and they were all their usual charming, generous, witty selves. They were far more determined than I was that I go home with some great jars of my favorite things, and so I did. I came home with perfectly seasoned tomato sauce, tomato juice, medium spicey salsa (soooo good), vegetable soup, and the silly idea that maybe I could squeeze in tomato juice between Geometry assignments.

And then the craziest thing happened--the Geometry project hit a snag. I couldn't write this past weekend, but I got two bushels of tomatoes (and people kept bringing me more) and did 14 quarts of tomato soup. Tonight, against all odds, I have another 7 qts in the canner and I'm going to be in bed by 11pm. I didn't even start peeling onions until 5pm, so that was incredible progress in a short period of time. I still have another bushel left (someone else brought me another half-bushel this morning), so if they don't go bad by the weekend, we'll try for more salsa, maybe.

Assuming the Geometry cooperates, of course.

The kids are all back in school as of a week ago tomorrow. So far so good. The first PAC (like PTO) mtg is Thursday and I have my agenda done. I meet tomorrow with the Principal to go over it with him and then we hope for a good turn-out on Thursday.

Chris is enjoying his new job as a cable installer. There are still unanswered questions, but we're trying to be patient during the training phase. We both wish the job didn't involve climbing up on the pole, but it does, and he's dealing with it.

Our love/hate relationship with boys' football in State College, PA continues. It's a massive time-sucking creature that exhausts the boys almost past the point of enjoyment--almost, but most days, not quite. Most days they still enjoy it enough so that we keep going back. I'm a huge proponent of "never quit a sport, once begun, until the season is over." But State College football tests my resolve on a regular basis. Ah, well. I think we're 1/3 of the way through. On we go.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's THAT time of Year Again

Football season.

This year we decided to try the Assembly of God program, which isn't a true league--instead they have multiple small teams that play against each other. The focus is on skill building and learning the game--they'll even stop the scrimmages for the flag players and do mini-lessons as they go.

It's still time-consuming. I still feel like all I do is work, laundry, and football. But the kids are definitely enjoying this group and it's not as expensive as the other programs, so I'm calling it worth it.

Life changes so fast around here, it makes my head spin. Chris starts a new job as a cable installer this week--a career change he initiated and which should earn more than his previous job which had a better job title, but we weren't making it on the pay. It may even reimburse him for some of his cell phone costs.

I'm working on a Geometry project. The first two lessons were really kicking my tush, but I'm finally picking up speed and feeling better about the project. I really enjoy the math part of the project, but I'm rusty at 11th grade Geometry, and coming up with pages and pages of additional practice problems is harder than you might think when you're reviewing the math right there along with the imaginary "students."

Last week we spent the whole week in Upstate New York with my parents and two out of three siblings and their spouses. It was a great trip, very relaxing, and we couldn't be more thankful to my parents who made it all happen. And to my siblings who spent their own money coming out to meet us there. There was canoing, swimming, walking, hot tubbing, eating, synchronized Olympics watching, and napping. What more could you ask for?

Next weekend Chris and Max are staying here, but the twins and I are hitting the road to go see Granny (age 97 years young) and two out of three of the Aunts and one Uncle. My mother will kill me as she has been after me to go see her in Columbus with the kids for ages and I've put her off because of the cost of gas, so all I will say is, "Mom, I swear, not right away, but sometime this year, we will make it there." But Granny doesn't travel much (at all) any more and going to Michigan is half the distance that going to the other end of Indiana is from here, so when I got the sudden invite, it really was never a question of not going, but more a question of how to make it happen. Things fell into place. So the twinks and I will be road-tripping with all the drunken Labor Day drivers. Please pray for a safe travel for us. It's the only part I'm worried about.

School won't start for another 10 days here. We haven't back-to-school shopped--that's not true--we got the first grade list done for school supplies. But the boys still need clothes and sneakers. We need to do the seventh-grade list for school supplies and get Max shirts and sneakers. The twins also need new lunch boxes. So sometime this week, we'll get to that.

We couldn't be busier. New work, Chris as Scoutmaster, me in Relief Society (kinda like Women's Sunday school, for the non-LDS out there), school volunteering (Yes, we're both still doing that this year, plus I'm still Chair of the PAC), piano twice a week for Max (for financial reasons, the twins are taking a break for a year with that), and football through the end of October. But this year is our 14th year of marriage. Our fourth year living in the same place. Our third year with the same school. We're feeling hopeful.

And that's all the news around here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wrapping Up a Few Loose Ends

It's been hot and I've been tired, so I'm still just knitting up things that need to be finished. This week I finished a bath mat . . .

and a pair of slipper socks for Milo.

I'm still working on the fingerless gloves for the yarn store sample, but it isn't going well. I reversed the colors on the back of the hand.

Had to rip back 12 rows and start that part over.

Thanks go Grandma Gaye, the boys are all doing fine. They're enjoying their easy-going summer.
Vegetables are growing. We ate our first zucchini this weekend. There are some jack-o-lantern pumpkins growing. I don't know if we'll get any watermelon this year though. There is some corn growing--no tassels yet. That's fine. It's not tall enough yet. And there are some tomatoes, although they looked mighty parched the last time I looked at them. We're due for some rain this week, so hopefully that will help.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Strawberry Jam Day

I wasn't so sure about this day at points. We're in the middle of a hot and humid heat wave and heat waves make everyone grouchy. But the twinks had a church activity this morning and I had a grocery list--so we went ahead and jumped into the day. Chris went to play raquetball with some friends, Max and I dropped off the twins at church and went grocery shopping, then came home to change into church clothes. Chris came home and showered and changed into church clothes, and we all headed back to church to witness the baptism of one of the 8-yr-old girls. That was a lot of fun.

When we got back home there seemed a mountain of laundry and dishes waiting for me. In the heat, the grass is not growing as fast, but Chris was planning to mow anyway. "Do dishes and laundry with me instead," I begged. And he agreed. So we spent the next three hours doing dishes and laundry (there were baskets and baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away and then I need to do a few loads of dirty clothes, too. I just didn't get any laundry at all done this week.) and then had dinner (BLTs) and then Chris and Max went off to do a guy thing for a few hours and I canned up the strawberries we bought back on Father's Day weekend. I probably used too much pectin, and I know I tried to do too big of a second batch--but now we'll have strawberry syrup for pancakes tomorrow. Lots of it. Way too much of it. Oh, well :)

So now, in between a few last loads of laundry, I'm going to put my feet up and knit a bit.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spontaneous Dinner w/ Friends

Tonight we had a spontaneous dinner party. Last week we got a new Elder in the ward--he's from Arizona and at one point attended the same elementary school at which I had taught a few years before. The kids I taught are 24 and 25 now. Hard to believe. Anyway, I'd signed up to host the missionaries for dinner this week, and when I had met the new missionaries, I decided we needed to have Navajo tacos.

Then this morning Chris decided it could be fun to invite another family from the ward for dinner, too. And I agreed. So he invited and they accepted--but this all happened with a busy Friday happening around it, so it wasn't formalized until 5:30 at night. We didn't sit down to eat until 8:00 pm. But the fry bread turned out and the toppings were a hit and there was enough--it was close--but there was enough to go around. Enough beans and enough meat and enough fry bread. I did the fry bread on the side-burner of the propane grill because even in this heat wave, doing the fry bread in the open air was better than filling the house with the smoke from the hot oil. I did two batches--one with yeast dough and one with baking soda dough. As usual, the yeasted dough turned out better fry bread for me. I don't know why that is. The baking soda dough is more authentic, but I've never really mastered it. The best I can say is that the baking soda dough turned out edible and that's improvement for me.

Anyway, the company was fantastic, even I loved every minute of the little party (Chris will say that's because I spent half of it on the porch watching through the window, but, well, so?) and Elder Norton, the new missionary, gave a lovely lesson at the end that was really quite moving.

I really enjoy feeding the missionaries. We always get so much out of it and tonight was an especially enjoyable example of that. An exceptional Friday evening.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Art and Blueberries

We started off the day going to the local People's Choice Arts Festival, which is the "local" version of the Central PA Arts Festival--which takes place concurrently, but in downtown State College. The Central PA Arts Festival is collector's art done by people who can get hundreds of dollars or more for their pieces. The People's Choice Arts Festival, mostly, isn't so spendy. I mean, you CAN spend $1,200 on a piece of custom furniture and you can spend the same on a gold ring, but you can also buy a nice $18 piece of pottery. Chris and I mostly just looked this year, but Gaye got herself a ring and a plaque for her wall and she got me one that says, "Laundry today or naked tomorrow" as an early birthday present.

We spent money on lunch and the twins collected free balloons and Max bought two glass beads and then went to Michael's to buy a clasp and he made himself a nice necklace.

Then we headed home. I tried to take a nap but my mind was on the 10 lbs of blueberries that had been in the fridge since Monday. I wanted them canned before they were over ripe or worse. So I got back up and headed for the kitchen. The first batch had some fatal errors and is only good for pancake and ice cream syrup, but it was a small batch and I'm content with that. With the second batch, I ignored the directions and added pectin and although this batch hasn't come out of the canner yet, I'm more optimistic.

The day is winding down. My only plans are to wash the clothes for church tomorrow and knit this evening. I'm making good progress on the fingerless mittens.

I have more photos and will add those later.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Ben made lunch for his brothers today. He made peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwiches, making sure not to add jelly to Milo's and giving himself the heel of the bread. How quickly they grow from tiny little demanding infants to independent, generous first-graders.

It's a quiet day here in the Hults household. Chris and I slept in until 9am and then, after deciding it was too wet to mow, Chris went off to run an errand and play raquetball with a friend. I'm trying to catch up on dishes and laundry. Both tasks are Herculean. The first because a friend who is selling his house has been giving me a life-time collection of his canning jars and they all need washing and I . . . well, let's just say I really miss having a dishwasher. The second because I just let it get too far behind. So I'm content to be working on those projects, with a tiny smidge of knitting in between loads.

I am knitting again. Not with my previous fervor, but I'm in the mood to finish the things I have begun over the last year and so, that's what I've been doing. More or less picking one project to focus on until it's done and then moving on to the next one. I say more or less because I do take the occasional detour onto one of the other projects, but mostly I'm working on just one project. Right now it's a baby sweater--it was supposed to be for my cousin Tracy's baby girl, but she's probably too big for it now, so it will wait for another baby girl.

The next unfinished project will be the marvelous mittens pattern because I need samples for the yarn shop. It's the class I'll be teaching in October and November. However, I have a sweater for Milo competing for attention with that one. He may outgrow it before it's done AND cool enough for him to wear it.

The kids are all doing well. Gardening has been . . . weird this year. It's been cool when it's not unseasonably hot, and nothing is growing at my house as fast as normal. At G'ma's house where it gets much more sun, things are growing like gang busters, although we're still not taking the survival of the corn for granted. Interestingly, the variety that did the most poorly last summer is doing the best this summer. If today is "work indoors day," then tomorrow is "work outdoors day" and one of the things that gets done is the lawn gets another application of weed and feed and the corn and the blueberry bushes get fertilizer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

EZ Baby Surprise Jacket

There. Now I can say I've knit one. I don't have a particular recipient in mind. I can't think of any boy 12-18 mnth I know right now who might like it. It's a smidge on the hippy-fashion side with its rustic organic cotton ridges, and the sleeves are only 3/4 length--which is nice for keeping sleeves out of the dirt, but . . . also gives it a slightly unfinished look to my eye. Nevertheless, it's very, very, very soft and has a nice drape. It's also, unfortunately, handwash only. So off to the gift drawer it goes until the right boy comes along.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And Then All of a Sudden

At 6pm last night I got a call from a gentleman with a low voice and hesitant interest in the truck. At around 2pm this afternoon, after some bad mixups related to two people who live very far apart trying to find each other . . . he bought the truck. Tomorrow I go to the bank and get a cashier's check and by Tuesday morning the bank will have it and it will be paid off. He gets the title and I get to call the insurance company and cancel coverage on it.

I will honestly miss it. It was a useful truck. But we couldn't afford it any more.

The day was stressful and exhausting though and in hindsight, we wish we hadn't tried to conduct business on a Sunday. Call us crazy, but there it is.

I'm off to bed early tonight because I need to get up early to finish up a work project before going off to my regular job, so I will only add a little more.

The first two days of summer vacation went well. Largely due to Grandma Gaye. We also found a thrift store yesterday and got the twins some summer shirts. Now they just really need shorts. I'm hoping to hit a few garage sales before my knitting class next week. There's no point in spending real money on clothing for people who eat like locusts.

We celebrated Father's Day a day early with a road trip and a nice lunch at a PA Dutch restaurant. It's a good thing since Chris was gone all day with the business of the truck today. I made him a blueberry pie as a thank you, which he appreciated, but might be too tired to eat now.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Today was the kids' end-of-year celebration at school. It was also incredibly hot and we were pretty cranky by the end of the day--but after the too-long presentations by the school, the picnic and playtime was fun. Then we hurried home to try to get cool enough, soon enough, to not take off each others' heads.

There was a nibble on the blue truck. Just a nibble, but it's comforting every time someone responds to an ad. Maybe it will develop into something more. Who knows.

My brother called to chat. The air conditioner seems to work. The twins are asleep in front of a fan, as are Max and Chris. I'm the only one who can't sleep right now. I'll try again in a few minutes, here.

Tomorrow we'll try to plant sweet corn. The Bishop says 2 feet apart. I can only make peace with this by assuming he puts three or so kernals in each hole then. I did some reading around though and see that he's right. I probably grew my corn too close together last year. But as much as I'm worried about my corn germination rates, etc., mostly I'm worried about getting us all through tilling up the soil to plant the corn in tomorrow's heat and humidity. We think we can. We think we can.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I'm Doing Better

Nothing has changed about our financial situation. The blue truck is still for sale. Our income is not quite up to our outgo. I still struggle with feelings of total inadequacy and hopelessness about the situation. It still makes Chris mad that a challenging job in an industry he wouldn't have picked for himself doesn't pay enough to quite put us over that edge.

But I'm feeling better anyway this week. It's probably partly the time of year, partly looking at our finances and feeling that with birthdays and self-imposed pressures behind me for a couple of months, and a new contract (small, not enough, but real, and WAY better than nothing, which is what most industry writers have right now) starting tomorrow, I'm feeling hopeful about maybe getting caught up a little before our August vacation. My parents have rented a place in the Fingerlakes area of N.Y. and we are going to go stay with them. It's just a few hours North of here and we'll be able to bring regular groceries with us. We haven't been on a real vacation in eons. This, and seeing the family there, means a great deal to us and we're really looking forward to it.

I'm grateful that most of what needed to happen for the parent organization at school was complete by May 1st, because I haven't been up for doing anything about it. I'm hosting a short, informal planning session here in June, and then I have declared discussion about it off limits until late August. I will guard my summer vacation carefully :) But I'm looking forward to this meeting and I hope it will be productive.

Ben and Milo will be in first grade next year, going to 2nd grade for reading. I'm begging her to take them for math, too. The second grade teacher is a friend and has so far successfully drawn the line at taking them for math. The kindy teacher would like to see the twins skip 1st and go straight to 2nd, but that definitely isn't happening, LOL. I don't want that anyway. Their class is a sweet group that does well together.

Max's options are unclear to me. I'm meeting with the principal sometime soon to try to get a better picture of what it is that he's trying to accomplish with his current hiring plans. Right now they seem doomed to failure. We're going to get poor quality teachers or have high turnover. He's not offering enough hours for any teacher to live on. :::grumble, grumble growl:::

I have a new calling in church. I've been called to be the 2nd-counselor in the Relief Society Presidency. It won't do anything for my lack of free time, but I didn't turn it down either. It does feel right. Crazy, but right :)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Party with Friends

Tonight was Max's party with his friends. He invited four of his good friends over and we had an ice cream cake and they played the Wii and watched about a half-hour portion of Madagascar. That was it. That was the whole party. And they all had a wonderful time. Sometimes keeping things simple really pays off. Plus, it's a wonderful age--this cusp-of-12 age.

I spent the early part of the morning running a few errands and then most of the rest of the day working on bringing the basement up to the standards of the rest of the house. The real challenge was in reclaiming Max's desk. Like mine, it occasionally becomes overwhelmed with stuff. Unlike mine, it goes a lot longer between cleanings. (I start a new contract on Friday, so my desk has to get its cleaning this week, too.)

We sorted toys, found the Thomas the Tank Engine stuff a new home, found some of the Little People stuff new homes (there's three more LP sets to rehome), and got some laundry done. The whole place smelled almost too much of Endust when all was said and done and there's still probably a third total of the basement left to clean and organize. But it looks a lot better.

And it was worth it so that the big boys could have their "pack" meeting in a clean basement.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fun for $1.25

For a grand total of $1.25, Ben and Milo picked up the following new friends at garage sales this weekend. They wanted me to take a picture and post it to the blog. So there it is.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunny, Breezy, and Pleasant

It really was a nice day. Chris and I got up early for different reasons. I was being crowded out by Milo and Emily and Chris had an early raquetball game. I decided to go over to Gaye's house and get the yard work done early before it got too warm for that to be much fun. This went well. Gaye and I finished up about the same time Chris did (he'd shown up halfway through to mow the lawn) and the place is really starting to come together. The nearly-dead lawn Gaye inherited is now lush and green and all the birds that the bird feeders attracted are picking off the tent caterpillars that might otherwise eat the young veggie plants down to stubs. I'm a little worried that one of the pumpkin plants already has mosaic disease. I'm going to google it, and if that's the case, then pull it and just do without that plant this year. It's too soon for the squash plants to be fighting off disease. It might just be some damage from some cold nights. I did spray the blueberry bushes again--four out of five are still fighting for their lives against critters. If most of them die, next year I'm buying mature plants for those spots from local nurseries.

I got home just as Chris was finishing our yard. Worked for a bit with Max on his homework and then got to work on some of mine. I sent out some emails looking for contract work and then put together a shopping list. Chris and the twins and I went shopping and then Chris and Max and Gaye went off to see the Indiana Jones movie. With Max's permission, I attacked his room. It was the last hold-out upstairs in the spring-cleaning wars. (Not that the kitchen EVER stays clean for longer than overnight, but at least it's been really, really clean for a few hours this week at one point. Ditto every other room upstairs, but not Max's room.)

So that's what I did this afternoon. I attacked. I reorganized. I did what is probably the last Mom-only cleaning of his room (and is the first of its kind in years), and I had him help me put up all the posters he wanted before he left for the movie. It was really very satisfying.

Now what's next is reorganizing 10 shelves of children's books. It's time for another culling of books, time to make some order out of the chapter books now that they are more than two shelves worth of books, and time to get more magazine holders. The first thing that happened when I got all the magazines off the shelves and into holders was that Ben and Milo sat down and read--for hours straight--all the Cricket Magazine company (ladybug, cricket, and spider, and all the topic-related spinoffs like Ask and Click and Apple Seed) magazines that we've had on a bookshelf buried behind my desk in my office.

It's 5:30 pm and Ben and Milo and I are waiting for the others to come back from their matinee so we can start our BBQ. We're just having burgers and corn, but that's enough, isn't it? Yum :)

I hope you're all having a great Memorial Day weekend.

In Which Max Makes a List

At the request of some of his relatives, Max made a wish list for his 12th birthday.

My Wish List

Hopefully the button will avoid the whole "stuck in the spam folder" problem.

Thank you!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Today G'ma Gaye, the twins, and I went and did a little yard sale-ing. I came home with some shirts for the boys, some twin sheets for Ben and Milo's beds, and a set of 8 dinner plates that actually match. They're not beautiful, but they look the same and they have some accompanying mugs and bowls. I didn't count the rest. I just wanted enough matching plates that we could have our family, Gaye, and two others (say, the Missionaries, or my brother and sister-in-law) over and we could all have matching plates. (This is not a problem as often as you might think as we usually use paper plates, but sometimes it's a birthday or Thanksgiving or something and you want more.)

Then I installed the final raised-bed, transplanted everything that needed transplanting, planted a few seeds to finish out the beds, and called it done. All the left to do now is the corn and some landscaping. Gaye is doing most of the landscaping herself, but we're working on a slope that needs quite a bit of grass removed first and that's too much for one person to do on their own.

I came home, showered, took a short rest with Chris, and then we drove out to Belleville to pick up the couch. The nice Amish gentleman had repaired it for a fee so reasonable--I couldn't fill my gas tank with that kind of money. We came home, had dinner, and then Chris worked for a couple hours in the kitchen doing dishes and tidying up in there. (It always looks so much better after he's been in there.) and I reorganized and tidied the living room. I still need to go through the bookshelves and find a place for a few dragons, but otherwise, we finally have places for guests to sit. It's a fine thing.

And it's 8:40 pm and I am shooing everyone off to bed early again. It was a busy day. But I feel better with a neater, tidier house.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Angry Poem

Angry Poem Off Meds

Stuck in here behind hopeless webs--
A hungry tent caterpillar.
Eat your way out, a fat success,
You're torn apart into bird food.


New Poem After Some Book of Mormon Reading

If my brain or heart had a "service engine" light
mine would be permanently on.
All these years and no cure yet.
"The noise is still there, Doc."
Chris says, "You're not crazy,"
and he would know.

He says, "Get some sleep."
He says, "Go to church."
He says, "I got you some ice cream!"
which isn't part of the cure
but it does taste good
and makes me smile.

Somewhere between the praying
and the scripture reading,
the gardening and three boys,
one loving husband, one goofy dog,
one big family, a few more bills paid,
some luck, and the Holy Spirit . . .

I feel better enough.


Our plans for the weekend are pretty simple. Chris and Max went with the rest of the Mormon men and menlings for a father/son campout. This was free and fun, so I gave them my full blessing and sent them off, knowing they'll have gobs of fun.

Then Gaye invited the twinks and I out to dinner at Denny's. The portions were large enough that we'll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. We had a good time and after picking up some dog food for Emily, headed home.

It's done nothing but rain and we've been nothing but crazy busy between work and church stuff, so there's been no gardening going on. Hence, tomorrow is a catch-up day. I hope to install the final raised-bed, transplant all the plants, and seed everything that I'm seeding except the corn.

I don't know if we'll ever get the strawberries we ordered from Gurney's back in March.

And on that note, I'm encouraging the boys to crawl into their jammies, we'll read for a bit, and go to bed early.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Apologies

I know I'm supposed to blog, I do, I just don't seem to have a good post in me and I'm opposed to writing the blog tell-all post that would justify all the silence.

Besides, there have been lots of good moments in with the bad. The new job is challenging, but I enjoy it, and I think it's good for me--getting out of the basement and putting on mascara every day. Especially since I went and bought a fresh tube of the only brand that doesn't make me scratch my eyes out. (Almay. I don't have to go far.)

Max is doing well with tennis and piano. The twinks are doing well in their usual kindergartener ways. I'm behind in my gardening--I'm behind in everything--thanks to the new job. I'm desperate for a new routine and unsure it's going to look like this summer with childcare. I can't get caught up in dishes, laundry, and housecleaning to save my life.

Life isn't bad--it's just really different and the truck--every month it doesn't sell pushes back the date of our personal economic recovery further. It is hard, every day, on Chris and it is hard, every day, on me. We try not to let the strain show and to remember that we are 100% better off than we were this time last year, but we are stuck on a treadmill that goes just a little too fast.

We keep picking activities close to home. No trips to Philly or Harrisburg or Baltimore are in the forecast. I looked into costs for taking the bus to and from work and to and from Max's school. I think it might actually save us about $25/week if we could NOT use the car for those two errands. Neither are far away, but they involve that in-town driving that eats up gas. We're up to almost $4.00/gallon here. I realize it's worse in California and the like, but here in Central PA, that price is killing us.

Blah, blah, blah. This is why I haven't been blogging. I believe things will turn around soon, but with no contracts on the horizon and no buyer for the truck--I don't know when--and it's almost all I can think about.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Check List

I got a lot done today, but not everything I wanted to get done. Sometimes my to-do list is so ambitious that even I know it's just not going to happen. The important thing was that today some important things were accomplished. I completed the most recent food storage order for the folks at church. I had some fun with the twinks and Gaye at a bake/plant sale at the local school and then Gaye and I got some important stuff done in the yard. We:
  • mulched the blueberry bushes
  • got the rocks from the raised-bed project into a corner of the driveway so that the area around the bird & butterfly garden could be mowed
  • marked out the area for the third raised-bed so that it can be dug and set
  • tore out the sod, amended the clay with some potting soil, and planted some sweet peas
  • watered the infant grass (mostly just to be sure there would be plenty of rain tonight)
  • tore out the old wood boundary of the front flower garden, increased it by about 10 inches, and installed a new stone boundary in its place
  • mulched the front flower garden
  • installed a new bird feeder holder in the front flower garden
  • filled and installed two new bird feeders there
and then Gaye took a lot of pictures. Chris had mowed well and with the upgrades, the front flower garden looks especially nice. I did rip the peonies back out. I think we may put in peonies at some point, but not right there, and we'll do it in the fall, which is apparently the time for that sort of thing.

Just as we finished up, the beneficial nematodes arrived. Gaye had ordered them in order to combat the gazillion grubs in her sod. It turns out that once they arrive, you have to use them in 48 hours. So that's what I'm doing after church tomorrow.

Then I took the kids and headed home. Chris had been on Max and tennis duty this morning, but spent the afternoon working on getting a scooter running. He can't take this one to work, but he can ride it around town a bit. He was glad to have us all home again.

I've spent the rest of the evening listening to the rain, washing dishes, trying to tidy up the kitchen . . . that sort of thing. I think I'm going to go hunt up my pjs and then try to stay awake until Chris gets back from the store with the staples I sent him to get before we're sideswiped by another fast-moving week.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thursday Evening

We had a special meeting of the Parent Advisory Council tonight to elect next year's board. Chris and I had decided awhile ago that I was going to move into the Past Chair position and let someone else take the Chair position.

But then, somewhere in there, I started having second thoughts. Mostly, I felt concerned for all that had been done and all that had not been done and I wanted to keep the good things going and I wanted another chance at getting the other items accomplished.

But Chris felt otherwise and I really, really respected his instincts on the matter. So I made peace with that and as recently as this afternoon explained patiently to someone why I would not be continuing in the position.

Then sometime in the last few days, Chris changed HIS mind. And as I was getting ready to leave for tonight's meeting, said a few times, "Keep your mind open. Do what you have to do."

So at the meeting when I did my best to sell the position to another willing parent and explained how meaningful the position is and . . . noone jumped in . . . and then one of the other 6th-grade Dads started listing his reasons why I should stay in the position . . . I agreed to do it for another year.

And after that, the rest of the meeting went as smoothly as I could have hoped. We even got four members-at-large for a total of 9 executive board members. I couldn't be more pleased. It's going to be a great year next year.

(I gave Sweet Peas to my board members for this year and a Jalapeno plant to the principal "as a reminder that good things are sometimes a little spicy." In exchange, my board members gave me a beautiful hanging basket that is some kind of a pretty flower--like a black-eyed Susan, but they have white petals with a blue center. A blue-eyed Susan? Surrounded--get this--by six Hungarian Hot Pepper plants. :::Sniff::: I love them. And the Administration? They gave me a plate--a hand painted Turkish plate with the YSCP logo in the center. It's gorgeous. I'll take a photo at some point.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Don't Want to Do That

I'm going through some kind of weird knitting period where mostly . . . I don't want to. I'd been motivating myself to finish an EZ baby surprise sweater by telling myself that the store needed a sample so I could get more people to sign up for the class this summer--but then I remembered that they already have a sample of that particular sweater.

I was trying to remember how I got so much knitting done this time last year and in reviewing my blog entries from the time--well, it was because I was largely unemployed. This year I'm working 25 hrs (this week) at a "real" job and when I'm not at work, I'm working on the PAC, doing stuff with the kids, or doing something for church or whatever. Last night we had Family Home Evening and finished our gifts for Mother's Day. Now I have to find the time to get them all in the mail before, well, Mother's Day.

I really like my new job. I'll be glad when training is over, and sometimes I'm self-conscious of the fact that in a place with big personalities, I'm the quiet one. I worry I seem downright brooding next to the other personalities in the office. But I *really* like them, and I'm finding that even after 9 years of working at home, I'm already starting to thaw out a little. I don't know if that's the right term. It's just that I have never been brilliant at "chatting" and all the working at home didn't really refine those skills at all. Anyway, the folks there are not just nice, they're genuinely funny people and I -- I am in a good place to laugh right now.

Normally when I'm not working or cooking or doing all the kid-oriented things, I immediately grab my knitting, but lately--not so much. Again, I got to think about what I'm doing instead (because I'm sure not staring off into space) and why this week I'm feeling so . . . frustrated. I'm in the mood, honestly, for a good temper tantrum. Why is that?

And then I realized that what I've been doing is running out into the yard--either Gaye's or mine--and working on a lawn, garden, or lawn and garden related task. But since I hurt my ankle on Friday, I've had to really take it easy on that kind of thing. Today I felt better enough to mow a small portion of the front yard--just the area where the grass was tallest so that when Chris does the real mowing on Saturday, it won't be too tall to mow properly. Then I started shoveling some of that mulch under the nearest tree.

I couldn't finish the job. I had to admit after I had a smidge over half of the mulch under that tree that my ankle was done. So I came inside to check email and cook dinner and eventually it dawned on me that the reason I felt so grouchy was because of the ankle pain.

It is just not going to heal as quickly as I would like. Especially if I keep cheating and shoveling "just a little" mulch. So I sit down and tell myself to knit a little, but I don't want to. It's April, nearly May, and there is mulch to be placed, a third raised-bed frame to put into place and fill with soil, and the corn bed to plot out and plan. I'm counting down the weeks till I can transplant the peppers, tomatoes, and melons. I'm wondering just how "warm" the soil has to be before I can put out the birds and butterfly seeds. (I was just looking at the plastic "mulch" sheeting I bought a couple of seed orders ago and wondering what the best use of it was, and I think using it to warm the two dirt beds over at Gaye's is my best bet.)

Ironically, tonight we're having a hard frost and all my agricultural pins are holding plastic sheeting in place over the more tender veggies so they're not completely killed by the cold.

So. I'm pooped. I'm going to take my whining ankle to bed. I'm sure at some point my ankle will feel much better, the garden will be full of growing plants (and weeds) and it will be sticky hot and instead of weeding I will . . . suddenly remember how much I love to knit lace :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Recital Video

Go to Chris' blog to see the recital pieces :)

Things Growing

First and foremost, the playground grew. We worked on it all day, although I gave out about two and a half hours before the last guys left. I twisted my ankle early in the day and when Chris called at 6:30 pm to remind me that we had overnight guests, I knew it was time to go home. It was bad enough last night and this morning that I actually caved and went and got it x-rayed.

This turned out to be an easy-peasy experience. We were in-and-out of the weekend clinic in 45-minutes. It's just a bad sprain and this magic gizmo REALLY helps. That and I'm supposed to take 800 mg of ibuprofin every 4 to 6 hours for three days, LOL.

We have flower buds on the cherry trees.

Here's one with the underside of a pollinator.

Last summer's wasp's nest has been renovated and rented out.

Most of the tomatoes and peppers have been transplanted into bigger pots, except for the Jalapenos. There are so many of them that I have to get more peat pots before I can do that.

a peony bud

onions and lettuce

It was an unbelievably exciting day even if I couldn't hardly do anything standing up. I could still take delivery of a LOT of mulch. My tarp is size "massive." I don't know, 10 ft x 12 ft? Something like that.


I may be limping along, but by next weekend I'll have spread all that mulch in the appropriate places in the front yard and another pile over at Gaye's house around the blueberry bushes and in her front flower bed. Whoo-hoo!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Of Playgrounds and Peonies

First, for Gaye, the bedraggled looking creatures I planted in your front bed this morning will eventually spread out and look something like this:

You have something else growing on the left-hand side, and I wasn't sure what it was, so I planted fewer peonies there and let the other thing live. After watching both for a summer, you can pick which you want me to dig up for good.

Peonies grow into pretty bushes with shiny leaves and massive purple/pink flowers--and then the flowers die and they stay pretty bushes with shiny leaves until the last possible moment in fall. I wasn't enamored of them when we first moved here. I thought they were kind of . . . big. But they have grown on me and I appreciate the fact that they look wonderful all the freakin' time. Too much rain? They're happy. Too little rain? Still happy. First sign of spring? They're peeking out of the ground. Definitely fall? Still hanging in there.

This Friday is the big Build the Playground day at school and a lot of the organizing and phone calling is my job and it's been a heck of a week with big and small problems cropping up and me trying to squash them like bugs. So far so good though.

I still like my new job. It's a heck of a lot to learn though.

When I'm not working on the playground or workwork, then I'm working on my yard or Gaye's. I've been working more on Gaye's this week because I've been imagining that every time she looks out her kitchen window and sees the rocks strewn about and the unfinished boxes she sighs heavily and wonders why she ever agreed to let me do this. I don't think I'll get to the third box until Saturday afternoon, but I did get some of my peonies divided and into her bed and we'll see how that goes. I'm not a "dividing" whiz kid. Maybe you're supposed to trim them or something to get them to work on their roots? I just know they're impossible to actually kill, so the worst that can happen is that they don't look as good as they could for one summer and then next year they look magnificent. I finished raking my back yard to the point where we stop mowing and then did weed and feed for that portion of the back yard.

Gaye's yard needs more weed-killer. I've never seen some of the weeds she has on her lawn. They're more like alien life forms than dandelions. I'm starting from gentlest weed killer to most noxious so as to avoid using something stronger than we need. With a few exceptions (I can't even find a picture of this thing. It looks like a huge, fuzzy, silver/pale green star and it HURTS if you touch it) the weeds are clumped together in certain areas, so I don't need to do the whole lawn at this point. What I do need though is a working hose and we might need to call a plumber to get that :( The inspector apparently didn't notice the spigots leak *inside* the house. Weed Killer #3 is of the sort that fits on the end of your hose and sprays through that way.

Weed Killer #2 is a propane torch. I'm scheduling that one in for tomorrow afternoon. :::evil cackle:::

Alright. I'm off to eat lunch, shower the dirt off me, and go into the office. :::Hums happily:::

Monday, April 21, 2008

Twitter, Twitter, Ka-Boom!! Tweet, Tweet!

I have to admit that spring and summer weather in PA, except for that heavy heat that settles down, especially at night when you're trying to sleep, is pretty exciting. Once the first robins show up, pretty soon, the neighborhood is full of birds and they ALL have something to say. It's clearly a feathered meat-market--and the guy who moved into the old wasp nest outside our window did pretty well, scoring a wife in just a day or two. I worry the nest will fall apart for good before the eggs hatch and the chicks are raised, but for now, it's a good place to be.

When the sun isn't shining and the weather isn't being magnificent, there's a thunderstorm on the way, or overhead, or just passed. And I love a good thunderstorm (having never been struck by lightening or having had my roof ripped off or anything. These are not newsworthy storms. They're not even as impressive as the ones we saw in Minnesota--but those sometimes went too far and scared the jeebers out of me. These are kinder, gentler thunderstorms.)

OTOH, if I don't get one of the THREE clients who owe me checks to pay me soon, I'm gonna start wishing lightening strikes on someone . . . . I don't think I have any actual authority in that area, so they're safe anyway. But, I'm starting to WISH a little kaboom in their neighborhood. They're making it difficult to observe my naturally-law abiding nature.

I started my new job. It was only three hours of training, and maybe that's just as well. It's a LOT to learn. I felt a little overwhelmed at times just because, well, it's new! But I came home excited about it.

I then jumped into my jeans and ran over and got 2.5 hrs in the garden at Gaye's house. Only 5 blueberry bushes and one raised bed garden left to get into place. I do need more DIRT and I'm trying to figure out where to get that cheaply. You'd think dirt would easier to find.

After picking the kids up from school, I transplanted the tomato plants I knew I wanted to keep into bigger peat pots. Hopefully they won't need transplanting one more time before it's really time to put them in the garden. There are approximately 12 plants, of which I will only plant 9. It will soon be time to get tomato cages. I've used stakes for the past few years, but I am reluctant to use them for anything but kindling because of the disease problems from last year.

It's time for dinner now. I'm pretty worn out. I think tonight will be one of those nights when the object of the game is to not fall asleep before the kids do.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Been There, Done That

This week was a week like no other. It got off to a bang with a normal Sunday, which was notable mostly in that it was normal. We had a little time for breathing at the end of the day. That was nice.

Monday kicked my keester. I finished all our taxes and the news--the news is never good. It wasn't as horrific as some previous years, but it was still bad. Within minutes of finishing the state taxes, I got an email from Penn State telling me, again (because I've heard it before) that they're sure I'm a wonderful writer and editor, but there are lots of writers and editors out there and I'm simply the wrong kind. A textbook writer at a University is simply not "as qualified" as, oh, pretty much English major. Or so it would seem.

Feeling kicked around, I changed into play clothes and went over to Gaye's house to work in the garden. The bird and butterfly box wasn't going well. I had gotten my measurements astonishingly wrong and was, quite simply, digging a really large hole in the wrong place. Gurney's was having a sale on blueberry bushes. Gaye and I made an on-the-spot decision to get into the blueberry-growing business. Besides, I have a single, lonely blueberry bush that wasn't thriving in its perfect soil in a pot. It really wanted to be in the ground with plenty of access to that acidic clay. So I brought over the blueberry bush and plonked it in the center of the hole--mostly to have a place to put the dirt I was now digging out for the proper location of the box. But then I hit a rock. And suffice to say, that after digging out this rock for nearly an hour, I realized that I was simply NOT going to be able to dig out the rock. The rock was staying.

I went and got Gaye and we pondered the situation, and then reluctantly moved the box AGAIN--6 inches more to the west of the original position. At this point, the box is in place. It needs to be shored up in one spot by some of the many rocks that were dug out during the excavation, and in general, we need something to do with those rocks. We need the rest of the blueberry bushes to arrive, so we can fill in the big hole in the spot where the box didn't go, and so that the one bush we do have, doesn't look so lonely.

That said, I checked on the blueberry bush today and in spite of the fact that it was only transplanted 6 days ago, it's sporting all sorts of new growth. It almost screams, "Acidic clay!! Oh!! I'm so happy!!" It's primary rootball sits in nice organic potting soil, but in the pot it was holding way too much moisture, and with the extra moisture wicked away, I suspect it's also happier for that reason.

Anyway, I got ahead of myself because the re-digging of the box didn't happen until Tuesday. So back to Monday afternoon. I went and got the kids and then headed back home where I found an email from a law office I know.

This post is from May 27, 2007:
"Initially I was looking for temporary work, but then an opportunity for a part-time permanent position came up. It's not in education. I haven't done anything like it in years. The pay can't compare to freelancing--but it would be every week, rain or shine. I met and liked the other person in the office. I met and liked the person who would be my boss. If it doesn't come through, I don't know if I'll keep looking for something else. Freelance work, like it always does, has passed through it's difficult pause and there will soon be plenty of work again. But if offered the position, I believe I'll take it. The work would suit me, and getting a supplemental paycheck regularly would suit me, too. I would continue to freelance, but no more taking on two full-time contracts and one more part-time on the side."

There's a WHOLE lot more to the story that doesn't belong on the blog, but in this case, on Monday evening I got an email, and then a phone call, asking if I was still, possibly, maybe, interested in working there while freelancing on the side. And I said, "yes." And so, getting ahead of myself again, I went in on Wednesday and reinterviewed for the job. We'll get back to that.

I still wasn't done with Monday evening. I had a PAC meeting to go to. I went. I ran it. We had a busy conversation. I came home and crashed.

Tuesday I worked most of the day in Gaye's garden getting that box in place so that I could not think about the part-time job. In the afternoon I supervised piano practicing because the annual April recital was coming up and we needed to be ready. Chris was running a focus group for his work, so I led the 11-year-old scouts in a short lesson at the church and then they played football outside until the sun was gone.

Wednesday. Wednesday I dropped the kids off at school, ran over to Target for new pantyhose and a pair of spring shoes since the ones from last spring/summer were shot. I had about 3o minutes before the interview, so I went and got a drink because I was thirsty. And I SPILLED it on the polyester shirt I was wearing. I tried to dab it up, but it's the kind of top that immediately can't be fixed in that situation. I drove around for a few panicked moments and then felt I should go to the interview as is and look for a solution THERE.

Now, I really hit it off with my office mate/office manager there last year and we've exchanged a few emails since, so I showed her the blouse when I got there--still 10 minutes early. She lent me her white sweater. It was perfect. It completely covered the spots and I wouldn't be doing a reinactment of that Tide commercial from the Superbowl.

The interview went fine. I was offered the job. I accepted it. Friday morning we hammered out a schedule for next week. I'll be working around the schedule of the woman who has the job right now for a few weeks while she trains me. Then I can work during the hours the kids are in school.

So, anyway, the interview was Wednesday morning. I was useless for most of the rest of the day. I already knew I had the job and I was very happy. I wanted to find Gaye and tell her what had happened, but she was over at the Senior Crack House Senior Citizen Center. The State College Senior Citizen Center (SCSCC) turns out to be all kinds of fun, full of Mahjong, Scrabble, and regular trips to here and there. They serve a good, cheap lunch, and Gaye is swiftly making lots of friends. When she goes missing, I call there first. (She has since agreed to start carrying her cell phone again.) So I ran home, found out my phone had gone dead, made an appointment with Verizon to get it fixed on Friday (I wasn't in any hurry--for whatever reason, the DSL still worked), hopped out of interview clothing and into jeans, and went downtown. I found Gaye and she agreed to go to JoAnn's fabrics with me. I told her the whole story of the interview adventure. Next to the SCSCC is a goldsmith. I go in and get my rings cleaned. Oooh, shiney. It was a worthwhile whim.

We went to JoAnn's and found a Gentleman Ship's Captain costume to go with the pirate costumes and bought fabric and a lot of buttons for it. Max's play was on Friday and I knew that Thursday was my only shot at sewing it together.

We headed home, picked up the kids, went to piano lessons, had dinner, and I started to cut out fabric. Around this time I got an email reminding me that some dear friends were coming through town this weekend and were spending the night Friday night. I'd totally neglected to write it down. I confessed, but it was all good, and they still came Friday night.

Thursday. Now the week starts to get interesting. I enlist the help of a friend who can sew much better than I and with her help, I get everything done except a small part along one seam, the lace, and the buttons and button holes. I head over to the school and do Reader's Theater with the 2nd graders, take the twins home, and keep sewing. Chris drops off Max at group piano, then picks him up. I think I order pizza or something. It takes me FOREVER but I finally figure out button holes.

However, button holes is the last thing my machine has sewed properly. It hasn't worked since. It jams every which way. I'm at a loss. I start sewing on seven million buttons.

Friday morning. I keep an eye out for Verizon and keep sewing on buttons. I hate sewing buttons. I keep sewing on buttons. Verizon arrives and fixes the problem. It's on their end, so no charge to me. Yay! I talk to the law office and get the schedule for next week. I finish the costume, grab all the stuff for the play, run over to the school, leave the costumes with the woman in charge of the Extended-Day Extravaganza and check the boys out of school-----to get their hair cuts. It was the only time I could do it before the piano recital!! So I just did. We went to the barber, the downtown was crazy. There was a bomb scare of some sort (turned out later to be an experimental insulin pump thing that someone accidentally left somewhere it didn't belong. It had many wires and it looked scary I guess) so they'd emptied the downtown, including the SCSCC. Gaye and I got hold of each other and we picked her up after the hair cuts and took her home. From there we went over to the church where the recital would be so they could practice on the grand piano.

This turned out to be a huge hassle. I won't go into it, but in the end we did get into the building and each boy got to practice their piece at least once on the piano they'd actually be playing on the next day.

We ran back to the school and I left the boys with Chris who'd just arrived. I went to get Gaye and we came back and were treated to a very nice show on the part of the school and the kids. From there Max and Chris went to church to watch the Lip Synch contest and I took the twins and Grandma downtown and we got her car now that the bomb scare was over.

Then the twins and I went and watched the lip synch contest. WONDERFUL! Until Sarah called to say she was on her way. I grabbed the twins and went home and started cleaning. When Chris got there he helped me with the dishes. The place didn't look great, but it looked liveable by the time they got there.

We all wanted to talk and go to sleep simultaneously. Talking won. In the morning (it is now Saturday) we talked and ate and they left an hour and a half later than they meant to. Max and the twins and I got some groceries, dropped off Max at tennis, ran another errand, picked up Max, ran home, made the kids lunch, supervised showers and recital clothing, got us all off to the recital, picked up Gaye, and then . . .

the kids played. And they each did the best they could possibly do. And it was beautiful. By the end we (Chris and I) were each in tears, even though I prayed through most of Max's pieces that he wouldn't be too nervous. Maybe it worked for he was soooo . . . . great :) Just terrific.

This is Miss Irene with some of her students, including Max, far left. He has played with her for three years now.

Here are Ben and Milo with another tiny musician:

Chris is working on the video. There will be DVD's for the grandparents.

After that we went and celebrated at Meyer's Dairy with sundae's and then stopped off at a local farm on the way home to pick up 5 dozen eggs I'd ordered.

We had Quiche Lorraine and Veggie Quiche for dinner with the missionaries--I'd signed up to feed them many weeks before I completely understood the nature of this week.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow is church, followed by a short break, and then a special "Preparing for Priesthood" get together for Max and one of the other "almost a 12-yr-old" boys.

Which is followed by a week in which I start my new part-time job, do the usual piano lessons and stuff, have the kids off from school on Thursday because of parent-teacher conferences, and then on Friday I supervise the volunteers who will be constructing the new school playground (it's just my job just to keep the volunteers happy--and there). There's a Board of Trustees mtg which I will probably have to miss as Sarah and her gang are coming back through and we really want those few hours with them again.

And a week from today? It's easy peasy! Nothing on the schedule but tennis. Oh yeah, and I teach the Relief Society lesson the next day. Well, I'll get that in there somewhere . . . .

Let's make it my goal to keep it that way. Well, only so I can get some gardening done :) Also, hopefully the lawn mower will be fixed early this week because her lawn needs mowing. She gets so much more rain and sun than we do. She already needs a mowing! We'll still have a week or two before we get there.

Monday, April 14, 2008


On Chris' blog are some new pictures of the twins.

They desperately need haircuts, but I wanted photos of the boys in the vests that my Aunt Charlotte made them, the vest I made Milo from the yarn my grandmother bought me, and the sweater set I made for the twinks out of the yarn Prairie Silk.

With the exception of the plain blue vest, these sweaters are now up for "hand me down" as the twins have been growing at an alarming rate. To get these photos, I did some serious blocking. They are all about a 4T/5T.

I want them to go to Moms who don't mind hand washing, who will understand that all of these will need the occasional depilling, and who will love them for me in abstentia (sp?). They are all basically wool, and fine wool at that. (The Prairie silk obviously has a high silk content, too.)

I'm willing to split up the sets. You don't have to be a relative. Although for the vests, preference will go to relatives who show interest. (And if you're a relative, you don't have to have a kid or be pregnant yet if you just promise not to make sure the item gets USED when the child is the appropriate age.)

So. Please email me with your choices. These are somewhat high maintenance clothing items by today's standards, but they will last more than one child and they are WARM and so wonderful, they can even be worn to church.

A K i n P A AT v e r i (etc.) DOT net [take out spaces and make it a real email address.]

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday and Gardening

A quick rundown of the day:

Got up, got the family going, took firstborn to sporting good's store. Bought him a new pair of shorts that fit, bringing his total of shorts that fit up to 1. It doesn't seem like he's growing exponentially, but I bought all his clothing last year big, so I know he is. We looked at tennis rackets, with no intention of buying, but trying to get a feel of what is out there so we can compare it to what they have at the Ralleyball lesson.

As it turns out, they have pretty much the same racquets at Ralleyball. I was impressed. These things weigh a fraction of the weight I remember as a kid.

I chased ball and even hucked a few. During the actual Rally's, I kept score. Apparently, I was also getting a really great sunburn, but there was a strong breeze through the whole morning and I had no clue. Next week I go slathered in sunscreen and I look for my straw hat. It's got to be around here somewhere. I didn't know we were at that point in the season yet.

We went home, changed into fresh clothes, picked up the rest of the family at Gaye's house, dropped off Max at the practice recital, and drove out to Tait's farm, which is my source for good vegetable seeds and sometimes, good vegetables.

I bought a six-pack of broccoli and some of the veggies I was looking for.

I went home and worked in the yard. Mostly, I raked. But in the process of raking up the side yard, I decided to add a bunch of the dried grass and leaves to the compost heap. And when I got back to the compost heap . . .

A few years ago I picked up a tumbler compost bin from freecycle. The tumbler part was in good shape, but the bottom was nearly rusted out. It's in pretty much the same condition. I couldn't ever seem to get it to really WORK though. My contents mixed up just fine, but they were composting as near as I could tell. After about 6 months, I gave up. It froze, it thawed, it froze, it thawed. And sometime this winter I decided that when it did thaw again, I would scrape out the contents, hose it down, and see if a scrap metal place might want it. So today as I was adding more "brown" to my compost pile, I decided the time had come to at least scrape out the contents. I had finished raking the front and side yard and when else was I going to do it? I went and got my pitchfork and began scraping.

And discovered to my astonishment the most pitch-black, fully composted, omigosh, you-could-really-grow-something-in-this . . . material. It's very compacted and there are a few signs of dried mildew, so I don't trust it in the vegetable garden. But I have a spot along the side of the front porch where I like to grow climbing, flowering things. I have two big things whose name has escaped me since ten days after I bought them. Last summer I had morning glories and I hope to have those again this year. And this year I'm also planting sweet peas. In the past, I've grown herbs there, too. But I find that mostly I don't use them. So instead I spread out the compost there, will plant the morning glories and sweet peas in them, and then after the plants are up, will pile mulch over the whole thing. There are bulbs there that look pretty all summer (I didn't plant those) and the compost will help them, too.

Then I uprighted the old composting barrel and that's as far as I got with that. I don't have the outside spigot turned on yet and I didn't want to deal with the hose today, so I left the hosing out of it for another day.

I checked the time. Still another hour till the birthday party the twins' were attending, so I worked on my vegetable gardens in the front yard. I planted the broccoli, with some queen anne's lace around them. I left the center section of the raised bed garden empty, just cleaning it out and making note of the onions that had survived the winter (which is all of them. Apparently that's what they do.) I think at this point I just wait till they grow a bit, use them for green onions, and then when we're past the last frost date, I'm planting some beans in that spot. In the last third of the box, I again saved most of the space for beans, but planted two rows of radishes just for the fun of it.

After the raised bed, there is a spot of thinning grass about 2 ft by 4 ft, and then another garden bed where I have heavily amended the soil, but it is not actually a garden box. Early in the summer last year, I let a twink plant some "chocolate mint" in the far corner of this spot and I filled the rest of it with beans. The beans struggled as they were besieged by beetles and it took me awhile to find an organic response that gave them any real respite. But the mint took hold.

A week ago I'd pulled all the mint out of the garden bed so I could use that spot for something else, and I sort of noticed that while this was easy enough in my garden where the soil is very loose and the roots pull up in long strings, at the spot where the roots entered the native PA clay soil--those roots weren't going anywhere.

Well, after planting the radishes today I took the rake and again raked up all the leaves I'd pulled out of the garden while cleaning it up and THAT is when I saw the dozens and dozens of tiny little flowering heads peeking up out of the lawn and I realized that the mint intended to replace the grass. All of it. I was immediately alarmed and impressed. I don't really LIKE our front lawn and I'm not sure I'm completely opposed to a lawn of mint--except that it looks AWFUL over the winter. Smells good when you rake it though.

I discussed the issue with Chris later and he immediately came up with a perfect solution. So now I'm happy and the mint that has spread so far . . . gets to stay.

Then in the smaller bed I planted lettuce, red onion sets, and yellow onion sets.

Except for the beans, nearly everything else is going in the beds over at Grandma Gaye's house. We'll come back to that.

So then I ran in, jumped in the shower, jumped into clean clothes, realized I'd picked up a fantastic sunburn over the course of the day, grabbed the twinkies and went to a very noisy birthday party. I knit through most of the party, which is something because I have not been knitting as much lately.

By the time I got home I plonked the twinkies in bed and finished putting some seeds in a seed-starting mix. These are the last of the seeds I'll start indoors. And it mostly constitutes what we'll be growing this year.

The biggest difference this year is that I'm growing many few varieties of tomatoes (and honestly, fewer plants) and I'm growing more beans and gobs of flowers. The flowers are mostly to attract butterflies and birds to Gaye's yard and because the previous owner succeeded in taking reasonably good care of the least landscaped yard I have ever seen. He must really like taking care of his grass. Gaye would like a little more color. I don't blame her.

There was this big, decaying stump in the back yard, so I built a box to go around it and after I finish getting it installed (it's a big digging job), I'll show it to you. Most of this box will be a random mix of wild flowers from a bag that promises to attract butterflies and birds, but we've got a few things planted on purpose, too.

So, 2008's garden:

Hot Peppers: Heavenly Jalapeno Hybrid, Paper Lanterns, Fatali, habaneros
Tomatoes: Mortgage Lifter, Amana Orange, Black Prince, Red German Strawberry, Granny Cantrell's German Pink, Tobolsk, and probably more volunteers from wherever the critters burried tomato seeds last fall.
Corn: I have two SU varieties and two SE varieties and after doing some fancy google-fu, it would seem this means that I *can* plant them at the same time. The SU's are Hybrid Honey & Cream and Hybrid Silver Queen. The SE's are Ruby Queen Hybrid (for which I achieved 0% germination last year, but goshdarnit, I'm going to try again) and the Sugar Pearl Hybrid
Strawberries: I totally forget. I ordered them from Gurney's and 50 plants will be arriving some time later this spring. Max and I will have like 48 hours to get them in the ground at that point.
Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson and then whatever else I bought on a whim.
Squish: Waltham Butternut, Early Prolific Straightneck, Zucchini, Wyatt's Wonder Giant Pumpkins, New England Pie
Onions: Red and Yellow
Melons: Moon & Stars, muskmelon, Rocky Ford Muskmelon, Sugar Baby Watermelon
Beans: Sugar Sprint, Black Valentine, Trionfo Viletto (Purple Beans?), Scarlet Emperor Runner Bean
And some radishes

Ornamental Kale
Bronze Fennel
Asclepias, Silky Formula Mix (milkweed)
Red Cored Chantenay carrots (for Eastern Black Swallowtails)
"Butterfly and Bird Mix"
and there are daffodils and hyacinths already out in Gaye's yard and I expect the daffodils to be up in my yard soon, too. The Idon'tknowwhat's that I love so much around the base of the pear tree and the sour cherry tree are done looking dead and are sending up green shoots.

And I still have about 4 hours of work left to do on raking up the back yard before I can fertilize the lawn and I'm desperate to get the boxes into Gaye's yard so they're not just standing there on top of her lawn, but I will take deep breaths and trust that it will all get done because the next seven days are packed to the gills AND I have to mail off my taxes.

So there you have it.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I think what I was supposed to do today was rake the yard at my house in the morning and then go help out at Gaye's in the afternoon, but I got wrapped around the axle in the morning working on job applications and by the time I got back from spending the check I got for teaching those knitting classes back in February, I barely got a quarter of the front yard raked before it started to rain.

So I worked on laundry and dishes and picking up around the house and the next thing I knew it was time to go pick up the kids. I brought them back home and worked on more housework, and then it was dinner time and now suddenly it's 9pm. How does that happen?

Tomorrow Max and I have tennis from 10:30 till noon and then a make-up group piano lesson from 1 to 2pm. After that, I'm not sure. I need to keep on the laundry and the house cleaning before it gets away from me again, but I also need to make more progress raking--and at the same time, it's supposed to rain tomorrow.

I shouldn't worry. I don't have work for Monday and Tuesday and although the rest of the week gets progressively crazier--I don't have workwork then either. There should be enough time to finish Spring Cleaning at both houses and get the lawn raked and fertilized at my house and finish installing the flower box at Gaye's house.

That's what I keep telling myself anyway. What am I racing? I guess part of it is that I want to be ready to jump into a full-time job if it calls. Part of it is . . . I don't know really. It's spring and maybe I secretly believe that if I get all the vegetable beds ready and the lawns growing well that will make it late spring earlier. As I was pondering the fact that I was completely helpless to NOT buy another packet of corn seeds in the face of finding a variety I can never find anywhere else, in spite of the fact that it will mean some complicated timing on the part of corn planting because the four varieties of corn I have now can't be polinating within three weeks of each other (that's better than it sounds. It's two sets of SU corn and two sets of SE(?) corn. Each set can be planted at the same time, but the two sets can't be planted at the same time.

I lost total control of that sentence. My point is that I guess the gardener in me just can't be reasoned with sometimes. I find myself driving along, wondering if I should go ahead and put lime on the lawns this year. You have to do that sometimes with clay soil. I need to get the lawn mowers to the machine shop for sharpening and maintenance. I want to go ahead and put in some onions and I wonder how much longer before Tait farm will have broccoli. It'll probably be awhile yet.

But tomorrow is all about getting Max off to a good start in tennis and then if the weather cooperates, getting more raking done. Chris will head over to Gaye's and help her hand pictures and move a small dresser and mirror from her place to ours so Max's room can, maybe, be a little tidier.

Wish us luck in tennis.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Now, I know y'all know I can't spell my way out of a paper sack, but despite that, I do usually manage to catch the most glaring errors before hitting "publish." In the event I accidentally make a typo--such as hitting the U instead of the I (they're right next to each other on the keyboard)--resulting in a word that doesn't exist . . . it's okay to help me out in the comments.

I wanted to blog but now that I'm in front of the keyboard I'm feeling shy. So maybe I'll try to come at the topic from a different angle than I originally pictured. (Chris says, "You're going to try to sneak up on yourself?")

Since Chris started attending church with me, things have changed a lot for me spiritually. It started in some superficial ways. First of all, he's so much better than I am at learning names and relationships. He'll meet a guy and remember his name, match him up to his wife, know which kids are his, and even remember the name of most of the kids. I'm lucky if I remember that I met the guy before. It's not that I'm an idiot. I think it's half character-defect, half genuinely poor memory for names. What I mean by character defect is that ironically I happen to believe that NOT learning the names of the people you meet is basically revealing that at some level you don't care about them. And when I'm really stressed out and in survival mode, I guess that's fair. I can't deal with new people, so I don't. But when Chris started attending and he was learning names left and right, I felt pushed to keep up. I mean, I didn't want him talking about how great so-and-so was and how neat his son was and I didn't have a clue who Chris was talking about. Chris has is a good judge of character. I started coming out of my shell a bit and doing better at learning names.

And that led to me feeling closer to the ward and being less willing to miss the occasional meeting.

And that led to me hearing many more talks and Sunday School lessons and Relief Society lessons.

And that led to me making some changes at home. Finally having regular prayers at dinner. The occasional Family Home Evening. Subscribing to the Ensign and the Friend again.

Actually reading them.

Cracking the scriptures from time to time. Reading the lesson ahead of time more often. Participating a lot in the lessons. Bearing my testimony from time to time. I'd been paying tithing and sticking to the Word of Wisdom since before Chris started attending, but these things got easier.

I really LOVE my church, love my faith. I think being a Latter Day Saint rocks. But I also felt chronically behind and like I would NEVER catch up. I'd never be much GOOD at being LDS. And that feeling of being grateful for being welcomed back into the fold after . . . everything . . . I felt I would always feel in debt.

When Chris decided to get baptized, I didn't think I could feel much more grateful. It was like finding out that I was pregnant with twins again--God's mercy went so far beyond what I deserved.

Then at some point . . . maybe it was February? I missed the actual meeting. The Relief Society set the goal to read the Book of Mormon by October's General Conference meeting. I started three weeks after the kick-off date, but their pace was so reasonable, that by reading ten pages a day for about ten days I was caught up.

I've read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before. I did it before I got baptized and I did it again about a year later. Like, maybe, everyone, I struggled to understand it all. When President Hinkley issued the challenge to read the Book of Mormon a couple years ago, I didn't make it all the way through. I got close, but not all the way through.

But this time is sooo different. Maybe it's just that with Chris' support, I have a better connection with the Spirit and so . . . things make more sense. Maybe it's because it's my fifth time through this section of the book. Maybe it's because I'm older, wiser. Maybe it's because I only have to read a chapter or two a day and I'm finding it less of a problem to make the time to read carefully. Maybe it's because I don't let more than one day go by if I must miss a reading. Maybe it's a combination of all of those things.

But a few key points of doctrine are imbedding themselves in my heart this time in a way they haven't in the past. I am accepting Christ's atonement--with deep gratitude--but not resisting it the way I used to. I used to think, not consciously, but at some level, that maybe I could take back my sins upon myself and suffer for them myself so he wouldn't have to. But that's not the plan of salvation, and to do so is to not understand the nature of the atonement--and the importance of, well, all the details. His innocence, for example. It's my job to repent, but not to get stuck in any particular part of it, either. There's nothing edifying about getting stuck in feeling horrible about something.

It's not just that I'm enjoying the Book of Mormon and that I'm enjoying being able to keep up with the others reading it--I really look forward to that time to read each day. It's not as hard to remember to pray. I do so more reflexively.

Chris gets frustrated because his own spiritual progression--well, it's his. And he's a guy who learns things easily and masters new skills quickly and spiritual matters, they're just different. They're not like that.

But I feel like the distance he has gone--the questions he has asked and the basic things he has done to make sure we all get to church on time every Sunday--these have paid dividends for me that I don't take for granted. There is really something to the FACT that every step he takes on his journey moves us both forward. It's much more powerful than I ever expected. Not the superficial stuff (like me now knowing my own ward soooo much better) but the deep stuff. The places where fundamental change occur. And I'm grateful because I have wanted those changes, but I just couldn't get here without him.

And that is all I have to say about that.