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.)