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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Great Memorial-Thanksgiving Day Weekend

 We had a GREAT weekend! Willie and I had been waiting impatiently for the weekend to come. The days at work leading up to it seemed very long and very irritating. Each day just got in the way of the weekend to come. Waiting had become unbearable.

Finally, Wednesday came. That meant Joshua and Caitlin would be coming that evening! How exciting! They would be the first to arrive. The weekend was about to begin. Lucky for me I had Thursday off! We would have time to do things together before I had to work again on Friday. We went to a movie, Dark Shadows! I had been looking forward to that since I first heard about it. It was great. We meandered around Rossville and Danville some, and rented more movies for the evening. We grilled a meatloaf for supper and settled in for the night.



 Thursday night was spent sleeplessly. Valerie, Alyssa, Shane and Kahlen were driving out overnight. I spent the night sleeping for ten minutes and then waking up and jumping up to check the clock. Four more hours, three more hours, two more hours. The minutes ticked by slower and slower. Sleep was being overridden by the excitement of all of the kids and Kahlen being here at the same time. Something that hasn't happened since we moved here. The house itself seemed delighted at the prospect of being full of life and laughter. 
 Finally, at precisely 6:06 am we got a text for Alyssa, "5 miles!" is what it said. Willie and I got up and went downstairs. We both paced around, neither knowing what to do with ourselves. Willie went out on the porch several times, watching and waiting. I paced around the kitchen, deciding what to make for breakfast, just to keep myself from running down the street to meet their car.

Finally, they pulled into the drive. The car stopped and Willie and I raced to the door. Slowly, the very tired group emerged from the car. First Shane, then Alyssa and Valerie at the same time. And then Kahlen! Now, don't get me wrong, I was very excited to see all five of my kids, but they don't change over the months when we don't see them. Kahlen, she looks different every time! She grows, she learns more words, she has emerged from baby to toddler to almost a preschooler since we moved here. Her sense of humor has exploded. I can never wait to see her. Once out of the car I swooped her into my arms and neither of us had any intention of letting go.
 We all spent the morning talking and playing with Kahlen. We caught up and made plans and got everyone settled in for the weekend. Then it was time for Willie and I to go to work. I was again lucky, Friday was the only day I had to work while they were here. Willie had to work the whole weekend. I felt so bad for him.

That Friday at work seemed to be the planet where time stood still. Everything irritated me. I was angry that I had to be there selling pseudo ephedrine to itchy twitchy meth heads instead of being home with my family. After what seemed like forever, 9:00 pm finally came. I knew as I was driving home that Kahlen would likely be asleep when I got there, but that was ok, I'd get to spend time with the grown up kids that way.

As it turned out, Little Miss Kahlen had other ideas. I got home and opened the door. No sooner than I had walked in then a very exhausted Alyssa came down the stairs carrying and even more exhausted Kahlen. She had refused to go to sleep. Alyssa gave her to me, and she hung on tight. We got her talked into going to bed. I promised her that I would stay home with her for the next two days and until they had to leave Monday. She laid down and begrudgingly went to sleep.

The next morning Willie got up early and spent time with Kahlen watering flowers and feeding fish. We had another big breakfast and made sure Willie had Kahlen time before he had to go into work.
We decided to go into Indiana and got to Shades State Park for the day. It was a hot, hot day, but as the name of the park implies, it was very shady there. The heat didn't seem to bother anyone. The dirt however, did. Kahlen is much like her Grandpa. She is neat and tidy and isn't keen on getting dirty. Shane and I have a shared mission in life to change that about her. When we were on a nice flat normal path, or on the board walk and stairs, Little Miss was fine. She wanted to lead the way and decided which way to go. UNTIL..... we got down to the creek bed. It was wet! It was muddy! It was dirty! She wanted Daddy to carry her. She had no intention of getting filthy. Her sandals were not going to be soiled by that mud. I decided to get her dirty anyway. I scooped up a finger-full of mud and smeared it on her leg. Yeah.... not the good idea I thought it was. She was very unhappy that I had betrayed her by getting her dirty. Then I smeared mud on my leg as well. "It's fun to get dirty!" I happily told her.  That seemed to calm her a little.

Shane was very patient and kind with her. He carried her as long as she wanted and encouraged her to get down and walk when she wanted to try. Soon she was down in the water marching around, and just as soon she was up in Daddy's arms again. He was very good at knowing when to encourage and when to scoop her up. What started out as a scary situation for her turned into a wonderful experience for her and Shane both.

On the way home, Kahlen rode with Josh, Caitlin and me. She had an Oreo cookie. Anyone who has ever given a two and a half year old an Oreo knows what a mess that makes. Kahlen looked at her Oreo covered hands. She looked up at me and announced proudly, "Nahma! I got Dirty!" Shane and I may succeed at our mission yet!

The evening was spent grilling hot dogs, brats, pineapple and asparagus. We ate and laughed and wished Willie was there, too. Kahlen and I made a cheesecake for our "Thanksgiving" meal for the next day. She helped me put in ingredients, and watched as the mixer swirled them together. Alyssa took pictures and stayed out in the kitchen watching her daughter grow up a little more. Some cheesecake ended up on the floor, some on Bazinga, some on Kahlen. Some of it even ended up in the pan.  I got to give Kahlen her bath and bedtime snuck up on us.

After Kahlen was snug in bed, Valerie and I went to the store in Hoopston to get a few more things for our Sunday feast. We found all of our items and went home. We made pineapple salad, and Willie got home. His hours had gotten changed for Sunday, which meant he would be home earlier! We were all excited about that.
 The next morning Kahlen came in to wake me up. She climbed up on my bed, and brushed her hand on my cheek very softly. She giggled when I opened my eyes and gave me a big old hug. We watched Sesame Street for a little bit and then headed down stairs. Shane and Alyssa were going to go out for breakfast, and Valerie had already started making rolls for the rest of us. It was the start of a busy cooking day. Before that though, Josh went down and found Kahlen's swimming pool and got it all blown up. Caitlin, Josh and I watched as Kahlen very carefully held the hose to fill her pool. (Very carefully, because the day before she and the hose had had an, lets call it, and interaction. She was messing with the on and off switch on the hose. She wanted to fill a little tub with water. Josh was the first to notice her playing with it, "Let's see where this goes...." was his response. We all watched, and tried to find our phones for pictures, but we were too late..... She got the knob to turn, the water stormed out of the hose fiercely and scared the poo out of poor little Kahlen. Now when the hose comes on she runs for cover until it is flowing nicely.)
We made our big turkey dinner. Turkey dinner on Memorial Day weekend you may be asking yourself? Yes, this was the first holiday we had been all together since Willie and I moved here. So, Alyssa decided we needed to have a big Thanksgiving dinner. Which we did. Willie got home by three, just in time to see Kahlen having a good time in her pool.  Well, standing in her pool, but having fun just the same.

With bellies full, we all vegetated for a few hours while Kahlen and Caitlin put on a show for us. Kahlen was the princess in the grand regal robe, and Caitlin her dutiful servant. Kahlen ran through the house, with Caitlin keeping her robe up off the ground. "Bow down to me," Kahlen commanded. The house was full of laughter and energy. Even the creaks in the house seemed happier and younger.

Monday came and cars were packed. We all went to Penn Station for lunch. Having them leave from their seemed like it might be easier then watching them go down the road from the house. Kahlen started to pout a little as we went to the parking lot. I looked her in the eyes and told her I wanted her to be a good girl for Mommy and Daddy on the drive home. She said ok, and perked up a little. I told her Nahma and Tahpa would see her in about a week or so, and she perked up more. By the time she got in her car seat she was smiling and giggling. Leaving from the parking lot seemed to work. Made it easier on me and Willie, too.

We came home to an empty house. The quiet floating over us like a cloud of fog. Bazinga looked for everyone and was disappointed to find only Willie and me. We sat down on the couch and even the house seemed a little sadder.

Time with Friends

A couple of weeks ago, Bazinga and I decided to go on a road trip to go see my friend Dawn. This meant that Bazinga was going to get to have time with his own mom and dad. I wasn't quite sure how Pig, Bazinga's dad, was going to welcome him. Now that Bazinga is a full grown male dog, therefore competition, I didn't know if he'd see him as a rival, or still as the pup he knew. After the very long trip down to Dawn's, I took a wrong turn, and then hit horrible traffic, Bazinga was accepted as part of the pack. Pig reminded him of his manners and all was fine. 


 A surprise awaited Bazinga, he had a new brother and sister to get to know. He was fascinated with them. He stood and watched them and tried to get in to their kennel with them. Not exactly sure what to do with them, he spent most of his time following his mom, Isabelle,  around. "She smelled PURTY!" Her pregnancy hormones still in full bloom, and  the smell of her milk enticing his senses, Bazinga wasn't sure how to approach her. One moment he would be following her like a smitten suitor and the next he'd be trying to nurse. He was one confused boy. Her reaction was to tolerate kindly and snap him into place as needs be.

He had a whole pack of dogs of all different kinds and sizes to play with.  He had chickens to chase. He could safely go in and out as he pleased, never wandering too far from Isabelle,  was a happy puppy.
Knowing that Bazinga was in good hands, Dawn and I decided to go to town. We went to lunch at an outdoor restaurant in St. Charles, Missouri.  We each had quiche, mine asparagus and brie, hers ham and cheese, and a cup of lovely potato soup. We then went for a walk down Main street. St. Charles is right on the Mississippi River and still has the charms and architecture of an 1800's river town. The shops are mostly independently owned small businesses each with a unique sense of style and quaintness that honors the term Main Street America.  

We enjoyed walking down the street, window shopping and admiring the brownstone buildings. The flower lined streets beckoning us to continue walking. The open doors of the shops welcoming as they let the mid May air in to mingle with the smells of fresh baked cookies, old hardwood floors and the cool, sweet aroma that you only get from aged brick.

Dawn and I could have spent all day there, but we had other things in mind. We got back into the car and found our way to a Habitat for Humanity Restore. Habitat for Humanity, is and organization that builds homes for people. They restore or rebuild old homes, or start from scratch when necessary. These houses are then sold to people at a very reasonable price and with financing that is affordable. They help people get out of rentals and tenements, but give them the responsibility and pride of home ownership.

The Restores take donated items, including building materials, that they can't use, and resell it to the public at much reduced prices. In areas where construction is strong, you can find everything from lighting fixtures, crown moulding, and flooring, to tiles, bathtubs and old doors. It may be stuff torn out of an old house and salvaged, to brand new stuff, that perhaps some one special ordered, but then decided wasn't the right color and couldn't be taken back to the place of purchase.  You can find treasures and bargains galore. We have one in Danville that I have visited, but was amazed by the things to be found at this one. Danville does not have a lot of construction going on, so that Restore is much smaller and relies more on donations from the community. You can still find the bargains, but have to be very diligent and go often as the inventory turns over often. This store was huge, it had enough tile in one color to tile an entire bathroom. Oh, how I wished I lived closer!

Dawn and I both found things, she a new door for her barn, and a few other things. Me, an arched window frame, that may become a picture frame, or something, I haven't decided yet. After that we went to another resale shop, each filled a  grocery bag with things like old books full of upholstery samples, and wine corks. Each of us having visions of Pinterest dancing through our heads. Our very over stuffed bags only costing $8.00 each we left satisfied we had spent the day frugally. Re-purposing discarded items, a passion for us both.

The next day was spent at Grant's Farm in St. Louis. It was a day of relaxing and enjoying a little time outside. Grant's Farm is the historical home of Ulysses Grant. Part of the grounds have been turned into an area with animals and petting zoos. It also houses the training facilities of the Budweiser Clydesdale Horse Team.

We rode the tram into the park and spent time watching elephant shows and animal education shows. I was wishing that Kahlen was there with me, knowing how much she would enjoy it.
 We fed baby goats, who were very excited to be fed. They clamored up to us and less then politely demanded the baby bottles that contained the much desired milk. Dawn's and my bottles were emptied quickly and with gusto. Leaving many kids asking for more. Somehow, Kristie, Dawn's daughter, the newly anointed veterinarian, was able to make her bottle last and made the kids share it. She gave a sip or two each goat, making it last fifteen minutes or more. Dawn and I were perplexed at how she did it.

 After escaping the remake of Hitchcock's The Birds, replacing the birds with baby goats, we continued walking around the grounds. The end of the tour was at the horse training facilities. The Clydesdales weren't there, but you could see the grandeur of the grounds and how the horses were cared for when they were there. It was a good day, and a good break from reality and all that comes with it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Thoughts

My mother died in May of 1988. It has been twenty-four years since I have bought a Mother's Day card for my mother. An old friend of mine, and her mother had a falling out many, many years ago. Recently, they have been starting, slowly to reconnect. Very slowly, but baby steps are much better than no steps. My hope for both of them is that they get past whatever happened between them. They are both very lucky to be able to have the chance to find their way back to each other. I saw today, on Facebook, that my friend did reach out to her mom with a Happy Mother's Day, made me very happy!

I saw this little family, when I got home today. When I first saw them they were all cuddled together at the edge of my yard. Of course, when I got the camera, they got nervous and split apart. Mom never got very far from the baby. I'm sure if I'd gotten any closer that Dad would have dive bombed me.
As I was downloading the pictures from my camera, I found this one of Kahlen from the last time she was here. Wow, was it really clear back in January? She was making brownies to take home for her mommy. Happy Mommy's Day Alyssa. You have the most beautiful little girl in the world! You and Shane have done an amazing job! I can't wait to meet Kahlen's new brother or sister!

 To my mom, we had a different kind of mother - daughter relationship. You were eccentric, original, creative and one of a kind. You taught me that things can be done in many different ways, including parenting. I do know that you did your best. I know you loved us kids in your own special way.  You taught me both how to be, and how not to be a good mom. Lessons that every mother needs to learn. Parenting is not about being perfect, it is about being human. Humans have never been, nor will they ever be... perfect. The real trick is doing it a little better than your own mother did, and I think you did. I love you and I miss you.

To Willie's mom, Virginia, thank you for being the strong, stable, and amazing mother that you were, not just to your children, but to me as well. You were there for Willie and me through thick and thin. After my mother passed away, you filled in the gap in a way no one else could. You were the grandmother to my children, the only one they really knew. They looked forward to seeing you and still talk about how you made them the best ice cream sundaes ever. You were very sneaky about how you spoiled them rotten. They, Willie and I all loved and adored you. You are missed very much.

For all Mother's both here and gone, this day is for you. We remember you, we love you and we honor you. Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Random Thoughts of an Exhausted Mind

I finally found a good use for hot flashes. They help me get out of bed on a chilly morning. Yeah, that's about it.

I noticed today, that not only are my eyebrows going gray, but some are trying to grow the wrong way. This disturbs me! I do not want the old man curly eyebrow thing. I'm starting to understand now, why some little old ladies pluck all of their eyebrows and then draw them back on.

Bazinga is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Willie put in two evergreens in the front yard, and Bazinga thought for sure they were going to eat him. Apparently, there are many things in this world that think little white dogs are tasty. I had to drag him up to the trees and make him sniff them to get him to stop barking at them.

Begonias are pretty. I think they belong in every yard.

Mint is apparently a perennial not an annual. If you ever want to grow mint, give it A LOT of room. It likes to stretch its legs and take over a garden. I spent a good hour and a half moving the mint I planted last year to a bed all of its own. It was trying to take over the oregano and sage.

And finally, using an electric hand held sander is fun, and kind of therapeutic. It is rewarding seeing unwanted paint disappear off of an object. However, and I don't know why, but when you are done, and you have that weird tingling in your hands, it makes your hands ITCH!!! Not a normal itch either. It is more an itch of a million paper cuts. It itched so bad it hurt. I had to run my hands under cold water to make it stop.

If you thought this post was going to make sense you didn't read the title.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Scary Room

 Yesterday, I decided it was time. I've lived in this house for a year and a half now. The room has been there the whole time. I peaked my head in once, turned around and walked away. I'd think about every once in a while, especially when I'd go down to do laundry.

Really though, would you be in a big hurry to check out a room that had a door that looked like this? Willie has been in there, and survived. Though, he did come out a little grayer than he went in. I think he was shaking a little, too.

Now, it was my turn. I have been looking at things on Pinterest and thought I might find a treasure or two that I could make into something else.
    
Bazinga, seeing me looking at the scary door to the scary room, became concerned. He knew that going in there was a bad idea. The basement as a whole is frightening enough, but that room? Bazinga knew no good could come of going in there. He whimpered a little, imploring me NOT to open that door. Surely, there would be evil monsters that eat little white dogs in there. 

 He stood back from the door as I slowly opened it. We peaked in. We decided that a weapon of selfdefense was in order. We shut the door again and looked around. What to use? We needed something that would ward off puppy eating monsters. Bazinga thought a semi automatic machine gun was in order. Never having been a gun owner/collector, the machine gun was just not an option.
 We found a stick. I figured if a bat flew out at me this would be good enough. Bazinga was neither impressed nor inspired to confidence that my choice of weaponry was appropriate. What was I going to do with THAT when a giant red eyed, magenta skinned, lizard tongued, scaly monster with fifteen rows of sharp pointy teeth tried to eat him. He shook his head, woofed good bye to Mia, who was hiding upstairs, the coward, and took a deep breath. We went in.
 Bazinga sniffed the air. He looked around carefully and listened for any unusual movement. Unsure he slowly moved around the room. Suddenly, he realized, this room was the coolest place EVER! So many things to sniff.

As he sniffed around, I looked around. Treasures I did find. All sorts of them. I already have an idea for this shutter, it has a couple of mates out in the garage. That will be my first project. I won't say what it will be yet, but you can expect a post sometime in the future.
 Pinterest has a lot of good ideas for old cribs. I have no idea how old it is or if it is at all safe, so restoring it for the new grandchild is not an option. However, it may still be used for Kahlen and her brother or sister. I have an idea for the spring thingy for my house. I'll let you know later.
This is another treasure, it looks like an old head board. Not sure what I will do with it. There are always options though!

All in all our little expedition into the scary room turned out well. And no puppies were harmed in the process. (Oh, and Bazinga says he was NEVER scared at all and doesn't know why I made such a big deal about it.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Quick Trip Home

 Last Tuesday night I got a call from my sister that my brother had been taken to the hospital. He would be in the hospital for a few days. My sister had to work, which would mean my dad would be home alone. My dad is not a young man anymore. He isn't as stable on his feet as he used to be, and him being alone for a long period of time makes us all a little nervous. I had a Thursday and Friday  off, and decided to drive home after work Wednesday. I would have to come back Friday night, so I could work Saturday. It was worth it.

I had to go home to get some things for the trip and decided to take Bazinga along. I knew Dad would get a kick out of having Bazinga around. He likes dogs a lot, and if it weren't for it being too hard for him to take care of one, I'm sure he would love to still have one.

Bazinga and I made the long drive. He travels very well. We got into town late, and stayed with Josh and Caitlin. Talulla was already kenneled for the night, and Bazinga was antsy  from the drive. He was not ready to be kenneled for the night. After a while he finally settled down, and we got some sleep.

The next morning we got up early and headed over to my dad's. When I got there my sister was still there. This surprised me, I was expecting that she would be at work. Ben had called and he was being released from the hospital. Everything was OK. Stacey was getting ready to make the trip to Iowa City to go get him.

Dad and I had a good day together. I made him some lunch and we talked as we waited for Ben and Stacey to get home. Later in the afternoon Alyssa called and would bring Kahlen out to see Great Grandpa. I couldn't wait!

Alyssa's car pulled up to the house and parked in the street. She hadn't told Kahlen that I was there. I hid back as she got her out of the car and told her she had a surprise. I waited until she got across the street and popped out. She paused for a minute and then smiled and ran straight into my arms! It felt so good to hug that little girl! I couldn't stop smiling! We went in and sat down. She had a death grip on me, which was fine because I really had no intention of putting her down anyway. We sat and talked. We read a couple of books I had downloaded on my phone for her.

I asked her if someone was having a baby. She looked up at me, her eyes got very big and bright and she said, "My Mommy is having a baby!" She smiled and we all laughed, so taken in by her enthusiasm.

"Are you going to have a brother or sister?" I asked.

She thought for a minute, and said with certainty, "a brother!" She doesn't really know yet, and goes back and forth about which she wants, and sometimes says she is going to get both.

We started talking about names for her brother. I asked her if she wanted to name him several different names, all of which she disapproved. Then I asked her if she wanted to name him Antonio Banderas. Okay, yes, this might sound like a very strange question, to the uninformed ear. There is a history behind it, though. When Alyssa was pregnant with Kahlen, Willie kept saying that she should be named, (yes, even after we knew she was a girl) Antonio Banderas, and that was just the first name. Why, well, we just don't know for sure, but it became a running joke. After I asked her, she looked up at me and said a definite, no.  Alyssa laughed and said that Grandpa had wanted to name her that. Kaheln looked at me stunned. I said, "it's true, he did, can Grandpa call you Antonio Banderas?"

She smiled at me, "Yes!" she said happily.

After Ben and Stacey got home and had a little Kahlen visit, we got in the car to go over to Josh and Caitlin's. Kahlen decided she wanted to ride with me. We talked on the way there. I was amazed at how well she was talking and how grown up she seemed since the last time I had seen her. I asked questions and she answered them. She told me about daycare and I listened intently. The baby we were holding not that long ago, who could only cry was telling me stories.

Which made me ask her a question.  I asked her if I could still call her 'baby'. She had told her mom that she could no longer call her baby, or sweety or pumpkin. Just Kahlen, so, I decided to find out if Nahma, could still call her baby. "NO!" She said firmly. "I NOT a baby, I KAHLEN!" Well, okay then!

So on my quick trip home, I learned that while Grandpa is allowed to call her Antonio Banderas, Nahma was no longer allowed to call her baby.

A Pleasant Surprise!

A few weeks ago, my husband got me a new iPhone.  We ordered it from Valerie's store in Iowa. She sent it via UPS and when it arrived she had also sent along a case for it. She had sent me a picture of a couple of different ones, but I decided on one with birds. They are happy little birds and I loved the pink gel liner that came with it.

A couple of days ago Valerie sent me a text saying that my Mother's Day present was on the way. That confused me a little, because I thought the bird case was my Mother's Day gift.

Today, I took Bazinga out for a walk and stopped to check the mail. In the mail, I received a slim square box. The return address was from case-mate. I felt a conundrum brewing inside of me. I was sure, Valerie, knowing my passion for most things purple, (I'm not very fond of deep purple bruises and things such as that,) had sent me a very pretty purple case. What would I do? I really like my pink bird case. It was bright and happy and when I looked at it, it made me smile. Bazinga and I finished our walk.

We went inside and I sat on the bench to open the package. Even as I broke through the tape, I wondered how I would decide which one to use. What if I really didn't like the new case. Would I just use it when I would see her, no, I couldn't do that, it's just not me. I really, really like my bird case, though!

The package open, I saw it was the same type of case. The gel liner was facing up and it was black. Black? I looked at it and wondered what the other side looked like. With a small amount of trepidation, ( Valerie actually does very well picking out gifts for me,) I turned the case over.

 It was customized with pictures of my kids and Kahlen! It was PERFECT! I couldn't think of anything that would be any better. The bird case was pulled off and the new one put on without a second thought. Who knew you could have this done.

Very excited, Before I put it on I took a picture of it and sent a big thank you text to Valerie. Like I said, she does VERY well picking out gifts for me!