Sunday, May 30, 2010

Family heritage

I went up to visit my grandmother this weekend. I was in a little bit of trouble because it's been six months since we've been to see her, but she worked me to the bone in revenge.

Except that she wouldn't do that on purpose or ever try to get revenge for anything. She's a sweetheart. She just had a lot of stuff for us to get done, and I'm sure she's at least as tired as I am tonight! We went to visit several graves and put out flowers for "Decoration Day," as she calls it. I'd never paid attention before to how busy gravesites really are around Memorial Day since all my family is either still living or buried up where we visited this weekend... not quite local. Now I'll have a guilt trip forever because she kept saying things like, "When I'm gone, there'll be nobody to come here" or telling people, about me, "She hasn't been up here in six months. Her kids have grown a whole head since I saw them last."

Yes, Grandma. I get the message. Thanks for reminding me.

She might be a sweetheart, but she's not above a little bit of Mommy Guilt. It's an art form to make pointed remarks sound honey-sweet and passive-aggressive at the same time. She's got that one down pat. I think that mastery comes about the time you start having your hair done at the same day and time every week or two.

I digress. My grandmother, when she was younger and married to my grandfather, when my mom and uncle were little rugrats ripping around in the farmhouse that I'll show you later this week, looooved buying Frankoma Pottery. She thought it was the prettiest dinnerware out there, and she acquired a LOT of it.

But it's heavy-duty stuff, and she's had a lot of it stored underneath her counters. Now that she's getting a bit older - I say older... she's 86 and clearly still kicking - bending down and lifting it out is just getting to be too much for her.


That's just the stuff I brought home. The rest of it is still at her house. I got it because the reason that my family moved to Oklahoma all those years ago is because my dad got a job at Frankoma as the plant manager. When I got old enough, about 13 or 14, I worked there part-time, too, first mowing the lawns for a summer or two and then, when I could drive, in the factory itself, handpainting some of the ware that was contracted for other companies. Remind me to tell you about that job sometime. It was quite an experience, to say the least. So there's a history there.

I do love this old-time pottery.


The baking dish is just beautiful.

This honey pot is probably my favorite piece that I brought home, and even if I never put honey in it, that bee on top will ensure I'll never part with it. Isn't it darling??

Chip and dip tray.



Several serving trays

A pitcher designed to keep the ice IN the pitcher rather than splashing it all in your glass.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. I went through my entire kitchen and got rid of all my other dinner plates and quite a few bowls and replaced it all with this stuff. I know there might be a few folks out there who will be appalled that I'm going to use it for everyday rather than saving it for a special occasion, but I do have a whole china cabinet full of my great-grandmother's china that's nearly 100 years old, and this stuff is only about 60. It fits in my house, fits my personality, and more importantly, was made to last.

I'm proud to be able to have it in my home!


Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The chicks have flown the... tank

*sniff sniff* Mah baybees is growin' up!

OK, so it's not all that sad, really. It means I get my freezer back, which good Lord, I missed being able to get into that thing! I couldn't get to my pesto! That's a tragedy when there are good pizza ideas calling my name.

The chicks are two weeks old now and still growing fast. They look a little funny right now because they're starting to get their back feathers in, which means all the downy bits that were so soft on their back are standing straight up because the new feathers are pushing it out of the way.

It makes them look like they're wearing little popped collars. I guess that explains all the attitude. I have teenage chicks. Geesh.
Honestly, though, we were about to have some serious issues if I had kept them in the tank. Battle lines were being drawn. They had divided themselves into two little colonies and were sleeping down opposite ends of the tank at night, which told me that not only were roosting quarters getting tight, I was very likely going to have territory battles on my hands for scratching room. And I was having to fill the food and water containers up once (or twice, and sometimes three times) a day. AND even with my best efforts, they were kicking bedding into the food and water all the time trying to scratch, which meant I was constantly cleaning something out.
We were all getting tired of it.
It was time to move.

So Oz and I got out the Big Girl Feeder and the Big Girl Waterer and put them in the coop with some bedding. I don't want my babies to freeze. Technically I'm supposed to keep them at a certain temperature until they're about a month old, but it was either this or find a bigger container with a cat-proof lid. This was way cheaper and easier. It's warm enough outside during the day, and the inside of the coop stays warm at night, too, after the windows are shut, so while I was worried, it was more for form than anything else. SOMEbody has to worry about everything.

We hauled the girls out after everything was set up, accompanied by a dog who either loves the chicks because his Corgi herding instinct is starting to emerge from the fat rolls or loves the chicks because he thinks his fat rolls need refilling with fresh chicken. I'm not sure. I really don't want to test either theory, if I'm honest.

The girls settled right into their new home. When I checked on them this morning, they were happily running around and talking and gossiping and nibbling food here and there. A few of them were even testing their wings and fluttering around a bit, something they couldn't do in the cramped confines of the tank.

Mah baybees is growin' up! And it's exciting for everyone.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I can't decide... you help

I can't decide whether today is going well or not.

On the one hand, Oz re-stapled together M2's box springs so the cats can no longer climb in the bottom and consider it a hidey-hole.

BUT... that meant I had to wash sheets today, and while I don't mind throwing the sheets in the washer and then into the dryer, I *HATE* folding sheets. I am fully capable of doing it, I just don't want to. It a specific point of laziness/OCD-ness. There is no piece of furniture big enough to really hold the fitted sheets well, and unless the floor has been recently vacuumed (which... haha... it kinda hasn't), I don't want to put fresh, nice-smelling, clean sheets on the floor, so I wind up doing this weird contortionist dance in the middle of the living room to try to get them folded as nicely as possible so they can fit into my overly-stuffed linen closet in just the right way.

Then again... I love sleeping on clean sheets, especially if I also happen to wash my hair the same evening.

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I got the garden weeded.

The down side of that is that I might have been pretending that every weed was my boss. She's not popular with me right now. She is probably doing her best, but there are times "best" is just not good enough, and this is one of those times. And if she doesn't call me back by Wednesday afternoon, matters are going to have to escalate. I've been waiting for five months for things to get fixed. That's the hibernation period of many animals.

Consider me a grumpy mama bear coming out of her hole.

Then again... the garden looks much better than it did first thing this morning, and M1 got to feed the chicks all the crickets I unearthed. That caused him great delight.

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I called the pediatrician's office today to get copies of M1's vaccination list and a new script for an inhaler to take with him to camp later this summer, and I was reminded of how much I truly love my pediatrician and her entire staff. Things are already done. It took less than 15 minutes.

However, in this ENTIRE metropolitan area, population approximately 385,000 as of 2007, there is NO playgroup/social skills group for children of elementary school age who have been diagnosed with Asperger's. Nothing. In German, if you like, NICHTS. In Spanish, NADA. Absolutely NOTHING.

Teens and adolescents (ages 12+)? Yes. Children who are pre-elementary (ages 3-6)? Yes. Elementary school kids? See previous rant-filled paragraph. I had really been hoping that the group that advertised itself as a group for "children and adolescents" would be the place for him to go, since it meets monthly, but apparently the word children is used to describe tweens. The lady did at least acknowledge the shortcoming, but come ON, folks... ages 7-12 get nothing?? These are formative years, when the kids neeeeeed to work on social skills. And I can assure you that an Asperger's child is getting very, very little help in the way of social skills in a school setting, unless you count being teased and being the odd one out as 'social skills' training. Which, obviously, I don't.

The only good thing that has come out of this is that I ate the last of the strawberry-rhubarb pie and the last of the vanilla-with-strawberries-in-it ice cream for lunch today.

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I'm a tad frustrated today.

Makes me want to do THIS:

and not come out. Thank heaven for cute children. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cub Scout Banquet

M1's Cub Scout Banquet was this evening.

I have to hand it to our Cubmaster Kris. She rocked the house with all the stuff she had for the boys. In addition to their pins, beads, and belt loops (and goody bags at the end)...

She had certificates for each boy

And even arranged for the local fire precinct to come and show off all the goods!

They let the kids climb all over the truck, literally.

Flashed the lights and sounded the siren and blew the horn

And showed off every single tool on the truck.

This was a favorite. This is a huge fan that they use to help blow smoke out of a building that's been ablaze, and the kids (well, except for M1, whose sound sensitivity was WAY up at this point) really enjoyed getting a little windblown for the occasion.

Thanks, guys!

Then they presented each boy with their patch for achieving their level. M1 got his Tiger Cub patch and was SO excited.

Then, of course, we had cake.

Yes, I made it. I do enjoy cake.

Other things 'they' don't tell you about chicks

I've learned a few more things about chicks over the past week. Things that 'they' don't tell you on the lovely education sites that are run by people who have been raising chicks for years and have forgotten what newbies *really* want to know.

1. The darn things grow FAST. Remember how teeny-tiny they were originally? This is four days later.


FOUR days later, and they've got half their wing feathers in.

This is day 9. They can already fly up and sit on a perch. Or the top of the feeder. Or the top of the watering container. And sit there. And poop in the water. Or the food. They are also learning to take catnaps (chicknaps?) standing up, which is hilarious because they look like little bobbleheads and one day I swear I'm going to walk out and watch one plop headfirst into the bedding, and I might laugh, just a little. And then I'll feel compelled to make sure it's still alive.

2. Moving on, nobody tells you how much they EAT and DRINK, either, to grow this fast (still day 9, by the way). They go through about 1-2 quarts of food and water per day. Which isn't a lot divided among 12 chicks, I suppose, but still. It seems like all I do is provide refills.



3. Baby chickens learn to scratch very quickly, and it's a HUGE mess. I have to clean out the water and food containers several times a day because they fill them up with bedding. The scratching can be a whole lot of fun, though, especially if you're like me and see them doing it and are inspired to help them along.

M1 has a lizard. Specifically, it's an anole. Even more specifically, it's a picky eater of an anole who likes to leave the mealworms in the bottom of its cage and eat the crickets and other occasional bugs M1 finds before going back to mealworms as a last resort. So we have a thriving mealworm colony that I just have left alone because it saves me the effort and money of buying new ones that it likely won't eat, anyway.

Adult mealworm beetles make great chick treats. I advise you to watch the video. Even if you aren't amused by the chick running around with a beetle in its beak trying to find a place to eat it in peace, you might enjoy the dialogue between M2 and her daddy in the background. He's sitting on a giant Sam's Club container of cat litter and, well... you'll just have to listen for yourself.

video

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Girl time and other sage thoughts

I got to have coffee with some of my girlfriends today. Is there anything better than meeting up with a few of your best friends and having coffee and laughing so hard there are tears rolling down your face while trying to keep the conversation at coffee-shop-quiet level?

Poor M1 had to tag along, not that he came out of it half bad. He brought books along to entertain himself, borrowed my phone to play games when he got bored with reading, and then I took him to the bookstore to get the second book in the "Indian in the Cupboard" series because those are now his most favorite books in the whole wide world and the first book is almost falling apart already; he's had it two months.

Anyway, so my girlfriends and I chatted. I love these women. They really do make the world go round, and they're SOOOO funny. When stories about booger walls make you want to pee your pants with laughter (after you get done throwing up in your mouth a little bit), ur doin' it right.

It makes me wonder, though, how my crazy bunch of friends got together and how on earth we all figured out we connect so well. Sure, most of us met because we were part of the same mom's group, but we are totally different and totally alike all at the same time. We range in age from 28 to 40, and with that you have all the variations of generations - music, TV, movies, etc. - that go along with it. We tease each other mercilessly and yet share the stories that add fuel to the fire without blinking. We all have pictures of each other that could be used for blackmail because what good friends don't? Blackmail photos = friend security.

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See, for a long time when I was young, I didn't have a lot of friends. When my family moved from a tiny town in Southeast Kansas to a suburb in Oklahoma, I was the 'new girl.' I was smart, I was quiet, I liked to read; deadly combination in fourth grade where all the cliques are already established and getting good grades is no longer cool. Plus, I made the horrid decision to wear pigtails on my first day of school. I had no idea pigtails were 'out' by fourth grade. In a class of about 40 kids, that meant I was 'out,' too. It didn't bother me too much until middle school when people started hosting parties and I was never invited. In a class of 40, there might have been five of us on the list of people not invited. Since I had been popular in Kansas, I never quite was able to get past it. Yes, you may laugh. It's kind of pathetic. At the same time, my mom was very depressed and never made friends here herself, so I didn't have the world's best example of getting past 'how things were back then' in Kansas.

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In high school, I met some great folks and am still VERY happy to still be able to count some of them as great friends. After I had kids, I had to find new friends who could relate to the craziness of raising miniature versions of themselves. I have no idea how I got so lucky to find such great women.

I thought again today about how lucky I am to have these women in my life. These are the ladies who would be at my funeral right up close behind my family and would be checking on my kids forever afterwards to make sure they got raised properly. They'd be the ones providing the photos to go on the boards around the casket. And as long as they keep the blackmail photos to themselves, I won't have to haunt them later :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pet cemetery

I am a night owl. I am always up till at least midnight, and it's usually closer to 1 a.m. before I finally crawl into bed, and I don't like to get up before 8 if I can hack it. Ideally, this would be another reason to homeschool both children except that I'm reasonably sure that if I brought M2 home, I'd kill her before she was able to actually learn anything. She and I have conflicts of personality. And she likes to get up at 6:45 a.m., no matter what day it is, which works for school, I guess, even if it doesn't agree with my circadian rhythm. One day she will understand my fond regard for the 2-10 a.m. sleep schedule that my body would really like to have.

I'm denying myself for her sake. She should thank me.

Anyway, so the other night, I realized that by 9:30 at night, I am the only 'living' thing in the house. Everything/everyone else is dead to the world. By 10:30 or 11, even Oz is usually snoozing. But since he was out running errands at the time I realized that the house was completely silent, he's not in these images. One day I'll throw a few Sleeping Oz images out here. I'm sure he'll love that. :)

Three of the cats took over the couch. Dead couch cats. Usually Oz would be where Kuro (the black one) and Dorian (on the ottoman) are, but... as I said... he wasn't home. Pepe always sleeps on the arm of the couch like that. When he wakes up, he pulls his fur out, throws it on me, and snots all over me repeatedly. He's 18, so I guess he figures it's a prerogative of age. Which would be true if I didn't have the ability to toss his fluffy butt on the floor. Which I do, but he climbs back up and repeats the process.

It took *FOREVER* to find Hermes. The flash woke him up. The reason it took so darn long to find him is that he was under M2's bed. Where she ripped the bottom fabric off her box springs a week or two ago. It makes a great cat hidey-hole that is typically covered by M2's bedspread. Brats, both of them. Good thing I love 'em.

Here's a great image of Speed Bump's rump. He likes to sleep regardless of time of day. Vixen is the gray lump in the pink chair in the background. She furs that up, I clean it, repeat. A place for everyone and everyone in their place.

That applies to Gizmo, too. He likes the cold floor.

Tempest was lurking under *my* bed. On my green shag carpet that I'm pretty sure is original to my 1965 house. It doesn't have so much the 'shag' thing going on any more. Time compacts even the craziest fiber.

Finally, let's up the cuteness factor a little. They *were* all sleeping except for Miss Sophia, who was standing guard, but apparently a flash wakes chickens up, too. They aren't this little any more. I'll have to get some new pics up soon. They're hilarious.

And now, on this lovely rainy day, I'm going to see if I can bribe M1 into watching TV (hahahaha bribe a kid to watch TV... as if!) so I can take a short catnap of my own. Happy dreams, everyone!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Applesauce!

The kids were eating applesauce the other day. It's a standard snack around here. The cat Tempest likes it, too, and will hover to see if she gets to clean out the bowls when the kids are done.

Anyway, M1 asked, "Mom, is this your applesauce?"

"No, love... we ate that up a long time ago. Why?"

"Because I like yours better. Can we make it again sometime?"

"Sure!"

And with that, since Oz was being made into a store Sherpa anyway, I added apples to the list.

Red Delicious really aren't on my list of applesauce apples because of their sharp flavor, but Oz read Jonathans on the sign above and didn't read the bags below.

C'est la vie. I plowed onward. Not much stops me when I get started.


I peeled, cored and sliced. Really I didn't have to slice them; quartering would have been enough. The thing is, though, that it only takes me about an extra minute, all told, to slice all the apples, and it saves me about 20 minutes of boiling time in the end.

Don't forget to weigh the apples you put in the pot, or you won't know how much sugar to put in! I had 3 lb. of apples to begin with and wound up with 2 lb., 4 oz. of apples in the pot.

Add about 1/4 c. water per pound of apples. Set them on the stove, cover the pot, bring them to a boil, then simmer 20-30 minutes or till completely soft and mushy. When they're about 2/3 cooked, put in about 1/4 c. sugar per pound of apples, IF desired. With Red Delicious apples, it was pretty much required.
This is where I employed the slave labor who wanted the applesauce in the first place. He mashed until they were broken up a good bit. That was good enough last fall, but this time he insisted that I toss everything into the mixer and get it all 'in sandy grains,' as he put it.

Here's the applesauce! You could add cinnamon if you like, but I prefer to add it when I eat it, if at all.

I got about 4 c. of applesauce after all was said and done. Seeing as the bag of apples was on sale for $3, it's not a bad deal!

Labeled and into the freezer it went, although I imagine the labeling will be just to let me know how quickly it goes rather than reminding me it's getting old.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

As my boy digs a hole in the back yard...

I'm going to post about the girl. She doesn't always seem to get equal time on this blog, which isn't really her fault, so today this post is ALL about her.

She had a performance at her school the other night. She's the tall, lanky blonde. The little girl on her right is her school best friend R. Not to be confused with her mom's group best friend A. The girl who is almost as tall as M2 that's on R's right is Michael's 'girlfriend' K. All three of those little girls get along. Because they're all show-off drama queens.

This was a rousing rendition of "Humpty Dumpty" in which the girls played the king's horses. The boys were the king's men and got to hold cardboard, foil-covered swords.

Drama.

Last night was M2's violin recital. Poor girl hadn't wanted to go but decided at some point during the week that she would play after all. So she dressed up and we went.

She did a great job on her solo! She was about two years younger than anyone else performing, so I thought she did great. I'm biased, but still. She had a very pretty sound and good tempo.

Then, at the end of the recital after all the solos were played and all the awards were given out, all the kids went up to perform some songs as a group.

And that's when tragedy struck.

Notice all the bows? Everyone else has theirs in their RIGHT hands. M2's is in her LEFT. So when she went to put her violin on her shoulder and hold her bow, it was all backwards.

When she realized she hadn't done it right, the subsequent embarrassment caused a massive meltdown that caused her face to melt while she ran offstage and straight into Mama's lap. She buried her head in my shoulder and bawled till it was all over.

Then we made it all better with pink-frosted cupcakes and chocolate ice cream at Braum's.

I'm so proud of her for having tried, and I can't wait to see how she does next year!