Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Little Jammie Feet

Today is one of those days that is absolutely delightful. We've been having 70-degree weather this week. I hung out wash on the line this morning, and by the time I had finished hanging the total load, some of the first stuff was nearly dry. (Of course, I wasn't on-task the whole time, what with tromping around the yard taking pictures of Owen and all.)

I may be crazy, but I love doing my kids' laundry. I love to see all their little clothes drying on the line, and they look so cute folded and stacked neatly. And then there's that Aha! moment when the stains I pretreat come out. Way to go Shaklee laundry products (with an occasional boost from Shout.)

Owen loves to imitate, and he has seen me pick lots of blooms off this camelia bush. Unfortunately, it got bit by frost, and so most of the flowers have a few ugly dead petals. I'm trying to teach Owen to appreciate flowers, and that it's nice to give them to people. (We've taken them to Grandma several times.)

I'm finding that little boys grow over the winter and need new clothes for summer. He wore some shorts yesterday that were a little, uh, short. Several of his old summer shirts will be meeting their end when I clean out his closet. He has ruined muchas clothes just by being inquisitive. For instance, "What does this wet paint feel like?" My stain-treating skills surrendered on that outfit, and he got himself some paint clothes just like Mommy.

And speaking of ill-fitting clothes on children, I was so excited the other day to pull out a cute new 6-9 month sleeveless eyelet lace top for Helen. I coordinated her denim capris and hot pink shrug, and she was going to look good. And then I tried to put the shirt on her and it got stuck on her head! There are some genetics involved here, if you are familiar with Jason's family. Oh well.

And here is Owen on our front porch, very pleased with himself. He loves to go up there and shake the railing. He is such a great kid.

Before & After

Step right up and see a display of blood, sweat and tears--now on sale for a very affordable price. We bought this poor house almost 4 years ago. It was so pathetically ugly. I don't have the very first before picture, since that was B.D. (before digital), so really my "before" picture here is a "during" picture. The original shingles were mercifully damaged by Hurricane Ivan, and so they got to be replaced. I was SOO glad, because they had been a horrible brown, faded by the sun, and streaked with age/fungus/who knows what. If you look closely, you can see that the shutters were those cottagey type made of 3 boards placed side by side (with a modest gap in between the boards) and then a "Z" of boards was nailed over them just for purty. Just not suitable for a ranch house. Plus they, and the rest of the trim on the house, were faded to precisely the color of dead pine needles. Now that's inspiring, folks. I am sorry to say the old garage door is not down in this picture, for your viewing pleasure. It too was a choking shade of faded brown, and was so gross you didn't want to touch it (it was metal and left a chalky residue on your fingers). It had two rectangular peephole windows in it, so that the door looked like a big face with two glaring, mean, narrow, beady eyes and a handle/tongue sticking out.

So we did a lot of work on this old house, outside and in. We painted everything and replaced flooring (most of the new flooring came AFTER we moved out, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.) Our biggest project was remodeling the kitchen, which we did very soon after we moved in. The original kitchen had ONE outlet in it and smelled of old grease, cigarette smoke and dead mice, and that was after a vigorous cleaning by three industrious women. I do remember finally putting duct tape over a hole in the wall, and that stopping the dead mouse smell. We ripped the cupboards out and Jason salvaged them for the farm shop. To this day, he says they still have an unpleasant odor to them. Lovely! So this is the second house we have lived in and fixed up. I was sad not to be able to do landscaping here, but that is a task the new owner will inherit.

I am so glad to be in our new house, and know that we will probably be here for a very, very long time. It's hard to pull myself away from places that I get attached to. We just hope the new owner is the right person for this house and neighborhood--someone who cares and who will finish what we started--making this house beautiful.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sweet Peas

Grandma is watching Owen for a few hours today so I can get some typing done and maybe start to recover from the crud. So with this nice block of time, what is there to do but to sneak in a photo shoot of sweet-pea Helen at nearly 4 months? She just popped her second tooth a few days ago. The first tooth came without warning. In retrospect, she had been drooling a lot, but since she was only 3 months old, I just figured she was finding her tongue. (Owen didn't get a tooth until he was almost a year old, so I was inexperienced with this early teething bit.) But, like a very good baby, she just happily sprouted a tooth, without fuss. The second tooth came with a mite less happiness.
I'm still typing on Saturday and have 3 more tapes to go because I've been babysitting! 4-year-old Anna on Wednesday, 7-month Ava on Friday and three more cousins for a couple of hours this morning. So maybe the crud will spread, but I hope not. I suspect I got it handed to me from one of them...I could name names, but I won't...
Here is 2nd cousin Ava, Helen's pacifier mentor. When I saw the sweater her daddy dressed her in, I couldn't resist digging out a brand new 12-month sized sweater Helen had received as a gift. Unfortunately, Helen was more interested in going down for a nap than modeling. But anyway, we hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Necktie Edition

My father in law bought a new shirt and tie the other day--the kind that come in a combo pack. I couldn't believe it because he hates ties so much. Then he said he wanted to clean out his tie wardrobe, and so my sister in law and I confirmed each other on which ones he should ditch (since he did ask for our help.) Not that I'm an expert on stylish ties or anything. Shoot, Jason hasn't worn one since the last wedding we were at, which was this past summer. And I had to strongly encourage him to put it on. I'm sure all of his ties are out of date, since the last one he got was from ushering in my brother's wedding--a good 5 years ago.

Then I decided my husband needed to be relieved of most of his old ties also, so I did him a favor and culled them. It's OK--he still has 3 hanging in the closet to choose from for the next wedding we go to. So someone we know get engaged so he can dress up! By the way, he is such a dear--I hear him talking to Helen while he is changing her diaper--I'm eavesdropping over the baby monitor.

I have found a fabulous stress-relieving activity! Outdated necktie destroying. It's right up there with throwing old jars at rocks, without the guilt. Well, what I mean is without the need to clean up broken glass so bare feet and animals don't get hurt and so we don't trash the universe. After slitting a few tack stitches, you simply find the one thread that's holding the thing together and pull. Flop, flop, flop it falls apart. I could've sat there the whole day... I imagine Jason and my father in law both would have loved ripping apart their old bothersome ties. It would probably feel to them like destroying an ill-fitting pair of pantyhose does to me.

I am planning on doing something with these ties. Pictures are coming. But right now I'm off to go watch Robert Randolph and the Family Band on Austin City Limits. That's another stress-relieving activity.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"The pain doesn't cut her wind off"

Late Sunday night and I am done with the week's transcription work. I am ready to get back to my family. We sorta need clean clothes and we have this little habit of eating. Unfortunately, tomorrow probably won't be a day for propping up my feet and eating bon-bons. Jay wants me to clean the old house before we turn it over to the realtor, or as we say in Indiana, realator. (Hey anyone, want a house?) Who knows how long that could take. I hadn't cleaned the bathrooms for--oh, what's one more week gonna hurt--a really long time before we moved. So now our dirt has been mixing with moving dirt and remodeling dirt. It's quite the party.
I love the South. Dr. Van, for whom I've been typing, has a great accent--very authentic and non-redneck. He has a rural practice, and so I'm assuming the patients he sees are pretty country. He dictated, "the pain doesn't cut her wind off," and I just had to smile. I think the South has a corner on great expressions. That and really, really, really long names for churches. The Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ; Second Chance True Church of the Living God, Inc.--or was that Second Chance True Holiness Church of the Living God, Inc.? I cain't think of any more off the top of my head, but I seen 'em.
Night y'all.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Valentine's Day cookies! I experimented with royal icing instead of buttercream and had great fun with it. Notes to self: 1) Wait until first color dries before using second color. 2) Wait until Owen is in bed before decorating. 3) If getting son to bed is impossible because it's only 6 pm, start a Wiggles video. 4) If VCR is still refusing to work, break down and get out the step stool, let him scrape flour on the counter with a cookie cutter making screechy, chalkboard noises, give him unlimited access to dough scraps, let him stick his fingers in half the decorated cookies, redirect him from touching the range knobs, say "No Owen you've already had three cookies, four handfuls of dough and two beaters to lick," then throw him in the tub, him wailing like a fire engine and me rolling my eyeballs because we're so disappointed that this idyllic activity WASN'T. Oh well. He sure was cute when he toddled out to the kitchen the next morning, and reached up for the famous square Tupperware box that holds wonderful C-O-O-K-I-E-S. The child does not forget much.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sometimes we start things

..that we wish we wouldn't have. We perfectionists know well the danger of beginning a new project, whether it be baking Valentine's Day cookies with our 2-year-old, buying fabric for kitchen curtains, decorating a cardboard appliance box "house" for same 2-year-old, taking on more transcription work, hosting a large group of people in the new house that we've only been living in for 2 1/2 weeks, hanging pictures on the walls of the new house, or starting a blog for crying out loud. Don't we know when enough is enough? There's only so much energy to go around, even after the second cup of coffee, and we perfectionists know we cannot do ALL things perfectly. (Some of us may not admit it.) So why start stuff anyway? Because I just can't help it!! I love to start stuff; I just may not finish it. So, today, instead of a much-needed nap, I am messing around with my new blog !! and introducing myself to the "new" secondhand camera we just bought from my ever-loving big bro (did you know that there is a setting for self-portraits?--ha!--doesn't work well though.)
And in between uploading pictures, I am decorating a huge cardboard box for Owen. Speaking of starting things...I drew a doorbell on the front. So now Sweetcheeks must grab my face, turn it in his direction and I must watch him press the doorbell and chant his little version of DING DONG. And now I hear him on the baby's monitor, messing in Helen's room while she is taking a nap.
So I guess starting stuff comes easy for me, but maintenance is the issue. We'll see how I do on the blog!