Thursday, May 31, 2007

Helen turns 6 months--almost a month ago

May this post be a tribute to my "somewhat forgetful mother" style. Before I launch into just how exactly forgetful and mindless I can be, let me just say that I love my family and my home dearly. I can give you a thousand reasons why I neglect each particular thing, but in the end I have to admit it's all just a plateful of excuses. (That's what I told them at the health department when I took 6-1/2-month-old Helen in for her 2-month shots. Yes, well, YOU do it then--was the glaring thought I blared toward the raised eyebrows that I could just hear over the phone. Take two children in at the same time, both to get shots. Yes ma'am, that was a fun day.)

My current dumbest forgetful moment involves my range. How can you roast your son's new sandals in your own kitchen? Well, it's complicated, but take a woman in maddening motion and combine her with two fussy, hungry children, all coming home from town. Toss Owen's shoes on the counter without noticing them tumbling onto the stove. Throw on a pot of green beans and turn on the WRONG burner (again) without noticing. Sit down to feed Helen. Give husband a totally blank stare when he comes in for lunch and asks what the smoking rubber is all about. The stupidest thing is that even when I corrected the burner problem, I still ended up burning the beans. And though you would think I could learn my little burner schematic-diagram thingie by now, yet even still today I did the same thing again, and my stove was busily boiling away at nothing, while a pot of water looked hopelessly on. But I DID graduate from college, folks!

I guess that has really been the worst of it. If I wrote down every forgetful thing I did, I wouldn't have time to do the really important things, like weed the garden. (Hey if it weren't for the weeds, nothing much would be growing!) Or work on Owen's 1st year baby book. (Still not done, and he's 2 1/2. Oh well, it'll happen some time.) Or buy Helen's baby book. (Hmmm, this can wait.) Or schedule Helen's 4-month shots. (It's on the calendar to call.) Or schedule Owen's cardiologist appointment. ( excuse except that I know everything's OK.) Or clean the stinkin' bathrooms. (Didn't I just do that 2 or 3 weeks ago?) Or take Helen's 6-month pictures. (Did it yesterday!!)

I am posting various hilarious-but-failed poses from Helen's photo sessions yesterday. I started out with her on the floor in our bedroom, but she was very keenly interested in the outlet, wanting to help it feel like a welcome member of the family. We progressed to the back porch and then the yard, where she wasn't too happy about the grass giving her backside a scratchy welcome. I ended up getting several cute shots, throughout our many and varied sittings, but she was a little weary of the camera by the end.

And also to balance out my forgetfulness, I did actually sew something for my own flesh and blood child this week! Helen is the proud owner of a new romper. She was thrilled about its cute little halter tie and the neat little pin tucks I inserted into the bodice--just for fun. And she loved the old-fashioned fabric. She has such good taste.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A new favorite place

This week has marked the beginning of the wheat harvest-- an exciting, adrenaline-pumping, work-like-a-slave season in farming life--the harvest boogie. It's the time of year when tailgate suppers are standard occasions and take-it-with-you meals are extremely necessary. Living on the farm has made a night-and-day difference for me during this time (or like some silly blonde on a recent infomercial for Hip Hop Abs said, "what a 160-degree turn!") When you don't see your husband from dawn until after dusk 6 days a week, and the children are your responsibility that whole time, things can get ugly. Here on the farm, we see daddy several times a day, and we can help run meals to the field more often. It's much more conducive to family life. I guess I had to suffer through 6 years of being farm widow to truly appreciate living out here.

Jason remembers that getting a combine ride, as a kid, was a paramount event. Owen now has the same experience. The past few days, all he can talk about is "ahma-how" (Grandma's house) and the combine, his two favorite places.

I took Owen to get a ride and snapped a few pictures. I also did a mini-harvest with my scissors. I wanted some new wheat for display in my house, plus some for my friend and fabulous hair dresser, Angelique, since she had admired mine last fall. I did another mini-harvest Saturday from a different variety of wheat--a bearded kind. I think it is all so pretty, the hanging head stuff too. I love to use it when I decorate the communion tables at church.

On another note, if you desire an extreme work-out, and the flaky advertising for Hip Hop Abs turns you off, just grab an old-fashioned hedge clippers and head for your lawn. Our giant shrubs called my name yesterday, and I wanted to surprise Jason, so I went to it. I hadn't done much bush trimming until then, but I can safely say that now I have been introduced. Jason found me after a bit, and offered to sharpen the giant scissors. By the way, he was delighted that I took such initiative. I took him up on that kind deed, and it made it a lot better. My mother in law offered her electric hedge trimmers, but seeing how my inexperience could quickly do a lot of damage to a bush, I passed. Plus, she was using it earlier this week and sacrificed a slice of finger, and I'm a little squeamish and didn't want the same to happen to me. So I whacked some serious bush toosh with my handheld operation. And now my arms are so sore I can barely hold my babies! Plus my poor hands are a bit bruised. One more thing about hedge trimming--it's probably safe to say that pruning holly bushes would NOT be an activity of choice at a nudist colony.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beautiful Sleep

How in the world did I end up with a morning person for a daughter? What irony. Every morning, the sun rises in Helen's crib and shines pretty brightly too. She has generally such a sweet temper that she simply makes you feel good about yourself. The other day, she was a little cranky due to tooth #6 popping through. Then someone came to our house, and she had an instant mood change--"HI!!!! How are you? My name's Helen. It's so nice to meet you, and what great hair and shoes you have! I just can't stop smiling at you since you're smiling at me, so let's just have a smiling party!" And when that person left, the dark side came back out again for just boring old mom. I must say though that her morning smile is very sweet and I wouldn't trade it.

I think Owen takes after me in sleep habits. He gets pretty wound up in the evening, and everything is funny to him at bedtime, which makes you want to keep him up longer so you can hear him laugh. But hold the load when he wakes up--everything must be just right (Mommy can't be holding Helen and must hold him) or he can be foul. Owen is so proud of his new big boy bed. He's only fallen out about 3 or 4 times so far. (It's a foot off the floor, and we pad the floor with a folded heavy blanket.) He loves his bed, and usually stays in it after he wakes up until we come and get him, Lord be praised.

We permanently hung the hammock that we bought at the market in Managua. What a relaxing treat it is. It is also a magnet for one's children--it holds the most attraction usually at the moment of deepest need of rest.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

All before the second cup

This morning, before I could get to that next cup of coffee, I had a wealth of odd things happen in my little household. Thank goodness I already had one cup in my system--thanks to Atmore's Roaster's Gallery for the wonderful Ethiopian Sidamo.

Just for fun, I let Owen have a popsicle after his breakfast. Not a huge deal to me--it was homemade--yogurt and orange punch--and ice cube size. But it was a huge deal to him, especially when he got to the end.

I sewed a red zig-zag border on a LARGE piece of light blue doubleknit yardage. For a tablecloth. My mother in law found the fabric in her basement, and gave it to me. I almost apologized to my sewing machine for making it sew doubleknit--I've always hated it. But it is...uh, serviceable, or as my old roomie used to say, "ugly-but-functional," and I do need something for my serviceable folding tables downstairs. However, by the end of my project, I thought it was kind of cute. I kept sewing until the red was done, even though I smelled a diaper in need of a change and heard Helen starting to wake up.

I changed a poopy diaper.

I found a cat in Helen's crib. Dear Thomas, the affectionate but unkempt and thus relegated to outdoors Siamese mix. The kids just love him, and he takes advantage of anyone leaving the door open a little long. He and Bristow had popped in quickly this morning as Owen was going out to play. I'm sure I'll be finding cat hair in her crib now too.

I cleaned up Johnson's Baby Wash that was spilled on my hall floor thanks to Junior who has the uncanny ability and insatiable curiousity to open lids and caps. Once he got a baby proof top off a bottle of baby Motrin, and dumped the contents, although I'm not sure the cap was put on correctly in the first place. Yikes to that one--expensive and dangerous!

And I fixed a running toilet. Which was a direct result of the poopy diaper and an unsupervised child in the bathroom who must have gone from fiddling with the toilet to playing with the tub and all its enticing offerings, baby wash included. And by the way, what is the deal with waving bye-bye to a poopy going down the john?

Thank you, God, for my coffee maker and my bean grinder.

I did finish my tablecloth while Owen was napping. You can see Helen was much happier playing with Thomas than she was modeling it. And on another happy note, I finally finished my kitchen curtains! It's too small to see in the picture, but the tie backs are sparkly sequin braid. Glam meets modern meets retro. Unfortunately, I didn't buy enough, so I'll have to trot back to Wally World.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Aquarium Gravel: Reloaded

Our house must contain a bad aura for anything that breathes with gills. Dorothy won an all-expenses-paid trip not down the yellow brick road, but down the vortex of terror. Did you know that dead fish don't float immediately? It takes about half a day. (Or maybe she was just mostly dead.)

I used the aquarium gravel to decorate my new little corner of happiness. I created a little fairy garden on my back porch with some tiny little pots I had been saving for just such a moment as this. Check out the bird bath! It all started with my captivation with the miniature gardens decorating the tables at my brother's wedding. (I wasn't the only one staring at them with my eyes and mouth wide open, grinning like a fool over their cuteness.) I succombed to their allure, and was so excited to take one home with me. Jason, however, was not delighted. Boys just don't understand. He didn't see a magical little sanctuary that we had to have; instead, he saw the logistics of traveling back down South with a long box full of dirt in the back seat of his precious clean car. (HINT: If you really want to get under Jason's skin, just drop a gum wrapper, a hair, or a grain of invisible sand on the floorboards of his car while he is watching.) Fortunately, love and genuine service won out and I got my fairy garden. Unfortunately, the moss and all the flowers died soon after I got it home, and then the whole thing got stored in various outside storage places, and it still is the target of my husband's ridicule. We both laugh now. But now I have my very own fairy garden, destined to survive because the plants in it don't need water very often.

Mother's Day is a very special day for me. Jason and the kids surprised my socks off with a substantial amount of money for new clothes. I had been telling Jason that I had nothing to wear, and after trying to help me pick out an outfit for church last Sunday, he believed me.

I tried to get a cute picture of the kids before church, but both were rather cranky and had no patience for the camera. Oh well, gotta love 'em anyway!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Why is there fish food all over my floor?

I'll tell you why. Owen. Owen Darrell. That little guy is so into his new fish, and wants to feed her all the time. We named her Dorothy, which is Elmo's pet fish's name. Owen has a deep affinity for Elmo. Owen loves his 28-cent fish from Wal-Mart. NOTE: I'm so glad I bought two 28-cent fish at Wal-Mart. Guess why? 2 minus 1 equals 1. 1 minus 1 would equal a very sad little boy.

We finally let Owen eat his chocolate bunny from Easter. Thanks, Grandma B! After he was done, we read this book.

Jason brought home his bass from church the other week to work on it, and Owen now has a sense of entitlement. Owen and music--that's another post.

Helen discovered raspberries a while ago, and now blows them gratuitously.

But what a sweetheart!!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Earned but not deserved

I did something yesterday I never in my life thought I could/would do. (And I've given birth to two beautiful babies--with Pitocin, without pain meds.) Yes, I, Joyce herself, ran a 5K! The Y held a race at Atmore's annual spring festival, Mayfest. Since this is Atmore we're talking about, the participants were few, so I ended up with a bronze medal in my category. A little embarrassing. Oh well. My pal Lisa, an accomplished runner herself, ran with me the whole race--what an encouragement! My time was 32:29, not great, not awful. I was running to prove to myself that I could do it, and also to stick it to those awful PE memories of running around the block (1.1 mile) in junior high and high school. I had been practicing--I don't think I can say "training" and keep a straight face--for many weeks in advance, working gradually up to 3 miles. I had one really great run of 4 miles, my personal longest run ever. I groaned most mornings when I had to roll out of bed and hit the lane, but it seems to me that whenever I introduce discipline into one spot of my life, it benefits more than one area. Obviously, I'm seeing physical benefits. I'm rather enjoying losing the baby pounds. I'm also experiencing some spiritual benefits--"He must increase and I must decrease." Ha ha, how's that for misinterpretation of Scripture? And in the whole process, I discovered that I kind of enjoy running. Now THAT is amazing.

Except for the mosquitoes, spring has been fabulous. Those buzzards come out at dusk, out of nowhere. As you can see, they attack Owen's baby-sweet skin. And for the record, Helen is the ONLY girl allowed in Owen's backseat.

Ava was here again last week. We had a girl party on the back porch and painted toenails. Helen shortly thereafter discovered her feet, and has been grabbing at them ever since. There's a physical therapy hint for you!

I also was privileged to keep my two nephews on Thursday (or was that Friday?) morning! Owen and Blake are two months apart, and Helen and Brian are 3 months apart. (If you think that's funny, there's another cousin that was born the day after Owen. Family get togethers ain't what they used to be.) Here the big boys are playing with Jason's old cars. That handy-dandy chute comes out of Owen's appliance box house. (Fun with Cardboard Boxes, volume IX)

Brian was so excited to have his Aunt Joyce all to himself for a few minutes. What a heart throb!

Friday, May 4, 2007

C'mon, it'll be fun...

Whenever those words cross my lips, Jason's BS alarm goes off. He's a solid guy, you know, but he's lacking a little in the "I'll take my wife's word for it" department. Especially when he smells work.

The other night, as I was occupied with feeding Helen, had a million things going, and we needed to get gone, I asked him to take over for me in the kitchen and make the deviled eggs, one of his all-time favorites. Jason usually helps me whenever I ask and he's not busy. But here's where I made my mistake--I framed my request with, "It's a lot of fun!" or somesuch other silly statement. To his credit, he made the deviled eggs anyway, because he is a good, solid guy. He asked me how I do them and what I put in them, and then off he went, concocting out of my spice cabinet. Recently, he has been tinkering with things in the kitchen--coleslaw dressing, to be exact. He reminds me of me. And he came up with pretty good coleslaw and some awesome deviled eggs. And then he said, "You know, you were right. This is kind of fun."

Mmm-hmm, that's what I said. It was fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Cousin Karis

My brother and his wife just visited us a few weekends ago. Their daughter Karis is a trip! She had just started crawling, clapping and waving all in the same week.

I chose to ignore all the household work and enjoy our company. So sorry, guys, about the dust. (Matter of fact, it's still here!) We did lots of fun stuff together. We had fresh-caught fish from my father-in-law's pond, and I actually snagged one of them! To go with our fish, we made hush puppies and cole slaw that were soooo good.

On Saturday, we went to Lambert's Cafe, the home of throlled rolls. Now THAT is a dining experience! The kids loved it. And so did Owen and Karis. ha ha. The best part is the fried okra that they pass around--you get it even before you order.

And then we went to Gulf Shores, a gorgeous Alabama beach. And Now You Know that Alabama has beautiful beaches! Shame on us, it was the first time for Owen to go. He adored it. (No, don't throw sand, Owen!)

Karis was enamored by the sand castles her dad built. As you can see, she earned herself a change of clothes in the car trunk/kiddy changing room.

Helen soaked up what little sun she could, which was none because Mommy coated her with sunblock and stuck her in her seat for a nap (which didn't happen)!