Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grey inside and out

So here I am, on a Spring day, having just enjoyed a lovely breakfast of sausages, eggs and tea, updating my blog, awaiting a visit with dear friends. I should be absolutely contented, happy, excited even. And I'm not. I'm miserable. Miserable. And I'm not sure why. Don't you just hate that??

It could be the weather. It is, after all, disgusting outside. This is our very first day of typical New Jersey weather. Digusting and humid, disgustingly humid. We've even got a tornado watch until 5:00 and that almost never happens.

It could be that time of the month. You know, hormones. You know, cramps. You know, discomfort. You know. I did have surgery last Fall in order to alleviate some of the horror I experience each month, but there's only so much modern technology can do (and I'm not quite ready for a complete hysterectomy--yet).

It could be having to deal with some family issues that rear their ugly heads every once in a while. Ugh. I don't even want to elaborate on that at all. It just could be that.

I really don't know. I just know whatever it is is sapping all the enjoyment out of my days and the restfulness out of my nights. I sure do hope it's hormones for that means it will pass in another day or so. There's precious little I can do about the weather or my dysfunctional family.

Sigh. So there it is. No pretty Spring pictures, no amusing anecdotes, nothing to entertain at all. Just a grey little blurb. It's all I've got today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mothers' Day

So, has everyone had a nice Mothers' Day? Mothers' Day is rather a non-Holiday in our house as I, the resident Mother, think it's kind of silly and wouldn't miss it at all if it were abolished. Mothers' Day is usually a day full of frustration, obligation, fake smiles and me asking myself, "WHAT am I doing here?" Fortunately, my own mother is of a similar opinion concerning Mothers' Day so years ago we (as the only mothers in the family at the time) decided to do away with the traditional celebrations. For years we packed everyone up and went out for a picnic instead. We got to spend time together, enjoy some fresh air, hopefully have some fun, and we exchanged NO CARDS. It was delightful, a breath of fresh air.

That worked very well until my Evil Grandmother of Doom moved back from Florida. Unfortunately, she is the, "Take me out to brunch, get me an enormous card-I don't care what it says as long as it sprinkles glitter all over my Mothers' Day corsage (and there damn well better BE a corsage or I may threaten to cut you out of my will--oh yes I will!) when I open it-and follow behind me bowing your very showy thanks for giving you life every three steps we take" type. Aye me. Thus ended our merry, anti-Mothers' Day observances.

Now we're back to going out to lunch with EGOD (and, no, that's not really her, just an interesting facsimile thereof), always at an Italian place. It has to be Italian cause she's Italian and don't you ever forget it. She always harasses the waiter (until she's had a bit of wine and then she starts flirting with him--honestly, I don't know which is more horrifying to watch) and orders the same thing: pasta aglio y olio, pasta with butter and olive oil, which she has to order "in Italiano" but horribly mispronounces as a squawked, "Ah-Yo-Yo". Great ceremony is made of the exchanging of cards carefully chosen so as to avoid lying completely through one's teeth. I can never, in good conscience, bring myself to buy the ones that say things like, "You fill our days with sunshine," or "Your wise and caring spirit sustains all who are blessed to know you," or "The world has never known a more selfless, gentle soul," in good conscience. During the white-lies exchange, I'm always thinking, "These are just painted pieces of paper filled with someone else's words for which we've all paid way too much money." As you can see, I'm not a girl who needs cards. Give me something I can use. Or chocolate. That always works.

Mothers' Day on The Viking's side of the family is a bit of a farce, too. We go months without seeing them and have no real relationship with anyone but his brother's family, but on Mothers' Day we have to send these saccharine cards full of fervent, throbbing gratitude we don't really feel to his mother and grandmother. And because we don't live near them or see them on Mothers' Day, The Viking has to call them. Which is all wonderful when you consider the alternative. I cannot imagine having to spend that day (I'm sick of typing it out) with The Viking's family. What. A. Nightmare.

That being said, the kids still get into both Mothers' and Fathers' Days (Fathers' Day is marginally better than the other because neither of us have grandfathers living any longer and neither of our dads have the histrionic tendencies the women in our families tend to have), so we enjoy it for their sake and, indeed, because of them.

This year, it just so happened we were in New Hampshire and more than 300 miles away from EGOD and all our usual Mothers' Day obligations. We attended a surprise 60th birthday party for my aunt, which happened to fall on the day before Mothers' Day. So we were free to do as we pleased. It was actually pretty wonderful as Mothers' Days go. No uncomfortable lunches, no obligatory, meaningless words, no glitter!

The day started with my husband and children presenting me with a bottle of perfume that Redheaded Snippet had overheard me say I liked the day before. It smells of lilacs and I love it almost as much as I love the fact that my Snippet's little scout ears caught my casual remark and made a point to relate it to her father. Then Redheaded Snippet bade me open the thick envelope she had propped importantly on my vanity which had been grinning tauntingly at me for almost a week with the message, DO NOT OPEN UNTIL SUNDAY emblazoned upon it. She may be almost a teenager, but she's still so much a girl in so many ways. The letter read as follows (with some personal information altered to protect the innocent):


First of all I'd like to wish you a Happy Mother's DAY! (even though I know it wasn't that happy for you in some past years! haha!) But this year I am going to make a change to that. When I think about how much you do for me and how much you sacrifice for me, it kills me inside that I'm not showing my gratitude towards you 24/7. I'm sorry for times when I just plain old don't listen to you. The Bible says to honor your mother and father...I know I don't do that as often as I should. I want to thank you for all of the meals you cook and for keeping a "tidy" house (ha). I want to thank you for bringing me every forgotten music book or shin pad. I want to thank you for being The Best Mom in the world. You have taught me everything from little things like teaching me how to tie my shoes, to teaching me how to take care of my future family. And yes, I will take care of you when you're in the loony bin! Don't worry! haha! Sure we may have our occasional mishaps, but through them I learn and I grow stronger with you. I couldn't be more blessed. God has put me here for a reason. Part of my success in life will be from you. If I never had you in my life...who knows where I'd be. Probably...In a van Down by the River! HAHA! You are my role model. You are doing a FANTABULOUS JOB! hehe! I see the difference in me from other kids and I begin to realize that it's because I've learned from the best. Sure you may have your faults, but that shows me that you are HUMAN (even though it may not seem like it at some times.) LoL! JK! oops I mean "just kidding" Mom you will always be the person I look up to for boy issues, girl problems, me issues and just to chat. I LOVE YOU MOM. From the bottom of my heart, you mean Everything!

From your super star Daughter!


[Redheaded Snippet] <3
A.K.A...Flexicon (ask me later), Dorkhead, and (my personal fav.)


Let me tell you, I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I think it's my favorite letter to date. And it's so full of her. Her bubbly, sweet personality shines through every phrase.

Man-Cub, after spending countless days mysteriously sneaking down to the basement to hammer, sand and paint, presented me with a personally hand-made plaque complete with rubber bands stretched over nails in the shape of a heart. It's the sweetest thing.

After the gift-giving and going to church with my aunt and uncle, we took the kids to one of our favorite fun-spots in New Hampshire, Cold River. We used to go there when my sisters and I were kids. We'd put on old sneakers and old clothes and spend the day splashing in the river, slipping on the rocks, trying to catch minnows with our hands, scaring waterbugs, avoiding cow plops. Now that I have kids, I like to take them there when we get the chance to visit and I love that they love it.

As you can see, Man-Cub went a little Lord of the Flies on us, but, thankfully, no one was harmed in any way. We haven't had any good photos of the four of us in a long time so our deep and sincere thanks to Daria for taking them (she's pictured in the Wellies, claiming that rock for Scotland-though she has no flag-by the way. Daria, I still envy your lovely, slim calves)!

So, in spite of it all, Mothers' Day turned out to be lovely. We sat and drank in the sunshine and fresh air at the river and made it home from New Hampshire in record time later that night (5 hours)! Of course, The Viking lost his cell phone on the banks of the river, but my ever-intrepid uncle was able to track it down with his mad hunting skillz the next day and it should be arriving back to us sometime today. Yay!

Well then, I'm off to fix some lunch and enjoy an hour of my favorite cooking shows. America's Test Kitchen and Everyday Food are coming on!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Random Observations

Yes, this is the same view I posted last time. Only this time the clothesline has been resurrected! Yay! It is amazing what is thrilling to the minds of the simple. Just hang with me here (ha ha, no pun intended, but it's funny just the same, no? No? Oh, well), the clothesline will come into topic a little further down.

Here are some things I've observed today:

1. I can clean my house until my fingers are stiff and cracked and my children will never notice for one second. This week I have wiped, scrubbed, rinsed, swept, dusted, smoothed, folded, laundered and washed within an inch of my life and no one batted an eye (well, to be entirely fair, The Viking did thank me encouragingly several times. He is, after all, no Neanderthal, that loving man of mine. But right now, I am talking about my spawn, my fruit, my children...). But after spending nearly 24 hours at a friend's house, filling someone else's home with her particular brand of...let's say merriment, Redheaded Snippet took one step into the kitchen upon her return and stopped dead, looked around and said, "Something's different. It looks better in here. Oh yeah, Daddy mowed the lawn." Seriously? The lawn she notices, but clean sheets, clean clothing, hot, homemade meals, thoughtfully-packed lunches go right over her head? GAH.

2. No matter how many times I try, no matter what delusions I choose to entertain which lead me to believe this time will be different, I cannot comfortably walk my dog with dignity. She is a good, loving, obedient pet. The children love her, The Viking loves her and I tolerate her very well and can even muster an appreciation for her most of the time. But she is not leash trained and I, apparently, lack the skillz necessary to train her. I've seen Cesar Milan (love him, in fact) and know I need to be the pack leader and strut my stuff and simply will her into submitting to me. But though she is a very submissive dog almost to the point of being passive-aggressive, she will not let me lead. I wind up turning back halfway into the walk I had intended to take because my hand, arm, shoulder, indeed the entire side of my body, are aching with the effort of making her mind me. GAH.

3. No matter how refreshing and old-timey it makes one feel, utilizing a clothesline (see photo above) isn't very helpful if one a) takes one's chances with the wind and simply drapes one's wet laundry over the line sans pegs (see photo above), hoping it will not somehow wind up in the dirt below and b) forgets said unpegged laundry and leaves it to flap and flutter overnight in the rain. Two of my towels threw themselves in desperation to the murky depths between the deck and the picket fence last night. I found their remains in the dirt this afternoon and had to rewash them. It doesn't really help to save energy by not using the dryer when I have to use the washer twice as much, now, does it? I think I need to buy a new batch of pegs. I also need some plastic bottles so I can mix up my own cleaning supplies again. I bought a new bottle of lavender oil and the stuff has just entranced me anew. I put about 5 drops on two cotton balls and stuck one on the top shelf of the linen closet and the other in Man-Cub's closet where we store our out-of-season clothes and linens. It works so well I get a soft whiff of lavender every time I walk down the upstairs hall! So now I'm using it in the laundry again and have great plans for homemade bathroom cleaner and fabric refresher! Maybe this year I'll even be successful in planting some lavender in the yard so I can dry it and stash it all over the house. Well, we'll see about that.

Now the dryer has buzzed (I'm not putting all our clothes out on the line) and I need to finish planning this week's meals and grocery list. We're out of everything and dinnertime is fast upon us. So, off I go to fold and iron for no one to notice!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tra la! It's May...

...the lusty month of May! That lovely month when ev'ryone goes blissfully astray!
Tra la! It's here, that shocking time of year!
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear!

It's May! It's May, that gorgeous holiday
When ev'ry maiden prays that her lad will be a cad!
It's mad! It's gay, a libelous display
Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes, ev'ryone breaks
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

La la! It's May, the lusty month of May!
That darling month when ev'ryone throws self-control away
It's time to do a wretched thing or two
And try to make each precious day one you'll always rue

It's May! It's May, the month of "Yes, you may"
The time for ev'ry frivolous whim - proper or "im"
It's wild! It's gay, a blot in ev'ry way
The birds and bees with all of their vast amorous past
Gaze at the human race aghast
The lusty month of May!

Tra la! It's May, the lusty month of May
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes blissfully astray
Tra la! It's here, that shocking time of year
When tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear

It's May! It's May, the month of great dismay
When all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or "un"
It's mad! It's gay, a libelous display
These dreary vows that ev'ryone takes, ev'ryone breaks
Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes
The lusty month of May!

I tried to find a video of Julie Andrews singing this Springtime Anthem (from Camelot, of course), because that is truly the only way this song can be enjoyed, but all I could find was the scene from the movie. And I'm sorry, but it just wasn't good enough.

So, yes, Spring is firmly settled in all her glory. I've mentioned it a few times before, but now I've got photos! Not very good ones, I'll allow, but photos nonetheless. We weren't blessed with brilliantly-colored flowering trees in our yard, but we do have a nice view of our neighbor's, as seen above. That house is, sadly, empty at the moment as the former occupants passed away and their son is currently renovating it for his own family. Hopefully we'll get new neighbors soon, but in the meantime, I will just amuse myself by taking photos of their lovely garden.

This is the view as it appears from Man-Cub's bedroom window, lucky boy. I would love a view like this. The one from our bedroom looks over the house left empty by our neighbor on the other side. Yes, we are flanked by abandoned houses. You'd think we had driven them all out. It is up for sale and not nearly as picturesque as the old, white farmhouse with the lovely trees (in fact, in my quite unprofessional but strong opinion, the place needs to be bulldozed so someone can start over fresh, but what do I know, right?). But pressing on,

a bit of a closer view of the lovely neighbor's yard. I think this view has featured in Wintry shots I've posted, complete with sagging, dilapidated fence (it's been that way since we moved in 10 years ago). It just gives me a soft smile every time I glance out one of the North-facing windows.

I tried here to get a closer shot of what I think is the cherry tree with it's carpet of lavender blossoms. Every time the wind blows, it looks like it's raining big, fluffy blobs of purplish-pink snow. This was taken the morning after a fierce storm so you can see nearly all the petals have been blown off. I foolishly bade Man-Cub to join me in admiring the petal carpet when I woke him one morning, but he just looked at me askance as any 7-year-old boy would when invited to consider the glories of wind-strewn flowers.

Speaking of my little imp, is this the face of T-R-O-U-B-L-E, or what?

Whence that toothy, jack-o-lantern grin, you may ask? His two upper front teeth have been ever loosening for some time now. One had just started while the other had begun to display that "dangling" look, you know when you can just look at it and see that it's ready to drop out? Twice in the past month Man-Cub had a close encounter with the school gym's floor, giving himself a nice big fat lip, but somehow narrowly avoiding knocking those teeth out. I did know how that really loose one had held in there. Then, last night, he spent the evening with Gram. When we came home, she announced he had finally succeeded in knocking one of his front teeth out with the seat of one of her backyard swings (don't ask me, I don't know). I sighed and commented, "Fortunately, it was pretty loose to begin with..." when I noticed it wasn't the Snaggletooth he had knocked out, but the other one!

Does anyone else think he could pass as a Redneck? Oh, I am so proud.

Well, I must be off. The Viking is mowing the back forty, Man-Cub, with his toothy grin, is making a sling shot and inspecting caterpillars (wonder if he's scouting them out as possible targets?) and I intend to get outside and take a walking tour of the gardens and grounds. Maybe I'll try my hand at a few more photos while I'm seeing how the flowers are doing.

If you haven't already, get out there and soak in some sunshine!