Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Monophotographia

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
I'm tired. And still funk-entrenched. So here is my singular submission for today's PHFR. It makes me feel contented but I'm too languid to categorize it.  So I shall leave it to you to determine its quality.

For Your Consideration:

My first attempt at biscotti.  I was making a sa-paghetti and-a meat-sa-ball dinner, complete with garlic bread and salad and thought, "What can I make for dessert that goes with all of this and isn't cannoli?"  And biscotti was the winner!

I did modify the recipe a tad.  I hate anise so I substituted vanilla instead.  And I added about 2 handfuls of chocolate chips to the dough.  You can't go wrong with chocolate chips in a baked good.

We haven't actually tried them yet, but The Viking has just walked in the door with the coffee ice cream I asked for (it's National Coffee Day--did you know that?) so we're about to go to town.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Each year, around the end of September, I sink into a bit of a funk.  And, somehow, it always catches me a little unawares.  I had been wondering what the heck was wrong with me and then I saw the date yesterday and it all made sense...

Thirteen years ago today, our second child, and first son, was born.  He made a surprise appearance eight weeks before his due date and, tragically, died of SIDS only 32 days later.  His life, and then his death, turned our lives upside down and inside out.

His birthday has always been a little different from the anniversary of his death.  The anniversary is simply a day of painful memories.  His birthday is bittersweet.  We can't help but recall everything beautiful, funny and happy that we experienced with and because of him in the short time he was here, but we're also acutely aware of the pain of losing him and the emptiness where he should be.  I can't sit around the table with my family or pile into the car with the kids or kiss them good night without feeling something missing.  And I can't imagine what he'd be like as a brand-new teenager.

I know it will be like this for as long as I live.  I will always wonder, "What if...?"  Each year that passes I will try to imagine what he'd be doing new this year, what he would be like, what our family would be like if he had lived.  I fell apart a little when The Viking got home from work today and as he was holding me close I mumbled into his shirt front, "I'm going to be doing this when I'm 85, aren't I?"  And he said gently, "Yes, you are."

Yes, I am.  I will always know how old my babe would be, will always remember his sweet, little face, will always wonder what he'd be up to right about now and will always look forward eagerly to being reunited with him in Heaven.  And always, at the end of September, I will slip into a funk.

Happy Thirteenth Birthday, Little Koosh.  Mama loves you and misses you terribly.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lazy Saturday Morning

This Saturday is lazy with a purpose. We've been so busy that we figured a decompress day was in order. Actually, just a decompress morning as Redheaded Snippet does have a rather big hockey game this evening at quite a distance from home. But as no one had to leave until 3:30 we decided to just lie around until then. And let the hijinks, be as they may, ensue.

Meet Neville. He was fated to be a side dish for our supper tomorrow. But now he has a face and a name so we may be unable to bring ourselves to eat him.

If you're a fan of Potter Puppet Pals (we are) or have seen the above video, you have an idea of why my children (assisted by Daria, of course) are drawing on and naming butternut squash. If not, well then you probably just think we're mentally disturbed or delightfully quirky and creative. And I don't think I'm going to be able to do anything about those opinions.

Man-Cub, with his googly-eye stickers of mischief, created an effigy friend for poor Neville.

But then he realized that Nerf darts stick to butternut squash skin. Poor, poor Neville.

Neville really shouldn't feel bad as even The Viking wasn't safe (though he seems thoroughly unperturbed, does he not?). In fact, I am the only one who is safe because Man-Cub knows Mom will throw those darts away if one of them happens to hit her!

Well, our lazy morning has stretched into a lazy afternoon and now a somewhat lazy evening lies before us.  Some of us have decided not to attend the game after all and are, instead, making a cake (a real one, and not some mix from a box this time ;-)), watching a new (to us) David-Suchet-as-Hercule-Poirot Agatha Christie movie and possibly playing a few favorite games.  The Laze-Away lingers on!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Out of Order Edition

As in rearranged, not broken...
round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
We're doing Pretty then FUNNY, then Happy and Real. Mixin' it up! WHUUUUUUUUT!

When I'm not wearing it proudly on my chest, I stick it onto a magnet on the fridge.  Yep, thar's my fridge.
This is my Field Hockey Mom button. Every year, during a game early in the season, someone pops over to me and hands me one of these. I don't know who takes the players' photos or makes them into buttons or goes through the trouble of tracking down all the parents, but, to me, it's like magic! Poof!  Here's your button! My family envies me these buttons and they all fight over the old ones. But 'tis pretty, no?

I think you see why I had to go out of order?
One word: Man-Cub.  Ok, many more words (I'm incapable of just one word, you know that): we had some stick-on googly eyes laying around and Man-Cub decided his sister's portrait wasn't realistic enough and needed some improvements.  He did the same thing to several other photos hanging on the fridge.  For some reason they really freaked The Viking out, which I find even funnier than the googly-eyed photos themselves!

This is how we met, after all...
"FIE," I hear ye cry, most vexed!  "Mine eyes have beheld this image nary a fortnight ago!"  Nay, dear reader, if ye be astute ye would observe (ok I can't do it anymore) this is not the same photo!  It's ever so slightly different but different nonetheless!  Anyway, The Viking and I met in music class and were singing together before we were ever interested in each other so it always makes me nostalgically happy to sing with him again.  Especially at weddings which make me all sentimental about our own lovely, perfect day...*Le sigh*

And again I say, "Le sigh..."

I almost made this my Pretty or Happy photo.  But I settled on Real.  This is a real man.  He's older, grayer, a little more wrinkled, a bit less fit, and a wee bit more serious, but he's every bit the man I fell madly in love with 20 years ago.  Sometimes I think back and remember the teenager who used to play with my hair in class and doodle our names on his desk just to make me blush and, instead of missing those young, carefree days, I enjoy the reality of living the dream and the promise of growing old together.  Oh, how I love this man!  This is love most real.

Have you found contentment in your every day this week?  Join in the fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Not a bad way to spend a September Saturday...

...or a fortieth birthday for that matter...

Well over a year ago, The Viking and I agreed to sing and play in the wedding of a former vocal student of mine, who happens to be the daughter of friends from our old church.  We had no way of knowing then that the wedding would fall on The Viking's 40th birthday.

When we found out, we were disappointed for about a split-second and then we realized we'd be getting dressed up, going to a fancy party, having a nice meal and going dancing, all without the children!  For the price of a few songs!  Talk about singing for our supper...

In all seriousness, we were honored and happy to be involved in the wedding, which was lovely.  The bride and groom were lit up with happiness and the venue, the Tyler Arboretum was wonderful, especially on a cool September afternoon such as yesterday.

These are all photos I took with my new Droid 3 after I had finished my sound check but was waiting for the rest of the musicians to finish theirs (and by, "the rest," I mean The Viking as he and I were the only musicians).

It wasn't the sunniest day imaginable but it was still delightfully crisp and the air smelled clean and woodsy.  It was enchanting.

This was my view from the mike.  I don't get to sing in the great outdoors very often.  I wanted to gambol and frolic at the same time, but that wasn't what I was hired to do...

The Viking always plays The Captain to my Tennille.  But he won't wear the cap.  Can you see those suspicious-looking drops on the keys?  Any idea what those might be?

Quite an appropriate song for such a setting, no?

Maybe a glimpse of my sheet music (rubber banded to the music stand--trick of the trade) will enlighten you.  Yes!  Those are raindrops!  We had a few moments of near-panic, as we stood out in the open being pelted by raindrops whilst surrounded by yards and yards of electrical cords and machinery!  I really didn't want The Viking and I to be tragically and simultaneously electrocuted on his fortieth birthday.  Think of the children!

But, hurrah! the shower was short and light, no one was harmed and the wedding went off without a hitch.  We had a great evening, got to catch up with old friends and I got a new profile pic in the process.

Like I said, not a bad way to spend a Saturday in September on which it is your birthday...

Friday, September 16, 2011


So, what do you think of the new look?

I usually "redecorate" for each new season (Autumn being my FAVORITE) and when I went into Blogger yesterday to get started I found that they've added all kinds of new tools to make the process way easier! It took a lot less time, though the blog was shut down longer because of other extenuating circumstances (I just got too busy and couldn't get back to the computer until much, much later to finish). Sorry about that.

I'll be changing it again in a few weeks for Halloween but, for now, I, for one, am enjoying the Autumnal delights in both cyberspace and in real life! The air is crisp and cool, the leaves are changing and fluttering downward and field hockey games have begun!

We have our third game of the season this afternoon and this one is a grudge match. We play this team every year and every year they play dirty and the spectators that come to watch them behave even dirtier. Last year, the ref had to be escorted off of the field by police because a few of the other team's parents (thank heaven they weren't some of ours) were behaving so aggressively: jumping up and down, screaming obscenities, calling the ref names. It's a horrible game to have to go to. I am not looking forward to it. But hopefully, the nonsense won't distract me from the sole reason I go to these things: watching Redheaded Snippet tear up the field! Go Snippet!

Must fly. Must tidy up before departing...
Happy Autumning!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Themeless

round button chicken
~Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~ Every Thursday at Like Mother Like Daughter
*edited because I am even more lame than I thought...
Today is truly an exercise in capturing contentment in the everyday. We are having a very busy week here. And yet, I have still been able to catch flashes of just how very good my life is. What a valuable gift contentment is!

Without further ado:

Homemade granola bars.  At least I think they're pretty.  When I think of how much healthier they are for my family, I think they're very pretty!


The Viking's birthday is on Saturday.  He's turning FORTY!  The kids and I saved up all our egg and pin money for months and bought him a fancy, uber-comfy recliner and gave it to him a week early.  We positioned it perfectly in the living room so he can unwind by the fire and swivel to see the tv (on the rare occasion he actually watches it).  When scrolling through the photos on my phone today, I came across this shot he had obviously taken.  I'm thinking he must have been quite happy to want to document the view from his throne!
Also Happy

If you know The Viking in real life at all, you know what a very familiar sight this is.  We do have a piano in the living room, but he is a synthesizer man (we have heated debates all the time about acoustic vs synthesized--as only music geeks can).  We're both attending and performing in a wedding this weekend so he was putting the finishing touches on his pieces last night.  There is something about the sight of him at a keyboard (acoustic or lame synthesized) that makes me happy.  It probably reminds me of when we first met and started dating (he was a wild man on the keys then)!

Happy and Funny

Like father, like son.  The Viking (obviously) left the keyboard set up and Man-Cub/Davy-boy/H3 has been fiddling with it almost constantly ever since.  I was reminded today that it was at about this age that Redheaded Snippet's athletic abilities began to make themselves known and it seems to me that Man-Cub/Whatever is starting to show similar signs in the music department.

I've left him alone and am counting it as Music Appreciation/Composition.  If you could hear some of the things he's written today, you would appreciate the "Funny" designation even more.  One of them was introduced to me as, "This is how squirrels would say, 'I love you,' or, 'Take out the trash,'"!


I don't think it gets much more real than this*.  I've managed to wash and dry the laundry, but folding it has been another matter.  This is only half of it.  You should see the top of the washer and dryer.


There it is: Mount Doom.  I've got half a mind to see just how high I can get it...actually, I think having half a mind is probably the source of the problem.

Well, as Phineas Flynn-Fletcher would say, "Ferb, I know what we're gonna do today..."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ten Minute Challenge

Wacky Wednesdays are back, now that school and, as of tonight, mid-week church are back in session! And I have a mere ten minutes to myself before I have to do something about this flabby, dense thing perched atop my neck and head out to Redheaded Snippet's FIRST HOME GAME OF THE SEASON! Go Vikings!

So in careless slash form, here are a few things percolating in my head:

-It has occurred to me that if I were only to take up knitting again, I would have something useful to do with myself during field hockey games and not get so bored or jittery. And I could make people all kinds of things they would have to pretend to like! Must dig out knitting things...

-I really want to ramp up my cooking habits. The pantry and kitchen are organized (and, glory of glories, staying that way), and supper, laundry, bedtime and school are under control. So now I think it is time to add a few more things. Like, perhaps, scheduling a day each week when I bake a crapload of foodstuffs. You know, a cake, a few batches of cookies, maybe even, gulp, bread. The more I learn to cook, the more excited I get about doing it and about providing my family with healthier, less-preserved, less "fortified", less messed-around-with food.

-I would also like to tweak our curriculum a bit. I'm wondering if Man-Cub really should learn French. Latin is fine and all and he likes it, but French just seems...I don't know...proper somehow? And I also think we need to add economics, some form of self defense/martial arts, and possibly gymnastics. We'll see...

-We need a new duvet for our bed. We've had our current one for probably close to ten years and it has little holes all over where the feathers have poked through. You can't make a move in there without feathers flying all over the place and I sweep so many of them up each when week when I dust and vacuum that I can't believe there are any left inside the thing. But duvet's are expensive. And I'm just not sure where to get one frugally...

-We also need to get a new mattress for Man-Cub. He's having a hard time sleeping on his and I think it's pretty ancient. Anything to help the boy sleep!

-Speaking of Man-Cub, he has informed me that he no longer cares for his blog name. It's too childish now that he is officially a tween. He is suddenly into wishing he was more grown up than he is and he wants something more manly and powerful sounding. I like Davy-boy, after Mr. Davy Keith in the Anne of Green Gables series. Davy reminds me a lot of my Man-Cub, but I don't think he would appreciate being called something with, "boy," in the title. He has suggested Shark Tooth or Hiccup Horrendous Haddock The Third which I could potentially see being shortened to H-Cubed or H3 but we're still in negotiations.

Well, that's all for me today. Gotta throw some veg into the pot roast and throw some slap on my face!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: "Special" Supper Edition

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life.
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter

This week's Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real is brought to you by stone fruit cobbler and the fine city of Minneapolis.

The Viking had a very short business trip earlier this week. To, you guessed it, Minneapolis. And since none of us were very happy about the impending (though blessedly short) separation, to cheer ourselves up, Redheaded Snippet and I decided to throw together a slightly special, slightly more fancy bon voyage supper. What ensued was a lot of contentment pulled from a very ordinary evening of our lives.


Redheaded Snippet had had a game. We were very cold and wet when we got home and I had very little time in which to prepare supper. And I had planned nothing for dessert and, as such, had procured nothing from the store by way of ingredients. How was I going to pull a dessert out of that hat? A quick scan of the kitchen revealed a lone peach, a single plum and two nectarines showing warning signs of shrivelage leftover from our foray to the farm. Eureka! I mixed a little of this and a little of that and threw together a peach/plum/nectarine crisp.


Success! With a little cream poured on top, it was heavenly! The Viking kept saying, "How did you do this? This is amazing!"  Once again, I felt like a rock star.


We were so cheerful that, of course, there were hijinks.  Man-Cub likes to play wizard whenever there is fire. We're not entirely sure, but we think he gets that from his father...

Funny/Real/Pretty (though she doesn't think so)

This was actually a hijink on my part; she thought I was bluffing with the camera pointed at her but HAHA!  And Man-Cub paid me back later, as you shall see in a few moments...


And Man-Cub was like, "Ha ha, this is what you looked like!"


And Redheaded Snippet was like, "Well, if the camera's on, looky this!"


And then he was like, "Oh yeah?  I can muss up my hair, too..."


And then she was like, "Oh yeah?  Well you can't do this!"


And he was just beyond caring at that point...


Then, foolishly, I put down the camera at which point Man-Cub grabbed it and aimed it at me saying, "I don't have a picture of you, Mom!" And before I could grab the camera out of his squirrelly, little hands--SNAP!  I think I look like I've had work done.  Don't I look like I've had work done?  I guess this really can't count as a Real photo because it makes me look rather thinner and better than I really am.  Which is, of course, why I was brave enough to post it.  Which kind of defeats the purpose of this activity, doesn't it?  Well, let's not over-analyze...

I'm sure we softened The Viking's departure for him but I'm not if it was by filling him with an extra dose of affection to hold him over until his return or with a hefty dose of relief that he'd be free from the lunacy for a short while.  He was kind enough not to specify and, either way, I believe we did him a favor.

What about you?  Have you been able to find contentment simply by looking around you?  Join in the fun and I assure you it won't be too hard to find!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Family Edition

We've got a lot of blurred lines in this week's PHFR. There was so much pretty/happy happy/funny happy/real, etc, going on that it's hard to categorize many of these photos.

Dharma, Vance, Fidget and Rosebud came to visit this week. OFF-THE-CHARTS-HAPPY! And we were way too busy all week for me to report on the all the pretty, happy, funny and real going on around here.

But here we go...let's just assume for the sake of convenience that all of these are all PHFR:

Rosebud feeding the chickens
We went to our favorite local farm to ride hay wagons, feed animals, enjoy live music, pick a few ears of corn and a few stray peaches and nectarines, and stock up on apple cider donuts!  It was the perfect way to usher in the month of September and the season of Autumn.  As Daria said, the only thing missing was dancing around the cauldron!

Redheaded Snippet proving she's not yet too old to enjoy a cider slush on the playground

Fidget, happy to show the barnyard how, "silly chicken," is done!

Fidget really was not that forlorn; the camera just caught her in a pensive moment
We also went to our family's favorite seaside resort, Ocean City, NJ.  Actually, they went.  As I hate the beach, I stayed home and made this:

The Viking's favorite "Kick-Ass Cobbler"

Because, when a crazy, old, Italian woman leaves you with an enormous bag of peaches sure to go bad on your kitchen counter before you can possibly use them all, you make peach cobbler!  Two of them (the first was already eaten by the time this photo was taken)!

If you look closely, you can see Man-Cub and Redheaded Snippet up on the right

Gram and Rosebud

Fidget in motion, as nearly always

Ocean City is his favorite place on earth!

Every generation of our family has ridden these boats

Ditto for that merry-go-round

Rosebud and her Papa, Vance

My beautiful family.  Wasn't I clever to choose such a man as my children's father?

Daddy's little girl...

Peas in a pod

Dharma, Vance, Fidget and Rosebud

The whole OCNJ crew
The following photos are rather more real:

Operation Hurricane Readiness

The Viking is a volunteer firefighter.  Which meant that, instead of being home with us weathering the, he spent almost all of last weekend at the fire station on duty because of Irene.  Believe me, the children and I would have much preferred to have his reassuring presence with us throughout the ordeal, but we understand what he does and were very proud of him.

They really DO sleep with their boots on!

When the power went out and repeated tornado warnings drove us into our dank, damp basement (with water from the torrential rains seeping in around the corners--ugh!), he risked life and limb by leaving the station and rushing home to check on us.  We eventually evacuated a few miles away to Mom's house where we spent the rest of the fearful night in comfort with electricity and dry floors.

Breakfast for the hard-working firefighters

And all is well.  None of our trees fell, the basement wetness stopped at mere seepage and the power was restored so quickly that our ice cubes in the freezer didn't even melt.  Thanks be to God!  That certainly makes me Happy!