Livvy’s Birthday


This is my little Livvy girl, my fragile child with the determined, sturdy spirit. She is smiling funny so that her very loose tooth doesn’t show. No matter how much we tried to persuade her that the tooth should stay back with six, she insisted that it needed to dangle along to seven.

We did a spur of the moment birthday party with my parents picking up a cake for her.



Her siblings had some little presents ready for her. As she unwrapped this present, it became evident that Rita had gifted her with one of Addy’s most prized treasures at the moment. It took only a second for Addy to snatch it back, “HEY, that is mine!” It is nice that seven is old enough to be amused instead of offended at such doings.



These two are best buddies, sharing the birthday loot and conspiring on how to quietly play with the teensy Strawberry Shortcake stuff without Addy noticing. Poor Addy.



And here we have the cake she really was hoping for: something with fondant decorations, like flowers and monkeys. We plan to share this with the school children tomorrow when we take a hot lunch to school. Marshmallow fondant is very fun to work with, but a project this large was a little ambitious   required all hands on deck. Greg did the bushes, Alex did the monkeys and palm fronds, the little girls punched out flowers and stars with cutters and I supervised, arranged, and made the vine, etc. etc. I was, quite frankly, fried when it was finally finished. Have a happy day, everybody!


(Oh, look! The tooth came out today! Now there is the real smile! )


The Goldenrod Is Yellow

Some of you were wondering where in the world I have been. I will give you multiple choice options and we shall see how good you are at guessing.

  1. Researching John and Abigail Adams
  2. Going to the zoo
  3. Feeding hundreds of people
  4. Canning my tail feathers off
  5. Refraining from saying things that are not kind
  6. Hauling things up and down my attic steps
  7. Bike shopping
  8. Taking time to savor my coffee
  9. Cutting holes in my daughter’s dress
  10. All of the above

Let’s just assume you are smart about this sort of list and I will tell you  that 10 is indeed the right answer. Regarding number 1, I am not certain that reading a page out of David McCullough’s 646 page biography every day at nap time can be considered research, especially as it is a library book and I doubt whether they will allow me to renew it often enough to finish it. I cannot believe the prodigious quantity of letters, sometimes 2 or 3 in a single day, that he and Abigail wrote during their frequent separations while America was learning how to be a country on her own. It is noteworthy, also, how very important it was in the early days for a politician to be scrupulously honest and virtuous. There is also an interesting biographical film of John Adams on Amazon that fascinated me. So yes, research of the Wikipedia and one page a day variety.

In all my childhood memory bank, I cannot recall anyone ever puking on the way to the zoo. Nor can I remember anyone desperately insisting that they Have to Go Potty when we were stuck in traffic so that my mom had to climb over seats to help them relieve themselves in a small goldfish crackers container. But I wasn’t the mom back then, so I may have forgotten. The zoo was fun though, especially with my sister and her family joining us from Ohio. That is my cute niece Jackie in the middle.


IMG_20140904_140655591 As for feeding hundreds of people, I should explain that I am counting my children 3 times a day, along with occasional friends and relations. When you figure it out, it’s 21 people a day just for our family (I pack Gabe’s lunch). No wonder the groceries fly off the shelves as fast as I haul them home. Or can them. I know the amount of food I preserve is laughably small compared to some. Gabe’s mom does hundreds of quarts of tomato juice  every year. On the day I was hauling home 2 bushels of tomatoes to make into pasta sauce, I passed a middle aged guy in a red convertible, top down, hair ruffled in the wind, blissful expression on his face and all. I thought, “I don’t envy your life at all, buddy. But could we just trade for the next 24 hours?” Cause I think it would do him good to see a child’s delight at learning to mix primary colors in icing… after the tomato canning was done, of course. IMG_20140908_201734105-MIX School marches on. I think we have 24 days done, even with all the days we took off. I love having the freedom to dismiss lessons for busy days because we started early. It took the pressure off majorly. And I have little runners to fetch and carry and husk and peel. They are such good helpers that some days I had time to write posts, but I found myself rereading them and hearing my mom in my head, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So I didn’t. And no, you may not see my drafts folder.

The bike shopping turned out to be a bit of a fiasco. Olivia has been riding a small boy’s bike all year, and all year we have looked for a pink bike at yard sales. We don’t really see the point of buying brand new ones when they are still in the learning stages and crash all the time, but by her birthday she still didn’t have a bike her size. So I took her and Rita with me on an excursion to Altoona, first to a consignment sale where the only bikes were boys’ bikes, then to Walmart where I opened my eyes to the prices as well as the ugliness of the decals. I could just imagine how the Disney princesses would look after scraping against backyard trees and riding through the mud in the garden. Meanwhile Rita saw a teensy bike with a dolly carseat attached to it and began to sob quietly in her hopeless desire to own it. We decided to check Target, where they did not have a single 16 or 18 inch bike on stock. As we were walking out, the girls saw the Lego friends sets and Olivia said she would rather have one of those anyway, so I got her one for her birthday. That is not all, though. Our neighbors had a yard sale this weekend, and there was a lavender girl bike for 5 dollars, so the boys bought it for the birthday girl. Whew. *dusts off hands*

The birthday girl brings us to another subject: that of letting her pick out fabric at Walmart for a dress. If you know their fabric selection, you know that it is varied and unreliable as to quality, but right now they have a lot of cheap stuff, likely for costumes. We found some we liked and I planned the charcoal dress with a filmy purple overskirt. I was feeling a bit smug as I entered the home stretch of doing the overlock seam on the skirt  in just under 3 hours. Suddenly I realized that the slippery fabric had doubled under and I was overlocking too many layers. Oh, please, please. But yes, the blade on the serger had cut  a large gash right into the middle of the front bodice. The longer I studied it, the more I wanted to chuck the whole thing into the trash can. But I picked it apart and kept on working at it until it was all done. I love my little girl dearly but I have to admit that I kept thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for this.” Here is the damage. Tomorrow I will try to post a picture of the girly in the dress. 10676128_10202734109859041_1357883228051588510_n I have convinced her that she is now old enough to put her beloved blanket into the attic in her keepsakes box and the dress is a sort of swap or reward for bravery. The first time I broached the subject of the blanket, she burst into tears. You have to understand that with a dysfunctional adrenal gland, this blanket has gone with her for every lab draw and every scary doctor’s visit and swaddled her in every stressful situation since she was just wee. It has supplied comfort and calmed her for her entire childhood. She has staunchly defended it from her brothers’ merciless teasing. (Are you going to share your blanket with your husband?) And she has agreed to give it up. After all, it is flannel and it says Baby on the front. I am so proud of her! To the attic it went.

The Goldenrod Is Yellow…It really is, but the reason I used it for my title is because it is the first line of a poem I learned in second grade and this time of year I can hear our class chanting it vigorously as Teacher Sarah beamed at us with approval. Any of you others remember it? I can’t recall the whole thing but I would love to teach it to my children just for fun.

Anyway, that’s where I have been, plus a lot more besides. Where have you been?