Perambulation

I started the day with the book of Daniel and a cup of Dandy Blend, trying to convince myself that it’s as good as coffee. My self could tell that I was spinning it a yarn.

Gabriel went out the door with his lunch and the real coffee I fixed lovingly for him, with collagen and raw sugar and cream, about the time that my babysittee came for the day. (I will call her Bee here.) She sat on my lap and chattered while I drank my pretend coffee. It’s our ritual so that she doesn’t insist on “making something” or playing hide and seek or some other fascinating pursuit that requires too much energy first thing in the morning. 

Today Bee had a sketchbook full of line upon line of serious squiggles with occasional wild bursts of scrawls that represented sunshine and a ballerina skirt. You have to admire the confidence of the young in their creative outlets. They don’t apologize for what they make. In fact, they give their sketches away with all the poise of those who know they have made something from their hearts, and why wouldn’t the world be happy with it? Why indeed?

I am not doing so well with the daily writing habit that I aspire to, but I am slowly working through The Story of my Life journal that I bought at Walmart. If you like writing even a little, it is worth your money for the fantastic prompts. Today’s writing prompt: “Describe your parents’ parenting style. Tell a story that shows how much (or how little) freedom you had.”

My mind went back to last week when we four siblings surprised my dad for his 70th birthday. We truly did surprise him, and what fun that was! We all went without any kids or spouses so it was just the immediate family group when we went on a drive in the van to look at our old haunts. Out of the floods of childhood memories, this story surfaced from when we moved to a summer cottage turned house beside a good-sized creek. The boxes weren’t even all unpacked before we children were wading, fishing, swimming in the frigid water. I do not remember any parental shepherding, but probably there were some ground rules given. We crossed to the island in the center of the creek by leaning into the current of the rapids and feeling for sure footing with bare feet on the algae covered rocks. Just upstream there was an eight foot deep pool where the water ran still and mysterious. That’s where we taught ourselves to swim, first by paddling about on anything that floated and held us up. Eventually we started to wade out to chest depth, then turned around and swam to shore. As we got more confident, we went out deeper until we were all decent swimmers, and thank the Lord, nobody drowned. Somehow my parents gave us the freedom and confidence to try new things without hovering too much. I do remember a lot of admonishing and rules that were intended to keep us safe, but not a lot of on-site coaching. (Granted, this was the era when nobody bothered with seat belts, car seats, bike helmets, or safety nets on trampolines.)

After our morning rituals of just sitting, writing, etc., Little Bee and I checked on the chickens and watched the flock tiptoe around a very easily ruffled mother hen and her excitable offspring. This hen is an example of 100% concentrated devotion to motherhood. She spends her entire day keeping track of her babies, scratching up choice morsels for them, showing them how to tip their heads back to trickle water down their throats, and calling them to herself to sit under her wings for a warm-up when it’s chilly. We are enchanted.

When it was time to go inside, Bee evidenced some hanger. She is always cheered when I let her make her own scrambled eggs with the little pink spatula that’s just her size. Every. single. day. she wants applesauce to eat too. If I were asked what the most common food of my childhood was, I would have to say applesauce. Little me got tired of it. Little Bee thinks it is the best treat ever. When it was time for a nap, she wasn’t one bit sleepy and her feet stomped to emphasize it. I have noticed that a small child will fall asleep much quicker if you tell them they do not have to sleep if they can’t. How about having some quiet time, just lie down on the bed and read some books? I wasn’t even through the second story before there was a gentle whiffling snore beside me. I drifted off myself. Maybe it was Just the Thing for Geraldine that did it.

I woke up an hour later, with exactly 20 minutes before Olivia’s dental cleaning appointment, and it was going to take us 15 minutes to get there. I left the sleeping tot with Rita and we skedaddled faster than we have in a long time We made it with one minute to spare. It was a relief to sit in the lobby and just read my new book about soil. Except for one granny with a magazine, every other soul there was on their phone. The granny and I virtue-signaled like everything, but it didn’t make a difference.

Since Olivia got braces, her sisters complain about how she holds up the bathroom, cleaning her teeth all the time. Apparently it is paying off. Her hygienist said she has never seen cleaner braces and Olivia feels rewarded for her virtue.

On our way home, we stopped for groceries. I estimated that the cart, half full, would probably be 150 bucks, but I was ten dollars too high. Should I feel smug at my estimating abilities, or dismayed that I am getting used to the inflation of the times? (I no longer need to buy grocery store flowers to cheer my household, so that may be where the savings are.)

It is a delight that never palls for me: walking outside, just casually picking some blooms for the table. Today it was grape hyacinths and on the mantle we have branches with wrinkly crimson leaves that are opening fast in the warm house.

Tonight Addy was hungry for escalloped potatoes like we had in Florida. I found my favorite recipe with “top milk” as an ingredient, presumably the creamy milk at the top of the jar before the cream is skimmed off. I showed her how to slice the potatoes thinly on the mandolin, then I practiced the same sort of parenting style I grew up with and went outside to mow lawn (after I warned her sufficiently to use the guard if she still wants all her fingertips). When I came back inside, she was ready for the seasonings and cheese and cream.

When Addy and I cook, unforeseen things tend to happen. We are both”schusslich”, only I have learned many lessons over time to avoid epic cleanups. This evening she accidentally pushed my binder of recipes onto the floor. It was so stuffed that it popped open and the pages fanned out over the kitchen floor. She was chagrined, but I saw an opportunity to do something I should have done long ago. The old binder is getting a thorough edit. There are recipes in it that I clipped out of magazines twenty years ago and only made once. I am culling them down to the favorites and the ones handed down from loved ones. It will take a while.

The potatoes were ridiculously good, by the way.

Thanks for joining me on my meander through the day. We didn’t go far, but we covered a lot of ground.

These Wonder Full Days

This week the first tulip opened in a patch of bulbs I planted last fall, a brilliant red with oval petals that spread completely flat in the hot sunshine. It looks like a crimson star floating above the bark mulch. I was sure that I planted pink tulips, but surprise! the first one was red.

Our grey world is springing into color, just tinges of it at the beginning, but promises for more all around. The daffodils at the edges of the woods are waving bits of sunshine, and there are twice as many as there were last year. I love that they multiply and naturalize, and critters don’t like them. When you drive the countryside, you can see marks of old homesteads long gone to ruin with saplings grown up in the foundations and drifts of daffodils where some homemaker dropped bulbs beside her doorstep years ago.

Last fall I donated to a kickstarter for a book titled A Little More Beautiful by Sarah Mackenzie. It came in the mail recently, and it is as charming as any illustrated children’s story I have seen. How can I make the world a little more beautiful each day? Hmmm. How about planting a bunch of flowers and sharing them?

I am not a die-hard spring cleaning lady, but I am in the mood to wash all the things in the house and hang them on the line to dry. As I type this, the rugs for the front door are swishing in the washer, and the living room curtains will be next. When the sun shines in such benevolence, I feel that the windows should sparkle and the curtains should be worthy.

Gabriel is using the chain saw and the tractor to clear the briars and trash accumulated in the back yard for many years. The girls are helping to collect the branches for burning, and I overheard a mild protest, “Can’t he pick another mid-life crisis, just anything else?” For some reason our children think ambitious clean-up projects are a sign of middle age, yet we have tackled these sorts of things many times in their lifetimes. Maybe it’s because they are now strong enough to be a real help, and it is sinking in that this is work, not just a bonfire for roasting hotdogs later.

I have been edging the three beds close to the house. The thing I never thought about when I was being so smart and unrolling old hay bales on top of my long rectangular gardens was that there would be miles of edges with grass borders. I don’t hate the job, but it takes a long time to clear the grasses and weeds that creep into the beds. It also requires a tape measure to get the lines straight, and it is my own problem that I cannot bear to look out the window and see a bulging border. I was trying to fix a few problem spots, and asked my husband, who is much better at free-handing this sort of thing, if it looked all right. “It looks perfect,” he said, and quickly escaped before I could request that he fix what was apparently perfect already. (If I could find a good edging material (that isn’t plastic) it would be worth installing. Please speak up if you have any advice for me on this matter.)

It is astonishing how much more motivated I feel when it is warm outside. Our heat is off this week, and the sunshine has been a daily grace. We had friends here for an outdoor supper around the fire with the whine of mosquitoes and the trilling of spring peepers serenading us. We have gone straight from winter to summer, is what it feels like, and nature is kicking up her heels. I don’t mind. I have no doubt that we will still get some hard frosts, but just for now we are basking.

I have a very broody hen that got a bad case of spring fever. She wanted chicks so badly that she just sat in the nesting box day in and day out, even though we took the eggs away from her every day. We moved her to an empty bunny hutch so that her intense longing for motherhood wouldn’t affect the rest of the flock. I found a source of fertilized eggs and stuck a dozen under her so that she can do her setting with some fruit for all her effort. She has four more days to go until they are due to hatch out. I will be so relieved for her, because she hardly eats or drinks anything, just sits and waits and waits. Rita feeds her worms and bugs that she finds, and watches over her solicitously.

With this season there has been an explosion of birdsong. All around they flirt, warble, and spill their sheer joy into the air. There is a phoebe building her mud and moss nest in the corner of the porch awning, a cardinal shaping a pretty twig nest in the lilac bush right outside the window, a robin once more making herself a home in the shrubbery beside our back deck, and there are sparrows in all the bluebird boxes.

I am reminded that God is the Creator of LIFE! New life springing out of barren, frozen wastelands. It is His delight to resurrect what has died, to bring fruit out of the seed that dies. If I would remember the utter faithfulness of His character when I feel panic because something dear to me is dying, it would save me a lot of flapping about. Every year this same truth hits me between the eyes, and I wonder why it is that I forget it every winter.

I made a list of as many hopes, dreams, ambitions, I could think of in my entire life that I have at some point given up, allowed to die. I was thrilled to see how many things He has brought back to life and better than I had hoped for. Not everything. There are seeds that lie buried in the the ground for a very long time. I can’t pretend that I understand God’s timing, but I believe that He knows what to do with the seeds that we bury.

Well, that concludes my springtime homily. I hope it’s a beautiful day where you are.

Ten Down, Two to Go

Not that I’ve been wishing for the year to hurry… October was a magical month. We felt the usual harvest urgency, without the high stakes that attended harvest time for centuries past. It doesn’t seem fair that we can grow things just for fun, and if we have a crop failure we won’t starve.

We have tucked in the garden with a heavy blanket of chopped leaves from our lawn and pine straw from our neighbor’s trees. My strategy was to blow or mow as much as we could into piles, then run over the piles with the small mower and a bagger attachment. A few teens in this household thought that was a weird and unnecessary way to clean up leaves, but I persisted. That is, I persisted in asking them to do it my way because the leaves break down better if they are chopped, especially our tough oak and hickory leaves.

We obliterated all the corn stalks and sunflower trunks through our BCS chipper attachment, a task that required two persons because a lot of the organic matter was soft from rain. I loaded them into the hopper and Gabriel tamped down the dead plants with a sturdy tree branch, and cleared the chopper blades when they became clogged. Once everything was chopped up, we spread it out to compost right on top of the soil.

The only plants left are the fall crop broccoli and cabbage, the slowly fattening Brussels sprouts, and a brilliant row of kale. It would be noble to be like a brassica, bowing under the hard frosts of life, but standing cheerfully upright again repeatedly until you die. Unfortunately this is just not a homily that inspires me. I do not want to be likened to broccoli, much as I admire it.

While we were cleaning up the outdoors, the field mice were claiming the indoors. I knew we had a problem, but I didn’t know how bad it was until I offered Rita a dollar for every mouse she catches. She is at 9 currently, and the last three were all caught on the same raisin. This little venture is turning out to be quite profitable for her, what with such a low overhead on bait for her traps. I do not begrudge her one penny of those dollars though.

I had a big pile of wood chips dropped off here by the power line workers this summer. We set up the chicken fence around it and let the girls out of their chicken tractor once they were about half grown. Immediately they did their henny-penny things, completely leveling the pile in their constant scratching quest for bugs. For a foolish minute I thought that I would let them free range once the garden was dead. How far could they go? It took them less than 10 minutes to be all the way at the house, digging great holes in the flower beds as they sampled all the dust bath options on the property. Okay then, that’ll be a no, chickens.

We are at last getting plenty of eggs from our flock. It seemed to take forever for them to start laying, but now I feel smug every time I walk past the egg section in the grocery store and see the prices. We have added a thin layer of food independence to our lives.

(If you are curious about the way to homesteader land, chickens are the foot in the door. Owning a small flock makes you a fledgling homesteader just like that. )

There is only one Ameraucana in our small flock of buffs and reds, a silly hen the girls named Susie. She navigates life with the idea that she is special, slipping out of any crack in the fence, roosting in weird places like the entitled lady she is, getting extremely ticked off if you open the nesting box lid when she is sitting in it, and not so much cackling as bellowing her triumph of the day: another blue egg. She could be more humble about her accomplishments, seeing as she only lays about three eggs a week. We forgive her arrogance because we are fascinated with the processes of a bird who eats worms and corn and somehow produces blue pigment that permeates her egg shell.

We are on track for homemade pasta, custards that are yellow instead of beige, and eggnog with that special flair because it didn’t have to travel far to the blender. I even bought whole nutmegs to celebrate this goodness, only to run into the small problem of not owning a nutmeg grinder. I ordered one because we don’t care for knuckle skin in our nutmeg.

I have done my annual sort-fest through the winter gear, giving away things that are too small and donating the snow pants with Steelers logos. Now I know exactly what we have and what we need. I like to do this to Be Prepared. While I was sorting, Addy persistently flitted around, reminding me that her ice skates are too small or broken or something, and it was seventy degrees outside and there was such a ridiculous amount of gear all mixed together. I felt the old panic start to rise: the premonition that I will be swallowed alive by winter, inundated by mittens and hats, my withered skeleton emerging from a mound of boots and puffer coats when spring comes again. And then I laughed because I remembered two things. My children can take care of their own clothes now, and also it is impossible to wither with a mug of something hot in hand. I’ll make it.

Last week we planted tulip bulbs and a large bed of garlic, sticking them in to wait quietly for the right time to show up. I feel myself turning into a tiresome philosopher when I draw parallels from my garden, so I will trust your intelligence to figure out what that could mean.

Addy just asked me a rhetorical question, “Why do we never have dessert?” I serenely ignored her lack of logic and told her that she can make dessert if she wants some. That’s why there is the aroma of cookies baking right now. That is my baby, and here I am sitting on a chair, writing about an October just past.

To welcome in a new month yesterday, we had our Tuesday Tea at a coffee shop where they sell Boba tea. The girls all fell for that, naturally, and I had a chai latte. Here’s to November!

A Little Linky Love

When we took our long trip out west last fall, we made sure to have a goodly supply of audiobooks along. We have been collecting them for quite a while, and if you watch what you are doing, you can actually get a lot of them free. We have been favorably impressed with the quality of the recordings on Audible. You get a free month trial right now, which would put you right into March and springtime. How is that for a deal? My highest recommendation from Audible is God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. It is almost 9 hours long, and all of them are worthwhile hours.

We also like Christian audio, which has a free book featured every month. Sometimes they feature biographies, like Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. We have bought books at both of these places, and have no complaints. Some of the books are on both sites, but this is two ways of getting free ones and deciding whether you want to buy more. 😉

And finally, I have a link for episodes of Adventures in Odyssey. The ones on this site are free samples from their CDs. (Thank-you so much, P.D. and Leeny, for telling us about this. 🙂 ) Our children have listened for hours this winter, and they never tire of them. I want to buy them some of the CDs in time, but for now they are happy with the partial stories.

The time to listen to audios is… anytime. We do it while we cook or while we fold clothes or even while we pick up the stuff around the living room. If the work slows down too much because of how absorbing the story is, I just pause it and everybody jolts right back to reality quickly so that Mama starts the story again. Happy listening!

 

Reliving my Babies

I have never put together any sort of photo album for the two smallest girls. Olivia’s is done up to 18 months, with about three years to go. Each of my children get one personal hand-scrapbooked album, which usually fills up at about 4 years old. When Rita was 3 months, we had a computer crash that wiped out years of photos, then we had camera fiascos and I lost the memory card in the bowels of the CD reader one dark night. You could say it hasn’t been the most fortunate set of circumstances. For a long time I held out hope that my brother could retrieve our files off the crashed computer, but alas, it was not to be. Eventually friends and Facebook albums provided me with some of her as a newborn, so I have cobbled together a file of about 300 photos that I am getting developed to put into their books. That is about 295 more pictures than I have from the first four years of my life, so I think they will be fine. 🙂

Anyway, I have been looking at our photo archives, and every now and then I would say, “Gabe, come look at this! Remember this expression? Can you believe how little they were when Addy was born?” And so on and so forth with the stuff parents say and then resolve to enjoy the moment more. I will spare you, but just share a few snapshots that make me smile.

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Four years ago, the happiest, jolliest baby ever.

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She’s a Tomato Peight. (Someday I will post my husband’s essay on the subject.)

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The child has a surprising aptitude with scissors.

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And here we are four years later. Next thing I know her dad will be walking her down the aisle.

Snow Day, 2

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My children asked me, “What’s a snow day?” And I had the startling revelation that they really don’t know. We used to sing a song at school, “Whatever the weather, we’ll make it together,” but we should have added a quick clause: “Except when it snows and sleets and freezes too much.” Homeschoolers, however, do the whatever the weather thing. It’s the time of year when too much study drags down little people but we have to keep on going. So we think up excuses to have tea parties. We always make a party for the beginning of school, the half-way point, and the grand finale at the end. We have tea parties on birthdays and holidays and as rewards when the house is all cleaned up. Even the boys love it! We just eat our ordinary food, except we pretty it up with garnishes and cut teeny squares of bars to serve on glass plates and everybody gets a little candy favor.

I have no glass-fronted hutch to display my pretty dishes, so unless I use them, I never see them. We keep watch at second-hand stores to replace the teacups that happen to get broken. None of them are heirlooms or priceless, but it is so much more fun to drink out of teacups with dainty handles.

Now I decided that we will also party for snow days. Because snow days should be fun! While the boys were finishing up with their history classes, the girls dressed in pretty dresses with flowers in their hair. We spread the lace table cloth and got out the brand new tea party dishes! (Goodwill, 2.99 🙂 ) It took us about an hour to prepare and then it was time for fun! It was a Snow Day!

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Snow Day, 1

You saw this coming, didn’t you? The not-very-prefessional photos of sticky snow on everything… the only kind of snow pictures I take. I love our back yard. My husband has worked long and extremely hard on the slope of gravel and weeds we got when we bought the place. When snow  clings to everything, it feels like I got transported to the enchantment of a gingerbread village. That’s why I went outside yesterday, early, with my bright-eyed, chirpy little girl who always gets up first.

We did a little backyard tour, then we topped it off with saucer rides down the playhouse hill, short, but very steep and speedy. When we got back into the house, the rest of the crew was just groggily starting to stir, but we had already seen this:

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Window Boxes

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Garden Bench

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Grapes and Raspberries

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Asparagus

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Blueberry Bush

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Meditation Spot on the Deck, with Flower Pots

ImageMarshmallow Roasting Fire Pit

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Playhouse

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Cherry Tree (in foreground) Ornamental Plum (background)

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Garden Shed Designed by my Husband

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Ornamental Apple Tree that Blooms Profusely

I doubt you saw all the things that I saw, but I saw them, and they are real under all that fluff.

Are We There Yet?

The paved roads only brought us close, but the last 8 miles were graded tan Michigan dirt under a tunnel of golden yellow trees. It is off-peak season in the  Upper Peninsula, mostly deserted and calm around the lakes and waterways. We have been blessed with weather 20 degrees warmer than is typical for October. It feels like Utopia… With wifi. 🙂 Our cabin is 110 years old, furnished with a charming disregard to modern ways, lights all operated with pulls and strings tied to various parts of the walls. There is an indoor toilet and a tiny mention of a shower.

Currently the boys are out in a rowboat on the lake, fishing and mostly rowing around. The little girls cheered when they heard that they can wash the supper soup mugs in the teeny sink. So here I sit, soaking in the ambiance of a perfect autumn evening. There are trails, there are meandering mazes of roads through the state forest land, and there are no. other. people. I brought four books to read, and a duffel bag with children’s books, toys, and games, in the event that we should hit a rainy day. Three days of blissful quiet before we resume the journey to South Dakota.

We decided to split up the travel time a bit, seeing we haven’t road tripped any further than 4 hours in the last 3 years. Even so, we were hardly driving for an hour before Rita said, “I think I just wanna stay home. I didn’t know it was going to take so long.”

What We Didn’t Know

Yesterday was our 12th anniversary. See, here we are, after about 8 hours of just the two of us. It’s still there – that magic my friend, the preacher’s daughter, called “the glue when Dad puts their hands together in marriage”.

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Twelve years ago we could not have imagined awakening on our anniversary to conspiratorial whispers and clinks of crockery in the kitchen as our children made a surprise breakfast. We pretended to sleep while someone slipped loudly into our room with a lighted candle which he set directly under the lampshade, which I hastily rescued. The little sister got sent in at least three times to check if we are awake yet, seeing as the eggs were getting cold. The waiters brought in plates with pancakes and eggs, excellently cooked. My pancake was a teddy bear, Gabe’s was a penguin with its feet chewed off. Then came the crowning touch of a breakfast tray with steaming mugs of tea, a bowl of sugar and a pitcher of syrup, along with a funny little music box tinkling out a merry tune.

The children had gone to the neighbor’s yard sale the day before and picked out some anniversary presents. One was the holder for the lighted candle. Twelve years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would ever cherish a rather unusual porcelain bird/flower candle holder painted in various astonishing, pearly colors. Another gift was a small pot with a lid that clasps, “for special things”. (Why do I think of Pooh?) I love it! And the music box… which someone made it their business to wind and rewind the entire time we ate our breakfast, because everyone knows there should be romantic music on an anniversary. On our honeymoon, we would have laughed at the idea of having an audience of five watching us eat our breakfast in bed, but we didn’t have the heart to send them away, seeing as they were so exceedingly pleased with themselves. It was actually quite romantic, when you consider that out of our love sprang these dear little people sprinkled all around us.

Twelve years ago we would not have been thinking in terms of going on a date in a rather large Suburban with very high miles, seeing as the tiny red Mazda was working just great for us. In fact, I believe we made merciless jokes about those family vehicles. Now we are poster children for those jokes. Guess what, we don’t even care! Neither would we have known how rejuvenating it is to a marriage to just spend time with each other, even if you are grocery shopping or ambling through the mall, hand-in-hand, checking out the clearance racks.

Sometimes we look back and laugh at those kids that got married, with all their ideas and plans. We hadn’t a clue that there were career switches for Gabe, from deck builder to teacher to nurse. We hoped for children, but we didn’t know. Sometimes through the years we would look at each other and say, “What do we think we are doing? We don’t even know what we are doing!” When the questions get too big, we have learned to just leave them to Providence and say, “At any rate, I’m with you.”

Favorite Things

Sometimes my children really surprise me. Most days they make me laugh a good belly laugh at least once. And occasionally the surprise and laugh are together, like the day I was reading Gregory’s writing assignment titled, “All About Me”. He began with the usual 3rd grade stats about size, age, and looks, then: “My favorite food is cellry.” This from the child who has only recently been able to eat salad without gagging. Who loves all things pale and pasta but struggles mightily with beans and broccoli… who mostly likes peanut butter in his celery. I don’t know if he was trying to impress the teacher or if it was just another of his little jokes, but I did enjoy the moment.

If I were to ask Rita which are her favorite clothes, she would probably give me a blank look, indicating that she has no time for such frivolous questions. She does, however, come up with some eye-bending combinations. You can see one of them in the previous post… the teal shirt and the light green skirt. She had another set that seemed to make her feel especially elegant. The skirt was rust colored with golden brown embroidery and trim. I thought it was kind of cute, but she consistently wore it with a purple plaid shirt. The effect was unbelievable. Her feelings were rather wounded when I just couldn’t stand it and made her go change. One day Gabe kindly informed me that he never really liked that skirt, so I dropped it into the trash can in a private moment. I don’t make a big deal out of mismatched stuff for play clothes, but I have decided that there is no point in hanging onto ugly stuff just because… 🙂

We finally found a suitable upgrade for the family Caravan. We prayed that it would keep running at least until Gabe was done with school, and it was still going strong, just rather rusty and repeatedly needing power steering fluid. Oh, yes, the AC hasn’t worked for years, one of the windows wouldn’t close, the cruise wasn’t dependable, and the exhaust system needed to be replaced. And it was due to be inspected in September. Last Saturday Gabe traded it in for a Suburban. I had made an appointment a month earlier to take the kittens to a pet shop in hopes that customers would want to adopt them, so I couldn’t go along on the vehicle swap down VA way. Instead, Greg and Livvy went along. As Gabe was filling out paperwork, he noticed that our tender hearted little girl was suddenly catching the drift that they were going to leave the van. They had to take a little walk and get ahold of the sobs. That tickled me and touched me both. There is no accounting for taste when it comes to favorites.

Addy has caught onto the thing of laying claim to certain toys or books and guarding them diligently from the clutches of any other child. I never can understand how a doll can lay unclothed and uncared for for days, and then suddenly it becomes the very most precious, sought after toy to fight about and defend and sob about at night when another child has it in their bed. She has a “peshial” book, blanket, doll, even “peshial” shoes and jacket. Don’t get me started on the rose fork and the pointy spoon and the pink bowl!

My own favorite thing right now is fresh tomatoes, sun warmed and mellow.  I like to imitate Gordon Ramsey and tell the children to go out to the garden to find me “one. stunning. organic. beeeautiful. tomato.” for my salad. 🙂

This next bit is more like unfavorite stuff, but I need to tell you the latest kitten story. We had that appointment at the pet shop. We got there early, but sorry, someone else already had a litter there and they only take one litter at a time and they don’t have my name anywhere despite the fact that one month earlier the girl on the phone clearly reserved this spot for me. So I didn’t ride along to VA with my husband on his day off… all for nothing? I guess the pet shop lady felt a little sorry for me, since she told me that I can bring the kittens again on Labor Day. Sigh. Okay. The good news is, one got adopted. If you wanted the pretty orange one, sorry, but you missed your chance.

I have now suffered the ultimate humiliation in finding homes for these kittens. On Labor Day afternoon we loaded up the crate at the pet shop with 6 kittens still very much homeless. Something desperate in me snapped. Why not try cold calling? Okay, kids, we are gonna stop at all the farms and see if we can find someone who has a spot for them. By the fifth farm I was so traumatized by rejection that I was going to drive right past, but Alex begged me to let him try. He started out by saying, “My mom is too embarrassed to ask you this, but we have some kitties…”

(I will never be unkind to the steak salesman again.)