No more bottles, or sippies, no burp clothes, or bibs. (Well, she needs a bib, but refuses to wear it.) No more onesies (potty training soon.) No more patroling for polly pocket shoes or Legos or other tiny things that babies like to put in their mouths.
You see, after nearly 13 straight years of baby stuff in our house...suddenly...there are no babies.
Oh, she's still my baby. But she's becoming a big girl so quickly. By summer, I expect we'll be done with diapers as well. Seriously. I never imagined that day would come. Some part of me thinks that I should be celebrating...screaming from the rooftops! Wooohoooooo!!! We made it!!
And yet here I am...in tears thinking about how wonderful it is to have a baby in the house, and how I'm going to miss these difficult/simple times. It's all I've known for a long time. God has been so good. Thank you God. Thank you. thank you.
And God bless Anne on her 2nd birthday! You're still my baby girl.
Only 9 made the last minute picture...Sam and Mary had already taken off with friends.
One more last minute trip to Dollar General for green face paint (we've got every color here, but green!), 30bucks to order in pizza (who has time to cook on a night like this?!), a one-hour scramble of face painting, hair spraying, costuming, shoe-tying, primping, and hunting for bags to hold the loot, not to mention last minute decorating by the oldest two...wanting to "haunt" the place a bit.
"Mom, where's the tape?"
Mom, can you tie my shoes?"
"Mom, my cape feels weird."
"Have you seen my pirate hook?"
"My makeup is next."
"Can I have hot rollers in?"
"Is it time to go yet?"
"The neighbors are going!"
"Sam and Mary left already...."
"Please mom, pleeeeeeeeeease."
"Be nice...use sidewalks...don't step on anyones flowers!...say thank you!....Be careful...don't talk to strangers!...home by 8. Listen to Dad!!!"
Lots of silence.
We only got about a dozen trick or treaters here this year. Far from the numbers in our old neighborhood. What a lot of stress and craziness for an hour and a half of fun!
We were in Celina this morning, running some errands and decided it was too beautiful to stay in the van. We enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch at Grand Lake...and riding the dolphin rock...and feeding seagulls. The weather was GORGEOUS!
This crazy halloween vulture has brought forth one of our kookiest family adventures to date. And sadly, it's an adventure I should be ashamed & embarassed to admit. Which is exactly why I feel compelled to blog it.
I'll start at the beginning. Nine days ago to be exact.
Monday, October 15th 7:50 am: The kids depart for school, and as they leave the house notice that one of the halloween yard ornaments had been blown over, and lighbulb burnt out from the winds the night before.
I unplug it, and drag it into the front room with plans to attend to it later. It's Monday after all, and we're not in a hurry to accomplish anything on Monday mornings. The kids and I muddle through the early morning taking our time to get dressed, brush teeth, all the while I slurp through my first pot of coffee and eye the tacky plastic vulture laying in the front room beckoning for a new lightbulb. It was accomplished by lunch time for sure. Anyhow, as I removed the screws from his backside, and opened up the cover to replace the light, I noted (though obviously didn't process the info till later) that his belly was full of mouse droppings. I even remember thinking...hmmm....bet this is a warm place for mice to snuggle in the cold fall weather. Lightbulb is replaced, and vulture returns to his place on the front stoop.
And so our adventure begins...from the belly of the beastly vulture.
Later that afternoon, kids off to school, Annie napping, I sit at the kitchen island sipping more coffee and sifting through e-mails to the hum of the washer and dryer running. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement down the hallway. I peek up from the screen to see a mouse creeping his way into the hall closet. My jaw drops in disbelief. I have not seen a mouse in more than a dozen years...not since we lived out in the country in the old farm house. You have got to be kidding me! By now I've had enough caffeine to realize that the mouse droppings inside the vulture surely meant that there was indeed a mouse...and that mouse was now finding himself a warm snuggly place in our house. DUH! "Over my dead body." I grunted outloud. I tiptoed quickly down the hall and pulled open the closet door. Obviously he's sneakier than me. But he's new to the indoors, so I'm confident we'll have him caught in no time. I pull out all the shoes, vaccuum the closet floor, and reorganize them...somehow I'm sure mice don't like organized sneakers. (Mostly I wanted to be sure he wasn't making a warm home in a size 9.)
I spent most of the evening in disbelief, and talked through a plan a couple times with John about how to get rid of the little guy. I should have acted faster.
Tuesday. Day 2. I hadn't yet told the kids about our visitor. These are not the conversations we want our kids to be having with other folks. Why? I don't know...but it just seems "dirty" and well, better left untalked about. (pffft. whatever.) As I walk into the kitchen first thing, kids are gathering in for breakfast. We sit happily munching our toast and cereal, and what the heck?!...that mouse shoots out of the music room, slip-sliding across the hardwood and right into the pantry. He looked more confused than the kids, who by this time are standing on their chairs screaming "RAT!" I assure them it's not a rat, and confess the happenings of the day before. Mental note...get a trap from the hardware...stat!
Just moments later, he's darting from the pantry across the kitchen and under the fridge. Dangit. This time, no hysterics, we all just look at each other in disbelief. Game on.
I stop by the hardware later that day for an assortment of snap traps, bait them with peanut butter, place them scattered throughout the house...closet, pantry, music room, under fridge...everywhere.
By dinner, they're all licked clean. But no mouse. Oh, he's goooood.
Weds. Day 3. Alice opens the pantry first thing to check the traps...and sure enough that little booger shoots out the pantry and through her legs. She's gasping, and thrilled. The chase is on. I grab a broom (as if I'm that swift), and we chase him under the sink, and out again, behind the washer and dryer, and back under the fridge. Foiled again. We all settle down for breakfast chatting about the little rodent like the some people rant about the latest survivor episode. (Is that show even on?!) Anyways. Lively conversation to say the least, it was thrilling. This day I'm more careful as to placing the pin of the trap just barely on the edge, so that the slightest movement will set it off. Nutella is our chocolately new bait of choice, as it sticks into the trap a little better.
All the traps are licked clean by dinner. Are you kidding me?! Oh no, he didn't.
Now, I'm googling homemade traps. I'm am going to get this booger if it's the last thing I do.
The kids are mapping out homemade contraptions...it's engineering at it's best.
I came up with a ramp/bucket/spinning wheel of peanut butter that promises to be the only way to catch mice. I set it up near the pantry at bedtime. Muwahahahaha! It promised wrong.
Thurs. Day 4. Traps are licked clean again, and no mouse in my bucket of spinning peanut butter wheel of doom. I'm growing weary. And the mouse is getting fatter. That's okay, fatter means slower. I'm bound to get him eventurally, right?! Oh, and by now the kids have all but taken out a news ad sharing the adventures of our RAT we have in our kitchen. Friends are asking for updates, wondering if we've named him. (NO. We have not.) So much for keeping it our dirty little secret.
This day, a friend suggests sticky traps. Little trays of glue that catch them on the run...and they stick there...till they die. Inhumane, I know. But I am on a mission to rid my house of this little rodent. I have no mercy at this point. Back to the hardware for a half-dozen sticky traps. I place them near floor boards, and near little crevices. This is it.Bring it on...
Friday. Day 5. I wake up to find one of the sticky trays pushed across the kitchen floor with a Lego in it. Are you kiddin' me?! The kids weren't out of bed yet...this fat slick annoying mouse beast is toyin' with the wrong mama. (by the way, I quit baiting the snap traps...he's not going to be adding to my grocery bill...the ramp/bucket/spinning wheel of peanut butter death is now in my closet, and John's clothes are starting to smell Jiffy, and I'm upping the ante by putting a smidge of peanut butter on the sticky traps. If he won't cross them by accident, we'll lure him in... (curse, curse, snarl. He's not gonna get the best of me! Is he?)
Today...day: whatever-the-heck-it is. I've almost given up hope. I've cleaned behind/under all my kitchen appliances, cleaned the entire pantry and restocked. I've not found any evidence (can you say, chocolate sprinkles) that he's still around. But, I'm afraid he still is. Either he can't fit through the holes anymore...since he was fed like a king his first days here...or he's off calling in his friends...or perhaps, he's finding a food source someother place I've not realized yet. I'm thinking by Christmas he could be the size of a small weiner dog. And good news...the kids are really hoping for a puppy.
It's been a whole year since women came out in droves to relax and reconnect at the the Perfectly Imperfect Woman retreat at the Spiritual Center in Maria Stein. WOW! A whole year.
Well, they've pulled it together again, with fabulous speakers and presenters and sharers -of-their-talents, and wine-sipping, and shopping, and mani's and pedi's for heaven sake! All that and Mass and opportunites for Reconciliation (so we can get our God-groove on). Perfect.
I'm super stoked to go again, and pleased as punch to have just a teensy-tinsy little part on Saturday morning...kicking off the day with coffee and chat...and whatever else the Holy Spirit leads me to share. (Not so much on cooking though...truly, cooking's really not mah thang.) But we can talk food, and the love we women put into it for our families...you'll just have to come see...
Anyways...there's still time to register. Hope to see you there!
PS...Praise God I don't have to do Zumba again...not that I'm opposed to exercise or sweat...and not that I really participated last year...I sipped coffee and watched all those other nutcakes, er ummm....nice ladies. It's a retreat for goodness sake...I'll be chillin' and chattin' (and praising God that we don't have to exercise on retreat).
PPS... I do Love you nutcakes, er umm, nice ladies who have better workout willpower than me. I'm just sayin'.
I found this little gem of a bedtime prayer as I was leafing through some old papers tonight. A humble surrender by Pope John XXIII after a tough day at the office...
"I'm tired and I'm going to bed. It's your church. Take care of it."
Just like that. I love it. Better than Memory Foam or Posturepedic or white noise or mindless television or Benadryl...or whatever it is that people fix themselves to sleep with. Ahh, the real peace that comes in trusting that all is taken care of. Just letting go...and letting God.
(sigh.) I think I'll give that one a try tonight.
Does anyone even remember Carmen Sandiago? Or does that really date me? Maybe she came before "Where's Waldo?" I'm not sure.
Anyways. I digress.
Jamie's still very much here; thinking about writing and blogposts every single day. Thinkin' about it. I'm thinking about lots of other stuff that isn't getting done too. And it's pretty easy for me to get stuck dwelling in the Land of the Undone. That's not very productive though. Truth is, as much as I think about writing, I really haven't had much desire to write lately. I want badly to tell everyone how life is changing here. Some things should seem so much easier in my little world with 10 of the kids gone most afternoons. Should. Laundry seems more under control, I'll say that. And I even have dinner planned by 3pm most days. That's HUGE. (I've always been a last minute "What the heck am I gonna throw on the table tonight?" kinda gal. Having time to think and plan really is a good thing. For all the domestic stuff that seems to get a little easier though, life stirs up a new set of challenges. Balancing an insane schedule that still allows time to nurture a marriage, strengthen some sort of family bond, and really builds a foundation of faith, rather than just "survive" another day seems an impossible task. Currently I'm totally in survival mode. I'm not giving up on that "something greater" though. God's got a grip on my apron string...and He's promised he'll pull us through. We're just transitioning...just transitioning. Hold on Jamie. Certainly we must just be "between seasons" here...and this place in our faith life is the sucky part where we clean out closets and figure out what still fits and what doesn't. Uggh.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5
I haven't been totally sitting around eating bonbons to drown my miseries though. In lieu of writing, I've found a temporary new creative outlet...we'll call it "nest feathering." That's my code word for turning free/cheap items into something wonderful (or at least sorta great) to make this bigger house feel more like our cozy home. Nope, I'm not too proud to say I've got some reclaimed items (read that: curbside treasures) that with a little love and sanding/painting are finding new life here. Here are just a few pics of projects over recent weeks/months...
I dabbled in the art of hand-painting words onto a sign. I really wanted this quote in our "quiet room," but just couldn't justify springing for those peel and stick words. (I'm cheap like that.) So I swiped the top board that wasn't being used from a shelving unit in our basement, and painted away. Not too terrible for a first attempt, I don't think. It's approximately 18"X36" and fits perfectly over the couch in that room.
In that same "quiet" space...also our music room. We have these great built-ins which include a pull-open writing desk. All of our books are kept in the family room and toy room, so this is sort of under-utilized space. I painted the backs of the shelves in a complimentary color (actually left-over kitchen paint...so it coordinates with the room next door...and it was FREE!)
And then Emma helped me tear out the desk- stuff, and turn this space into our family prayer place. It holds our rosaries, and candle, a pic of the Holy Family...well you can see for yourself. The drawers beneath hold prayer cards, extra rosaries, etc. It's sort of a private little retreat for prayers, if you will.
This next one is a piece I spared from the curb. It's an old 1970's dresser (it was dark brown and legless, with a large mirror attached to the top/back.) that my Aunt was ready to dump. I snatched it up (Freeeee for the haulin') and added some legs, some turquoise color, and some stain to antique it a bit. Better than new! And now a roost for our tv in the new family room.
Okay...seriously this one came out of a dumpster. Someone called me from their work one day, and said they had tossed this old unfinished wood display unit into the dumpster, and if nothing else, would make great storage in the basement or something. Well it came to rest in our shed for over a year, and now moved here, and with a little trim molding/paint/antique distressing, it's a perfect complement to my junk dresser/tv holder. And fills a major gap in our new space. It holds all the kids' board games and puzzles out of sight underneath. For FREEEEE! (Oh, and I didn't mean to include this...but check out those funky orange curtains on the side...mom and I sewed them (lined them even thanks to some tips from crafty/decorator friend Stacie) with fabric I found much cheaper online than in stores. Mucho savings there.)
You're not going to believe that someone put this little set of chair on the curb. Seriously AWESOME condition, and my new favorite spot to supervise the morning circus as I sip my coffee.
The table is one of the very first pieces of furniture John and I ever bought before we were married...had some wicker chairs to match from a super-cheap import store. Those chairs didn't last though. I just repainted the table for an update.
Wait for it...this gets better...
Here is the rest of the set (Yes...FREE...from the curb.) I'm sorry if you're reading this, and it was from your place...you can't change your mind...it's the rules! I didn't really need more patio furniture, but who could resist free?! They're perched right outside the kitchen window, and I figure I can bring extra seating out or in as needed.
Okay...this is leftover chalk board paint from my garage home-school project last spring. The paint held up so well out there...with crashing bikes and scooter...I decided I'd love it in the house. So I painted the pantry doors in the kitchen. One side is my week-at-a-glance schedule, the other side is grocery list/random jokes/bible verses/whatever. The kids get the bottom half for doodling. Really lovin' it. (and yes, more attempts to hand-paint words with the "What's going on?" and "What's going, going, gone.")
More hand-painting...I'm kind of getting addicted. No, not on the door. I was afraid I'd mess that up too bad. I updated the mailbox with a little color, and hand-painted house numbers. All left-over paints. Freee.....
So there you have it... just a few of the reasons I tell myself I'm too busy to blog. Maybe I'm just avoiding things here...maybe just enjoying a different creative process...maybe I'm nuts and need to knock it off. Who knows. I think about you all often. I understand God is still working in me, and on me, and hopefully soon again, through me...to you. Love you all. THanks for hanging on, even when I'm a terrible blog-host.