Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's no use screaming at a time like this.

"It's no use screaming at a time like this.
Nobody will hear you.
Help! Help!"-The Scarecrow

Our own Dorothy has grown up since the last time she appeared, but she's as cute as ever and probably even more delighted to be wearing ruby slippers than when she was one year old. I may have even improved on my last attempt at making a pattern and sewing a Dorothy dress.

Fortunately, Maria is easily pleased and did not seem too disappointed about our low key celebration. Alex slept feverishly all day. Geoff is almost as sick as Alex. Max is relapsing a bit. William and I are on the mend. But none of us were up for parties or even pumpkin carving. We missed the annual party at Holly and Rich's place. We missed trick or treating almost... Maria and I walked to 3 houses and came home with one dear piece of chocolate. We watched Disney's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and kind of raided the candy we had for passing out. Only three children came to our door and they came at once... this might not be one of those big draw kind of neighborhoods. At least no once actually screamed, but we are definitely feeling the need of a Glinda intervention... a little deus ex machina if you will.

On second thought... we aren't ready to surrender. We have brains and courage and plenty of heart.

It's November. I cannot believe it's November. If I look back and lament all the time it took to get to this place, I can feel overcome with sadness and frustration, but looking ahead, I feel eager and hopeful... so forward!

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tricks and Treats
First of all, I woke up kind of giddy because it was an hour earlier than the clock read, and that was a treat. But it took me an hour and twelve minutes to figure out that we don't Fall Back until tomorrow, and so that was a trick.

Today is Halloween and that should be a treat, because we love carving pumpkins and roasting seeds and dressing up and we even have an actual invitation to a party. The trick is that we are sick, some of us are very sick. Geoff finally admitted that "groaning (a lot) helps," so I mentally down-graded his condition from critical to pitiful. He still has my sympathy. William and Maria are just improving, but then Alex and Max succumbed. We deserve a break, but it's not coming yet...

All during this time that I neglected Chickenblog I was thinking of really wonderful, insightful and hilarious things to post about. Sometimes, while shoving junk gently wrapping precious treasures in to boxes I would compose beautiful narratives to share, things I would want to reflect upon and recall joyfully in the future... what a treat my deep thoughts and Atumnal musings were. But the trick is I cannot remember any of it.

And now my deepest thoughts go something like this:

I wish the cats could talk, then they could tell me how awesome this place is. I hope they think it is awesome. I think it is awesome. It totally is. Awesome. Maybe I will see it in their eyes, a sign that they love it so much here that they will never run away or scratch the walls or barf on the stairs. That would be awesome.

Is chocolate good for the flu? Is this the flu? Someone is going to admonish me for thinking of chocolate and sugar when I am sick. But if this is the flu, don't I want to to go out happy?

We seriously do have a lot of stuff. I don't want to think about it, but I keep stubbing my brain on the subject every time I look around.

Maria is going to be Dorothy for Halloween. She was Dorothy when she was one and we had just moved from the TreeHouse to Garage Mahal. It fits, because she is adorable and because to look around here you would think we arrived by tornado. Still, there's no place like home.

Happy Halloween. Enjoy life's treats!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SeptemberFest :: Happy Fall

We may have only spent 24 hours in Germany, but it was enough time to get a little folkwear for Maria.

I could Google this, but I am content to be curious: Why is Oktoberfest in September?
And another thing, and I cannot Google this one, why is it the first day of Fall and yet we have a ninety-three degree forecast?! It's So Cal. Our "Fall" won't appear until after Halloween, and hopefully by then we will have all come safely out of fire season and can finally enjoy brisk days and nights. I am a coastal-desert girl, pining away for Midwest seasonal weather. I am ready for a little frost on the palm trees... so to speak.

The coldest thing at Oktoberfest, besides the beer I assume, was the soft serve ice cream Geoff bought for Max and Maria.

No matter how hot it gets this week, I will not be able to resist thinking of crunching fallen leaves beneath my boots and gazing at crimson trees. I will be reading pumpkin soup recipes and imagining the first cold rain, the first fire in the fireplace, the first mug of hot apple cider. Until our own signs of the changing season appear, I will be looking for glimpses in other places. Some places know how to do Fall right.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Small Accomplishments-Big Happy

Good night.
We had a wonderful time at my cousin's birthday party, and even though we got home at 11 p.m., I stayed up to start another cubic yard of laundry, load and start the dishwasher, clear the dining table, take out the garbage and remove 1 surface layer of accumulated debris treasures. And I want to remember that today was good... that a little effort counts, that I would still rather work on another quilt than scrub grout or curl my eyelashes, and that my children are a joy. I want to remember that in spite of stress and uphill climbs, there are moments, hours, and days that I would not trade for anything. I think I may be a bit intoxicated... I took in quite a bit of laughter, some tamales, a little cake, and a lot of family time.

Good night.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

An Assortment

If you find yourself behind in practically every area of your life, if responsibilities are piling up on your doorstep, what do You do? Sometimes I manage to do less than ever when feeling overwhelmed. Or worse, I decide to do something that makes very little sense and then it backfires anyway. Example: Last Christmas I packed our holiday decor and treasures as though for moving and everything has been stacked and stored in the deep, dark recesses of the garage. Inaccessible. I am continually regretting this and rationalizing what we don't actually need, but yesterday while in a fabric shop I said something out loud in an absentminded, innocent kind of way...We should make stockings. Maria, let's see if we can find stocking fabric. I couldn't find anything that really sparked my imagination and so, again, I resigned myself to letting go of yet another tradition, and took Maria's hand to leave. Maria started crying... not a wailing tantrum cry or an embarrassing phony whine... she had plump, warm tears slipping down her cheeks and she said, "But we didn't buy fabric for stockings. We have to quilt stockings for Christmas."

I am weak. I am susceptible. I want Home and Christmas and tradition and loveliness, and I have always been obsessed with some day having really, truly lovely homemade Christmas stockings. So why not now? Why not this year? We have the technology. We have the skills. We just need fabric, and a lot of free time, a clean house, paid bills, groceries, errands run... never mind! We chose flannel fabric with a snowman motif and reindeer, very folksy and snug. We came home and walked passed all the chores and duties waiting for my attention, and went directly to the sewing space at the top of the stairs. Let's get right to the point of this sad story... my stocking making career is a bust. They are rushed and poorly planned, and when I tried to find a template to trace, I found all of our old stockings!! Now I have 2 half finished and pitiful stockings and the 6 stockings we have had for 10 years that I bought on a whim, because we had no stockings, because whatever we had been using were packed from some other move!


Yes, that was a lump of coal. But I have something sweet and gingery to share too. I did promise an assortment.

On Wednesday Alex and William went to school with their homemade, customized gingerbread house and mill. Many students and even some teachers, with their own children, met after school and we had a decorating extravaganza. Max, Maria and I came with juice, chips for snacking, and more powdered sugar for the icing. Many of the other students were gingerbread novices and it was a lot of fun encouraging their inner elves to decorate with sugary abandon.

This school has the best staff and teachers. Their interest in the students and the lengths they go to to extend themselves is very refreshing. The principal, the custodian, the office staff... everyone came by or participated. It was a gumdrop, candy cane mess! Wonderful! We laid on some thick layers of icing and sweets. We made marshmallow snowmen and pretzel fences. It's a pleasure being creative in a supportive and enthusiastic environment.

William and Alex's mill is awesome. The wheel still turns... it actually spins marvelously! Can you believe that? A gingerbread mill, made entirely out of baked goods and sugary confections and it can move like a real, working mill. That is so cool. And now it is decorated and has snowmen in the yard and a snow covered, thatched roof.

The house smells of spice and sweetness.

For a few minutes I thought maybe this would satisfy our appetites for making gingerbread houses. We were immersed in this project over several days, and it was intense and messy (even though I was not technically involved.) But it's so much fun making these houses and playing with candy and cereal and thinking of new ways to fashion fences and trim... I think we'll have to make at least one more. And maybe we will finally give up the glue gun tradition!

The stocking fantasy needs more time, like a year or two, but there have been successes in the sewing room and the yarn obsession is alive and well. I made Maria a skirt, and I have several pencil/marker roll-ups ready to wrap. I finished the big quilt I have been keeping under wraps (big reveal soon.) There are many hats and scarves that I have fashioned with my handy crochet hooks. What else? Oh, yes... these balls, which are a bit wonky, but still fun to prepare and play with after.

Did anyone else catch all the amazing giveaways and creativity going on at "Sew, Mama Sew!"? They had a zillion links to talented and generous bloggers that were participating in Giveaway Day.
I meant to visit every single post, but that would have taken many hours of wild Internet cruising. Happily from the handful of sites I visited I actually won a prize! (insert picture of me jumping and looking giddy) Thank you Twiddletails! I bet Anina recognizes the fabric I used to make the ball Maria is holding... it's from a scrap bin at the fabric store I love! "Woodland Blooms" are lovely! I think the fabric series would be really nice for a pencil roll, and now, thanks to Tami, of Lemon Tree Tales, I have the actual pattern for making more of these handy pencil and marker carriers.

And now I am going to do a few of those chores and errands... I wouldn't want to find myself on anyone's naughty list!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

For My Scrapbook

The 3 weeks we had with my mom, with grandma, were wonderful. She split her time between our home and Hans and Gretchen's place, plus we had time with everyone in the mountains. We went to favorite eateries and celebrated Maria's birthday. We went on some nice walks. She guided me though some domestic duties I've been neglecting... guidance is needed and appreciated. We did a lot, and after her first day back home, I already miss her and can think of a dozen things I meant to do, say, share. For certain I thought I would take more pictures, especially family portraits. Clearly, 3 weeks is just not enough time. So, I am already happily anticipating next time.

Quickly, before taking her to my brother's, I thought to snap a few pictures of my mom with my daughter, and I could not be happier with that stroke of genius. A strong breeze had begun to blow from the north, and we remarked that Oregon was in the wind, calling her home.

Even with wisps of hair across her eyes, I love Maria's pretty face next to my mother's beautiful face. Those smiles. Their light. Such a lovely sight. Seeing them evokes the pleasure I feel when I think of them together.

I see love and humor and joy. I see freedom of expression, and passion for living. I see my mommy and my baby... what a blessing, what a wonderful gift.

Sometimes Chickenblog reminds me of a family album, a scrapbook of memories and treasured moments. I will turn to this page many times.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


High Speed Internet
This day and the next.
I hope you find abundance too.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recipes For 2 Small Eggs

Seems like most recipes call for 2 large eggs. So, if Betty gives us 3 in a row, I think we'll make something sweet and decadent for our drive to the mountains. And how honored are we by these generous, dear treasures she bestows? Max scooped her up when he came home from school and sat inside with her on the sofa... stroking her golden feathers and praising her, showering her with his admiration. I wonder what she thought of that!

When the hens are on the loose they run for the grass, then they high tail it over to a dusty place beneath the climbing rose and after they have bathed in dirt, they step over to the glass door and peer in. Beak to the window, they gaze and cluck softly. They see the TV and the dining table, the cat's food bowl, the long hall and tall ceilings... or maybe those are the things I would see. Maybe they see the housing inequity. Maybe they pine for plush cushions and slick floors. The cats sit on the other side of the door and stare out. The hens spend hours staring in. We cannot really know what they feel, but it's darn funny for us.

Delia is here. We've been catching up with hilarious Internet bits, and we've been listening to Maria tell princess stories at the dinner table, then dance between every mouthful of dinner. We've seen the elaborate and amazing creations Alex and William have displayed upstairs... like the fountain made of Lego bricks! We've sympathized with Max, still in school, and spending evenings with homework. And we've been checking our Thanksgiving lists, buying supplies, revising recipes and preparing to haul all necessities and other stuff up to the mountains... couldn't there be a simpler way to gather and have fun? I suppose not and I know I will not regret our plans, but it is a bit daunting.

We had to buy snow chains! I am in (almost) total denial about the prospect of there being snow and very cold temperatures. For one thing, I cannot remember where our winter clothes are... after Wisconsin, last March, what did I do with those thrift shop threads and dozens of gloves? Today will have to be a shopping day. Won't that make the numskull economists be proud... bunch of goons.

OKay. Don't let me go down that road. It's not that I don't think about the economic crisis or feel livid when I do, but Thanksgiving is on the near horizon and I want to fill my head and heart with gratitude and hope. It is not ignorance or denial. It is self preservation.

Yeah, so I'll be at a mall today and all I can think is: Meh.

I would rather be spinning my wheels some other place.

A game! Name 1 place you have to go this week and then list 5 places you would rather be! I'll go first.
I have to go shopping. I would rather be...
1. Highway 250 from Havi to Waimea
2. camping in Big Sur
3. Linden Hills, Minneapolis and Wild Rumpus
4. Wisconsin
5. Home

Alex is enjoying his break, as is William, but I think if they could go to a school, like this, where student art is science in motion and where there are workshops to teach computer assisted design and lessons on transmissions and drive trains... I think they would be extra happy Geeks.

Here comes a to do list... it has to be done.

1. make spaghetti sauce for first dinner in mountains
2. find winter clothes for 6 people
3. shop for whatever winter clothes I could not find
4. buy bouillon, celery, carrots, drinks, aluminum foil and something else
5. clean car and gas up
6. pack
7. pack
8. tie up all loose ends for Maria's princess birthday... now I call it Maria's Amazing Princess Glitter Extravaganza... she promised the grocery clerk that not only was he invited, but that there would be snow and swimming and monkeys in trees
9. hire monkeys... I kid.
10. Fill head and heart with gratitude and hope... so far so good.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Santa Ana Saturday

Wind and heat like this ought to desiccate mucus, viral and bacterial infections and leave a body feeling revived and healed. Everything is d r y. No, not arid... I am talking about statically charged, zero humidity, start a fire grinding your teeth parched. That kind of d r y. And it is hot. It's pretty hot and dry. And dry.

On the recovery front, I feel just well enough that I started to clean. I cleared one spot, then sat. I cleared another spot then keeled over. I cried for a few minutes, then I gave the children lime popsicles with vitamin C and let the chicas out. Besides being sick and having no energy from too many long, sleepless nights, it seems like every chore requires a man. OKay. I could probably manage to clean without him, but what about the hardware store run he was going to make... for the sand, the bolt, the bulbs? What about the broken bed we were going to take down and the piano we talked about moving? Should I install shelves in our closet for Maria or should I repurpose the tall dresser for her clothes? Where does he want the air compressor? Notice how none of these things has anything to do with putting away groceries, laundry and papers, or mopping, dusting, sorting and buying vacuum bags? I suppose it all comes of having only enough energy to think about what needs to be done and not enough energy or sense to do anything about it.

We did see Geoff last night. He came home after 4 days away in the salt mines. Our brief reunion was... brief.

What about the chicas? How are they?

Here are the chooks, the biddies, the chicas. Frida, a.k.a. Buttercup is adjusting her feathers, Fantam is looking us square in the eyes, and Betty is testing her dustbath. Plump, healthy, sheltered and adored and not 1 egg among them. Maybe they sell them to the 'possum before I get out there. Maybe they are quiet roosters.

I thought about making a healthy pot of you know what soup, but I haven't the heart. Look at Fantam the Bantam. She's so pretty. Don't look at my dirty door... Doesn't she have an interesting comb? Is that a strawberry comb or something like that?

Here's Lady Betty Orpington looking in my dirty door. Benjamin Franklin Thunder Cat is watching her. He's jealous. He doesn't want to be a chicken, but he does want to free range. I think he'd try to lay an egg if he thought it would get him time outside.

Betty is pretty, but she's not too bright. There. I said it. She has no idea who I am or why I come with food and water every day. Not a clue.

This is the smart one. She's first to run over when I call with a treat in my hands. She knows I come with good stuff. She's wary and quick, but she has enough sense to recognize me. I can't believe she inspired the name Buttercup. If you haven't heard, we call her Frida these days.

Neither the brightest nor most dim... just shy. I wish she weren't so shy, because she is irresistibly plump and downy and I just want to hold her on my lap and listen to her share the day's gossip. Fantam the Bantam. The boys named her. It's such a cool name.

Reading the last chapters of Harry Potter, Alex and Max in the tent. Max set up the tent last weekend, before he got sick. They slept out there 1 night. The tent has to come down today, but on this very hot day it was the perfect spot to enjoy lime popsicles and the exciting conclusion of a very good read.

I am going to drag myself to the vacuum store. At least if I have the vacuum bags on hand the magical elves, that visit good mothers, will have them ready for use.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Sum Up

Maria and her cousin, Isabella... Izzy. The rocker girls, sitting together, eating corn chips at Tutu's house.

I think I know how my friend Jennifer is feeling, or at least I believe I know what she means, when she talks about chipping away at doing what she can and trying to catch up.

Sure, I get giddy when I manage to fold a load of laundry or clear major junks from the car interior, but honestly, most days I am at the base of Everest. I am at the base of Mt. Everest and my sherpa has walked away with my oxygen, there is 0 visibility and Yeti rumors are rampant.

But I'm not alone am I? Jennifer, you aren't alone either. My last post was such a ridiculous confession, so embarrassing, and yet I keep getting these fabulous comments from all of you that remind me that we are sharing common ground... we have similar weaknesses and trials and stumbling points. It's such a relief, such a blessing... really, it's a gift to hear from others that understand and want to share, so thank you. Thank you for your company and for the giggles we share.

Now, I know I frequently mention Geoff's loooong work days, but we are entering the time of year we call "crunch mode" and it's in these next few months when his long hours get really, exceptionally ridiculous. Really, really. Right through the holidays and weekends and dinnertime and bedtime and change the inaccessible light bulbs time... it gets real rough. I need to shift gears and set a different pace for myself, because the relief shift can't come in at the end of the day.

Geoff and I were talking about coping skills and how to make this place operate more smoothly, and look less foxhole. My mission is to delegate. I need to make use of the workforce... a.k.a. the 4 children who live and play here. I admit I have been "homework sympathetic," which means I spare them extra chores and hardships, because I feel sorry for them when they come home with papers and books and that weary look in their eyes. So, I am going to be more disciplined in managing my time and theirs, and I am not going to let them escape learning how to contribute to making this house comfortable and homey. It's a process, right? Figuring out what works, trying to let go of what does not work... hopefully we'll make good progress on the domestic front.

I just finished editing photographs of silverware; a friend is selling them on Ebay. Next I need to get family portraits on a disc and delivered to a client. I think I will feel some relief when these 2 jobs are all wrapped up and behind me.

It's been a long time since I take pictures of the chicas. They haven't changed much... maybe they are bigger, maybe they look more like chicos than chicas... where the heck are the eggs ladies?! Ahem. It rained a bit today, so I could have posted a picture of the seasonal lake that forms in our backyard. If I'd known we would still be living here, I would have brought home ducklings instead chicks.

My calendar says "yard sale?" for last Saturday, but that did not come together. Maybe we should have one next Saturday. Our last yard sale was September 1994, when we were moving from the Squaremont house to the Circlemount house. Ever since then we just make generous donations, but the boys are very intrigued and inspired to try a yard sale and make gobs and gobs of money. I am debating... gobs and gobs of money... maybe even enough to pay for dinner out vs. sorting, clearing, organizing, pricing, haggling and selling to an early rising public. Hmmmmm....

I hesitate to turn this post in to another one of my to do lists, but I do need to prioritize and get my act together. So much is slipping and sliding.

I need to buy sand and straw... chicken business
I need to buy kitty litter... because, you know...
I need to finalize details for the Princess Derpday and Tournament... details, details, details
I need to decide whether to ask Garybob, again, to consider fixing the plumbing... on this point I will spare you the details, but I must say we are "roughing it" a bit too much.
I need to tell the school curriculum committee that I am not a good fit as a volunteer parent... Maria gave a rousing impression of a little girl having a huge public meltdown at the last meeting.
I need to accept professional help to cope with my profound disappointment about not being in our own home by the holidays and possibly I should unpack and move in, since it has been 2 years since we arrived here.
I need to chip away at what I can and let go of the rest... even if the "rest" leaves me embarrassed, sad, frustrated, angry, bummed or feeling inferior. Release.


Now I am going to pick up my yarn and crochet another scarf or face cloth or mouse, and I'll listen to Alex read the 6th Harry Potter book to Max. William is getting over a cold and Maria is coping with a broken door on her toy kitchen. The cats are extra cuddly on this cold, damp evening. Good night.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's November! That's Scary!

Other things that scare and dismay me...
I could not find the flour tortillas that I bought for Wednesday night's dinner. Turns out they were "hiding" on the kitchen counter.
Maria wore the same pumpkin outfit I made for William's first Halloween, 17 years ago! Where does the time go?!
We didn't have a fraction of the trick-or-treaters that we've had in years past. Now I am trapped in a house with 4 pounds of unclaimed chocolates!

Now for the stuff that bolsters and delights me...

Alex dressed as Dexter from "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." He planned this one for months and months.
With his thrift shop threads, a little hair gel and his retro ray gun, he was good to go. When the boys insisted I watch the movie, I should have known I would enjoy it, because
they are good judges of what I like, and I like good CG, and imaginative storytelling... like the kind you can find in a Hayao Miyazaki release. As I said before, Dexter is a good fit for Alex... those 2 inventive and morally courageous guys are a lot alike.

Another good match... Max as Young Indiana Jones. A scholar with adventure in his heart, eager to do what is right and be prepared for whatever comes his way! Max has been on a school break and he and I, with Maria, have been enjoying our own adventures together, like long walks, park visits, collecting pumpkins, reading "The Phantom Tollbooth," again, and having long talks about politics, elections, video games, lunch, housing. I don't know which of us will be sadder when he returns to school Monday morning.

Here's our pumpkin! She never had a doubt about dressing up as a pumpkin for Halloween. We had a long day, beginning with helping at the high school's pumpkin carving contest, then pumpkin carving at home too. Before it got too late, we lit a lantern and went outside for trick-or-treating.

Where does the time go? I certainly never thought we would pass 3 Halloweens in this house. And how can William be too old to dress up and trick-or-treat... nah, I think he'll join us again next year. It wasn't about maturity or other dull hang-ups like sophistication; it was about running out of time to do a good job. Maybe we should draw up plans today, because we don't want him to skip next year.

Time to swell with maternal pride.
They swapped favorites and the youngest 2 exchanged dyed candies for chocolates. They shared, sorted, and waxed poetic about caramels and Smarties, about peanut butter and almonds. They let Maria double trade and trade back. They gave William good stuff and implored him to join them next year. Max confided that it wasn't quite as good without William. Maria spent more time re-enacting trick-or-treating in the house than she did going around our block. There is nothing scary or distressing about these children. They are a pleasure to play with, and live with, and they made this another Happy Halloween.

We're Listening To: Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel, "Beware of The Blob." That's an Amazon link, but we bought the single from iTunes.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

I hope you have a day full of Treats.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

... and then we had tea

First we went on a garden walk.
The gardens were misty and sun dappled.

We looked for frogs.

We found a bunny.

Then we remembered the biscotti Belinda gave us from Mom's Night Out.
Max had an idea...

He set the table for tea.
He served carrots and crackers, and the biscotti.
I made chai.
Maria invited Owl.

Tea is even sweeter in tiny cups.

Tea parties are even sweeter with friends.

Our friends make delicious biscotti.

Whatever else we have to do today, we have had a very nice morning.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday in the Park

Friday, as I was unloading the children at school, their faces drowsy and downcast, I remembered a gift Deanne sent us and I made a quick, executive kind of decision: "Hey, have a good day. Tomorrow we're going to Legoland!" They lit up, they smiled... you can't always catch a smile in the parking lot of a high school at drop-off time.

Sometimes I put stuff out there before I take the time to analyze the feasibility, the sense of it. Legoland? Don't I have loads of laundry and barrels of dishes to wash? Shouldn't I be raking the hen house, answering emails, making calls, filing, sorting, scrubbing, dusting, trimming, mending, pruning and calculating? There are 42 demands on my time and 42 directions I should turn. I have no time to go to an amusement park and be amused. Gahh!

Just kidding.
Why pretend that a few hours away, having a good time, will do any harm?
Why make believe that staying home will do the least bit of good in the face of all that I have to do?
Why face reality, when I can make my own reality?

So thanks to Deanne's passes, her generosity and kindness, and thanks to my irresponsible reckless terrific maternal instincts, we spent a grand afternoon at the happiest place on earth. It turns out we weren't the only family with this brilliant plan. The park was packed full of trick-or-treaters. We saw lots of fairies and Buzzlightyears and pirates and a baby turtle. The baby turtle was adorable. Most of the visitors were little ones, and so we were pleased to find that the wilder rides did not have long lines. And Maria Loves the wilder rides. She loves to laugh and scream and embrace both the Coastersaurus and the Dragon Coaster.

Something new... Maria got behind the wheel of her first Volvo. I won't be too critical of her driving. I think she said it best, "I was just driving in the car. It was fun. But I bumped and crashed, but no worries. They fixed it."

Yeah, no worries. She won't be sharing the big road for 11 more years.

Did a complete loop, which makes for a nice walk. We took in all the Halloween decor and costumes. The boys made some side trips on their own. Max calculated the cost/time benefits of buying toys now, with his own allowance versus waiting until Christmas. How many days until Christmas? Evidently not too many, because he decided to wait!

We actually saw friends while we were in Miniland. And I mention this for Holly... she was with me at Bates Nut Farm, when I saw my friends Betty and Michaela... this, after years of insisting that I never cross paths with people I know. Holly is famous for meeting friends and/or famous people wherever she goes. It seems my time has come, and it was really nice to see Susan and her 3 beautiful boys, Tristan, Morgan and baby Karsten. I invited them to Maria's derpday party... if Christmas is close, then Maria's fairy princess derpday is even closer!

These down on the farm Miniland pictures are for my good friend, Anne. That's a tiny band down front. No organ music here. Just some fiddles and other folksy instruments, accompanied by sheep, chickens, cows, pigs and ducks.

Well, we're home now. Sunday morning, with autumn sunlight streaming in through the front window. And the house is just as messy and chaotic as ever, and none of the 42 very important things that await me has been addressed, but we sure did have a good time...

... it makes me think, if I go play today, at least the house can't get any messier. Hmmm... maybe that is not the lesson I am meant to internalize.

When there is so much to do that an entire day tied to chores is barely going to make a dent, what do you do? Where do you begin? Do you runaway from home? Do you tackle the chunkier aspects, swallow the toad? Do you itemize? Do you see the whole thing through and forego all pleasures until your ship is in shape? Do you post to your blog and solicit free advice?

Have a nice day. I am going to rake the hen house.

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