Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boys will be Boys - Part 2

~Justin, our friend Jason, and Rude Ralph (the gross looking head that was a toy of mine growing up). For the record, it was likely 2am and we had been drinking heavily~

This is a follow-up to my 'Boys will be boys' post from yesterday. Lisa left a comment (Hi Lisa!!) and I wanted to comment back, but realized it would be long enough to warrant a new damn blog. So, here we go.

Here are some facts around here as, gender-wise, I am heavily outnumbered (unless you count the rabbit, guinea pig, and chickens .. and then that is just stretching it).

Fact 1:
Justin used to dress as a woman for Halloween every year. It started at a party shortly after we met (even more ironic is that we were accidentally dressed EXACTLY alike at that party) and continued on for several years.
The year Shannon was born Justin wore one of my black dresses and a wig of mine. He had shaved his beard. He not only fooled strangers, but he fooled his own parents when we pulled up at their house. They seriously thought I had a girl with me. As we went door to door several people would jump back a little when they heard him say "Happy Halloween" because they weren't expecting the deep voice from someone they thought was really a woman.

The worst part of it though?? The bastard looked better in my dress than I did!!
We've since bought him his own prom dress and tiara and he has gone as "Princess PrettyBottom," much to my over-masculine father's horror.

Fact 2:
Tristan LOVES it when I do his nails. He prefers me to use my green nail polish on them. Justin doesn't mind, and my mom and step-dad tolerate it. My father hasn't seen it yet, but I don't care.
Shannon has scolded me when I haven't had my nails done and has been known to tell me which colors to do them in as well. When Shannon was younger he once let me put his hair in pigtails. It rocked and he was adorable. Everyone shuddered, but he was SO CUTE, so screw em.

Fact 3:

Jomo got this shirt from our friends Ellie & Nate. It looks AWESOME on him and he seems to know it.
How is it that my dog rocks a tie-dye shirt better than I do?

Fact 4:
This is the final one, and I'm still trying to learn to laugh it off. I've been called Justin's mother FIVE TIMES now. Apparently boys will be boys, men will be boys, and I will be an old hag.
Once he was in his work clothes and I was in a tie-dye shirt and Birks. (Is there something someone isn't telling me about my tie-dye looks?)
Justin tends to get called ma'am frequently because of his longer hair. Once though we were both addressed ma'am. The guy suddenly realized his mistake, turned to me and said "Oh, I'm sorry, I mean sir." Yea - Triple D boobs and I got called a GUY!!!

So there is my follow-up. My husband looks young enough to be my son, and I look old enough to have an 18 year old (I'm 32 fyi); my sons look ADORABLE in skirts, nail polish, and pigtails; my husband looks better in my dresses (and my sunglasses) than I do; my dog looks better in tie-dye than I do.

Can someone please point me to the nearest Extreme Makeover department?

Feelin' Silly

I love this song and couldn't resist checking out this video because I love Luna Lovegood too. Works pretty well.

Boys Will Be Boys .. ??

One of the things as parents that we decided very early on, was that we weren't going to limit our children based on their gender. This turned out to be a good thing, especially since Shannon is more commonly known as a girl's name around here. I've had people correct me when I talked about my son saying "you mean daughter" .. no, I mean son, I do believe I know which one I gave birth to. For his first birthday we had gotten a gift certificate from a local company that would provide everything: cake, streamers, gift bags, balloons, etc. We met with her, she met Shannon, the invitation (an underwater theme) was in blue, we made it clear Shannon was a boy. Day of the party comes and we get pink & purple decorations, and a 1st Birthday balloon that has a little girl on it. Oh well, we put them up, laughed about it, and announced that there was nothing wrong with a boy in pink. Fast forward to when we had Tristan ~ I'm still in the hospital and we've joked that, at least this time, people ought to assume we had a boy. Tristan in the hospital sported tie-dyed newborn clothing and a mohawk (no joke). He was STILL called a girl because of his name. Oh well.

This past Monday, as we were running errands in the rain, Tristan started announcing that he didn't want to get his dress wet. At first I didn't pay much attention to this, after all I was trying to get from car to building & back again with two kids .. in the rain. But he kept repeating it. Finally I paid some attention and realized what he was talking about. He had taken to calling the pants he was wearing his "dress." I laughed about it and we giggled about him getting his dress wet. As he splashed in puddles I, laughingly, hollered "Get over here mister, you're getting your dress all wet!!" The three of us got a good laugh out of this. The lady who happened to be crossing the parking lot turned her head towards us, rather quizzically, several times.

Today Shannon asked if he could play dress up. I wasn't so surprised by what he was wearing: an old pair of my mother's high heels. They had been among the things left here when she moved and the boys have used them for dress up (they have other stuff too) since then. What happened next made me laugh though.

~Shannon playing dress-up. I've read lately that nothing is more stylish than a dark top paired with long dark jeans and a pair of heels. Doesn't it say something when my 6 year old son is more stylishly hip than me?~

Shannon hollered for me. There was a spider cricket. Eww. This is the one insect that gets us all going "ew" over. These little bastards jump AT you. Ew.

Shannon: MOMMY, there's a spider cricket!!
So squish it!
What?? You mean with my good dress-up shoes?!?!?!

I am now rolling in laughter realizing that my son just squealed and didn't want to squish a bug because he is wearing heels. His good ones too apparently.
I go out to get it myself, since I am sporting only Birks, not heels. The bastard bug has gone under the wardrobe. I am not going under there after it. I inform Shannon I'll get it if it comes back out. Apparently I needn't bother.
A minute or two later I hear a 'whack' and Shannon announcing that he killed the spider cricket.

Me: Good! What shoe did you use?
Oh, I used the flathead screw on my shoe.

---- ummm, excuse me???

~Shannon showing off the flathead screws on the bottoms of his dress-up shoes~

I've known gals to use the heel of their heels as hammers when need be. But leave it to a 6 year old boy to determine that the pointy heel of a high heel is REALLY a "flathead screw." Good for killing spider crickets.

Ya learn something new everyday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

These end tables will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!! - $25 (downtown Roanoke)

That was the title of the ad on Craigslist. It came to my attention when a friend posted it on Facebook (Hi Lisa!!). This has to be the best-EVER ad on Craigslist!! I did end up getting the tables. Here is a shot of them on the front porch.

Of the many projects going on, getting new front porch furniture is one of them. Hence the crappy cellphone photo. You can see the one table in the foreground and the other on the other side of the loveseat in the background.

Now, here is the best-EVER ad on Craigslist:

These end tables are freaking AWESOME!!!


They are like some damn TRANSFORMERS or something...they multifunction better than your fancy iPhone and come at a MERE FRACTION of the price! These things were like, "Yo, I'm not cool with just being an end table. I'm not trying to PIGEONHOLE myself. I want to be a JACK OF ALL TRADES."

So they got some freaking lamps attached to them. Hell yeah, those things SWIVEL! STILL NOT SATISFIED??

Check out the magazine rack in the bottom, DUDE! You can store your U.S. News and World Reports, Good Housekeepings, OR your Hustlers down there! These end tables don't judge!

See that little loop thing on the top of the lamp? Yeah, those things DETACH! You can put your own damn lampshade on there, or dress up the ones you already got with some nice FINIALS!

You'll be wheelin' and freaking DEALIN' when you buy these badass end tables together for only $25!!! Hell, you can't even get out of OLIVE GARDEN with your girl/boyfriend for that price, and these won't give you GARLIC BREATH! If you just want one, you can have it for $15!

E-mail now and CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Act now and I'll include the LIGHT BULBS! One of those suckas is THREE WAY!!!!

Survival of the

There is a reason Monday is called Monday. That's a stupid sentence and the reason they call it Monday really has nothing to do with how awful the day can be. But still, there's a friggin' reason folks.
A while back, shortly after Tristan was born if I can remember at all (perhaps while I was still preggers), it dawned on me that some days were days that I was able to get stuff done. I could clean the house, do the laundry, bake the bread, and so on. I could be SuperMom.
And then there were the other days.
Those days were just "Survival Days." (And, for the record, I am not a fan of the tv show Survivor, never have been, never will be) If you're a stay at home mom, and especially if you're a homeschooler, you know what I'm talking about. Some days are just "Survival Days" and, during bad times, they can turn into "Survival Weeks" (awful vacations with relatives?), and so on.
Today has started off as a "Survival Day" so join with me as I count the ways:

Survival of the Homesteader & Homeschooler: This one gets lumped into two categories. Our hatching eggs did not hatch. Today ought to have been the magic day. We had pretty much given up hope since the gals had seemed to decide surrogacy wasn't for them.
We had gone the route of getting some eggs to hatch because if Mother Nature told the gals to go broody and sit on eggs we felt they deserved a chance to see that through. It also was a good homeschooling lesson about the cycle of life, animal behavior, and so on. Instead we watched as, one by one, 4 of the eggs were broken. Today I took the remaining two out of the nest box. The lesson we must learn from this is that while a hen may go broody that doesn't mean she wants to be a mama and that's ok too.

Survival of the Kitchen: This one comes in two parts. Right now one of those parts is a fart because Jomo the Wonder Gas Dog is laying near by blowing noxious fumes my way. Ironically, their awful stench takes away the next part.
~The Eggs~ The eggs I took out of the nest box I decided I would just cook up for the dogs for breakfast, knowing they were likely too old for us. I cracked them open into my cast-iron skillet and watched as broken yolk blended with the white and turned almost brown poured out. Then the smell began to hit. Not as bad as the usual "rotten egg" smell, but I do believe this was perhaps the TRUE rotten egg smell, not one I've been trained to know via faux scented chemicals. -- Lesson learned, don't do that again. Wash the skillet and get the shells to the compost NOW!
~The Bread~ Ok, this one happened last Wednesday but it was total Murphy's Law and I'm currently baking my first loaf of bread since then, so I thought I would share.
THE APPRAISER (doesn't he deserve all caps?) came out last Wednesday morning. 10am. I was so nervous I actually woke up and took a valium. I also decided, since we needed bread anyway, that I would bake a loaf of bread so that the aroma would entice him to appraise our house at 1 million dollars. ... Ok, maybe just at more than it appraised for when we bought it. My timing was perfect, the bread would come out of the oven while he was here.
He's climbing up into the attic when I hear a rustling in the kitchen. I turn around to see it filled with smoke, Justin holding the 1/2 burnt, 1/2 raw loaf of bread and exclaiming "who turned the oven up to 500 degrees?!?" ............ ok ...........
The chickens got the bread, the appraiser got a laugh (said it smelled like his wife's cooking), and I learned a lesson - THAT is why people use those fake scented Glade candles.
(For the record, I DID have a pot of vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves simmering on the stove top .. I just think the burnt bread aroma overwhelmed it)

Survival of lettuce: We broke down and picked up a few plants at Lowe's this weekend. Two Romaine lettuce plants, one 6-pack of Red Leaf lettuce, and two leek plants. Naturally, the temperatures have dropped from low 70's to upper 30's-mid 40's and rainy. The Romaine & the leeks seem to be doing fine. The Red Leaf isn't happy. Picky damn Red Leaf lettuce.

Survival of my ankle: I can't remember if I told you, but a little over a week ago I went to bed fine and woke up with a badly bruised ankle. I have no clue how it happened. No injury from earlier that came out as I slept. I was 100% sober when I went to bed. Just a mystery.
Anyway, the way to heal an injured ankle is, apparently, NOT climbing up on ladders, crouching in catcher position, and doing all the things I did while we tried to finish fixing up the house some. Ankle is still bothering me over a week later. Yesterday we went and picked up some Arnica pills and some more Arnica gel. I am contemplating a splint. Fun stuff.

Survival of the humans: Ok, maybe not the human race, but at least the humans who live in this house.
I wake up this morning to yelling. The boys have already lost the privilege of going to play with our other homeschooling friends this afternoon. -- Seriously, that is what I WOKE UP TO.
The boys were apparently up very early this morning and have been fighting non-stop. Justin gets up earlier than I do since he has to go to work. When I asked him what was going on he informed me how early they had gotten up and also how many times he had already gone in their room because they were fighting. He then kissed me goodbye and left for work.
I threw my head back onto the pillow, groaned, then rolled on out of bed (literally) and announced to no-one that this would be a long day.
Since the time breakfast was over and now the boys have already managed to get sent to their room for fighting -earning them the time-out and their first 'X' of the day. Three 'X's and they go to bed a 1/2 hour early.

And now you know why today is a "Survival Day." For the record, we also have the guy coming out to fix the washing machine. The maker of the machine is paying for the part, we're paying for the service, and the company fixing it is paying for the parts that the guy broke when he was here to examine it.
We're also signing our very last document before closing today. Numbers changed and so we had to resign the form, or sign the new form, whatever. We're not closing today, that day is scheduled for April 5th but there is a chance we might be able to close before then.
I've talked to the contractor and he's planning on coming back out possibly tomorrow evening. A friend (Hi Carole!!) gave us some tile and we're now looking at possibly putting tile in the tiny 1/2 bath off of our bedroom. We also need to discuss all the fun details: when can he start, how long will it take, how much money down as a deposit, and so on.

Now I'm going to drink my warm tea, keep an eye on the oven since the bread is in it, and get back to my chores. The boys are playing on our insanely out of tune piano, banging out their rendition of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' .. which vaguely resembles banging the keys from one end of the piano to the other and back again.
In the time of trying to type that Shannon has been sent to his room yet again. And Tristan is now in here asking for lunch .. as they have both been doing since 9am.

Yup ... it's a "Survival Day."

*** FOLLOW-UP NOTE: 1) It took me three tries to type the word 'note' correctly just now. 2) Apparently I am on a Bad-Bread-Bender. Loaf last week ruined because the oven mysteriously got cranked up to 500 degrees. Loaf today ruined because I forgot to add yeast. .... hope the chickens are hungry ...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Random Stuff & Bartering

First, Earth Hour is coming up on March 27th. Individuals, businesses, cities, and more will turn off lights from 8:30 - 9:30pm local time. The energy saved during this hour is astounding. This will be our 3rd year celebrating Earth Hour. Each year we try to actually DO something during the hour, not just watch the clock till we can turn lights back on. It is fun to try and see what we can come up with (and often a challenge when you have little kids). Will you sign up and celebrate with us this year?

I haven't posted in a while, though I've meant to. Our days and evenings have been spinning by as we scrape, plaster, sand, prime, paint & repeat ad nauseum. The hallway is (I think) all done now, and looking so lovely. The front room is almost all done. The other spots that needed touching up are getting done. With all this accomplishment comes the exhaustion of feeling like it will never be done. As soon as we think we've finished something, there is something else that needs working on. And, I hear you shaking your heads in sympathy saying "this is how it is when you own a house." We know that. Usually it isn't so exhausting. But, right now, it is.
We've changed paths and instead of trying to get a home equity loan (which are getting harder and harder to get) we've decided to refinance the house. It's been a much more pleasant experience so far than what we were trying to do.
Our original "loan guy" seemed to be really dragging his feet. We've dealt with him for years and he's always been there for us, so I don't know if something is going on with him or what, but this wasn't working out. Instead, we went with the lady who originally helped us get the loan for the house. She had sent us a postcard recently and I thought to call her and see what we could do. That was Friday. By Sunday we had talked with her via phone a couple of times and met with her Sunday morning to sign papers. I loved working with her when we first got the house and feel just as pleased this time around.
Now the stress though. We still have to get the house appraised. I am sitting here this morning on too little sleep and too much coffee (any coffee is almost too much for me as I've weaned myself from caffeine in most other areas of my life), waiting for the phone to ring. I was told that the appraiser should be calling either yesterday afternoon or this morning. So far, the phone hasn't rung. It's like waiting for a blind date to call. You don't know what the person will look like or be like, much less what they'll think of you. How do you dress for a date when you don't know what the hell the other person likes or hates?? ~ Yes, yes, I know, you be yourself. Don't give me that hooey gals, we ALL know that to SOME extent we play up aspects of ourselves that we think the other person would like. I should be taking this time to keep working on the house, but instead I keep wanting to pick up the phone to make sure it is working.

In other news. The chickens have bid adieu to their Winter Chalet and are now back in the tractor, out in the yard. The grass is starting to come back and they're eager to get to it. It is nice seeing them back out there, though they haven't been to happy to realize that they can't stay inside on rainy days. Ah .. the life of chickens.
We're also down to only 2 hatching eggs now. We had two more that got broken. Neither had baby chicks in them, and so I am doubting that anything has grown in the remaining two either. If anything has grown we should have about 1 week left of incubating time. .... So, one week to go. Either way, it was an interesting experiment and lesson about life. I'll blog more about it in the next week.

And, my final note for the day is about bartering. Do you barter? If so, what do you barter and how do you determine the "price value"?

~My friend Cat made this purse for me. The outside is from used bags of coffee beans (from Mill Mountain Coffee down the street)~

~A peek inside the purse. I had some really cool, batiked blue fabric with dragonflies on it that she used for the lining, adding a few touches of her own. I love the pocket .. pockets ROCK!!~

This is my most recently bartered for item. My insanely talented friend Cat made it for me. She had made us the best-ever Halloween tote bags (using an upcycled Halloween tablecloth, I believe, for the fabric). They held all the candy the boys could carry along with serving double purpose as a seasonal-esque purse for me. I had already had the coffee bags sitting around, along with the batiked fabric, wanting to make them into a purse but not being able to see it in my mind (does that make sense to you?). After bartering with her for the Halloween totes, I knew it was time to barter again!!
The last barter, for the Halloween totes, included several home-canned items and some yummy homebrewed beer. This time, we're still waiting to see. I've given her a big bottle of homebrewed beer so far. She still owes me one more purse, so we agreed to wait for the rest of the trade till that one was finished. I'm thinking she'll get some more home-canned items, perhaps some fresh eggs, and maybe even some homemade jerky!

Today I am also bartering for something else: a haircut. My friend Sophy, who owns Salon Capelli on College Ave. in Salem (375-0789), is cutting my hair in exchange for a box of homemade goodies. Sophy has done a great job on my hair in the past and recently gave my sister-in-law a very hot new look. I'm excited. So far for Sophy I have (all homemade &/or homegrown): jars of applesauce, ketchup, and spaghetti sauce; a jar of organic oregano; a loaf of bread baking; and so far 11 eggs - if the chickens will please lay one more, I can give her a full dozen! Not too bad I think, and I'm hoping she'll feel it is a fair-enough bartering experience.

On a weekly basis we also barter some homebrew as partial payments for Shannon's drum lessons. His instructor, a very talented drummer named Jason Lee, is awesome and Shannon is doing so well. We're very proud of him.

Bartering is pretty cool in my opinion. What is money other than pictures printed on paper or little discs of metal? I know there is sometimes a stigma of someone bartering goods because they can't afford to actually pay for the service. I think this is something that needs to fade away. There should be no stigma in bartering, there should be pride in it. In my experiences with it both parties tend to feel like they've gotten the better end of the deal, which is a good win-win experience. The goods we barter for have value, and that value and importance should never be denied, undermined, or forgotten. I would even go so far as to say that the ability to barter, the practice of bartering, is essential to a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable community. It helps build a community. It reconnects us with each other. How in the world is that a bad thing?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Raise Your Mug

~That's right .. we camp in style, bitches~

Today is St. Patrick's Day. It is also Justin's and my 5th anniversary. It's funny how 5 years can fly by and, at the same time, feel like an eternity. They've been a great 5 years though, and I really do look forward to 50+ more with him.
Read on if you want to hear our story. If not, Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

~My favorite of all the Trash the Dress photos~

Our relationship didn't start out like most relationships tend to. And nothing has been par for the course since then really either. I don't think I would have it any other way.

Justin and I met at the Coffee Pot, a local bar in Roanoke. We were both there to see a band, Sun Dried Opossum, play. I went in to check it out, but nobody was really there. Only one small group of people caught my eye, and mainly because one cute guy with long dreadlocks caught my eye. I am such a sucker for cute guys with dreadlocks!!
I ended up staying and we ended up getting to talk and hang out. From that night on I would tend to run into the same group of people, until I began hanging out with them all on a regular basis. We would head out in the evenings to bars around the area, go see shows together, or hang out at friends' houses. It was a good time.
Justin was a student at Virginia Tech at the time, and I was in massage school in Christiansburg. We realized that our schedules were similar on some days and decided to start carpooling on Wednesdays. This was how we became really close friends. After school we'd hang out with friends in Blacksburg and then we'd hit up "the beer store" (aka Vintage Cellar), then head back to my house to share in good beers. This is also how we both truly became beer snobs.

Some things sound really cheesy to say when you're already married to the person. But when I met Justin (and he agrees the same happened to him) there was a very strong and immediate bond between us. We were only friends but there was a very strong "something" there.
We wound up spending the majority of our time together, even when we were also hanging out with the group. Justin was spending, on average, a good 5 nights a week at my house, either sleeping on the couch or in the spare bedroom.

Eventually our relationship did take a romantic turn, even though we were still "just friends", and on May 5th 2003 I found out for certain that I was pregnant. We talked it over and agreed to have the baby, who would become Shannon, and also to get an apartment together (my lease at the house I was renting was up). We didn't want to get married though just because I was pregnant, we really wanted to try and let things develop as normally as they could between us.
When we moved into the apartment we had even considered not sharing a bedroom. By the time move-in date arrived though that plan was out the window and we were a couple.
We agreed that it was imperative that Justin finish college. He took a job working 40 hours a week at a local restaurant and I worked at Papa John's as well as at a local spa as a massage therapist.

We stayed in the apartment for 2 years. During that time we had Shannon, we got married, and Justin graduated from college.
We then moved in with my grandfather for a few months while we were in the process of buying our first home. My grandfather would keep an eye on Shannon in the evenings, after he'd already been put to bed, and we would go down to the house to work on painting it and so on. This September will mark 5 years of us being in this house.

We had lived here for about a year when we decided to have another baby and I got pregnant with Tristan. That was at the beginning of Winter and the start of the new year brought a new job for Justin, his first job out of college using his degree. I quit my job at the spa (I hadn't been at Papa John's since Shannon's birth) when he started his new job. For a while I did massage therapy out of the house, until it was too much after Tristan was born.

In the time we've been together we've both grown a lot. Reality has often hit hard. We've learned the value and importance of starting at the bottom. Of working your way up. Of doing things yourself.
I can very honestly say that there is no-one in the world I would rather be with.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Before 10am

The following are all things that happened before 10am this morning.

7:45 am ~ Justin wakes me up to say goodbye. He has a seminar all day today for work. I am sound asleep. He tells me that the boys are already up, dressed, and eating cereal in the kitchen. I sleepily look at him and reply "Huh?" ... ok, I'm up.

8am-ish ~ I go to check on the chickens. My routine is to go out and check on them after the kids are underway with breakfast and the dogs have their food. I am almost always in my "pajamas" (aka - an old sweater or sweatshirt and pj pants). It's pouring raining. No big deal.
I go to give them some more food and notice that rain is pouring off in a very miniature waterfall from part of the gutter. Again, no big deal.
As I bend over to put the feed into the feeder, the waterfall hits by butt. Slightly bigger deal.
As I am trying to finish getting the chickens set-up, rain still pouring down, my neighbor (whom I absolutely love!) opens her back door to chat. I am holding fresh straw, standing in the pouring rain. I do tell her to hold on so I can put the straw in the nest box. Murphy's Law, the one day someone wants to chat in the morning, it is pouring rain. It actually didn't bother me at all, I just found it funny.

8:30-ish ~ I am out of the shower, sitting on my bed, drying off and figuring out what to wear today. Whiskey, our 10 year old chocolate lab, begins walking VERY slowly towards the closet. Slowly enough that I take notice. She continues on towards the closet, the door of which is open. She looks like she is on the hunt, almost stalking something. I wonder to myself which is better: an old dog going senile or the possibility that she smells a mouse.
She goes all the way into the closet. She sniffs around. Then I see her sniffing my clothes. She lets out a snort and walks away. --- Apparently she was judging my clothing and I'm not fashionable enough for her. Great, even my senile dog thinks I look goofy.

9am - 9:30 am ~ I'm in the kitchen, trying to have some morning quiet time to myself. It's not happening. Both boys are now in here, Shannon to my right and Tristan to my left. Both are talking at the same time, and pretty much non-stop. The dogs are in here too. There is the random, sudden burst of barking and running towards the front door (from the dogs, not the kids). Once it was the mailman, the other times who knows. Passerby? Squirrel? Shadow?? All possibilities.
The boys are playing with their little scissors, construction paper, tape, and crayons. Shannon has mastered the the scissors and cutting things out, but Tristan hasn't quite gotten the hang of it. Tristan is attacking a piece of construction paper like a dog after a treat, cutting insane slices into the paper & forcefully using both hands to wield the scissors. Sweeny Todd he is not, but I am still a little scared. I finally picked up the paper and cut it in half for him. He saw it and breathlessly exclaimed "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!?!?!" I swear, watching him try to cut paper is like watching Jaws (who is now old and has no teeth, just gums) try to attack and gum to death prey.
A few minutes later he is coloring. The following exchange occurs:

Tristan (drawing lines in a coloring book): Hey! Blue makes a color!! It makes a COLOR!!
Me: Oh yea, what color does it make?
Tristan: Hmm, let me think. (Pause while he draws a good long line) Hey!! It makes BLUE!!

He then begins taking out the other crayons, one by one, and testing to see if they make colors too by drawing more lines down the page. Each time he exclaims "Yup, that makes a color too!"

A few minutes go by. They get in trouble for continuing to try and make the scissors "walk" across the table. Scissors get taken away, attitudes flare up. Then they're fighting over the tape and whose turn it is to use it, how much tape they need, and so on. They're both yelling. Finally I roar "STOP IT!!" The fight stops. They finish with the tape.
Now they're onto crayons. The crayons are trying to walk across our year-old kitchen table. I inform them crayons may NOT walk on the table. Shannon begins lining his crayons up, standing them on end, on his construction paper, making them into "standing trees". Tristan still has his crayons walking, but this time across the coloring book. He is talking for them. "C'mon green, let's go for a walk."

Tristan: Mommy, what's that noise?
Me: I don't know.
Tristan: Hmm, let me think what the noise was. Let me find out what it was.
*I oblige and he begins looking around. He takes off his fuzzy croc.*
Tristan: Hey! I know what that noise was!! It was my foot!!!

And it still isn't 10am yet.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring is on it's way! Here are some photos I took the other day.

~Our onion bed on the side of the house. This bed also has garlic in between the onions, but what you're mainly seeing here is onions. They didn't grow so well last Summer, so we left the tiny ones in the ground and viola!~

~The pond. Emptied and cleaned out. We've gotten a new-to-us filter from Mom waiting for us to clean it off, get new wires, and get it set up. Last year I planted lots of perenials around the pond, so I'm hoping all that mulch will be covered in butterfly-attracting flowers soon!~

~My great-grandmother's lilac tree, starting to get buds on it. When Mom moved in 25 some years ago, it was taken over with vines, which she cleared out. Since we moved in 5 years ago we've worked pulling out the old and dead parts, allowing new stuff to grow. Supposedly these things will live well over a hundred years if you take care of them.~

~Daffodils and tulips beginning to come up. As of 3/12/10 the daffodils have begun to bloom.~

~Garlic sprouting up in the front bed, along (obviously) the front of the house. This is the second Garlic Garden.~

~Tulips coming up along the front fence line. Salem digs up the tulips at the entrances to Salem and lets residents claim them on 'Tulip Day' from the Farmer's Market. We got a ton last year, and were able to plant all along the fence and also some more in the front beds. After these fade there will be lots more flowers to replace them~

~Hyacinth bulb beginning to peak out. These were one of the first bulbs we planted when we moved in. They smell so sweet. I love just sitting out on the steps when they're in bloom.~

And, my final "Sign of Spring" photo. Guess what .....


When you have two little kids, especially boys, that joke never gets old.

Surrogacy & Sadness in Chicken Land

When I brought home the hatching eggs, I was very nervous. I was careful not to take turns too quickly for fear it would jostle the eggs in the wrong way. I was also nervous about Patti's broodiness and whether she would sit on them or not. As you know, she has decided to be broody by herself.

~Patti with Chicken PMS??~

In the above photo you can see her on the left, hunkered down and not moving, a dark ball of feathers. The eggs are in the nest box, she's outside. Motherhood is apparently not something she's interested in .. no matter how many times I catch her and sit her on the eggs. Do chickens just get PMS & bitchy?

However, all hope is not lost. The other chickens seem to have realized that there are eggs that need sitting on. One of our Americaunas (Easter Eggers) particularly has taken it upon herself to sit.

~The eggs are under there!~

I wasn't sure if she was just sitting there because she wanted to lay an egg, or because the eggs needed sitting on. However, yesterday we didn't get any blue or green eggs, and she spent the better part of the day on there.
What is funny is that she seems to know that they aren't her eggs. If I look in there she'll occasionally hop up, but remain on the roost in front of the nest boxes. She hasn't minded me messing with the eggs if I've felt I needed to.
Yesterday, if she wasn't in that box, another chicken was. Note - Patti the broody was NEVER in there except for the fleeting moments after I caught her and sat her on there until she hopped out to go sit in the yard, or on the floor of the coop. ... bitch.

And so, that is how yesterday went. The gals have seemed to pull together to ensure that those eggs are kept warm. And they were, finally. They were warm to the touch this morning.

~"Butch Patti" & Ann Bancroft -- I'm being watched.~

This afternoon I was snapped out of the rainy day induced afternoon & nap-time lulls by a very loud ruckus.

"bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!!"

Normally this noise is a heads-up that there is an egg out there. So, I meandered on out there a minute later to check for the egg. So far, we've only gotten one egg today, a green one.

Instead, I found one of the hatching eggs cracked, with a little hole in it's side. Nothing had oozed out yet. The biddies were all in the coop, most of them staring back at me. One of the Americaunas was on the roost, pacing.
I stood there, staring at the broken egg for a minute before gingerly lifting it out. The other eggs were still warm, and I gave them a turn over just to be safe. I looked in at the floor of the coop, and there were no new eggs to be found anywhere. When I went inside I once again heard the call: "bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!! bwak-bwak-bwak-bwak-BWAK!!" (I've found if I take an egg too soon they will sometimes get upset and squawk at me). Happy chickens they were not at that moment.

I brought the egg inside and hesitantly cracked it open into a bowl. Nothing dramatic fell out. I could definitely tell this egg had been fertilized, and when I broke open the yolk with a knife, I felt resistance from a white spot in it. It could've perhaps one day been a chick, but that wasn't Mother Nature's plan. I couldn't bring myself to feed it to the dogs, so I poured it down the drain. It was a sad moment.

It has shocked me to see how much these little eggs have affected us. How connected with them we already are, though we keep repeating to ourselves that they may not hatch.

I just went back out there to check on the gals. Everyone except for LadyBird was in the coop. LadyBird was keeping her ever watchful eye at the door.
I opened the lid to the nest boxes. Both were occupied. The one without the eggs was taken by "Butch Patti", the one with the eggs held Ann Bancroft.
The surrogacy & egg-sitting shifts have resumed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Contest

I've started a contest on my Mama Taney's Kitchen Blog. Thought y'all might be interested and wanted to hear what you're thinkin'.

Here's the link if you'd like to participate:

A Confused Chicken

This is Patti.

Patti is confused.

Why is Patti confused? Well, it seems the silly little biddy has decided to go broody. When a hen goes 'broody' it means that she feels the urge/need to sit on her eggs and hatch them. Think of it as her biological clock is ticking. Of course, we don't have a rooster, so our eggs won't hatch. No matter how long she sits on them.

So .. where is the confusion part?? Patti won't sit on eggs. She's exhibiting all the signs of being broody - sitting in one spot all day long, refusing to move except for an occasional break for food and water.

When a hen goes broody she will quit laying eggs. Patti has never been a very good egg layer anyway (Cochins are only 'Fair' egg layers), but still. So .. what to do?

We decided that if Mother Nature has told Patti to sit and go broody, we'd allow her to rather than trying the things you can try to get a hen to quit being broody. We also decided that we'd get Patti a few eggs to try and hatch. Think of this as the Spring project you used to do in grade school, hatching chicks and ducklings. We don't plan on keeping the chicks (we'll sell any that do hatch) since we don't need or want any more chickens. We just wanted to let Patti go through the natural experience of hatching some eggs.

Yesterday, I met up with a lady and bought a few eggs for hatching. This means that she does have a rooster, and so hopefully these eggs will hatch if sat on. She was very kind and threw in 3 extra eggs, bringing the number we got to 6. We have 3 Blue Black Splash Orpington eggs & 3 Split Black/Lavender Project Orpington hatching eggs.

So far, however, Patti won't sit on them. I have managed to pick her up and put them on the eggs a couple of times now, but she won't stay on them. We originally put them on the floor of the coop (we don't want potential chicks trying to hop down out of the nest boxes, they're too high), but this morning I moved them into a nest box. Hopefully Patti will figure it out. I picked her up and sat her on the clutch of eggs, even gently nudging one up against her underside. She sat there for a while, but when I went back out just a bit ago, there she was back outside.

This is part of nature though too. We'll see if Patti, or even one of our other biddies, decides to sit on these little eggs. If not, oh well. I'm not sure why Patti is going broody but refusing to sit on eggs, but oh well. Even a confused chicken is worthy of love.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Monday

Those aren't words that usually come out of my mouth, but .. there they are. Yesterday I posted a 'bitch & blog', venting off some things that needed venting. You know what they say about women, if we don't bitch we'd blow up! The venting worked and I feel much better today. But I didn't want to leave the blog with a negative topper. So ...

Here are some things I'm happy about this morning:

*I was able to up my morning sit-ups by 5 per rep. ~ Not a huge achievement I know, but a small step. More importantly, an attainable step .. since I've obviously gotten there! I love this quote and it is something I repeat to myself when my goals don't seem lofty enough: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step ~ Lao Tzu. ~ It may not be lofty, but it is a start. It is putting one foot in front of the other and slowly getting there.

*Speaking of steps and journeys, the kids and I are planning on walking to our playdate at Longwood Park today. ~ This is something that once was very easy for me to do, many years ago. Then, after the boys were born, the walk seemed many, many miles long, uphill both ways, and etc. It became very daunting. I haven't walked there in too many years. Oddly enough, now that we're stroller free & will be toting along any needed items in a backpack, now it seems do-able. Hopefully it will become a very regular walk for us. But, as with the one above, we'll start with one step. Sometimes Tristan sleeps late, not giving us enough time to walk, and sometimes there are errands that also need to be run. So, we'll see. It's a start though, and I'm happy about that.

*All the work we got done this weekend ~ This weekend was a wonderfully productive one. Lots of scraping, sanding, plastering, and painting inside. A new compost bin built outside (we have two now; one for filling the other for emptying), lined with chicken wire to keep nosy dogs' paws out. We cleaned out the chicken coop. We emptied out our pond and cleaned it. Hopefully this evening we will be getting a new filter for the pond. Sometimes you just have to start over. I also got several loads of laundry done and was able to hang the majority of it outside to dry. Is there anything so wonderful as laundry drying on the line?

*Family ~ I have a great husband and two fantastic kids. We also are blessed to have some truly wonderful family members in our lives. Thinking back to the 'bitch & blog' from yesterday, it is heart warming to know that my family still loves me. I can send my kids into fits of hysterical laughter simply by dancing around the kitchen, shaking my butt (actually, I am a dinosaur swinging my big tail from side to side), and making silly noises. There is a moment when you try to make your friends laugh via similar antics only to get looked at like you're a freak & you realize just how cool your kids are, how wonderful their sense of humor is. (And maybe that your butt is big, but at least they can laugh when you swing it around)

*Mother Nature ~ Suddenly, as I typed those words, that commercial where Mother Nature appears with your monthly gift popped into my head. That wasn't where I was going with this. There are so many days when I can feel overcome with self-pity. Where I sob on and on about everything that is going wrong and I don't feel taken care of. And, then, I am happy for Mother Nature. Spring that brings buds, blossoms and flowers to cheer us; birds singing, chickens laying more eggs. Summer with food growing everywhere, bringing to mind Porgy & Bess and how the livin' is easy. Fall's crisp air, a reprieve from Summer's heat. Winter's cold that forces us to take time to heal on the inside and huddle near loved ones. - I know some people would call this God's work. Call it whatever you'd like, we call it Mother Nature. But by any name, it is truly divine.

*You ~ You who take a few minutes out of your day to read this blog. I am grateful for you. Your comments and kind words mean so much to me. Even if we haven't met in any way other than online, you are so, so dear to me. You help make my day a little bit brighter. Thank you.

And, there you have it. Some things I am happy for this morning. There are many more things I could list (Jeff Bridge's acceptance speech last night for example), but I'll leave the list as it is. Thank you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Strange - Part 2

This is a follow-up post to my Joan Jett-themed one from the other day about being a little strange.
There is something else a little bit weird. At least I've always thought so.
Somehow, for many years now (and the reference should help date it) I've felt like I was living life somewhere between a Dead Show and an episode of Frasier. ... ok ... yes, I know it is strange.

Many years ago I was told, by a guy named Jeff W., that I wasn't hippy enough to be a hippy. I thought it was a really odd thing to be told, but it also seemed to be a constant theme. People seem to think I am one thing only to find out, as I've also been told, that I'm not exactly what they expected (thanks guys from Shooting Creek Brewery).

Too often I don't fit in for the following various reasons:
*I don't do enough drugs. --- Though marijuana shouldn't be counted as a drug, it is & in my life it has had the greatest impact. I don't care if you smoke pot, I don't think there is anything wrong with it, I just don't smoke it anymore. Personal reasons. Yet, even though I support your right to it, I've lost friends over it. Several times. I guess some would think it is wiser to be friends with people who can get you illegal drugs than people who just want to hang out with you. Stupid. -- Other drugs .. well, it's your life but my opinions are another story.
*I like to drink & party. -- I'm having a drink as I type this. (Does it show? I've been watching the Academy Awards .. don't you have to drink to get through that? Am I getting sloppy .. oy) Yes, we have kids. We don't really drink in front of the kids at all. Our idea of partying probably isn't too different from what our grandparents thought of it (maybe more cussing & jell-o shots), but in today's helicopter-parenting culture it is almost taboo.
*I support being green AND being frugal -- you'd be amazed how often these two are completely contradictory, though I'd argue they originally went hand in hand. When did Passive House become a money making, revolutionary idea (Adam Cohen, you're a tool!)?
*I cuss -- Fuck off and get over it. There are worse things in life you prudes.
*I follow my own path -- I lost a friend once because I decided to see if I really had what it took to eat meat, which at the time meant, could I kill my own food? Could I confront that issue? I could, but the friendship was gone.
*I'm honest -- People love me for my honesty, but thoroughly hate me for it too.

So, there it is. About being strange, part 2. About being too loud, too vulgar for some and about being not wild-enough for others. There ya go. You can read this and you will still probably meet me and think "you're not what I was expecting." It's ok, I don't care if you think I'm strange, I ain't gonna change! ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"I don't care if you think I'm strange.."

"I ain't gonna change!" ~ Thank You Joan Jett!!

~This is me, Fall of 2008~

Early Fall 2008 my mother and stepfather took the boys to the beach with them for the week. One condition, I took care of her dogs. No worries, I just scooted over there a couple of times a day (though her aging St. Bernard did make that week more hellish than it ought to have been).
On my way back and forth from her house to ours, I would see mothers out, pushing little ones in strollers. It transported me back to earlier days.

*Back to frat parties where I was the only person with dreadlocks, wearing a rugby shirt and cord pants. Only person - no chicks with 'em, no guys either. Where I looked around and noticed that all the girls were wearing the same basic 2 outfits, just in slightly different colors. *ALL OF THEM*

*Back to when I was pregnant with Tristan and in a friend's store with Shannon in tow, running about the racks of clothing. She introduced me to a fella she was talking to, and he made a comment: "So, now you're whole life is just your kids?" My instinctively sharp response of "No!" shocked not just him but me as well. I love my kids, and to some degree they ARE my world. But I haven't stopped being me. Since when did being a stay-at-home mom mean that you have no life other than your kids? Add being a homeschooler to this and you've sealed the coffin on your own life in too many people's eyes.

So .. what do these memories have to do with moms walking kids in strollers? Well, for starters, they all looked alike to me. Same 2 or 3 strollers, same work-out wear, same hairstyles.
Ah .. hairstyles.
Yes .. I kinda had a freak-out moment. An "I'm not one of those moms" moment. And so I died my hair pink. Really PINK. Pink enough that people stopped calling me Justin, aka my husband,'s mom and started ID'ing me for booze. -- Seeing as I've now been called Justin's mom 5 .. yes FIVE times now, I do like the effect the pink hair had on getting me carded again.
A friend later told me that I could don a brown wig with a conservative haircut, khakis, a button-down shirt, and loafers and I still would stand out. -- Probably true. Thank you Joann.

I feel like a dad, for lack of better description, among mom's groups. I stand there talking about beer and football. I am not dressed like they are.
Even when I try to go girly, at least in my mind, I don't fit in with the moms. As part of the Alice in Wonderland merchandising frenzy, OPI has released Alice-themed nail polish colors. Oh yes, I HAVE to have them. I will have them!!! Glittery, sparkly blue? Mad Hatter sparkly purple? Oh, come to mama! However, these apparently, are not mom-approved colors.

And you know what, I don't care if you think I'm strange, I ain't gonna change!

*****NOTE - Justin read this, patted me on the shoulder and said "Yep, you're a dad among moms" .... yup .... ******

Friday, March 5, 2010

It isn't always about Priorities

I read a really interesting article the other day. ~ It regards a 'Real Food Only for 28 Days' challenge issued by the blog

Now, I am a VERY big supporter of traditional, slow, and real foods. I know how well the heal the body and soul. How they connect us and bring us alive. But there were a couple things in this article that just got under my skin.

1) After you've signed on for the challenge you are instructed to trash ALL the food in your pantry that is processed in any form. Quoting the article: This meant everything with refined oils, white flour, sugar, low- and skimmed-milk products, margarine, processed cheeses, refined salt and dried pastas had to go.
"It doesn't matter if the foods are organic or not. Toss them anyway," she (blog-owner Jennifer McGruther) said. "You may well have paid good money for the food at one time, but remember, real health comes from real food, and real food never comes from a box."
This is something I REALLY disagree with. Not that real food doesn't come from a box (that I agree with), but the idea that to start this challenge you have to throw out anything that might qualify. Put them in a box for 28 days? That I can see. Throw away things you spent good money on and that are still perfectly edible?? No.
Why do I disagree with throwing it away? Well, look at our economy for one. I don't know about you, but I don't have extra money to be throwing away perfectly edible food. Like I said, I can maybe see putting the stuff in a box for the 28 days and then donating what I've learned to live without - but just tossing it? No. This is the same argument I have with those who try to tell me that I simply must take out any incandescent bulbs we still have in the house, even if they haven't burnt out yet, throw them away, and buy new CFLs instead. No. I'll replace them with CFLs as they burn out, but I won't throw away something that is working just because. Especially something that likely won't be around that long anyway. Like an incandescent light bulb or a box of pasta.

2) When people expressed concern about the higher cost of eating real food, the article quoted Nina Planck, author of 'Real Food; What to Eat & Why' (a fantastic book that really has changed the way I look at food). Quoting the article: Real food costs more, because it's worth more," said Nina Planck, author of "Real Food: What to Eat and Why." It's a common complaint about real foods, and it boils down to priorities, Planck said.
"You need to think about where and how you want to spend your money ... ," she said."I buy fruits and vegetables in season, in bulk at the farmer's market. I don't need another sweater, but I have to feed my kids every day."
Why do I disagree with this?? Because I think she's flat-out wrong. No, it does NOT just boil down to priorities Nina. I can't remember the last time I went out shopping for new clothes for myself, but I can tell you it has been a while and there are still some boxed things I buy - things that I would've been instructed to toss if I took this challenge.
One common argument regarding costs is that you spend more money on food, and since it helps keep you healthier, you spend less money on health care. That is true, to a point. We DO stay healthier now that we're eating more and more real food. So, we DO spend less money on over-the-counter health care. HOWEVER, we still spend the same amount on health care insurance. We don't get to pay less for that because we're suddenly healthier. And, that my friends, is a BIG chunk of change!
It isn't just a matter of priorities, it is also a matter of realities.

I've tried something like this challenge before, after reading 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' by Barbara Kingsolver (a fantastic read, fyi!!!). Deciding as soon as I had put down the book that "from here on out" all we were going to eat was local and in season. ........ We fell, very frustratingly, flat on our faces.
Why? It wasn't a matter of priorities, it was a matter of realities. The reality was that I didn't know what to cook when certain things weren't in season. That our Farmer's Market isn't open in the winter. That our garden doesn't yet produce enough to sustain us, and that I am still not exactly certain what all I should plant to try and help it start sustaining us. The garden is a learning process, we learn each year as we go.
We have to feed ourselves and our kids daily. Several times a day. And all the support and encouragement you can receive online sadly doesn't actually put food on the table.

Imagine this: Imagine people who are currently smokers want to quit smoking. Or people who are alcoholics want to quit drinking. But 1) they aren't sure what they should be doing instead (eating, drinking, etc - I said imagine so hang with me here!) and 2) to do what they ought to be doing cost them a LOT more than smoking or drinking currently does. Do you REALLY think they would quit?
Well, that's the case with processed foods. We DO become addicted to them. And it IS cheaper to eat them most of the time. And, very sadly, we don't know how to feed ourselves anymore. Not the way we ought to know anyway. And, we have to re-train our tastes buds to appreciate Real Food. Real tastes. Real flavor.

Is Real Food better for you? Absolutely. Do I strive to feed my family as much real food as I can? You bet your ass I do. When I do buy processed foods is it a lack of priorities on my part? Hell no. Sometimes we just do the best we can, and we strive to always do better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Contractors - The Estimates are In

I kept my word and got more than one estimate for our potential kitchen remodeling job. I've already done the review on what I thought about them coming out. You can see that here: ~ You'll note that David Harmon was way ahead in "points" which, I have to admit, I liked because I'd rather support smaller businesses & "the little guy." (He is shorter than me, but that is just a coincidence -- I'm pretty damn tall!)

First, I have to note something. I was hesitant to list the actual dollar amounts of the estimates. You never know what all you want to reveal, what you should keep to yourself. But, I want to be honest about this project and so I'm going to tell you. Just know, I thought it over some first.

So, one week to the day each after they came out they contacted me with the estimates. David Harmon called me Sunday night and then dropped off the paperwork for me early Monday morning. Here is his estimate:
"Renovation of kitchen will include, demolition of chimney, reroute hvac duct work. Free up existing wall to make room for refrigerator. Convert two existing corner cabinets for lazy susan. Add three new cabinets where refrigerator was. Build 2' x 3' island with butcher block tops. Add exhaust for kitchen range. Tile existing counter tops and backsplash with tile supplied by homeowner. Lay provided tile in kitchen and laundry room floors. Add pine tongue and groove wood ceiling with trim to kitchen. Add four can lights and move existing sink light closer to sink. Add under cabinet lights. Fur out walls and add insulation and drywall and three glass block windows to back room. Add new entry door to that room. Widen opening from back room to laundry room. Build and install two cabinets in back room. Sand, repair, and paint floor in back room. Remove existing shower and move washer and dryer and add shelves to laundry room."
*Note - we will be buying the new fridge & stove as well as the tile needed. We will also hire our own plumber (we have the BEST plumber EVER!!) to do any plumbing work needed. He did say he has a plumber, but we really love our guy.*

Total Estimated Cost: $8965.00

Tuesday afternoon Rob Leonard from Structures called me. Here is what he had to say:
1) This is a much smaller job than what they would normally do. - Wow, thanks, don't I feel like the small fish suddenly.
2) The estimate he's giving me would include the following:
- gut area, rework it, all new appliances
- green upgrade
- variables with flooring - meaning even though I told him we wanted tile apparently there are lots of options as to what actually might go in
- seeing what we could salvage might dial cost down a bit

Now remember, I told BOTH contractors the same thing, as I wanted to see what they could come up with: problems around the chimney that houses the flue for the boiler; the cabinets are good, but there is an issue of access in ONE corner that needs help; we need a new stove & fridge, but we've been looking at those already; I need more space for working; light is an issue; the back hallway and bathroom could be better worked to fit our needs (pantry, laundry room, etc).
So, to translate the above a little bit (I was jotting down his words as he spoke, I have nothing in writing from them) -- He/They (Structures) apparently didn't listen to one damn thing I said. AND NOTE ... there is no "here's what to expect when we're done" type of thing up there!!

Total Estimated Cost: between $70,000 & $85,000 -- YEA, Seventy to Eighty Five THOUSAND!!! -- Points awarded for me not laughing into the phone.

I told Mr. Leonard that estimate was well above our budget. He asked what our budget was. When I told him a generic $15k (which, in all honesty, it isn't even that high!) he pretty much laughed at me. He told me that maybe I could find some friends who knew what they were doing to help me out.
Apparently Structures is going green because of how much green they're charging people. You seriously have to be kidding me.

So, there you have it. Hmm, who do you think we're gonna go with if everything lines up and we're able to do this?? The big company who has attempted to make us feel small and insignificant, who has treated us like they're a mega-company and we're more of a pity-call than a potential client?? NOT QUITE!!!
Or how about the individual guy who started his own company? The guy who was here for two hours one day, leaving me all giddy and excited about possibilities, and then who came back a couple days later to talk to both Justin & I and climb up in the attic, go down in the basement and explore the realities of the house? The guy who actually gave me an idea of what things would look like when he's done? YEA -- If this goes through, we know who we're gonna call (cue Ghostbusters theme music here please)!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Longwood Park

There is a park not too far from our house called Longwood Park. I've been taking the boys there to play now that they're a little bit older (the layout of the playgrounds makes it awkward to safely keep an eye on two kids at once). I've found a spot where I can sit and pretty much always have an eye on them. But there is something else that keeps drawing my eyes' attention.

~ I love these trees. I took this photo with my cell phone (yikes!) today. ~

I know I have more photos of these trees. Better ones, not taken with a cell phone camera. But still, I love these trees.
Every time we're at the park I can't help but stare at them. I imagine I'm Kate Winslet in 'Finding Neverland', spending a day at the park with my boys. I have a nice picnic basket (lined with wonderful blue-gingham linen), and am sitting on a quilt that is comfortable, quaintly stylish, and easy to fold and carry around.

~ This is how I am imagining ourselves at the park ~

Unfortunately, there are several things wrong with this picture. 1) I am not Kate Winslet. 2) I don't have a cute English accent. 3) Johnny Depp isn't there, and neither is his big dog. *OK - get your dirty minds out of the gutter, I meant the dog from the movie. -- but now that we're on the subject .... yes!*
Instead of wearing a wonderfully feminine outfit I am wearing a long-sleeved tie-dye, jeans, Birkenstocks (I'd rather have the Birks than shoes they wore then I'm betting, even if they don't look as feminine and cute), my hair isn't "done", and I'm sitting on top of a picnic table with a bookbag next to me instead of the quilt/picnic basket scenario.
I will be grateful that instead of four unruly boys to deal with I only have my two to try and catch. And I have my husband instead of a married Johnny Depp character. My husband who is 28 and not 45. I swear that in 40 years I will be grateful for that. Maybe 50. Love ya Justin!!!

Perhaps in the Spring I will find a good quilt that I can tote along with me and I can sit under the trees while the boys play.
The park isn't too far from our house, a little under 1/2 a mile. As part of trying to exercise more I'm planning/hoping to start walking there with the boys. This ought to be a lot easier a task when it isn't bitter cold outside and when Tristan gains better control over his bladder ... and on that note, when they unlock the bathrooms at Longwood Park once the weather warms back up.
We'll see how it goes. Till then, there are dreams. And my trees. And the knowledge that getting to spend afternoons lounging under them isn't too lofty a dream.

Jomo ~ Bark. Growl. Run Away.

Jomo turns 2 today. Jomo is our American Bulldog-Bandogge Mastiff mix. The first puppy Justin and I ever got together, the first puppy the boys have ever had. We also have Whiskey, my Chocolate Lab who just turned 10 and I've had since she was barely 8 weeks old, but this is about Jomo.
Jomo is named after Starr Hill Brewing Company's Jomo Lager. A good beer from a good microbrewery. Since Whiskey is named Whiskey (although not after the booze, after a song actually), and since we like good beer, Jomo was named after a beer.
When we were looking at getting him we were worried about the possibility of him being aggressive. After all, we had a 4 year old & a 1 1/2 year old at the time. Aggressive and mean dogs are something I have never and will never own.
So, I did LOTS of research into the breeds he comes from. Anyone who knows me knows that when I start trying to research into something I become quite obsessive. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I am sure I annoy the daylights out of people who have to listen to my one-topic obsessed ramblings. Turns out his breeds, while good at guarding, are also very family-friendly. At one point in history the American Bulldog was America's favorite breed of dog. His breeds were bred to be able to take a man off a horse in combat, take down and hold a bull (or pig, etc) on the farm, and so on. It's said that they have a very impressive ability to know when a situation is fun & playful and when there is danger. That they're very loyal to families and good with kids. The girl we got him from also assured us how good his parents were.

~ Jomo the Vicious, weighing in at approx. 80 pounds, being held like a baby by Justin on 2/25/2010~

Turns out, Jomo is a chicken shit. When we brought him home he was scared of the hardwood floors. Seriously. Terrified of them. Then it was the tv. Now it is anything new or unusual in general.
We got a new floor lamp, Jomo barked at it, growled, and ran away. Bacon sizzling on the stove?? Wouldn't come inside (there is a door leading out of our kitchen to the back hallway & then outside) for over 10 minutes. When he did, he ran and jumped on one of our friends, trying to get her to hold him.
Took Tristan's toddler bed apart yesterday and had it sitting in the front room. Jomo spotted it. Bark, growl, run away. Justin's brother Matt was over for dinner last night. He had been here for 20 minutes when he suddenly sneezed. Bark, growl, run away. Shannon's drum teacher, who is also a good friend of ours, comes over. That's ok. He wears a hat, lets down his hair, or wears a new jacket? Bark, growl, run away.

~Getting a kiss from Jason. Oh yea, this dog is blood thirsty~

We've learned to leave the back door open for Jomo to run outside when new people come over. He is scared and wants to retreat. When cornered, as he has accidentally been before, he pees everywhere.

The tricky part is trying to convince people he's a nice dog. That he isn't going to go Cujo and rip their faces off. If you don't know him he tends to look mean. Once you know him at all, all you can see is him being a baby. Seriously, the dog is 80 pounds and thinks he is a lap dog, wants to be held whenever there is anything "scary" around him.
I talked to the vet about Jomo's anxiety. His response? 1) "That is the last dog that you'd expect to be scared of anything. He just doesn't look like anything would scare him." 2) Anxiety Medication. ---- The dog needs Valium. We've already chopped off his balls (well, we didn't personally do it!), and now you want to put him on anxiety meds?!?
We opted for some all natural Bach's Rescue Remedy for anxiety. We're also working on socializing him more.
However, when people come over we do tend to lock him in the other room. He senses when people are scared of him and that makes him more ancy and anxious. We don't want company to feel worried or ill at ease. Plus, he does growl and we don't want to risk that he might ever decide to nip.

So this is our adventure with Jomo. A dog that looks mean but isn't. I do think he would protect us if the house were to be broken into, but other than that he is scared of EVERYTHING. He is the Cowardly Lion of dogs.
Happy 2nd Birthday Jomo.