Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tulip Time

We had the best day today.

Who doesn't love an impromptu vacation day?

We hit up the pre-Tulip Festival festivities in Holland, Michigan.

I highly recommend going a few days prior. We were very nearly the only cats at the party.

Our day started off with a pit-stop at the hospital for yet another visit to Dr.G.

Then we hit the road.

Calvin talked about food all day long. There were droves of fun cafes and quaint take-your-lunch-outdoors restaurants....

but we had Pizza Hut buffet, which especially appealed to those of us on large doses of 'roids.

All day, we referred to "the festival", thinking it might make vast stretches of tulips sound more appealing to the short stacks. Over our pizza, Ruby kept saying, "When are we going to the vegetable?"

Walking over to the tulip fields, I said to Cory, "It's going to start raining any minute..."

What did he say?


He was right.

For about 3 minutes.

But who cares?

We had an unscheduled rainy-day tulip frolic to conduct.

Here's the beauty of using a "normal", unbeastly camera - you're not so worried about a few harmless rain drops. I took so many pics while Cory fretted and stewed and ultimately stowed his camera inside his jacket for safe keeping.

I was in heaven.

If you are a tulip lover and live in the tri-state area, you need to plan to go.

(And if you're not a tulip lover, well, I don't want to hear about it.)

Before long, we had a perfectly peaceful downpour on our hands, so Calvin, Ruby and I sought refuge in a semi-truck loading dock while Cory and Silas ran to get the car.

While we waited, we played "Kick the Cone" and took turns practicing our dinosaur calls. The acoustics were phenomenal.Then, we drifted East (South? West?) to Saugatuck.

The boardwalk was a highlight, as was this park.

It turns out, we all had a little extra energy to burn off.

OK, maybe not all of us. Maybe just some of us.

This day was just what I needed.

Our kids were so good. Troopers.

Calvin kept saying things like, "Thank you for the pizza!" "Thank you for taking us to this boardwalk!"

The weather was gorgeous, surprise rain shower and all.

All day long, I was smiling so big inside that it made my heart ache in the best way.

We spent time and just a little bit of money.

Aside from gas, our only expenses were pizza...

...and ice cream.

I'll say this: I'm more excited than ever for Summer.

We're going to dig right into it, my gang and I.

Peace out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Good Way To Waste An Hour On A Frosty-Sunny Morning

The transmission is acting funny in our pink Explorer again...

And it's a good thing, too.

Because if it was in full form, Cory would not have taken it for a test drive last night.

And if he hadn't taken it for a test drive, he wouldn't have noticed all of our neighbors covering their flowers and trees...

When he arrived back home, we sprang into action, covering everything that breathed - so to speak.

9 toddler fruit trees
2 nearly infant lilac trees
Scads of perennials
The odd perennial herb, or two
6 Surprise Rosebushes
3 Fully-Expected Rosebushes

You get the point.

I was a sheet-flinging fool.

I tucked my babies in tight whilst humming "Onward Christian Soldier" and willed them to stay strong.

(I also resolved, just like last year, to buy some $1 sheets at the thrift store rather than hauling out the good stuff every time Old Man Winter pulls a fast one.)

The early morning found us outside, crunching around in the frost to unwrap our sleeping beauties.

Cory said we would need them again tonight, so I decided to hang them on the line to dry until later.

If you know me at all, you know I loved this excuse to hang some sheets.

I don't know what it is about me and clotheslines....

Incidentally, by a showing of hands, who has literally been clotheslined by a clothesline?

Happens to me at least twice a Summer.
I'm a little disoriented, right at first. Then I'm kinda annoyed. Then...I laugh. Every time.

Today, before I knew it, I had plumb run out of room on the lines.

And I ended up firing my assistant. She wasn't as helpful as I had hoped. If she's honest, she'll just come right out and admit that she misrepresented her skill-set during the interview.

She seemed to take her unexpected loss of employment in stride.

Hey, if you're going to find yourself jobless, you might as well be wearing footie jammies and imitation Crocs when you hear the news.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Your Questions - Round 2

Favorite promise of God you cling to?
Honestly, it changes with the wind. I think the main promise I cling to is that God is Sovereign...and way smarter than I am. I love knowing that it is not up to me...whatever "it" may be. I am so aware of my propensity to screw things up.

Did you make enough at the garage sale to cover the red bag purchase?
Yes! The bag was free! (I traded for the plastic box grater.)

Do you own anything with the words "KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON?" -?
No. I think I'm the only one. Should I own such a thing? Does it bring you serenity?

Where is one place you would like to visit - vacation, tourist trap, off the beaten trail, what-have-you - in the next ten years?
I am itching to travel to Italy one of these days. Mostly for the food. It's funny you should ask, because my favorite author recently hit up Italy on her own and wrote about it here. I don't know that I have a solo overseas trip in me in the next 10 years, but at some point, I think I could be all over something like that.

I would also like to go on a girlfriend beach trip one of these days. The only requirements are that said g-friends must be avid readers and enjoy staying up late and sleeping in.

I would love to hear more about your garden.
Stay tuned! You'll see much more about the garden (maybe more than you'd like to hear?) soon. Very soon.

Were you always so funny and does it come naturally or do you have to work at it???
Is this a trick question? Any perceived funniness on my behalf is a direct result of the fact that I have really funny parents. My mom is known for her late-night performances of Hank Williams Sr. stage-sets and my dad is the type to make jokes during serious moments and arguments. The point is - I learned early on not to take myself too seriously, and I believe it has bid...bidden...boden...bade? me well.

To make matters worse, my school friends remain some of the funniest people I know. I'm sure many NHS alumni may heartily disagree, but we were funny girls who made the most of some very mundane stretches of days and years. We even documented some of our best moments on a "Funny Joke" list. I know, it doesn't sound funny at all. You're just going to have to trust me on this one.

Do you follow any particular "diet" (I hate using that word) such as all organic, etc?
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify, once and for all, that I am not an all-organic eater. I have made a few "I'm an organic snob" jokes that have fallen flat. (I tend to forget that pesky fact that many of you don't actually know me...) :)

Having said that, I am a big believer in fresh food. We do not eat a lot of pre-packaged, processed food, mostly because fresh food tastes better. And I feel good about providing healthy food to my family. But I'll keep it real - I just had a bowl of ice cream about 15 minutes ago. The kind with broken up bits of sugar cone in it. And we always, always have Santitas in the cupboard. And probably the odd box of Cookie Crisp.

Have you ever found yourself singing nonsensical songs to your children or pets???
Yes, mom. Might you have an idea as to how this may have happened??

A while back you posted a picture with you wearing the most adorable belt. If I recall, it was black and white fabric polka dots? Maybe? Anyways, where did you get it?!?
J Crew outlet! I have never once regretted that purchase, and that's saying something. It's just navy blue with big, white polka dots...I'll bet someone craftier than I could stitch one right up.

Do you sing?
All the time. Everyday. In the car. In the kitchen. To my kids. To myself.
But it's nothing you'd care to hear.

Do you play tennis?
I wish! I once dated a boy who did and I learned to enjoy it. But haven't you heard? I don't have a single sporty bone in my bod.

What did you major in?
Psychology, by way of Pre-Med (turns out you should be pretty good at math) and an even briefer stint in Nursing (after spending my entire life, up to that point, imagining myself as a doctor, the nurse shoe pinched my toes.)

After my first psychology class, I knew we were meant to be. I fell straight-up in love. I really did. I know it's odd...I can't explain it. I loved learning all of it. I loved my professors. I met one of my greatest friends, a fellow Psych. major. In my most memorable exercise we had to pair up and pretend to diagnose our partner. My partner "had" Body Dysmorphic Disorder and thought his hair was falling out, when it really wasn't.

Are you where you thought you'd be? (You know, when we were in HS and filled out those questions like "Where will you be in 15 years?"
I promise you, I never pictured my family with 3 brown-to-brownish babies. I also thought I was going to be a doctor back then. And I think I had a couple of potential husbands in mind, none of which ever even asked me out on a date. I'm not where I thought I would be.

(Remember that thing about God being so much smarter than I am??)

Do you like hanging out with all your girlfriends or one on one?
I get a little nervous in group situations. I worry about the power grab....I spend my time thinking about if I'm talking too much or not enough, if someone is being left out, etc... I still enjoy it, but it's a little more work.

What is your favorite thing to do to refresh?
Sleep. So lame, I know. I'm a girl who daydreams about naps, but hardly ever gets one. I also love doing something creative - taking pictures, planning a party, baking a pie. Heck, I get a kick these days out of planning our weekly menu.

And now, a final pre-bedtime word from the author:
Every time I get to the end of one of these posts, I have this feeling like I'm hoping you'll pick me for a blind date or something. I feel like I'm a contestant on the Dating Game! Remember that show, with the big pink and purple hearts as stage decor? Aw man, I kinda miss that show.... I can't promise you that my hair is feathered back Charlie's Angel's-style, or that I'm wearing Suntan Leggs with black pumps, but I can promise you a whole lot of nonsense if you stick around.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tangled Up in Littles

What could be more irresistible than lines strung with vintage linens?

Oh, I'll tell you what.

I am officially wrapped around this guy's little fingers.

That's right - all 10 of 'em.

And that's no easy feat, considering I was wrapped around 20 to begin with.

It's no wonder I don't get as much done as I would like.

Some Mamas say they'd like an extra set of hands...

I'd just like to free up my own, personal fingers.

But, on second thought...they do seem pretty happy, all wrapped up and about.

*I'm sharing this today at Chatting at the Sky's Tuesdays Unwrapped.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Geek Proof

My friend Erin sent me this picture last week. She has a scanner! I don't even have a printer. True story.

Look closely. Very closely. Yep, that's the one and only Periodic Table of the Elements t-shirt.

I don't remember exactly why or how, but Erin and I bought matching shirts and wore them with pride, although Erin apparently had the wherewithal not to take hers on vacation.

One thing is for certain - there's no arguing that it's me. Just look at those arms!

Here are my questions to myself:
1. Why was your hair so long?
2. Why are you wearing Mom jeans, at the age of 16?
3. For what reason did you decide to pack your periodic table t-shirt for a choir trip to Nashville?
4. Why were you in choir when you're really not a very good singer?

And just to provide a little more context, I will now include the email Erin included with the photo:

Marsha - I don't know if this will work. Let me know if it does not. I read your blog about the Periodic Table shirt. I happen to have a picture of you in said shirt. I realize that you probably have pictures of yourself in the shirt already because, seriously, we rocked those shirts often, but this one is special. You can't see the shirt that well because we're, well, what do you say? We were just being ourselves, but it is definitely the shirt. How much do I love this picture? Hmmm...We are clearly young and carefree. We are both wearing ginormous, ill-fitting men's shirts that was befitting the style of the time. My hair is french-braided (by whom I have no idea) AND held back with a hot pink scrunchy. And then, of course, we are pretending to kiss a statue at the Opryland Hotel. How random (and awesome) is that? Also, it was May 7, 1993 (my picture archiving skills were with me even in my youth). - Cheryl

Hi. Me again.

I should clarify that I called/call Erin Cheryl. And she called/calls me Marsha. But that's another story for another day.

A Memo to the people: I was nerdy. And I knew it. And I didn't care a single bit. And I like that.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Your Questions - Round 1

Ready or not - Here I ammmm!!!!!!
(These colors are in honor of my sister-in-law, Jamie. I can't stop thinking about your kitchen...)

Chocolate. Best nutty or plain? What is your view of it?

Oh girl, I scarcely know how to say this. I guess I'll just rip the Band-Aid right off -- I'm not much of a chocolate girl.

Are you still there, Red?

It's not that I don't eat chocolate...approximately once a month, I crave it. Where I differ from the vast majority of the sisterhood is that my craving is satisfied by one or two bites. A couple of weeks ago I ate a remnant Easter bite-sized Milky Way candy bar over the course of 3 days. One bite a day, baby. That's all my sensitive system can tolerate.

(Just kidding about the sensitive system. I think I've already told you that my stomach is lined with cast iron.)

I was just reorganizing my dessert binder yesterday and realized that 90% of the recipes are fruit-based. I'm a total fruitcake. I'll take a cobbler, a buckle, a pie, a crisp or a tart any day of the week.

Or salsa, I'll also take that pret' near anytime...

Fave tv shows?
Oh, I'm so glad you asked! My favorite shows are ever-changing, but here are my staple faves: Friday Night Lights. Tim Riggins is the new Ponyboy, ya'll. I just cannot say enough about this show. The cinematography, the dialogue, the acting, the crows feet on the ever-radiant face of Mrs. T. My sources tell me that season 3 premiers on NBC on May 7th. I'll be first in line.

OK, I got so excited there that I nearly forgot to mention some other favorites:
The Bachelor/Bachelorette (Guilty pleasure. I have no other explanation.)
48 Hours Mystery and Dateline Mystery (I can spot a re-run within the first 5.3 seconds.)
30 Rock.
Mad Men.

Do you have a goal for your blog?
My goal for my blog has always been to write for myself. I try not to get wrapped up in what readers may want to see or read about. I don't worry about the fact that I probably overwhelm you with my incessant posts. I recently read that successful bloggers should not post on weekends. Says who? And what does it mean to be a "successful blogger"? My blog is first and foremost for me. It gives me an outlet to write, which brings me exceeding joy, and it gives me an opportunity to document my life. I have never been a journaler before, although it always appealed to me, in theory. Now, Presto! I have a journal -- an active, up-to-date account of what my family is up to.

Most importantly, my goal with my blog is to remain me, pure and simple. What you see is what you get. Scary, right?

Do you hate spell check because it tries to ruin your life by saying "old" is fine when you really meant "cold"?
I have a track-record for forgeting to engaeg spell check. Thank goodness the red squiggly things pop up, because if not for them, you'd have given up on me a long time ago. Cory is my spell checker/editor. And he's brutal. Also, I'm a pretty good speller. I was sent to the county spelling bee in Junior High where I was unceremoniously disqualified in the first round. Over the word "Breathe". I remember it like yesterday. "B-R-E-A-T-H *pause* *pause* Breathe." Blasted vowels. (Full disclosure - when I just typed "Breathe", I typed it "Breath". That word has become the bane of my spelling existence, and I have no idea why. I also always misspell ocassional. See? Toldja.)

Was your transition from "career woman" to "mom" challenging?
I was lucky, because my transition was very gradual. I went from working a very high-stress, 60-hour-a-week, underpaid job to working a "regular", infinitely more intellectually stimulating job, to working the same job from home (with no kids), to working part-time from home (same job, still no kids) to working part-time from home with kids.

Did you follow that?

I think it would have been difficult for me to go from fast-paced crazy work to being home with a baby, so I'm thankful for the way my situation played out. I have enjoyed working part time immensely and believe that it has made me more organized than I would probably otherwise be. I am also very thankful for a fantastic job that has helped to finance our Triple Sweets. Having said that...I'm headed into early retirement in just 2 short weeks, which will present a brand new adjustment. (But more on that another day...)

Do you think that this is now your basket full....or would you like to bring more babies into your family- its just as a mother i think you never run out of love? what do you think?
I do not believe that we are done, although I have been wrong before. I become increasingly passionate about children who do not have Mamas and Daddies. It breaks my heart. For this reason alone, I have a feeling that we will adopt again. And also, I think Ruby could really use a sister. :)

I am amazed by the way a Mama's heart, in the blink of an eye, grows enough love for one more. And one more. It doesn't seem seems like someone would fall through the cracks or feel a little slighted. It's a miracle, that's what I think.

How come when I go on a chips and salsa bender, the next day I'm all salty and bloated and you are still as cute as ever?? Huh, huh?
Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! OK, fine, I'll concede the fact that I'm not much of a bloaty gal...but maybe it's my salsa benders that have contributed to my premature wrinkliness? Maybe I should add a tortilla chip exfoliation treatment to my late-night sessions? The salt would slough the dullness right off and the grease would be super moisturizing!

I may be on to something...

How do I set it so that my comments show up in my inbox?
Sign in and go to "Customize", then click on the "Settings" tab, then the "Comments" heading. Scroll all the way down and you should see a section called Comment Notification Email. Enter your email address into the white box, and from then on, your comments will be emailed to you. Just last week I got a comment on a post I wrote over a year ago. I would have never known if the comment was not emailed to me. Brilliant, I tell you.

Also, have you by any chance read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver? It's a good spring read and gets me motivated for my garden everytime.
I have not, but you have me convinced. I have a little list I keep of book/music/etc.. advice that you ridiculously hip, in-the-know readers pass my way. I'm always up for a good book suggestion!

Well, that was fun! Too bad no one reads weekend posts. ;)

Stay tuned for rounds 2 - ?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Day

Hit me, straight up.

If you had a notion that your pre-schoolers were out gallivanting around at 8 in the morning, in their pjs, would you go out looking for them?

More importantly, would you judge me if I didn't?

I'm not saying I didn't, per se, I'm just saying that it's possible that I didn't. I'm per se-ing that it's in the realm of reasonableness that I chose to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak.

When I finally did get around to hunting them down, they were out in the field. I have never known them to go in the field. Especially in Printhith nightgowns and NBA sweatbands.

I was stunned that they had the foresight to put shoes on.

Calvin told Cory, "We went behind the pole barn and the next thing we knew, we were in the orchard! And we had no idea how we got there!"

They seem to be inching ever closer to that Double-Trouble phase.

And I dig it.

I hope they seek misadventures together all Summer long.

The rest of our day was bloomy fuschia.

And multiple time-outs.

It was weeding Nirvana.
(I'll never understand why some do not enjoy weeding a flower bed. Instant gratification!)

And it was a toddler who prefers real electronics/glassware/toilets to toys.

It was heart-shaped Bisquick shortcakes with strawberries and cream.

And a cup of juice spilled all over the inside of the refrigerator.

It was mostly happy, with a few thin strands of frazzled thrown in.

Oh, and Silas went wading - shoes and all - in the fish pond, but no biggie.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Truth Under my Fingernails

This evening we made our inaugural visit to Zimmerman's flower stand. We waltzed in for a little duck poop....we trudged out with a lot of duck poop. And a few perennials, because I momentarily misplaced my self-control switch.

After caramel sundaes, we whisked the babies off to their beds. We smooched little baby lips and breathed in 3 distinctly perfect baby smells. We whispered prayers and answered those last-minute, so-very-important questions, "Mommy, is Jesus sitting right here, beside me?" "What if I accidentally poke him?"

Then, we walked right back out into what remained of the dusky, dry daylight and got our hands dirty.

There exists a directly proportional relationship between the amount of dirt caked beneath my rinky-dink fingernails and the clearness of my heart.

I am convinced of this - Truth finds me in the dirt. It burrows into the cracks of me, it chaps my hands in such a way that I still feel the sting the next day.

I poked around, fiddling with the fun stuff, while Cory did the hard things. I watched him chop-chop-chop at roots that ran so deeply. I watched him yank the ugly out and toss it onto the heap. We talked about what we would put in its place. We knew that there was a chance that the ugly would still pop up out of the newer, prettier growth.

In our shared solitude, I found my heart asking those same, familiar questions...."What is it that you want me to do, God?" "In what way will you use me?" "When will I know?"

As the sun dipped too low, I made my way inside. I scrubbed those chapped hands.

I sat down to fold the third load of laundry and the cotton snagged against the scrapes and the sandpapered fingertips.

And the truth that was etched into them outside found its way inside, where my real life is lived.

Oh that life could be all Delphinium and English Daisies. Mostly, it is laundry. And library books. And today, whining children and a frustrated Mommy that probably did not smile as often as she should have.

So tonight, I know this: I know that what God wants me to do today, tomorrow, the day after, is have patience as I hold the three little hands through the ins and outs of our days; ask for wisdom in instructing them to do right; appreciate my Honey for every good thing that he is.

It is not grandiose.
But it will change our lives.

It will not be written about in books or talked about on the news.
But it is Epic.

And so, my prayer continues....
Let my lips breath love.
Let my heart beat for others.
Let my heart bleed service.

And let it all start right here, under our own, little patch of sky.