Friday, August 31, 2007

Friends Don't Let Friends Wear Neon...

I saw that on a t-shirt once when neon colored clothing was all the rage, and frankly, getting out of hand. We ran our errands today and picked out a paint color for the school room. Why is it that when you pick it out on the color sample strip, it looks great! But then in the actual paint can, it looks frightening?? We picked out 4 colors, or rather, I picked out 4 colors and then debated with Hubby which color we should pick. He chose the pale yellow one and I kind of lobbied for the pale green one. I pictured in my head the stuff on the walls, the old cabinet I am going to use and thought they would look nicer with the green in the background. So he let me get the green. After the paint lady mixed the colors and opened the can, I kind of groaned internally and thought I shouldn't have picked the green. Hubby said it looked "kind of neon". *gulp* I am telling myself that it will dry lighter and will look great once we get it on the walls, but I am really kind of, sort of, just a little teensy-weensy bit, panicking and stressing over the color. Will paint one wall and see how it dries and I hope it won't be so bright that the girls will be distracted and everything I am teaching them bounces off the brain and slides to the floor in a puddle. Would you have picked this color? What color would you pick for your own school room?

Didn't get to do any painting today and will try to get it done over the weekend, I mean, it is Labor weekend isn't it? Doesn't that mean you have to labor?? We aren't going anywhere except for yard sale-ing so might as well get some stuff done around the house. I see a lot of listings in the local paper for yard sales starting Friday and lasting all the way til Monday! Whoo hoo! Hopefully, we find some good stuff and don't run out of money just when we find the most perfect thing. That's always in the back of my mind when I go yard sale-ing, not wanting to spend too much for something and having no cash at the next sale for something better than what I just bought. There have been moments when I had to drag myself away from something because I didn't have enough money and the sellers didn't want to take any less or hold it for me. Oh, well.. there's always the next sale! Have a GREAT weekend everybody!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Painting Fun!

After getting the corner all cleaned up and brushing the basement walls clean of dust and cobwebs, I spread out newspaper and put Youngest down for her nap. The older girls were nearly jumping out of their skin with excitement when they saw me stirring a big bucket of paint. We had bought a 5 gallon bucket of paint some time ago and it needed to be stirred. And stirred. And stirred some more. Thank goodness Youngest still takes 2 hour naps! Then the girls peppered me with these same lines over and over-- "Is it ready yet? Is it ready now? Now is it ready?" Squeals of delight when I told them, "It's ready."

Look at how Middle dressed herself for painting-- pretty top with a skirt. You never see her in anything but skirts and dresses!

Paintbrushes in hand, they happily slapped on paint, drip-dropping paint all over the newspapers. I should have put down more papers because the girls stepped in the drops of paint and then walked around where there were no newspapers. I have little trails of paint all over that corner of the basement now, but I am not making a big fuss about it, because we want to lay down some flooring. Not sure what yet, but we are playing with the idea of black and white checkered floors. It was a fun day and the girls did a really good job painting. I was surprised at how little paint they got on themselves (except for the bottoms of their feet) and they are now peppering me with lines like this-- "What color are we going to paint now? When are we going to get the paint? How about pink like our room? What about purple? Can we have yellow? When are we going to paint again?" We are running errands today, and will pick out some paint. Even I am not sure what color we will choose. I'm leaning towards a light and bright color, yellow or orange, or maybe a soft and light color like pale blue or green. I'll know when we see it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's Official!

It's official!! I'm a home schoolin' mama! This whole summer was spent going to yard sales looking for stuff to set up a classroom with. We found 4 school desks, just like the ones most of us grew up with, the attached desk top and the storage under the seat for books and papers, for only $5. (Hmm.. 3 kids, 4 desks. "Honey! Let's make another baby!" sounds of heavy footsteps running away) We spent lots of time looking for school books for the kindergarten and first grade levels, and for other educational items we can use to decorate the class room. I've been on the Internet looking up laws and qualifications needed for the State of West Virginia and thankfully, we meet the requirements. I sent away for a home schooling information packet with lists of support groups and different programs. I spent hours clearing away a mountain of empty boxes that got tossed in the corner of the basement and sorting through other unpacked boxes. I dragged a shelf across the room to clear away the wall for painting and I just informed Hubby that the girls and I were going to paint this week. I think we're ready!
We got a notice in the mail last week informing us of the date the local elementary school will register new students and I got all nervous and jittery. I fretted that maybe I wasn't making the right decision in home schooling Oldest and maybe I should send her off to school. Then Mom asked me my reasons, and after ticking off all the pros and cons, I calmed down and I just know that home schooling is the right thing to do, for us. Hubby went to the County School Board this morning with all the paperwork we needed, to let them know we intended to home school Oldest and copies of our high school diplomas. We're all set!

In a way, we have already been home schooling the girls. We take something that sparks their interest and run with it, expanding on the possibilities and looking up projects we can do to further understand the topic. Oldest loves to look at a big health book we have, and I used her interest in the human skeleton to watch a chipmunk the cats caught and killed, decompose back into the ground. When everything was gone and there was nothing left but a skull, I cleaned the skull and we compared a picture of a human skull and the chipmunk skull. It was inspiring to see Oldest absorb the information and only made me want to do more, more, more!
Almost every time we head outside, there is a lesson to be learned: empty cicada shells and a big cicada to marvel at, mushrooms, worms in the dirt and baby oak trees growing from acorns.
We are doing the right thing, and it is what is best for us and our family. So, here's to adventures in home schoolin' with 3 little ones! I'll be sharing our adventures from time to time, along with the usual postings of my life.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How to Make Sweet Relish

If you grow your own veggies, then march to your garden and pick what you need. If you need to buy them, try to buy from a farmer's market or other location that sells fresh vegetables. The vegetables at the store tend to have a coat of wax on them and you don't peel the skin on the cucumbers for the relish. Let's try to avoid wax in our relish, shall we?

Before you begin, be sure to have all the canning tools you'll need ready.You will need a jar funnel, jar tongs, clean jars, lids and bands, a ladle, colander and several cooking pots. (I recycled the picture above from the jam instructions cuz I forgot to take a picture of the supplies and I already put everything away! You won't need a spatula or a masher.)

Here is what you need to make Sweet Relish: At least 8 cucumbers, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 2 medium onions, pickling salt, celery seed, mustard seed, apple cider vinegar and sugar. This will make 6-7 pints of relish.
Rinse all vegetables. Chop ends off the cucumbers and discard ends.
I use a nifty mandolin to slice my cucumbers into thin strips. You could do it by hand, I did before I bought the mandolin. I was doing a lot of chopping and slicing and dicing and so I bought this and use it practically every day! The mandolin slices up the cukes in no time, just watch out for the sharp blades. I have nicked my fingers plenty!
This is the result of the cucumber after a visit with the mandolin!
After I slice up the cucumber, I go through and pick out the skinny bits, the thin strips that's all skin with no "meat" on it. I think it keeps the relish chunky and gets rid of the stringy look. You don't have to do that, but I'm picky that way.
Dice up the strips with a large knife,
then drop them into a large bowl, big enough to hold all the chopped cukes, peppers and onions. Put aside and start chopping the other stuff.
Chop the onions. Add to the bowl of chopped cukes.
Chop red pepper and green pepper. Add to bowl of cukes and onions.

Isn't this pretty to look at? Press it all down evenly because you are about to add salt and cover in water.

Measure out 1/2 cup of salt.
Sprinkle salt all over the chopped veggies.
Pour cold water all over the salt, dissolving it and pour enough water to cover veggies completely. Let sit for 2 hours. Go watch TV, read some blogs, play with the kids.

Drain and rinse the salt off the veggies. Leave veggies in colander for a bit and let water completely drain away.
Measure out 2 cups of apple cider vinegar and pour into a large pot, stainless steel preferred. Get the big water canner started on the stove.

Add 1 tablespoon of celery seed.

Add 1 tablespoon of mustard seed.

Add 3 1/2 cups of sugar to vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.

When vinegar / sugar mixture boils, add the drained chopped veggies. Stir and return to a boil. This will take about 10 minutes to boil and you don't need to constantly stir like you do with the jam. No tired arms here!

(Another recycled jam picture here) When veggie mixture begins to boil, turn off heat and ladle chopped veggies into hot jars with the funnel. Fill almost all the way to the top, wipe rim of jar clean, then top with hot lid, then tighten band over to seal.

Using the jar tongs, lift jar and put into the hot water canner. (yes, another recycled picture) Cover with lid and boil for 10 minutes.

When 10 minutes are up, carefully remove lid, then use jar tongs to lift each jar to an area where they can cool overnight. Cover jars with a towel to prevent them from cooling too fast. In the morning, press the top of each jar and make sure the vacuum seal worked. If the lid pops up and down, boil again in the hot water canner for another 10 minutes, or put in the fridge and eat it up!

Here are 2 of the many jars I canned. Don't they look lovely? They go quickly so make extra for your family and some for gifts.

The relish tastes great on hot dogs, mixed into tuna fish sandwiches, potato salads... Hubby likes it on his hot dogs with nothing else.

See? I had to tell him to slow down so I could snap a picture! It was gone in 2 bites!

Friday, August 24, 2007

More Canning Adventures

We have had a lovely week of cool weather and a visit from my Mom and Uncle & Auntie. Monday, Auntie and Uncle brought Mom up and all 3 stayed the night after I cooked Shepard's Pie for dinner. Breakfast was a yummy egg, sausage and potato casserole and then I made a batch of pickle relish, taking advantage of the cooler weather we had. Uncle and Auntie left and Mom stayed. I took full advantage of having Mom here and had her keep the girls out of the kitchen so I could concentrate on making more relish on Wednesday.

Mom thinks it's funny that I make relish but I don't eat it. I don't like pickles or relish, never have. I've tried it but I just don't like that pickled taste. One year, I had a whopper crop of cucumbers and thought I would try making pickles for the pickle-lovers in the family. I got all kinds of compliments and raves and requests for "More! More!" I happily obliged and made more! Then I tried making Sweet Relish and I can't make enough to keep everyone happy! Last year I made 12 jars of relish and 18 jars of assorted pickles, I still have 14 jars of pickles and the last jar of relish is in the fridge, nearly empty!

This year, sadly, no cukes from my garden, so I went to the local farm stand and bought a bushel of cukes for cheap and got red peppers and onions, too, and green peppers from my garden and set to work making 3 cases of relish!! Some for Hubby to eat, some for family members and others for gifts. Hubby and Mom happily sampled my latest batch (quality control, they tell me) and I am soaking up the compliments about how good the relish is. I still have a bunch of cukes left and I think I will make one more batch of relish and then use the rest in salads. We take Mom back home Saturday and we will miss her. Her next visit will be in October.

My next post will be a canning post-- How to make Sweet Relish! Come back and learn, it's easy-peasy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Courtship -part 2

Our first date was to the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian in DC. I lived right by the Metro (express trains for commuters around the Metropolitan area in DC, MD and VA), so he drove over to my place and we walked over to the Metro. On the walk over, he handed me a card that had fireballs taped all over it. We had talked about favorite candies once, and he remembered I liked fireballs, hot cinnamon jaw breakers, and bought a bunch and taped them on the card. Awww.. He scored some points for listening and remembering! I still have the card and I never ate any of the fireballs.

We spent the day walking around the museum and there was an old train there that he wanted to show me. It was a train that his Grandfather drove once and they retired it and donated it to the museum. We had the best time, ate at Union Station and then went to the Holocaust Museum. It was a moving experience seeing all the mementos and actual items from the concentration camps and it also opened a topic of conversation between us about racism and different things that different cultures practice. We both discovered we have the same views of people and life-- live and let live. What you do is your business and vice-versa.

After a long day, we headed back to my place. We held hands most of the day and didn't want the day to end, so we ordered pizza. A close friend of mine popped up and the only thing running through my head was for her to go! I didn't want to be rude, though, so I introduced them: Best Friend, meet Date. Date, meet Best Friend. It was such an awkward moment and thank goodness she finally got the hint and left us alone again. We moved up to kissing that night. Those beginning stages of a relationship where kissing alone is all you need to sustain yourself. We kissed. Kissed again. Kissed some more. Then I finally pushed him away and told him he had to go home. I could have easily dropped him and pounced on him, but I didn't want him to think I was easy, ya know, it was only our first date! A girl's gotta have some standards!

A few nights later, we were in the parking lot at work and we were kissing each other good-bye. The next day at work, a few co-workers that saw us kissing were making kissy-kissy faces at us as we walked by. So much for discreetness! He followed me home that night and we talked for a little bit outside. A little while turned into a long time and he pulled the gate of his truck down and put a towel on it so I didn't get my jeans dirty. We sat there and talked and talked and talked. When we finally decided we talked enough, we got up and realized it had rained. It rained and left puddles, but we were dry. The truck was wet, the ground was wet, the grass was wet, but the towel we sat on and the two of us were dry! Once again we had that feeling of being meant for each other.

We hugged each other good-night, we kissed and then I couldn't help myself. It bubbled out of me and I couldn't stop it in time. I blurted out, "I love you!" The moment it came out, I cringed, afraid that it would scare him off as a woman moving too fast. My heart swelled so much it hurt, I had never felt this way before and I prayed that he wouldn't turn and run as far away from me as he could get. He pulled away from me and lifted my chin with his hand, my teeth biting my lips because they were trembling and I was barely holding back a flood of tears, and he said, "I love you, too." I started crying and then he started to cry and we both stood there in a trance, watching the other cry, realizing the magnitude of the moment. We have only been seeing each other for about 2 weeks and here we are, saying we love each other, before we ever did anything more than just kiss. It was one of the happiest moments in my life, knowing that I found him, my true love, my soul mate, the man I would grow old with.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Courtship

Hubby was talking to the girls this morning about the time when he and I were dating. It made me think back to those early days when all my emotions were on an uphill roller coaster and when it seemed I could go no higher, I found myself feeling higher than the day before. We would spend our breaks together. He would walk me to my car after work and we would spend hours talking in the parking lot, smoking cigarettes, talking about the things we've done, what we'd like to do and whatever else you talk about when you are getting to know someone. This was all in the chilly month of November. One night after an hour of shivering, I suggested we drive over to the IHOP (International House of Pancakes, a 24 hour breakfast house) to get warm and maybe something to eat.

We drove in separate cars and parked next to each other, because well, our cars needed to get to know each other, too! Once seated in a warm booth, I ordered a hot chocolate and he ordered a coffee. I can't remember if we had anything to eat, but I do remember the other details. We had not had any physical contact other than the pat on the shoulder or a brief touch of hands to pass something along. I wanted to hold his hand so badly, that I reached across the table and played with his napkin, willing him to get the hint and grab my hand. After what seemed like forever, he finally took my hand in his and I felt electric shocks shoot up my arm and down through my spine! I had never felt that before and it took me by surprise. I looked him in the eyes and all I could see was the most bluest eyes I had ever seen, and they were looking right back at me! Later, he told me that he felt those same electric shocks when he grabbed my hand.

It was getting late and it was time to part ways and go home. He walked me to my car and held open the door for me. I was not used to such treatment! I never had a man hold the doors for me, or let me through first, or hold me by the elbow to make sure I didn't fall. We hugged for the first time that night and I remember the smell of his neck and coat, a mixture of his cologne, cigarette smoke and a spray he would use to make his car smell good-- 'New Car Scented Spray'. All combined, it was a wonderful smell. His truck still smells like it did 10 years ago (minus the cigarette smoke) and all I have to do is sit inside and I am instantly transported to those early days. He gave me such a nice hug and I didn't want to let go! It was a hug that enveloped me and made me feel safe and secure, the kind of hug that you want over and over. Before I got into my car, he held my hand then bent down to kiss it! I was all giddy and giggly and I didn't know what to do or say, I never had a man kiss me on my hand before. We drove along, his car behind mine and then at the light, I turned left and he went right. He waved at me before he turned and I watched his truck's tail-lights in the mirror grow smaller as we drove farther apart. I turned on the radio and "Red Red Wine" by UB40 came on and I remember thinking it was the perfect song to finish off the night. [ I don't know the lyrics to the song, I can't hear the singing, I just like the beat and the feeling it gives me, so don't tell me it is a song about death or something negative, cause I don't want to know.]

When I got home, I lived only 5 miles from IHOP, I changed into my pjs and laid down to sleep. I couldn't sleep and kept thinking about what had happened tonight. The electric shocks, the feel of his hand holding mine, the smell of his neck and coat, his lips on my hand... it was all so exciting! I looked at the clock and it was nearly 4 in the morning. I suddenly had this feeling come over me that told me he got home safely and I could go to sleep now. The next day at work, I asked him what time he got home and when he told me, I couldn't believe it! It was the same time that I saw on the clock and felt he was home. I told him so and we were just awed by this feeling of being connected some how, that maybe this was meant to be, he and I.

More to come in the next post...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mushrooms Galore!!

Our yard has turned into a mushroom breeding ground!! On my way to the mailbox, I couldn't help but notice the hundreds of mushrooms that have popped up all over the place. I quickly hurried back, grabbed the camera and told the girls to "Come see!" After warning them not to touch and to just look, we had lots of fun looking at the many mushrooms.

This mushroom on the left, we imagined to be the home of Mr. Mouse. It looks like a little doorway and we made up stories about who lived there. Tomorrow, I will encourage the girls to draw a story about it, since we didn't have time to do that today.

There were really many varieties of mushrooms all over and I took the opportunity to explain to the girls how mushrooms grow, that some are poisonous and others are safe to eat.

The big fella here was HUGE! It was the size of a basketball and I really had to plead with the girls not to step on it. They thought it would be strong enough to support their weight! I found a smaller mushroom and pulled it up so the girls could see the bottom of it and there was a tiny caterpillar on the underside of it, covered in mushroom spores. There was my perfect example/proof of bugs needing the mushrooms to eat and then the girls understood not to destroy any

These two red ones remind me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original one) and when everyone gets to go inside that magical room and eat the grass, flowers and mushrooms. Remember that one scene where they scoop out some sort of cream from the white spot on the mushroom? I always liked that movie!

We had lots of fun and on the next trip to the library, I'll look for a book on mushrooms!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hubby and his Overtime

When my Hubby came home from work last night, one of the first things out of his mouth was that he wanted to quit! He drives a forklift for a book printing company and they run 3 shifts, 24 hours, printing every part of the book-- the cover, the sleeve, the pages and then they bind them and ship them out. Being summer, employees take their vacations and leave the company short-handed, which makes the company turn around and force people to work overtime. All summer long, there was another worker that has been taking Hubby's Saturday overtime, which leaves Hubby free to come home and spend the weekend with his family. Last night, however, the company told him that he would have to work 12 hours Friday, 8 hours Saturday, 4 hours Sunday, then 8, 12, 8, 12, 8 for the following week. Hubby was quite pissed. Working Saturdays is one thing, but to work 12 hour shifts and Sunday, too?

He came home in a snit and I thought it was quite timely that my post last night was about money. I told him to go and read my latest post before he said anymore. He sat down to read and when he looked at me, he had tears in his eyes. We talked about how he felt and we realized that as much as he dislikes overtime, because it takes him away from his family, it also means extra income for the family. We also talked about how this overtime makes up for being out of work for nearly a year. He was off and got to spend everyday with us and now it is time to make up for it.

I think the book printing place where he works at now is a pretty decent place to work. He has been there nearly 4 months now and it has been a learning experience for him (and me) to see how books are made. It is old hat for him now, seeing it everyday. They will pluck sample books and have an inspector go through them, to make sure there are no printing errors or loose pages from the bindery. If there are reject books, the employees are able to buy the books at 25 cents for hardcovers and 10 cents for paperback. Just that alone is enough to make me stay there!! Hubby will tell me, "tomorrow is the book sale" and I get all giddy waiting for him to come home to see what books he bought. We have gotten everything from the newest Danielle Steele book to an Amish cookbook, to inspirational books to children's books. I have flipped through every page of some of those books and I can't for the life of me figure out why it was rejected! A couple were obvious: a loose page or a banged corner, but most of those books are pristine! Our Christmas shopping is done! :o)

We all have our rough moments where work becomes a drag and then you muddle through it and everything is alright again. I hope this is what Hubby is feeling right now.. just a momentary rough moment and then everything will be OK. This weekend, when he has to go and work overtime, I will be sure to make his favorite foods to take to work, I will not ask anything demanding of him while he is home and will encourage the girls to be good for daddy when he is tired and resting. Or maybe I should be the bitchy wife where he can't wait to go to work and get away from me?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Living Large on a Little

Living on one income as we do, can be frustrating at times. I know it was our choice, and there are no regrets for me staying home to take care of the girls, but it is still difficult when it comes to necessities and luxuries. We are constantly checking the bank account and making sure we don't overspend or having to say, "we can't have that right now, maybe someday." There are a lot of what-ifs and could'ves and should'ves; like if Hubby had been able to find a job sooner before we used up our savings, or we should have waited until a transfer came in, instead of quitting a secure job with benefits for a lower paying job or we shouldn't have bought that used car. Or, or, or, or....

It is a constant struggle not to think negatively and to learn to live without. There are so many things Hubby and I would like to do if money was not an issue. Hubby would love to buy a vintage car to fix up and turn into a classic hot rod car. He would like to get all kinds of "toys" for the yard: tractor, lift, bulldozer, ATV, etc... I would love to fix up my kitchen, gut the whole thing and put in vintage style cabinets, new flooring, new counter tops, turn it into a 50s style kitchen. I'd like to put in a pool for all of us to swim around in and a greenhouse for year-round gardening. But those are all luxuries. We can make do with the cars we have now. The kitchen works just fine, if not easy on the eyes. Someday, I tell Hubby, we will be able to get those things, but not now.

We have learned to appreciate the things we do have. We fix things instead of tossing at the first sign of deterioration. I replace missing buttons and save scraps for rags or rug projects. We make more of our own meals instead of relying on heat-and-serve food kits. We grow food in the garden and save money on groceries. We cut out coupons and look for good deals in the sales ads and stock up on sale items. We have become experts at making multiple stops on one trip to save on gas. We give leftovers to the cats and save a little money on cat food. We take advantage of the free activities out there; the local parks, the library, and the animals we "meet" at yard sales. Hubby says he feels like we have gone backwards in time a little, to the days where nothing was wasted and used over and over until there was nothing left to salvage.

When I am not stressing over how to pay the next car payment or insurance bill, I actually enjoy the challenges of making our money go farther. This is where the yard sales and thrift shops come in handy. This is where I can buy good items for a small fraction of the price. I like to think I am savvy at finding good deals and paying bargain prices for them. I have been wanting to set up a crafting area/school room in a large corner of the basement and have been thumbing through the sales ads for good deals. At a yard sale last week, I scored on getting 2 nearly new base cabinets with double doors, a drawer and slide out shelves for $5 apiece! This will be the base of my crafting island in the basement! I will be looking at the clearance section of counter tops at the hardware stores now for just the right size and color and then we are in business! Can't wait for it all to fall into place! Moments like these make me feel good about the lifestyle we have chosen, and I know that we can keep on doing it. I know that one day, one day, we will get the things we dream of, it'll just take us a little longer than usual.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I have agreed to be interviewed by the lovely Dj Kirkby over at Exquisite Dreams. I have come to enjoy her posts very much and she has become a good blog-friend to me. So I was curious as to what she would ask me. Here goes!

1. What age did I lose my hearing and how did it happen? I come from a deaf family; Mom and Dad are both deaf, my sister is deaf, both grandmothers are deaf, loads of aunties and uncles and cousins are deaf. For me and my relatives, it is genetic. I recall being around the age of 6 or 7 and complaining to Mom that I couldn't hear as well as I usually could, so Mom took me to the audiologist to get my hearing tested and sure enough, there was some loss. I got fitted with my first pair of hearing aids right after we moved to Louisiana so not only was I the "new girl" in school, I was also the "new girl with funny looking things behind her ears". Over the years, my hearing gradually lessened and now it is at the point where I am wearing the strongest and loudest hearing aid available for my level of deafness. I am classified as 'profoundly deaf' and once I take off my hearing aid, my world goes silent. I'm ok with it. I always knew that one day I wouldn't be able to hear anymore, and it's not a big deal for me. As long as I still have my other senses, everything is going to be alright!

2. How did Hubby and I meet? We both started working for the post office on the same day in November 1995. We were in the training room with about 15 other people and I remember looking at him talking with another guy and figuring out that they were both military men at one point. We got put together on different jobs once in a while and we would talk from time to time. He was engaged to another girl and I had no interest in him at all. Then in August of 1996, I missed about a month of work; bronchitis the first week, laziness the second week, my sister's wedding the third week (I was her maid of honor), and laziness the fourth week. I got a letter from my supervisor that said if I didn't return by such and such date, I would be fired. I showed up the following day and saved my job. During the month I was gone, would-be-hubby missed me and asked my Mom (worked at the post office too) where I was and if I quit. Mom assured him I'd be back and I was sick. After I came back, he started hanging around more and we talked more and then one day he told me that he was going to dump his girl and ask me out! I refuse to be "the other woman" and I told him so. Sure enough, he dumped her and asked me out in November. We got engaged on Jan 2, 1997. Got married May 1998 and have been happy ever since.

3. What is my favorite recipe? Oooooo... This is a tough one. I love food. I love making food. I love eating food. If you gotta eat, eat good. I thought long and hard on this one and I can't pick just ONE. I have all kinds of favorites-- favorite dessert, favorite breakfast, favorite dinner, favorite cookie..... So that's what I'll do: list several favorites (all made by me, not store bought or from a restaurant).
  • favorite cookie-- oatmeal raisin with pecans tied with white chocolate macadamia nut
  • favorite dessert-- white chocolate raspberry cheesecake
  • favorite breakfast-- apple raisin cinnamon rolls
  • favorite sandwich-- BLT! (bacon, lettuce, tomato)
  • favorite dinner-- [this could go on into sub-categories but I'll pick one] beef and vegetables stir fry

4. What is my greatest hope for the future? I hope that my girls get to grow up and achieve their dreams and be happy in whatever they decide to do. I hope they find their soul mates and have someone to share their lives with. I hope that this world can heal and improve for my children, their children and their children's children. I hope that I can grow old with my husband and that I never have to live without him. I hope that I can teach my girls to treat others with kindness and to love deeply and to let things go. I hope that there will always be goodness in this world and that my girls will know that people are not without hope.

5. How has becoming a wife and mother changed me? I never thought that I would enjoy being a wife so much. I never saw a marriage that was so good that I wanted to have one just like them. But since Hubby and I moved in together, we have only been apart maybe a total of one month in more than 10 years. When I am without him, I am miserable. When he goes to work, I count the hours til he gets home. My sister told me before I married Hubby that we would get sick of each other: we drive together, work together, home together. I told her with confidence that we wouldn't and to this day, we love being together. I can do things on my own, I am not so helpless that I cannot function without him, but I don't want to be without him and he tells me he feels the same about me. Then becoming a mother has made me want to do better. For both myself and my children. I don't want to spoil them with sugary sweets and chemically enhanced foods. I want them to have a free and simple childhood, away from all the modern electronic games and toys. Since becoming a mother, I have not spent a single night away from my children. We rarely have a babysitter and take our children everywhere we go. Why have children if you aren't going to take care of them? (please note that this is my lifestyle and I am aware that what works for us might not work for others, more power to you.) I once dreamed of being an on-the-go mother with a nanny to help with the children and I have become the complete opposite, which is fine by me! I take care of my husband, my children and my home and I am a better woman for it. I am a happy woman and I can't imagine my life any other way.

If you would like to be interviewed by me, let me know and I will send you 5 questions to answer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saved By A Pig!

My two older girls are at the stage in their lives where everything must be "fair". If Oldest gets one, Middle gets one, too. If Middle does something, Oldest has to do it, too. So much of the day I am playing the referee and making sure that things are fair. I try to tell them that not everything in life is fair and in fact, can be downright unfair, but in their little world, they don't understand that.

We went out one day and passed a pond with a large assortment of water fowl-- ducks and geese, swans and their babies. Oldest could see it from her window, but Middle could not. Lots of whining and pouting ensued and I was unable to turn around for Middle to see, too. Tears started rolling down her face and the constant drone of a whine emitted from her mouth. My hearing aid sits behind my right ear, picking up every sound that the girls make in the back seats and amplifies it. This droning whine is extremely irritating to me and it's all I can do not to turn off my hearing aid. I try to think of another area that we can drive by that has a bunch of animals, but nothing comes to mind. I reach back and pat Middle on the knee and tell her that we can see other animals another time, but she is inconsolable and her droning whine only gets louder.

I spot a yard sale and we pull into the drive. I decide to let everyone out so that Middle can try to compose herself and maybe treat her to a small toy or something that catches her fancy. No such luck, it's a small sale and not much to look at. I was just getting ready to put the girls back into their car seats when I happen to look back at Hubby and he is waving at me to come over. There is a silver lining after all!!! They have a pot-bellied pig!! I quickly get Middle back out of her car seat and tell her to run to Daddy. All the girls are full of smiles as they watch Mr. Pig shuffle over and feed him bits of food. They got to pet him and feel his coarse hair, and feel his snout snuffle over their hands. Then the owner pulls out a kitten from the garage and asked if we were interested in taking it home. *gasp!* Now anyone that knows me, knows I have a weak spot for kittens! Oh! It was the cutest little thing, black with white bits, a white face and a black nose, and if it wasn't for the 7 we already have at home, I would have snatched that kitten so fast and gobbled him up! I managed to restrain myself and let each girl pet the kitten before I handed him back to the owners with regrets.

Here is Mr. Pig.

Getting back into the car after our little girls got to see the pig and the kitten was much better. No more droning whine and unhappy tears, and we went off on our merry way again.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Family Woes

My Auntie, Uncle and Mom came down to visit and stay the night. They had such a good time that they stayed an extra night! They all live in the city/suburbs and the temperature where they live is in the high 90s/100s. They figured it would be cooler up here in the mountains (it is) and wanted to get away for a change of pace for a day. We had a good time entertaining them and the girls just ate up all the extra attention they got from having 3 extra people around.

Auntie and Uncle got into a very bad motorcycle accident a year ago and spent the better part of 6 months going to therapy and trying to heal on top of the insurance and medical bill nightmares after such an accident. Auntie broke her legs and sustained a concussion along with bumps, bruises and "road rash". Uncle broke his pelvis and his hand was nearly severed as a passing car drove over his hand. His wrist is shattered and attempts to reconstruct his hand, failed. He now has a rod in his arm to his hand that prevents him from bending it and is permanent. Auntie and Uncle both have enough metal rods and screws inside them to set off the metal detectors at the airports!

They had recently retired in the beginning of the year and Auntie was just beginning to enjoy her retirement. She was highly stressed from her job and it took her several months to wind down and get work out of her system. She had plans to organize her long-neglected house and spend her leisure time working on her craft kits and projects that she had bought over the years. Uncle had 2 motorcycles that he looked forward to riding more often and planned day trips, weekend trips and long distance trips. All those plans went down the drain with the accident.

To make a long story short, Uncle had someone come into the house to make room for a possible wheelchair lift and a makeshift bedroom in the living room with rented hospital beds. The people that came into the house ended up throwing away more than half the contents in the house. Some of those things were not in the way but got thrown out anyway. Much of it was irreplaceable-- my Grandmother's belongings from the house Mom and Auntie grew up in; dolls from when they were little 50+ years ago; genealogy research papers; deed to the house; financial paperwork; their wedding album and photos; bottom halves of Tupperware containers but not top halves- thereby making what is left, useless; all food: spices, pantry items, freezer items; and so much more. Auntie discovers daily something else gone and gets upset all over again. They were told to "pretend they lost their items in Katrina". WTF?? They were told "the stuff in the basement was moldy and wet from a leaky pipe". There was no leaky pipe AND half the stuff that got tossed was on the upper floors, in the bedrooms, in the living room, the kitchen.

Poor Auntie and Uncle now have to drag their poor, barely healed, broken bodies to the stores to replace some of the items they need. On top of all the physical pain from the accident, they now have the emotional pain of being betrayed and losing valuable items. They were told the stuff that was tossed was "really not worth very much", but I can go to the antique stores and find blue ball jars for $15 apiece, I can find similar antique sideboards that matched the claw foot dining table selling for $1500 and up, I can find antique porcelain dolls for $100 and up... the list can go on and on... Auntie feels disgusted and violated and wants to move and start over again. She cocoons herself in her bedroom for most of the day because going into the living room or the kitchen depresses her. One day she finally felt like making some spaghetti for dinner, only to find that her pots and pans have been thrown out too. She bought some brand new towels and had not yet taken the tags off them before the accident happened. The towels are gone. Her favorite brand of perfume that was discontinued and she spent weeks hunting down the last few bottles she could find, gone. They were told that they were "hoarders" because they had more than 2 bars of soap. What's wrong with buying a 10-pack of soap that's on sale? What's wrong with stocking up a little on sale items, especially now that they are retired and living on a limited budget?

My heart aches for Auntie and Uncle. My heart weeps for all the anguish they are going through. And yes, I am just a little disappointed that I don't get the fun of going through all those things that were in the basement from my Grandmother's house. My mother doesn't get to pass on her dolls to her granddaughters. My Auntie and Uncle don't get to enjoy their retirement because all her craft projects and quilting fabrics were tossed, the expensive sewing machine she just bought and still in the box was taken out of the box, but the box, attachments and instruction book was tossed. Most of his books and movies were tossed.

So, Uncle thought a day in the country was just what Auntie might need. She was not surrounded with constant reminders of what is missing and instead focused on playing with her great-nieces. She melted from a tired, unhappy Auntie into a happy little girl, giggling and laughing with my girls. They stayed another night because they were enjoying themselves and because Hubby and I said,"please please stay another night. Don't go." They left late this morning and we told them they were always welcome to come back and stay again. We enjoy having them here and it was no bother at all to make extra food or feeling put out because there was company here. Mom was tempted to stay another day, but she will be here again for a week at the end of August. It was sad to see them go, but I was happy to see Auntie and Uncle laugh, to see them eat well, and to play with the little ones. I hope they come back again, soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Then and Now

I was lucky enough as a child to have 2 cats that didn't seem to mind when I pretended they were my babies. We had a cross-eyed Siamese cat named Kitty Cat and a white, deaf cat named Snowball. I could wrap them up in blankets, shove a bottle in their mouths and they would not protest. No scratching or biting, they seemed to understand that I was a little human and didn't know any better. But Dad told me once that he tried to do the very same thing I did and he got howled at and scratched. Dad also told me that I would put doll clothes on Snowball and he would lie there, looking pitiful, but he humored me.

This photo above is me and my "baby" Kitty Cat in 1979 when I was 5.

Flash forward nearly 30 years to the present and my girls are fortunate enough to have a cat that takes their abuse without a single complaint. Archie will accept his fur being pulled, being carried by his paws, getting dressed in baby clothes and whatever else my girls will dream up. I will stop their playing if Archie runs away and hides under the table in the sun room, otherwise, I remind them to be nice and not to be too rough.
Here, the girls are pretending to give Archie a bath.
I love when the girls choose to play and use their imaginations and it is even better when we have a cat that will play along and give my girlies such pleasure when they pretend he is their baby. They also like to wrap Archie in a blanket and stick him in their toy stroller and wheel him around and around in the basement. There are so many chances for him to escape and run, but he doesn't, so I truly think he enjoys the attention from the girls.
I like to think of this as an example of the never ending cycle of life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Plain ol' Me

DJ Kirkby tagged me with an interesting meme.. to take a self-portrait of when I wake first thing in the morning, before I put anything on, no make-up, no fixing of the hair, nothing. A 'come as you are' sort of picture. The only trouble with that is, I don't wear make-up and I don't fix up my hair, unless you count pulling it into a pony tail everyday. I don't even comb my hair. So I basically look like I woke up all day long.

I am the most natural person you've ever met.. My clothing staples are jeans and v-neck t-shirts with Birkenstock sandals. I wash with plain old shampoo and soap. No lotions or moisturizers, no perfumes, no hair or facial products. Just deodorant (if I remember!). I don't do this as a conscious choice, it's just the way I am. I remember in school, I had a roommate that was not beautiful but pretty in her own way. She always had make-up on and her hair was always styled just so. She always had a boyfriend and was a girly girl. I never saw her any other way until one morning, I woke before my alarm went off. My roommate was just out of the shower and standing with her back to me in front of her closet. She turned around and I nearly freaked! She was horrible looking! I was shocked! All I could think of was that she needed make-up to look the way she did. I determined then and there, that I looked pretty enough the way I was and I didn't need to add all that make-up to change my looks. Through my school years, I saw plenty of other girls without their make-up and it was always a shock to see them 'unmasked'.

I take a shower at night, before I go to bed, because that is the only time I can shower without 3 little ones whipping open the curtains and begging to come in the shower with me. I have showered with all 3 in the tub and it is no fun for me, but the girls are full of giggles laughing at Mommy's butt and hairy coochie. Then they compare boobies and of course I always win for having the biggest pair. I don't need the laughing because my twisted mind will turn their harmless giggles into menacing, mean laughter: HA HA, LOOK AT MOMMY'S JIGGLY BUTT AND HER SAGGING BOOBIES. So, showers at night, in peace. I towel-dry my hair and plop into bed without combing it, and when I wake, my hair is dry with no tangles. Don't ask me how, it just doesn't tangle. I think it is too straight to tangle and after 3 perms that failed to turn my hair into luscious curls, not even a skimpy wave, I give up.
For special occasions, I'll wear a little lipstick, mascara and eye-liner, but that's about it. I'll whip out the dusty hair dryer and the old can of Aqua Net hairspray 'super hold' and my hairbrush that I've had since my school days. I am much happier to be walking around barefoot in my raggy t-shirts and jeans and my hair in a ponytail, though I have been known to complain about how boring my hair is, always in a ponytail. Without further ado, here I am, first thing in the morning...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Shining Moments!

I'm starting to get a little sunburn with all the spotlights shining on me!! I am enjoying basking in the limelight here and I have all of you to thank for that! Several things have happened.. First, DJ Kirkby has awarded me a 'Thoughtful Blogger Award', then I got another "Thoughtful Blogger Award' from the Good Woman. A couple days ago, I got a comment on my 'Yard Sale Treasures 2' post from Blog Interviewer wanting to interview me! Me! Then I get a 'Courageous Blogger Award' from both Darth Sardonic and Lady MacLeod.

First, let me explain about Blog Interviewer. They asked me to submit an interview and I had to answer various questions about me and my blog. They then posted a view of my blog, the questions and answers and a link back to here. There is also voting. The blog that receives the most votes gets, well, bragging rights, but also a $50 prize! I'm not much of a braggart, but the $50 prize would be nice! Think of all the goodies I could buy at the yard sales! Or I could buy some more canning jars! I could look at it as getting paid to write! Ok, so it's a one-time thing, but still.. I can dream!! Please, go over there and vote for me, you can vote daily, only once a day, but vote for me! Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with a cherry on top? [I'm on my knees now] Please please please! Click on the link on the right sidebar and it'll take you right to my interview and voting box. Thanks to all who vote for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now to hand out some awards to some very deserving bloggers...

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is defined as Bloggers who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for all of those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping others bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.

There are so many of you that are thoughtful and helpful and just all around great! The award goes to:

Blue Yonder because although I only recently started reading her blog, she has already helped me. She told me where I could find some art cards that she had posted about and then just her posts alone have given me ideas on things to do with my family. I already borrowed several of her ideas and she totally deserves this award.

To I Am Bossy because she writes tutorials on various subjects and puts it in such a way that you learn and laugh and it sticks in your head because you laughed! She makes learning FUN! How many times have we gone to class in school with a stuck-in-the-mud type teacher and walk away not learning a single thing, but go to a class with a cool, hip teacher who uses out of the ordinary to teach and makes it fun? That's Bossy. Bossy is that cool teacher you had in school.

The Courageous Blogger Award is defined as bloggers who are battling or have battled with physical and mental illness, those who are survivors of abuse, poverty, or who have overcome other challenges in life. Those who serve in the military or work/volunteer in dangerous situations in order to provide a service or to help others. This award is for the strong, the brave, and the courageous.

Darth Sardonic said it best: "Isn't it funny how the person that is a hero to someone else, usually thinks of themselves as simply doing what needs to be done." How very true.. I am just doing what needs to be done. I don't think of my deafness as stopping me from life, but yes, it does keep me from doing and enjoying certain things. But there is so much more out there to make up for it that there is no use in crying, "woe is me". This award goes to:

Laronda because she is telling her story, chapter by chapter about how she became deaf and the struggles she went through as a parent. Her story is so different from mine, because while I was born with a hearing loss, she lost her hearing as a teen. I can only imagine her heartbreak and her loss. She doesn't let that stop her and enjoys life in other ways.

Also to DJ Kirkby because she has a lovely autistic son who she tries to raise as normal as she can while at the same time knowing and accepting that he is different. She writes of her battles with him sometimes, but also of those moments where everything is so right and so perfect that you can't imagine a life any other way.

That's all for now.. Thanks to all for your awards and Congratulations to the others on your new awards. Copy the badges and post them on your blogs proudly, because you truly deserve it! XO

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sex Ed. 101 for Women

When I got pregnant for the first time, I don't know about you, but I was, all of a sudden, worried about my appearance down there. I didn't want all the OB-GYNs, and whoever else, to see an unruly mass of curly pubic hair. And while I am sure they have seen hundreds, probably thousands of vaginas, they haven't seen mine. But what was I going to do? I was NOT going to get a Brazilian Bikini Wax! Oh no, spread my legs wide open for a total stranger to see me in all my hairy glory?? Bite my tongue to keep from screaming as she rips my hair out with hot wax? No, thank you.

It was time to give myself an old-fashioned trimming. Once, in college, all the girls talked about shaving themselves bald. My next door suite-mate said she even let her boyfriend do it for her. [commence blushing and giggling!] So I tried it. Grabbed a razor and some shaving cream and then nervously shaved my coochie, praying to the She-God that I don't give myself a razor cut and bleed to death and then my epitaph would say, "She died while shaving her vagina." After that, I spent the next 2 weeks itching like crazy as the hair grew back, sharp and pokey. I wasn't going to do that again! I felt like a guy, constantly reaching down there, adjusting and scratching, hoping nobody saw me.

Anyway, there I was, in my bathroom getting ready to give myself a pubic haircut. I took my clothes off, sat down on the edge of the tub and angled a mirror to see my hairy coochie. What I saw nearly knocked me to the floor. What is that?!? That's not my coochie! What happened to my nice, pink vagina? Where did this purpley-red swollen thing come from? No one told me that when you get pregnant your vagina morphs into a purple blob! After I made a panicky appointment with the OB-GYN, she assured me that I was absolutely normal and after I had the baby, my vagina would eventually return to "normal". Normal being pink, stretched-out vagina.

Round 2, after the OB-GYN appointment where I was told that my purpley-red vagina was normal, I still thought I needed a trim, as if a nice pubic haircut would offset the Blob down there. So I grit my teeth and grab the scissors and start hacking away. I'm not sure if I improved the landscaping but I felt better about it. Finally my long pubic hair wasn't getting caught in the underwear and pulling a lone hair that can bring a charging mama elephant to her knees. You know the feeling, I know you do! A hot, sweaty vagina that's all purpley-red and swollen with crazy hair going every which way and getting tangled in the underwear and then you sit and one little hair gets yanked. Yow! It's all you can do not to reach down there and rip off your underwear. Oh no, like polite little girls, we shuffle to the bathroom as fast as we can without running, where we lock ourselves into the bathroom stall, reach inside the underwear and free that lone hair. Ahhh!

After having my 3 babies and exposing my vagina to at least 50+ people, I feel a little more braver about a Brazilian Bikini Wax. It is something I'd like to try and then I can check that off my 'Curious List'. But now you "Non-Mamas" know... when you get pregnant, not only does your belly grow and give you stretch marks (unless you're one of the lucky ones and get none), not only do your hormones go wild and turn you into a hungry, ice cream-craving (insert your food craving here) lunatic, not only do you get that "pregnant glow", not only do your boobs get bigger (yay!) and sore (boo!), not only do some of you get varicose veins on your legs, you also get a purpley-red blob for a vagina. Don't panic, it does return to normal. Stretched-out normal!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Yard Sale Treasures 2

We went yard sale-ing last Sunday and also stopped at an indoor Flea Market in Hancock, Md, about an hour drive from home. It's a great little place to stop at, with a pizza place and an antique mall next door. I've only just took the time to go through the bags and boxes of goodies and took pictures before I put them away in their new homes.
This is a lovely salt-glazed ceramic cookie jar that I picked up for $5 at a yard sale. Absolutely perfect condition and just needed a wash!
Here is a MINT set of Pyrex refrigerator dishes. I have not seen such a perfect set and they look like they were never used! I have a bunch of these and use them not only for leftovers, but to store buttons and craft things. I picked up the set for $5 at the same yard sale as the cookie jar!
Here is a jumble of odds and ends from an Old Man's house. Picked up a nifty little suitcase ($.50) that I plan to re-line with new fabric and use for storage. Some various linens: a green sheet ($.50) I will tear into strips for a rag rug, vintage race car curtains ($.50) that I will hem and put into the garage for Hubby's shop area (I showed the curtains to Hubby's Mom and she said Hubby had the exact same set in his room as a little boy!! Cool!), and a cute plaid tablecloth ($1). 2 vintage PEZ dispensers ($.10 each) that Hubby and I both collect and starting to amass quite a collection of. Jar of buttons and a great heavy glass bowl with lid and more buttons ($3). The cutest pair of daisy S&P shakers! ($1) A cool vintage recipe card box for $.25 and a lonely aluminum pepper shaker that the Old man tossed in for free.
Here are some old stove burner grates that I plan to convert into trivets. Glue a little cork on the bottoms and voila! Picked these up for $1 apiece.
And finally, some cute ceramics-- A puppy waiting by the mailbox planter for $1 and a duck creamer for $.25.

I love yard sale-ing and this weekend is the 450 mile-long yard sale in Tennessee through Alabama on RT 127. Hubby and I wish, wish, WISH we could go, but time and money is a factor. Maybe next year... sigh. We think it'll be a little easier not to have the girls along with us because 450 miles of yard sales equal a lot of walking and getting in and out of the car. I don't know about you, but buckling and unbuckling 3 car seats every 15 minutes would be a pain in the ass. We would be better off arranging Grandparents to babysit for a weekend so Hubby and I would be free to shop and have more room in the car to load up bargain buys! In the meantime, our local paper has a long list of yard sales for today and tomorrow so we will be happy making the rounds here. We already went out this morning and found some great stuff! Educational books to stock the Home School Library; small puzzles for the puzzle-fiend in Oldest; a nifty, vintage child's picnic basket for Middle; a toy vacuum cleaner and popper for Youngest; a train car for Hubby's model trains and a whole box of Fire King dishes for $1! Whoo-hoo! Can't wait to see what tomorrow's yard sales bring!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Creatures, big and small..

A while back, I was telling Lindystar that I had a cat that only drank his water from a water gun or a squirt bottle. I told her I would post the pictures and here they are! (Forgive the grainy blurry bits, please!)

When BC was a kitten, we had his two brothers and sister to watch, too. 4 kittens are a hand full so we bought a water gun to "shoot" at the kittens when they were getting into something they shouldn't. You know; scratching on the furniture-- squirt! Climbing the curtains-- squirt! Nibbling too hard on my toes-- squirt! But for BC, it caught his attention more than it chased him away. After licking the water off his fur, he wandered over to investigate the water gun. Squirt! He jumped, but came back and licked the area where the water shot out from. Squirt! Lick. Squirt! Lick, lick. And so it went..

He is now 7 years old and so spoiled, he will not drink water from anything else. We switched from a water gun to a squirt bottle as it seemed kind of weird to see a cat clutching a gun and licking the end of the barrel. Every night, when hubby comes home from work, BC will meow in the kitchen, demanding his daily dose of squirted water. This squirting and licking practice goes on for about 5 minutes, until BC has had enough. He will only drink out of the water bowl if he is practically dying of thirst, there is no water in the dirty dishes in the sink and there is no one around to squirt water at him. Oh, and in case you are wondering, BC stands for black cat.

Yesterday. Hubby found and caught a toad to show the girls. Squeals of delight as Hubby made the toad "talk".

"Hey, who turned out the light?" toad said while cupped inside of Hubby's hands. "Oh look, an opening to jump through." and Hubby barely caught it in time before it landed 3 feet on the hard floor. We put it in an empty flower pot so the girls could look at it better and after several escape attempts, Hubby put him back where he found it.

In the garden yesterday, I found this fuzzy caterpillar munching on the watermelon vines. Oldest quickly snatched him away and giggled when Fuzzy tickled his way all over her arms and hands. Middle shrieked and wanted to hold him, too, but every time Fuzzy came near, she ran away screaming! She is such a girl! Oldest will pick up just about any bug and Middle will watch from a safe distance of 10 feet away, or peek a closer look from behind my legs. Youngest just wants to grab it and squish it! We are having lots of fun discovering bugs and animals around here!