Thursday, September 27, 2007


I must be one of those moms that thrive on doing multiple things at the same time. I swear I don't like doing a bunch of projects at the same time, but it seems I have become one of those multi-tasking mommies. I am working for the consignment shop (which is really a temporary full time job) while taking care of the girls while staying on top of laundry while sorting through the toys and too-small clothing to sell while picking wild grapes while keeping up with this blog. I am off tomorrow and really have to finish working on the toys and other items that we are getting rid of, because the store opens next week! You would think I would cancel everything and concentrate on only sorting and pricing items, but no. I am also thinking of picking more wild grapes and extracting the juice, I am thinking of art projects we can do with the girls outside. I am thinking of making some fresh bread to go with dinner tomorrow. Who is this person I have become? I need to keep it simple and stop to smell the daisies (or fallen leaves)!

It's crazy at the store. We have over 25,000 items to sort and put away. We have gotten so many clothes that Boss Lady had to order more racks. We couldn't keep up with the clothing from the consignors so we had to stack clothing on the floor to empty the rolling racks for more clothing. We are done receiving (whew!) and are now playing catch up, trying to finish tagging the tags to the clothing and then cutting the strings off and then organizing by size and gender, Halloween costumes, formal wear, winter coats, holiday outfits and maternity. This doesn't include the huge piles of books, movies, games, toys, bedding, furniture, shoes and more! Boss Lady is starting to panic a little bit and we keep telling her we can get it done before we open next week. I hope we can get it done, because even I have doubts. Lots of volunteers have been no-shows and it has been mostly staff doing all the grunt work.

In between the work, though, we are all constantly "shopping". Taking mental notes of cute outfits and hoping you remember where it was put so you can buy it later on. Scanning toys for something special, or there! The toy you've been looking for but didn't want to pay the $100 it cost new at the toy store and now you can get for a mere $25. Oldest running up to me with a model duck painting kit, begging me to let her buy it. Middle lugging around a Dora doll with magically growing hair. Youngest having fun playing, not understanding the shopping concept, just yet. I am on a budget this time, limiting the spending to $100. In the past, the total bill usually hovers around $400, spending about $300 on staff shopping night, and then additional things picked up here and there before the end of the sale. This time, I need to be strict with myself and only buy what is really needed: All the girls need new shoes, there is a small trampoline that will be perfect for the basement and hopefully will draw attention away from the poor couch, and I also saw a home schooling kit that I need to inspect closer and see if it is worth getting. A few new outfits for each child and if there is any money left, some books and games.

I picked grapes and extracted the juice, but will save the jelly-making for another day when I am not so busy. I have the juice in the freezer and will probably make the jelly after the store opens and I am not needed for that. Thank you all for coming back to read and being patient with my fewer postings. I love reading your comments and try to reply to all of them.

By the way: Hubby looked up the snake I caught in the basement and it looks like it was a black rat snake. Harmless, but does excrete a smell when disturbed and becomes quite tame in captivity. I didn't smell anything when I caught it, so maybe I was gentle with it. The markings were identical to the picture in our reptile field guidebook, so I hope it wasn't a Boa Constrictor like Lindy suggested it was. Yikes!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall's Surprises

The cats get locked up in the basement sometimes. We keep the door shut when there is no one down there, so that there are no accidental falls down the stairs. There's no litter box in the basement, so when I am home without Hubby and I cannot hear the cat meowing through the door and they "gotta go", they do their business on the floor. It happens. Oh well. I clean it up and spray some bleach on the concrete and it's forgotten. I went down to do the laundry today and I saw BC the cat pawing around something and a quick glance told me it was a nice swirl of poop. After loading the washer, I grabbed the paper towels and the bleach. A step closer and **GASP!!** It was a nice swirl of snake! OMG! OMG! OMG! O! M! G! I dropped the paper towels and the bleach and quickly looked around for something I could use to catch it with. I spotted the wood stove shovel and thought at 3 feet, that it was too short and I didn't want Mr. Snake to jump and bite me. I have no idea what kind of snake it is, and I don't want to find out the hard way that it bites and it's poisonous! I spot my pile of dirty laundry and see a pillow case. *bingo!* I see on TV all the time the snake wranglers using pillow cases! I quickly run and grab one and think twice about using my pretty flowered vintage one, drop that and grab the bag that the girls flannel Cinderella sheets came in. Priorities, right?
Shooing BC aside, he has the snake's tail under his paw and the snake is still curled into a coil, I drop the open end onto the snake, carefully lift under it and ta-dah!! The snake is in the bag! I was quite proud of myself. Wait til I tell Hubby when he gets home! I think to myself. I consider saving it and waiting until he gets home to dispose of it, or take it out into the woods and let him go. I choose the latter and walked out to the far edge of our property. The girls followed me half way until I threatened them with, "The snake might jump and bite you when he sees you!" Of course I remembered to take my camera along so I could take a picture and look up the markings and figure out what kind of snake it is. It looks like it was a young one, less than 2 feet long, thank goodness! Oldest asked me if it was a rattler and I was more than happy to say it wasn't! If you know what kind of snake this is, please let me know.

I realize with the cooler weather, the snakes are looking for someplace warm to hibernate. Hopefully we won't see anymore snakes in the house. After I sent Mr. Snake on his way, the girls wanted to go and see the wild grapes we have growing in the front yard. This is what we found:

They never got this big before and I am thrilled to see so many grapes!! I looked them up and they are edible and so I tasted them and they are sweet!! They are only a little bigger than 1/4 inch, but they pack some flavor!! I'm thinking of grape jelly! Or maybe grape juice! Mmmmm! Too late today to make some, but when I take my day off on Wednesday, I think we will be picking some grapes and try to make something with them. Maybe a little bit of both, juice and jelly. They are made almost the same way, but the juice sits for 24 hours and then you ladle the top off and can. The jelly is made with pectin and sugars and simmered then canned. I'll see how many grapes we get and go from there. I see a tutorial in my future!

Hope you all had a good weekend, the next time I post will be Wednesday! Have a good week!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dishtowel People

I didn't go in to work today because Middle and Youngest are sick and Oldest is getting the sniffles. I didn't want to bring them in to work with me and spread their germy germs and get the other kids there sick, too. I couldn't leave them home with Daddy because he had some job leads to follow up on. So we stayed home and I was able to do battle with the growing pile of laundry, make banana bread with perfectly over-ripe bananas and made dishtowel people with the girls. I have an old activity book for kids and Oldest was thumbing through it when she came upon a page that showed how to make dolls from a hankerchief. Well, I certainly don't have any hankerchiefs lying around so I switched it to dishtowels. Aren't they cute??
Here's how to make 'em:
Spread out your dishtowel.
Roll up both ends til they meet in the middle.
Fold in half.
Turn around and carefully unravel the top half.
Roll up the unraveled top half.
Carefully flip over.
Tie the rolled up ends over. Presto!! Dishtowel person!
Oldest drew their faces on with a permanent marker. I'll have happy face towels when they are done playing with their people.
Between wiping noses, chasing after Middle with a dropper full of cough medicine, and rocking a whiny Youngest to sleep, it was a productive day. I'll be escaping tomorrow and heading back to work while Hubby stays home with the girls. Hopefully they are feeling better in the morning and they can have fun with Daddy. They don't look sick in the picture, but that's because I wiped all their snotty noses first and they are just beginning their sugar high after snacking on some fruit snacks. They crashed and burned shortly after this was taken and it wasn't pretty.
Won't be posting again until next week! Have a great weekend!

Shoo Trouble! Go Away!

You know how they say trouble comes in threes?? I sure hope that's true because I can't take anymore!

First, last week, I wrote about how I twisted my ankle. The swelling is down some, but it hasn't gone away completely, thanks for asking. Sunday, my boss at the store asked me to come in that day to help a customer bring in 7,500 clothing items. Even though it was my birthday, I was happy to come in and help and earn a little extra money. I walked in and saw bin after bin after bin full of clothing. Whoa! So that's what 7,500 pieces of clothing look like! After we get them on the racks, we have to scan the bar codes and enter the price before we roll them down to the permanent racks. While I was pulling a rack full of clothing to the permanent racks, the wheel caught my heel (I was wearing my ever present Birkenstocks) and sliced my heel open. Ouch ouch ouch!! I look down and a good two inches of skin is hanging down and blood trickles down my heel. Oh dear. I spent the rest of the evening limping and favoring my poor twisted ankle that now sports a cut on the heel.

Then on Monday, while at the parking lot of the store that I am working at, Oldest slammed the sliding van door on my left middle finger. I screamed like a girl (oh wait, that's cuz I am a girl) and had to reach over with my right hand to grab the door handle and open it. **commence hopping around waving finger in the air** I had to remind myself to breathe and not scare the little ones who are watching mommy go a little nuts. I know Oldest didn't do it on purpose and, in fact, I remember slamming the car door on my own mother's finger when I was little. So I guess it's karma for me. But I hope it's true, that trouble comes in threes.

My boss at the store is not being very nice to me. I walked in on Tuesday and a big sign said "Free kittens to a good home" **gasp!** Now you guys know that kittens are my weakness. Don't the 7 cats we have here tell you anything about that?? So of course I made the mistake of peeking in on the 2 kittens and I'm smitten. I am smitten for the kittens. Looks like one of them may be deaf! Agh! That doesn't help matters! A deaf cat for a deaf girl! How perfect could that be?! All day I slip in and out of the closed office that the kittens are locked up in and sit on the floor and play with them. Snap my fingers and make kissy sounds to see if the cat hears me, or even moves his ears towards the sounds I make. Nothing. He cries a lot, I think because he can't hear himself crying and doesn't realize he is doing it, but he cries enough that he has earned the name, Crybaby. Ohh, I'm smitten, I tell you!

Now that I am home, I took the day off today, I have come to my senses. The kittens have lost their hold on me and I am awake and alert and I am NOT taking a kitten home. No! I am NOT smitten with the kittens! (repeat 100 times: I am NOT smitten with the kittens! I am NOT smitten with the kittens...) Seriously, we have 7 cats already and don't need anymore. Eventually we just want to have 2 cats after all of these go on to cat heaven in their own time, when they're ready, when they are old and grey, rocking in their little cat rocking chairs. I sent my boss an email telling her that no, I will NOT be taking a kitten home with me and when I go back to work, I will make it a point to avoid the office where the kittens are. Kittens? What kittens?

My next post will be in a few days from now. I'll be working daily until Sunday when I take the day off to recuperate and recharge for Monday and the rest of the week. Thanks to all of you for checking in with me and for wishing me a happy birthday. Dj Kirkby gave me a lovely birthday present: a Nice Matters award. I'll post it later and pass it on when I have more time to write. Til next time!

Friday, September 14, 2007

End of the Week Wrap-up

I am up and about with barely a limp in my ankle. It is still swollen, but I can walk on it and put my full weight on it. I struggle a little with the stairs and I certainly can't run and chase after the girls, but I am at least, without pain for most of the day.

It has been a busy week and a day off with a twisted ankle didn't help matters none. Next week, I start my part-time gig at a twice-a-year children's consignment store. I go in 3 or 4 times a week and take the girls along with me. It is 1 1/2 hours drive one way so I try to get there about 10am and stay until it is time to put the girls to bed at 9pm. They sleep on the way home and I can just toss 'em in their beds when we arrive. I bring a lunch and then dinner is usually provided, and the girls keep amused with all the toys that are there. Must be heaven for them to play with toys they don't have at home. There are other children there for them to play with and they have been looking forward to seeing some of the other kids they know. I have been working at the consignment shop for about 4 years now, every Spring and Fall for about 6 weeks each time. It's a nice little gig, sorting through consigned items, organizing books and movies, and getting out of the house! I sell my own stuff there, too, and as a worker, I get to shop first before the public gets to shop.

All this translates into me not posting very much starting next week, as I will be too pooped from working all day and then having to drive there and back as well. I don't know how you working mothers do it and you have my respect! I'll be working for 3 weeks and then I'll get a break while the store is open to the public and then return for another week of work. If you'd like to see where I work, check out this link where she has a website: .

It's my birthday on Sunday, so we are headed into the city on Saturday for a joint birthday party for my Father-in-Law and me. There will be family on both sides there, so it should be lots of fun! How can you not have fun when there is cake and ice cream involved? Yum! Afterwards, we will be stopping at a HUGE thrift shop nearby and I will do my birthday shopping there! I kid you not, the place is HUGE, bigger than huge, HUMONGOUS!! It's every thrift store lover's dream place! I'll bring my camera along and snap a picture. Seriously, it's a must to stop by when we are in the area! Hopefully I'll find some good loot! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Perils of Motherhood

Today was library day for me and the girls. Every Wednesday, the local library has story time for children and after reading a few books, little projects. Once was a paper bag puppet, another was coloring in big pictures of classic stories.. A really nice change of pace for the girls, to get out of the house and interact with other kids their age. I was running a little late and we got there just as the volunteer started to read the first book. I was relieved when, after we got there, a few other moms came rushing in with their kids in tow. Whew, I'm not the last late-comer!

All 3 of my girls sat on the rug and listened to the stories, and I went and returned the books we got last week and checked out some more books. I am parked in front of the library, on the street, with a parking meter ticking away and I knew that after project time was over, my time would be up on the meter. After the books were read, the children pasted some pictures together, colored them, then put stickers all over some paper baskets. After they finished decorating their baskets, the girls got little angels and boys got toy cars.

Heading out the door, with Youngest in my arms, Middle holding my hand, and a bag of books flung over my shoulder, Oldest was left to follow. "Stay close, honey, I don't want you running into the busy street." I get the back passenger door open and plop Youngest in her car seat and look back to make sure I still see 2 little girls behind me. Oldest announces she has to go to the bathroom. argh! "Why didn't you say anything before we left the library?" I turn to click the last buckle on Youngest's car seat and then turn to see only one little girl behind me. I panic and tell Middle to stay where she is and I dash behind the car, thinking Oldest went back there. I step off the curb and onto the uneven pavement, twist my ankle and crash to the street, landing on my butt and hand. I look at the oncoming traffic and am relieved the closest car is at least 3 blocks away. Oldest is nowhere to be seen. Looking at the glass sliding doors of the library, I suspect Oldest went back in to go to the bathroom, but with my ankle throbbing and 2 little ones with me, I am in no shape to run in and check. I hobble over to Middle who is staring at me with a puzzled look on her face, one that says, why was mommy on the ground? I buckle her in her car seat, keeping my eyes on the library doors and sure enough, the sliding doors open and out walks Oldest. I am hurting too much to get angry and grab her hand to lead her on the street to her side of the car, strap her in and then ease myself into my seat.

"You don't ever go away like that without telling me first. I didn't know where you were and thought you went out into the street! What if someone grabbed you? What if...." I cannot say anymore, I can see Oldest looking at me through the rear view mirror and her eyes are filling up with tears. I tell her, "I love you and I don't want anything to happen to you or your sisters and that you are always to tell me where you are going. Next time, tell me you have to go to the bathroom before we leave the library or store or wherever it is we are." She nods her head and tells me she is sorry.

My ankle is swelling up and I know I am in for some painful driving. I gingerly step on the brake to shift gears and pain shoots up my leg. oh dear.. this is gonna hurt. Biting back the tears, I somehow manage to drive 40 minutes home without bawling like a baby and I am relieved to see Hubby is still at home. Honking the horn as I pull into the drive, I finally burst into tears. Hubby flies over to me and helps me out of the car and I cannot go more than a few steps. I tell him to get the girls and sit on the edge of the well house.

I spent the rest of the day with my butt planted firmly on the couch and my ankle propped on the ottoman. It is properly swollen and looks like I may have some bruising in the morning. Nearly 12 hours later, I can put some weight on it and limp around the house and I think I may be ok for tomorrow, unless it stiffens up in the night. Hubby has been a champ and took over lunch and dinner duties and hovered over me, giving me aspirin, water and whatever else I needed. The girls have all kissed my ankle trying to work their healing powers and I tell them it's going to need more than kisses to feel better (a swig of vodka would do). In the normal course of a day, I rarely get a chance to sit on the couch and just relax. Here, I am finally sitting and all I can think of, is getting up and running around the house. We always want what we cannot have. Ain't that the truth!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Glass of Water, Please

You never know how much you use something and take it for granted until it is taken away from you. Today, we went without water for most of the day. And all day I kept turning on the faucet and remembered as soon as I see no water spouting forth, oh yeah, no water. Living in the mountains mean we use well water. No hook-ups to the city's water system also means we don't have to pay for our water. What it does mean, however, is that if something goes wrong with our well system, then we are on our own until we get it fixed.

A little lesson for those of you not familiar with well water and how it works: There is a well pump that is inside of a shaft that is as deep as the well (ours is 80 feet deep). The pump hangs inside the shaft and is connected to a tube that goes down to the water and another tube that shoots the water into a water tank. You have an electric pressure switch that turns on the pump to fill the water tank as it gets used by people flushing the toilet, washing the dishes, etc. Not too complicated once you figure it all out. At the old house, the water tank and pressure switch was located in the laundry room in the basement. The house we live in now, has a well house that is mostly underground and a big concrete slab that sits on top with an opening just big enough to climb down inside. I can stand up straight in there, but anyone taller than 5 foot, 7 inches has to hunch over when down inside the well house. Not my favorite place to be and I prefer not to be down there in the dark, with the spiders and dampness.

This morning, Hubby noticed the water pressure wasn't very strong, so he was going to go to the well house and give some loving to the pressure switch (read: take a brush and rake the connector), it jams once in a while and we bought a replacement switch, but haven't gotten around to replacing it. Hubby opens the metal lid and out pours smoke!! *gasp!* There was some rain up here and the storm must have triggered a power surge and it set the pressure switch on fire!! After the smoke cleared, Hubby went down to see what the damage was and this was what he found:

The metal electrical parts were totally burned and the grey plastic cover melted!! I'm grateful we have a well house and the smoke was all outside instead of in the basement!! The stench of melted plastic was horrible and I can still smell it on my clothes! We hoped it didn't short out the water tank, but there was only one way to find out-- replace the part, turn the power back on and hope for the best! This is what the cover is supposed to look like (the new one has a black cover, but it's the same thing as the grey melted one):
Hubby took out all the old parts and drew a little diagram to help him remember where the wires go (5 wires in all) and then in the process, he made a goof. He didn't put down which color wires go where! Rather than put the wrong wires in the wrong places, he decided to call the neighbor and ask for help. But, we had to wait for him to come home from work, usually about 3. So I asked the girls not to flush the toilets, used wipes for dirty hands and faces, the dirty dishes piled up in the sink, the water bottles we buy for road trips got broken out and we waited until the neighbor showed up. He had the wires connected in no time and for his trouble I just so happened to have some banana bread to give him that I made the other night.

At around 6:30 pm, we have water again! Too late for a proper dinner, so the girls had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The girls have had their baths, the dirty dishes are still piled in the sink and I am about to drag my stinky self into the shower. I'll tackle the dishes in the morning. Thank goodness for paper plates so the dirty dishes aren't piled too high!

The Mind is Willing...

It's inevitable. We will all grow old. Unless something happens, an accident or health problem, most of us will age and our bodies will wrinkle, our hearing may go, the eyes need glasses, the bones become brittle... When you look at an old person, I mean really old, like 80+, what do you see? Do you just see an old woman or man, or do you see a person that was once young and vibrant but now old?

My dad had an "old moment" not too long ago. He is 61 which is not really old now that I am 33. Didn't our parents seem old when we were kids? Then as we get older and we are the age our parents were when they had kids, we feel quite young, thank you very much! But anyway, my dad saw a grapefruit just above his head in a tree. He looked at it and felt confident he would be able to jump up and reach it with no trouble. He jumped and missed. He jumped again and stretched his arm out as far as he could and missed again. He tried again and his fingertips grazed against the bottom of the grapefruit. He couldn't get it. His mind said he could do it, but his body wouldn't co-operate. He told me that in his younger days, he would have easily gotten it with a simple jump, but his body will no longer perform that way.

My dad was, to me, the strongest man I have ever known. He was always active and athletic, he was a wrestler in school and danced. Mom told me once that he had a beautiful body, lean and muscular, and he did, too. He tanned easily when he worked outside, and he has a great laugh with wide teeth, the teeth that all his brothers and sisters have, that my sister and cousins inherited and I didn't get. He was a welder and lifted heavy steel and iron and other metal. I helped him once in awhile and he would ask me to hold a bar in place and it took all I had to keep it there, but dad made it look so light. Once, Hubby and I were installing a fence and we used t-bar poles and had to bang it into the ground. Hubby and I struggled and heaved a heavy sledgehammer over and over against the top of the t-bars. It took us all morning and most of the afternoon to hammer in about 20 poles. Dad showed up, and using a blocked off pipe for banging t-bars into the ground, hammered the last 15 in under a hour. We were in awe of my dad's strength.

Now, in the last couple of years or so, my Dad has complained of aches and pains. Past injuries have come back to haunt him. A fall off a ladder more than 25 years ago has come back as lower back and elbow pain. His bad knees crack and pop and he cannot kneel for long periods of time. He had to force himself to retire because he couldn't keep up with welding and contorting his body to fit into awkward places and weld a joint while supporting heavy weight at the same time. He and his wife moved to a warmer climate where the cold doesn't seep into his bones and cause him more pain. He had to give up bowling and then golfing because of the twists the body does while throwing the bowling ball and swinging the golf club.

I heard my dad tell me of his aches and pains but didn't really understand. I sympathized but I didn't empathize. But now, as I age myself and I have a few aches that take longer to fade away than it used to, I take longer to bounce back from a twisted ankle, a bruise lingers, I understand a little bit more about aging. I understand the frustration older people feel, their minds willing but their bodies can't. Or their bodies willing but the mind knows: better not or you're going to pay the price tomorrow. How an older person must feel, their minds still feeling as young as ever, but darn it, if they can't see the newspaper unless they hold it 3 feet away, or that pesky hip that keeps popping out when they dance the two-step. To look in the mirror and see a white-haired old lady staring back, wondering where the young girl went. How did the time fly away so fast and why don't the young 'uns put down their beeping noise-boxes and come and visit? To see their children grow up and away, though some may stay, here but not here.

I don't have any grandparents left, they all died when I was young. I was lucky enough to meet Hubby's Grandmothers but both passed away before we had the girls. I want to make sure that our girls get to know their grandparents, to love being with them and to talk with them. I mean really talk, ask them questions about their own childhoods and what it was like when they had us as kids. I want my girls to have compassion for the older folks and to respect them, treat them with kindness and lend an ear. I admit, I tend to shy away from the older folks, not because I don't want to be around them, but I find it hard to understand gravel-ly voices and I struggle to lip read wrinkled mouths and tooth-less words. I need to find me some old deaf people and get to know them, find out what their lives were like, lend my eyes to their hands, full of stories to tell.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hampshire County Heritage Days

The county had an event over the weekend which celebrated the county's heritage. Hampshire County was established 253 years ago in 1754 and is the oldest county in the state. George Washington surveyed the area when he was 16 years old. The county invited people from all over to re-enact life in the 1700's which also included civil war period style of dress, craftsmanship and a civil war battle scene played out down by the river. People who lived in homes built in the 1800's also opened their doors to the public so people could come in and tour the old homes and some even furnished their homes in period furniture. It was a fun weekend and we all learned so much!

When we first got there, we went to an area that was marked 'Colonial Hampshire' and inside and outside were all manner of people dressed in colonial style clothing doing arts and crafts of the period. There was a man that made furniture by hand and he has many of his works on display at Mount Vernon in George Washington's home. He took the time to explain the tools he used and had much of his work for sale. Beautiful hand-carved chairs, benches and tables. The girls fell in love with a child-sized rocking chair, but the price was wayyyyy out of our range (and rightly so!). There was also a couple that made lace by hand and they were so delicate and beautiful. It takes an hour just to make an inch of lace! The girls enjoyed watching them weave their threads to make the lace and we stayed about 15 minutes just watching them in action. Moving on, there was also a display of women spinning wool into thread and then also rug hooking wool strips into pictures and rugs. I was delighted to see this because this has been something I've wanted to try and I could ask my questions: How? What? Where do you get it? What do you use? Thankfully, the woman spinning the wool was entertaining the girls and I was able to talk with another lady about rug hooking. There were also Indians since there were lots of Indians here in Colonial times, but the girls seemed wary of all the war paint and Indian garb they wore, so we didn't stop to talk and ask questions. Maybe next year when Middle doesn't cower behind my legs.

Here, there were some civil war re-enactors and this gentleman above was a very friendly chap that let the girls go into his tent and check out his "home". He slept on a rope cot and had all his belongings in a trunk by the bed. He was a Civil War Paymaster and asked the girls if they wanted to "sign up and join the army?" Oldest and Middle said yes, so he asked them all sorts of questions and one was,"Are you over 18?" Oldest shook her head no. At this, he reached into his traveling desktop and pulled out a paper with the number 18 on it. He told her to step on it and then asked again. "Are you over 18?" He said this was a ploy that many underage kids used to join the army and when asked, they could truthfully say that they were indeed, over 18. He then told the girls that when they join, they get $22 sign-up pay and to report for duty at 3 am! The paymaster called over to the next tent and told him he had 2 new recruits! He gave the girls copies of money that was used and said if they found a place that still took that money, to let him know as he had a lot of it to spend! :0)
Guess who was in the next tent? General Stonewall Jackson and his wife! Their tent was much more fancier with a rug and two cots and minor furnishings. Mrs. Jackson was working on a crocheted doily and the General talked and answered questions.

Over in the kids' activities area, the girls had a chance to make candles! It was a long process, dipping a wick first in a vat of wax, then in a can of cold water. Back and forth, dip in wax, dip in water, dip in wax, dip in water. Finally, the candle was big enough and the candle man snipped off the bottom and sent Oldest on her way. Next to him was a man that dripped ink onto a thick water and wheat bath and then swirled designs in the ink. He asked the girls to pick ink colors and paper colors and then they had their own ink design on paper. I plan to turn the paper into a cover for a little book for the girls. I wanted to shove the man aside and make my own papers and really had to restrain myself!

There were also a few farm animals scattered here and there, miniature horses the girls could pet, alpacas with people demonstrating how to turn their wool into soft clothes and slippers, and a blacksmith showing how to make horseshoes and shoeing the horses. There were basket-weavers, ale-makers, hunters displaying hides and rifles, and so much to see and do! We went both Saturday and Sunday and we didn't see it all! Definitely something we will return to next year!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Favorite Self-Portrait

Freckled Nest is having a "Favorite Self-Portrait" contest. You enter by leaving a comment and a link to a favorite photo of yourself and the prize is a very cool handmade photobooth album. Today is the last day to enter the contest, though, so if you want to enter, hurry! I have a few photos of myself that have always ranked high on my favorites list and it took me this long to decide which one to post. The reason it took me so long is because it isn't exactly a self-portrait but I love the picture! When I lived in Maine, once upon a time, I was a member of the local BJ's Warehouse store and you needed an ID membership to shop there. The picture on my ID is one of my top favorites! So here it is:
Does this count, LA? Does anyone else have a favorite ID photo??

Thursday, September 6, 2007


It's always sad to me when a local store or business closes it's doors for the last time. Edged out by bigger places and cheaper prices, the little guys just can't compete and keep their heads above water. If I can shop local, I will. But I am also guilty of shopping at a big store because of my small budget and cheaper prices. Anyway, the Ben Franklin craft shop in the next town over is going out of business and their last day is on Saturday. They have been advertising in the papers their closing sales and this week is 75% off. As sad as I am to see them go, I am not above saving some money and ran down there to see what they had left at cheap-o prices!

Poor Hubby is sick and not feeling well, so he called in sick at work to stay home and recuperate. I see a silver lining in this: I can shop without having to bring the kids with me!! Should I take pity on the poor husband and let him lie in bed, moaning and groaning, shushing the kids and keeping them away? Ha! When I am sick, I still have to get out of bed and take care of the kids, so if I can do it, he can do it too! Ta-ta Hubby! See ya later alligator! In a while crocodile! (can you tell I don't get out much on my own?) I'm off to the clearance sale! I made him chicken soup from scratch for lunch, ain't that enough?

There is nothing better than driving in a car with no kids calling, "Mom! Moo-oom! Mommy!" I can turn up the radio as loud as I want on the station I want without Hubby going, "Ugh! Country?" Well excuuuuuse me! I happen to like this particular country station because they play the country music from when I was a kid and I can actually recognize the music and sing along. Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire', Crystal Gayle's 'You Make My Brown Eyes Blue', Dolly Parton's '9 to 5', to name a few... My dad was a country music buff and I grew up on all the older country singers. I don't know any of the younger, newer singers of today. But I digress-- I'm talking about driving alone in the car, all by myself, with no one but me in the car, solo! I can actually drive for more than 10 minutes and not have to pull over to pick up a dropped sippy cup and the girls are strapped in their car seats and screaming their heads off because they want the freakin' sippy cup and no, a stuffed toy won't suffice, it has to be the sippy cup, and no, a pretzel just won't do, I'm not hungry, I'm thirsty and I want the sippy cup! I am reaching behind me while I am driving and keeping my eyes on the road and my hand is feeling around on the floor trying to feel for a smooth cup-like shape that must be a sippy cup but instead all I grab is fistfuls of animal cracker crumbs, a sticky spot from spilled juice, a blanket that is getting tangled up around my wrist and a book with the pages all bent and folded from being stepped on. My car is overdue for a clean out, I know, but at the moment I am trying to drive and quiet the cacophony of screams. Finally, I pull over and I find the sippy cup only 2 inches from where my fingers were searching for it. Everybody happy now? I can drive and you all will be quiet now?

Anyway, I am driving alone and loving it! I get to the store and I have a spring in my step knowing I am about to get my hands on some possible bargains and I don't need to worry about the whereabouts of 3 little girls. I find a store that is nearly empty and maybe 15 shelves left of odds and ends. The fabric department is wiped out save for a bolt of ugly woven fabric that I can't possibly find a use for. The scrap booking supplies have dwindled to a few piles of not so pretty paper and a bunch of rubber stamps that I have no use for. Some personalised ornaments and key chains are left but none in names that I know. Anyone know a Samantha or a Xavier? There are some snowman ornaments you might be interested in... I did manage to score some great grosgrain ribbons at 25 cents a yard, so I bought 12 different styles, 10 yards each. They will make some cute belts or handles for some future bag projects I have in mind. I grabbed a planet mobile project set for a future home school lesson for a mere $4. Picked up some snazzy buttons, thread and snaps. And some of those plastic strings for braiding bracelets and key chains with. Remember those? When I was about 8 or 9, I went crazy for those and begged mom to buy me more, more, more so I could make more, more, more. There wasn't much left and I said my good-byes to a store that I honestly didn't shop at very much, but remembered going to, with my mom as a kid.

I took my time coming home, singing along to songs and enjoying the mountain scenery. It's always nice to come home after being away for a few hours, and seeing my girls (and Hubby!) jumping up and down at the back door, excited to have mommy home again. I love the squeals and the hugs and the hands that reach for me to pick them up and hug them. Middle had a picture for me she colored, Youngest had a wet kiss for my cheek, and Oldest was hiding an unfinished project, telling me, "Don't look!" Yes, it's nice to drive in the car alone, but even nicer to come home to my family.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It's a Boy!!

We got one of the best kinds of news there is today-- My Sister and her Hubby had a baby boy today!! I am so happy and excited for them and I am sure their little girl is excited about her new baby brother. My sister's first pregnancy resulted in a premature baby and so with this pregnancy, doctors kept a close eye on her and the baby. Normally by the 8th month, the baby's head comes down to settle in the pelvic area in preparation for the birth, but for my sister, the baby's head stayed wedged under her ribcage. They tried to physically get the baby to change position but all they did was cause my sister some pain with all the pressure they put on her belly. They scheduled a c-section for later this week unless her water broke and baby decided to come early. Well, her water broke before the scheduled date and they ended up doing a c-section early this morning. Both Mama and baby are doing fine.

I wish I could be where she is and hold my new nephew in my arms, give my Sister and her Hubby a great big hug and squeeze the stuffing out of my niece! Since I can't be there, I will have to send her some presents through the mail and make do with photos and the video phone. It's a happy day for our family!! Yay!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Yard Sale Treasures 3

When I checked the local papers for yard sale listings, there were no fewer than 20 listed, for sales starting Friday and lasting through Monday. What a great weekend it has been for yard sale bargain hunters like my husband and I! We found all kinds of loot and these pictures only represent about half of what we found... I scored a great collection of vintage sewing supplies: wooden spools with thread, a ton of vintage buttons, old pinking shears and bobbins. I did a preliminary once over and tossed the broken bits and at least a dozen rusty razor blades, but for the most part, it's all good! I also found a cool wire bike rack that I will re-purpose into a holder of something.. maybe papers or something in the new classroom. I also found this linen dishtowel with fruit on it.
At another yard sale, I spotted this perfect oak office chair that matches the oak office chair I am sitting in now, except ours swivels and rolls. I had been looking for a mate for my chair to put near the desk so Hubby and I can both see the computer at the same time, and also to put the girls in separate chairs while playing games and no more pushing and shoving in one chair. The lady that sold this to me, had the kind of sale where there were no prices on anything. I'm not a big fan of having to ask "How much for this? And this? What about this?" Or even putting everything into a pile and getting one grand total, because I would be choosier if I knew the prices for things. Plus, she was sharing her yard sale with someone else and when I asked for a price on something, she'd say, "Oh that's not mine. Ask her." Agh! But we got the chair along with a set of orange Pyrex dishes and other bowls, and a framed cross-stitched picture.
This poor quilt was found in the bottom of a pile of blankets with a sign that said '$1 each, this pile'. It is ratty in some places, stained in others, but about 80% of it is still in good condition. I can cut it up and turn it into throw pillows, or make small mini quilts for the girls to use with their dolls. When I went to pay for it, she told me she was going to throw it away! I told her my plans and she looked like she wanted to take it back from me!
I also scored these great old rag rugs for only $1 for both. A little tattered, but still thick and lots of wear left in them. I'll mend the holes and use them in the kitchen but they will probably end up on the laundry room floor. While cooking dinner tonight, the girls were dragging a chair over to help me cook and they tossed the rugs across the room because they got caught in the legs of the chair. I can see the girls don't approve of them in the kitchen!
I stopped at one house and turns out it was a home run pre-school that was selling all their old supplies and books. She stopped the pre-school years ago and finally got around to selling off the stuff she had and wants to turn the space into a proper basement. I scored with a bunch of educational and activity books, puzzles, and some stencils. We got to talking and I told her that I was going to home school my girls. She said that if I gave her my info, she would call me and give me the rest of the books if she decided to give them away after the sale. She knew the people that owned our house before we bought it and invited me to come back again after the sale to visit. That's one of the nice side effects of yard sale-ing: meeting new people and making new friends.

We also found a nice wood deck chair that is missing it's cushions (sewing machine time!), a set of Christmas glasses with each glass having one of the "12 Days of Christmas" themes on it (10 out of 12 glasses), a great big pink doll house that I will clean up then sell for more at the consignment shop I will be working at in a couple of weeks, a very hip 50's magazine rack that totally fits the style of our house, and a lovely wooden side table that just needs a little loving. There is lots more, but if I kept going, this post would be too long and I'm afraid I would lose you to boredom!

Hubby's parents are coming over tomorrow morning, so off I go to sweep the dust under the rugs! Hope you had as much fun as I did over the weekend!!