Friday, July 27, 2012

For my birthday, my wonderful sister-in-law gave me a humming bird feeder. I hung it up on the clothes line pole right outside the kitchen window so I could see all the hummingbirds.

And then a month went by, and another, and another. I refilled the mixture, thinking I had done it wrong, but still no hummingbirds.

A few weeks ago Drek took down the old clothes line and made me a new one; with metal posts stuck into cement and an actual rope. My clothesline is beautiful!  But in the process he broke the hummingbird feeder. Which was okay; we hadn't seen a single hummingbird anyway.

Yesterday I looked out the kitchen window and was surprised to see not one, but THREE hummingbirds, all in a row, sitting on my clothesline. One of them hovered over the line for a minute before fluttering off, and then the other two followed.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink - Yet

I got a free sample of soap in the mail; one of those new gel pack things. Drek put it in the dishwasher and turned it on right before we retired for the night to a game of scrabble. In the middle of the game, I needed a drink, so I went in the kitchen and turned on the light. Hey! Snow! All over our kitchen floor! Oh wait, no. Bubbles. From the dishwasher.

I called Drek to come build bubblemen with me or maybe build a bubblefort and throw bubbleballs, but instead he turned off the dishwasher, pulled the rest of the gel pack out and cleaned up the suds. While he did that, I read the coupon that came with the sample and learned that it was actually laundry detergent, not dish washing soup. They really should make that more clear...

Just in case you were wondering; laundry detergent bubbles work great to clean the floor, but are very bad at cleaning dishes. And now you know.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

You Mean You Never Actually Flew the Plane? Good Heavens, No! I'm a Chicken! The Royal Air Force Doesn't Let Chickens Behind the Controls of a Complex Aircraft

Just after our chickens were killed by a coyote, our backyard neighbors bought seventy-two baby chicks.  Our neighbors are a young married couple, both graduated from college, both working full-time jobs. They decided raising chickens and selling eggs would be a good additional income.

But after a few days, it was apparent the women didn't really think of the chicks as a second job; she was out there talking to them, cuddling them, and singing to them for several hours a days. As the chicks grew, she still spent hours with them. She began scolding them when they fought and even taught them to jump on her shoulder and ride around like a parrot.

The couple told us they would sell us four of the chicks as soon as they were old enough to lay eggs. Drek and I were excited to replace our older, lazy, non-egg-chickens with young chickens who might lay us some eggs, but at the same time we both thought "Will she be able to give up her babies?"

Because that's what she calls them; her babies. She calls herself their mama. She hand-feeds treats, has named each one and can even recognize them individually by the sound they make. Did I mention she cuddles them? She is always cuddling them.

So, the time has come. The chickens have just barely started to lay eggs. We worked out the payment, and decided on a date. The night before, she texted me, asking if she could move the date back because "I needs more time to mentally prepare the chickens for the big move." She also said she needed to bring them over to our house right before sundown, so she could get them ready for bed and sing them to sleep. She also mentioned that if they look up at with big eyes, it's because they want to be cuddled.

Now, I value the life of a chicken. I want the chickens to work hard and lay eggs for me, but I don't want to kill and eat the chickens, nor do I want them to be unhappy. We went out of way with our last chickens to make sure they had comfy nests and lots of treats and opened up the whole yard to them so they could free-range.

But I am not going to cuddle a chicken. I do not want a chicken jumping up on my shoulder for any reason. I am not going to sing bedtimes songs to the chickens and put them to bed. I'm just not.

We are friends with this couple. I'm afraid if I take the chickens and don't cuddle them, she will be offended. I'm even more afraid one of the chickens will die, and she will never forgive me.

Do I really want to own chickens? Or do I just want a steady stream of  inexpensive, cage-free cruelty-free, free-range happy-chicken eggs? I thought the best way to guarantee that was to own my own chickens, but she definitively takes better care or those chickens than I ever could. If I'm getting my eggs from happy chickens, does it matter that the coup is three feet to the left of the fence instead of three feet to the right? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sammy Jankis Wrote Himself Endless Notes. But He'd Get Mixed Up. I've Got a More Graceful Solution to the Memory Problem. I'm Disciplined and Organized. I Use Habit and Routine to Make My Life Possible. Sammy Had No Drive. No Reason to Make it Work

When I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I knew it would be hard.* If I'm not meeting deadlines or sales quotas, or striving for a raise, then there is very little pressure and since I work best under pressure, I now find myself working...less than my best.

Last week at a Relief Society activity we had a guest speaker come talk to us about meal planning and couponing. I was not impressed by her couponing, nor by her meal planning, but she did say something that struck me. She had four children, did the accounting, ordering and filing for her husband's business  and worked outside the home as a lawyer. All her meals were home-cooked (either crockpot or made ahead freezer meals). They always ate dinner as a family and played family games after dinner. Now that her children are grown, she can say that they all turned out successful (A lawyer, a CEO, a doctor and...I can't remember the last one). She said that the only way she could do all that was to be organized. "Organization is the key to success!" is what struck me. She said she was driven to be so organized because her dad gave her a hard time about working outside of the home, and he drilled into her that she "better make it worth it." So she did.

It was the motivation I needed. Why isn't my house clean? Why do we only have oatmeal for breakfast? Why doesn't our family play more games? Why isn't my blog updated? Why is my first novel still unedited, my second novel still only half written, and my third, forth, fifth and sixth novels still only in my head?  Because I'm not organized!  I can do so much more if only I organize!

I decided that even though I'm not a fan of freezer dinners (I like to cook. I like making dinner) I could get behind the idea of freezer breakfasts!I then created a weekly chore chart that dictates two areas a day I need to clean. At the end of the week, the house it clean! Of course, the exception is the kitchen. If I do not clean that area three times every day, it becomes eligible to be declared a hazardous zone. So the kitchen is always on my chore list.

Ash also had chores everyday. They correspond to the area I'm cleaning and are all age-appropriate chores. That way she is learning valuable skills at the same time.

When I'm done with my chores for the day, I'm done cleaning. I don't have to feel guilty about sitting down and writing. By the time Drek comes home I've cleaned and written, which means our free time can be spend playing games.

So far, I've had great success. I even feel like I have MORE energy, even though I'm doing more. My chart is much healthier motivation that a mad scramble to clean the house in the last few minutes before visitors show up at the door.

*What I didn't know was how much fun it is to be a stay-at-home mom and how much I would love it.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Ah! I See That You Have Found the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom! Oh! Is That What This Is? I'm So Sorry! I Just Thought it Was a Regular Peach Tree

Dinner tonight consisted of yellow squash, green bell peppers, green onions, and tomatoes, all grown in our garden and picked an hour before the meal. For desert we walked out to our tree: 

and picked a few peaches. 

They are the most delicious peaches I have ever had! I think the fact that they are still warm from the sun is a big contributor. 

This peach tree is the second tree to give us a harvest. Our apple tree (planted last year, the same time as the peach tree) yielded two whole apples. We'll definitely get more peaches than that!  In a few more weeks I think we'll have a harvest of lemons and oranges as well. I don't think we'll get plums this year, but we might. I know the blood oranges, macadamia nuts, grapefruits and avocados will have to wait another year, but the trees themselves are doing great. The avocado was actually the first tree we planted (the blood orange and macadamia were the last) but I know they take the longest to produce fruit. That's okay, I can wait! 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Drive Sports Cars, Date Movie Stars, Buy Things That are Not for Sale... Who Knows, Master Wayne? You Start Pretending to Have Fun, You Might Even Have a Little by Accident

Today Drek and I have been married for five whole years. We had a wonderful anniversary; we dropped off the baby and car seat, cleaned the car inside and out so we could drive in an "adult" car, and went down to the big city to spend the night at a bed and breakfast, eat out at a fancy restaurant, and stay up late watching the most romantic movies we could think of: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. 

We've now known each other for six years and one month. In that time, I've picked up on a pattern: Drek isn't big into planning dates. As far as I can tell, he doesn't mind going on dates, or even paying for them, it's the planning them he doesn't like...or do. 

On our Anniversary, we usually give "us" a gift. This year, I decided to make our gift. This is what I came up with: 

The label says: 
Date Sticks In-A-Jar 
Red sticks: Expensive, 24 hour planning required 
Purple sticks: Free - $30, up to 1 hour planning 
Dark Cherry sticks: At home, up to 1 hour planning 

The easy part was painting the sticks (Ash helped. She loved this part):

The hard part was scouring the Internet for date ideas and cross referencing local attractions. Thus transferring the very unhelpful "go out to eat at a nice restaurant!" and "This restaurant serves the best vegetarian chili in the entire state. Four stars!" into "drive eighteen miles to Vegi Mama's Bistro located at 555 Sunland Road, Sunland. Order vegetarian chili at $7.95/meal. Total cost: $15.90 + tax and tip. Total time: an hour and a half.

Of course, not all of them are dinner dates. Most of them are fun, creative, and inexpensive. I would give examples, but Drek reads this blog and I don't want to give away any spoilers! 

In essence, I planned all the details of thirty seven dates. I typed out the details of the date on a strip of paper, then wrapped that paper around a color-coded Popsicle stick. Then, on the outside of the paper, I wrote the total cost, total time, and total distance: 

Because the Dark Cherry sticks are dates we can do at home, there isn't a distance on them, however, some of them requite a quick trip to the grocery store beforehand. On those ones I simply wrote "store" and the total cost to be spent at the store. Some of the home dates are free, don't require any traveling, and can take as long or as short as required, so those I simply left blank.

Then I took a peanut butter jar (It's actually super romantic, because when we were dating we loved LOST, and both loved the scene where Charlie gives Claire a "jar of peanut butter" and they eat it together. When Drek proposed, he proposed with a peanut butter jar. So this is a continuation of that) painted the lid, put the sticks in and taped on the label:

The result: Whenever we want to go on a date, Drek will decide how much time he has to plan, how much we can spend, and the time we have available, and picks out an accommodating stick (having no idea what the actual date is). The he unwraps the paper and reads the instructions for our date night. No planning on his part, we get to enjoy some pretty awesome date nights together, and we have the added bonus of the "oh, which stick will he pick? What mystery date awaits us?"

Happy Anniversary, love of my life.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

The Independence Day celebrations of my youth started early in the morning with a church pancake dinner, followed by either watching or being in, a parade, followed by games, festivals, movies, and barbecues until it was dark and we could set off fireworks (which was always wonderful) followed by camping out in a grassy area and waiting until eleven when the giant firework display lit up the whole sky and each burst seemed so close you thought it would land on you when it rained down out of the sky. That is how I thought the Fourth of July was celebrated everywhere.

Well, that's not how it's celebrated here in Sunland. Our church didn't have a breakfast, there was no parade, fireworks in any form are not sold here, and each city does its own, very small, firework display at nine, but traffic is so bad you'll be stuck in it until midnight.

So, for the first time last week and this week, I felt myself getting just a little bit homesick. Maybe from now on we'll just have to make a yearly pilgrimage to Hometown just for Independence Day. But this year that was not an option. So I came up with other plans: Ultimate Frisbee in the park!
I was worried that since we couldn't reserve the park, pavilion, or field, we wouldn't get tables and we would have to fight to play Frisbee. I arrived at the park at nine in the morning (an hour early) and discovered that a game of soccer had already taken up the entire field, and that another family had already claimed the pavilion. I snagged two tables in a grassy area and waited. An hour later, people actually started arriving, the soccer game was over and the other family that had claimed the pavilion asked if they could play Frisbee with us!

It went great! We had a lot of people there, both kids and adults, and the kids had a great time playing on the playground, digging in the sand (we brought a lot of sandtoys) and running around on the grass. Everyone brought food, so there was more than enough to eat. I made this:

 And Amy brought these:

So not only was there more than enough delicious food, some of it was even patriotic! And then, of course, we played Ultimate: 

See how nice and cool we all look? It was sixty seven all day. Mostly cloudy with a nice, cool breeze. Not exactly beach weather, but perfect Ultimate Frisbee weather! 

The party ended at two so everyone could go off and do their own activities, but to my delight, I was not the only one who decided the fireworks were just not worth keeping kids up late or driving anywhere for. After discovering that most of us didn't have plans, we quickly decided to have a game night! We were up until Midnight playing.

Maybe it wasn't the best Independence Day ever, but it was a wonderful Holiday. 

Sunday, July 01, 2012

I Get My Hair Cut Every Two Days. After All, Your Hair is Your Headsuit

I've dreaded this moment years. I knew it was coming, I could feel it. I tried to prevent it, but really, what could I do?

Ash has been going potty all by herself. She was in there for a little while, then came out and went into her room to play with her toys. A little while later I went into the bathroom and froze. There, on the tile, was a tiny curl. And another one, and another one.

Ash cut her own hair. Down to the scalp.

I had cut Drek's hair the night before and Ash had watched. I stupidly left the scissors out on the counter and when Ash went into the bathroom she must have thought her hair could use a trim.

Moan. Why do kids do this?! It wouldn't be so bad if Ash wasn't bald the first two years of her life and has only just barely began to actually grow hair!

I hope it grows back quickly. And she only got the front, not the sides, so she still has a few baby curls.

We had a stern talk about cutting your own hair. And then I hid all the scissors.