I do believe I've come to the conclusion that this city girl is actually a country girl...who happens to live in the city. And that when you spend hours just being with your chickens and find the act of hanging the family's laundry on the clothesline to be truly pleasurable, the line between city and country has been crossed.
...and now I'm feeling the urge to get a goat creeping in at the edges of my little country girl mind.
Little guy: "Ooooow! I think I just broke my finger."
Now I know I should have run to his aid. I know I should have felt badly for him. I know a 'good' mom would have shower him with love and kisses.
What did I do? Well, I rolled my eyes and turned the other direction.
Why? You ask?
Well, when your fifteen-year-old has come up with every distraction available to avoid doing homework for about three hours straight, and that has been accompanied by tons of nagging on your part, and then he decides to ride his unicycle through the kitchen and catches his pinky on the pot rack as he flails his arms around....
You get what I'm saying, right?
But I could only do it for a few seconds. And then I got him a bag of ice and gave him a hug. After all, I'm not that bad of a mom. And he's an absolutely terrific kid.
We got a new dishwasher this week. We'd put it off forever, understanding and accommodating for our old one's myriad of issues. We put up with gunk being left on stuff on the top shelf and the loud noises it had been making, but when it literally shocked both of my children...one a surprise first incident and the other because the first shockee told his brother to touch it in the same spot...it had to go.
And we were finally able to right a wrong that was many years old. About ten years ago when we bought our old dishwasher, we fell in love with it at the store, got it home, installed it, and then realized that the drawer adjacent to the dishwasher was not able to be puled out unless the dishwasher door was open. Yeesh! But put up with that we did. For a long, long time.
And now there's no shocks, now the drawer pulls freely, now we have clean top shelf dishes, and things are awesome.
You know how you can have something in your house for years, and this something just kind of bugs you every time you see it? Well, I had something, well, many somethings, but today I tackled and fixed one of those somethings.
You see, there's this lamp that sits atop my desk. It's pretty. It's also utterly and completely boring. Several years ago I even took it to a friend's house for a day of do-it-yourself projects but never got to it. So it continued sitting pretty and being boring week after week after week. Until today, when the perfect storm occurred.
Perfect storm ingredients:
- a day off for Memorial Day
- a literal storm outside keeping me inside
- a chance viewing of a blog I love
- having everything I needed right here
So I pulled my very boring white lamp shade off and painted flowers all over it. Then I took the base and stem of the lamp and polka dotted the heck out of it.
And guess what! I love my totally not boring lamp!
Quite accidentally we found the secret to keeping cut flowers looking awesome for much, much longer. On Mother's Day, a couple of weeks ago, my kid and I were doing our Purple Martin volunteer gig. One of the duties is to clear out sparrow nests so that the purple martins can get in the bird houses that are designed with them in mind. One of the sparrow nests had a lovely purple flower with a stem in it. The kid, being the resourceful guy he is, brought it over to me and said, "Happy Mother's Day!" And I loved it...except for the bit of bird poo that was on it, of course, but just a flick and it was gone.
I took the flower to my car and put it in a glass of water I had in there. And in my car, in that water, the flower sat for two weeks. Through being parked in the sun and baking all the day. Through moments of intense air conditioning. That flower stayed absolutely lovely. Until this morning when it suddenly didn't look so great any more.
So here's what the kid and I have concluded:
Bird poo is good for cut flowers.
Extreme heat is good for cut flowers.
Never changing the water is good for cut flowers.
And having been lovingly placed in a nest by a sweet little bird, well, that's the best of all.
I'm absolutely convinced that some creatures are put on this planet simply to amuse me. And one such creature has recently moved in with us. By "in" I mean in the coop in the back yard. We've got five chicks, all different types, but one manages to be hysterical just by simply being. And it crosses over into being ridiculously hysterical when it runs at full tilt with a grub in its mouth whilst being chased by another chick.
I love to "cheat" every once in a while. From time to time I find myself surfing the web for art subject inspiration. Usually not...usually there's enough entertaining me in my own life to keep me filled with artistic ideas, but every once in a while it's fun to see what's out there.
So the other day when I was in the back yard hangin' with my chickens and tinkering with some chicken drawing ideas, I pulled out my phone and googled something along the lines of "how to draw birds" or some such thing. Well, a video popped up. A video geared to children, no less, and it showed how to draw an owl. It was adorable and I just had to try my hand at it. And then I added a background and color to make it more my own.
I have to say that I find something very interesting. I live with three fellas and the microwave at our house is a serious disaster. Despite the fact that we have two microwave dome covers that live on top of our microwave, the inside of our microwave looks like a gruesome scene from "Dexter"...splatters everywhere...ceiling, sides, door, circular tray...disgusting.
Now, the microwave in my classroom is used by me and the lovely woman with whom I'm lucky enough to work. We use it each and every school day, all school year long, and on the last day of school we don't every have to clean it because it is pristine. Note: we do not have a microwave dome cover.
Hmmmm...I'm not quite sure what to conclude from this.
The fastest and easiest way to get your kid to do manual labor is to offer a tool to go along with it. And what is the most desirable tool ever? Well, from the data I've collected it's absolutely, positively an axe.
Give the kid a rake and ask him to fill the bags with leaves and the reception is cool at best.
Give the kid an axe and ask him to chop up all the branches you've trimmed and you've got the most amazing, manic, obsessive worker ever.
About a week ago something unexpected happened. Something that has never happened to us before. Something downright scary.
Yes, we actually ran out of toilet paper.
I'm the sort of gal who likes to purchase her toilet paper in bulk. Nothing says safe and secure like a thirty-six pack of double rolls from Costco, right? Luckily I feel the same way about kleenex, so at least we had tissue to use when the unheard of happened.
I B-lined it to Costco with the little guy, put a pack of toilet paper in our cart, and noticed a fella who had also just put the same pack in his cart. Only instead of just putting it in his cart and moving on, he was poking a hole in the packaging and caressing a roll.
Me: "Oh, good, I couldn't remember which kind I got last time. Is it soft?"
Toilet paper caresser: "Yes, it's soooo soft...and I'm picky."
Me: "Great! Thanks!"
OK, I stand corrected. Nothing says safe and secure like a thirty-six pack of double rolls and a positive customer testimonial.
The other day when I was walking my big dog, Hazel, I spied ahead of me something of pure delight. Actually, someone. A lovely lady was walking my way, her shoulder-length wavy gray hair bounced with each step, and she was wearing the most magnificently happy outfit ever!
She had a long-sleeved blue, red, and white striped shirt that came down to her upper thighs, and then below that she had on turquoise flowered capris. I smiled ear-to-ear as she and I were about to pass.
Me: "Your outfit makes me so happy!" I told her.
Lovely lady: "Your dog makes me happy!" She told me.
And then off we went in opposite directions, happiness enhanced. Bliss!
...I knew right then that I had to tell this story on canvas.
I try to not laugh directly at my kids. I prefer to laugh with them. But sometimes I laugh at them knowing full well that someday they'll think it's funny, too. And that's OK, right?
So the other day the little guy and I were at a store in the shaving section. His face had been dry and he wanted some lotion. But he didn't want lotion that smelled like flowers. Nope. He wanted to smell like, well, a man.
He picked up one, unscrewed the lid, gave it a tiny squeeze, and took a sniff. Not to his liking. He picked another one up, unscrewed the lid, gave it a tiny squeeze, and BLUUUURP! A glob of lotion splooshed out and went right up his nose. Really not to his liking.
"I think the first one will do," as he used his sleeve to soak up the mess.
I'm a slob. I absolutely, positively cannot get through the day without getting some sort of muck (food, paint, beverage, mud, etc.) on what I'm wearing. So when I decided to have spaghetti for dinner tonight, I changed out my black and white striped shirt I'd worn to work for a little T-shirt I'd picked up at a thrift shop. As I was walking back to the kitchen it occurred to me that I was now wearing a white shirt, albeit a cheap one.
So I sat down to eat, grabbed one of our cloth napkins, i.e. a bandanna, tucked it into the neck of my shirt, and proceeded to down my delicious spaghetti. And I must say that basically wearing a baby bib was absolutely fabulous. I think it might just be my new thing.
I heard from someone that when you get chickens as pets they are so captivating that they're basically chicken TV. And it's true! In addition to setting up a living space for our five new chickens, we've set up a living space for us as well. A living space devoted exclusively to chicken watching. We sit out there with our snacks, our drinks, and even our computers.
But when we're not out there, and the coop is closed up tight, it turns out our cats take over our spots and watch the chickens, too. Only I think they're likely drooling as they watch "Tastes Like Chicken" TV.
I've started something new. Something I've been wanting to do for a while now but for some reason never just jumped in. But today was the day. I chose my paints. I chose my brush. I threw a towel on the floor in the hallway. And then I painted a flower on the wall.
So here's my plan. You all know how I like to do a painting a day, right? Well, some days the painting will be an addition to our hallway wall. Some days I'll paint something I'd love to sell or give away.
I'm super excited and invite you to come along with me on this adventure!
This past week my special education team has had a fabulous fundraiser. Every year we collect a ton of donated used jewelry and then sell it for hardly anything and kiddos can purchase a little something for their moms (or anyone else) on Mother's Day. I say "a little something" but it's often a BIG something. I will forever be in awe of what kids think will be absolutely beautiful on their moms.
What did my own children buy for me at this same sale many years ago? Well, my little guy thought anything with magnetic clasps were the absolute coolest, so I received a number of those. My big guy was all about the ocean...clam shell earrings, puka shell necklaces. And I absolutely loved them all.
And I'm betting come Sunday a lot of moms in the neighborhood will be sporting some fabulous "new" bling. I love it!
So it turns out that chickens are really, really fast.
Let me just pause here for a second to let you know that now that we have chickens...in addition to dogs and cats...I think you should all be prepared to hear a lot of chicken stories.
Anyway, we're new to chickens so this is all a crash course for us. Dave and I were pulling out the food and water dispensers to refill them and out ran one little chicken. And by run, I pretty much mean like greased lightning.
And I tell you what, that little chicken ran like a little maniac around our back yard, through the fence to the neighbors yard, back through the fence to our back yard, then out the fence to the front yard, then back in our back yard, and when Dave opened up the door to the coop that little chicken scurried right on in.
And then we got the chicken wire out and put it all along the bottom of our chain link fence. We're fast learners on this chicken crash course.
One of my paintings was sold in an auction to benefit the school where I work. The other day I found out which wonderful family had bought it and it made my day because I knew this family. Then a day later I was walking my dog and I ran in to the lovely mom in this family. And she told me that my painting was now hanging in her older daughter's room. And I had worked with this wonder girl when she was in kindergarten. And then I saw this sweet girl today and told her how happy I was that my painting was hanging in her room. And she beamed with pure light, happiness, and magic.
The little guy and I went to the Austin Mini Maker Faire today. It was SO MUCH FUN! And I swear it was set up to show off my kid's mad skills (or at least his ability to pick up a mad skill at a moment's notice).
The first thing we just had to do was juggle. We were shown how to do it and the kid started juggling within about a minute. I struggled and struggled and finally got it. And after repeating my success a few times my skills completely vanished.
The second thing we had to do were hula hoops. The kid picked one up and was able to instantly do a trick I'd taught him back when I was taking lessons. I gingerly tried a bit of hula hooping, had moderate success and set it down. After all, hula hoops tend to give me blood clots (true story).
The third thing we he had to do were unicycles. He jumped right on one and took off. There was no talking mom in to this one. No way. Not unless I had full protective gear and an even lower deductible on my health insurance.
Oh, and my mom's car went to the Faire, too. She's now the proud owner of a fabulous art car...painted right there!
I sat at a coffee shop sipping my tea. Dave had a muffin and coffee. We played a game of gin rummy. It was perfect.
And then it got just a bit more perfect. A wee little sparrow landed right at our feet, looked up, and...well...begged. In an oh, so cute kind of way. I tossed it a few of Dave's muffin crumbs and it happily hopped about retrieving them. I'm pretty sure it smiled and winked its thanks.
As a kid I spent a considerable amount of time in the darkroom with my mom. It was cool, fascinating, patience testing, likely toxic, but mostly cool. While my mom may have been working on something very particular and likely teaching me along the way, what I remember most is the coolness of the room when it was all dark except for the amber lights that barely illuminated the activity.
I remember the smell. The way the wall and floor felt different than when the lights were on. I remember the silence broken by the swishing of water and my mother's voice counting seconds aloud. And I remember so, so many black and white images of myself hanging on a line to dry.