Friday, January 30, 2009

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

Sometimes, life can get you down. Things don't always go the way you plan them to go, and you have to learn to roll with the punches. I have had to do just that a lot in the past couple of years. Having rented homes my entire adult life, I thought owning a home would be fun and satisfying. And it has been for the most part. But of course, things always go wrong when you own a 50 year old home. We have lost water from the well more than once, power lines often get knocked down from the multitude of oak trees surrounding us, and then there are the never ending issues with the age of our home. We have floors that have sagged in several places, pipes that were not connected correctly and if they were connected correctly, they are beginning to rust out. We've had to update our windows and doors just to keep the freezing cold out, and we have walls that still need to be insulated and an electrical system that desperately needs updating. And I haven't even mentioned the snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, bobcats, and coyotes. Sometimes I feel like packing up our things and moving into a nice newer home in town complete with granite counter tops, inside laundry, and all the conveniences of a modern home. But then I remember why we are where we are and it helps me to relax and accept that someday, our home will be done being updated. We'll have added on at least another two bedrooms and another bathroom, and the outside will look as nice I imagine in my head. Someday.
In the meantime, I've created a list of my favorite things about where I live to help me keep my sanity and to help me remember that we have been truly blessed.

I love that this is what I see whenever I drive around my town-

Instead of this-

I love that the little man can learn all about nature, right in our own backyard-

I love that I can have as many of these cuddly things as I can afford to keep-

I love that I can own the most amazing little creatures in the world-

I love that when the little man gets bigger, he can have own his dream horse-

I love that this little guy-

And this big guy, have as much room to run as they could ever desire-

I love that it snows just enough here for us to make snowmen and snow angels, have snowball fights-

sled down our hill, and then it all burns off by the afternoon-

I love that the little guy will grow up wearing hats like these -
I love the views from my property-

And I love this swing-
And the sunsets I can watch from it-

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Future Soccer Mom?

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so here goes. Hi, my name is Linda and I desperately want a minivan. That feels better. I actually don't want just any minivan. I want a newish Honda Odyssey Touring Minivan, preferably in a blue pearl. So, what's wrong with that, you ask? I am not a minivan mom. I did not ride a pink bike with tassels as a child nor did I begin planning my wedding at the age of 10. I stripped my Barbie dolls of their pretty garb, cut their hair, and created a Barbie nudist camp in my closet. I rode a yellow bike with a black banana seat and chased my sisters with frogs that my boy friends and I had caught. To be honest with you I really had no clue that I would ever get married and have kids. The way I partied in my twenties I was actually quite surprised to even see thirty come and go.
No, no, no! I am an SUV mom. A mom with a past. A mom who never shied away from dancing on the podiums at The Graduate. A mom who once tricked men into buying her drinks at a club when a boyfriend had cut her off. A mom who kept journals full of crazy adventures, that are now safely stored in a secret location for fear of being discovered. A mom who kissed many boys, some whose names she did not know.
I can't own a minivan! But still it calls to me. The DVD rear entertainment system. The heated leather seats. The FIFTEEN beverage holders. Yes. Fifteen. The satellite navigation system. The in-floor storage. The integrated sun shades in the second row. The reality that I can place my children safely in their own comfortable space and still have them far enough away to not hear them while I drive. It's heaven I tell you!
But unfortunately for me, it is not to be. At least not until I unload the SUV. I have a gorgeous 2003 Toyota Highlander. Leather seats, towing package, moon roof, multi disc CD changer. It comes complete with pen marks on the roof above my son's seat, cheerios and goldfish crackers smashed into the carpets, and various crayons melted into the rear door storage bin. Oh, and six beverage holders. Any takers?

Monday, January 19, 2009

That is deh-custing!

Last week I was again reminded that my son has a refined palate. I'm not sure how such a small child developed such advanced taste buds, but I do know when it all started. From the moment the doctor first gave me the okay to feed the little man solids, he began discerning between crap and deliciousness. I thought he would enjoy the colorful purees that I brought home from the market in their neat little containers, but he turned his head from them. He instead preferred his food freshly cooked and mashed. He did eat the packaged purees occasionally and I kept trying to expand what he would eat.
As a toddler, I distinctly remember an incident at Grandma and Grandpa's where the little man grabbed a tortilla chip from my hand and scooped himself some fresh salsa and didn't even flinch at the heat it gave off. He then double dipped the chip into a tasty guacamole Grandpa had prepared. Delicious, his face read, because he had yet to begin speaking in words. And on another occasion when he was around two, he gobbled down half of my grilled salmon and polished off most of my wild rice as well.
The closest I had gotten him to kid foods he liked was chocolate chip bagels with crunchy peanut butter and sliced banana and the occasional hot dog without the bun. I think he might have eaten mac and cheese once or twice but I don't really remember it ever being a staple. And I know he never wanted a veggie from a can. Before I could figure out what had happened, his repertoire of easy to prepare foods had dwindled down to bacon and scrambled eggs. The kid didn't want easy kid foods that were flavorless. He wanted good food!

You see, "kid" foods were not designed because they are more nutritious. They were created to make the life of a stay at home mom easier. This is of course, my own theory. Mac and cheese, chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, PB & Js. These are the foods kids demand and moms willingly give them. But my son, prefers them not. I partially blame my family. I was not raised on standard American fare so I really have no clue how to cook it. I remember it was Mexican food or we ate out. And now my family continues to eat out. So every time we visit them, my tiny terrorist eats out with us. And we visit a lot. (Hey, I like good food too.)
He has been raised on brie, fig chutney, and rosemary crackers. He has never been known to turn down a bite of a lobster quesadilla and he will always have second helpings should there be any aged cheeses being served. I've seen him devour fried calamari, hummus on crusty bread, tortilla soup and tomato bisque. And he always likes his steak the way it should be eaten, medium rare. I mean, I'm surprised the little guy's not choosing the wine to pair with dinner when we eat out, really.
I know what some have said. Spoiled. Picky eater. Give him whatever you are eating and don't let him make you his short order cook. Well, maybe that's also part of the problem. We eat at home most of the time. But I can't stand packaged meals or most premade ingredients so we eat ribs, steaks, any kind of seafood we can find fresh enough, and lots of roasted chicken. He knows what good food tastes like and he knows how it should smell too.
Which brings us to last week. You see, my husband is not impartial to really good food. He will eat just about anything and he especially likes food that is quick and easy to make. Foods that only require two or three steps to throw together. Foods, that I can't even stand to see in my cupboards. Foods, like Hamburger Helper.
The little man also detests the strange food that comes in that box. My husband had made himself a whole pan full of hamburger helper while the little guy and I were watching a movie in the living room. Within minutes the foul smell was assaulting my olfactory system and apparently the little man's as well. He plugged his nose with his fingers and shouted into the kitchen, "Dad what are you eating? That is deh-custing!!"("disgusting" in little man speak) We laughed to each other and continued to watch our movie. I think I will continue to nurture his love of real food. Maybe he'll be the winner of Top Chef someday or be a restauranteur. Who knows. But at least he'll never demand I make him anything that I myself would rather not eat. And that's just fine with me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Green acres is the place to be

I grew up in the suburbs. My husband grew up in the country. After we got married we lived in the city and since that rainy day back in 2002 when we moved into our first suburban home together, he has wanted to move back to the country. So, being extremely adaptable and wanting to give my husband his dream of rural life, we packed up our belongings two years ago and moved to the country. Way, way, way out into the country. I have mostly enjoyed the experience. But I honestly had no idea how different life would be. Here is what I see that is so different.

You know you live in the country if...

you know not only the names of all your neighbors, but you also know their phone numbers, what they do for a living, and if they have ever slaughtered an animal.

you see a hawk flying overhead and instead of marveling at its beauty you think to yourself, that damn bird better not poop on my car.

you overhear a conversation at the local market about which shotgun is the best brand to buy, and it's between two women.

you show up to a play date and all three kids are wearing camouflage.

the only market within 20 minutes of your home stocks not only paper goods and soft drinks, but also has a large livestock feed section.

the only other store within 20 minutes of you is a military surplus store.

your babysitter arrives at your home on a horse.

all of your clothing smells like wood smoke.

your husband buys you a pink camouflage t-shirt and a hot pink knife for Christmas.

you actually like the pink camouflage t-shirt and the hot pink knife.

you also want a pink handgun.

you've eaten at least one of your pets.

going into the city to run errands involves as much packing as a two day trip would require.

the only time you ever wash your car is...never.

you have said at least once, "I wish those damn crickets would shut up so I can sleep."

calling 911 for a medical emergency summons a helicopter to your home.

stray dogs, dirt, and the sound of wildlife are things you are exposed to on a regular basis.

it bugs you when city people complain that they have to drive all the way across town for work, when you know across town to them means five miles.

even though you hated the food, you were extremely sad when Foster Freeze closed down because it was the only fast food within 30 miles.

at least one person you know has shot a wild dog.

the sound of gunshots doesn't send you ducking for cover or calling for help.

every day you drive by someone on either a horse or a quad.

you know what donkey basketball is and you look forward to attending the event every year.

you cannot go anywhere without seeing either someone who knows you or someone in your family.

you often forget to lock your doors.

you know that if you were to scream from inside your house, no one would hear you.

you fear coyotes and wild dogs more than criminals.

you know what a "burn day" is and that you need a permit to participate.

sometimes the only thing you hear is the wind.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Say Mama"

I say this over and over again to my six month old throughout each and every day. I guess I am hoping that somehow by hearing it she will decide to say mama before she says dada. The little man said dada first, despite the reality that I spent 24 hours a day with him, every day of his first year. Now I know what the child development books tell you. It is much easier for a baby to form the "dah" sound than it is for them to form the "ma" sound. That didn't make the disappointment any less. And my daughter already says "Ma" anyway. It matters not that she is saying it while pursing her lips in a cry from the teething pain. I know deep down inside she knows it is my name and she is therefore crying out to the one person she feels can bring her comfort in her time of distress.
Okay, I know that isn't true. But since she is already forming the word she is halfway there. I simply need to teach her the association between the word and the person. Easy! Who am I kidding. I thought until recently that all my son's incredible knowledge had come from you know who. When he was younger, people would tell me how smart he was and how a child his age couldn't possibly know so much. I would beam, (inwardly, of course. I am nothing if not humble.) I would conjure up images in my head of all the hundreds of books I had read to him from the time he was born until that very day. I would imagine all the trips he and I had taken to the zoo, the library, countless museums and aquariums. He didn't read yet. He didn't attend school. His dad mostly took him to Chuck E Cheese. Who else could have taught him so much?
TV. That's right. It turns out the AAP is wrong. TV does not rot the brain but rather enriches it. In a recent conversation my son mentioned a fact about eagles and the eggs they lay. His dad asked him where he had learned this information. I stood smiling by, waiting to hear my husband applaud my incredible talent at teaching our son.
TV he said. To be more exact, Diego had taught him. He also taught him about whale sharks. Do you know mom what a whale shark is, my son asked? Sadly I could not reply. Not only did I have absolutely no idea what in the world a whale shark was, but neither could I believe that TV had also been teaching my son. Okay, I had already known that Spongebob had taught him the word stupid. But he could have done without that little tidbit of information. It turns out he had also learned new things, good things, from Little Bill, Wow Wow Wubbzy, Maggie and the Beast and many other shows for preschoolers.
I have come to terms with the fact that I am not nor will I ever be my son's only teacher. He not only learns from mom and dad, and apparently the TV as well, but whether directly or indirectly, he also learns from his friends and the many people that are part of his small world. And I am mostly okay with that. I have taught him many things and one of those things is that the world around us offers opportunities to learn and grow every day, if we allow ourselves to receive it. And as long as I get to see him develop into his own little person with his own ideas and thoughts, I will be content. He is now in preschool, after all, and he has teachers there that are working diligently to prepare him for kindergarten next year.
But the baby is all mine for at least another year. Well, mine and Baby Einstein's. I do need to shower now and again, after all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Reflections of a non-portrait picture taker

December 23, 2007

Before the little man was born I vowed that I would get lots and lots of great professional photos taken of him. As the third of three girls I had very few candid photos to prove my existence, and even fewer studio photos. One studio photo to be exact. Well, one of me and another taken the same day of me and my sisters. I swear looking at family photo albums, you would think that my family slowly drifted into poverty as each daughter was born, which was definitely not the case. There are countless studio photos of my oldest sister, and then a few of my other sister, and then of course, the one of me. Now I know that my parents did not see me as any less important than my sisters. They did after all pay money so that I could pursue every one of my many interests from three on; swimming, gymnastics, drums, clarinet, piano, organ, (Okay, that was my dad's desire, not mine. Damn "Pizza and Pipes".) jazz dance, civil air patrol, fiction writing, modeling, and the list goes on and on until adulthood. Okay, it still goes on. But this is not about how spoiled I am. This is about how I came to use Chuck E Cheese, to document my son's growth.
I had the best of intentions. Really. I begged my mom to purchase a Sear's smile saver club membership so that I could forgo any sitting fees until after little man's second birthday. And I even took him. Once. When my parents were here. And my mom asked me to go. And she bought the pictures. And just like my parents, I love my child very much. Maybe too much considering how much time I spend obsessing over every little rash, bloody lip, mild fever, or slight delay in reaching a milestone. I actually wrote out every word he was saying at 24 months, because he was behind on the 18 month old language milestone chart in every parenting book I could get my hands on. Yah. I know. There are a lot of those books. Fortunately at 2 he had a language explosion and all my months of worrying were for nothing. But the point I am trying to make, is that the kid is very important and special to me. You should see our credit card bills. And I haven't been shopping for myself since who knows when so I must be spending it on him.

So, why have I never had more professional photos taken of my little treasure? Because Chuck E Cheese has an excellent photo booth. You have to experience it to know, but let's just say that the picture comes out looking like a portrait. And, it costs a mere token. Could one ask for a better deal? I don't think so. In addition to this magical machine whose workings I cannot understand, they have a camera on one of their kiddy rides, that does an excellent job of capturing a candid moment with Mr. Cheese himself. Okay, okay.
In actuality, I am completely lazy and the idea of wrestling my tiny terrorist into an, itchy, overpriced, worn-only-once, makes-him-look-nerdy, I-hope-it-doesn't-clash-with-the-boring-background, appropriate outfit, and then dragging my sloth-like self to a photo studio filled with snotty nosed tired and hungry kiddies, and then waiting forever for our turn at having the sweet 19 year old "photographer" annoyingly attempt to convince me that I really need 225 photos of the one decent shot, you know to send to all those distant relatives that will open my card, glance at the photo, and then shove it into a dust covered photo box to properly scrapbook at a later date, sounds like a horrible way to spend an otherwise relaxing morning with my little guy.

I'd rather be at Chuck's place, rotting my son's brain on meaningless video games and turning in tickets for cheap, possibly toxic toys made in China for a miniscule fraction of the amount that I have to spend for my son to win them. We have fun there. We laugh and run around, and dance with the giant rat? mouse?, and I get to be a child again right alongside him. These are the memories that I want to preserve. And maybe that is what my parents eventually learned. That the photos mean nothing without the enjoyment behind them and that you can't buy that for $19.95 plus tax. At the very least, his future siblings will never be able to say that I obviously loved the little man more since I cataloged his every milestone in pictures. In fact, his very existence may come into question. As long as they don't get a hold of my credit card statements.

Flatlander Driving School

August 14, 2008

So yesterday I was again stuck behind a flatlander on their way up to the mountains. Okay, I was stuck behind a LOT of them. And I was cursing them. Don't worry, I was alone. But I was really annoyed because I was alone for the first time in a while and I was all set on blaring my Nine Inch Nails, driving entirely too fast, and really enjoying my trip home before coming back to the reality of spit up on my maternity top (yah, I'm still wearing one, a whole month after having the baby, thank you very much) and a preschooler who honestly thinks I want to play Power Rangers with him. Where do they get such crazy ideas? I really don't mean to belittle. I only use the term to separate the valley residents from the foothill folk. I mean come on. I was a flatlander up until last year.

If you have no clue what I mean by flatlander you probably are one yourself. Flatlanders are residents of the lower elevations. Valley dwellers. And every day, those of us who live at the higher elevations are subjected to your shoddy driving skills. It's not entirely your fault. You just aren't accustomed to driving on curvy roads and hills. I really do sympathize with you. But what I do not understand is why many of you insist on staying in the fast lane as the 168 ends. It is perfectly clear that we are going down to one lane but many of you still won't let anyone pass before this happens. Why? As soon as your lane ends, you are going to be traveling at the breakneck speed of forty miles per hour. It is nothing short of excruciating to know that I must now travel for 20 miles up a one lane road behind you. And believe me, I have the missing patch of hair to prove it. So I am here to offer you my wisdom and advice for driving in the foothills.

To begin, understand that most modern day cars come equipped with some type of stability control so you should really not fear turning over as you maneuver through the curves. Don't be afraid to give it a little gas. There really is no need to brake through EVERY curve. Really. Trust me. I have an SUV and I have yet to flip that baby over. And I don't take my curves slow either. If you are that afraid of turning the car over then feel free to fudge the curve a little. That is go a bit over the line. Now, this is only recommended if one can see a ways down the road. Let it not be said that I believe in reckless driving. Come on. I do have kids. But it is in my opinion, that the public works people (whatever, the people who draw the lines on the roads) have tried to take the fun out of driving and have purposely made the curves a little too tight for my liking. So, take your car a bit over the line, and you'll find that the curves are not quite so tight. And you'll save a bit of gas to boot. You know what they say. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Now who couldn't use a bit of savings. Am I right?

My next tip is for those of you who are just not going to drive any faster, no matter how many people ride up your tush. Rumor has it that if four cars are following you, and you are going slower than the speed limit, than is it your duty to pull over at the next turn out and let them pass. I have no clue if this is true or not, and despite the fact that my husband is a police officer I really doubt if he knows if this is true either. Here's what I do know. If you are driving like a snail, and some one comes up on you at fifty miles an hour and gets right on your tail, slow down to five miles an hour. What you are doing is rude but what they are doing is much ruder. And just for fun, brake every few feet. Laugh at them when they pass you and wave too. It will feel really great! Now, if you are driving like a ninety year old grandma and someone like me drives up to you, maintains a safe distance, and patiently waits for you to reach a turnout, even if there is only the one car, the kindly country folk thing to do, would be to safely move into the turnout and let me...I mean them, pass. If you practice this manner of driving you will most likely get a friendly wave and perhaps even some fresh veggies from their garden should the person know where you live. Do not continue driving slow as molasses, passing turnout after turnout, and then continue to get annoyed and pissed off because now the driver behind you is inching up on you and starting to wave their arms around and banging on their steering wheel getting obviously angrier by the second because you refuse to grant them the right of way. Just get the heck out of the way.

The country is a really beautiful place and we all enjoy driving in it. But did you know it is also a great place to alleviate stress? So why not take a drive by yourself and bring your loudest music with you. I recommend Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor loves shouting obscenities and nothing can make you feel better about your own life than someone singing about how much their life sucks. Turn up the volume, roll down the windows, and enjoy!

As a side note I feel I must address the cycling enthusiasts. It seems since that Lance Armstrong fellow came along, cycling has become a cool thing to do and not what it really is, a sport for people who can't really do sports. I mean come on. Guys that shave their legs? That's just too weird for words. I don't share the roads with cyclists and neither should you. Maybe I wouldn't be so perturbed but I can't help it. I have to drive these roads to get to and from my home. Cyclists have what are known as "BIKE PATHS" at many local parks. They should stay on them. But no. They come up here. And not only do they ride their bikes in what are really just skin tight leotards, but they ride side by side. So every time I come around a blind curve, even if I'm only going five miles an hour, I have to worry about hitting them. Fun, huh? I get the allure of riding in the country, but perhaps it would be wiser to ride somewhere that actually has a shoulder to the road. And then maybe, ride in it.

Anyway, I have always enjoyed driving on mountain and foothill roads. So much so that while living in the bay area and going to college, I did my research and purchased the poor man's Porsche, a Ford Probe. Oh yes folks. Envy me if you must. I would if I were you. That baby hugged the curves of the north bay mountain roads like a dream. And while the body was not anywhere near as stylish and attractive as a Porsche, that's not why I purchased my dream car. On my days off from work and school I would take her out and drive up and down the hills by myself for hours, blaring my music and clearing my mind. I finally graduated from college and had to sell my beauty. I got my degree from San Jose State and per my school's requirement, I had to buy myself a brand new Honda Civic. But I digress. I hope I have helped assist you valley folk in navigating the foothill roads and perhaps made the driving a little less scary for you. One last tip. If you ever find yourself behind a diesel truck, find yourself a turnout, preferably one with some cool rock formations, light up a Marlboro if you so fancy one, and whip out the camera. You are going to be there for a while. Those big diesel spewing trucks, especially the Ford 450s, hauling horse trailers, are completely oblivious to anyone behind them. They drive about two miles per hour, and they shoot out toxic fumes that linger for hours. So have yourself a rest, and take some cool photos of your friends on those giant rocks. And next time you find yourself driving in front of country folk and you're going thirty, pull over. We just might throw you a wave!

The Pig

September 13, 2008

We own a pig. We live out in the sticks so for the same reason that we own an above ground pool, we own a pig. Like shooting guns on the weekend or listening to country music, it is an "I-live-out-in-the-sticks" requirement. Anyway, with the cost of groceries going up we also thought it would be economical to raise our own food. The garden idea was a fabulous one! We were buying expensive vegetables that were often going to waste in our fridge. Now we have a great big garden that we planted for very cheap and nothing goes to waste. If we don't eat it the animals do. At first thought, the pig idea was a good one too. We got him for free from my sister in law. We planned to give him rotted veggies and table scrapes. So my husband built him a pen next to the goats and we brought the cute little pink guy home. He looked exactly like Babe. And that is where the similarities ended. Unlike Babe, who is extremely well trained, astonishingly clean, and somehow manages to stay small throughout that oddly endearing film, Pig, as we choose to call him since it is never good to name an animal you plan to eat, is overwhelmingly smelly, excrutiatingly stubborn, completely filthy, and growing at quite a quick pace. He also somehow manages to escape from his pen on a daily basis. Oh yes, if we ever had any reservations about eating him in the beginning we certainly have none now. This little fellow is going to make some fine ribs, bacon and pork butt for my family of meat eaters.
I admit that the little man was a bit upset at first when he learned of Pig's ultimate fate. And yes I had to tell him. I didn't want him forming an attachment to the thing like he does with every other living creature that he sees. And it just so happens that little man's two favorite meats are bacon and ham. And really, this is not some soft kid here. He understands the circle of life. He's seen his dad shoot snakes. He knows his rabbit died of heat stroke and that a coyote killed some of his smallest pygmy goats. He has collected the eggs from the chickens and gleefully whipped them up into a breakfast burrito. But the pig. Well, this was a little different. I think it has to do with that Babe movie. But do not despair because he finally turned a corner the day that Pig ate Lenny's food. Lenny is the little man's dog. Little man loves Lenny. While he watched Pig tear into the garbage can containing Lenny's precious kibble he caught a glimpse of something he had never quite taken notice of before. His ears. Pig's ears were the same shape as the "pig" ears that the man down at the feed store gave to him whenever he went to buy goat food. The little man finally put it together that the man had been giving him these animal's ears to give to Lenny! Now he keeps asking when we are going to kill Pig so he can give Lenny his ears. Ah yes. The circle of life.

I too am wondering when my husband is going to get around to doing the deed. I sometimes feel like I am living on Green Acres, the TV show. You know the one where the pig, Arnold, ran amuck through the town?
I'll look out my window to see my goats grazing on the hill behind our home. Aw. Aren't they cute. Look at them running and making those cute little jumps in the air. I love it when they....wait. What is that? Is that....Is that Pig? Oh no. Sweetheart, heeeeeeeelp!!! Pig is out of his pen again!!!!!
At this point Pig has eaten his way through approximately 25 large bags of dog food. At this rate, this pork is going to end up costing us around $15 a pound. Now what was our reason for getting this pig again?

R.I.P. Pig
Thanks for the delicious ribs buddy!

Does pretend food have calories?

September 22, 2007

My wonderfully imaginative son has recently decided that he is a cooker guy. So I have been spending quite a lot of time eating pretend food. His latest creation was a beautiful masterpiece of crayon cake. Mmmm. I can still taste the sweetness on my tongue.

Although his delictable dishes are not entirely filling, they got me to thinking, could my family actually subsist on pretend food? My husband has this fantasy that while he goes out and earns the dough I will stay at home and cook with it. And I really do try. But some days it just doesn't happen and he arrives home to a messy house, a naked three year old who is screaming that he will not wear anything but the red pajamas that are in the wash, and no dinner on the proverbial table. Or on the real table for that matter. I, of course, could exist on goldfish and Coca Cola Zero indefinitely, and the little man is the one who keeps the Wonder Bread guys and peanut farmers in business. But my husband. My husband wants a home cooked meal. The kind that he was raised on. The kind that sends him drifting off to a happier and simpler time when he ran wild in the fields and hunted for bugs and other boyish things. And it's not like I can't cook those kinds of meals. I often surprise myself at how well I can cook when I am given the time to do so. But that brings me back to the kid. The cooker guy. Lately, I spend so much of every day eating his wonderful pretend creations that I often find myself out of time to make any real ones. Thank God for Cena. This wonderful little establishment has been placed on this Earth to save my marriage. From now on my husband will have his home cooked meal and I will have the privilege of enjoying my little guy's company over a slice of Lego pie and tea. The world will all be right again. That is until laundry time. Does anyone know where I can round up some pretend clean clothes?

Pioneer Woman

October 20, 2007
I had an epiphany last week.

We are as strong as we allow ourselves to be.

This might seem pretty obvious to some but it hasn't been that clear for me in my life.

This great insight came to me as I was showering in our poorly lit, extremely small, and desperately in need of a cleaning, stall shower in our master bath.

As I was rinsing the shampoo from my hair, I turned to face the wall, and mere inches from my face was a rather large spider.

He or she was just hanging there in it's web, not seeming to care that an intruder had entered it's dark little space.

In my past life, before moving out to this rural landscape filled with tarantulas, scorpions, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and mountain lions, I lived in a nice, practically bug and predator free, suburban neighborhood, where the sight of a spider such as my shower companion, would have sent me dripping wet and screaming out into the living room, in search of my husband to kill the foul thing.

But this time I did nothing of the sort.

I just continued on with my shower and perhaps I even admired the spider's web and how amazing it is that the water sends it waving back and forth without ever breaking it.

What kind of a woman does this, you might ask yourself. Is she brave beyond comprehension? Does she have nerves of steel and fears nothing?


But this is when I experienced the epiphany.

I used to watch that show Little House on the Prairie as a kid, and I even read some of Ms.Wilder's books.

All the time I was admiring how brave and amazing these women were.

These women who spent every day from sun up until sun down tending to their homes and land, often doing the work of their husbands, who had to travel miles and miles to sell what they grew and created on their farms.

These women, it seemed to me, were fearless.

They braved snow storms and torrential rains, every predator from animal to man, and even sickness and disease without the benefits of modern medicine.

And I used to wonder how would I fare if I were in their shoes?

Would I be able to tame the wild countryside while still laughing and relishing every moment on this beautiful earth?

Would I continue to praise and give thanks to God for all my blessings when I am faced with scorpions in my bathroom, mice in my cupboards, rains flooding my foundation, and no heat to warm my home?

Back then I thought, not a chance.

I could not live like those women.

I am not that strong.

And while I am not where I am because I have no where else to live, I am still here for a better life.

A life that has spiritual meaning.

A life that is as close to what God intended, living off the land and being led by his Spirit, as I can possibly get in the 21st century.

And guess what?

I am that strong.

Not by choice or by chance, but because it is required of me.

Because God has granted me that strength.

Because I am that pioneer woman.

I have faced and will most likely face again, tribulations of no water, no heat, predators killing my animals, and threatening my child, and trying to live off the land without my husband to rescue me at every turn.

And I enjoy it.


I didn't think I would ever say it, but that spider in my shower, he's another one of God's creatures, just like me, trying to survive in an untamed world.

And I am as strong as I allow myself to be.

A miracle has happened

October 4th, 2007

And I was not there to relish it! My husband took the little man into town yesterday to pick up some things from the store. He found a parking spot, got him out of the car, found a cart, and started grabbing some things off the shelves. Apparently during this whole time, about ten minutes, little man had not said a single word. Anyone who has been around the kid recently, knows this is quite different from his normal behavior since he has the potential to become the country's best filibusterer with his penchant for extended monologues about who knows what that can often last for minutes on end. (Not really sure from where he gets that.) The kid likes to talk and does so. Often. For hours at a time. Sometimes even inventing words just to fill in dead air. So much so that a child in his preschool class thought he was speaking Spanish. (He wasn't.) And he usually adds "mama" about every five words or so. You see why I say this was a true miracle. Anway, back to the scene at the store. Curiousity finally got the better of my husband. He looked at the quiet one and said, "Little man, you haven't said a single word since we got out of the car. Is something wrong?"With the wisdom and composure that should far exceed that of a three year old, the kid looked back at him and simply stated, "I don't have any more words dada. I just ran out."

The Money Pit

originally written on:
Sunday, February 25, 2007

I saw the movie years ago and at the time I had no idea that my life would one day be imitating art. And yet here I am, living in the money pit. Okay, it isn't quite as bad as the movie and we are actually happy we own our home but if Murphy's Law has ever happened anywhere, it has happened here for the past three weeks. I'll explain. We moved to the property of our dreams a few weeks ago which we had purchased in 2004 after only a quick viewing with the real estate agent. The property was gorgeous, and the price was right, but the house was no where near ideal. Still, we knew we'd never get a better deal in California so we went for it. After several years of seeing other people live in our home, my husband finally got a job in the area and we moved in to our little fixer-upper. From the moment we arrived everything that could go wrong, did.We moved in without our dryer hooked up and with the prospect of it not being hooked up for at least a week, things did not look good. I'm sure many of you would say, no big deal. Go to the laundromat. But when the nearest one is 30 miles away, it just isn't an option. So, the dirty clothes piled up and once we finally had the dryer working, the washing machine broke. Somehow, my wannabe Mr. Fix-it husband got it working again, as long as you don't mind running the spin cycle several times per load to get the water out. I am still trying to make a dent in the clothes that accumulated during that time. But at least it works. I thought having conquered the laundry quandary that I could then handle anything. I was very, very wrong.Within days of settling in we discovered that the entire house had been left floating freely over its piers. While our contractor friend was looking into our legal options, we were left to worry about what we could do in the meantime. A few days later the kitchen was being leveled out temporarily using shims. Hey, at least the house stopped shaking every time you walked through the kitchen. The living room was reinforced with some type of wood plank things ( I am obviously home repair challenged) and although not quite level, at least it won't crumble should there be an earthquake. I hope.While under the house fixing the floor problem, it was discovered that there was and still is standing water under a couple of rooms. Part of it caused by the rain water not draining away from the house and part of it caused by the fact that the master bath(if you can call it that) has no pipe connection from the sink so that all the sink water is just draining into the dirt under our house. Nice, huh? Yah, I think the guy that moved our house here from the city did an outstanding job of getting it ready to be put on the market. Right. I just hope we can find the guy so that I can give him a piece of my mind and make him pay for some or ALL of the so-far-from-being-up-to-code-it's-not-even-funny work he did on this house.So we finally had the floor thing worked out and things were going pretty good when it just happened to snow here. We are at an elevation of about 2500 feet so snow is not a common thing to see. But we were excited when the flakes started to fall a few nights ago. By the time we had the little guy in bed I started to feel a bit chilly and noticed that the central heat thermostat read, 66 degrees, despite having set it at 69. We could not figure out why it was shooting out cool air and thankfully we had a portable heater that kept us warm all night long. When we woke up in the morning the ground was covered with snow and the thermostat read 60 degrees. I tried to ignore the fact that it was so cold inside and went outside with my guys to play in the snow. Later I looked up our heating system online and discovered that the previous owner had once again been using shady methods to get the home ready for sale. He had managed to side step offering central heat while still stating that the home did indeed have it. You see, he installed a system on the home that is actually meant to be quite energy efficient. The system takes the air from outside, passes it through a bunch of coils, and then forces the air, either warmed in the winter, or cooled in the summer, into the house. Unfortunately, the system was not meant to be installed as the sole means of heat, and if the temperatures drop too low, the system switches to aux heat. Most times that would mean a furnace would take over, but in our case it meant no heat. To make things worse, if the coils freeze from the snow, the system shifts into defrost and while doing its thing, sends cool air through the house. But at least the air was warmer than the 20 something degrees it was outside. We learned the next night just how cold a house can get when the heat is gone completely.The afternoon after our snow we finally had heat again, but quickly lost it in the evening when 2 power poles had failed. We also lost our only means of cooking, our lights, and all water from our well. Most of those things would have been okay to be without for a short time, but it was frigid outside and our home quickly started to become the same. By 11pm when I finally decided to go to bed, it was about 57 degrees in the house. The three of us bundled up in bed under a mountain of blankets. We stayed fairly warm until the next morning. The thermostat read 46 degrees. Inside the house. my dear husband had to sleep for work so he was lucky enough to be under cover, but the little man and I finally decided to start the car and climb inside for some heat. I cooked breakfast on the side burner of our BBQ, and we watched a movie in the car until 9:30am when the power finally came back on.That morning, I lost it. My husband thought I had had a nervous breakdown and I quite felt like it. But I think having had one thing after another go wrong had finally gotten to me. I wanted to run away from our home and check into a nice Hilton hotel or something. But now that the snow has cleared and the heat is once again working, I have been able to remember why we are so blessed to be where we are. We have a beautiful piece of land, and a mostly functional home, with heat and food and even a couple of fuzzy TV channels with the help of rabbit ears, and I know that there are so many that cannot say that. Having lived without heat for just one night has given me insight into how so many of our nation's homeless live every day in the winter. And without the luxury of blankets. I now I have a new sadness for those less fortunate than us and I appreciate my own little money pit even more now. And all of this experience reminds me of something someone sent me during the holidays. I don't know who to attribute the credit to but it is not mine, although I can definitely apply it to my life these days.

I am thankful for...
...the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
...the taxes I pay
because it means that I'm employed.
...the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat. shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.
...the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.
...all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.
...that lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.
...lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning & gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home. huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.
...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means that I have been productive.
...the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I am alive.

So, yes, we live in the money pit. But I am extremely thankful for it. It is our home and our little bit of heaven. And I can see my husband and I sitting in our swing decades from now, watching the sun set over the foothills, talking about our hopes and dreams, and laughing about all our mishaps and adventures we have had here. And I will still be thankful.


I have many, many New Year's resolutions. One of them is to listen to my husband more. He says I need to start writing again, so here's my third attempt at keeping a blog. Another of my resolutions is to be more organized, therefore I am moving all Myspace blogs over here. Okay. That's all.