Monday, July 31, 2017

when introverts and extroverts party

On Saturday we hosted 19 people for a cookout. I had never met half of them. Needless to say I'm still recovering.

Our church has been encouraging regular attenders to host cookouts this summer and invite friends/neighbors who don't normally attend church. Being the most introverted of the introverts we did not jump for joy when we heard about this plan. I enjoy hosting people, but if I'm going to have someone into my personal space I like to know them. We decided to host one anyway because it was the Lord's work and, to be honest, I was hoping for some extra heavenly treasure for my efforts. 

It first it was a manageable size. We invited the landlords, four neighbors and two friends we knew from Fort Campbell. Nine people was a nice size and we knew them all. Then Christopher decided to invite the people on the other side of Hippie Bob and Sue. That was venturing into uncharted neighborhood territory. They weren't home but the people on the other side of them were so Christopher invited them. While he was talking to them, the guy next door came to see what was going on so he got invited too. Then Matt from work got an invitation. Then a family from church said they'd come help out. The numbers quickly got out of control.

I channeled my nerves into selecting the right color scheme and planning cupcake flavors. At one point I said something about how my gold and white with touches of pink color scheme didn't make one bit of difference. No one would notice anyway. I didn't even want to bother with coordinating straws. (WHO AM I?) Let's cancel the whole thing and move to Montana. Christopher thought I should ditch the color scheme and we should focus on more important things like how much food to buy and having enough seating. 

Matt and Phil (an unexpected addition) arrived early. The neighbors old and new trickled in shortly after. Most of the neighbors had never met. We were the new kids on the block bringing everyone together. Bob and Sue couldn't come because he was running his 25th yard sale of the year. I asked him where he gets all the items he sells (he has a never ending supply in his yard) and he said "they fall from the sky. It's bad for business when it rains." I'd imagine so. The family from church came just in the nick of time. They socialized and helped and saved the day. We could have survived without them, but they made the experience a million times easier. If we get a few treasures in heaven for this they will certainly get several mansions. The moral of this story is introverts hosting a party should always have extreme extroverts on the guest list.

All in all the event went well. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we were glad we did it, even though we did look like this the second everyone left.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

one man's trash is another girl's prized possession

I spent a good portion of my day thinking I didn't have anything interesting to report from the weekend. Then I remembered that I made a wooden bowl which isn't an every day occurrence. You'd think that would have been something in the forefront of my mind since I've been eating Skittles out of it all day.

For many years now I've been trying to get Christopher into a hobby that isn't reading or drumming. I was specifically steering him in the direction of woodworking. I have a list several miles long of things I'd like built and he needed a hobby. It's a win win for everyone. He finally agreed to try it and he's fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Or saw, hammer and screws as the case may be. He's bought the tools, signed up for classes and made endless trips to Home Depot. He signed us for a wooden bowl making class at a wood shop in town. He never complains about waiting for me while I shop at the craft store so I was happy to do something he wanted. 

I've done some woodworking but not for years. Grandpa and I made Aaron a wooden fort with removable roof for his plastic cowboys and indians and two little wooden tanks. They remain the pinnacle of my (short) wood career.  I had never used a lathe, a drill press or the plethora of other tools Joe the instructor taught us. It was a very new experience. 

I'm just going to throw it out there that I'm really proud of myself for not crying during the entire three hours. The last time Christopher and I did a class together was when we got our concealed carry license at Fort Lee. I was too weak to pull the trigger so I held up the entire class. It was mortifying. I may have shed a few tears behind my safety glasses. I truly believed my bowl was going to be a disaster but Joe came by frequently with encouragement and fixed my many mistakes. Every time my tool hit the machine it made a terrible sound. I lost count of the times it made that sound. Eventually people stopped wondering who wasn't using their tool properly because it was always me. 

Before. Obviously. 
Christopher's is on the left and mine the right. We were supposed to be making matching bowls but Christopher went rogue. His bowl is like Cinderella at the ball and mine is the plain stepsister. 

In other recent news, Annabelle has a new fascination with trash. Our kitchen windows overlook the backyard and she likes to look for "treasures" while she eats then go out in the yard to pick it up. This week she's brought in a leaf, a crumpled up flier and a random bits of plastic. She tells me she "lubs them all so much and they're my faborites." Today she asked me to take a picture of her with the sign the yard man put up.
The first of our tomatoes are red! One was destroyed by a bug but the other was perfect. I split a cherry tomato in thirds so we could all try it. We all got a piece the size of an M&M. We have SO many green tomatoes that will turn if it ever stops raining. I have big plans to make some into sauce and save it for the winter. I hope I can approach canning with the same enthusiasm Christopher approaches a package of new saw blades or AB when she sees a discarded water bottle.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

its not all doom and gloom. sometimes its goats taking a stroll through your yard.

 I know my last post was all mopey and endless woe is me. I generally try to stay upbeat but sometimes your house floods and it's hard to be optimistic when ants are covering the place you eat your meals.

Our neighbor Hippie Bob invited us to his birthday party on Saturday. He didn't invite us until Friday night so it was obvious we weren't on the original guest list. Our relationship with HB and his common law wife is very shallow. We wave at each other and he yells 'hi' to Annabelle until she verbally responds. She gets shy and doesn't do more than wave which causes him to continue yelling. HB has a constant yard sale going on at the end of his driveway and while I can't say how much he makes, I don't think he does too poorly. There's a constant stream of customers to buy his old bikes and expired infant car seats. Sometimes he decorates his yard with items he doesn't want to part with. For months he had a giant stuffed horse on a tree stump. Much like the USPS it was there through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night. No matter the weather Bob wears a jacket and straw hat. He has a bushy white beard and wears his hair in a pony tail. Many a time the smell marijuana has drifted over from their yard. He and Sue make for quite the people watching. Not that I'm into that kind of thing of course. I'm always reminding Christopher not to be so nosy.

In preparation for his party he displayed not only an American flag but a confederate as well. He wanted all guest to feel welcome, no matter which side of the Mason/Dixon line they call home.
Hippie Bob spared no expense for the party. He had a horse, a pony, a rabbit, four goats and stage where Strawberry Jam serenaded him late into the night. Let's not forget about the shipment of porta potties that arrived at his house the day before the party. He told Christopher there would also be a bull (it was not specified whether it would be a real or mechanical bull) but the only bull was a bull shaped grill. There was about 50 guests and we didn't know a soul until our landlord and his parents arrived. We were the only non-family members invited and it was very awkward. We said we "had another event" after the party and made a quick getaway. Our other event was going hiking but Bob didn't need to know details. He cornered me yesterday as I was watering plants to talk about the party. He said it was a great time, that he didn't start drinking until 7 o'clock because he "wanted to be normal", that his niece is a world renowned neurosurgeon who is "known not just here, not just there, but everywhere" and that Sue's mother sold furniture to Martha Stewart. We covered a lot of ground in four minutes.

In other party news, Annabelle hosted a tea party in the backyard. She said it was the best tea party she had ever been to. I enjoyed it, but the host asked me to wear a too small pirate vest so I was very uncomfortable. She's not afraid of dirt or picking up worms but she's also very girly and I love it. 
Mr. Happy came out for his yearly visit. We'll been taking pictures with him for four years now so we've gotten our money's worth out of that dollar store investment. Shortly after this picture Annabelle used the potty of her own free will. I almost cried. She hasn't done it again since but I needed that glimmer of encouragement. AB's future employers will really love this detailed recap of her potty journey. 
Our garden is doing so well. I took this picture yesterday morning and by the evening it had turned into a green bean. Our tomato plants are bursting with green tomatoes. Contrary to our landlord's father's Eeyore prediction, no rabbits or deer have come by for a snack.
On our fifth day of potty training we went out to play in the rain. Sesame was in seventh heaven. She wore her puddle boots, winter hat and no pants. She was as happy as a clam.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

when it rains it pours, literally and figuratively

Thursday night I had an eye doctor appointment. As the receptionist walked me to the exam room she asked how I was. For a brief second I wondered how she'd react if I told her how my day had really been. What she was say if I gave her a complete rundown of my day? I didn't give it to her so I'll relay it here in painstaking detail.

First of all, all week we've been deep in the trenches of Operation Potty Training Intensive. The timer goes off every 20 minutes for AB to sit on the potty. We've had absolutely no success with anything making it into the potty. She had an accident while standing on top of her barn which resulted in the barn and all the animals having to be washed. We bring the potty, wipes, paper towels and dry underwear from room to room. It's such an ordeal. Each day she's had less accidents but since she isn't using the potty I don't feel like we've had much progress. I told her to pay attention to a feeling she might get in her belly. That means she needs to use the potty. After an accident I asked if she had the feeling and she said she did. I asked what it felt like and her response was "magic and unicorns and my heart beating feels yike butterflies."  
I woke up Thursday morning knowing it would be another long day of training. I was determined for it to be a good day! Positive thoughts! Fun times! Then I walked into the kitchen and the table was covered in ants again. We've sprayed multiple times but each time it rains ants make their way in. No matter how clean I keep the table they always come back. Later in the day I found a caterpillar on the floor by the sink. Our house is turning into an insect sanctuary city. 

Between PTI and constant rain all this week we haven't gotten out much. I have a few friends who take their children to the same music class we go to so we had planned on meeting at class that morning. It was pouring like I've never seen as we got ready to go. I hoped Shelley would text me to say she didn't want to drag her kids out in the rain. I wanted to cancel but Annabelle was excited to go and she's had such a good attitude about PTI that I wanted her to do something fun. If there's one thing you need to know about me it's that I HATE HATE doing errands in the rain. I do not like getting my clothes wet. I don't like wet socks. I don't like my feet getting wet if I'm in sandals. I don't want to sit in the car or arrive at my destination in wet clothes. I love swimming and walking in creeks, but rain water is a different story. We got soaked getting into the car. We got soaked getting out of the car. We got soaked when Annabelle said she needed to use the potty (false alarm) and we made an emergency stop at Tim Hortons. 

When we got home I went to look at a room in the cellar that sometimes gets a puddle on the floor when it rains. The entire floor was covered in water. I had to lug bags of Army gear, instruments, backpacks and boxes to the other room. I had no idea how to clean up the water so I did what I could and waited for the landlords to come and save the day.

Before music class I was in Annabelle's room getting her clothes. The door hit the shelf behind it and a frame crashed to the ground and smashed into a million pieces. I did what I do best and shut the door to deal with later. When I finally vacuumed it up (after an accident and the flood) I saw that the picture inside was ripped. It's a print of You are My Sunshine that Mom gave me after Grandpa died. He always sang the song to me so its a special picture. That's when I gave up on life. Except I couldn't because Annabelle refused to nap and I dropped my water bottle on the way out the door.

I thought about telling the receptionist my lengthy sob story but thought better of it. We didn't have enough time to fully cover all the details. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Last weekend we took a quick family trip to Kutzville, Pennsylvania. I was hesitant to pack up and leave home again, but with all our travels lately we haven't done anything just the three of us. I'm so glad we went.

We found a pamphlet for a Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish festival on one of our day trips. Christopher researched it and we decided to go. I wrote "drive to Klutzville" on all our calendars. I thought the name was weird but there's a Hell, Michigan and Looneyville, Texas. Maybe it was named by a group of clumsy people. The correct name is Kutztown. No wonder I'm bad with directions. I can't even get the town names straight.

We didn't know anyone who had been to the festival and had no personal reviews that it would be any good. We hoped it would be good after driving five hours and hearing the Pete the Cat audio book play 6 times in a row from the backseat. We arrived right when the fair grounds were opening and it was immediately obvious it was a popular place. It was so much fun. There were booths of gorgeous handmade items, foods, clothes and decor, primarily in Amish/country style. Annabelle's personal favorite was a hammock.
Most of the festival wasn't child centered and Annabelle did have a few small meltdowns, but overall she was a good sport. We forgot our wagon so she had to walk all day which didn't help and she missed her nap but I think she enjoyed it. She watched a puppet show she loved and part of a flea circus show she hated. She got to play in the bounce house and inflatable slide (not genuine Amish activities) as well as ride on a house drawn merry go round.
We found the cutest souvenir but Christopher wouldn't let us buy one. "Where would you put it? How would we travel back with it?" Details shmetails. I know a family of nine who traveled up the east coast with a couple of llamas in their van. I think we could handle one duckling.
We saw the most gorgeous quilts. I was so inspired to go home and whip together a quilt for our bed. I'm sure it will never happen. I'm better at buying fabric than sitting down and sewing it.
A quilt would have been the ideal souvenir since it requires neither feeding or a shelter, but I didn't bring an extra $1,000 with me.
You can't imagine the joy I felt when I saw a sign saying there would be an Amish wedding at 3:15. I assumed it wouldn't be a real wedding but I love any wedding. I always try to crash join in on weddings we come across while out and about. He who shall remain unnamed doesn't agree with my ideas of celebrating with a strange happy couple. Here was a wedding I was welcome to attend. I must say I was underwhelmed. The ceremony started 15 minutes late. The man acting as the preacher sat on the stage scrolling through his phone while Annie and Jonathan (played by Shawna and Eric) stood on the sidelines fiddling with their microphones. The ceremony finally started and not so much as a fingertip of touching happened between the two lovebirds. As the preacher said, "they had chores in the morning so there won't be much time to celebrate."
We left with a few not animal souvenirs, a sunburn and some good memories. Turns out Klutzville is a pretty fun place.

Friday, July 7, 2017

aunt camp 2017

Aunt Camp 2016 was such a success we immediately knew it would be an annual event. We arrived at Ivy's house last Wednesday to start the festivities. Annabelle likes to play a new car game of counting the house/buildings/trees/cars we drive by. She doesn't enjoy playing alone, will only count to 19 before starting at 1 again and likes to change the rules so it's not my favorite game. It was a long hour drive from Grammy's to Ivy's house.

Look at Ivy's adorable little face. If you don't think she's cute we can't be friends.
Each day of Aunt Camp started off with a trip to the playground. Our goal was to tire the girls out and make them take good naps. I think it tired out Erika and I more than the girls. One afternoon we went to a science and nature museum called the Ecotarium. Annabelle insisted it was called "da EcoAquarium." They had a huge outdoor play area that was perfect for kids Annabelle's age. There was dirt, sand, rocks, water and musical instruments which is all Annabelle needs to be happy. Thankfully she can't read so she missed the sign saying it was mud activity day.
"Can you take my pit-chur?" 
At night the camp counselors sat on the couch to recover from the days activities. We watched shows and talked for hours. We all get along so well and enjoy spending time together. It's exactly what I pictured life with a sister in law and niece would be.

We saw adorable patriotic dresses at Walmart so we bought them for the girls. Erika asked if she thought Ivy needed a bow. AS IF I WOULD SAY NO. We had big plans of a cousins photo shoot but didn't plan the timing well. Ivy was awake past naptime and Annabelle was acting like a typical three year old. It did not go smoothly.
Multiple adults were needed.
We finally got these winning pictures. 
I told AB that when Ivy is older they can be best friends. She said, "She's already my best friend." 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

america day

One of my big goals of motherhood is to pass on my love of all things holiday to Annabelle. I must be succeeding because for days she would ask if it was almost "America day and parade day." She could not wait for me to get out the box of patriotic decorations and set up her own "America party." Why use one flag when you can use 12 of varying sizes? Leaving the tags on the little containers really added to the charm of the party.
We went to the same parade as last year. It's not great as far as parades go but Sesame thinks it's great. She doesn't know parades are supposed to have floats and not be 85% firetrucks and politicians. All she cares about is getting candy and seeing firemen.
Oh, the firemen! She kept asking when the parade would start so she could see them. She jumped up and down with joy when they went by. She lost her little mind when one gave her candy. Much like her mother she appreciates a man in uniform. 
Our plan for the day was to have our friends over for a cookout after the parade. Unfortunately they had a death in the family so they had to cancel. Instead we hung out in the front yard while Christopher grilled and AB and I played with water balloons and water guns. We baked cookies and guaranteed that we'll never appear on The Great British Bakeoff or any Food Network shows. It looks like a toddler made them. Oh wait. ONE DID.
We planned on seeing fireworks but stayed home when I read they didn't start until 9:30 and we're apparently very old and also have a child who insists on waking up early. She does not believe in the freedom to sleep in until 8 o'clock.