Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Little Romance....

My husband, on his facebook page, posted a picture of some of the activities of Grad Week at West Point,  the United States Military Academy. He was reminiscing that surely it hadn't been that many years since he had taken part in all of that.

What I remember most vividly about his graduation day is this little story....

My grandparents had driven me up for the ceremony, so I was not sitting with his family during graduation. After the ceremony was over, I saw one of his sisters, who gave me a general idea of where on the field he was last seen. As I started to climb down the bleacher, we saw each other, so he knew about where I was coming from. Once I got on the field though, it became a sea of grey and white uniforms, and families looking for their loved ones.

But after a few minutes, just like in a romantic movie, the crowd parted, and there he was. Of course I ran into his arms..... it wouldn't be a romance without that scene, would it?

The day after he graduated we were married at the Old Cadet Chapel. Next week we will celebrate our 28th anniversary. A romantic trip? Oh yes, driving a Uhaul back from the east coast, where he has spent his last year before retiring from the Army. I stayed here at home this past year, as we had a teen graduating high school, and I take care of my grandmother. It's been since November since we last saw each other.

A Uhaul trip cross country can be romantic, can't it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Garden, early spring

This past week the weather was nice enough to get some garden work done. I replanted some deck planters, refreshed the soil in a pots of existing planters.

But some work I didn't need to do, all I needed was to take my pruning shears and snip a few blossoms.
The big purple bloom in the above close up is from my tree peony. It took 3 years for it to really start blooming, and now it blooms like crazy.

In the picture below is the same blossom, in the vase with some white lilacs. When we bought out house, 12 years ago, I bought several lilac bushes on clearance. I thought I got several different color lilacs, and planted them in several spots in the yard. Unfortunately they were mismarked, so most of them turned out to be the usual light lavender color. One was white. 2 years later I added another white lilac. Last year we found a dark purple lilac and my daughter planted that.

I love flowers, and I love flowers with a soft perfume to them. But my rose garden is in rough shape and needs a major overhaul. But for now I have lilacs & hyacinths.

My oldest daughters, 5 of 6 and 4 of 6, started several different veggies inside and transplanted them in late April. Unfortunately the slugs, squirrels and deer enjoyed most of them. Except for the pea plants, so we will have peas in abundance. A trip to the farmer's market, in the next few weeks, will be needed to get bigger vegetable starts. Andwe'll need to do some beer traps. Any other ideas to keep the slugs out?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I am not an organized person

I have been working on cleaning, rearranging & reorganizing my room, since my husband moved away(thank the armed forces) a year ago. I am still not done.

Procrastination is my middle name. And I have terminal pack ratitis. So not only do I not want to go through things, the "keep" pile is always bigger than the trash and giveaway piles.

But I am leaving in a week to fly to my sweeties current duty station, and then we are driving back, cross country in a Uhaul. Sound like a great way to spend our 28th wedding anniversary, don't ya think? But at least he'll be home. And can help deal with a 4 and a half year boy who still can't *aim* straight.

Back to organizing- I think I missed out on the gene that makes this a snap for some people, so I am looking for tips, a chore chart, anything to help me:
1. Stay on task
2. Make it regular
3. Keep it simple
So that it doesn't become such a huge chore again. Any ideas?

And here is a small snapshot of something I did get organized. Went through all of my spices, wrote down the names. Gave duplicates to my daughter. Put them in new jars, with new labels- courtesy of my new Brother P-Touch PC label maker.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The weekend

Mother's Day weekend I got to do 2 things that were exciting.

The first was on saturday. I went to the open house of The Birth House, the new, free standing birth center the midwives who took care of me during my last pregnancy opened in Olympia, WA.

If you are interested in home birth, or a birth center birth, and looking for midwives, please check out:

The second event of the weekend was on sunday afternoon. I attended a BOLD Red Tent event. Women of varying ages came together to share their birth stories in a safe, accepting environment. Sitting with several women, sharing their stories of the birth of their babies, on Mother's Day, was a joy and privilege.

 I was blessed not only to share one of my birth stories, but to listen to other women share what happened to them through their pregnancies and deliveries. Also at the event were 2 women, one the mother in law of the event's organizer, both midwives who had or were still practicing, from California. There was over 40 years of experience in birth & birthing in that room.

I am always amazed at what woman can and do go through to bring children into the world. No matter if our births go according to our *plans* or not, it was good to share and be affirmed in  that amazing transition into motherhood.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Motherhood chose me....

If you had asked me, when I was 16 or so, if I ever saw myself as the stay at home mom type, or homeschooling, or home birthing, I would have cracked up laughing.

I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. I totally planned on college and work. Probably marriage, maybe 1 or 2 kids.

I started nursing school at a local community college, and fate stepped in. A friend arranged a blind date with a guy who went to a  4 year school with her fiancee. He was tall, handsome, funny, looked really good in a uniform. We met in early October, were engaged by February and married the day after he graduated in May.

At the wedding everyone told me to make sure to finish my degree.

Tell that to my ovaries!

 In 4 years we had 3 kids.  4 years later we had number 4. 4 seemed to be a good number, and we thought, at the time, that maybe we should quit there.So we did. And when he was 3 we talked about it again. And decided not to make any "permanent" changes to fertility.

 At a well woman check up 4 years after that, because I was having erratic cycles, I was told I probably wasn't ovulating regularly and should take my temperature before rising, and chart it. I charted for 5 months, I stopped charting when I started throwing up in the mornings. I pulled out that chart, but darned if I could tell where that temperature change was that was supposed to have indicated ovulation.

5 of 6 was my first home birth.  I wished we had done all of them this way.

2 years later my mother moved in with us, due to failing health because of long term diabetes. She thought we should go for number 6. I told her she was number 6. She died 3 years later, and I threw myself more fully into getting my oldest children ready for the adult world.

Four years later and again I was have erratic cycles, and I assumed I was entering the world of perimenopause. But erratic is annoying. A friend, well versed in herbals, suggested red raspberry leaf tea as a regulator.

Yeah, it regulated just fine. 6 of 6 was born a month before my 42nd birthday. Fortunately our oldest had been  out of the house for a few years.

I do not know why God, fate, the universe, chose me to be the mother of these children.  I still feel inadequate for the job. After 6 kids, I am still not patient enough, yell a bit too much. But I do try and give them room to learn and grow, let them become who they are supposed to be. Be supportive enough, I hope. Equip them for life in the real world.

I'd really like to rewind time, in each of their lives, so they were all young enough to still be home. So we could homeschool in our pajamas, or have movie day when we got snowed in. But 4 are adults now, one a teen, and then there is the 4 year old. And I can't rewind time. So I try not to worry about what I can't control, where they are living, jobs, education... And just let them be who they are meant to be. Be there when they need me, keep my mouth shut when they just want to talk and not be lectured, give good advice when they do finally ask for it.

I don't know why motherhood chose me, but I am very glad I have these 6 kids to mother.

 I hope they see me as the mother they needed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Morning tea

This is my morning. Tea is first on the agenda, and waking up. I am not a morning person. I need hot tea to unclog my head & my mind. Usually 2  green Constant Comment teabags and 1 Red Raspberry Leaf.  I have a sitting area in my bedroom where I come to check my email, get my day lined up.

My little table started life as someones funky, homemade padded footstool, that I then made a pull on
 slipcover  for it.

When I rearranged my bedroom last month, instead of being used as a side table, I pulled it in front of my loveseat. But I was afraid that it would end up with teen agers' feet on it, since the tv is right across from it. So I decided to make sure everyone knew it's function.

And this was where I first started picking up aluminum trays. I saw this one in an antique store, for not much $, and realized it would suit my purpose...

Then I just collected my items and set them up. A tiny milk glass sugar & creamer, though since I started a low carb diet I haven't used them. Sometimes one of the kids will join me, and they do use the sugar & creamer. A pretty grape embossed vase serves as a spooner. A little milk glass berry dish is my *waste* bowl. A Buchan pottery Thistle teapot is just big enough to hold 3-4 cups of tea, and sits on a  milk glass plate I got at a thrift store. The tiny handle-less mug is for my 4 year old, 6 of 6. He likes to have tea with me.

Usually I will also have tea in either the late afternoon, or after 8 pm. Afternoon teas are usually Stash's Moroccan Mint, and evening tea is Good Earth's Green Jasmine tea. One of these days I am going to branch out into loose teas. But I haven't quite got the energy to adding another step to my morning routine. Maybe I'll start loose teas for afternoon tea.

My private oasis, until someone starts calling for me anyway.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the bunny, the bunny....

We watch a bit of Veggie Tales around here, so please excuse my starting to sing (if you could call it that) one of their songs.

A few years I ago I got a bunny statue for the garden. 5 of 6 and I would place it in different parts of the garden and wait to see how long it took my husband to notice where it was.

I wanted to collect a few more garden bunnies. The cute, non garden eating statuary kind. But no one took the hint.
While antiquing two weeks ago, I ran across a match to the jadite flower pot, the milk glass flower pots, and the bunny.

She's such a cute bunny. She's green. She's a vase. She doesn't eat our freshly transplanted veggie starts.

She's a little bashful. It's her frst blog too.

Think anyone will get the hint now?

Pssst.... mother's day is just around the corner....

Off to college

No, Not me.

2 of 6.

She was homeschooled from 3rd grade till high school. Around the end of what would be sophomore year, her younger sister wanted to take the culinary arts class at the local vocational school. I noticed they also offered an early childhood education class. 2 of 6 loves little kids, and I thought maybe she might enjoy this, and learn a job skill for after high school.

2 of 6, who was also extremely shy, did well. She started taking classes at the local community college as well. And finished high school at the vocational school. She graduated high school there, and went on at the community college. And then transferred to a state university, with a small honors scholarship.

Just before 6 of 6's first birthday came time for her to go ff to the state university. Since 6 of 6 was still breast milk fed, we packed up 2 of 6, her little sister 5 of 6, the baby, and drove across state. We got a room at a hotel with a swimming pool. Got 6 of 6 settled into her dorm room the next day. The following day we would drive home.

On that last day, after we had cleared the hotel room, 2 of 6 stowed all her stuff in the dorm, I dropped her off on campus, where she was to attend a reception for the honor's transfer students. She took pictures of us, we took pictures of her. She scolded me not to cry, because then she would start to cry. So I didn't.

Until she was about a half a block away and I watched her being swallowed into the campus. 5 of 6 is telling me that I can't cry and drive. I just sat there and watched my second baby go off into the world. Honor's transfer student. It was as hard as watching my oldest graduate boot camp.

2 years later she graduated magna cum laude. She's a smart chick. And great with 4 yr olds. Can you tell I'm proud?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Frustrated perfectionist

I haven't quilted in almost 5 years. That's when I got pregnant with 6 of 6. I can't machine sew when I'm pregnant, the needle going up and down gives me motion sickness. I spend a lot of time throwing up when I am pregnant. No need to add to it.

And I haven't had the space to set up the machine and a project where little hands couldn't get into things. I'm hoping maybe, just maybe, there will be space in a few months. I have 3 projects in mind, fabric already bought (oh yeah, pack ratitis, 1 project has been sitting in a bag for 5 years) and would really like to play.

I like quilting. Fabric is a good medium for me, it stretches a bit, so you can improvise the details a bit. I have lots of practice with that. I am somewhat of a perfectionist. Unfortunately I lack the talent to make my hands do what my brain sees. And then I become a frustrated perfectionist. So I stop doing ____ (fill in the blank). Fabric & gardening are forgiving of my imperfections.

It's too cold, windy & rainy to garden right now. And I don't have a space to sew. Maybe I'll just get another hanging basket of flowers to tide me over. And post 2 pictures of completed mini projects I have done, to remind me that sometimes it does all come together.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lilac Time

It's been really cold & windy here for the first few days of May, but the lilacs are still blooming.
I finally found that banging the bottom of the stems with a hammer to crush them was the trick to getting the flowers to last more than a day.
These are the pale lilacs, the white and darker purple weren't open yet.

First kid, First kid story, and a bit of mom over reacting

You would think I would start with some anecdote from 1 of 6's early years. Nope. This story is the moment I realized my baby was a man.

My grandfathers and my husband's father are all World War 2 vets. All have passed away. Dear husband (I haven't decided on an appropriate nickname for him yet) attended a military academy and has spent nearly 30 years in active service & in the reserves. That's the background.

When 1 of 6 was 19, in college part time, and trying to find direction in life, he happened to start talking with a recruiter. In early fall of 2003 he came home at oh-dark-thirty. I heard the door and went to see what was up. Yes, he was 19, but still, I'm his mom, and I worry.

He had spent the entire time talking with a recruiter, who was going to come back in a few hours to pick him up to *sign up*.

Ok, here is a mom moment- I thought "oh heck no!" I told him he hadn't had enough sleep to take the ASVAB and get a high enough score to get into the military specialty he wanted, and he should think this through some more, talk to a friend who was a recruiter from another service, etc.

Dad agreed, but thought I was a bit nuts. So I asked dh to get dressed in uniform to talk to recruiter when he came back to pick up 1 of 6. And I got dressed. And swiped 1 of 6's birth certificate and drove off. No birth certificate, no signing up, I thought.

I only spent about an hour and a half at a local chain restaurant before I realized there wasn't enough coffee in the world to keep me awake any longer. I went home, but the recruiter hadn't showed yet. I hid the birth certificate.

Shortly after that the recruiter arrived, and spent nearly an hour on our front deck, before dawn, talking with 1 of 6 and his Dad. 1 of 6 did not join up that day. But he did a few weeks later.

Which leads to the second part of the story.

Graduation from basic training day arrives, and his Dad, his siblings-4 of 6 and 5 of 6, fiancee and I fly to hot & humid California. At the graduation ceremony itself, I became a bit unglued. Not much, but, I had to get up from the bleachers and stand behind them, I was bawling my eyes out.

1 of 6 had been homeschooled from the 4th grade on. We asked if he wanted to go to public high school, but he decided not to. His entire life he had been *mine*. Mine to raise, love, educate, protect... and now he's in the service. I had given up control of dear husband to the military, made my peace with whatever might come, but my baby!??

I watched most of the ceremony from the back of the stands, all those brave young men in uniform. And realized that's what his Dad and I had raised. A brave young man. Who wanted to serve his country, like his grandfathers and father before him.

After the graduation, back at the hotel room, where everyone is changing and relaxing, I talked to 1 of 6. I told him how hard it was for me to let go, that it had been my job to take care of him, protect him. And here he was now, a member of the armed forces in a time of war. My 6 foot 2 inch handsome son squished me in a bear hug and said "Mom, now it's my turn to protect you."

I turned to mush.

And I am so proud.

Kitchen.. part 3...

I hadn't been thrift shopping or antiquing in at least 3 years when I decided to pop into an antique store next to the yoga studio I go to, after class. It was right about the time I started reimagining the kitchen, just prior to painting.

I kept seeing hand hammered and stamped aluminum trays. I liked a lot of the designs I saw, mostly floral or nature scenes of some sort. But couldn't imagine what I would use them for or where to put them.

While washing the kitchen with TSP, to get it ready to paint, I was scrubbing away at the back splash area under the cabinets, when the idea hit me. Those aluminum trays would make a great back splash! And I could take them down, pop them into the dishwasher and boom! Clean back splash!

The great thing about these trays are that they are easy to find and very affordable. $5 to $15 each. Once I started looking, I had a hard time not buying more than I needed (pack rat alert!).

My adult daughters and I wrangled a bit about placement. I really should listen to my oldest daughter, she is a talented artist, but I ended up wanting MORE and didn't follow her "less is more" sensibilities.

But it is my kitchen, so for now, it stays. You can see the back splash in Kitchen post #2 as well. Please forgive my poor design layout on the blog page, I am still new at this.

Kitchen part 2

So here is how the kitchen came out, the cabinet side of it anyway. The cabinets are the *Autumn Clematis* color. I have room above the cabinets to display some milk glass, jadite, baskets, a few of my teapots... there's a story to tell, but I digress...

Try not to notice the horrendous yellow laminate countertops. I think I might like to try painting them, but, not yet. I barely could keep my grandmother & 4 yr old son out of the kitchen for a week to paint the cabinets!


After getting into our new house, fixing & painting what absolutely had to, there was no spare cash left for a new kitchen. So we painted the kitchen cabinets. Only we didn't start with nice wood cabinets, something solid, but serviceable. No, we have crapola cabinets. Trim pieces barely screwed on, face frames separating, not even real wood doors.

My attempt at crackle finishing them failed, so I ended up doing a light sponge technique on them. And then a friend painted a little bit of ivy vines across some of the upper cabinets. Only my *helpers* didn't thoroughly wash the cabinets around the stove, and some of the primer + paint peeled in a few places. A household with 6 active kids means the cabinets saw a lot of abuse. Plus at one point my mother lived with us, wheelchairs scrape paint off of cabinets.

I had hoped that perhaps this would be the year of the new cabinets, but it didn't look like that was going to happen. I couldn't bear the look of the old cabinets against the wall paint color, so painting them was on the agenda.

2 coats of BIN primer. And then 2 full coats & 1 light finish coat of True Value's Cabinet, trim & Door paint. I painted them in the same color as the rest of the doors & interior trim. "Autumn Clematis" from Martha Stewarts's original KMart paint line. I have 3 swatch cards I have kept for 10 years and fortunately they have color matched well every time I've used them.


We have been in our house for nearly 12 years. It was the first house we bought, after spending several years as a military family moving around the world. It was definitely a cosmetic fixer-upper. Dh wanted to rip up nasty old carper, primer ceiling to floor, and move in.

I balked. After all that time in military quarters and rentals I wanted COLOR!! He sprayed primer everywhere, then sprayed the nasty popcorn ceilings. Then my older kids, a few friends and I painted. COLOR! Originally the kitchen, dining room, hall, stairs (all of which open onto each other) and family room were painted the same color. 2 years later I decided to repaint the living room a nice sage green. And I repainted the doors and trim in that period as well.

But for 10 years the open floor plan kitchen/dining/hall/stair stayed the same color. Until 2 months ago when I was washing the stair walls, for the millionth time, and noticed that in several spots I had washed away the paint altogether. Time to repaint!

Only I took another month choosing a color. Which meant several visits to the local home improvement stores, several sample cans of paint, lots of sample boards, one painting of the hall... only to find that the color was much too warm to go with the tile. And lots of input from my adult daughters, who moved home for this past year.
In the end I finally found a color I liked (Olympic's Frosty Pine) and decided not to paint an accent wall. BY the way, I love Behr's new Paint + Primer. It covered well on the first paint color we tried in the hall, and then the new color painted over that covered in 1 coat as well.

On to the kitchen....

Kid stories....

We all have funny kid stories, touching kid stories, scary kid stories. I will post some. If I can remember any. Because after 6 kids, it kind of all blurs together....

6 kids....

So as not the embarrass my beloved children I will be referring to them in true Mother Borg fashion.

1 of 6 has been out of the hive for several years. He is a member of the armed forces, married and has a beautiful 1 year old daughter.

2 of 6 graduated 2 years ago from university, with honors, her mother said proudly. Her passion is working with children, especially the 4 year to 1st grade age range. And music.

3 of 6 will be graduating shortly, is a phenomenal cook, frequently my right hand in helping to care for aged parent & grandparent.

4 of 6 recently graduated high school. Is a part time college student. Hides a lovable teddy bear self behind a tough exterior.

5 of 6 is an adorable teenager, totally in the giggly teen girl set, but still sweet, compassionate, hard working. A wonderful mother's helper.

6 of 6, dear 6 of 6. What was heaven thinking sending me a very active child so late in life? But he is cute, hysterical, trying, very smart and I am exhausted. Have been since he was born 4 years ago. He doesn't sleep, never did. Rarely napped. Doesn't like to sleep in his own bed. But he makes us laugh.

My First Blog

I am starting a blog to keep myself semi-sane. I have been a SAHM for almost the entire 28 years of my marriage. We have 6 kids (more on them later) and I take care of my 92 year old grandmother. In other words, I have no life outside the house, cause I don't have the time or the energy left!

So this will be some writing, some stories of kids, some of my pack-rat, I mean collecting things, some decorating (with blurry cell phone pics) stream of consciousness nonsense. Just an outlet, of some kind. Have fun reading!