Breaking the Rules

There's an ancient lilac bush in our front yard. It was here when we moved in fifteen years ago, and our neighbor says it was around long before that. Over those years, it has gotten taller and taller, the blooms so high that I could barely reach them for cutting.

In the fall, when My Wonderful Man and I were in the middle of Pruning Fever, our eyes fell on the lilac and we decided to 'trim' it. Just like my bangs when I was little, the bush got smaller and smaller as we tried to make it all even. I was sure it would be dead this spring, since we broke all the lilac trimming rules.

But look! Here it comes! It's not dead after all.

But there might not be any blooms...


All Dog Party

Last weekend, a family birthday party at our house turned into an All Dog Party. Everyone felt free to bring their favorite pooch (or pooches) to our house to join the fun. We tried to get a group portrait of the middle-aged dogs - at least they were looking - sitting with the newest addition - who kept his eye on the grass.

The matriarch wandered around the yard and house and seemed to be, someone said, "Looking for the elephant graveyard." She's 119 in dog years and it shows. The old girl is dressed in her best March Madness gear, below.
Too bad it didn't bring KY any luck this weekend...

One of the books that I taught the boys to read from has my favorite illustration of the Ultimate All Dog Party. Ours was almost as much fun - we just didn't have the cool hats:


An Easter Frown

It's a great blessing to have cousins around for your kids to play with, especially when they are little. My boys had cousins of the same age in my brother's family as they were growing up. What good times those were and how quickly gone!
Here is My Oldest and his cousin of (almost) the same age, on Easter Sunday, probably around 1995. The egg hunt was the main event for the kids - meal was the main event for the adults! They couldn't WAIT to get out there, scramble around in the wet grass, and fill their baskets with fun stuff. Not sure why my boy is frowning here --- is it because his basket is empty and hers looks full, or is it because he's clearly underdressed for the occasion? Maybe he's frowning because he had to wear full winter gear for a spring event - the first children always suffer the over-attention of their parents, don't they? It's the firstborn's lot in life!


The Willow's Pearls

" The Willow Has Put On Her Pearls "
In early spring, the willows are the first trees to show their leaves, I believe. They catch my eye on every drive! Tiny, bright leaves on long, thin branches - it looks like every willow has put on lovely green pearls just in time to step into the spring celebration.

The willow in our front yard was intended to be a surprise anniversary/birthday gift for My Wonderful Husband in 1998. But instead, it turned out to be a memorial tree for our child lost to miscarriage. When I walk under its graceful branches, I think of that Dear One waiting for us in heaven and thank God. We'll meet her (?) one day, Over There - will she be wearing pearls?


Photo Stash Finds

I found a photo stash - it's kinda like finding a wad of forgotten money the pocket of your favorite jeans. We used to keep lots of photo frames around the house, ironically, when the kids were small. Now there are very few in the house. Over the years, as the frames made their way into the Goodwill box, I'd take out the compiled photos, which were just stacked under the frame glass, new on top of old, and stash them - Someplace Safe. Which is a mistake I've continued to make my entire life resulting in the permanent loss of multiple library books, important documents and wedding day earrings.

BUT it was wonderful to see these special photos that have been missing for so long! Thought I'd share some with you all:

We have a long history of fun photos taken inside those pull-curtain booths. This booth shot was taken in Pigeon Forge, TN, in one of those cheap midway/arcade/go-cart areas. I'm newly pregnant here, but it was still a secret. That's my very first maternity shirt, which I couldn't wait to wear --- even though I was only three months pregnant and not really showing at all. How exciting it was to put on the clothes that made the whole parenting adventure even more real, since finally I had an appropriate costume. Maternity clothes were just never, ever that much fun again.

Here's a photo of my mother- and father-in-law holding Our Middle Son on his church dedication morning. Check that expression on Dad's face - he looks like that baby might be exploding any second. Like he's holding a fully loaded, trigger-haired flame thrower. And yes, he was wise, because that's almost exactly what our Second was (is?) like. Even though he looks placid enough in this photo, you never knew when he might twist and leap out of your arms.

This is truly one of my favorites! It's Our First, not even two years old. He's standing at the door of the kitchen, barred by a kitchen-chair-turned-into-a-baby-gate. That expression was his and his alone - it's his supreme joy face.
If only I could kiss those fat baby cheeks one more time!
Taken with our old Minolta manual, this was before I was able to computer crop. That's why the ladder is still visible in the background reminding me of the painting job I had been working on, and proving that this photo was snapped just before we sold that, our first, house. Sometimes I think I now crop out background details that would be happy reminders later. I'm 'crop-hasty'.

More photo-stash finds later!


Altered Eggs Snafu

(Who knew the spelling for that word - snafu???)

I'm calling these 'altered eggs'. They kept me busy during the winter months, when - due to back pain - I had to stand alot.
This hollow egg displays lyrics, composer, and hymnal number from the great invitational song, "Just as I Am".
(click photo for a more close-up view)

The other side has a single leaf from our red maple tree. That makes it even more special, I think. I've got more hymn eggs ("I Need Thee Every Hour", "At The Cross"...) embellished with fern fronds or hydrangea leaves. Also in my stash are eggs covered with vintage dress-pattern tissue, printed pages from seed catalog, toile tissue (in blue), hydrangea petals, and even phone book print - with our name and address among the many, what else?

Thinking I could sell them in my Etsy shop, I made this little moss nest to stage the eggs, got good photos of the Just As I Am egg, but then I got stumped. IF someone wanted to have a few, just in time for Easter, how would I ship them??? They won't fit in the flat fee shipping boxes ... obviously can't use a mailing envelopes ...
Any suggestions?


Shoe Poo

So, I've finally been lured out to the gardens to see what is coming back to life out there. Recently, my mother-in-law and I 'toured' her gardens to peer at the ground in hopeful expectation - it was fun!

But there are sometimes prices to pay for pleasure, as we all know. This one really stunk - somewhere along the way, my leather slide had gained a fresh clump of shoe poo. Just one shoe, but My Youngest and I knew it was there without a doubt as soon as the car's (our nice car - the one my husband drives...) heating system started blowing the floor air up into our faces. Yeesh! It was awful. We were desperate to make it stop!

And so. I needed gas to get to the high school to pick up my big boys. This little squeegie station has all the paper towels you can use. All you need to wipe shoe poo off your favorite leather shoes. But as it turned out, those towels do not get the poo out of the cracks... I really did try to make the towels work.
I felt a collective imaginary gasp from the men in my life, past and present, as I considered the squeegee in its well. Should I pollute the windshield washing fluid with dog poo just to get my shoe clean and odor free? What would you have done???

As it turned out, this is the PERFECT tool for cleaning dog poo from shoe cracks! Especially that sharpish rubber side. Thankfully, no men, no one was around, and I could clean my shoe without much fear of reprimand. I was afraid that the store clerk might run out and chastise me in horrified tones for contaminating the sacred squeegee, but I drove away in peace --- and smelling like cleaner, not poo.

Sure do hope it wasn't your husband who tried to use that exact squeegee station after I drove away! I'm hoping the poo had enough time to settle to the bottom of the well. Although I've noticed that men usually swish the poo-cleaning-tool around right before they mistakenly use it as a squeegee...
Maybe he should smell it first?


Self -Portraits?

I have not ever tried taking photos of myself. I've wanted to, but haven't let myself. Twice using the word 'myself' ... not good. Just finished looking through facebook, browsing and nosing everyone else's pages, photo albums, profile pics --- people are taking photos of themselves! I know this because none of them really look like that in person. They just don't - they look more real. You know what I mean, right? How funny that we work so hard to make ourselves appear more glamorous, less wrinkled, and that double chin?


Guess I need to go take some pictures of myself.

(no photo for this one - yet)


Sharing the Zoo

I found it! Spring growth at the zoo! Surely not, I thought, but when I agreed to the Friday field trip, this is what I was really hoping to see - and there it was - everywhere! My Youngest became quite impatient at having to tug me away from bending over what looked like just patches of blank ground as I searched for spring sprouts. He thought we were there to study animals.

This brings new meaning to the saying, "I've got my eyes on you!" An appropriate saying when they were toddlers, it was, but not as useful with teenagers. Do I really want to see that much so clearly? Hmmmm....no.

This squirrel harrassed us as we ate our packed lunch. Apparently there are good reasons for the signs that say, Please DON'T feed the animals. In cages or out. This little guy was poised, more than once, to grab our bag and make for cover. Can you see him in the background peeking out?

Is this a Narnian bird or not? I'm thinking it might have been.


Endless Guilt Available

Our dog was the first to find this little guy out on the bricks in our greenhouse. We've never seen a salamander like this around here, so we were surprised to find him at all ...
... but we were REALLY surprised to find him out in January! Guess he was a little confused!

Wish I could say that we sheltered him for a while, then set him back out when it got a little warmer. That was the plan.
We, My Youngest and I, put him in a container where he quickly buried himself in mud. A few days later, I put his container outside to acclimate to the slightly warmer air intending to go out and find a nice place where he might dig in and spend the rest of the winter.

Yes, he's still out there in the container! Probably dead. If I was a real homeschool mom, I would've led my son on an in-depth study of the 5,093 types of salamanders, researched its preferred habitat and replicated it, and of course, made charts of its behavioral patterns. And we might've found out that it lives mostly very north of us (brainstorm reasons for finding it in our area), that we should've made sure to wash our hands after handling it due to its toxic excretions (collect and test excretions - resource help from the local university), and we might have tried harder to help it live if we had known that it's endangered in Iowa (map Iowa and plan a family trip there).

Endless guilt available to all homeschool mothers and would-be rescuers of confused salamanders!