Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Little Gifts

The previous owners of our home were an elderly couple who needed help from their kids to move. And I'm finding more and more things left behind. The fridge was not, unfortunately. But these were:

I have some dirty dishes, and some chips. I guess they even out, right?

The New Chapter

So we closed on a house. After about two years of looking. 

I call it a restoration project. It has great bones, is very liveable, and is a great find. It needs a little help to be loveable. But we'll get there. I've set a five year deadline. The probable cost is more frightening, but hey, it's just money, right? (Cough, gag, hyperventilate...)

The big girls and I opened the house with our own key for the first time today. 

This is real. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Another Ode to Mr. Fariss

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Earlier in the week, we were able to celebrate with the rest of the girls' school when one of the 5th grade teachers was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. That's quite an honor. I'm not surprised it was bestowed on a teacher at our school. We have some super teachers. But I've been thinking about teachers in my life. I remember quite a few that were noteworthy. But I found myself quoting one of them in particular throughout the week.

I guess it makes sense that a band director, a teacher that I had for 4 years, would leave a huge impact. It makes even more sense when that band director is a larger-than-life character. I know he's known for quite a few signature sayings. Some were more colorful than others. But there are two that have stuck with me that I had the chance to pass along to my oldest daughter over the last few weeks.

HeyMama has been practicing a piano piece for tomorrow's school talent show. She's a kindergartener. She's been playing piano since this past September. So less than a year. And she wanted to play the Star Wars Theme. So with the help of a musician friend and some free online software, we obtained a version that was appropriate for a beginning pianist. Challenging, but attainable. She's been diligently practicing. Well, sometimes diligently.

"Practice like you'll perform."

This was one of Mr. Fariss' many sayings. If you practice something sloppily, you'll perform it sloppily. If you prepare and practice with the goal of a performance-worthy production, that's what you'll get when it's time to perform in front of an audience. I found it to be true in my marching band days. I found it to be true in non-musical endeavors since then. And these past few weeks, I've been saying it to HeyMama.

But as we've gotten closer to performance time, another saying has resurrected itself.

"Fake it 'til you make it."

HeyMama is concerned about what happens if she messes up during her performance. This is reasonable. I encouraged her to just keep going until she feels like she's got it under control again. In marching band, you can't stop moving on the field just because you forget what to do next. People are running all around you with instruments in their faces. Bloodshed would ensue. You keep moving until you figure it out. And if you've "practiced like you'll perform", it will come to you. And typically, no one is the wiser of your temporary lapse of memory. Again, I have found this advice to be helpful in professional and social situations.

But this week, I've had to take that advice to heart to merely get through the day.
This past Sunday, BestestHusband and I decided that we'd get the big girls on their bikes, HurricaneDebbie in the jog stroller, the dogs on their leashes, and running shoes on our feet. We'd take a family exercise excursion to the other side of the Arboretum to see the cherry trees in bloom. It was truly glorious. The weather was finally sunny and warm. The trees were extravagantly decked out in white and pink blossoms. The place was full of people basking in the glory of a warm spring day. And we had a great workout. I had to do some sprints to keep with the girls. The girls had fun on their bikes. And I think the run was even tolerable for BestestHusband. But two days later, it became apparent that the excursion was not the best idea. I had inhaled a lot of pollen, and my body was rebelling. I couldn't breathe. My nose was ok. It was my lungs that were in crisis. Here are some of the things that have left me out of breath:
Walking up stairs
Walking across a small room
Picking up HurricaneDebbie
Picking up a fork
Making phone calls
Sending emails
Lying still on the couch
Trying to sleep at night
Sitting quietly

I coughed so hard and so much that I strained my back. I went to the doctor, and got a nebulizer treatment and inhaler. I've been vaguely headachy and have had no appetite since then. I'm a mess.

But I had a job interview on Tuesday. I think I nailed it. I picked up extra work hours today. And I will on Friday and Saturday. Getting off the couch has required great effort. But the words "fake it 'til you make it" have echoed in my ears. It doesn't have to be easy. You just have to do it until it gets easier.

I only cooked dinner tonight because I was afraid of $15 worth of chicken going bad in my fridge. But I ended up making a pretty good meal. (Hey, I got BestestHusband to eat cauliflower and be happy doing it!) I only went to the grocery store tonight because buying ice cream sounded really appealing. (The fact that we were out of fresh fruit and a lot of food staples wasn't enough to get me there.) But I just got started doing the tasks, and they got done. Even though I really didn't feel like I could do it.

So the wisdom of my teacher's words becomes apparent yet again. And I am grateful for Mr. Fariss and all of my teachers that have gotten me here today. I just hope that my girls have at least one teacher who will leave an equally strong impression.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Locket

We had a great visit recently from BestestHusband's cousin and her family. Her two teenaged sons were interested in seeing some New England schools, her husband wanted to see some of his cousins, and the whole family wanted to take in the sights that the opposite coast had to offer. 

They were great to get to know, and were amazing house guests. It was such a joy to have them. But Lynda brought one gift that is more special than the girls understand. 

MeToo's middle name came from her Great Grandmother. She missed meeting her by a few weeks. BestestHusband was unable to attend his grandmother's funeral because of a looming due date. So we honored her by giving her name to MeToo. Interestingly, they have the same initials. 

Great Grandma had a locket with her initials on it. Inside was a picture of the little girl she lost. 

We learned that the picture was taken a month before her death. She had just started walking. You can see that adorable "wobble toddle" stance in the picture. She wasn't even a year old yet. When they took the picture, they had no idea she would get sick and die just a few weeks later. 

Some people say that measles is "just a rash." If that's true, why did BestestHusband lose an aunt? If measles is "no big deal", why did this little girl die? The older sister, BestestHusband's aunt, was about 5 years old. She caught measles too, and wasn't allowed to attend her own sister's funeral. But thankfully she survived to pass the story down to the rest of us. 

There are people who say that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) is dangerous. But our family has stories on both sides that say that the real danger is from the diseases it protects us from. I've heard people say "I've never heard of anyone dying from measles. The vaccine isn't that important." But I'm pretty sure Great Grandma and BestestHusband's surviving aunt would disagree. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Purge

This post isn't about our recent stomach bug. No, this post is about our house. That kind of purging. 

I'm committing to a significant purge. I am accepting the challenge to get rid of 25% of the stuff in our house. I'm a prepper. I like to be prepared. Craft supplies? I got 'em. Extra mittens? I got em'. All of our baby stuff in case we're blessed with #4? I got it all!

But not for long. 

This will be a challenge for me. I pride myself in saving stuff and pulling it out at the perfect moment 2 years later. A flapper headband for a party? I have feathers and ribbon for that! I'd hate to throw something out and wish I had it 5 years later, only to spend money on it a second time. That would just be wasteful!

So this will be a serious change in mindset. Big time.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter in Review

This was our Easter:

We cooked for Feaster, the traditional Easter celebration hosted by dear friends. This year's theme country was Australia. Yum. 

We tried silk egg dying, where you wrap colored silk around eggs and boil to transfer the pattern. Pretty easy. And not messy. We have a winner!

Here are the Lamingtons. They are quite tasty. I think we'll keep this recipe. 

BedtestHusband cooked 3 hams. Then cut the bones to make broth. And rendered the fat. And made soup. Yum 

The girls helped me complete this list. We were busy. 

So there was a lot of cooking and preparation. And there was a ton of church prep. And a ton of church services. And a stomach bug. And a crockpot full of ham that spilled ham juice all over the back of the minivan. But we ended today in a blissful haze. And I'm posting pictures instead of thinking about what this week will bring. 

I pray the Joy of Easter will carry us through the Easter season. Or at least last longer than the candy! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cleaning to get ready to be sick

A stomach bug hit our house today. I was looking forward to a day of Easter prep and a job interview. Until I got a call from HeyMama's school. And then HurricaneDebbie's daycare. So both girls and BestestHusband were home by noon. I didn't get much Easter prep done. But I did go to my job interview.

I went to Maundy Thursday services tonight. BestestHusband is going tomorrow night. It seemed like a great plan. But on the way to church, I was convinced I'd need to pull over at some point. Thankfully I didn't. I kept it together through the service, and even on my way home. My cookies have not been tossed.

But before going to bed, I'm cleaning our toilet with Bronner's Peppermint soap. Because I'm pretty sure my head will be in that toilet tonight. And when it is, I want to smell peppermint. Instead of other things. Moms, this is normal, right?