Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Travel Thoughts

Just as a warning, my thoughts are bouncing all over the place. This whole entry pertains to traveling, but some of it deviates away from the topic before returning…… (Ha ha, my thoughts are traveling.)

Hubby and I would love to do some traveling. We didn’t do a normal honeymoon right after getting married. We were both students in the middle of the fall semester in college. We waited about nine months before we took our honeymoon trip. We went to France. It was awesome!!!

Since then, we haven’t done much traveling. With lots of small kids, traveling has never been much of an option. So, we’ve talked about it a lot and dreamed about it. We know that one day we will be able to do a bit of traveling again, but the question has been for the last decade where do we go? Hubby loves sunshine and beaches. I love green pine trees high up in the mountains. Opposites may attract, but they sure have a hard time deciding on where to vacation.

Six years ago, this August, I traveled, alone, to Italy. I was six months pregnant at the time with my fourth baby. I don’t speak a word of Italian. I was just happy that the word “chocolate” is so similar in so many languages. I could point at the bun in the bakery and say “chocolate” and they understood me. What an experience! It was great! I went for a conference. The conference is held every three years. At the end of the conference in Italy, they announced the next one would be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I had hoped to be able to attend that conference, but I had just had baby number five a couple of months earlier. I couldn’t leave. Three years later bring us to 2011. This year they are holding the conference in Barcelona, Spain! Hubby and I really wanted to go, but things just haven’t worked out that we could make that trip this year. I guess we’ll wait until this conference is over. They will announce the location for the next conference at the end of this year’s conference. I hope it is in Scotland!

Speaking of Scotland, I’m hoping to hear from Robert Gordon University in the next month or so. I can’t wait to register for classes. I don’t know what I need to do. They haven’t given me any information other than I’ve been accepted to the school. A month ago, I got a call from someone at RGU to find out if I had any questions. I was surprised when I first heard the caller. It took me a few moments to figure out what they were saying. Listening to my professors’ lectures is going to be interesting for me. I’m excited to think that by the time I finish my degree in three years, I’ll probably be able to do a great Scottish accent. Because it is an all online degree, I never need to go to Scotland, but I would love to be able to travel there. Perhaps I can go for graduation. I think it will be the only way I could get Hubby to Scotland. It just isn’t his idea of a vacation spot. Yes, they have beaches there, but it’s awfully cold!

I hope there will be time for traveling one day. Until then, Hubby and I have plenty of time to dream and decide where we would like to go….. Often the anticipation is the best part of the trip.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The insanity that is creative thinking

My mother is an amazing person. She taught me, while I was a young child, the insanity that is creative thinking. As a 10 year old, I participated in a school activity that involved 50 mouse traps. Now, imagine giving six kids ages 10-12, fifty mouse traps, several hot glue guns and a lot of green paint. That is just what my mom did. It was part of a creative thinking competition. We had to take those mouse traps and glue them down to a wooden board. Those mouse traps had to perform a chain reaction of events, like ring a bell. In a matter of weeks, I snapped my fingers, my toes, and my rear end more times than I can count. We burned our fingers on hot glue and learned real fast how not to use a hot glue gun. We didn’t do well in the competition, but I’ve never forgotten the tremendous amount of fun that insane little project was.

My mother was a school teacher. Teachers are very creative people. She was also a camp leader for several summers, a principal, a Cub Scout leader, Girl Scout leader, and so many other things. From her, I learned that to solve some problems in life, you must think creatively, and to think creatively, you sometimes have to be a little crazy.

Two weeks ago, after visiting the location for my theater, I realized that I would have no area for “off stage”. The auditorium wasn’t built for theater. What to do? I got creative. I bought some black sheets, got a lot of PVC pipe, and some scrap wood. I built a frame to hold the sheets that would create a curtain for us to hide behind when off stage. My first design didn’t work. I had to make the PVC poles shorter. As I was out in my backyard, struggling to get the pipe frame put together, I thought of my mother. I thought of how completely crazy I was trying to build a portable six foot tall frame to hold a sheet up. Several times the pipes slipped out of their joints, hitting me in the head or the knuckles. I would chuckle to myself about how much my mother would love this. I wished she had been there to help me fight those silly PVC pipes.

My mom and I came up with a great idea for a new TV show: Projects in your Pajamas! We’ve done so many home projects in our pajamas – house painting, replacing toilet seats, cutting drywall, and caulking bathtubs. It would be a great TV show – two crazy ladies in their pajamas, trying to do home improvement projects. You should have seen Mom and I five days after my youngest was born. We were both in our pajamas, standing on the kitchen counters painting the cupboards. “Insane,” you may say! Yes, we were.

I’ve worked my way through problems in life with the crazy art that is creative thinking. I think it could also be described as making-it-up in your way through life when you don’t know what else to do. Be flexible, think outside the box, laugh along the way and the most amazing things can happen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A week of home improvment adventures

Molly and her Mom's week of home improvement adventures.
October 2008

“Oops” was heard a little too often!

Tips for using a paint sprayer:
• Read the directions first. Just jumping in and using it isn’t always the best idea.
• Make sure you keep the drain tube in the paint bucket. This is especially important when priming the painter. Better yet, put the entire sprayer into a bucket.
• A plastic sack from Wal-Mart doesn’t make a good painters cap, a paper bag from McDonald’s take out is much better
• Don’t spray too much paint on popcorn ceilings. They will soak up the paint and then peel off the ceiling.
• Thoroughly clean the spray painter before you return it to its owners, they don’t need to know about all the paint spills you had.
• A scouring pad works great at removing the paint off the spray painter before you return it.
• Paint boogers are what you get if you don’t wear your mask while using the spray painter.
• Wear Depends when you work, in case you start to laugh too hard after spilling paint all over the floor (or any other “oops” moment)

Be careful about what you say out loud. Telling a kid you are sitting on the toilet, while hanging a TP roller onto the wall, while the kid is holding the phone out, with your best friend waiting for you on the line is very embarrassing.

If you don’t want to cook dinner or clean the kitchen, keep the stove covered in plastic and just tell people who come by that you are working on painting the ceiling. This excuse is good for several days.

If you get too frustrated with a project, just go work in the bathroom with the Goo Gone, it will make you happy!

Carpet surfing with furniture sliders is fun, but you need to watch out for two things – the wall and accidentally doing the splits.

When hanging shower curtains, be careful not to step into the toilet when using it for a step stool.

White paint on toes makes for a nice camouflage if your socks have holes in the toes.

Keep Tylenol handy. Paint fumes give you headaches. Paint rollers make arms and shoulders tired and sore. Painting ceilings makes your neck hurt. Tripping over extension cords can injure any number of things. Moving bookcases bruises shins. And, finally, running into paint cans stubs your toes.

How to make and use your own popcorn ceiling:
1 bucket of spackle
1 can of spray foam
1 sheet of wax paper
1 food chopper
2 crazy sleep deprived ladies, high on Goo Gone

Lay out a sheet of wax paper. Spray foam onto the wax paper. Be careful not to get any on your fingers. Wash off the foam you got on your hand anyway.

Allow foam to dry. When dry, tear chunks of foam into small rice sized pieces. Do this for about 15 minutes. You now have enough foam chunks to cover three square inches of space.

To apply popcorn ceiling you can either:

Combine a hand full of spackle with the foam pieces. Mix it well with your fingers and then apply the foam infused spackle to the ceiling.


Apply spackle to ceiling and then stick foam pieces to the wet spackle.

Use a putty scraper to “smooth” out the spackle.

Allow to dry.

Inspect area. Scrape it all off.

Call in a professional handyman.

To the guys in my life

I've been blessed to have many wonderful men as a part of my life.

First, there is my Dad.  What a great Dad.  My dad is a craftsman.  When I was quite small, I had a wonderful doll house.  Dad made it for me for Christmas.  For many years he did the most beautiful wood working in marquetry.  I have two of his pieces.  Within the last 5 years or so, he got involved in archery.  Not only does he shoot arrows, he makes the bows and arrows he uses.  I have a wonderful bow and several arrows he made for me.  Because of where we have lived for so many years, I haven't been able to go shooting, but it's still great to have something that my Dad created.  He has an eye for perfection.
Dad has a mellow personality and a witty sense of humor.  He and I have always gotten along very well.  He is a hard worker, tells the most wonderful jokes, a good listener, a great story teller, and a nice guy.  I love him so very much.

I have two great brothers.  I never laugh harder than when I'm with my brothers.  They are funny beyond words.  They are the only people I know, who while in their twenties, climbed up on my parent's roof and had a light saber battle.  They, with their families, live near my parents and so they get together often at the parent's house to have dinner or a fun weekend together.  My mom will tell me some insane story about something my two brothers had done and I'll ask her how old were they when they did that?  She usually answers me with, "Oh, that was last week."  However insane my brothers are, they are amazing husbands.  One of them has two daughters and he is amazing with them. The other brother and his wife will have their first baby in a few months.  I know he will be just as great with his kid.  What great brothers I have.

There is my husband.  We've been married for 14 1/2 years! Each year that goes by, I'm amazed and thankful that he has continued to stick by my side. We've been through the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing.  We've had five kids together!   Why this man continues to love me, I'll never understand, but I know why I continue to love him.  He's good looking, incredibly smart, a wonderful provider, and great company.  He is an amazing father.  The kids adore him.  Some days, when he has to be somewhere and I have to be somewhere else, the kids always want to go with dad.  They love to be with him.  There are days when for whatever reason, I don't get around to the laundry or some other household chore, and he just steps up to it. There are days when he comes home from work to a house in disaster, kids crying, and a wife who is way beyond the end of her rope.  He listens to me rant, gets the kids in order and has them clean up the mess that I had been trying to get them to clean all day long.  He hugs me and loves me even though at that moment, all I can think about is running away to live like a hermit in a remote mountain cabin.  I can't put into words all the amazing things I would love to say about my husband.  I love him.

Last I would like to mention my sons.  I've got three of them.  What neat boys they are.  The oldest one turns 13 in a couple of days.  He is taller than I am and he loves to rub that in.  He is a ham.  My two other sons are very different from their older brother.  They are quiet, reflective and very caring for others.  They are funny, too, in a more quiet, dry way.  My 5 year old son has the most wonderful laugh and he can draw better than I can.  They are all so creative.  They never cease to amaze me.  I can't wait to see these guys as they grow up and what kind of men they will become someday.

I could go on and on about the amazing men I've been blessed to know: my grandfathers, my father-in-law, my brothers-in-law, and many friends.  But I think the best thing I can say to them all right now is, Happy Father's Day, guys!  You are all amazing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last week teenage free

When my first son was born, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into.

It wasn't that I had just had a baby.  Babies stay babies for such a short time.  I had had a kid.  Kids remain kids for a much, much longer time.

Everyone told me to enjoy him as a baby because it would go by so fast.  The first time someone told me that, Son was 2 weeks old.  I groaned inwardly.  If the rest of his life went by as slow as those first two weeks did....... 

The first couple of years were long ones too.  I guess because I didn't have anything else in my life, just him. When Son was 10 months old, Hubby joined the Army.  We didn't see him for 2 1/2 months.  It was just my son and I.  Then, Hubby went to training and Son and I followed.  Son and I lived in a little apartment together close to the base, where Hubby lived.  We only saw Hubby on weekends. There was nothing for me to do during the day time except be with Son.  We played, we read, we went on walks.  Hubby went away to Korea for a year.  By that time I was pregnant again, but for six months after Hubby left, it was still just Son and I.  Nothing to do but be together.

Time started to accelerate after the second son was born.  From there, time has picked up at an alarming rate.  I remember one day, when Son was four year old, looking at him and wondering where my son was.  Standing before me was not a baby, or a toddler, but a kid - a full blown kid!

Now, the years have sped by and my oldest child turns 13 next week.  He will be in the 8th grade this coming school year.  When did this happen?

I'm in the last of an era for me.  Several months ago, when my youngest turned 3, I said goodbye to the baby/toddler stage.  Now, I'm in my last week of having only kids, because I'm about to say a big hello to the teen years.  These years of having a teen in the house are going to last a really long time.  How long?  Well, I'll be teenage free in April 2028!!  That is when the youngest turns twenty.  That's only seventeen years.  Will I survive?  Will my kids survive me?  Ask me again in 2028.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Almost there....

Tomorrow is the last rehearsal for my play.  What an adventure it has been!

So, tomorrow (Thursday) is the dress rehearsal.
Friday evening - first performance.
Saturday morning - last performance.

I went to check out the stage on Monday.  We can't use our rehearsal stage for the performance. The building has been booked for another group.  So, I had to find us another location.  That's hard to do.  Every place that has a stage wants to charge $200 - $400 per day! That ain't happening.  I finally found one place, a retirement center that has a stage.  We can use it for free.  That is right in my budget. 

So, I went to see the stage on Monday and quickly realized, it is NOT meant for theater. 
It has no sidelines for off stage.
It has no curtains (I can work around that.)
It has no stage lights.  I'm hoping I can turn the lights off over the audience and keep the lights on over the stage. (I can work around that.)
It has a baby grand piano on the right side of the stage.  It's immovable. (We have to work around that.)


It isn't ideal, but it is FREE!!!!  I can't ask for better.
Next week, when this is all over, I'll give a review of the show and my thoughts on how the whole thing went.
It will be interesting to say the least.  I'm so excited!
 T-shirts I made for the kids:

The Seven Ravens!  What a mischievous group.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ireland smells like what?

My oldest son always keeps me entertained. He is clever and can be very funny. He will be turning 13 in two weeks!!!! When did he get old enough to be a teenager?

I recently had all the kids with me during a shopping trip. That is always an adventure. My oldest son told me he needed some new deodorant and asked if he could pick out some. Yes, son, please do! He picked one up and smelled it, picked up another and smelled it and this went on until he found one he liked. I’m not trying to promote a brand here, but for the purpose of the story, you must know that the deodorant he picked out was Irish Spring.

He started reading the label on the deodorant to me. It says, “This here’s the classic freshness of Ireland that gives you a crisp clean scent. Be ready lad, it’s been known to bring out the lasses. Start your day like a true Irishman and get fresh with Irish Spring antiperspirant.”

Now, I’ve never been to Ireland, but I didn’t think it smelled like deodorant. The people I know who have been to Ireland never told me about this. True Irishmen wear Irish Spring deodorant? I had no idea that an entire country of men wear the same antiperspirant. It brings out the lasses? Wow. Maybe I shouldn’t be letting my 13 year old wear this.

In my previous post, I mentioned the word “oxter” (Gaelic for armpit). This son loves to announce to me his oxter’s smell like Ireland. This sets his sister into a fit of giggles. I’m just pleased he is wearing deodorant.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Amazing disappearing English words

English is full of amazing words.  Sadly, some of the best words are hardly used.  They have fallen out of favor among public usage.  The kids and I were folding laundry the other day.  I don't remember why, but I was able to fit the word "brouhaha" into the conversation.  My kids laughed at the word and asked for it's definition.

I know how the word is used, but I was having a hard time coming up with a good definition for the kids.  I went through several synonyms trying to come up with the best way to describe brouhaha including "disturbance."  My 11 year old son, who had just been playing a Star Wars game, announced, "I sense a brouhaha in the Force."

I laughed so hard at his cleverness.  Of course, that got us started on other great English words including:  balderdash, snottor, oxter, and vomitory!  Snottor is Old English for "wise" and my older son used the word appropriately with the conversation when he told us his Jedi Master is very snotter (continuing with the Star Wars theme.)  Oxter is a Gaelic word (I know, it's not English), and it means "armpit."  You can imagine how much the kids love being able to use that one.  "Did you wash your oxters today?"  And of course vomitory.  It means a large passageway at an arena.  That one is harder to fit into everyday conversation.

So many great words.... so few opportunities to use them.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Boy and The Watcher

Are you familiar with The Watcher from the Lord of the Rings?
This is The Watcher in the Water:
My 5 year old son is quite fascinated by this creature.  The Watcher has become the leading character in many of his favorite stories.  Months ago he started asking me for stories about himself and his buddy, The Watcher.  So, I adapted many fairy tales to fit his requests.  We had CinderWatcher, The Watcher and the Three Billy Goats, Sleeping Watcher, and so on.

I love coming up with these stories because I always make The Watcher capture some poor character, hold them by the legs and hang them upside down over his mouth (like The Watcher does to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.)  My son gets a kick out those moments in the story. 

Yesterday my son asked me to tell him a new Watcher story.  We were in the car in between piano lessons and cello lessons.  The story began and The Boy and The Watcher headed out to find the three lost magical stones.  The green stone was to be found in the Dark Forest.  The blue stone was found in the deep, mysterious Loch Ness and the brown stone was to be found in the sand dunes of New Mexico.

My son enjoyed the story, but I don't think he liked it as much as I enjoyed telling it.  I especially liked when The Watcher visits Loch Ness and is reunited with this old buddy The Loch Ness Monster.

My children love stuffed animals and Hubby and myself have tried over the years to find one or two special stuffed animals that fit the personality of each child.  This particular son has an octopus, but it isn't an octopus, it's The Watcher!

Monday, June 06, 2011

The singing three year old

I love it when little kids play and while they play they sing.  My three year old, Peanut, is sitting on the floor next to me.  She has her little doll house and little characters all over the house.  There is two on the bed, one on the potty, one standing next to the window, a couple hanging out in the kitchen, and one of them is sitting in the fire place on top of the house.  While she arranges these characters, she is singing.  The song is all about her little people.  It is so sweet.

Sometimes she will just start singing in the car.  A few weeks ago, she told me she would sing a song for me.  Her song was about her siblings, her dad and me, her dolls, the cat, her pink undies, going to nursery at church, and any other idea that crossed her mind.  She sang the entire trip in the car and the entire way home.  It was so funny to hear the things that are important to her put into song.

I have tried to get some video of her singing, but the moment she sees me with the camera she clams up.  I try to be sneaky, but she figures it out right away, too.

These sweet moments won't last much longer.  She gets older every day and one day she will quit singing her sweet little songs.  I hope that day never comes, but I know it will.  Until then, I'll love listening to her sing about her life.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Sometimes all it takes to get something done is a kick in the pants.  The drive is already there, all you need to get started is a shove.

Sometimes the idea is there, but the drive behind it isn't so strong.  That's when motivation is needed.

I really need to exercise but I don't want to.  One order of motivation, please!

How about:
I'm planning on visiting family this summer.  While I'm there, I would love to have a party with old friends from high school that I haven't seen in 15-20 years.  Is that motivation enough?  Not really, because I'm only planning of visiting family this summer.  There is no guarantee that I'll actually be able to do that and have my little soiree.

How about:
In three weeks I'll be taking a little overnighter with the Hubby.  We haven't been away together since having kids.  We are going to see a show and swim in the hotel pool.  I really need a new swim suit.  The last time I bought one I was pregnant with kid #4.  Yeah, a new swim suit is definitely in order.  I can't make myself look great in three weeks, but I could look better.  Now I just need to do those exercises for three weeks.....  (I still don't want too.)

Maybe motivation isn't what I need.....  Just give me a kick in the pants.  That ought to do it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pulp Non-Fiction

When it comes to kids, you just can't make this stuff up.

I had the bright idea of giving my daughter, who gets bored very quickly, a jar of ideas.  In the jar were slips of paper.  Each paper had an idea of an activity that she could do.  One idea was to make a boat and see if it floats.  Sounds like a great idea, right?

So Daughter got a shoe box and cut the lid off.  She poked a stick into the lid and taped a piece of paper to the stick.  So, we have a boat (box lid), with a stick mast and a paper sail.  She proceeded to fill the bathtub with water.  The younger two kids decided to join in on the fun.  They all changed into swim suits and hopped into the bath.

The boat was set afloat and they all had a wonderful time splashing, playing and sailing their boat.  I didn't give it much thought.  I was happy they were in the tub getting clean.  Well, when I finally went to check on them, the boat was gone.  It didn't sink.... It wasn't tossed out of the tub.... It had disintegrated.  I got the kids out of the tub and sent to their rooms to get dressed.

What to do?  I didn't want to pull the plug on the tub.  I didn't want all that box pulp going down the drain.  So, to the kitchen I went and got the pasta strainer.  Using the strainer, I scooped up pulp out of the tub and emptied it into a bucket. 

After I was done scooping all the pulp out, I thought about giving the bucket of pulp to the kids and let them try and make their own paper.  Then I decided I had cleaned up the pulp mess once, I wasn't going to do it again.

So, Hubby, the great dad that he is, gave our daughter a scrap piece of wood.  He drilled a hole in the top for her stick mast and paper sail.  Last I saw, the new boat was happily floating in the bathroom sink.