February 28, 2012

Self-discovery and rodents

When I started this blog, I planned on blogging every week day morning. Now, it is over a week since I have updated and that is by no means unusual. Through this blogging journey of self-discovery, I have discovered that I am simply not interesting enough to blog every day. There is very little to self-discover apparently. Humiliating. I always thought, with all my worrying and neurosis, that I would be able to make interesting self-discoveries every hour on the hour. Or at least DO something interesting. Not so, my friends, not so. I am much more boring than my neurosis would lead you to believe. So instead of startling insights, we will talk about rodents.

I hate mice. There is something about scurry, furry creatures being in my house that really sets me off. Whenever I fuss, Justin says, "I thought I married a farm girl--and here you are blubbering about mice for crying out loud." I tell him  farm girls are allowed weaknesses as well. So there.

Lately, the horrifying possibility of seeing a mousie run across my kitchen floor has diminished in horribleness. Not because I am maturing. Not because I feel they are God's creatures too and shouldn't be terrified of being mousies. It is because we now have rats. Seriously. RATS. As in R-A-T-S. Actually, it might be one rat. But even so, I feel strongly on the subject of ANY rat. Even if Templeton in Charlotte's Web is great comic relief and I love hearing Lily and Orianna quote him, I don't feel any kinder to rats in general.

Last month, I opened the kitchen/garage door to toss out a bag of trash and saw a wee mouse nest at my feet, just outside the door where the warm drafts and breezes blow from the kitchen to the garage. Being my rational self I freaked out and then refused to open the door without knocking  and banging on the door loudly to let the mouse know I was coming out. (I hate the idea of interrupting mouse privacy like that!) Even then, I tried to hide behind the door while opening it so vermin wouldn't run over my toes. I made Justin deal with this as soon as possible, much to the disappointment of the kids who were enchanted with having a real live mouse house right outside their door. After Justin took all the trash and mouse nest to the dump, he casually mentioned, as I was standing where the mouse house was a few hours earlier, that it wasn't a mouse, it was a rat. I don't think my blood pressure has ever recovered.

(As I writing all this rattiness, the sun is shining brightly down on our 5 or 6 inches of snow, melting it slowly. Out of the corner of my eye, I just saw a clump of snow sliding off our roof and with the accompanying scritching noise, I jumped about 5 inches, sure the rat had actually gotten into our house.

My nerves are shot.)

The original rat has gone where nasty rats go, namely dying in the wall from rat poison. Dad said it would stink forever, but mercifully, it only smelled for a few days. Now we have a new rat. These rats are really intrigued with the wall area around our stove. They scritch and scratch and make a racket trying to get in. When I thought it was a mouse, I would just bang on the wall and make it stop. So ignorantly brave..... Now I think about banging on the wall and having the wall crumble, allowing the rat to jump onto me. I have stopped banging.

Yesterday afternoon, Lindsey made the kids some macaroni and cheese. It was the homestyle stuff, past expiration date, so I meant to take the leftover stuff over to Owen's piggies last night. I completely forgot, so there it sat in all it's beautiful fake cheese aroma. Tempting the rat beyond what he or she could endure apparently. I woke up at 3 AM to a fearful racket in the kitchen. Very disturbing. The first thing my sleep hazed mind thought was, "Someone is in our house!" As the racket continued I realized only a very stupid burglar, murderer, kidnapper would make so much noise. And then I contemplated for all of 5 seconds how mad Justin would be if I made him wake up and go bang on the wall. Then I hit him several times and whispered "The rat!" It was dark, but the rolling of his eyes seemed to take on a physical dimension, palpable through the darkness. Still, he got up and banged the wall. I followed along, 20 feet behind him helpfully offering words of wisdom. He wasn't very receptive to my words of wisdom. But he DID put the macaroni and cheese in the fridge and generously sprinkle lavender oil on tissues in the general area. We like to give the rat a spa like atmosphere. It also blocks any food smell and makes the rat give up in disgust. Who wants to break into a pleasant, lavender-y smelling kitchen anyway?

The rat retired for the night. As did Justin.

I was painfully wide awake. I asked Justin several questions pertaining to rats ability to chew through brick (on our kitchen wall) and when he told me to GO TO SLEEP, I helplessly whimpered, "But they can chew on kids faces!" He was not impressed and rolled over and was sleeping in 3 minutes. I kept imagining I heard it moving around. Then I kept contemplating what it would feel like if a rat managed to get into our bed. Whenever Justin twitched, I had a nervous breakdown.

I would like to sue the rat for emotional distress.

Gilbert is now unknowingly torturing his sleep deprived mother by playing with his zhu-zhu pet, those mouse like creatures that scoot around making squeaky noises. It keeps running into a little blanket and pushing it across the floor.

Thanks to the rat, I have now self-discovered that rats are much, MUCH more threatening to my sense of well being than mice are.

My nerves are shot.

February 13, 2012


Justin had to work this Saturday, which threw our normal Saturday schedule all out of whack. Normally Justin and I start the day by pretending to not hear the kids getting up and hoping the milk of human kindness, which allows spouses to sleep in while the other one takes care of kids, is running heavily in the others veins. Somehow I generally end up getting up, but I am not sure it would be completely honest to say the milk of human kindness is flowing deep and strong each and every time. After that, we are lazy and try to get kids dressed and ready to go mid-morning-ish. Then we typically spend a lot of the day at Mom and Dad's where Justin can work on sugaring things or vehicles. It is a nice, time-honored schedule. And then Justin works on Saturday.

We all have colds, so after breakfast, we got a huge stack of books from the kids bookshelf and went into our big bed and settled down for a nice lazy day of book reading. I am not sure where this plan got derailed, but somehow I found myself doing dishes, making snacks and lunch like a nice normal mother instead of the lazy, book reading one I had aspired to be. That is okay, because I certainly felt better about myself having a clean kitchen than I would have otherwise.

Orianna reading comics

Gilbert needing his picture taken too.

Gilbert brought me a box of pasta around 10, looking like he just found the secret to happy Saturdays. I decided to get a jump start on lunch and make it at 10 for him, warming some up at 12 when it was actually lunch time. Clover has made me Ranch Mac & Cheese from noplepig.com blog, but I had never made it. It seemed like just the thing for turning Gilbert's box of noodles into lunch. And it was.

Ranch Macaroni and Cheese

1 16 oz box of pasta (I didn't have elbows, so I used small shells)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cut up
1 envelope Ranch dressing mix (or 3T of the canister of dressing mix)
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic pepper blend
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
2 c (8 oz) cheese (calls for Monterey Jack and Colby, but I only had cheddar b/c I am boring like that)
1 c sour cream
1/3 c parmesean
crushed saltines is desired (I didn't desire)

Cook the pasta as usual, but without salting the water. Mix everything else, but the cheeses and sour cream AND saltines if you are like that, in a saucepan on low or medium (actually the recipe says dutch oven, but I have no idea why. Maybe Noble Pig has no saucepans). Once hot, stir in cheese. Once that is melted, shut off heat and add sour cream. The parmesean is supposed to be sprinkled on top with the saltines, but I just dumped it in with the sour cream, since I am uninspired about sprinkle-y stuff on my kids macaroni.
Drain pasta. Mix. Enjoy.

It was yum! The kids loved it, with the exception of Orianna who thinks PB&J is the epitome of culinary excellence and doesn't suffer foolish recipes like this gladly.

For my lunch, I jazzed it up a bit. Some leftover chicken, black beans, chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (I might have a love affair with those puppies), some frozen corn, some about-to-go-bad homemade croutons and some cilantro on top. It was SCRUMP-tious.

And if you question why a gestational diabetic is making a lunch of a big plate of pasta, I would have to say, that is between me and my blood sugar monitor, so never you mind. Actually, my blood sugar has been perfect, with slight abberations after chinese buffets and large amounts of chocolate or birthday cake. But I read that eating chocolate every day while pregnant makes your baby more relaxed and happy. Who am I to argue with science?

Then after the noodle thing, I started thinking about Valentines for Orianna. I will admit it--I am a cheapskate. And the idea of going to town to spend $3-$5 on a bunch of silly pieces of paper for kids to throw away is not my idea of a good time. Clover (Clover's ideas were popular today) told me about secret agent josephine's free valentines, so I went to check them out. She has several different years worth on her blog.
Ca-ute! And they are free. Unfortunately, after the last batch of color ink dried out from not being used, I stopped buying color ink. So our printer is just black and white. This is never a problem, except when you want to print out free valentines. Fortunately, there is one page of valentines to color, so that is what we ended up doing.
These were the coloring ones.
And ones that are just adorable woodland ones

I envisioned a happy afternoon with Gilbert napping, two girls, a new box of crayola crayons, valentines and precious memories in the making. Instead I got a bee in my bonnet to open up the closet and sort it out. It has been 6 weeks since our lice episode, so I thought it was probably time. I set the girls up and went to set the closet to rights.

The table from the kids room broke (it was a freebie and couldn't keep up with the dancing and jumping from it) and the top is very handy to flop down on the floor for a hard surface to color on, as a stage, and as a way to contain toys--Keep them ON the table!!!

This is what my house looked like before I got into the closet mess. I don't know why I didn't clean this all up before pulling more out, but that never seems as interesting. Oh and see my new rug? I ordered it last fall, but never put it down because I was saving it for a mythical someday when I needed a new rug. Justin hates me doing this. He is of the opinion that you buy something if you intend to use it now, not three years down the road. Just ask him about our nice silverware that has never seen the light of day since being purchased in 2008. So on one of his days off, I came home from a doctors appointment to find my rug all rolled out. I love it. 

This was the mess that was the closet. After removing the sofa and chair cushions. Since we shoved stuff in here willy-nilly at 10 PM on a Saturday night, I couldn't put clothes away that were done after discovering lice, so several loads of clothes were stashed here, as well as bags of toys, oodles of blankets and pillows, way too many winter coats, and the girls little chairs. 

This was the living room 10 minutes later. It was depressing. Too terrible to think about. I went and got a glass of water and stood there contemplating the mess. I heard Orianna and Lily talking in their ususal way " 'tend it wasn't there and you didn't know where to look for it." I don't know what they were talking about, but  'tending this mess wasn't there really resonated with me. I thought about running away. I thought about ignoring it. I thought about setting it out by the curb for free. I thought about donating it all to the Salvation Army--if we have lived without for 6 weeks, do we really need it? I thought about just putting it all back in the closet--who needs a place to put clothes anyway? But unfortunately, 6 weeks of not having laundry baskets in my living room and no where NEAR this many toys laying around has made me a softie in regards to messes. I don't LIKE it. I bothers me. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I used to be able to ignore messes like no ones business. So I just decided to deal with it. Three rubbermaid totes of toys were stashed away, a rubbermaid of winter coats was packed away (We have WAY too many of those apparently), and everything else was sorted and put away.

Pollys came back! The girls are extremely happy about this.

Gilbert likes to get in on picture taking now.

Sleeping with the shark that has been AWOL for six weeks

My nice boy!

And this is the current state of the living room. All gone. Except for the box of Polly's. They are back, like it or not.

On a totally different note, my chirstmas cactus is about to bloom! I have had this for a year and a half and it has never bloomed. I am a failure with houseplants. Mom always had great plants inside, but apparently I did not inherit that trait. Lindsey got it in spades and I kill anything that is not a cactus. 

This was the end result of coloring valentines.

Orianna had a lot to color, so by the end, these were her valentines. I told her these were scribbly and she couldn't give them to kids in her class and she broke into tears asking me why I didn't like the way she colored. I told her I liked the way she colored, but not the way she scribbled. Turns out she had seen the Polly's coming out of hibernation and no longer cared about coloring valentines. We have enough other ones to give out without the scribbly ones anyway.

All in all, it was a pretty good Saturday. 

February 11, 2012

End of December Pictures

I know I said I would seriously post pictures on Thursday. But clearly, that didn't happen. So I will do it on Saturday and call it good enough. I wouldn't ever trust me if I tell you I will do something by a certain time. I have unrealistic expectations of what can happen in the length of a day. Never trust unrealistic people.

And here we are.

This was a new game that had been a great deal on Amazon--Snack Attack. I think it would be better if I figured it all out a bit more. The kids liked it for the first 20 minutes or so. A game that was a HUGE hit with Orianna and Cheyenne was DUO, also from Amazon. It is a fairly mindless, quick game, which makes it nice for the parents that have been conned into playing. Actually, it was pretty fun and I offered to play with them several times.

Lincoln and Gilbert checking on the progress of siding the sugar house from the warmth of grandma and grandpa's bed.

An ICICLE! Fabulous! Look how thrilled she is! 

This next bunch are ones Tori took with my camera. Can't claim credit.

See the snow in the air? Blowing snow anyway...

I really like this picture. 

This is how Gilbert rolls with popcorn. A large bowl, a table top seat and limited, occasional sharing with others


And more games

My guys!

Making snow angels

Penny getting patted. 
The reason there is no Lily in these outdoor excursion pictures is because she was too busy in the house mourning her snow boots. For some reason, which I currently forget, her boots were at our house, not at Grandma and Grandpa's. Big deal, you say. It is a mile away, go get the boots for the poor child. But for some reason, it never seems that easy. So I tried to convince her to wear Orianna's meeting boots with socks, but that resulted in a Lily so sad that she didn't have the strength to stand on her feet, (otherwise known as puddling, an advanced pouting technique) which is a problem when it is near zero outside. So she went  and consoled herself (just barely) by reading 3 Tintins in quick succession . There were a LOT of tears shed over the stupid boots. But once I had told her to "adopt, adapt, and improve" and accept the fact that she had to wear Orianna's boots or nothing, I felt like I needed to stick to my guns and not be swayed by her excessive tears. I also felt like the tears were a result of being overtired, in which case, my sympathy is always strained to the point of "Go take a nap. NOW." I am a poor parent.

My footprints and a cats footprints. Cats are much busier at walking around my feet than I am walking on my feet. 

Chickens in the shop. Dad's favorite thing ever. Just ask him. "Stupid, cotten-picken' birds...." 

A snowy story on a snowy day with the Barkleys

Lincoln was poor and put upon and wasn't allowed to go outside too often. It WAS zero and the few times I took him out, he was painfully cold and wanting to go in within two minutes. So Clover let him pretend he was outside by wearing a hat and gloves. Made him feel important. 

Feeding cows. The highlight of the day.

Owen and Ashley

Elliott balancing so wicked cool-ly and Lily holding Princess the cat. 

And now comes my stint for wholesale stealing and copyright infringement. Otherwise known as taking pictures of Cristin's wedding from facebook and blogs of people who actually remembered their cameras. I HAD to have some sort of pictoral representation for my photobook. I just had to. 

Verity and Brad, the next married couple to be

No I am not wearing a small bird in my head and Justin does not have glowing antennae. I will admit to wearing the feathery hairpiece. But it does look like I am harboring a small bluebird in my bun. 

Hanging out in the library

Andrew, the groom

The normal Earl girls and their crazed sister, Nina. Hahaha

Cutting the cake. (I might mention that Nina did the fetching arrangement of candles and timepieces in the foreground. Clever girl.)

The young Vaughan girls

Nina and I being our normal calm and quiet selves

Roger and Jill

Mary, so glam.

Totally discussing something here

Alex practicing her celebratory New Year look

Aren't they sweet? 

Sparklers indoor. Naughty! But fun.

The new Parker meeting girl group. Well new as in about 13 years old. But still. It isn't the OLD group.