December 21, 2012

Oh Happy Day

Happy things

1. Fat babies laying on the floor playing with their toes.

2. Gilbert dancing to the Hokey-Pokey and poking his stomach every time it says pokey.

3. One hour delay. On the last day of school for a week and a half. YAY!

4. Big fat snowflakes on the shortest day of the year.

5. Getting my house back together and rearranging furniture. I love doing that!

Some happy/funny pictures of my sweet, lovey kids from the past few months that I don't think I have put on here yet.

Orianna's tonsils

This is Gilbert, showing off his nuttiness. He was perfectly happy here. Just thought it would be funny to yell. 

Elsie's hair is uncontrollable. I tried a clip for the first time, but the hair poofed out

My sweet, giggling Lily. Lily is so impish sometimes, but her sweet side is what shows up in pictures. 

December 20, 2012

A Day of Days

Today was one of those days. Not terrible, but little, annoying things kept popping up, so I never quite felt on top of things. It felt like I was running two situations behind most of the day.

I actually got up early, which is always a good way to start the day, but it also means I am much more laid back. Lily got up a few minutes before time to get them up. Of course, we had to cuddle. And then I was late getting Orianna up. While I was finishing up their hair, two minutes before the bus came, they told me their parties were today. I told them, no, their parties were on Friday. But they said the parties were today with such conviction that I started believing them. The presents for the gift exchange were already in school, but I had been planning on going to town today to get things to make treats. I finally got a hold of the secretary at the school and she said their parties were today. So I scrounged around and found the fixings for cupcakes. Little itty bitty ones.  Instead of icing, I put a few chocolate chips on top. It seems lame, living in the age of pinterest as we do, but it was all I had to work with. And they looked cute. The second batch over cooked a little, and as I pulled them hurriedly out of the oven with one hand, they slipped. Some on the bottom of the oven, some on the door, some on the floor. So then I decided to just bring cupcakes to Lily's room, since Orianna's teacher encourages people to bring healthy treats, rather than sweets. Copying Clover, I decided to grab a bag of cheddar popcorn and call it good. I got the kids in the van and went in to fetch the cupcakes. I came out, realized I hadn't buckled Gilbert in and saw him hitting the lock button. Since the keys were in the van, I jumped a bit, dropping the top plate of cupcakes. Cupcakes rolling all over the drive way. At this point, I was feeling a little like going back to bed, pulling the blankets up and starting over tomorrow. We sorted out the lock situation and I went back in for the other plate of the few slightly overdone cupcakes that had landed right side up when the rest fell out. I stopped by the convenience store and grabbed the popcorn on the way to school. At school, I figured Gilbert would get a kick out of seeing the Christmas-y classrooms, so we all got out and went in, balancing everything precariously. Only to be told that actually, people weren't allowed to walk down the halls anymore. So I had to leave them with the gatekeeper. Which took all of thirty seconds. So back we went to the van. I ran errands, which all went well. Then home again with bags and bags of groceries and gifts for teacher things. When we got home, I was busy making hotdogs for Gilbert and Elsie was fussing, so the bags sat on the floor for a bit. Then the girls came home, trailing glittery, sugary bits of a successful Christmas party. Candy, present wrappings, papers all went every which way. Elsie fussed again, so I went to feed her. The phone rang and I ran downstairs and heard Gilbert talking to who ever it was. Then Orianna grabbed it. As I passed the front door, there was the piano teacher, waiting to be let in. (She is a super girl, grew up on the farm next to us. But still, it is a little disheartening to see people high stepping through your kitchen, no matter how understanding they are.) So in she came, I gave her a blanket apology of "I am an idiot, my house is a mess" while grabbing the phone and trying to sort out insurance. Then the doorbell went again. I looked out the window and thinking it must be a relation, just kept talking. The kids let whoever it was in and I hear, "You shouldn't let me in until your Mommy is here" and I started frantically wondering who on earth was seeing my house such a mess while trying to understand what the insurance questions were. Ran to the door and found the mother of a girl that rides the school bus with Orianna. Orianna and Sophie had switched gifts, a makeup set for a puzzle. Orianna told Sophie that she couldn't wear make-up, so Sophie gave her the puzzle and took the makeup because Sophie loves makeup. Sophie's mom just wanted to clarify that this was okay, because it was a neat makeup kit. Nice of her. I was really pretty proud of Orianna being willing to give it up, so I told her it was absolutely fine. And we yakked back and forth, me apologizing for my house. She told me "You should see my house!" Except I have seen her house. And despite 3 kids, two house pigs, some dogs, and parakeets it is spic and span. (I kid you not, they have pigs in their house with them.) This woman, lysols the sidewalk after the garbage truck stops, since it stinks and just seems dirty. She is in a whole different housecleaning universe than I am. I am still cringing that she saw my house.

And after all that, Gilbert's special ed teacher showed up right on time instead of 10 minutes late, so I was still trying to get the kitchen cleared and the cupcake crumbs up. While trying to decide if I needed to save the 10 different pinterest creations for fun school treats that came home with the girls. (Icing was big this year. There were little snowmen on a stick, made out of marshmallows and icing, icing covered candy canes, icing covered cake pops, icing covered oreos, icing covered pretzels... You name it, somebody in America, somewhere this holiday season, probably dunked it in frosting and put some strategically broken pretzel pieces on it and painted it to look like Rudolph.)

But then Ashley came over and cooked us a yummy supper. And Livie, Tori, and Owen came to help me put the living room back together. And everyone was so nice, kind, and full of holiday cheer today when I was shopping. So all in all, it was a good day. Just crazy busy. A day I will look back on in ten years and think "Those were the days."

December 18, 2012

Our floor

I am typing on a dusty keyboard, on a dusty chair and looking at a dusty monitor and table. But oh! my floor is lovely. We sanded all afternoon Saturday. Believe me, if any of you think I didn't learn my lesson about drop clothes you would be wrong. I asked Justin if there was anything I could do, in that please-don't-say-yes way that all wives do when they really, really hope the answer is no. Or is that just me? Justin said yep, I could vacuum the dust or run the edger. I decided to vacuum, since that was easier. But then my guilt took over. Guilt is pretty useful in these times when I really, really don't want to do things. But I should. So fueled by guilt, I ran the edger. Within 5 minutes, my hair had turned a dusty grey, my nose was full of dust and I felt like my arms were going to fall off. Somehow, it didn't feel right to communicate all this to Justin, who was sanding a floor because I am an idiot, on his day off. I deserved a little pain anyway.

And it was all worth it in the end.

This was once we finished sanding. Isn't it beautiful?

Dust mopping

All Dutch Oiled. We got a clear oil, but it seems to have yellowed it a bit more than I would have wished. But it does seem like honey, which makes me happy. It actually isn't supposed to be that shiny. I put a second coat on yesterday and it hasn't fully dried. Which means the surface is still a bit sticky. If it doesn't absorb by tomorrow, I am going to have to hand sand it. Oh joy. It really is a handsome floor in this picture. There are a few spots that you can't see hear that have been stained by something black and a few places that need to be sanded again, but hey, it is looking pretty good for its 50 years!

December 14, 2012

Gratefulness amongst the grief

Today, I haven't been on the computer much. Mom called and told me about the shooting in Connecticut just awhile ago. I was having a busy, happy day. Housecleaning, sewing, feeling proud of the zippered pouch I made Cheyenne for her birthday. And then I hear about what people have been going through. It is weird to think of people suffering so deeply and completely while I was happily contemplating exactly what size the lining of the pouch should be in relation to the pleated outside. That people could be mourning their children or not knowing if their kids were safe while I had my two babies cuddled up to me. It just seems amazing that something like this could happen and I could be totally unaware for hours. Something of this magnitude should reverberate through the air. I should feel the parents pain and be flattened by it. And yet, these sorts of things are happening all the time. Thankfully, not as horrific as this crime, but people are losing precious ones every minute of every day. And we go about our lives, thinking about supper, what to do this weekend, how to spend the evening, what needs to be done, while others grieve.

But today, we all grieve. Because it could so easily be any parent. Any spouse of a teacher. Anyone who works in a school. We can all imagine how bewildered and terrified the students and teachers were. How helpless and paralyzed the parents felt. I went to school this afternoon to pick the girls up, still clueless about what had happened and I noticed how many parents were there picking their kids up. I thought it was just because it was the weekend. But now, I think a lot of those parents just wanted to reassure themselves. Just to know their kids were safe.

Doing a Happy list seems crass today. Happy is too light and airy a word for us today. So instead, I am going to write a grateful/thankful list.

1. I am thankful that tragedies like this only happen to a handful of students in America. We are a lucky nation. It happening at all, is too much. Just too much. And I feel myself getting tight and anxious inside, thinking about sending my girls to school on Monday. But really, America does do a good job of keeping our kids safe. Their teachers, bus drivers, teacher assistants, law enforcement, all care and do their best. I don't know what that particular school's regulations were, but depravity can never be fully anticipated. We can look at things and try to change things that may have made it easier, but I don't think we can think the school or teachers were at fault. They do try so hard to make our kids safe and secure.

2. On that note, I am thankful that my girls had no idea this happened. I know they will find out eventually, but I am glad that the schools did not broadcast this. That they let the parents decide how to deal with telling their kids.

3. I am glad I don't have a television/radio. I can't even imagine the struggle people will have this weekend, trying to keep their kids from hearing every detail on the news. I don't want to know every detail. I am glad that I can choose to click on the story or not. Not have it shouted out to me in the middle of a song or a morning talk show. I hope that doesn't sound harsh or uncaring. It isn't that I want to be oblivious and not be reminded of it (how could you forget it anyway?) but rather that I need to have space and time to process and understand and that only happens for me in quietness. In being busy with the minutiae of life, being reminded that I am alive, that my kids are alive. 

4. I am thankful that Gilbert and Elsie are clueless. Orianna and Lily are heading down to Syracuse for a birthday weekend, so I only have Gilbert and Elsie. Just the reminder of how small their world is, how Elsie couldn't concieve of such a thing, how Gilbert can't understand or grieve for something so unconnected to him, is good for me in some way.

5. I am thankful for all the good things in my life. The fact that my family is safe. That my kids came home talking about the Santa Claus they made in school and how Gabe laughed when her shoe fell off. Thankful for faith that allows me to trust and not try to make sense of senseless things. Just thankful for what these tragedies remind us--that life is so good, so precious, and is not to be wasted in pursuit of material things or in silly, pointless busyness.

And now, I am going to go read/sing Gilbert his Favorite Nursery Songs book that he just discovered under some toys.

December 12, 2012


The living room is primed. Tori came over after school to help and then I put another coat on after the kids were in bed. I was not excited about priming. I couldn't get into it. Maybe something to do with having to do it and having four kids hooting and hollering around. Justin is the professional at this. He knows things about painting. But since I want my living room done and Justin is out of town, it only makes sense for me to prime so we can get things put back together when he gets home.

It is all primed.

Including the floor...

Except I ruined the floor with paint. Now we need to sand it and refinish it. So the time saved was negative. I saved Justin an hour or two and cost him a day's worth of work. I know that looks terribly irresponsible, the paint all over the floor, but with two people painting, it isn't too hard. You get your paint can filled, take it to where you are working, work away and then turn back to get more paint and see that you dribbled paint from the get-go, then stepped in it and then tracked it all over creation. So you try to wipe it up, but fast drying primer that it is, it is dry. And you don't dare leave your paint unprotected with three eager sets of hands ready to grab it, so you can't get water. And when this has happened about 4 times, you start thinking about how nice the floor would look sanded anyway. And try not to think of the mutterings your husband will mutter when he sees this picture. About why didn't she just call and ask where the drop cloths were? and Did she let Gilbert fingerpaint on the floor or what?!?

When I was a kid, my Aunt Geri used to paint frequently. Every few months, she would freshen up the house with a new coat of paint. Someone just had to mention they were feeling blue, and she would get out the rollers and pans and ask "Royal or navy?" She was a painting dynamo. It seemed easy. As a teen, it still seemed easy. Now, I think back and wonder how on earth Geri did it. She had four little kids at the time and quite often a few loose Vaughan kids as well and she would paint. Mind boggling. Last night, I started wondering if a plane ticket for Geri would equal the cost of sanding and redoing the floor. It probably would have been worth it....

Now, I have to get the room completely painted before Justin comes home, so we can get the floor sanded and treated again this weekend so I can start putting the living room back together next week...

I don't wanna!

December 11, 2012

Life and the books beside my bed

Life has been different, life has been busy, life has been quiet, life has been the same old, same old. Seriously, it has been all those things, contradicting or not. Justin has been working out of town, which makes things seem busier, but it the same sort of busyness--kids, laundry, dishes, cooking, trying to be a normal, reasonable parent (so far, not successful). We are still in the throes of the living room remodel, so we have been staying upstairs. Same house, just different. Effectively, we are cutting about 600 square feet of living space out of our little house and life. I have a living room sofa on my bed and a sideboard and coffee table at the foot of the bed. The kids now have a piano, china cabinet, and dining room table in their room. The closet is choc-a-bloc full with living room furniture, rugs, and toys. While it has been a bit more of a struggle keeping things even-keel, our clothes and toys have all been streamlined. We each have a few outfits, the kids have only a couple different sets of toys. Life is altogether quieter with fewer toys and clothes. And not having bureaus has its drawbacks, but laundry doesn't have to be folded now. It comes out of the dryer, gets carried upstairs, and sorted into everyone's individual laundry basket. Done in 3 minutes. I am a little in love with this system. My laundry room has never been so consistently neat. Last night, as I listened to the rain on our tin roof, which you can't hear downstairs, I decided I was pretty happy with the whole set-up. 

Our upstairs room. A bit more full than it is supposed to be. And with unpainted putty covering the knot holes in the pine and sprayfoam. This was one of the biggest changes in the room, this little dormer. The dormer was there on the outside, but had never been framed in on the inside. 

Looking at the other side. 

And this is our huge shelf. The wall used to go straight up from the bottom, but we opened it up, which makes it seem a lot bigger. 

Another change is that our microwave perished two weeks ago. Lily, being resourceful while Mommy was taking way too long to feed Elsie, microwaved her own baked beans. With a spoon. There was a bean explosion and the paint started peeling off the inside of the microwave, so we decided to trash it. Just to be contrary, I wanted to see what it is like to live without a microwave for awhile. The biggest problems for me are that a hotdog can no longer be ready for Gilbert in 25 seconds and I can no longer pull something out of the freezer at 4 pm for supper. I have to plan ahead. Things have to defrost overnight. I have to reheat things on the stove (my pots and pans are getting a workout) or in the oven (the 70's pyrex dishes with glass tops that Justin brought into this marriage come into their own here), but it actually is sort of fun. Like camping. When you know the inconvenience is only temporary and you can go back to normal life when you feel like it. Not having a microwave in my kitchen makes my counter tops seem so... airy though. If you can use a word like airy to describe an area with a fake brick backsplash.... So if I can manage without it, I might actually go microwave-less indefinitely. But how to warm up cornbags for the kids?

The other major change is... tada! I am eating whole foods. I have been meaning to do this for ages. But just haven't. Three weeks ago, I just started. Mostly I am eating a lot of vegetables with some meat, fruit, and cheese. And I will admit to some dark, dark chocolate, which I just added back in this week, along with fruit. Oh and of course, there is peanut butter involved. Fresh ground from Martin's with just peanuts and salt. Yum. Weirdly, eating this way isn't that much harder. We had someone come to our house awhile ago that couldn't have added sugar, flour, or dairy and I racked my brain to figure what on earth to make. Now, I know. I am sure this won't always be easy to do (mainly during the week of all the Vaughans home together), but so far, so good. 

All these things make life different, but interestingly so. Busier, but not hectic. And, I get to re-arrange my entire household in my head every few hours, thinking about when the living room does get done. That is more fun than actually doing the rearranging. We are planning on priming this afternoon and painting later this week. So the actual rearranging can take place shortly. 

Since Justin had banished me and the kids upstairs while dust and noise was going on, I have been doing a lot of reading. I am in a mellow book mood, so all my books have been fairly calm with good endings. 

High Fences by Grace S. Richmond
1930's book about city vs country life, male vs female. --Good

The Heart of a goof by PG Wodehouse
It is PG Wodehouse. Short stories. Need we say more? --Good

Majesty's Rancho Zane Grey
Third time of reading this. Just a Zane Grey western. But it is from the 1930's with all sorts of slang. Like "I'll tell the world!" and "I'll snort to snicker!" both of which are good phrases to use when agreeing with what someone said. I think the snort to snicker one should make a resurgance. --Good

The Boss of the Lazy Y by Charles Alden Seltzer
Slightly atypical western where the main character is in the wrong a lot. But a woman reforms him, so it isn't completely atypical--Good

Catrin in Wales by Mable Esther Allan
A book from Tori's bookshelf. 1960's girl in Wales. What's not to like? I think I want more by this author. --Good

Let it Snow by Green, Johnson, and Myracle
Recent teen authors. Snagged this from Tori's room when I had no other book to read while feeding Elsie. Surprisingly--Good

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes
Modern day Ireland. Stories of people who all live in an apartment complex on Star Street. Narrated by an unknown "force" which I just thought of as omniscient narrator, but sort of off-putting as it discusses people's force fields. The author also teases you along, alluding to life altering situations going on in these people's life, but only parceling them out gradually. A bit annoying. But I did like some of the characters--Alright

Home Front by Kristin Hannah
Woman deploying to Iraq, leaving her family. --Good, if you want to cry

The Holiday Issue--Bon Appetit 
Not a book, but I like Bon Appetit. More as reading material, than recipe source. They use way too many specialty store items to be made in Northern New York

The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2011
Also not a book, but love it for recipes. 

I also stole some Stillmeadow books from Mom and Dad and some Elisabeth Olgivie--writes for teenagers and adults, mostly all set on the Maine coast. She has some pretty scary mystery books, but mostly they are good. 

And of course, lots and lots of kids books. 

Gilbert just pulled the silverware drawer onto the floor. So I better stop blogging. 

December 4, 2012


This past weekend, the girls had their first piano recital. The both were brilliant, Orianna playing We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Lily playing Go Tell it on the Mountain. I took a grand total of two pictures of the event. Well three if you count the first one that was blurry. Justin took some on his phone, which are probably much better than the ones I got.

Before the piano recital, we did family pictures. I seem to want to take a family picture every month or so. Justin suffers not so silently through this. And the kids don't really care. As you can see, they just make whatever face they feel like and continue on with life. So here is some of our weekend in pictures.

Friday night, Lily was walking past Justin's bucket of sheetrock mud and Gilbert slipped at that moment and somehow knocked only her hand into the bucket. She was traumatized. And bad parents that we are, Justin and I were dying laughing. She and Gilbert both looked so startled. And then, her hand was covered in sheetrock mud. Even now, thinking about it, I laugh. Her therapist will get a few months worth of work out of this picture. 


I thought it would be cute to get a picture of all of them looking in the mirror, but apparently you need a bigger mirror. Several people have asked where Elsie gets the red hair, and each time I am confused--she has red hair?!?!?!  But in certain lights, I guess it is sort of reddish. Like the picture above looks vaugely orange-ish. 

But this picture, Elsie has her regular brownish/blond/nonexistent hair.

Love these two big sisters



Heading out to the piano recital

Lily from a million miles away. Here is a better picture that Abby took and put on facebook.


Aunt Ashley brought them flowers. So they could feel grown up like Fiona. 

She is a pretty nice auntie!

Gilbert fascinated with Justin on stilts. I am fascinated that we are getting close to done. All we have to do now is sand the finish coat and we can start priming and painting. I am itching to start, but Justin has threatened me with bodily harm if I touch his mudding job. Once upon a time, I sanded away most of the mud. And paper on the sheetrock. He was annoyed, to say the least. 

Gilbert has this wand thing that plays music. He can change the tempo and play a freeze game where you are supposed to freeze when the music stops. He found it in TJ Maxx and refused to put it down. And being an undisciplined mother, I just bought it for him. He loves it. It was worth it.  

Love this baby girl! This is her quilt from Breanna. Who just turned 8. And can quilt better than I can. Elsie and I love this quilt.

Trying to get the camera. Her red spot on her face is where Gilbert accidentally head butted her moments before.

Falling six inches to the carpet is sobering.

Fuzzy, but cute.