Service

I have decided that I should not wait for another 6 months, or a severe case of hives to post again.  Mainly because that makes for a boring blog to follow, but also I hope for the later to never happen again.    Ugh!

That being said I don’t actually have something I particularly want to write about, so this could be interesting.  I’m just going to start typing and see what comes out and hopefully it won’t be to boring, or incoherent.

So, I just finished one of my biggest projects ever this week.  I vinyled approximately 50 shirts for Kirsten’s preschool.  The teachers wanted to have matching costumes for the Grandparent’s Day Halloween costume parade.  They saw this super cute idea to be crayons.  Everyone just wears black leggings and a solid colored shirt.  On the shirt is the solid black line with the squiggle running through it on op and bottom, and the black oval with the word “crayon” knocked out.  So cute.  Really.  SO…… they asked if I would be willing to cut and apply the vinyl.

Let’s be honest here for just a second.  50 shirts is a lot.  Yes it is.  And while the design is simple, 50 shirts is a lot.  And the vinyl it would take to do the design is a lot.  And of course GLITTER vinyl makes it even cuter, but is more expensive.  Times 50 shirts.  And if anyone should bring in a black shirt glow in the dark white vinyl is the only answer.  Which does cost a little more.  But as much work and money as it is all put together, you have to balance that with the thrill of making matching costumes for 50 of the most awesome educators in the whole world, who will love them and tell you how awesome you are.  So of course I said “yes” in a heartbeat.

My daughter’s preschool is really awesome, and I always feel like I don’t give enough of my time to them.  Honestly as a Mom of 5 kids there is only so much of me to go around and I have chosen to focus what free time I have at the Elementary School.  There it is.  I had to make a choice.  But our preschool is awesome.

I first sent Joel there because at 4 he had a rather sever speech problem.  I tried working with him at home, but for whatever reason he just couldn’t do it.  My friend who worked at the school suggested I take him to get tested.  This preschool focuses on kids with some type of disability.  They take all ranges.  They also take some “typical” students to fill in the classrooms.  It is about a 50/50 mix.  Within 3 months we saw the biggest difference in Joel.  I couldn’t believe it.  He graduated preschool with no speech problems and was even beginning to read.  People would comment to me on his reading skills and I never take credit.  It was all his preschool.  They were awesome.

Kaylene attended the following year.  I had her go through the screening process because she was a very difficult toddler and I was concerned maybe something was going on.  And there was.  She is by nature a very stubborn child, but that’s not surprising given who her parents are.  But to add to it at the age of 3 she was scoring like a 5 year old on a lot of the metrics, they explained that basically she was at a disconnect between what her brain was thinking and her body could do.  So if she wanted juice and I said no, she would just go get it herself.  I thought preschool would be good for her, for structure, and learning to follow rules.  I was worried when she went to Kindergarten that she would melt down.  It turned out that she loved school so much, and she never had a problem.  I shouldn’t say never.  There was one day she was a little ornery, and that was the day I was visiting.  I realized that for somethings, Kaylene needed to not have me around.

And that leaves us to why Kirsten is in preschool.  She does not have a speech problem.  Other than being crazy cute when she says ridiculously large words.  She does not have a behavior problem other than the usual fighting with siblings of computer time.  So why would I send her to preschool?  Because I am selfish.  I have spent 13 years with kids at home.  13 years of every time I need to run an errand, getting kids dressed, in coats, with socks and shoes, buckled into car seats, then reversing the process to run the errand (minus the coats and shoes process.  Sometimes.)  and doing it all over again to get home.  My house is only ever quiet late at night when everyone is asleep, and even that is no guarantee.  I wanted a few hours, just a few all to myself.  So off to preschool it was.  Of course Kirsten was ready, and between you and me she could have gone to Kindergarten and been just fine.  She is smart, and is used to doing everything Kaylene does.  She WANTED to go to school.

Of course all that free time I thought I had has been eaten up by all my volunteering the the Elementary school, but I have squeezed in a few fun shopping trips.  And I have even worked on house work on occasion.  And it has been great.  She LOVES school.  Even using all of my great writing skills I can not over emphasize how much she loves it.  She is so sad on Fridays when they don’t have it.  And she is learning so much.  One of my favorite things is, that even though she is not a student with a disability they have a specific goal for her to reach.  And they have a plan for how to get there, and they work with her to be the best she can.  It is everything a Mom could want for her child.

So when this awesome school asked if I would help make 50 crayon shirts, I didn’t even have to think.  The answer was yes.

Of course with any big project comes a stress.  And not all stress is bad.  And it doesn’t help that I am a bit of a procrastinator,  So the teachers started sending in shirts and I did a mock up to make sure what I was doing was what they wanted.  I took it in one day and they showed it around to all the teachers.  I could hear everyone whispering and saying how they loved it.  Let me just say if you ever want to feel amazing about yourself, that experience will do it every time.

So I started cutting and quickly realized that every shirt is slightly different a medium in one brand will not have the same measurements as another.  So to make sure everything turned out right I decided I needed to measure each shirt as I went.  This slowed me down a lot since I couldn’t just set one to cut and go do some cleaning then set another, and then take a stack with me to weed while I was waiting in the carpool lane at school pickup.  (Weeding is when you take the vinyl that is cut and pull off all the stuff you don’t want.  I just wanted to clarify since with all my typos it could easily be confused as one.)  I did finally come up with a system to lay out 4 shirts on my table.  I took a post it note and measured each one.  I cut out the stripes ordering from largest to smallest and did the weeding while the next was cutting.  Then I measured the height between the lines just to make sure I didn’t need to make adjustments.  Then I would stack all 4 shirts and take them to the kitchen to iron.  By the end I could get 4 shirts done in a little over an hour.

Now, I know my Dad has just done the math.  Probably instantaneously without even realizing it.  50 shirts divided by 4 is 12.5.  12.5 times a little over an hour (let’s just round to 1 hour for simplification) is still 12 1/2 hours.  That’s a lot of time, but wait, I said by the end I could go that fast, so in the beginning I was NOT that fast so a better estimate would be 12.5 times 1 1/2 hours to account for the average time it took.  That makes this project would take me about 18 hours and 45 min.  Approximately.

That is not a little project.

But the crazy thing is, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  In fact I KNOW I will do something just as crazy, because it is who I am.  I love cutting vinyl and making things  that take your breath away.  I love helping people, especially people who have given so much to me.  I love that feeling I get when I give something to someone and they love it.

I love service of all kinds.

I guess most of you know (since pretty much everyone who reads this has shared a last name with me at some point) that I have struggled with self esteem and depression and anxiety.  And while I need medicine to help an equally important part of my “treatment” is service.  Serving someone can make a bad day, good.  It is so hard to put into words (which is kind of bad for a blog) but service just makes everything better.

I don’t often venture into my faith or my religion in this blog, but truthfully it is so much a part of me.  And I think of the Savior’s life on this earth.  What we know, what was recorded of his life, was mostly His acts of service.  He is the perfect example for us, and he spent his life and even His death serving others.  There was nothing too small and nothing too big.  He gave us His everything.  And I am so grateful.

So I guess that’s about it, and I think I’ve figured out a title for this post.  I just want to end by saying……..

What kind of crazy person agrees to design and vinyl 50 shirts?!!!!!!   – Me, that’s who.  And I LOVED it.

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4 hours

It’s 5 AM on a Saturday morning.  My one day a week that I give myself to sleep in as long, and I mean as loooooooooong as I want, and I’m up writing my first blog post in, like, a year.  What on Earth could be so important, so urgent that I would sacrifice my sleep to tell you?!?  Nothing, that’s it, Nothing.

See I’m not awake at 5 on a Saturday morning TO write a blog post, I am writing a blob post BECAUSE I am up at 5 on a Saturday Morning.  And the reason I am up at 5 on a Saturday morning is….. Well now that’s a story.

It actually started over 17 years ago.  I know that’s an impressive back flash but as one of my favorite authors pointed out beginnings are often hard to define.  A little over 17 years ago I was finishing my first year at college.  I found myself with an ear infection and went to the Dr who gave me a penicillin based antibiotic.  I proceeded to move out of my dorm over the next couple of days and I went to spend a week with my sister who lived nearby.  After taking my last dose of the antibiotic I noticed several red itchy spots which over the day grew and became itchier and itchier.  I ended up back at the Dr’s only to discover I was now allergic to penicillin.  SO all the medicine in my blood from having taking it for a week was now going to produce big red itch welts.  They grew until I was effectively 1 itchy blotch.

The next few days were miserable,  Nothing relieved the itch.  The antihistamine they gave me was supposed to be really strong and the Dr warned me it would make me very sleepy, and sleepy I was but no sleep for me.  I tried oatmeal baths which would sooth things temporarily but not for long.

The only sleep I could get was to watch old movies that I was very familiar with.  The movie would distract me from the itch enough to relax and because I knew the story I could close my eyes.   And we all know Relaxation + Closed Eyes = Sleep.  Of course the drawback was that 17 years ago there weren’t these things called DVD’s.  At least we didn’t have one.  And if you remember the good old VHS’s then your know that if you play a movie until the end.  Eventually the movie ends and you get static, which of course is jolting and would wake me up and require me to start the movie all over again.

You may have noticed that I have suspiciously omitted the particular movie I watched.  You may be thinking I don’t remember because it was so long ago or that it really isn’t pertinent to the story.  But really have either of those things ever stopped me before?  No.  What is stopping me however is the reaction I know that each of you will have when you find out.  For those who know me really well you will laugh and nod your head and move on because it is a classic Gwenish movie and not surprising at all since as an Adult I have made a point of collecting every episode I can.  For those who don’t know as well you will read the name and question my sanity and wonder “what a minute how old is she now?”  and you may even loose all respect from be and never read anything I write ever again.  But to that I say “Too bad for you.”  Because really it was one of the greatest shows ever written.  What other cartoon can casually and effortlessly use the word “plethora” multiple time in 1 episode, or have terrible puns like “Candied (candid) Camera”, or have heroes so gullible that when they see a short fat man with a mustache and a tall thin woman both speaking with heavy accents they fail to recognize them as the same man and woman they’ve seen hundreds of times who are always up to something, and yet the heroes STILL win.  Yes the show that got me through the hives was “The adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

Isn’t that a great story.  I mean Rocky and Bulwinkle, it doesn’t get much better.  But as awesome as they are, it’s not the reason for my 5 AM blog post.  No the reason for my 5 AM blog post is hives.

A couple of weeks ago I stared a new medicine to help control my anxiety.  I have been trying several medicines in hopes of finding one that will work, not make me sleepy and not make me depressed.  Yeah it’s been so much fun.  You’ve no idea.  So far this new medicine seemed to be working.  The anxiety was under control and I was feeling good.  I could still have a bad day or moment but it would pass and I would be fine.  I was really hopeful.  Yep, was.  It turns out that it is not uncommon in people under the age of 40 who have had previous issues with hives to have delayed onset hives when taking this medicine.  So I have 2 weeks worth of medicine running through my body that is making red welts pop up all over.  Fun!

I tried watching a movie but this time so far no luck.  And of=f course I tried to relieve the actual itch as my empty tube of benedryl cream can attest.  But when you basically need benedryl to be a body lotion I think it’s safe to say you’re in trouble.  So here I sit with ice packs trying desperate to relieve some of the itch.  And trying to not scratch my skin off patiently waiting for that magical hour of 9 AM when our After Hours Clinic will open.  And does anyone have a guess as to who their first patient will be?!  MEEEEEE!

Oh goody it’s 6 AM now.  Only 3 hours to go.  Only 3 hours.

Oh wait now it’s 2 hours and 59 minutes.  I can so do this.

Of Mice and Men

I know, it’s Thanksgiving day and since my Blog has the word “thanks” in it, it is time for the obligatory mushy, warm fuzzy post about what I’m thankful for.

Nope.

Not gonna do it.

I refuse.

Not because I don’t have a million things to be thankful for, or because I don’t have that feeling of gratitude today.  But because for the first time in almost a month I am downstairs at night, alone and while I am still freaking out inside I’m here.  Obviously there is a story behind that rather odd sentence, and that story is why I’m writing tonight.  That is unless I lose my nerve and crash the computer and run upstairs and hide under my bed.  I make no promises that it won’t happen.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.  I wish I knew that story better so I could parody a little more than the first sentence but the first sentence will do.  About a month ago Randall announced to the family in his half laughing manner that we finally had gotten a pet.  I was stunned and knew that it had to be a trick and a trick I wasn’t going to like.  The kids fell for it and were all excited.  He then told us while he had been using the computer the night before he had seen a mouse.

I completely wigged out.  I don’t do animals in my house.  I can barely tolerate bugs and only that because I can squish them.  Mice.  No way.  They are fast, they have that crazy wiggly tale, they scurry and just no, I don’t do mice.  Randall purchased a live trap, and proceeded to name the mouse Johnathan.  As in Johnathan Frisby from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm.  Johnathan stayed in the house for a few days before he was lured into the trap by some peanut butter.  Randall took the trap to a large wooded area in town and released Johnanthan.  We said good-bye and hoped that he would remember to make his home in the lee of the stone.  And we were done.

Until we saw Matthias of Redwall.  Randall was at work and there was no school and he ran behind the trash can.  He startled me and I screamed. I didn’t yell, I didn’t shriek, I screamed.  I’m surprised he didn’t have a heart attack.  He attempted a second run and I screamed again.  I will admit I scared the kids pretty bad.  Eventually I calmed down enough to think a little bit and I left him alone to find a better hiding spot for the day.  Later I sent Seth in to inspect and see if he had gone.

We named him Matthias because Randall laughed at my story and my description, which may or may not have been exaggerated my fear and panic.  He said it definitely sounded like a warrior, so it must be Matthias.

It took a few more days for Matthias to find his way into the trap.  I will admit to getting a little impatient and purchasing a couple more traps.  When he climbed the backside of my cabinets and got on my counter I thought my heart would stop.  But like I said eventually we trapped him, only in the mean time we had spotted yet another mouse.  And when we caught Matthias, well he didn’t look like my decription of a big scary mouse so it was decided that Mathias wasn’t the one in the trap, it was Chloe.

Now if you’re looking for some reference to a mouse character pop culture, good luck.  Chloe got her name because Kaylene was around.  Her best friend is Chloe and if you ask her to name ANYTHING, she will name it Chloe.

So Chloe was take off to the woods and released.  But we still had Matthias.  By this time I had had it.  I was afraid of my kitchen, I was afraid of the trash, I was afraid of the counters, I was afraid of the computer desk.  I was afraid to clean any piles that might house a mi=ouse for fear the thing would run out.  So I went and bought killing traps.

In addition to our three live traps I set three more killing traps.  I used a variety of baits, and I went to be knowing that in the morning Matthias would be dead.  That night in my sleep I heard all three traps go off, and I smiled to myself a very smug smile.

In the morning, however I got up to find that I dreamed that the traps had gone off.  Matthias was still free.  Over the next week Matthias avoided all the traps and we discovered that he was joined by the Rescuers, Bernard and Bianca. ( We believe that Mathias did get caught but Bernard and Bianca rescued him.)

So back to the store I go and I purchase 4 for killing traps and 2 more live traps.  (Yes, I’m aware that this may perhaps be overkill.  And yes I am aware of the really bad pun.  I live with Randall, what do you expect.)  One mouse seemed to like chewing on my sponge so I cut it up and used it for bait.  I also added wheat as bait to some of the traps.  I put them in every conceivable place.  And that night we caught and killed Matthias.

Now before I have every treehugger boycotting my blog (I’m not sure how that would work since last time I checked I have about 5 people reading this, but whatever.) I do not enjoy killing mice.  But it is difficult to overstate my fear of mice.  And they are in my house.  My personal space.  They are in, MY kitchen, MY Dining Room, MY stuff, MY house.  For almost 2 weeks we tried to catch these mice in nice humane live traps.  Ultimately they need to be out of my house, one way or another.

So, back to the saga.  We were left with Bernard and Bianca.  Every night I would go to bed thinking that this would be the night and every morning the traps would be empty.  One night during scripture one of them made a brief appearance in the living room, sending kids screaming and crying everywhere.  Aryel was curled up in my arms shaking from crying so much.  Then they all ran upstairs and insisted on finishing family scripture time up there.  After a few days of that we tried to return to our normal place of reading scriptures in the living room.  Aryel Joel, Kaylene and Kirsten would huddle on the landing of the stairs and refused to come down any further.  By 8 PM none of them would come down stairs at all.

Randall and Seth thought it was hilarious.  I was traumatized.  One afternoon while sitting at the computer Bernard ran behind the desk.  I sat shaking but decided enough was enough.  I kept him cornered and called a friend with a cat to come over.  For 30 minutes I battled Bernard but he escaped before the cat got here.

I checked our traps and some of them the bait was gone, but they had never been triggered.  So I went through and got rid of some and re-baited others.  And every morning I would ask Randall if we had caught any and every morning he would shake his head.  This morning I almost didn’t even check them.  I think a part of me had lost hope.  I was preoccupied with making rolls and messing them up.  So I got into th kitchen and got our Thanksgiving meal preparations underway and before noon we were out the door to celebrate this holiday of gratitude.  We came home and promptly got back to the work of cleaning and running a home.  Later I decided to make the last of the cookie dough I had in the freezer.  I had baited a few traps earlier in the week with blue cheese and it obviously wasn’t working.  I thought maybe fresh-baked cookies would work.  So I began cleaning and re-baiting some of the traps.  I went to pick up one in the dining room and I notice it had been triggered.  At first I thought it had just gone off on its own.  We’ve had that happen a few times, but the indicator wasn’t pointing to the not set position.  It was just barely in the caught position.

I should mention the killing traps I bought were contained units.  Once it catches the mouse, you can’t see it or and gruesome bits.  It’s also safe for pets and kids.

I couldn’t believe it.  We caught Bernard.  I was elated.  Again I’m sorry we killed him, but I now only have 1 mouse in my house.  I was so excited I thought I’ll stay up tonight and brave the downstairs at night and finally use the computer.  But as I was tucking other kids into bed, Seth saw Bianca.  And I will admit I almost curled up inside my bed and waited out the night.  But I decided to come down here.  I have flinched a dozen times and seen things out of the corners of my eyes constantly.

I will proofread this and then run upstairs and possibly leave too many lights on because I will be afraid to turn them off.

But I did it.  I am down here.  And best of all there is only one mouse left.  Only 1.  Thank you, mouse traps.  Thank you.

Thankful to be a Mommy

What seems like half a million years ago I taught Primary (our children’s class at church) for the first time here in Ohio.  I had the 11-year-old girls.  That’s the age just before they move into the teen program.  Those were and still are My Girls.  I taught them only for a few months, but then later I took the to camp for a couple of years, and eventually taught them in the teen program.  They will forever be My Girls and they are very much mine.  I will share but each one was special to me.

They have since grown, gone to college, served missions, gotten married and begun their own families.  Some have stayed in the area and some have not.  Some I keep in touch with more and others less, but I can name them all.  They are MINE.

This past week as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed I saw a post from one of My Girls.  She commented that “Motherhood had kicked her butt today, and she loved it.”  She talked about fighting kids and fussy baby and laundry that wasn’t done, but that she was a Mommy and that was more important than anything.  Now, in my all too frequent vain moments I’d like to think that I taught these girls something.  That they felt all my love and somehow I meant something to them, but that post humbled me.

When was the last time I was GLAD that I was a mother?  When had I been thankful for my kids even though that were driving me bananas?  Motherhood quite regularly “kicks my butt.” but am I happy about it?  Not usually.

And then I thought about my recent trip with my family.  Out of the 7 of us kids we live in 5 States and 2 Countries, and My Dad is in a different State.  Needless to say we don’t often get together, but somehow the stars aligned and we were able to descend on helpless Washington DC.  I did not take my kids on this trip.  In the 12 years I’ve been a Mommy this is the 3rd time I’ve left them overnight.  That being said I now have joined the real world and have a cell phone with unlimited talked so they could call me.  The first day my 9-year-old daughter called.  The other days they all passed the phone around.  (Except for my 12-year-old Son who thinks he doesn’t need a Mommy.)

As soon as I said “Hello” I heard a change in my voice.  It was softer, happier.  I don’t know the right words, but the love I felt for my kiddos was amazing.  Now, I have a lot of faults.  Oh yes, it’s true.  And I probably won’t win any Mother of the Year awards anytime soon, but I realized on that trip that I love my kids, and if I do nothing else right I love them soooo much and they know it.  I say it 50 Million times a day.  And that isn’t much of an exaggeration.

So I am thankful to be a Mommy.  To have my 5 crazy little ones.  I’m thankful for all I learn from them and for all the love they give me.  I’m thankful for the bad days and the good.  I’m thankful for My Girls.  The ones in the past and my new ones.  And My Boys I’ve taught.  I’m thankful for the love I have for them, for that connection.  I’m thankful for Miss Andrea (yep I’m calling you out by name) and for her wise post.  I wish I could claim credit for her wisdom but it is really because of her amazing Mom and Dad.  And I’m thankful for my parents.  How they raised us 7 I will never figure out, but even after all the things I did they still love me.  And ultimately I am thankful for my Savior.  I am sure there are days that He wants to send me to time out and send me to bed early, (There are days I would LOVE to go to time out and go to bed early.) but He loves me all the same.

And I’m thankful to be a Mommy.

Now, is it bedtime yet?

Change

Last week on the way to school, we had barely gotten a block away when I knew there was a problem.  I drive and old beat up minivan that probably has more things wrong with it than right with it, but there was a noise.  It was subtle, but instantly I knew it was new, and bad.

So I pulled over and sure enough I had a flat tire.  So my mind jumped into that problem solving mode.  I had 4 kids in the van and I was a block away from home on the side of a busy road.  2 kids could walk to school.  If they walked quickly they should make it before the tardy bell.  Not as early as they like, but they can make it.  1 kid needed to go to preschool, but that was too far to walk.  But we carpool, so the other Mom might be able to cover for me, but I need to call her right away.  That leave me and the 3 year old in a van with a flat tire.  We are only a block, so I turn around and drive home to get the van out of traffic’s way and just figure Randall will fix it when he comes home.

My friend arrived to pick up the preschooler and she said “Hey, after I drop these guys off do you want me to come over and help you change the tire?”

uhhhhhhhhh, what now?

Randall had insisted on teaching me how to rotate and change tires when were dateing, but to be honest I only agreed because I was twitterpated and I really didn’t pay attention.  It’s just not my thing.  I’m not a fixer upper.

I told her to stop back by and let me think on it.  I found the car manuel and called Randall and he laughed.  When I told my friend that he laughed the gloves came off.  So into the chilly damp morning we go to change a tire on my van.

And we did it.  We really did it.  We got the old tire off, took it in, had to buy a new one not repair it, but we got a new one, and took it home and put it on.  We fixed it, all by ourselves.  It was AWESOME!  And really cathardic.  I mean, I’ve just gotten into a rut about what I do and what Randall does.  And that’s great, we work together, but Knowing I COULD do something on his “list” and do it well…… it was an amazing confidence boost.

It made me realize that there was something I had wanted to write about for a long time, that I just hadn’t been able too.  In fact I had sat down once or twice to write it, but I just couldn’t.  But now, now I can do anything.  I can change a tire.

I am not worthless.

I am not one giant mistake.

I am not always a day late and a dollar short.

I am not a horrible person.

I am not a failure.

A few moths ago I called the same friend who helped me change the tire.  And I just cried and cried.  I couldn’t see any good in me.  All I could see was how much I messed everything up and how I always fell short.  She was stunned, because she doesn’t see me that way.  And for a while I thought that was because I was a good liar.  I lied about being a good person.  I did good things to cover up for all my mistakes, not because I was good person.  But then I tried to see me from her perspective.  She talked me through my worries 1 by 1.  Showing me that in each area of my life I was doing a good job.That I was not just a good person but an amazing person.

Nothing actually changed.  I still yell at my kids more than I should and heaven, my house will NEVER be clean, but I also see that I am great at hugging them and making them feel loved and I have never quit trying to be better.  I suppose I will always struggle with self-esteem, but if many small ways I’m trying to see myself the way I see my friends.  So tonight I’m the lady who changed a flat tire., the  crazy person who is vinyling the backsplashes of the water fountains at school.  I’m the Mom who is never to busy for a hug, kiss, and snuggle.  I’m the friend who is always there.  I’m the one who shows up with a random plate of cookies or a pie, just because.

I am me, and that is more than enough, that is The Best.

Dikywallerpoo

I’m back.  It’s true.  I know you are super excited to see me here.  Maybe you thought I had fallen off the face of the Earth.  That would actually be pretty impressive since not only is the world round but there is a whole lot of other scientific stuff that kinda keeps people down to earth, so to speak.

So I’m sure you are looking for some great explanation of my lengthy hiatus.  Maybe that I took time off to write a best-seller, or that I was touring with some totally awesome band, or that I decided to walk around the globe on my right foot only to raise awareness of people with 6 toes on the left foot but also have 6 finger on their right hand.

The truth is I got in a funk.  I know it’s so sad, but true.  I got busy and somehow writing just took a backseat.  And when I thought of writing it wasn’t funny, so I didn’t write.  And then I stayed busy and the funk just stayed.

Now, I’m not the first person to go through a funk.  Heavens, this isn’t my first funk either.  But I’ve decided it’s time to fight the funk.    It’s time write the stories that I read later and laugh and think, holy cow, did I write that?!  It’s time to share crazy random things out here on the internet, daydreaming of how cool it would be to be popular in the blogosphere all the while knowing that really it’s just a handful of people reading this.  It’s time to tell stories that may or may not be true but they are good stories.  It’s time.

So why is the time now.  Well my Dad would tell you that’s the “time has come, the walrus said” but I’m not in the habit of taking advice from animals that have random cameos in nonsensical books.  But I guess I can still blame this one on my Dad.

You see my Dad is awesome.  And whatever writing skills, and literary humor I possess it’s only because of him.  A few years ago he began writing his personal history.  He  sent each of us kids the first 8 chapters.  It was a treasure worth more than gold.  Probably even more than chocolate, but it would be a close run thing.  Recently I came across that history again and I reread it.

It was like being transported back home.  Not a particular event or place, but just being with my family and all the little things that make us who we are.  The heat sucker and the bear feet.  Food Fibber and Farm Fish.  Going “just for the ride” and the thumb seats.  The Lawnmower, Ugly, Ugly Jr., Wimpy, The Turtle, and The Ghost.  (Our cars)  Knowing that I was loved.  Being taught the Gospel, and taught to love it.  Being home.

It’s not that life was easy then, or that I even particularly missed it.  But it’s a part of me, a part of who I am.  Ugh these aren’t the right words, but they are all I have.   Anyway I ended up sharing some of my favorite parts with some women from church.  We were talking about journals and I wanted to share with them this treasure.  You might think a good journal or record is based in fact, but my Dad’s history has so many tangents and embellishments that well….. as I’ve quoted him before.  “He doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good story.”  But that history, THAT is my Dad.  If you want to get to the real him, THAT’S what to read.

While sharing that thought I ended up having an existential crisis.  As you may have gathered from a previous paragraph we had somewhat of our own goofy way of talking sometimes.  It was all my Dad’s doing.  But since I grew up with it, it was so normal.  So when I mentioned the famous Dinkywallerpoo, I just assumed with a few context clues it would be easy for anyone to figure out.  And then I found out that no one else knew what a Dinkywallerpoo was.  I was in shock.  SHOCK, I say.  For days.

I started thinking about the things I do with my kids.  There was so much they needed to learn.  They have accepted the Home Creatures, but they don’t know Crash Tinkle Tinkle, or puzzles and lines, or even Dinkywallerpoos.

And then I realized that this blog, these words, THIS is what I leave in the world to know me.  I don’t have to write that on July 15th at 3:12 pm I successfully canned 6 pints of plum jam and unsuccessfully canned 2.  No, I can write a crazy Blog post referencing an obscure song by and obscure Muppett, and not only will the moment be saved but so will that little piece of me.

So this long rambling weird post is dedicated to the Dinkywallerpoos.  The little jokes, sayings, habits, quirks, the things that make us who we are.  I doubt that when my Dad made up that silly word for a cup of water before bed, that he ever thought it would be of importance.  But today I declare it to stand for everything that makes us, us.  It will forever be my battle cry.

Fie on the funk.

And HERE’S TO THE DINKYWALLERPOOS!

The Sweetest Sound

Lately while going to sleep Aryel has been listening to a Muppet CD.  It has Scooter singing a song.  “There’s a new sound, the newest sound around.  The strangest sound that you have ever hear.  Not like a wild boar or a jungle lion’s roar.  It isn’t like the cry of any bird.  But there’s a new sound way deep down in the ground and everyone who listen to it squirms. Cause this new, new sound so deep down in the ground is the sound that’s made by worms!”  I know you just sang that.  You read the first two words and your head supplied the music and sound effects and you just sang that didn’t you.  If you have lead a sad life and not heard that song allow me to complete you life and bring joy and happiness to it.

Worms by Scooter.

Now you have enjoyed that song you probably don’t need anymore fun silliness, so I could end my post, but it’s your lucky day.  I’m won’t.  At least not yet.

See I want to write about another sound.  Not a yucky sound, no crazy weird lion or bird.  No worms or Muppets.  The sound of metal bending.  Yes the sound of metal bending.  I’ve heard that sound several times today and each time it made me want to giggle like a 5 year old.  OK I giggle anyway, but seriously people, have you never heard of a literary device?

Specifically the metal bending sound come from metal sealing a container that has been heated and as the container cools the air contracts and sucks the metal down so it stick, sealing the container.  Otherwise known as canning.

OK, look.  Truthfully I just got lucky.  No I’m not canning 500 jars of green beans.  No I’m not planning on opening a shop and selling my wares.  No I am not going to can some weirdo thing like Rhubarb pie filling, because I will NEVER make a pie out of some crazy plant that can’t even decide on what color it is let alone that whole crazy silent h thing!  And by the way what is it in rhubarb that compels people with it to give it away, assuming that everyone loves this stuff?

Anyway, so this story starts (apparently halfway through the blog post.) with a tree.  We have a fruit cocktail tree out back.  What is a fruit cocktail tree you ask?  It’s a tree that has had the branches of similar trees grafted in so if produces several types of fruits.  Huh?! you say.  You’ve never heard of that.  Yes it’s real I have one in my back yard.  The nectarine branches are dead and no peaches this year but we have plums.  That’s crazy you say.  Yeah I know.  And how is it that I know what you are thinking.  I’ve had this conversation a dozen times.

So this year we get some plums and of course my kids don’t like plums, so I decide to make jam.  Because we all know that if you don’t like some just mash it up add a bunch of sugar and you’ll love it.  Except rhubarb.  So I looked for some recipes, called a friend (yeah Jackie!) and picked some plums, or not.  Did you know that if you don’t pick plums they will eventually fall off all on their own?  Yeah.  It’s true.  And a big thunderstorm won’t help your cause either.

So I picked what was left and bought a few more to supplement.  Then I also got enough sugar for a diabetic coma and some vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks.  So we chopped, blended and even measured a few things, sort of.  I sliced open the vanilla bean and scooped out what it so elegantly called Vanilla Caviar then buried the husks in sugar to make vanilla sugar for Sugar Cookies later.  The Vanilla Caviar went into the pot with the plums, cinnamon stick, pectin, sugar, a splash of lemon juice and butter.  Really, butter.  Cook it all up scoop it all out and put the jars into a water bath.  Out they came and pop.  pop  pop

My kids went through a 4 oz jar at supper tonight.  Kaylene put it on her plate and ate it with her fingers.  There are no words to describe the yumminess of that jam/jelly stuff.  And while I personally believe that all ice cream need chocolate sauce, this would not be a terrible alternative.

I made 3 batches of that stuff.  And it smelled so good and sounded so sweet.