Friday, February 27, 2015
He's also a farmer who is innovative and smart. He studies the latest research, and when no-till farming was shown to be the best way to take care of the land, he was an early adopter. He gave up the plow and planted directly into the decomposing remains of the previous year's crop, banking his livelihood on studies that have shown this practice reduces erosion and conserves water.
On Wednesday night, Husband and I attended a banquet where I clapped my hands numb when our geeky farmer was recognized for his land stewardship with a special award from a conservation group.
Tomorrow I am scheduled to go to another ceremony, this one at a state music educators' convention. Much Older Sister, of whom I have written often, will be recognized at this event. She has been named the Outstanding Music Educator by the national association of state high school activity groups. This is not a local award--this is the best high school music educator in the entire nation.
I am not surprised at either one of these recognitions. My brother has worked hard, and even though awards for farmers are not as common as those presented in other occupations (farmers don't tend to look for resume builders like others of us do), his conservation efforts were worth a moment in the spotlight. Much Older Sister has always been a passionate, innovative, energetic advocate for music and the arts in schools and I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of a nod and a plaque.
They are, of course, the products of my parents, who have loved the land and music and have reared their children to do the same.
I'm not surprised, but I could not be prouder.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 12:00 PM
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
You don't mind if I call you Mark, do you? I think of us as, well, FRIENDS even though it appears you sometimes can be kind of a jerk. I know that you either invented Facebook or at least are making all the money in the world from it, but I have spent enough time with your baby that I would like to make a few suggestions for you. (I do the same thing with the parents of any babies I'm around--I have Thoughts and Suggestions.)
Here are the things I do not want to see on Facebook:
- Quizzes that reveal my friends' spirit animals, or the color they really are, or the name they should have been born with, or the president they would have been, or the '50s song they most resemble.
- Or any quizzes. Gaaaaaaaag.
- The miracle products being sold by any of my friends. I do not want to buy their miracle products. Life is a miracle! Anything more is too many miracles!
- Pictures of food. Food that is ordered at restaurants, food that is cooked at home, any food. Except for cute cupcakes. Bring on the pictures of cute cupcakes.
- More than five messages per week from friends who are "feeling really cranky today," because at that point this status has become the rule rather than the exception and status updates should be deviations from the norm.
- Status updates about the idiocy of Kansas politics and politicians, because see previous point.
Here are the things I want to see more of on Facebook:
- More videos of my son wearing purple celebration pants and playing the accordion, and of my son (a different one) wearing a panda hat or a Krispy Kreme paper hat.
- Heck, more pictures of any kind of my sons (and Lovely Girl). And of my siblings and their families. And my friends and their families, especially if the friends are waving pompoms.
- The jokes posted by my next door neighbor, which are so terrible that they make me laugh all day.
Everything else seems to be in about the right proportions--enough to make me appreciate the glimpse into my friends' lives, but not so much as to make me want to gouge out my eyes. Except for the quizzes. The quizzes threaten my vision.
This isn't too much to ask, is it, Mark? I mean, you seem to be able to change Facebook randomly every couple of weeks so that I have to rejigger my approach to it, and it would be a nice gesture to change it to my specifications.
Thank you, and thank you for being my friend!
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
When he left for the office Saturday morning (tax season) Husband offered to bring pizza home for supper.
"I'm guessing you won't be able to lift your arms so I don't want you to have to cook," he told me.
My husband knows me too well. He knew that I was going to be painting that day, and that even though painting is not quite as tiring as being a baby, having a meal with me was quite likely to be very much like having a meal with Max.
I'd already stripped off the darling bears-and-tractors wallpaper a few weeks ago, and the professionals had finished replacing the original-issue windows and outside door with new energy-efficient models. (Don't believe they needed to be replaced? The door out to the balcony had a tendency to self-open when the wind was from the north--check out the fancy way we kept it closed. We are klassy.)
|Yup. A stack of CDs wedged into the crack.|
The room was ready to paint in the gorgeous color Husband chose, and I approved.
Unfortunately, you are not going to see that color in this post because Husband was absolutely right about my stamina or lack thereof: At the end of the day my arms were not only too tired for supper preparation, they were too tired to hold the camera and take a picture.
Soon, people, soon. We'll be moving furniture in and negotiating whether to keep the art deco armoire I found at a garage sale and whether the futon should be positioned kitty-cornered or against the wall. At that point, I'll take another picture and you can see if I should have just kept the wallpaper and CDs.
In the meantime, the pizza was delicious, even if I couldn't lift it to my mouth.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 2:52 PM
Friday, February 20, 2015
This week's blurbs open with a fancy photo collage made of fancy photos snapped this morning at (guess what time?) 7:04. It is the latest sign that the Apocalypse is near--even though I don't have documentation of the big clock on the west wall, every one of the four clocks in the kitchen showed exactly the same time, and that time was correct according to iPhone Central Standard Time.
People, this is HUGE.
An observant reader (Hi, C.!) noticed in the blog illustration yesterday that apparently the House on the Corner was listed at an astonishingly economical $1,969. While I'd like to take credit for being the thriftiest of thrifty house shoppers, let me explain it to you, C.: That was the 1927 assemble-it-yourself price, and we paid significantly more than that when we purchased it (assembled) in 1987.
Boys, you will want to not read this, but my friends who have had The Talk with their children will find Momastery's recounting of that experience hysterical. She titles it "Sex Is Tricky" and I started laughing when I saw the illustration.
The blurb of the day is for knitters who (much like myself) have spent themselves nearly into bankruptcy buying thingamajigs and gizmos to enable their
obsession sanity-preserving hobby. It's a good thing our house only cost $1,969 because I am a complete pushover when it comes to stitch holders, row markers, counters, and other knitting aids. And if you buy the accessories especially made for knitters, they aren't cheap.
However, perhaps the best investment I ever made in pursuit of this sport were these hair clips.
|Thanks for the photo, WalMart|
I use them for everything. I mark rows, "pin" seams when I'm setting in sleeves, clamp them around a set of double-pointed needles when I'm alternating sizes, clamp loose yarn to keep it from unraveling--they are the wonder drug of knitting accessories. They don't catch on the yarn (hey, they're made for hair) and come in three colors.
Best of all, they're $3.98 for a package of 30 at WalMart so if you break or lose one, no big deal.
I love my local yarn shop and try to buy everything I can there, but this is one case that I don't regret making the exception to my shopping local habits.
Knitters, you're welcome.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:32 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2015
|This is our house|
In fact, the weekend I met his parents for the first time we spent an afternoon driving around, checking out For Sale signs and speculating on whether that chimney was attached to a working fireplace. His parents were in the back seat, holding hands because they could not have been cuter, and Husband-to-be was driving.
"The thing you have to remember," his mother said idly, "is that the most important part about choosing a house is making sure there are good schools in the neighborhood."
Did I mention that we weren't engaged yet? As I watched Future Husband's knuckles tighten around the steering wheel and the color go out of his face, I wasn't sure we ever would be, but less than a year later we were actually married and I moved from my apartment to his house and we began house-hunting in earnest.
We knew exactly what we wanted: Something old, big (at least three bedrooms), two stories, big kitchen, plenty of character, with a basement (because we live in Kansas).
Soon we found it! Yay! The perfect house, at a price we could afford, in a neighborhood we liked. We knew we couldn't afford two house payments, so we prudently did not put an offer on the perfect house, but a realtor's For Sale sign went up in the yard of the tiny little starter house.
This is where the needle screeches across the record. Our perfect march toward domestic bliss derailed when the tiny little starter house refused to be sold. It was in what's euphemistically called a "changing neighborhood," and none of the upgrades and cosmetic improvements Husband had made were worth a plugged nickel compared to the obviously deteriorating financial condition of homeowners a couple blocks away. Buyers ooohed and aaaahed about the new shower and the interesting wall treatment in the living room, then invariably bought a different house in the suburbs.
The perfect house sold to someone else, so we found another perfect house, which also sold. By then Boy#1 was on the way, and we had had only one offer--an offer that would have required us to leave the appliances, then write out a hefty check to the buyers for taking our sweet house off our hands.
We prayed for a buyer, and we lowered the price several times, and I cried, and still we were stuck in the tiny little house.
Then Boy#1 was born, and out of nowhere Husband got a call from the president of the college where he had graduated. They needed someone to teach an evening accounting class--would he be interested? The college was only an hour away and he'd always wanted to try teaching, so he agreed.
He was a good teacher, and when the president learned that the full-time professor was leaving he asked Husband to apply for the position. It was a perfect opportunity to fulfill his dream of teaching, and my dream of raising a family in a small town. And there, right across the street from the college, was our dream house. It was old (a 1927 Sears kit house), big (five bedrooms), two stories, big kitchen, plenty of character, with a basement.
There was only one problem--we STILL hadn't sold the tiny little house. But the time had come for a Joshua 3 moment. We closed our eyes, stepped into the water, and made an offer on this perfect house. A few weeks later, on the exact day we took possession of the House on the Corner, our Big City realtor called. She had a buyer for the tiny little house, but that buyer didn't want to wait to move in. He wanted possession of the house within a few days, and would pay rent until the closing could be completed. And so it came to be.
Twenty-three months. The tiny little house took 23 excruciating months to sell, but if it had sold any sooner we would have bought a perfect house in Big City, and would not have moved to Small Town, and would never have lived in the House on the Corner, and our lives would have been so much poorer.
I tell this (interminable) story because I have dearly beloveds in my life who are finding and losing perfect houses. To those loved ones I say, keep the faith. In spite of its eccentricities (and sometimes because of them) I have loved the House on the Corner beyond what is reasonable. I have loved its cockamamie layout with four doors in the living room that befuddle the arranging of furniture. I have loved the creaky wood floors that make sneaking around impossible. I have loved the memories that hide in the corners with the dust bunnies and swirl around my knees when I walk through a room.
It's not where we expected to live, but it's been our perfect house. Dearly beloveds, your perfect house is out there, too.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:35 AM
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
To take my mind off the project, I have now watched this YouTube video three times, because those dogs? I've never related more strongly to creatures on the internet. I cannot catch anything thrown at me. Not with my bare hand, not with a baseball mitt, not with my mouth (assuming the thrown object is edible).
Oh, I have plenty of want-to. If someone throws a baseball to me I watch it into my hand, right up until the point when it's a foot from my hand and I close my eyes so it won't hit my face, and then it's hitting my knuckles and bouncing away. Or I stubbornly keep my eyes open and stare at the ball as my catching hand flaps aimlessly out to the side.
These dogs are my spirit animals. And I almost said "They are me," but because this large project has fried my brain and crushed my spirit, I can't even be folksy enough to write that warm but incorrect phrase.
Someone, please. Put me out of my misery. Throw me a baseball.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 2:28 PM
Friday, February 13, 2015
Or, not for me. Turns out that the name under the impeccably-applied heart shapes in the picture above? Not mine. Because I am an honest and forthright person, I delivered it to the correct recipient, whose desk is right down the hall. "A Friend" should be grateful that I am indeed honest and forthright because I was sorely tempted to lick the frosting before I set it on the correct desk.
(NO! I didn't. What kind of a person do you think I am?)
Speaking of holidays, is February the weirdest month for holidays or what? Yesterday Boy#1 and Lovely Girl got the day off because they live in Missouri, where Abraham Lincoln apparently is esteemed more highly than he is in Kansas. As I was pfffft-ing this lack of work ethic in our neighbor state, One suggested mothers should be able to take the day off in honor of their children's birthdays, in which case it was time for me to pack up my laptop and go home.
That is a suggestion I could totally get behind, one that would give me two more days to spend in my default position.
You know how most reality shows are equal parts skullduggery and brazen ambition? And how you pretty much hate most of the contestants before a "winner" is crowned? This is the antidote.
I stumbled on to the show while I was waiting for Downton Abbey on Sunday night, and I am beginning to believe I could live without all my television channels except PBS. This baking show is so...jolly, is the only word I can use to describe it, that it makes me smile all over. The judges are the wonderfully-named Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry and the hosts are hilarious and put meat pies in their pockets.
But my favorite part is that the contestants are just so...nice. Last week Martha (who's only 17) had a terrible time with her eclairs. They were disastrous, and even though the judges were kind, they were also clear that they were decidedly not good eclairs. Martha walked away biting her lip and trying to keep from crying. One of the other contestants, a middle-aged man named Norman, called out to her quietly and patted the bottom of his chin--"Keep yer chin up," he whispered.
People, I CRIED.
You can watch the latest four episodes online (here). Then you'll want to have a cup of tea.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:17 AM
Thursday, February 12, 2015
But Boy#2, we could not love you more. You are a delight in every way, from your beautiful eyes to your terrible jokes. (I understood the one you sent yesterday, it was just not as hilarious as you thought it was. "Two fish are in a tank when one turns to the other and says, 'Hey! Who's driving this thing?'" Really? That doesn't hold a candle to your previous best, which was "What does one snowman say to another? 'Do you smell carrots?'" Now that is a joke.) We love that your brothers prefer your advice to ours. We love that you are smart and hardworking and level-headed. Oh, and did I mention funny?
I hope you are wearing a straw cornucopia on your head all day long to celebrate.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 9:51 AM
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
|This picture has nothing at all to do with today's topic. It's pretty, though, right?|
That occurred to me yesterday as I was trying to come up with a reason why I shouldn't go to my women's group salad supper. These are some of my favorite women in the world, but I was so, so tired.
Normally I'm a world champion sleeper (oh, how I love thee, arms of Morpheus) but the night before I had not been able to fall asleep. I went through my regular routine--toothbrushing, standing on one foot, standing on the other foot, check alarm, read until sleepy, turn off light, snore--but the snore didn't appear. Instead I rolled over and over like a rotisserie chicken, then I went into a different room and read for while so as to not disturb Husband, then I put on my threadbare chenille robe (which is like handing a baby a security blanket) and crawled back into bed. And then I watched the numbers change on my alarm clock.
By the time I was finally asleep it was only three hours before that same alarm clock began beeping that it was time for me to start my morning. I spent the day cranky and listless, rubbing my eyes and counting the hours until I could get back in bed and try the process again. I did not want to delay this moment by having a meal with my friends last night.
I had promised to bring a salad, though, so when I left work I threw a bag of pre-chopped lettuce into a nice bowl, grabbed a bottle of fancy dressing from my Christmas present stash, and promised myself I'd leave right after the meal.
You know how this ends, right? I had a wonderful time, and didn't even really consider skipping the meeting that followed the meal.
If I had given in to my preferences, I would have been in my default position instead of eating a lovely meal with lovely women, hearing about what's going on in my friends' lives and sharing my own goings-on. Heck, if I had given in to my preferences I would probably have been in my default position instead of going to the farm last weekend and then I would have missed seeing my father play the stringed bass in the community orchestra, and holding a sleeping baby.
Almost without exception, when I leave my default position I'm glad I have, and still I have to push myself to not fall back into it given half a chance. It's there when I'm too tired, when I can't think any more, when the weather is too cold or too hot to go outside again.
It's my default position but it's not always my friend.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:09 AM
Monday, February 9, 2015
Because there is a baby at that end of the state!
Yes. In the photo above is my adorable great-niece, who makes me a great-aunt and makes me remember that all of my great-aunts were incredibly ancient and just a little funny-smelling albeit witty and delightful. This baby was in attendance with her mom and dad, her aunt and uncles, and her grandmother (also known as my Much Younger Sister).
This baby puts the "great" in the relational description. (And disclaimer to my other great-nieces and great-nephews--you're just as swell, but I don't get to see you nearly enough. You need to move to Small Town.)
Anyway, back to this particular great-niece, who is named after an herb so I'm going to call her Thyme for the purposes of this post.
Thyme is probably the most amenable baby I have ever known, and I've known a passel of babies. My own babies, for example, were amenable up to when it was time to sleep but then they found much to do. They fidgeted. They whined. They rubbed their sleepy eyes. They bounced up and down. They wailed. Oh, my, how they wailed. And they did this for what seemed like an eternity. I could not even number the hours I have spent gently rubbing a Boy's back to the point of baby-hypnotism, then gradually rubbing the air above the back, then slowing the rubbing motion...stay asleep, little baby...sleeeeep...DANG! (That last would always be uttered as the Boy sensed a rearrangement in the air molecules in Siberia and lifted his head to check out what was going on.)
Thyme, on the other hand, is 14 pounds of pure activity and delight until she decides she is ready to sleep. Then she screws up her face and makes a sound--it isn't a whine, exactly, and definitely not a wail. It's more like an "ehhh."
I got to babysit Thyme while her parents went to Dairy Queen Saturday night, and while I didn't think her mother was an out-and-out liar when she described this sleep ritual to me, I was preparing to rub-rub-rub-rub that little back for an hour or so until she settled down. Instead, after a lengthy game of Peek-a-boo (which I won, of course; I knew where Baby was and Thyme was fooled EVERY TIME), I saw the face and heard the "ehhh." I flipped her onto my shoulder, she grabbed a handful of the sagging skin on my neck, and BOOM! She was asleep.
It was a miracle.
And it's even more a miracle when you consider this picture of Thyme on my lap at Thanksgiving:
If she could talk, the cartoon bubble over her head would read "MOM! DAD! HELP! This lady is incredibly ancient and just a little funny-smelling!"
It was before she discovered that I'm witty and delightful. As is she.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 12:02 PM
Thursday, February 5, 2015
A frog. In a red polo shirt. Doing yoga.
It threw me off the track of my original purpose, which had to do with losing one's balance more frequently as one ages. I've noticed that in myself--where a few years ago I could stand in the middle of the floor, then (one at a time, of course) put on my workout sock and shoe (including tying a double knot) without ever having my foot touch the floor, lately my routine had been more of standing in the middle of the floor, picking up a sock, lurching forward, then eventually sitting down on the bed to put on the danged sneaker.
Last week we had a guest speaker at my women's group who led us through a series of yoga exercises (chair yoga, because lurchiness). It felt so good and she was so limber and enthusiastic that I asked her about my aging balance skills.
"Oh, you can make that a lot better," she said. "What you need to do is practice. Stand next to the bathroom sink so that you can grab on if you need to, and lift one foot off the ground. Let your body get used to that feeling, and re-balance if you start to lean. Eventually you should work up to 30 seconds on each foot, and then I'd feel good about your balance.
"I have one guy who stands on one foot to brush his teeth."
Well! I could do that! So for the past week I've been doing my best stork imitation as I brush my teeth. My electric toothbrush beeps every 30 seconds, so while I'm cleaning the choppers I'm also getting two reps of balance practice on each foot.
It does seem to be working. Not only am I already back to being able to put on my workout shoes (and socks) from a standing position again, I think my cranky hip is feeling better.
I was all ready to tell you about this semi-miraculous cure this morning but as I looked for illustrations that might pop up from a search of yoga-elderly-woman I was completely distracted by a frog in a red polo shirt doing yoga.
So I looked for a yoga pose that might help my short attention span and --hey look! It's a squirrel in underpants!
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:33 AM
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
|Age two? Three?|
I've never been the youngest in the family of many children, so I can't claim to know what it was like growing up the fourth of four.
I know that you had parents who were older and more tired, even though they also were more experienced and relaxed. I know that as the group of Boys got bigger we were more inclined to raise you all as a pack of cubs rather than as individuals, and you probably felt both the disadvantages and advantages of this system.
I also know that in spite of this group-think you were your very own individual, and that sometimes people outside of the family didn't understand that.
"Wow--he sure doesn't talk as much as his brothers, does he?" teachers would marvel at parent conferences.
The lady in the lumberyard where you delivered papers as an eight-year-old still remembers her determination to get you to chat with her, but you were the Calvin Coolidge of the Boys. She failed.
But that doesn't mean you had nothing to say. Some of my very favorite memories of the decades I spent with nest-aged children came from the two years when your brothers were at college. Suddenly you had plenty to say. You had just been waiting your turn to talk, and car trips to visit colleges turned into the most wonderful hours of conversation.
Five years later, I still miss you having you around. I miss hearing you practice the piano late at night, and "Clair de Lune" will forever be your song. I miss coming downstairs in the morning to find you've fallen asleep in the recliner (again) and never made it to bed. I miss your hugs, which are massive and rib-cracking.
And I'm proud of you. I'm proud that you don't brag, even though you could. (Yeah, you surprised people when you were the first valedictorian in the family.) I'm proud that you made it through a tough engineering curriculum at a top school, and you did it in four years. I'm proud of your character and your stick-to-it determination and your amazing Guitar Hero chops.
I'm proud to be your mother, and I love you.
Happy birthday, Four. You are an exemplary youngest child.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 9:55 AM
Monday, February 2, 2015
|These are my boys. These are not.|
I wanted to clarify that because last week I inadvertently misled The Internet into thinking that my sons were the stars of the most hilarious Christmas gift since my father and his uncle exchanged the exact same fruit basket for 10 years running. (Don't worry--after the second exchange the oranges and apples were pretty much just little chunks of petrification. But this was a highlight of each Christmas celebration, which, come to think of it, is either awesome or pathetic.)
Anyway, I saw the Bored Panda story on "Three Brothers Recreate Their Weirdest Childhood Photos as a Gift for Their Mom" and it made me laugh, so I shared it on my Facebook page. I tagged the four Boys who are related to me, suggested they recreate a similar recreation, and thought that would be the end of it.
That night Husband and I attended a soup supper benefit. My friend who was taking tickets lit up before we even got to the head of the line. "MomQueenBee!" she called "That calendar of your boys was the cutest thing ever!"
Huh? I reassured her that my Boys are quite certainly the cutest things ever but a gift of this magnitude would require a lot more time together than their living-in-four-different-states status permits.
And then another friend sent a message.
"You're famous!" she said, linking back to the Bored Panda story.
So let me just say for the record: My Boys are not the calendar boys. I know this because (a) my Boys number four, not three; (b) I do not have a photo of all four of them in the bathtub together; and (c) if I did have such a photo and published it for the amusement of The Internet, I would have zero Boys who claimed me as their mother.
Also, with two of my Boys topping 6'3" and the other two 6' even, they would not fit in the bathtub together. Sorry, Internet.
Could I interest you in a basket of petrified fruit instead?