Busy Living Life

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I’ve come to the important conclusion that I need to stop beginning blog posts with an apology for being busy.  I am probably going to be busy for the next twenty years, so it’s entirely redundant and unnecessary to apologize for it.  If you do not hear from us in over a week, we’re just busy living life.

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Rosebud hit her two month milestone and just looking at this picture makes me realize all the more how much larger she’s grown and how much she’s adorably rounding out.  And how much time has passed since my last blogpost, but again, no apologizing.

School started, and on the same day that school began, Little Bit decided it would be a fun day to slice her finger on an exercise bike and thence need stitches.  Thankfully, her aunt was able to take over the school day (good practice before beginning her Montessori job the next week) so I could get her to the pediatrician.  Elizabeth Foss wrote an excellent article once about the first school day never going as planned, and I repeated that like a mantra all that morning.

The mischevious, marvelous Miss M turned five (5!!!!!!) in August, obtaining a princess dress that she has worn almost daily since.

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Rascal has turned 11, reestablished his LEGO collection, sprained his thumb, and is currently out hunting doves.

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We rediscovered the old episodes of “Zorro,” starring Guy Williams, which has given the kids another hero to imitate, and taught Miss M that “Z” is for “Zorro.”  I should mention though, that the boys also like to impersonate the bumbling duo of Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Reyes.

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My laundry basket (plastic) broke and it was tiring lugging it around. Serendipitously, I discovered it was much easier hauling the laundry with our leftover IKEA bags.  There’s a bit of sage advice for you.

Haus Meister went to Idaho on business, reminding us of a trip we took out there ten years ago.  The picture top right is of a lake in the Grand Teton National Park where little Trooper and Rascal waded and splashed.  Haus Meister camped in the Park for two days and snapped a bunch of pictures for us while hiking.  We left a bit of our hearts out West on that trip.  Haus Meister and I like to joke that one day we’ll retire there.  Near enough to see these mountains often.

In the meantime, our own mountains are near enough to visit in a day, so we took my parents out over their last visit.

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Of course, 0ur hiking was limited but the kids accomplished a bit of creek stomping.

I liked this view of Miss M and Posey Pie exploring a trail.  The arch of the woods ahead of them reminded me of the scene in the movie version of “Fellowship of the Ring” when the hobbits first meet the Black Rider.

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“Get off the road!”

And by the way, whomever you are, TG, your initial carving on that tree is now captured for posterity.

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This is a Yarn Along picture I meant to post a few weeks ago.  I am making slow but steady progress on my Evelyn cardigan. I’m also continuing on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.

July: A book you should have read in school:The Virginian,” by Owen Wister.  I had looked for that in high school because it was on our reading list but our library never had it.

August: A book published before you were born:”A Wrinkle in Time.”  I had never read that because someone told me it was weird.   Then I found it on several reading lists and at a sale so I decided to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was like a lighter version of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy!  And one of the characters happened to mention one of my philosophies of life quite perfectly:

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I’ve been doing that for years, for better or for worse.   I know many people who have misunderstood me on that score, who think I should deal with life more seriously.  The thing is, I do take life seriously, but I refuse to let it get me down without a laugh.  After all, the news channels and social media are chock-full of things being taken far too seriously.

We cannot all do that.  How bogged down we’d all be!

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We need to find some brightness in anything.  To have some corner of joy to lighten the darkness.

To find something funny in the mess….

…like this: what bug did they catch in my jar-mug?!

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And why wasn’t it THIS FIEND FROM GEHENNA?!!  (Seriously, that was a huge cricket)

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Honoring the Fallen

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  I know there are those who would not want to call the tragedy that struck Chattanooga a terrorist attack, and I’m already weary to the bone of all the political jargon, conspiracy theories, whatever.  I’m glad the country finally got permission to keep our flags at half-staff after nearly a week.  I moved ours down the day after the attack, only because I was too numb to recall we even had a flag out front on the actual day.

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The War on Terror showed up unexpectedly on a clear Thursday morning when we were enjoying relatively low humidity, and plunged us into a world eeriely reminiscent of 9/11/01.  For us, it was a microcosm of that day.  My dad called close to 11am that day and told me that my mom had seen Amnicola Highway on the news.  There was a shooting.  I shook my head: “You’ve got to be joking.”

Later I recalled I pretty much said the same thing to my friend Susan when she came out of her dorm room in 2001 and told me that a plane had crashed into a tower in New York.

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Placing his flag.

I turned on the news and kept it on (on my phone) most of the day.  My heart froze as the nightmare unfolded and so many familiar places were being named, out loud, on the news.  The hospitals locked down.  A no-fly-zone established.  Police on the ground with guns near the walking path where, at that time, there are usually bicyclists, joggers, strollers, etc. This was too surreal.

It still is too surreal.  But we wanted to do something.  We continue to pray.  Our city continues to mourn but begins to heal, and we will be stronger for it.  Today we visited the site on Amnicola Highway.  Just to the right of the photo the road stretches back to the Reserve Center.  The investigation still continues, so the joggers and strollers are not yet back on the trail.  Instead the road is lined with law enforcement vehicles, investigation vehicles, and such like.  Soon the area will return to normal.

And we will never forget.

  

An answer

I’m trying to coherently write on a weighty subject while attending to the whims of a sleepy teething baby (whose method of dealing with teething is simply to keep awake).  Please forgive all bad writing and mistakes. 🙂

Back in December, Sunshine had an MRI scan done to check for any possible unexplained reason for her speech delay and ASD symptoms.  It always seemed to us that there was something eluding us, some reason why she was so barely below her milestones.  It wasn’t always enough to alarm, except mainly in speech. When we took her to speech therapy, the thought was that perhaps it was her hearing.  Doctor’s referrals and three tests later, her hearing is pretty normal.  Then we managed a waiting list to see the developmental pediatrician, who ordered the MRI.

Today she called with the result.  There is a mild abnormality in the front left lobe of our daughter’s brain.  It would be what affected her speech development, and it happened during her time in utero.  How or exactly when is uncertain; except for the flu the day I went into labor, it was a routine healthy pregnancy.  “This happens more often than people realize,” the doctor reassured me.  She said we’d discuss this further at our follow-up appointment in a couple of weeks but we could expect an occasional check in the future to see how her brain progressed and just see what our Sunshine can do.  That was that.

I took it okay at first.  After all, it was an answer to our question about her delays.  And then my chest tightened and I could hardly breathe.  I wanted to sit somewhere quiet and think about this, but I couldn’t. There was too much going on.  I’ve just been calmly told our daughter had brain damage before she was born and in four hours we’re throwing the first birthday party for her and her brother with some relatives, Haus Meister’s back is hurt from a muscle pull, and the kids haven’t cleaned up that mess like I asked them…. And all the while wondering how this happened and whether I could have prevented it.  How to explain it to people? What to do next? Little by little I began to piece things back together.  After all, Trooper had a much worse prognosis the day they told us about his Grade 3 IVH (a significantly greater issue).  These days he’s doing multiplication and division in his head! And really, did today’s news change anything? No. It just made it all click. Sunshine still makes her own progress, and everyone sees improvement with her as the months pass.  She names shapes and colors.  She can count up to 30. She calls me “Mom” now, and she didn’t do that last Christmas (2013). 

The day went on regardless and then Haus Meister came home from work with the birthday cake in tow.  He had been home for lunch when the call came, and just seeing him again brought me out of my tangled thoughts.  That happens a lot, I confess.  He’s my voice of reason. 😉  I realized again that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it.  I was pretty healthy and no one saw a problem during that pregnancy.  Sunshine is still our sweet, bouncy, enthusiastic girl with a zest for life and zero fear. She’s blooming at her own pace, but always there has been progress.  She’s never lost anything she’s gained.  I could breathe again, and enjoy the party.

Tonight Sunshine received an 18″ doll for her birthday.  It’s a generic one, not an American Girl doll like Princess’ was, mainly because I do not trust Sunshine to refrain from cutting the doll’s hair.  I do not trust Sunshine to refrain from cutting her own hair. But to Sunshine it was perfect.  Her Grandma made a dress and kerchief for the doll to match the heroine of Sunshine’s favorite cartoon. Sunshine recognized that instantly and carried the doll around the rest of the evening.  She danced with it, sang with it, introduced it to “Rose” (Princess’ retired Felicity doll), and then Sunshine tucked it into bed with her at bedtime.  She wouldn’t have done this last year, either. When I replaced the kerchief on the doll’s head, Sunshine said, “Thank you, Mom,” and had the doll give me a kiss. I treasured it.

So again what does this mean for the future? Just that we know what she’s working hard to work around now. 🙂 And as always we’ll give her the best we have in us–unconditional love, and a helping hand or two.

Sisters and their dolls....
Sisters and their dolls….

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Of all the random things…

Because the latest homebrewed is about to be moved from secondary fermentation to the carbonation day, we were compelled to (gasp) go out and buy some beer.  That’s our cue to find the latest seasonal brews and yesterday Haus Meister happened upon this:

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“Peach Beer!” He tells me. “I think you’ll like it.”

“I bet I will,” I admit.  I like peach tea, peach jam, peach pie, and peaches.  So why not peach beer?

Then he took a bottle out of the box.

AAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

DEMON COON BEER!

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We looked all over the box for an explanation for the design.  None. Judging by images on Google it’s probably something for Hallowe’en.  What an incredibly random label.

Thank you, Dogfish Head.  I will now be referring to you as Demon Coon Beer for the foreseeable future.

Rest in Peace

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“Daniel” went to his Heavenly home recently.

More than likely he died in the adult mental institution where he’s been for the past two years. Possibly in a “laying room,” the same four walls around him day in, day out. Very little interaction.

It’s not his fault. It’s not really even his country’s fault. They were under the Soviet thumb for so long, and their own recovery has not been the easiest. In fact, they’re being invaded again.

How could they possibly have the medical care for their neediest that, say, we do here in the US?

And we? Why do we stand by and let the little ones languish in institutions if we had the means, ability, and love to help them?

And what do we do in our own country to help our neediest? Our disabled? The ones born “different.”

Do we offer them a smile?

Do we encourage them to be the best they can be?

Or do we suggest that their parents have a moral imperative to abort them?

To terminate their lives while their very hearts are beating? For what? That they will be spared a life that’s different–or that we will be spared having to “deal” with them.

The latter, me thinks.

While we as a culture entertain such thoughts, we enlightened wealthy Westerners, no finger of blame can we point at anyone for Daniel living and dying bedridden, age 7, unable to walk on his own or even raise his head.

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For Daniel’s sake. For the sake of all of them.

Give them a chance to really live.

Rest in peace, my Ukrainian sweetheart. I prayed for you every day. I rejoice you are now at peace and rest, whole and well at last.

Prince Philip and Pancake Batter

It’s hard from the title of this post just how those topics are related, but they are in the annals of our family story, so here we go….

Last week my cousin Joan blogged about a movie that neither of us have seen and quite frankly, I don’t feel like seeing it. But we both have seen, and love, the old Sleeping Beauty cartoon. I thoroughly agreed with that post of hers, including her description of Sleeping Beauty:

Just artistically, it is a movie that we will never see the likes of ever again. I love everything about it- from the trumpets and the incredible opening scene with the kingdom coming to see their new princess, to the musical score, to the most dashing Prince ever to grace a Disney movie, to a great drinking song and a drunk minstrel, to the greatest villain Disney has ever created.

By the way, has anyone ever noticed the sheer amount of different banners in that opening scene? How could one kingdom contain that many noble families? Did Stefan rule an empire?! Did half of them belong to Hubert’s entourage?! Speaking of Hubert, I think Philip totally favors his mother’s side of the family. I mean, he has to! But I digress…

Okay, I also smiled at Joannie’s mentioning Sleeping Beauty because last October we watched it together with my girlies here at the Haus. 🙂  Joan often travels with her job and on occasion ends up in our neck of the woods. If things align aright she stops in for a visit, but this happened to be the first time in a long while that a visit was able to happen. In fact, she utterly floored me when she said she hadn’t yet met my daughters. Well, they definitely were out to perform for her that night. Let me expound on that one…

Unfortunately, her visit came at a time when some of the family were away on a previous engagement. Haus Meister, Rascal, and Dino were out camping with Trail Life when Joan arrived. It was foggy and damp and her GPS had brought her up the ridge in the most roundabout manner, no doubt encouraging her in my Midwestern brother-in-law’s words to wonder just why architects in this area love building neighborhoods on the sides of cliffs.  I had just made a huge batch of pumpkin pancake batter ala Pioneer Woman, yea, even unto the whipped cream. I would have done more in the way of a fancy dinner, as Joan often writes of her awesome forays into the culinary world on her blog (in other words she’s a heckuva better food blogger than I am), but I knew with Haus Meister away I only had enough kitchen time to make something everyone would eat. Everyone at home with me that night would eat those pancakes, and Pioneer Woman’s recipe was amazing enough to rise above mere regular white flour pancakes, so I thought I had the thing in the bag.

After Joan arrived, Princess and I proceed to give her the grand tour of the new haus, as this was the first time she’d been here. We were distracted downstairs by my P. G. Wodehouse collection, trying to ascertain just how much of his total novels I actually own, which were the ones we liked most or least, and which would be the best to give someone who hasn’t read Wodehouse yet. This took more time than I thought, as then I heard Miss M coming downstairs. She takes a while to warm up to newcomers and had finally decided that our cousin was O.K.  However, what was not okay was that I saw pancake batter on her hand and smeared into the curl on her forehead that she had tried to brush back with the batter-ey hand.  I groaned and suggested we repair to the kitchen, as I was sure my Mischief Squad was taking turns stirring the batter.

I can only say now that I wish I had a picture of what awaited us. Coming up the stairs and turning the corner into the kitchen, I stopped in shock to see my batter bowl on the floor, with Sunshine stomping inside it as if crushing grapes for wine. There was pancake batter on the cabinets, on the floor, on the oven, and on the fridge. And there she was, happily traipsing in what had promised to be a culinary masterpiece. Or something like that. Horrified, I pluck my daughter out of the bowl.

Joan took it all in stride, bless her. “Can I laugh?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” I think I responded. It was affirmative, in any case.

Well, we still wanted to entertain our cousin but I was out of kitchen options, no meat defrosted, no bread in the bread machine. So I called Pizza Hut.  And to give me time to clean up the girl and the kitchen, we turned on Sleeping Beauty. 

“I’m going to marry Prince Philip,” Princess told Joannie. Joan told Princess how much she also had admired Prince Philip, and that was enough to make her Princess’ friend for life. Thus the evening ended much happier than it had looked for me a few hours before, with a carry-out dinner and a fun movie.

For the record, by the way, we’re talking about this Prince Philip:

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Not this one:

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from the Disney wikia. Why on earth did they feel they needed to “retouch” their classic characters?! What’s with the pompadour? Ick! Sorry. Digressing again.

Joan, someday I’ll make you those pancakes. Even unto the whipped cream. 🙂

A date!

Today I try to become a food blogger. Or rather not.

I’m a creature of habit and could go to the same restaurant for almost the same thing ad infinitem. Haus Meister is different; he always likes to try new places or new foods. Whenever he’s away on business and calls me at night I always ask where he ate because it’s bound to be interesting. So when we go out, it is usually to the same place–a little family owned Italian restaurant in an old house converted into an eatery–because their food is amazing and the menu always has something new on it. This satisfies both our styles of eating out. The food is amazing and the servings so plentiful that we always end up taking some home, thus getting two meals for the price of one! And did I mention the food is amazing? Like Anatole’s cooking in P.G. Wodehouse novels, the names and memories thus evoked by some of the dishes can sustain you through life’s trials, even if all you can remember is “That pumpkin soup we had there that time we went in the Fall…”

Saturday night found us driving out to said restaurant to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary.bwbestcarriageshot

Yep. Only 11 years into our great life’s adventure together. Amazing how that day simultaneously feels both as if it were forever ago and yet still only yesterday.

But I digress.

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Sallying forth at 5:31 on 5/31.

Anyway, as we approached the entrance to our favorite place we saw a sign reading: Gone on Vacation until July. They’d gone back to the Old Country, so we made a note to go back in July and then had to decide where to go next. We opted for a restaurant downtown that inhabits 1/4th of an old knitting mill (the other 3/4ths being an antique store). I affectionately refer to the place as Marlborough Mills, in homage to North and South.

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This is one of the interesting objets d’art on the walls (original brick). I took this picture two years ago, apparently, thus giving credence to my belief that we have actually made this particular place our anniversary spot now for a third consecutive anniversary. 🙂 We save this restaurant for such occasions because, quite frankly, it is worth it!

Haus Meister has come here for business dinners so he recommended our appetizer of Breads n Spreads, a mix of toasted french bread and pita triangles with three dipping options: garlic hummus, olives, and some other spicy something that I really liked and am of course such a pro food blogger that I forgot what the name was and omitted to take a picture. Fortunately I just found the menu online so I can say with more authority and elegance that the appetizer consists of: “Hummus, Muhammara & Three Olive Relish, Served with Pita Wedges & Sliced French Baguette.” We also shared a bottle of wine, and to the wry amusement of our waiter we selected an elite bottle of Beringer White Zinfadel (California 2013) mainly because I really like it and haven’t had a taste in years. Literally. Haus Meister would have been content with something a little older, but he humored me, just as the waiter humorously went through the motions of pouring a small amount into a glass for Haus Meister to test the vintage. You could tell all the while the waiter was thinking: “Sir, you can get that at any store around here. Don’t you want something better?”  And all the while I’m thinking, “Hey, pal, when he married me, my idea of fine wines was Strawberry Arbor Mist, so just think of how far I’ve come!” 😉

For the main course Haus Meister selected for himself the Crab Stuffed Flounder (Lump Crab Stuffed Flounder Fillets, Smoked Corn Succotash & Citrus Hollandaise), while I opted for the Stuffed Quail (Two Quail with Cornbread Stuffing, Sweet Pepper Grits, Wilted Spinach & a Bacon and Molasses Sauce). I confess the news that for last Saturday’s dinner the quail would also be wrapped in bacon tipped the scale for me.

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That sauce was wonderful; I need the recipe.

I don’t have a picture of Haus Meister’s dinner. I was too mesmerized by the bacon and grit goodness in front of me.

I do have a picture of the dessert: ButterscotchCrème Brûlée (House Made Butterscotch Crème Brûlée Served with a Fresh Dutch Chocolate Biscotti)!

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Paired with coffee, it was a satisfying end to a wonderful anniversary dinner out.

(For the record, Littlest came along for the ride and slept through the whole date.)

 

Green Thumb Dreams

Pictures of Posey’s party coming presently….still need to get the ones from Haus Meister’s camera. 🙂

Meanwhile,

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig oraibh! St. Patrick’s Day blessings upon you!

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My annual shamrock plant is next to my sink although half of it was uprooted since this picture was taken. I’m not sure why that happened, but then, I’m not sure why most of the antics in this house happen. I just clean up, remind the child not to touch my plants again, and try to salvage what’s left. Someone once commented that I was patient. I told my husband later that I wasn’t sure it was patience as much as what we call Resignation to the Inevitable. 😉

Some weeks ago I mentioned I had bought a gardening book after my birthday. It did indeed have some great tips for raised bed gardening, as I had hoped.

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I’ve always thought raised beds were the way to go. In the Old Haus we used them once because we lived in a floody area and the backyard did get rather moist in a lot of rain. In this house we live on the side of a hill with rocky, clay soil. There’s one corner of the backyard that stays miraculously sunny and green and for whatever reason isn’t as attractive to the kids as the rest of the backyard, so I thought that would be the perfect spot to construct the book’s idea of raised beds.

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That part of the backyard is also flat, making it ideal for this project. Haus Meister, always kind to my ambitions, looked through the book as well but gently pointed out the flaw in my plan. To construct the irrigation system meant we’d need a hose or two permanently attached to the backyard spigot. The last time we left hoses attached to the backyard spigot the kids were either turning the water on all the time, or accidentally puncturing the hose.

I then pointed out that we have a front spigot, and there’s sun in parts of the front yard.

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Sure, he adds, but to put up a few of these means we’d have to get permission from the architecture committee of our HOA.

Hmph.

Then this weekend while doing the grocery shopping I saw this gem in the produce department.

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And obviously I brought it home. Haus Meister looked it over and pronounced it good. We have occasionally had luck with container gardening and a few pots here and there, artistically placed on porch or side of the yard, won’t bug the HOA much anyway. At least it hadn’t when we tried it two or three years ago. 😉  I did groan a little when I opened the box to see “disease resistant seeds” printed on the packets. Yay! I probably bought GMO seeds! Just what I always wanted… and then I laughed because you know, disease resistance isn’t high on my list of worries when I start a garden. I’d much rather have “Impervious to Error from Gardeners Who Like To Think They Have Green Thumbs” printed on a package. I’d buy those seeds in a heartbeat. 🙂 

We tell a tale of preschool hair

Once upon a time, a leetle over four years ago, a daughter was born with a head full of hair.

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Contrary to all expectation, none of it ever fell out, though some got rubbed off from sleeping on her back.

It took forever for it to grow. I once fretted about that.

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But time passed and she grew, and so did her hair.

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Finally I was able to put her in braids…when she held still long enough…so not often. In fact, she’d prefer to run wild and free with no hairbrush ever touching her hair.

But one dark day, she discovered her skill with scissors.

At first the offenses were minor. She’d take a snip here and a snip there, but always when her hair was in a ponytail. I wouldn’t notice until I took her hairband out and a clump of hair would come off in my hand (let me tell you, rather unnerving). However, for a while we could cover it up and eventually I had to trim her longish hair nearly to her shoulders. It worked.

Then, two weeks after we had our family picture taken (mercifully, she waited for this), she took a huge snip out of the ponytail holder on top of her head, effectively giving herself what we affectionately termed, “The Beorn Mullet”

"I resemble that comment"
“I resemble that comment” (picture courtesy of GoogleImages)

Seriously, our sweet precious little girl managed to chop 1/4th of the hair on top of her head into bang-like layers. Rather than buzz her head, we opted to just try to comb-over the other side of her hair when we styled it and lived with it for the recent two months. Until everything started to grow out shaggy, and bits of hair we thought we’d hidden began to show up rather glaringly.

Have I mentioned she doesn’t like to hold still? Salons are not an option. And I also mentioned she doesn’t like hairbrushes. Total opposite of Princess!

So tonight we resigned ourselves that she’ll not be wearing braids anytime soon.

Sunshine doesn’t seem to mind.

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That’s my pixie girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Girls

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Egad–what a horribly fuzzy phone picture!

Posey and I share a special day today. She is officially 10 months old, and I’ve now come of age as per Shire reckoning. I suppose this means I must settle down now and live like a very respectable hobbit, not doing anything unexpected or going off on crazy adventures, but I confess I haven’t much hope of that. In fact, when I’m 63 or even 93 if I make it that far, I fully anticipate I will still be trying to garden something every warm season and rack up a whole slew of overly ambitious knitting goals in the cold seasons, when I’m not traveling the world with Haus Meister. It’s a simple life, but it’s fun.

Not that most people would think it simple if they had caught a glimpse of me this afternoon, trying to pull the boys through their respective math lessons while they were still on a party-high from the previous birthdays this weekend (more in my next) and not wanting to do school at all, and at the same time Trooper was frustrated because his iPad battery is on the fritz, Princess was hollering for a sharpened pencil so she could draw and the toddlers were breaking into the ice cream in the freezer and the baby wanted to be walked around. That was a tough hour. But eventually everything smoothed out and by dinnertime life was good again. 😉

And overall it is a great life, and it is fun, and being in my 30s isn’t nearly as dreadful as it is sometimes made out to be when you’re not there yet.

So thanks, Mom and Dad, for putting up with me for 33 years. I’d thank my sister for putting up with me but she really didn’t have a choice in the matter. 😉  Thanks Haus Meister for putting up with me for 14 of those if you add in the dating years. Thanks, kids of mine, for ensuring that our lives will never in the slightest be dull.