17 June 2008

"Life has a funny way...

of sneaking up on you when you think everything's okay and everything's going right..."

That Alanis song always reminds me of college and driving around in Shannon's Nissan Sentra ("The Silver Bullet") or my red and black Pontiac LeMans ("The Ladybug"), although now as an English teacher I need to dislike it because most of the "Ironic" things she mentions aren't actually ironic, but...the lyric fits my latest situation perfectly.

Just when I got on such a roll blogging about my tranquil domestic life and how much I was loving being home for summer, catastrophe struck Friday. We had torrential rains here in Springfield (as much as 5" in a matter of hours) and our basement flooded and completely turned our household upside down. We have window wells on the outside that filled and couldn't drain fast enough and the water came in mainly through one window and just filled our carpet with so much water it actually splashed up when we walked across it and spread to all the rooms. Some friends helped us pull out all the furniture and everything else down in the basement (from a large family room, media room, two bedrooms and several cluttered closets--embarrassing!) and take it upstairs and then a cleaning company came and pulled out all the carpet and padding for us that night. We've had their fans and giant dehumidifier going ever since. Luckily, their equipment has worked and we're moving ahead with re-flooring. The carpet could have been saved, but we never really liked it anyway and didn't like the thought of dampness in any form, so we're going to continue the multi-colored slate tile that is in the bathroom and wet bar area and put that throughout the entire space. We wanted to do the stained concrete but couldn't get enough of the imperfections from construction buffed out (paint and joint compound spots, nail holes from the carpet's tack strips), so after much indecision, we are going with the tile and feel good about it. I took some pictures of the disaster while we were in the pointless Shop Vac phase and later after everything had been cleared out and piled upstairs, where it would sit for almost two weeks. Can't wait to get back to regular blogging, but it might be a while before life settles down enough for me to. Life really does throw you curves, and I did not see this one coming.

13 June 2008

Lightning Bugs or Fireflies?

Like most kids, Macauley has all sorts of toys, movies, video games. He watches way too much TV and way, way too much SpongeBob. So it makes me smile that he is still thrilled when he sees fireflies on summer nights and likes to chase them around and catch them like I did when I was a little girl. I took several pictures of him doing so a couple of nights ago but couldn't capture the bugs' flickers in any of them. I grew up calling them lightning bugs (and, along with my sisters and cousins at our grandparents' house in Oklahama, catching them and putting them in little jars with holes punched in the lid with Papaw's ice pick), but Macauley calls them fireflies and I think that moniker sounds so much more magical. It's kind of like the soda vs. pop debate featured in convenience store commercials right now ("pop" for me growing up--"soda" now, I think). Where do you weigh in on lightning bugs/fireflies?

Love my D-A-W-G

We have the sweetest dog, and he helped with the gardening last night, too. His name is Booker T. Washington Strawberry Grape, in honor of a strong black historical character (Macauley added on the last two fruity surnames). We also have a black cat that Ryan gave me as a kitten for my 31st birthday who I named Maya Angelou after one of my favorite black authors, as well as our 12-year-old Russian Blue named Alice "Allie" Cooper and an 11-year-old Humane Society cat named Avrie. Pet hair is huge issue around our house! Drives me crazy. We adopted Booker a couple of years ago from a big family who ran a dog sanctuary on their property in Arkansas. They said he was rescued along with 20+ other dogs who had been chained to a trailer home in Oklahoma, and they advertised him on Pet Finder as a PitBull/Hound mix, but we've come to think he's mostly Lab. He is about 3 years old I think, and he is big, about 90 lbs., but he is the calmest and most easy-going dog, although he can be a little neurotic at times, probably due to some residual issues from his tortured past. Poor baby. He got away from Ryan's dad last year and ran out onto Lone Pine and got hit by a car really hard but made it through with no visible injuries. He was so sore, though, and the vet gave us 5(!) prescription meds to help him through it--pain killers, muscle relaxers, 2 antibotics, and sedatives to calm him down if we needed to bring him back in to the office. He was fairly traumatized by the whole ordeal and I haven't been able to get him back into the vet's office willingly since. The front desk vet tech had to come out to the parking lot and pick him up like a small calf and carry him in when I took him to get checked for heartworm a couple of months ago. When the vet did the x-ray to check for injuries from getting hit by the car, she showed us several pieces of buckshot embedded in his back, not hurting him or anything, but again more evidence that he has had a hard life. After she told us that, Ryan suggested we might need to change his name to 50 Cent, another strong black character who had also been shot nine times and lived to tell about it. We called him Fiddy for a few days. The lady we adopted him from thanked me profusely for taking him and said we were heroes for adopting a BBD (big black dog) because many people are intimidated by BBDs or find them too plain and BBDs are the most euthanized because no one wants them. Don't know about being heroes, but Ryan and I both believe in adopting from shelters and helping out innocent animals if we can. And we get a lot out of having our big black D-A-W-G from Arkansas. He is just so humble and loyal, and I sure wish I was half the person my sweet black dog thinks I am.

Gardening Mess "After"

Oh, my aching back! I spent all evening planting out all my containers (and cleaning away mud courtesy of Macauley) and now I am sore but happy to have it done. It's been pouring down rain all day today so Macauley and I are sort of straightening the house for my parents to come for a visit tomorrow and getting our Father's Day gifts together. It seems like since school has been out I have been immersed in creativity--gardening, scrapbooking, blogging, decorating--and I love it. I hope summer just crawls by.
Our little cottage is somewhat bigger than it appears from the outside because it has a basement (which is where my black and white stuff is). The upstairs of our house is mostly decorated French Country with some Shabby Chic to match the outside of the house (and our whole neighborhood, in fact) and the architectural details on the inside--big beams, textured walls, country colors. Our house is on a cul-de-sac with about 10-12 other houses, all of which are unique and quite cute, and all of which have fabulous cottage landscaping that we have tried to keep up with in our own more simplified way. People just slowly drive up and down our street constantly, checking out all the different looks. We're lucky to live here, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to move. I'm always up for a change!

12 June 2008

A bloomin' mess

I finally got around to going to the garden center today to get plants for all my containers. I had already planted out our windowboxes in the front and my flower bed down the side of our house but still had an ugly collection of empty terracotta pots out back that needed filling. The garden center had everything 50% off and I kind of went overboard, as you can see. I worked most of the evening and my back is already aching. I'll post the "after" shots with some others of the outside of our little cottage tomorrow, but thought I'd go ahead and post these of Macauley "helping" me. I was lost in my own tasks and then turned around to find that he had dumped an entire pot of old soil out on the driveway, mixed in some landscaping gravel and water and made the biggest mess for me to deal with. I eventually got about half of it swept away, but I'm hoping the rain that is forecasted for tonight and tomorrow will show up and wash away the rest. Boys are messy. But also adorable, as you can see in the impromptu sidewalk chalk art from the evening. On the top is a cat with the bright sun shining down on her; on the bottom is that same kitty after "an ice cream cone just flew through the air and bommed down on her face" (per artist's description).

Shabby Shelf Vignette

Another vignette in my favorite black and white. The chippy two-tier shelf is one of my all-time favorites. I got it at a flea market in Clinton, Missouri and then piled it with some of my favorite little treasures--a cute pair of baby shoes that my mother says I also had when I was a little girl, a pair of cute little gloves, a funeral card from 1895 I got for $1 at a flea market in Bolivar, a Cloverine Salve tin, some more old photos, a milk glass tray full of sparkly buttons and some little dominoes, some mini furniture I got at the annual Springfield Garage Sale at the Expo center, and metal letters spelling FAMILY that I bought on ebay and were well worth the bidding war. I got the class photo hanging below it for about $18 at Riverview Antiques in Ozark. The photographer's stamp says Monett, Missouri, but there is no year listed. I love it. I have a couple of postcard-sized class photos, too, which I am drawn to maybe because I am a teacher but also because they take me back to another time in education(and fashion and life) so different from what I know. This arrangement is hanging on a small wall outside my office/craft room in the hallway to our guest room and bath, and I stop to look at it time and time again. It just makes me smile.

The Graduate

My little boy graduated from pre-school last Friday, a bittersweet moment for me. He's headed for kindergarten and is so ready for that--he's been reading for a while now and already talks about his new school, Pershing. But this is a big change for us. It meant so much to me to know he was happy, confident and fully embraced at La Petite while I was at work. He really flourished there. Now we're moving into the unknown, a new routine, a new place for him to find his way, a bigger pond for my adorable little fish. I started to cry that last time I dropped him off and had to dash out of there before anyone saw me. His teacher teared up, too, when Macauley gave her the farewell gift and card we brought her and I think that's what started my emotional spiral. It's just hard to have my baby grow up.

The graduation ceremony was just precious, from the tiny graduates' entry to "Pomp and Circumstance" to the awarding of individual certificates. Macauley received the illustrious distinction of Most Informative, which I took as the PC way for his teacher to say he was the smartest. She said, "This next award goes to a student who, if you need to know anything about anything, he will tell you. And if he doesn't know, he will find out. Macauley Fraser, get up here!" Everyone laughed and everyone in my family knew the award was going to Macauley as soon as Ms. Kristi started in on the description! We had dinner afterwards at FuddRUCKers (Macauley always puts the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle on that name) and he got some great gifts: Oh, the Places You'll Go! from Aunt Lindsay, If You Take a Mouse to School from Nana, and cold hard cash from Papa and Grandma and Grandpa. He's contemplating blowing the money on a new wading pool. Lucky boy.

11 June 2008

Yes, it certainly is...

Another thing I can't resist when I'm shopping--old doors. I got this one at a 3-story flea market in downtown Kansas City on an excursion with my loyal shopping buddy Shannon. In addition to my sister Lane, my friend Barb and my mother, Shannon is one of the few who can really hang with me on marathon junking adventures. Shannon and I are already looking forward to hitting the Junk Market in September. I should start saving my pennies now for a major "blowout" (our favorite shopping term) around Minneapolis that weekend. I visited her there last winter and we shopped 'til we dropped, and she has discovered a number of new places to go since then. Can't wait. I would like to have more old black and white clock faces; I have a couple of others. The little velvet bird is from a cute store here in Springfield called The Nest. I like how it is nestled in the ivy, but I have recently developed an aversion to faux greenery and have tried to eliminate most non-living plants from my house. I don't know...it looks good from a distance, but up close it just doesn't seem right. This little basket is one of the few remaining survivors. I'd like an alternative, but don't think I could keep real plants alive in the spots I need it. The concrete scottie dog was a gift from one of the kindest and most creative people I've ever known, Colleene Dameron, who has a great shop off the square in Ozark, Missouri. I used to help her out at her old store from time to time. She liked my handwriting so I made price tags for all the lovely things she'd discovered for her store and she often let me have first pick. The dog is one of my favorite treasures, and even though I don't see Colleene much anymore, I will always consider her a bright spot in this world. The sign was a Gordman's $5 find a while ago. I had to edit some of the attachments to it because I like the pared-down look of it better. And I love the message. I mean, duh. I have a great life. A wonderful life. I shouldn't ever take that for granted (or take it for "granite" as my students always write!), but I guess we all sometimes do. Life as a mom and wife and "grown up" is hard, for sure. Harder than I ever thought it would be. But I've got it good, baby. I know I do. There's this guy I see walking around town who reminds me of that, although I really know nothing about him that is fact, only my intuitive guesses. I scratched out some observations about him on the back of a Barnes & Noble receipt one day in my car at a stoplight when I saw him walking for the second or third time in a couple of weeks, thinking I'd try to write some poetry about him. I finally did at that same English teacher writing day I mentioned before. It's an unpolished piece, but it seems to go with the sentiment of my sign and my appreciation for all I've got that others might not:

I see him often on my side of town,
a man of about fifty,
dirty Levis and worn hiking boots,
a flannel button down and
a navy, mesh-backed ball cap,
full beard and sun-cracked face.

He wears a backpack, too,
the kind my students carry
their books around school in,
and carries a squared-off
duffel bag, packed full,
I think, because the sides
look tightly pulled. I wonder
what is inside, what baggage
is important enough to him
to be hauled here and there,
never out of his sight.

He walks at a slower pace,
no rush, a patient trudge--
nowhere to be, I suppose.
I’ve seen him at
Sequiota, too, headed in
to the park’s bare bones restroom
about dusk one evening.
I conjure up a number
of scenarios that would
lead him to do so, but
settle on him being homeless
and needing a place to clean up,
rinse his face, maybe run
some water over a change
of clothes in his backpack,
prepare to bustle down for
the night somewhere nearby.

The humility in his face
causes me to both want
to help him somehow
and at the same time
feel embarrassed for
assuming he would need
my help of all things to
get by in this world.
My conjectures about his existence
and presumption that my station
in this life is any better than his
aren’t enough to approach him,
and the way most people see the
world these days makes me think
I should be afraid to.
Probably so.

I’ve seen him more than a
handful of times over the last
year or so, enough to make
me wonder where he’s going
and where he’s been but
not enough to actually find out.
How would I?
No one is expecting me to
do anything for or about him,
least of all he.

Jewel of my life

I made another page for Janice's scrapbook this afternoon. She liked the page I made a while back for Macauley's with the closeup of him and the Love of My Life title, so I tried to use that as an inspiration for a page showing her granddaughter with little sparkles all over her face. Her page seemed to come out more playful and whimsical than Macauley's...I'm not sure if I'm completely satisfied with it. I used my sewing machine to stitch around the pictures a little. Haven't done that in a while. I put some sparkly jewels around the corner of the photo and used big chipboard letters. Hmmm....

Never a dull moment

I initially thought this blog would be mostly about my decorating projects and flea market finds, like the ones I made yesterday (a little black nightstand that will be perfect in my office for my photo printer when/if Ryan hooks it up for me, a few metal 3s--my favorite number, another sad old vintage stuffed dog and a vintage camera). I had to drag Macauley around Charlie's Place with me and bribe him with a Dr. Pepper Diet (which is how it reads on the label and how he always says it) to follow semi-willingly. I have only been to that place a couple of times, but I think it is making it on my list of places for good finds. I made $179 from my own flea market booth at STD Central over the last 3 weeks, so I felt justified in shopping. Not that I need justification. Note the flip-flops and watering can from the Wal-Mart spree made it into the photo as well.

But I have to put down yet another "bathroom moment" Macauley and I had today. I suppose the odds of us having so many humorous bathroom incidents are really favorable because I think we've toured every commode in town throughout his potty-training years, and even now, he has "to go" at least 3 times an hour no matter where we are. And now that I'm writing, I remembered that in the drive-thru at the bank today Macauley had one of those urgent, I've-got-to-go-NOW! moments and there was absolutely nothing I could do but offer him a Doritos bag to pee in. He did it! And thank goodness that chip bag was watertight! One of the, I don't know--joys? of having a boy is that in a bathroom pinch, they are rather adaptable. I can't believe I'm fessing up to having him do that! The even more memorable moment, though, was yet to come--in the women's restroom at CVS Pharmacy where we went to pick up a bunch of pictures I printed to scrapbook and Father's Day cards for this weekend. I will warn you--this little anecdote is indelicate and not for the faint of heart....As I pushed open the restroom door, we were overtaken by the absolute worst smell. As an adult, I instinctively held my breath and pretended not to notice, but my child just couldn't do the same. Macauley looked up at me, waved his hand under his nose and said, "PEE-YEW!" in the most exclamatory tone and I just got cracked up. I couldn't help it. I was trying to laugh silently and shush him but he kept on: "What is that suh-mell?" I told him it was a bathroom and just to deal with it and hurry up and take care of business, but we both kept getting cracked up. The lady in the stall next to us flushed and said, "That smell was in here when I came in!" as she washed her hands and made a hasty exit. I do believe her because some lingering evidence made me think we were in the stall that was the scene of the horrendous crime. We washed our hands and as we hurried out Macauley said, "Man, I feel like I need a shower now. Don't you, Mom?" I had to agree. He had to call his dad and Aunt Lindsay on the way home to tell them all about how someone had "explosive diarrhea" and stunk up the CVS bathroom. And I still couldn't keep from laughing when I listened to him do so...


Macauley and I spent the morning playing "grocery store" with his shopping cart, cash register and miscellaneous items from his play kitchen (that he rarely touches unless someone else comes over to play) that may or may not actually be found in a grocery store (i.e. an ostrich that he said cost $3000). We took turns being the shopper and the cashier, and I must say the prices in Macauley's store were absolutely exhorbitant (see total on register). I'm not always great about playing make-believe, or even playing much at all, but Macauley was genuinely delighted to have me join in his little game. I should also add that he officially changed his name a couple of days ago to "Dash," the speedy little super-hero kid from The Incredibles. He now will answer to only that, so I kept pretending to page him over the intercom of our "store" by that name to ask him questions. I even did a "Code Adam" on his pet chicken he left behind while shopping. He loved it. Turns out I'm much better at playing pretend "shopping" than I am at pretend trains or car crashes or some of the other boy-type scenarios he creates. Go figure.

10 June 2008

I hope you dance...

I am out of control with the posting, but I wanted to put up this scrapbook page I made this evening for my dear friend Janice. I have been helping her make a scrapbook for her son's wedding reception, coming up in a few weeks, and I love this picture of her granddaughter, Mackenzie. Janice said the song the lyric comes from is one of her favorites, and it really fit this picture and how she feels about her family. I have had a good time working with her on the book, and it was just what I needed to get back in the groove on my own scrapbooking this summer. I do love to scrap!


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