Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Deja Vu

We told the children we weren't buying costumes this year. They could be anything they wanted to be as long as we already had it.

Everyone kept changing their mind as to what they were going to be. For the last week everyone was consistent. Rehm - vampire, Charlotte - poodle, Ruby - ballerina, Eliza Claire - skunk. Ruby made a game time decision to be a "butterfly." Of course, I had gone this morning to get tights and a long sleeved shirt for her to wear with her tutu.

Everyone chose to be exactly what they were last year. I can't believe no one decided to be something different.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Lady Bug and the Shark

The big kids' school had a character parade at school this morning. The idea is that you dress up as your favorite character from your favorite book. My son always wants to participate but waits to the last minute, the night before, to start thinking about ideas. So then his choices are only things we have in the dress up box. This means that he finds an easy costume and then figures out a way to tie it into some book. He doesn't care what the book is or how lose the connection is. He just doesn't want to be left out anything, but doesn't care enough about it to actually plan ahead.

Last year he came up with being the boy from A Fish Out of Water. This year he decided to wear his shark costume and found some random shark book to say he was a character out of.

Charlotte's class all made lady bug costumes at school and were The Grouchy Lady Bug. This was great! She didn't have to make a decision on a character and the costume design was done for us as well. All she had to do was wear a red shirt and black pants. Given the laundry situation in our house that was a bit of a challenge but we did manage to find both pieces and both were clean. Crazy I know.

Heard around Mayhem Mania

What today is it? ~Eliza Claire
This means what day is it or what day is tomorrow depending on the time of day it is asked

Hokie Dokie! ~Ruby
Obviously this means Okie Dokie. It is Ruby's new favorite phrase right now. I have no idea where she heard the phrase. I'm assuming on some show. Hmm, probably Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We need to ding the ding bell! ~Ruby and Eliza Claire
They call the door bell a ding bell. Why? Well, because it dings.

I want scoop for lunch. ~Ruby
Scoop is soup.

I need to put on my jajamas (juh-jah-mas) ~Ruby
jajamas are pajamas. Most of the family call the pajamas, rhymes with llamas. Charlotte calls them pajamas (puh-jam-uhs). I hope that makes sense. I guess I need to video everyone saying the word for it to make sense.

Daddy we have that paper ~Ruby pointing at Michael's shirt
The girls love to color on graph paper. Michael came in the other day in a white dress shirt with small blue square outlines that well, looked like graph paper.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Daddy said it was fine!

Yesterday morning Ruby and Eliza Claire walked to school with Michael and the big kids. When they got home Ruby was complaining about having something on her shoe. Michael told her it was fine, that it was just a little bit of mud. She kept telling him about it and he kept telling her it was fine. As I pulled into the preschool parking lot with Ruby and Eliza Claire, one of them declared that Ruby had dog poop on her shoe. Of course, Ruby was holding the shoe in question in her hand. Yep, it was dog poop. Glad Daddy told her it was fine and was no longer around to deal with clean up.

Rehm came upstairs with pants on that were so short they were capris. Michael told him to change pants. Rehm put on a pair of brand new Sunday pants to wear to school. When I realized this afternoon that is what he had on I made him change them. Rehm argued about having to change them. His reason, yep, "Daddy said they were fine!" When I pointed out that he had another pair of school pants in his drawer he said he couldn't find them. When I pointed out he could have worn shorts he said he thought it was going to be cold today. When I pointed out he could have looked in the clean laundry he was quiet. He did say he found sweat pants but didn't wear them because he didn't want to be too hot. When I pointed out that the first pair of pants he found was the Sunday pants and he just didn't make the effort to find proper school pants he reiterated that "Daddy said they were fine."

Thanks "Daddy!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jennifer and the Terrible, Horrible, very Bad Day Hour

Eliza Claire fell asleep on the way home from school today. I carried her in and she proceeded to sleep for an hour until I had to wake her to go get the big kids from school. She decided to wake up mad and upset, about like her mother wakes up from a nap. She proceeded to pee on me while crying about the fact that she needed to go potty but refusing to stand up so she could get to said potty.

Ruby decided that this was the perfect time to pitch a fit about not wanting to do whatever I needed her to do. Put her shoes on. Fit. Get in her car seat. Fit. Click her car seat. Fit. get out of her carseat. Fit. Walk across the field. Fit.

I get the big kids. They proceed to bike home by themselves without permission while I dealt with Ruby and Eliza Claire, who were both screaming. If they had asked I would have told them we were going straight to church. They didn't. When I got home, Charlotte was still in the front yard. I sent her in after Rehm. He came out and was mad that we were going straight to church. He was mad that I made him change his pants (they were church pants and today is not a church day - it is a school day). He was mad that I made him go back and shut the door to the house that he left standing wide open. He was mad that he had doritos for snack. He was just mad.

At this point Ruby was screaming. Rehm was crying. Eliza Claire was complaining and I just wanted to move to Australia.

I stopped the car. I told everyone I was getting out for five minutes and when I got back in I expected them to be over their crying, whining and complaining. I proceeded to sit on the front stoop and surf the web long enough to calm down in hopes of not completely losing it with my children.

Rehm is still whiney and trying to tell me why all the things he didn't do right were not his fault but everyone is definitely in a better mood than they were 30 minutes ago. Me, I still think I might like to move to vacation in Australia.


Rehm and his Favorite Activity

I have no idea why he decided to put on the hat to play wii. My first thought was that he must be playing an Indian Jones game. Then I remembered we don't own any Indian Jones games. So I guess it was just because he is Rehm. The crossed legs for some reason just crack me up.

And yes I know how horrible the TV on the microwave cart in the formal living room looks. It is called using what you've got. I'm hoping to find a wooden TV cabinet with doors on Craigs List to put the TV in. Seems like a good time to be able to find one when everyone is upgrading to flat panel TVs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Case of the Heebeejeebees

Saturday Charlotte stepped on this caterpillar on our front stoop.

Luckily she had shoes on. It completely surprised her and I think gave her a case of the heebeejeebees. Somehow she didn't kill it when she stepped on it or run screaming into the house or pass out from fright like some people in our family would (you know who you are).

After a little web research we have identified this as the larvae of an Imperial Moth. This is the second one of these we have found. The first was a few years ago.

This one was probably 3 to 4 inches long. Rehm and I were watching it after Michael had moved it off the stoop. I was sure it had to be injured since it had been stepped on. Apparently it was only stunned. It started crawling back onto the stoop. I think it was a suicidal caterpillar. To make sure no one stepped on it again we moved it safely to the bushes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This is for Cici

Just because I love you.

Trunk or Treat

Our church hosts an awesome Trunk or Treat your Way through the Bible every year. They encourage wearing Bible costumes. The trunks of volunteers cars are decorated as different Bible stories and each trunk gives away a treat that reinforces their Bible story. In addition to trunk or treating there are also lots of other fun activities like bouncy houses and snow cones.

This year Rehm dressed up as Samuel being woken up by God. Charlotte was the burning bush. Ruby was "the ghostess with the mostess." Eliza Claire was a skunk.

They all had a great time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I'm a Dork I'm Hooked

Thanks to the Pioneer Woman I discovered Ed Emberly drawing books. I love drawing but I am terrible at it. These books are intended for children but are also great for adults who can't draw. Today I've been playing around with just some basic images.

Last week Eliza Claire asked me to draw a rooster. I could not draw anything at all recognizable. Now, while elementary, I can.

We don't actually own any of Ed's books yet. But I plan to rectify that soon. I think they will make a great resource for our family. I see some great Shrinky Dinks in our future :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Night Football in Texas

Last Friday we decided on the spur of the moment to go see a local high school football game. By spur of the moment, I mean we decided at 7:00pm to go to a game that kicked off at 7:30. Half of the children were already in pajamas. We were comparing wallets to see if we had enough cash to get it. Spur. Of. The. Moment. We are crazy like that sometimes.

This particular evening we all needed a fun distraction. This was the day our sweet Tobie went to Doggy Heaven. Everyone was sad, overwhelmed and ready for something to take our minds off of our sadness.

We arrived to realize that it was one of the team's Homecoming. I still really don't get the whole homecoming mum thing that Texas high schools do. One web site I looked at claimed to have mums "suitable for framing!" Why would you frame one of these? Anyone, anyone? It seems kind of really crazy to me. I guess in about eight to ten years it might make a little more sense.

I was a bit concerned about how Eliza Claire would do at the game as she doesn't always react well to new situations, especially new loud situations. She did great! She loved the halftime show and did her best to recreate the drill team and flag corp routines.

Rehm had so much fun that he remarked to his father, "Dad, why would you ever stay home and watch the new Star Wars Clone Wars when you could do this?"

Charlotte enjoyed sitting on her Daddy's lap and having snuggle time. Ruby enjoyed the evening as well. She asked a lot of questions about the band.

Our night watching football reminded me of the last time we did this and my very first blog post. Looking back at that post, I left a lot out. Like where the twins were, how we managed to go to a football game, etc.


Who? What? When? Why? How? The Answers

Who: Charlotte

What: Her belly button

When: Sometime last week

Why: Because she is Charlotte and she and her sisters aspire to be tattooed from head to toe. She and Ruby love to color on themselves with markers. It really does concern me for the future.

How: With a marker, obviously. Unfortunately it was not a washable marker and her belly button, a week later, still has a slight blue tinge to it.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today I was listening to the news or talk radio, I really don't remember which. They were talking about the economy and politics and in general about how dire everything seems. It really made me miss my grandfather. I wanted to ask him how different things are "now" from "then." I mean, I can't watch the news, read the paper without getting completely stressed out about the political and economic outlook. I would love to talk to him as he lived through the times everyone compares "now" to. I would love to hear his take on it all.

Growing up, we had dinner (lunch) at my grandparents every Sunday with my grandparents (duh!), both uncles and their families. It was an all day affair. We had dinner, washed dishes, played (kids), read the paper (adults), watched TV (adult men as the women and children were never allowed to pick the programming), napped (everyone, especially whatever man had picked the TV programming), played cards and board games, and just basically hung out until supper (when we heated up all the leftovers for lunch). Sometimes, I thought this was extremely boring, sometimes I thought it was the best part of the week - usually on the Sundays that Granny made Carmel cake, chocolate chip cookies or party mix.

Occasionally, everyone would sit around the table after dinner (lunch) and my grandparents would talk about the "old days." Everything from outhouses to snake bites to who was kin to whom to random bits of trivia that didn't seem to matter. I loved these talks. I loved when my Papa would start some story about how they had almost killed him making him drink moonshine when he got bit by a snake as a boy. He "figured" the liquor had done him much more harm than the snake bite ever would have. Sometimes the story would be about the farming in the "old days," or about social etiquette, or how this part of the family or that part had gotten their land and how said land had since been divided up, or the proper names for male and female cows. Occasionally, we would hear stories from WWII and rationing and the like.

I found it all so fascinating. But I was a child and at the time all this information was just stories. I didn't ask a lot of questions. I didn't retain a lot of the details. And now I wish I had. Now I wish I could ask how then compared to now, and honestly, just hear his take on now. It is a shame that when our personal historians are able and willing to tell us our history we are not able and willing to listen and when we are able and willing to listen they are no longer able and willing to share. This is part of the motivation for blogging for me, to capture daily life, so that one day when my kids or grandkids do care there will be something they can turn to (the blog books) to get that knowledge.

I am so thankful that I got to grow up close to family. To learn the sense of belonging that comes with family history and "the homeplace." I can not think of a greater gift to give a child.

PS. If I could have political talks with my Papa now they would be interesting, I'm sure, as we would be supporting different parties and philosophies. He'd probably call me "Dummy" at least once, but that would be OK, as he typically meant it as a term of endearment.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


About a month ago Ruby got a cold and I got out the Motrin and Benadryl for the first time this season. I left them on the counter in my bathroom for easy access when needed in the middle of the night. Once she was over her cold, I didn't put them away. They've been sitting on the counter ever since.

Why? Well, every time I started to put them away I would remember how last fall/winter that as soon as I put the meds away someone got sick. I didn't want to deal with another sick child so I've left the medicines sitting there to ward off all illness.

I'm a smart girl. I know that whether or not I put the medicines away or not has no affect on the health of my family. I'm not normally superstitious. And guess what? It didn't do me a bit of good. Ruby woke up with a fever this morning, even with the medicine sitting on the counter. I guess next time I'll put it away...

What are you superstitious about?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reflections upon making peanut butter crackers

The children requested peanut butter crackers for lunch. While making them I was instantly taken back to my childhood with memories of my Granny and Papa.

I grew up on a small tobacco farm, thus the reason my beloved Tobie was really Tobacco. I grew up spending my fair share of time in the tobacco fields. I helped plant the seedlings, hoed weeds when the plants were small, helped "at the barn" when it was time to prime, and help take it off the stick when it was time to pack it to go to sale.

We were small time and did things the old fashion way. I was around four when my grandparents went back to tobacco farming - they had had a larger production earlier but had stopped for at least a few years. At the time they stared back up, they were still stringing tobacco by hand. A year or two later they purchased an electric stringer and I thought we were big time. We never had bulk barns and I don't even know exactly how they work. I just know that in reality we were still way behind the times.

Are you wondering what this has to do with peanut butter crackers yet?

We had to be at the barn and ready to go at 6 am every Saturday morning. We had our "tobacco priming clothes" that we wore every week. If it was a dry morning we came home gummy, if it was a wet morning we wore trash bags over our clothes and came home soaked. On dry days your hands would be a black gummy mess. The only way to get it off was to use gojo, which all the kids called pig snot. Not sure why but it was about the consistency of snot and was stinky...

My first job on priming days was to be "leaf girl." That meant going in the tobacco barn, where the leaves would be cured, and picking up any leaves that had fallen on the floor and taking them back out to be restrung.

This is the barn where we put most of the tobacco. There were two different sections of it. There used to be another barn directly behind this one that we also used at times. There is also a tobacco barn by my parents house that we also used some of the time. But most vivid memories are from this barn. The grassy field you see was one of the tobacco fields and was the largest.

From leaf girl, I got promoted to "stick girl" that meant when the bottom layer of leaves had been placed by the two ladies that did the bottom layer, I put a stick on and then the other two ladies placed the top layer of leaves. Then the electric stringer sewed the tobacco together so that it would stay on the stick. From stick girl I got to be one of the people laying the leaves on the belt - they had a name but I don't remember what it was. From there I became the person that took the finished stick off the stringer and handed it into the barn. Occasionally, I got to be the person that handed the tobacco up to the hangers. And a few times even got to be up in the rafters hanging the tobacco. That person had to stand balanced on two beams about four to six feet a part bend at the waist and reach down to get the sticks and hang them.

The men worked in the field priming, the women worked at the barn. The only barn jobs not done by women were the hangers. My mom typically laid tobacco on the stringer. My sister usually took the tobacco off the stringer. My dad always hung the tobacco.

Are you wondering if I'll ever get to the peanut butter cracker tie in?

The tobacco arrived at the barn on a big tobacco sled. I have no idea how many sleds we did in a morning. When the priming was done the men would come out of the field and we would take a break from stringing and everyone would have a snack. That snack was always peanut butter crackers and glass bottled sodas, never cans. My grandmother made the peanut butter crackers on Friday. They were always made with chunky peanut butter on Ritz crackers, because that was how Papa liked them. She made two huge cookie containers of them. They never bought Nabs, prepackaged peanut butter crackers. The sodas were kept in the freezer for a few hours before snacking so they were ice cold. After four hours of handling tobacco the crackers and soda tasted better than anything imaginable.

I hated priming tobacco. I hated getting up early. I hated not being able to do a lot of the things my friends did because I had to work in tobacco.

I would not change it for a minute! I am so glad I got this experience! I loved listening to the older women talk while we were stringing the tobacco. Ollie and Luciella were a hoot. I thought Fred and Francis, who drove trackers were the funniest men around. I thought it was disgusting when someone would turn a tobacco worm inside out. Though as gross as those worms were and as much as I hated occasionally coming across one, they deserved it.

I wish I had pictures from all of this. And maybe somewhere there are some. I remember taking some once but have no clue what happened to those pictures.

Here are some pictures I found online. From the looks of it, this is a bulk barn operation but gives a good feel for what it is all like.

This gives a better example of what our production was like and shows the hand tying and electric stinger methods.

It always amazes me how something as simple as a peanut butter cracker can bring back so many memories from my childhood. What is your childhood peanut butter cracker and what does it remind you of?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bad Omen?

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. I am so blessed to be married to a man that twelve years later I still love, respect and enjoy. I told him the other night that not only do I love him but I just really like him! Corny, I know, but true. He then told me a story about how all men thing all women are crazy. Somehow this was supposed to be cute and funny but, um, missed the mark by about a mile. I then informed him that maybe I didn't like him as much as I originally thought I did.

Anyway, I got off track.

During the closet fiasco. I found this.

This would be the broken wedding cake topper from, well, our wedding. So is this a bad omen or just the collateral damage from a bad closet design? You decide. As for me, I'm going with the later. I can't even comprehend the former. Though, if my husband is going to continue to pontificate on the craziness of women...

Interesting factoid: The wedding topper is actually meant for an anniversary celebration as the couple is a bit more "mature." It was the topper that the cake I picked out suggested and well given my dress and Michael's graying hair it just seemed to be the appropriate topper for the cake.

I know these pictures aren't the best but we got married in the old days when digital photography had not taken off yet. So to get these images I had to find my wedding album take the photos out. And take pictures of the pictures so a lot was lost in the process. But you get the idea anyway

Another wedding factoid: Michael and I only had eight guests at our wedding - our parents, siblings, and sibling's spice spouses - well only one sibling was married at the time so I guess that should say "spouse." We were married at the Anne Street Methodist Church in Beaufort, NC.

And my last wedding factoid for the day: Our wedding cake was a sour cream pound cake with butter cream frosting. The cake was meant to feed 50. I was determined to have a "real" wedding cake even if we were having a small wedding. We had a lot of left over cake. It was absolutely delicious. We did freeze the top layer and get it out sometime after our first anniversary to taste. Surprisingly, it was still delicious.

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! I do really still like you and well, I always knew you had a propensity for being annoying.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Goodbye is never easy...

Our sweet dog Tobie went to doggy heaven today. Tobie, and her brother Howdy, joined our family in April 1998. They were four months old. We picked them up from their farm in Weatherford, TX. They had never been inside, on stairs, on concrete, in a car, etc. when we got them. They were country dogs who moved to a third floor apartment.

Tobie, is actually short for Tobacco. Her coat was the color of cured tobacco. Of course going around calling your dog Tobacco, just wasn't going to work. Tabaccer or Bacca didn't work either, but Tobie did. So did Tobie-Tobs and Tobers.

Tobie was always our princess dog. She liked things her way. When they weren't, she let you know. Her favorite thing in the world was to have one of her front paws rubbed. She loved to get "Scooby snacks" out of the litter box. She always wanted to be in the middle of the action. She and the cat, Zach, loved to play chase. He would come up and swat at her so then she would snap at him and chase him out of the room. Then he would come back and do it all over again. Sometimes she would just go over and nudge him, just to get him started. We kept a gate on our bedroom door so the dogs would stay in but the cat could come and go. Zach loved to perch on the gate waiting for Tobie to come get him and then jump off the other side and run away knowing she couldn't chase him.

She was not a fan of thunder storms. They made her scratch the carpet, get on top of the patio table, or jump on the bed. Fireworks weren't her thing either. Back in the day before we had kids and took the dogs out for hikes on the weekends, she was not a fan of water. Her brother always enjoyed a good romp in the creek. Not Tobie, she preferred to stay dry. She wasn't a huge fan of loud chaotic children. She never did anything to the children but when they got too rambunctious she would quickly leave the room.

Tobie was 3 months shy of 12 years old. Until this spring she had never had any health problems. OK, so she had bad teeth and had to have them cleaned twice as frequently as her brother but, no emergencies, no chronic conditions, nothing. In the spring she hurt her hip jumping off the patio table. Yeah I know, what is an 11 year old dog thinking to be jumping off the table. When we took her in for that, they were not concerned about the hip but about her weight. Apparently she had lost quite a bit since the previous year. Blood work yielded somewhat elevated liver numbers but nothing more. Oh, and her teeth were so bad the insisted they were affecting her quality of life. They weren't and cleaned up fine and nothing changed. Our job was to get her to eat more.
About a month ago Tobie developed a condition called Megaesaphogus. It led to pneumonia. Things didn't look good. We started antibiotics and miraculously the Megaesaphogus went away. After ten really bad days we had two really great weeks. She was pretty much her normal, somewhat crotchety self. Monday we took her in for a recheck. The vet raved over her progress and how well she was doing. She was so surprised. Tuesday the Megaesophogus came back. Since Tuesday Tobie had been trying to tell us she was done. She quit eating entirely. Today it was clear it was her time. She went very peacefully to doggy heaven with her head resting sweetly on her paw while I rubbed it. She is now in doggy heaven, where I'm sure she has already convinced "someone" to continue rubbing her paw 24/7.

It seems so weird to not have her in our house. To not have her getting into trouble. Did I mention she was our trouble maker? She was always into something. The trash, the litter box, eating the carpet (she out grew that one), or scratching the carpet (she developed that one in the last couple years). She was a great part of our family. Her people miss her and so does her brother.

Farewell, dear friend,