Thursday, September 29, 2011


A sign just off the road from the Mister's childhood home. Seriously. I was so tripped out about it that I was going to turn around on the highway and traverse back to take a picture. Only, I didn't have to because there was another. And another. And another. There were FOUR of these signs within a 2 mile stretch. What does that say about your confidence in your penal system, Washington State?!?

I don't travel much, but somehow I am finding myself in a back-to-back trips situation and I'm feeling the stress, sweethearts.

In a few days, Hatfield and I are travelling out to Seattle for a week to see her birth family.

We are staying with Granny and Papa, who are technically her grandparents but who are the kindest and most generous people and who are grandparents to ALL of my children. Granny and Papa have visited over the years, call, send cards, gifts, etc., and Hatfield is ecstatic to be getting in some time to see them.

We will also be seeing some aunts, uncles, and her birthdad and his family.

Hatfield has not seen her birth father since the Mister and I were married back in 2000. We've never been back to Washington since then, and he has never come east to see her in the past 11 years. Years even went by before we'd hear from him via mail, and now he corresponds with Hatfield on her birthday and at Christmas.

But, it seems like the right time to go. He is married now and while I've never met his wife, I find myself truly liking her through our facebook interactions. They have her two girls from a previous marriage, and two boys of their own.

I'm nervous, though, to do this. Hatfield has grown up in a very secure, stable home environment. She is incredibly bonded with the Mister, who adopted her at age 3.

The Mister and I have always been very matter-of-fact about her birthdad; she has one, he lives in Washington and has a family, they are nice people. We've never said a bad word about him.

I'm worried, though, that she'll somehow come home feeling conflicted about her life. Thus far, she has never felt abandoned or wronged by her birthdad and his actions.

By visiting, I'm afraid that we'll be opening up a can of worms. I'm afraid that she's suddenly going to feel pressure that she now somehow has to fit into his life and his family. That she'll feel like she has to fill some void in birth dad's life due to his choices years ago.

We just want her to have a fun trip where she can start putting faces to names. We don't want her to feel the pressure that she suddenly has this 'other family,' because she's not ready for that. Not yet.

We know it's inevitable. At some point in her life, as she ages, she'll look at the entire situation and think, "Why the hell did you never visit? Why the hell couldn't you get your act together when I was a baby?"'

And, we'll be there to help her through that.

Thus, this entire thought process has me questioning why I am doing this. Even though I know it is the right thing to do, at the right time. Additionally, we don't want Hatfield to hit some difficult teen years and develop the "grass is greener on the long-lost birth parent" side. We'd rather her get to know him and his family so she has a realistic perception. Hatfield may someday want to escape little brothers in our house, but it certainly won't be to his as she has two adorable little half brothers out in Washington. She's doomed in the little brother arena, mwahahahahahaha.

In all seriousness though, everyone out there is so excited to meet and get to know Hattie. They are going to loooooovvvvveeeeeee her, because how can you not? She is the kindest, most laid-back, easy-to-be-with kid on the planet. So in this day and age of a rocky planet, the more people in my kids' lives to love them, the better. And who knows? Maybe she'll want to go away for college (although this would throw a major wrench into my blissful daydream of her attending UWGB), and then hopefully she'd go out there where there is family in the vicinity.

So while I'm looking forward to our trip, right now I'm in the throes of pre-trip What in the Hellenistic Age was I thinking!?!?! (family joke courtesy of Hatfield.)

The Mister is staying home with the four youngest, hopefully homeschooling, but if keeping them fed, hygienic and clothed gets in the way of his homeschooling plans, then so be it.
Because upon our return home, we are home for 2 days, and then the Mister and I turn around and leave for a weekend getaway to a spa/resort that he won at work.

My mother is staying to watch the kids; one of our good family friend's delightful 16-year old daughter is coming to help as well. But still, I don't know if 48 hours is enough time to put the house back together after the Mister flying solo for 7 days, snuggle and bond with the children, get homeschool back up and running, purchase food and activities for the weekend, and pack for our trip.

Who am I kidding? I know that I can't do that.

So, it's triage time. Focusing on the most important, saying Eff It to the rest (or, alternatively, stuffing it into the basement storage closet for the "out of sight, out of mind" approach.)

Does anyone else's brain go completely haywire at the triage mode? Mine does. I started this blog yesterday morning, and what did I do all afternoon? Clean out the fridges? Do laundry? Organize the kids' bedroom? Clean up the workdesk?

Nope. I painted subfloor. And put together a shoe holder from Ikea.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture, Cont.

When the Mister and I married some 11 years ago, our biggest newlywed fights were mainly his carnivorous ways clashing with my vegetarian ways.

He'd angrily fixate a toxic stare at me and complain that he went from eating 2 meats per meal, 3 meals a day, to eating meat maybe only once a day, as if I should feel sorry for him. (I'm dead serious here.) I'd wail that he was marring my precious new wedding gift cookware with animal carcass (I'm serious here as well; I would cry.)

Ahhh, young newlywed love.

Fast forward through those years, we rarely now argue about food. I still eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and we eat mostly vegetarian meals each week, with about 3-4 meat meals mixed in there (I'm included lunches for a total of 14 meals a week, since we are a homeschool family and I cook 3 meals a day at home, every day.) I'm selective about the meats I purchase, and the Mister's subsequent blood pressure and cholesterol issues make him selective about the carcasses he consumes.

This summer the Mister went deep water fishing and brought home over 40 pounds of king salmon, coho salmon and lake trout. I gladly partake in those meals.

We also purchased 15 chickens from a friend whose father raises free-range, organic birds (at $1.50 per pound, so it's a great deal from an environmental standpoint, a local economy standpoint, and our checkbook standpoint.)

The Mister is pretty satisfied with our home menu, and he can get his red meat fixation satiated with work meals.

Anyways, the Mister just returned with Hatfield and Atticus from the Homeschool Father/Child Weekend Camp Out. With a pack of hot dogs in tow.

Miss Paloma's FAVORITE food are hot dogs. FAVORITE.

Clearly, this is a Nature dynamic, I thought.

So, this afternoon at lunch, Paloma was gleefully sitting down to dig into her hot dog, when she pauses and asks if she can have some pepperoni to put on her hot dog.

I nearly vomited, and instead ran out to share my grossed-outedness to the Mister.

"You'll never guess what your daughter wants to put on her hot dog. Pepperoni!" I gagged, expecting even that combination to elicit a WTH response from the Mister.

"No problem. I think we have some in the garage fridge. . . " he said, about to retrieve it for his little Pepperoni Princess.

Given the fact that her father was perfectly willing to put pepperoni on her hot dog, without even blinking, is making me realize that I now have the double whammy of nature and nurture working against me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Losing my religion

Was anyone else seriously bummed to learn that REM called it a day after 31 years of making music?

I was.

I'm neither snobby nor snotty when it comes to music. I can't name dates and obscure bands and concert scenes. I absolutely abhor sitting around people who feel they are "in the know" in the music world as they drop names and dates and act like they are somehow superior to those of us who just listen to the radio.

I have no time nor patience nor know-how to sit on iTunes or wherever it is that people buy music these days. The Mister will bring me home cd's from the library, and Hatfield puts good stuff on her iPod. I listen to the radio, mostly, or whatever they are listening to. It works for me.

All that beings said, I like music. Music, and songs, are one way I catalog life moments. I 'came of age' in the alternative/grunge scene. I can bring back intense memories and accompanying feelings whenever I hear certain songs.

It's been an entirely bittersweet week where I feel like I've been a ghost, shifting in and out of past scenes and times from my life.

REM walked away, the radio bombarded us with their stuff, and so often I felt my old high school self.

A ton of Nirvana from Cliff's computer reminded me of college days.

It's was my father's birthday yesterday-- he would have been 63. I shadowed many memories of family birthday celebrations from my childhood. I've spent a lot of time this week, listening to the Beatles and Willie Nelson, my dad's two favorites.

And to top off all the bittersweet trips down memory lane, Cliff and I spent an evening partially watching a movie, but mostly crying because our old, 3-legged beagle Ernie was sprawled out between us, exhausted and rheumy-eyed, his soul letting us know.

Ernie is slowly but surely and all too quickly calling it a day upon his own life.

It seems like just yesterday I was a young single mom with my one-year old Hattie, bringing Ernie home from the local humane society. He made us a family of 3.
Knowing that our time with Ernie--this 'era' of my life--is coming to an end, breaks my heart. Knowing that Hatfield is moving out of her childhood and into her teens, leaves me crying and wishing that I could slow it all down. Looking at the people who have already left my world makes me feel like I have shifted through several phases of life. Knowing that this all goes by all too quickly reminds me all the more that I need to slow down and live each day more in the moment than I did the day before.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Someone at Horizons is Hammered at Work

Yesterday, while working in her Horizons Phonics Level K Workbook, Paloma announced:

Hey Mom! Look! This guy is hammered!!

I nearly got whiplash from turning around so fast. What the heck was my 6-year old talking about? And how did she know what "hammered" meant?!?
See?!? She said triumphantly. He got nailed!

And sure enough, the guy had been hammered, as Paloma had drawn in a bunch of nails to hold this maniac down to the page.

Seriously, though, I think someone over there at Alpha Omega (the publisher of Horizons) has been getting a little hammered before they start creating textbooks.

Over the past week, we have encountered these two photos in our workbooks. With both photos, the children are to identify what the photo is, and then determine the first consonant and vowel of the word.

Can anyone out there tell me just what the heck this is?!?
Or how about this?!?

I feel like I'm hammered just looking at them. What the heck, Horizons?!?! Someone there needs to lay off the sauce before coming in to work.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Story of Dreaded "I Wasn't a Buyer" Remorse and Perseverance

About 2 weeks ago, Miss Essie, Miss Angie and myself piled into our cleared-out minivan and headed down to Chicago for

Stitches is basically Disney World, the Sears Tower and the Playboy Mansion all rolled into one huge, happy, yarn-laden, knitting & crocheting paradise.

I am still riding my Stitches high.

The Market in Stitches is a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, indoor marketplace of fiber goodness. While we were able to go through the Market in our time there from 10 am to 4:45 pm, it just wasn't enough.
By 3 pm, I found my blood sugar rapidly plummeting and all the fabulous yarn blurring before my eyes.

At 4:30, right before I departure, I saw it.

The wrap of all wraps. The shawl of all shawls. The most perfect knitted object ever.

I looked at the price tag, and my wallet shuddered because my debit card was already smoking.

Exhausted, delusional, and guilt-ridden about my previous yarn purchases, I passed.

Alas, the moment I walked through my front door 4 hours later, I had it.

A HUGE case of "I wasn't the buyer" remorse.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have dreamt about that shawl. I have tried to picture it in my mind. I have scoured the internet to determine the stitch type, the yarn colors, the design. The pattern and the photo.

Alas, I'm not all that artistic. And my memory isn't all that great. The shawl was going from the Perfect Shawl to the Shawl that Should Have Been But Wasn't.

By yesterday, I could no longer stand it. So, during the Packer game,



Holy crap!
Did you see our little ol' Green Bay on the Today Show?
How cool was all of that?
Whooohoooo Green Bay!
This place kicks ass.
So glad to live here
and be raising my kids here.)

During the Packer game, I took out my Stitches map,
Page 1 & 2 out of 6 pages of vendor listings & information
ransacked my yarn-overloaded mind to determine the approximate area of the Market in which I saw the Perfect Wrap, and emailed 5 vendors to ask them it they had it.

And guess what.

This morning, I heard back from the store that has it!

The Silky Wool Linen Stitch Wrap.

Oh, how those beautiful words roll off my tongue like...well, like silky wool. And as soon as the store owner returns from a Toronto Show, the wrap yarn and pattern will be mine.

Allllll mine.

Now how's that for a story about perseverance .

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hattie's Point of View

One of the disadvantages of being a homeschool student (in our home, at least), is that there is no back-to-school shopping extravaganza. Well, the Mister and I, and our checkbook, don't really chalk that up as a disadvantage.

And now that I think about it, my kids have more than enough clothing and really could care less about shopping. So why I state that this is a serious disadvantage, I'm not sure.

Years of doesn't-really-make-any-sense programming, I guess. So scratch the whole disadvantage comment; I'm too lazy to edit today.

Either way, Hatfield and I were at Target the other week, when she spotted and fell in love with these Chuck Taylor's.

On an aside, Did you know that Target carries Chuck Taylors now? I had no idea they were popular again. In high school, my boyfriend loved Chuck Taylors, and one time we wasted an entire Saturday driving around Green Bay and then the entire Fox Valley looking for a pair of Chuck hightops.

The sacrifices we make for young love, right?

Back to my girl. Realizing that she has never participated in back-to-school shopping, I thought it was fun to oblige.
Aren't they cute? I love them. I got such a kick out of the entire experience (ooo, punny! and I didn't even realize it until I re-read this), because this was the first time ever that Hatfield a) showed interest in clothing all on her own and b) answered decisively when I asked her if she would like me to buy them for her.

I also love the fact that she took a photo of her new kicks.

Also found in her week's upload (I never know what I am going to find after her uploads, and there's always a gem or two in there)

Her very best four-legged friend

and a good mantra for a teen-ager:
If you were a fruit loop, what flavor would you be? Does anyone even know what flavors are in fruit loops? I don't, but I would be yellow, because that's my favorite color. Plus, I sampled some really yummy lemon-coconut cake today, which I can't stop thinking about. Which is probably a really bo-rrrring answer. Can you imagine what Po's would be? It'd be something like: I'd be green, so I can be my own vegetable and then my mom would never make me eat veggies, or something like that.