The Mom Reel

So many people say to me, “those boys must really keep you on your toes,” and “I bet your house is always busy,” and “you sure have your hands full!”

All true. My toes are fine (albeit, not very pretty; they’re not even currently polished); my house is a constant flurry of noise and little voices and tripping over Legos, Matchbox cars, and Transformers); and my hands are undoubtedly full…but my heart is so much fuller.

I often share snippets of our conversations on my Facebook page, purely out of a genuine desire to share some of the joy and laughter these boys bring to our lives…ok, and maybe a little bit because I love when these little conversations pop up in my “memories,” and I can look back and remember some of their best antics. My good friend Angela keeps a “laugh book:” a journal where she writes her favorite conversations with her three boys and the funniest things they say which I think is a brilliant idea.

This week, I’ve been just a little bit behind, and haven’t taken the time to share the highlight conversations and antics that have brightened my week. And I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but today is a wet, dreary Friday here. We’re having rain that’s melting the snow, and it’s just pretty depressing. For that reason ,I thought I’d share some sunshine with you.

This week, the twins went back to preschool after Christmas break. It was a fairly easy transition for them; they were ready to return to school, with their friends and their teachers and their routine…and they may have even been ready for a bit of distance from their mama. We had a nice break together, but they had been with me almost 24/7 for about 3 weeks, and I’m not sure if you know this or not, but…I can be a lot to take sometimes (that was sarcasm, for those of you who aren’t fluent). Anyway, their days at school are short- only two and a half hours- but they look forward to their time there immensely. Which is why I was a little surprised on Wednesday when I picked them up to have the littler twin singing me an Ed Sheeran song on our way home. The specific lyrics he highlighted in this serenade were, “I can’t wait to go home. AND I’M ON MY WAY!” While he’s definitely our musical child, and it’s not uncommon for him to spout random lyrics throughout the day, I can’t help but assume there was some significance to his choice on that particular day.

Last night after dinner, the twins were working on flash cards they’d brought home from school with letters of the alphabet printed on them. They need to be able to identify the letters in the box, and we were quizzing them. When the letter “W” came up, their big brother chimed in to “help,” prompting them by repeating the “wa, wa, wa” sound. Then, he continued with, “wa, wa…WAYFAIR!” And so, on that note, my parenting work here is done.

Hope your week ends on a high note, friends!





Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m an Adult Now

Well, it’s official, y’all. I think I’ve finally become a real, mature adult.

It’s taken a few decades to get here, but I can honestly say that I truly recognized my maturity on this Valentine’s Day.

Ryan came home from work yesterday, a little freaked out after talking to other females he works with and hearing their expectations for Valentine’s Day. They asked him what he had planned for his wife, and he told them he didn’t have an extravagant plan. (He failed to mention that last weekend he had been trying to line up a sitter so we could sneak away somewhere for a little getaway).

My husband is really amazing that way. Valentine’s Day has never been a real thing for us. When I was younger, inexperienced in life and love, I wished for romantic Valentine’s Day surprises. When I was about 12 or 13, I decided I wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding because I thought it was the most romantic day of the year. When I discussed this plan with my aunt Sharon around that time, she pointed out that when you marry the right person, ANY day is the most romantic day of the year. So that plan fell by the wayside. Still, I sent Ryan telepathic Valentine’s Day messages that I wanted all of the wine and roses and chocolate and jewelry I could get, but never vocalized my desires because I wanted him to know all on his own what I wanted. He’s always delivered a small surprise: always chocolates, sometimes a small piece of jewelry, sometimes flowers, sometimes all of the above. But he’s notorious for surprising me with spontaneous romantic gestures on random days throughout the year. He doesn’t need a calendar or a big-label greeting card company to tell him when to extend a romantic gesture.

This morning I made my trip to shop for valentines for my family while they were at school and work. For Ryan I had decided on candy and frozen pizzas. Sounds weird, I know, but he’s been asking for pizza all week. So I thought if I bought frozen pizza, we could have a romantic pizza snack to ourselves after the boys went to bed. I bought the boys each a little box of candy- more than enough to supplement the sugar highs they all brought home from school- and called it a day on my shopping.

I was in the kitchen making a very non-exciting dinner of oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and homemade mac and cheese when my tall, handsome valentine walked in the door laden with grocery bags, a liquor store bag, and… a premade deli pizza.

I bust out laughing. He was so confused until I pulled his “valentine” out of the freezer. We congratulated ourselves on thinking so much alike, and he handed me the liquor store bag with not one but two bottles of my favorite wine. Then he started to unload the other grocery store bag. When he pulled out three miniature boxes of chocolates identical to the ones I’d purchased for the boys, we both started to laugh.

Friends, that moment- the moment of knowing that celebrating Valentine’s Day in the simplest way, with my four guys who piled on top of me yesterday morning and declared me their “Princess,” my favorite wine, chocolates, and frozen pizzas on the same night Grey’s Anatomy is on, is the only way I care to celebrate Valentine’s Day, ever- that moment was so clarifying.

I became a real adult today.

And it feels damn good.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.



Reason #408 why motherhood just may kill me

Wanna know how I spent the twins’ naptime today?

Putting clean sheets on the boys’ beds.

Seriously, the whole hour was consumed by putting sheets on three beds: twin bunks and a full size bed.  AN HOUR, friends.  Well, 50 minutes.  To put sheets on three beds.  The actual breakdown is probably closer to 45 minutes for the bunk beds, 5 minutes for the other one.  Still, there were a lot of other things I could’ve accomplished in that time.

Ever consider where bunk beds came from?  I have.  I’ve also pondered his painful demise.  Yes.  His.  Because it was certainly a man who invented those blasted things, knowing full well it’d be woman who would be changing the sheets the majority of the time.

We’ve had bunk beds in our house for almost a year, but we just stacked them two weeks ago.  I’ve changed the sheets three times now.  Every time I’ve damn near died.  The first time was a near concussion, lifting my head too fast while trying to raise the mattress to tuck the sheets.  The second time was the same day, when I came one step closer to a concussion by bashing my head off the ceiling while repeating the same process on the top bunk.  (Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity.)  The third time my socked foot slipped on the ladder while I was trying to smooth the wrinkles from the sheets and blankets and return all of the fuzzy friends to their happy home in the bed.

Repeat every week until the end of time.

To be fair, I totally get the functionality of bunk beds.  I’ve toured a few war ships in my day; I get that sometimes function and practicality has to be a priority.  We have three boys; space in our home needs to be used wisely as well.  Aesthetic be damned, I guess.  And, it’s a fun hideaway for all three; they’ll be entertained for hours, climbing up the ladder and hiding in the top bunk.  So, it’s kind of a no-brainer and a necessary evil.

We kept their beds separate and both close to the floor for as long as we could, until they started asking us weekly how long until we could bunk them.  It made sense to stack their beds; they’re getting bigger and they’re playing in their room more and more, and they need the floor space.  And they’re doing really well with the change.  Clearly, changing sheets has no effect on their perception of the intricacies of making a bed without headroom.  What do they know?  They’re three feet tall.

Just make sure my tombstone reads, “it was those damned bunk beds.”





It’s a word that gets thrown around often.  Not just with me; we all use it.  Busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.

“Sorry I never got back to you; I’ve been so busy!”

“How’s your summer?” “Busy!”

Me, personally?  It’s never occurred to me to keep track of how many times a day I say it, hear it, think it.

Any time I take my boys (three of them, all under age five) out in public?  At least one casual observer will offer a grin and a sympathetic “I bet you’re busy!”

When my husband reluctantly asks me to do a favor or take care of something household related because he works pretty crazy hours anymore?  “Babe, I know you’re busy enough already, but if you get a minute during naptime or whatever, could you…?”

When I look at the stack of library books on my nightstand or on the end table in the living room? “Ugh, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be through those already!”


A lot of my busy-ness is of my own making.  Apparently I took Aesop’s Fables a bit too literally as a child, because every time I ignore work to do something pleasurable, I’m reminded of the Grasshopper and the Ant.  Remember that story?  The ant worked and worked, never taking time off, while the grasshopper, all “Carpe Diem!” played and forgot to prepare for winter.  So when wintertime rolled around, the ant was warm and full, while the grasshopper died a cold, hungry death.

That must be it.  I hate being cold.  And hungry.

So I stay busy.  Not always particularly productive, but definitely busy.  And when I say busy, I pretty much mean in the sense that I start 349587348962 projects and approximately 2 get done.

Take, for instance, this spring.  I found an ant infestation in my spider plant (here we go with the ant theme again). So I carried the plant to our back deck, where I drowned those suckers out, then gave them a nice, healthy dose of old coffee grounds to show them I meant business.  Apparently, ants hate coffee.  So maybe I’m not as much like an ant as I thought.  Anyway… my spider plant.  I didn’t want to bring the ants back inside, so I let my plant sit on the deck for a couple of days.  It was still spring, and we weren’t finished having frost then, so a few leaves on my plant were sacrificed in the effort.  When I pulled them to make room for new growth, I put the dead leaves on top of last summer’s hanging basked from the deck, my Mother’s Day petunia from Ryan and the boys, which I never emptied last fall.

Fast forward to late July.  This past Saturday morning, Ryan took the boys with him to run an errand while I stayed home.  After they left, I wandered back to the deck to pick up yesterday’s swim suits and towels, and decided maybe it’s time to finally clean out that hanging basket.  What I found when I moved those dead spider plant leaves took me by surprise.



My point is, yes, I’m busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.  It’s not exclusively a parent thing, or a student thing, or a career thing or a sports thing or a…well, you get it.  Life is hectic, and messy, and crazy, and unpredictable.  And sometimes, under all that busy-ness, there are surprises budding that we aren’t expecting.

And aren’t those the best?





Pumpkin Spice. Nuff Said

I have a problem.

Actually, I got 99 problems but…

Right.  Family show.  Moving on.

So,let’s focus on my two biggest problems of the moment:

  1. I cannot for the life of me back down from a challenge, even when (especially when) it comes from my four-year-old.
  2. I have zero capacity for resisting anything that comes labeled as “pumpkin spice.”

There’s a humorous back story here, and a semi-related and wholly hilarious YouTube video parody to go along with it.  The back story is this:

Our oldest son goes to preschool three days a week, for two and a half hours each day.  He takes a snack every day, and he really loves to pick what he’s going to take- though, some days he prefers to be surprised; it really is a mood thing.  Among his favorite snacks to take are yogurt, these seasoned pretzels, fruit, graham crackers, goldfish crackers, and granola bars.  I started making my own granola bars about two years ago because they go REALLY fast in our house.  Ryan loves them at breakfast time.  And after dinner. They’re perfect for the boys’ “after nap snack,” as our oldest says.  And I love them too.  So those little boxes of eight that you pay $2 for?  Doesn’t even get us through a day- I can’t justify it when it takes just a few basic ingredients and little more skill than one needs when making Rice Krispy Treats.  So last week, the little guy asked me if we had any granola bars for me to send for his snack this week.  I didn’t, at the time, but I’d purchased what I needed with the intention of making some.  Then, he said these magic words: “Mom, could you make pumpkin spice granola bars?”

The words were music to my ears.  I immediately began searching for recipes.  Google, Pinterest, and all of my cookbooks.  But…I kept coming up empty.  I had a few results, but nothing that really sang to me (or the ingredients I had on hand.)  Sadly, I couldn’t let it go.  I had to find something that would work.  Because, not only had my baby boy asked me for something and I wanted to deliver, but also because it’s October and I’ll put pumpkin in ANYTHING this time of year!  So, I resorted to experimentation.  I went to my go-to granola bars recipe, then found one recipe on Pinterest I could tweak to my needs, and attempted to mash the two together. (By the way, if you’re following the links to check out the recipes, note that the first one is for a 13×9 pan-sized batch; the second is for an 8×8).

And so…the first attempt turned out to be pretty decent.  I would say they could still use a little something (chocolate chips are at the top of that list.  I’d also say mixing in a half a cup or so of finely chopped pecans might take this right up to where it needs to be).  But, for my first attempt and also for a completely fabricated recipe, on the first try, I’m a little proud of myself.  And my boy was happy, so, yay me!

Wanna try them?  Here’s how I did it:


3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Heat over medium-low heat until just boiling.
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Pour immediately over:
2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup wheat germ (or flax-seed)


Stir to combine, then pour into a 13×9 pan
lined with aluminum foil (this makes it easier to
pull the bars out to cut them, and also helps with


If you’re going to add chocolate (and, by all means, DO!), make sure you don’t mix them into the pumpkin mixture; they’ll become a melty mess.  Instead, once you’ve pressed the bars into the pan (I use a sheet of waxed paper.  Press HARD), sprinkle 1/3 cup or so over the top, then press gently once more.  And if you’re thinking of adding nuts (I totally will next time; this version is missing a bit of crunch), add them to the oats, cereal, and wheat germ or flax-seed.  Probably 1/4 to 1/3 cup is a good starting point.  And when you fall in love with these…

you can thank my son. Because I’m off to Starbucks for a PSL.






A Cucumber Sandwich to Call Our Own

Cucumber sandwiches.  Remember that post from last summer?  The one which related our search for the perfect home to Ryan’s quest for the perfect cucumber sandwich?  Remember how frustrated I was, how absolutely worn out by the whole real-estate purchasing process?  Guess what, friends?

It’s finally over.

We bought a house.


Two weeks ago today, we signed the final batch of paperwork and bid a tearful goodbye to our amazingly patient real estate agent, and now forever friend, Suzanne.  We have moved.

For the first time ever, all six patterns of my dishes fit neatly into one cabinet in our kitchen.  All five sets of wine glasses have found cabinet space.  My big orange Paula Deen stock pot that used to live in the front hall closet, along with the nesting set of multi-gallon capacity Tupperware containers, is in a cabinet.  The crock pots and serving pieces and cake plate and the plethora of other “stuff” I haven’t been able to use since our wedding, have homes.  And soon, all of my shoes will have their own closet as well.  No more concussions caused by the avalanche of falling high heels!

Can you tell I’m excited?  Can you tell how incredibly relieved I am that the whole saga has finally reached a happy ending?   I’d be lying if I denied the fact that I wholeheartedly believe we’ve earned this.  It’s been a long, sometimes impossible road leading here- to this place we call home now, just miles from our first home.  We’ve shed sweat and tears, literally, to find the perfect home.  And that’s exactly what we’ve found: a home that has everything that we ever wished for in a home- even some of those items we had been willing to compromise on in the past.  The house is the size I was hoping to find, on the size lot we said was our hope.  It has the exact number of bedrooms and bathrooms I wished for, with one of the bedrooms already being set up as an office, which was what we would have planned to do with an extra space.  The basement has additional living space, AND Ryan’s “man cave” (the space where he can set up his RC workshop and not have to charge batteries on the kitchen counters where I’m trying to make dinner), and the main floor is open and spacious, with a ton of natural light.  Not only do we have an eat-in kitchen as I had hoped for, but we also have a dining room.  And guess what?  One of the first things we did when we signed those papers was to paint it plum purple.  I’m still searching for the perfect table to put in the dining room, but in the meantime, it’s the exact color I had pictured.

Coming from our little ranch rental, I sometimes feel almost lost here.  It feels strange for Ryan to not always hear me when I speak to him.  And I also feel terribly naughty painting dark and dramatic colors on our walls, even though I’ve had some of these colors picked out for several years.  When I remind myself that this house is ours, though, that feeling goes away, and I am learning to revel in my long-buried interior designer persona.  I get to call the shots now- with my husband’s help, of course.  Aside from being my personal painter/handyman, I think he’s also enjoying making design decisions with me.  We’ve purchased furniture together (and as we contemplated our options, I made mention of another decision we had made.  At that point, he gasped and said, “Now I see!  Ok, let’s go with this!”).  And he also made decisions on at least half of the paint colors we’ve chosen so far.

For her part, Clohe has adapted very well to her new house.  In the weeks leading up to the move, I had frequent “talks” with her about what was going to happen when we moved to the “new house.”  I would point it out when we drove past, I would tell her that’s where the boxes were going that I was packing and stacking all over the place, and I would explain it to her as she snuggled with me in bed or on the couch.  I explained to our dog how the move was going to affect her.  (After all, we are the kind of people who feel the compulsive need to explain our major life decisions to our golden retriever.)

The day after we signed the papers for the house, I packed up the car with boxes bound for the kitchen, and all of our cleaning supplies, and Clohe.  I packed her beds and all of her toys, and she was moved in first, to help her to get settled.  (After all, we are the kind of people who feel the compulsive need to explain our major life decisions to our golden retriever.)

She seemed to settle in right away.  Within the first day, she had learned her way around, found some good places to lie down, and knew the exact boundaries of our property without us having to show her.  After our first day of working to prepare the house for our move, we walked to my Auntie’s house across the street, and didn’t leash Clohe.  She walked between us the whole way until we reached my aunt’s property line.  At that point, Clohe took off running through the yard and straight to the garage door.

Last week, we took Clohe to our empty little ranch house to load the car with the last of our belongings.  We took her in the house to show her that our things were gone, and after a brief “run through and sniff,” she seemed satisfied that we wouldn’t be leaving her in the big house all by herself.  We went outside to load the car as Clohe made one final run around the property.  We could almost see her saying goodbye.    Finally, when we were ready to leave, I called to her and said, “Clohe, let’s go home,” expecting her to go to the door between the garage and the kitchen.  Instead, she went to the car and stood by the door until we came to get in with her.

I think explaining our major life decisions to our golden retriever has paid off.  And I think she likes our cucumber sandwich too.




Novel Idea

I’m kind of addicted to my Kindle.  It was a second anniversary gift from my amazing husband last year, and from the day it arrived in the mail, I’ve been in love.  So in love, in fact, that I converted my aunts from their “other brand” e-readers.  And also, I taught my mom (who is a self-proclaimed technophobe) how to use hers after my brothers and I bought her one for Christmas last year.  Mom’s addicted too.

My sister has begun composing her Christmas list, and today she informed me that she was placing the Kindle at the top of her list.  Queen of corny and stupid jokes as I am, I intentionally led her into a conversation with a punchline.  Apparently, she’s getting a little old for my childish humor, because here’s how the conversation went:

Peanut: “I made my Christmas list for this year; I really want a Kindle.”

Me: “What will you do with a Kindle?”

Peanut: “Read.”

Me: “Read what?”

Peanut: “Books.”

Me: “Hm.  What a novel idea!  Ha, get it?  Novel?  Like a book?”

Peanut: “Ok, Danielle, I have to go.  Bye.”

Guess she didn’t think I was as funny as I did.  Dear Santa, please bring me a book of grown-up jokes.  Better yet, just bring me a new sense of humor.  Preferably one that’s age appropriate.



My Dog and I Have the Same Sense of Humor. And I’m Kind of OK With It

When Derek and I were little, my mom used to rake up huge piles of leaves for us to jump in.

There was one stipulation: once we were finished jumping in the leaves, we had to help scoop them up, into these giant orange trash bags that had pumpkin designs on the front.  The pumpkin-leaf bags would sit in our front yard as decoration for Halloween, and then would be discarded.  It was kind of genius for Mom to use this logic: first, she had helpers to rake the leaves, because we always wanted the biggest pile possible.  Secondly, once we were done jumping, we got to help fill these awesome decoration bags.  We were willing to do yard work.  In other words, we were suckers.

Fast forward two decades, and I’m still always anxious to get outside to rake leaves.  In years past, time has been limited and we haven’t always gotten around to it.  But these days, my calendar is wide open.  And this week, the weather has been far too perfect to tend to my indoor chores, so I picked up the rake and went outside.

Monday I did some picking up and burned some sticks and things around the property.  Today, I raked.

Oh, and apparently?  That sixth sense parents have when their child is getting into mischief never goes away.  Because as I raked my gigundo pile of leaves into which I planned to propel my body, my mom called, to ask a question and also to see what I was into today.  While I was talking to her, my Daddy called me, just to check on me since I hadn’t talked to him in awhile.  Daddy doesn’t call very often, because he doesn’t really like the phone, and also because his location changes frequently so his service changes accordingly, and he’s usually in bad service areas.  My parents knew, from a distance of over 150 miles, that I was about to do something stupid.

And, yes, what I proceeded to do next does qualify as stupid.  Mostly because I’m supposed to be a mature, responsible adult, but also because I was mostly alone.  As in, except for my dog.  But we did it anyway, and we had a blast.

Dance like nobody is watching, right friends?

Happy Fall!



What Lies Beneath

When we moved into this house six years ago, the first question I asked the landlords was if we were allowed to paint the walls.  The living room was sort of pinkish-white, the kitchen was trimmed in wallpaper with little pink flowers on it, the bathroom had yet another wallpaper with little pink flowers, and the guest rooms are neon: one is blue, and the other- the closet-sized room that serves as the laundry room as well as Ryan’s RC pit/office is green.

Anyway, they told us that painting would be fine, as long as I went neutral and had approval beforehand.  And since this year seems to have been the year of sprucing-up for this house,  I decided I wanted the kitchen painted before winter.  This past week, my beloved and I struck a deal: if I removed the wallpaper from the one wall and the bulkhead above the cabinets, he would help me to paint.  Deal on.  Except that… I had never removed wallpaper before…


So Sunday, I ran to the store and bought a wallpaper scorer, to rough up the paper so I could tear.  I started to rip the pink flowered stuff down, only to realize that I was only pulling down the printed part of the paper; the backing and glue weren’t budging.  So I scored.  And I scraped with my putty knife.  An hour later, I had made little progress.  So I did what any modern, self-proclaimed handywoman would do: I Googled.  And I found that mixing a solution of equal parts water and fabric softener in a spray bottle made wallpaper fall off on its own…except that I was out of fabric softener.  The next result promised that equal parts water and vinegar would do the trick.  I had vinegar.  And- gasp!- it worked!  The backing came off easily with a few passes of the putty knife.  I was ecstatic- and so proud of myself.

You know how pride is one of the seven deadly sins?  Yeah, the heavens weren’t having it that I was proud.  So I received a curveball: there was another layer of paper underneath.  Under that pink patterned wallpaper (circa 1980) was yet another layer of wallpaper, circa 1962.  With vinegar solution in hand, and cuts on my palms from the putty knives, I managed to get each layer off by mid-day Monday.  Of course, there were still little chunks of glued- down wallpaper backing that were hanging on to the walls for dear life.  To get rid of those little suckers, I mixed some laundry detergent with water and scrubbed.  Most of the glue reluctantly gave up the fight, and the rest peeled off easily with my fingernail or a nudge from my putty knife.  By Monday evening, the walls were prepped to be painted.

Tuesday, while Ryan was at work, I packed up all my little decorative items from the kitchen and draped the appliances and table with sheets to protect them.  When he got home, we painted the ceiling so Wednesday we could paint.  While I was atop the refrigerator brushing to the edges where his roller wouldn’t reach, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: So this is how Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.  Lying on his back, just like this.

Ryan: Yes, but there’s one difference between you and Michaelangelo.

Me: Yeah, I know, his work is amazing.  And he used colors; I’m painting white.

Ryan: No, he was fast.

Me: But it took him four years!  I’ll be done here in four minutes.  Besides, I can’t get ahead of you.

Ryan: He also painted pictures.  But you’re doing great.  Keep going.

Seriously, never a dull moment here.

I tackled the walls myself on Wednesday.  I had all day to work, and there was absolutely nothing else I could focus on when a) there were PAINT cans in my kitchen, and b) most of my kitchen was in the guest bedroom.  I can’t work in a room that’s not aesthetically pleasing.  It stifles my creativity.  So I painted.  I thought, for my first time painting completely unsupervised ever in my entire life, that I could handle hand-painting the trim, where the walls meet the ceiling.  I was kinda wrong.

Ryan had to fix my screw-up places when he got home.  It took him literally all of about 15 minutes, when I had spent 9 hours painting, so I thought it was a pretty even trade.  And since each color took multiple coats to cover properly, I’m glad I got it done before he got here.  Wanna see the finished product?

Wait for it…


So now, with a more aesthetically pleasing kitchen than we had at this time last week, I’m retiring the paintbrush for awhile.  My shins are bruised from my many climbs between the floor and the counter, my hands ache from clutching the roller, my neck is sore from tilting it to see to paint near the ceiling, and I’m a few pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the week (I think there’s magic in my stretchy pants.  I lived in them Sunday through Thursday.  When I put on real button-up pants today, they were looser than I remembered them being.  I have magical stretchy pants.)…anyway, despite the fact that I can barely keep my eyes open at 9PM on a Friday, I feel great.

Ready?  One more time:

...and After!









I accomplished something this week.  Maybe I’ll paint the bathroom ceiling next week…




Pumpkin Farm- Part I

One of my favorite memories from childhood was our annual trips to the pumpkin farm.  There was a place about 40 minutes from where we lived that Mom would take us to pick our would-be jack-‘o’-lanterns.  Derek and I would ponder for what seemed like forever- usually making it a competition to see who got the bigger one.  There was also a little shop at the farm where Mom always shopped for crafts and gourds and Indian corn; it was her reward to herself after enduring any length of time with my brother and me and our constant bickering.  That’s all she wanted: some cute little craft, a couple of gourds, and a bunch or two of Indian corn.

“Punkin pickin'” is still part of our fall tradition here in the Merrow household.  Every year when the leaves start to change and the weather starts to cool, Ryan starts asking when I’ll be ready to go.  He likes to plan the outing.  And picking a pumpkin is, for both of us, very serious business.  In the six years since we’ve lived here, I think there have only been one or two that we haven’t had pumpkins.  Sometimes they come from WalMart.  Last year they came from the buffalo farm up the road.  I think once we even dragged a few from Punxsy- from my sister’s pumpkin patch that she plants and lovingly tends every single year.  We just haven’t found that special place yet to make our new tradition.

This past weekend was miserable: cold, windy, and rainy.  It was the perfect weekend to stay inside and eat chili and drink cider.  But by yesterday, I needed to get out and DO something.  Anything.  So when he asked the question, “when did you want to go get pumpkins?  I found this new place we should check out,” I had made the decision and jumped in the shower before he finished asking.  We were going, rain or not.

It was cold.  It was raining.  The wind was blowing and the place was deserted despite the rows of cars in the parking lot.  We approached the admission window for some information, while I said a little “thank you” to my aunties for the Uggs they bought me last Christmas; the rest of me may have been freezing, but my feet were toasty, and for that I was thankful.

When the one lonely lady manning the booth slid the window aside to let us in, she began to run down the list of attractions the farm offers: “Oh, we do hay rides and the haunted corn maze…but they don’t recommend that for kids under ten.  And there are slides over there…you know, for the kids…and there’s a petting zoo…for the kids…and… Oh!  The white barn over there has a cafe and craft shop.  There’s a corn box…for the kids… and over here, you can pick your pumpkins.  So…will you be trying any of the attractions today?”

This was sort of a strange question, and I, at least, was a bit thrown off.  After all, we were alone.  No kids in tow, no stroller, no car seat.  We were alone.  Just the two of us.  Finally, after exchanging a look with Ryan, I responded by saying, “It’s so miserable out today, I think we’ll just check out the craft store and buy some pumpkins.”  This statement saved us the admission fee that’s charged for the other attractions.  Armed with wrist bands, we entered the farm and headed for the barn.

The atmosphere there was a fun one; as we entered, Ryan said it reminded him of what he would expect to find at Roloff Farms of Little People, Big World fame.  There was a small cafe in one corner, with picnic tables lining the walls, and a game of corn hole set up in the center aisle.  In the back corner was nestled a small, cozy primitives shop.  We walked through, staying long enough to see everything, and headed back out to tackle the task of tracking down some pumpkins to take home with us.

There were so many pumpkins to choose from, I got confused.  I would point out one that had a good shape, vibrant color, substantial size, and was consistently round, and then promptly lose it.  Ryan would find one that looked perfect from the front, but was completely planar on the opposite side.  If we pondered and walked around for five minutes, we were there for forty-five.  Finally, we settled on two that were similar in size, shape, and color, and headed for the check-out booth.  Ryan carried them while my eyes wandered to the potted Mums and the boxes of gourds and cooking squashes.  We noticed some wagons, provided to help patrons “cart” their finds out of the patch, and I snagged one in order to continue shopping.  Once Ryan had dropped the two large pumpkins onto the wagon, he immediately suggested we pick out a pumpkin for Clohe.  He found her a smaller one that was perfectly round and perfectly orange, and urged me to pick some gourds to take home.  While I pondered over those, he checked out the pie pumpkins.  “Babe,” he called to me, “do you use these?”  I turned to look, and admitted that I never had, but I knew that they were used for all the wonderful recipes canned pumpkin is used for.  “I could bake a pumpkin pie from scratch,” I said, wheels turning.  He picked out three for me to bring home.

With a new project to focus my energies on, I couldn’t sit still when we got home.  I hauled my gourds and pie pumpkins into the kitchen to wash, while Ryan balanced our future jack-‘o’-lanterns to carry to the front porch.  And I set to work…


More to come!