Monday, June 30, 2008

Spookys Sunset

These sites will never been the same in our home again. The favorite shelf on which to perch…

The couch corner…

The window ledge.

Maybe I’ll see shadows out of the corner of my eye and think she’s still there. Maybe her spirit always will be if not that then her memories.

Today Spooky bid farewell to our family. She’s been quite sick for the last couple of months and I think because of her illness she spent more and more time away from our family. I would make appointments to take her to the vet only to not be able to find her when it came time to go. I could see her getting weaker and weaker and after a couple of days of not seeing her and thinking she had already gone I was really surprised to see her come home last night. In my heart I knew it was her coming home to say good-bye. She wouldn’t even eat her food and only had a little water. Evo-man kept her company through the night by sleeping on the floor downstairs so she wouldn't feel the need to climb the stairs.

This morning I panicked because I couldn’t find her again and spent a good ½ hour looking in her favorite closet corners and under beds. I finally found her outside underneath a bush in my heritage garden. She was still with us but barely. So I rushed her to the vet. Spooky spent the day going through various tests and exams and by evening we knew she was in end stages of kidney failure and it wouldn’t be long. So we choose to say good-bye to her and give her peace.

Evo-man wanted to be with me when we bid farewell. Of all the kids he is the one who connected the most with her. In fact we got Spooky when he was a baby right before we moved to our Northwest home. You can kind of say that both Spooky and Evo-man grew up together.

Spooky was one in a million and the only cat that Prince Erik could have ever dealt with. She had an independent streak a mile wide and only got friendly and cuddly with people on her terms. If she wasn’t in the mood, no matter how much coaxing, she wasn’t interested. She was the smartest cat on the planet and would put our dog Itchy in her place in a second, know to give Prince Erik a wide berth, and could even understand and tolerate wild and crazy kids. Yet Evo-man had a special talent with Spooky and he alone could consistently cuddle her.

Spooky wasn’t a social animal. The only other cats she ever tolerated were her own kittens. We had her fixed after she had some but we were glad she had the experience because she became a much more people tolerant cat once she became a mother.

She was a great mouser too and we saw no sign of the rodents until the last few months when her step slowed. But she never looked a day over a year because she had such a tiny frame.
Every bit the Black Cat was Spooky, with her super glossy black coat and piercing yellow eyes. She could scare the ba-geebers out of you with her uncanny stare if you didn’t know her. My sister Sassy thought she was possessed. I think she just liked to tease. We knew Spooky well and loved all her quirks and personality traits. She was absolutley the perfect pet for our herd.

This evening we had a small pet funeral for our furry friend. Evo-man wanted her buried in the hole he had been digging in the back yard for the last few months. Good and deep. T-rev let her be buried in his coveted Play station 2 box. Abner helped the girls collect rocks for her grave and we even included some of the rocks from the farm where she was born. I blubbered, sobbed, unintentionally made funny faces and went through a million tissues right along with all the kids. At sunset with tears streaming down our faces we bid farewell to our most beloved family pet ever and thanked Heavenly Father for the experience of getting to know her.

Farewell Spooky, we will love and miss you!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Coveting the Clothesline

I seem to remember everyone having a clothesline when I was a kid. It was the standard yard fixture of the day, along with a windmill, flagpole and pink flamingo. But when clothes dryers came into the norm then I guess the clothesline was abandoned because it was viewed as something used by cheap backwards, not forwards thinking people. That and the fact that viewing the neighbors unmentionable drawers might have been giving everyone just a little too much unnecessary information. No wonder everyone had modest underwear back then.

Maybe I’m getting green but I’ve found myself oggling over clotheslines quite a bit lately. Maybe it’s because I can’t seem to find a decent (able to withstand a small wind storm or swinging kid sturdy) one anywhere to save the life of me. Isn’t it a known fact that if you can’t get something you want it even more?

I suppose I could bribe my merit-badge earning boys to build me a stout wood beamed one but I don’t think it would last long in our wet climate. It’s the metal T-shaped monstrosity that I really covet.

The kind that my kids can throw sheets over and make impromptu tents. I can picture them out there now swatting mosquitoes while reading or eating smores with all the neighborhood friends.

And by-dingy wouldn’t we be the envy of the neighborhood if I staged marvelous musical extravaganzas from our very own Clothesline Theater.

And all those pennies we would save by not running our energy efficient government mandated dryer.

Oh and it could also serve as a great redneck volleyball net provided I could come up with some old flowered and faded sheets. Now who wouldn’t want that?

My works cut out for me and I’ve got to do some searching and see if anyone knows a welder that can make me an envious contraption (not eyesore) for my backyard. I’ll content myself with making yet a longer list of multipurpose things I can do with my future investment. I’ve got to get me one of those.

In the meantime I posted a bunch of Boredom Buster Ideas on the Cheap over at my amazingly large family group blog. Go check out some of our wild and crazy ideas – aimed at taking you back a few decades to the time before there were such things as toys or television.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dream On - Room of 1000 smells

In an effort to make last weeks clean claim on the master bedroom hold I decided to tackle the biggest contributor to its clutter. The Laundry Room or the room of a thousand different gross and disgusting (so you better not let it sit too long) smells associated with dirty clothes.

I have to admit it’s one of my harder rooms to clean and keep clean. I’m not a laundry person. Sure I can crank out pile after mountainous pile through the machines any old given day. But it’s what happens after they come out of the dryer that has me in a pickle. I’d usually haul them upstairs to my bed to be sorted at bedtime.

Anyway, the washer was working overtime trying to clear out some of the stench – but no matter what there will always be laundry. I’ve just got to form some new habits like folding the clothes as soon as they come out and getting the munchkins to help. That’s the hum-dinger. My four oldest know how to do laundry but I routinely take on the task without asking for help.
Be thankful you don’t have smell-o-vision today because these before pictures are sure stinkers.

I realize the pic's are a little yellow. It's because I still haven't got the flash fixed on my camera.

Yeah, now I finally have a counter upon which I may fold more and more and more.

And as always I provide more than one view of the chaos.

And it's dreamy view of after the clutter is gone. I was thinking it's a bit sparse as was my bedroom. So someday in the future I may have to consider some decorative touches that make me want to spend time in this room.

I'm having a hard time finding a path to the garage door without stepping on something.

Never mind, solved!

Not only did I clean the room but I also wiped down and got my clutter purging thing going on in some of the cabinets.

Wow, empty space. It's been so long since I've seen some.

O.K. last set of pictures. I promise.

I feels so good to be done with it. Now's just the hard part in seeing if I did enough to maintain it.

The bonus is the rooms of the Princess's and my bedroom that I cleaned over the past two weeks have amazingly stayed clean. No clutter creep to report on those beauties!

Almost makes me want to keep cleaning.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Slave to the Strawberry!

Every year around berry picking time I load the kids in the Gas-Guzzle Beast and head off for the nearby U-Pick Fields. This year the strawberries are a good three weeks, if not more, behind schedule. But we were there opening day. And so was everyone else and their grandparents, and neighbors, and kids, and moms, and a few reluctant teenagers (O.K. I guess I was the only one to bring teenagers) etc.
The pick director took one look at the six kids and myself and sent us to the far corner of the fields. I guessed we looked like trouble and the flag lady figured with us near the edge we would wreak less havoc.

This year the berries were a little smaller, and a little more expensive than last year. However, nothing compares to fresh strawberries, every one so juicy sweet, you can’t help but go back year after year. Store bought well I’ve never tasted store bought that tastes like fresh.
Even though I took six kids I probably only had two really good pickers.
Abner and Lea have some mad berry picking skills. T-rev would have been right there with them but I set him on Hope after she decided to start visiting the neighboring pickers and stepping on the berry bushes in an effort to make new friends. Princess would pick one here or there, but was more interested in talking about how they looked and asking questions about how the plants grow and why Abner was picking one row instead of another, and on and on. If only her hand worked as fast as her little mouth we would have had double the volume of berries picked. Evo-man picked about a handful of berries and decided he would rather go sit in the vehicle. I didn’t feel like fighting so I let him. Just wait the story gets better.

Less than an hour later we had a good 4 flats picked and decided to leave the rest for more serious pickers.
On the way home we dropped off some of our berries at a friends home so the kids could count one of their 1000 acts of service. And once we got home and sat the berries on the table – Wham!
I suddenly realized that I’d better do something with them. I couldn’t just pick and buy 36 lbs of strawberries and expect them to just sit there. So I pulled out of the cobwebs my old canning supplies. Haven’t touched much of it in the last 5 years but now was as good as time as any.
Freezer jam is my favorite but my old freezer is an ancient hand-me-down from my grandparents and since it could go any day I try not to put too many valuables in it. So I only made one batch of freezer jam and about 10 bags of whole frozen berries. That way if the food storage unit decides to self-destruct I can take the thawed berries and turn them into canned jam.

Since I had some little canning jars in storage I decided to can most of the strawberries instead. Regardless eight hours...
5 batches of jam later, another trip to the store to buy pectin and sugar, and around 12:30 a.m. I finished destroying my (just barely paid to be cleaned) kitchen with a sticky berry mess. Evo-man redeemed himself by being the official berry masher and mashing most of the berries I needed. He volunteered to help which about floored me because he never volunteers for anything.

Financially it would have been more practical to freeze all the berries whole and not bother with the whole time-consuming jam thing. It would definitely be cheaper to cut coupons and stock up on Smuckers when it’s on sale. But dang, it feels good to see 34 cute little ½ pint jars of canned jam, 7 containers of freezer jam and 10 bags of frozen berries done and finished. And to know that my biggest helper in the end was the one kid I expected to avoid helping at all costs. That whole one-on-one berry smashing talk session and the pride of accomplishment thing makes up for the extra cost. That and I know even though it’s been awhile, somewhere buried deep down, my mad canning skills that I inherited from my mom are still, kind of, functioning.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

1000 Acts of Service

Well summer is finally here and although they have only been home a couple of days the kids are driving you up the wall and out the window. What to do, what to do?

It’s been one of those wild a crazy few days here in the Dear herd. Then again it’s a rarity when something wild and crazy isn’t going on. I was getting ready to complain about dealing with difficult pre-teen kids (the teenagers are no problem, yet), weather, my weight and what not when I was brought back to reality by reading Sadie’s Blog.

My long time blog viewers will remember when I had my B.A.B gift certificate give-away and Sassy wanted to win them to give them to her dear friend whose little 5 year old girl was just diagnosed with an inoperable Brain Tumor and the prognosis wasn’t great. Thankfully Sassy won the contest but I’ve been keeping tabs on Sadie ever since at her blog.

I couldn’t help but be touched at today’s story where their family received 1000 paper cranes as a good luck and health token. What does Sadie’s mom go and do, feel sorry for herself, complain about what it’s like to deal with a child with cancer? No – She does the exact opposite and decides that Sadie and their family will give back 1000 acts of service. It’s humbling to meet wonderful people who when going through the worst life can throw at them turn around and show true Christ like Charity to others.

So we are going to do the same. This summer the Fawndear herd is going to dedicate 1000 acts of service in honor of Sadie and her family. Sure we’ll do all the fun things families do over the summer but our overall theme will be service. Thanks Sadie for letting us get to know a real angel. Anyone else who wants to contribute service in Sadie’s behalf go ahead and go to her blog and say Hi.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dream On - Hypocrite No More.

Here we are again, back at the clutter accountability. So this week my huge clutter challenge room was the Hypocrite’s room or the Master Nightmare Bedroom. Why hypocrite? Because, as a mom I’m constantly NAGGING my kids to clean their rooms, pick up their toys, remind them where the laundry hamper and trash can’s are located in their rooms, and yet who has the messiest bedroom in the house? ME!!!!! How can I expect them to do something I have a hard time doing myself?

Every day, all the left-over, still to be finished projects of clean but unfolded laundry and paperwork make it up to my room so that I can tackle it before bed. I never quite make it through and little by little the clutter creeps back and soon you can’t tell if there is even a bed in the room. We usually toss everything into the baby cradle overnight and pile it back on the bed in the morning. Soon the piles start multiplying and then take up every corner and before you know it – the door has a hard time opening.

Someday I’ll figure out how to fold clothes straight from the dryer and put them immediately away. This week I made great progress, but there is still loads of room for improvement.

Well, Mommy Hypocrite can’t call herself a hypocrite anymore. At least for the time being. Wahoo!!!

Somewhere I heard that your bedroom is supposed to be your sanctuary, your oasis, your doorway to peace and quiet (only if you have a deadbolt two year olds can’t penetrate), the meditation get-away, a place that reflects your inner soul. – Mine was anything but that. Unless it represented everything wrong in my life and that’s not a happy thought.

So here goes the Horror Before Pictures followed by the Simplistic After.

The piles on the bed obscure the view of the door stopping piles on the floor. Notice in the after picture the cradle filled with clothes is missing. It was hard to do, but the cradle had to go into storage for a while because it was too much of a clutter magnet to remain in the bedroom.

View #2 I won't go into detail but I think the clutter monster was digging in for this beauty of a picture.

Are you sure this is the same room? Why yes, it is. I know it's a bit sparse looking. I'll work on that a bit after the whole house gets simplified. Ya know someday we may even pony up the big buck and buy a bedroom set. Maybe after all the artists other than myself grow up and move out.

You can't tell from here but the books on my bedside table are 'The Explosive Child' (Kind of fitting don't you think) and Simplify - a guide to caring for the soul and living the life that reflects your priorities.

Third and final view - I know your relieved not to have to view this nightmarish scenario any more.

Prince Erik even agreed to move his computer monitor from off the top of the dresser. What a nice guy.

So as I was finishing off the room Princess came in and said, 'Wow'! I of course, thought she would then say something to the effect of the room looking great, but no. She then proceeded to say, 'You really need to decorate this place.' - - Someday!

I can tell you without a doubt that this Fawndear will sleep a lot better tonight knowing that she is no longer a cleaning hypocrite! My very own little B.A.B. friend who normaly sleeps with whichever girl needs mom's love the most at night might just decide to stay in my room with me.

Update: The girls room from last week is still clean and clutter free. We spend about 5 minutes right before bed putting stuff away and picking up and it's a good as last week. Yahoo!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Fawndear First!

Yep, I did it again. Another first for me and it involved food. No it wasn’t Pigs feet which my sister Trenadoll tried for the first time. (Shudder, squirm) It was much more fun.
Food fight anyone?

My first one ever or at least my first in over a third of a century. The episode I had with the Crisco when I was three or four doesn’t count. (Thank your lucky stars my scanner doesn’t work right now or I’d show you that beaut of a picture.) I won’t wait so long before I have my next one either – Food fight that is, not Crisco bath. Of course it was an orchestrated food fight by me, myself and I with full planning and participation from Prince Erik. The kids were in the dark. All the more fun.

They thought we were just having a little old family picnic. What better way to celebrate the last day of school? Well I’m sure there are better ways out there but this was too fun.

No! we were not insane enough to have our fight in the house. I would have been scrubbing ceiling and walls for a month. What year end sanity I had left let me know an outside picnic would be the perfect place for a huck-your-food fest.

Itchy knew what was up and howled to be let in on the fun.
Hope really doesn't need to be outside or involved in a food fight to make a mess. Someday she will be the Queen of Food fights.

Included in the menu was, Mac-n-cheese, instant mashed potatoes, and pudding with cool whip. ‘But, Fawndear,’ I can’t help but hear you thinking, ‘Weren’t you just telling us about how important it was to eat healthy and not serve crap to our kids?’ Why yes, I have been preaching healthy food for the last while. But I still had those horrid things setting in my cupboard tempting the bajeebers out of me. What better way to get rid of them than to toss them in a food fight.
Let the forest friends have at the leftovers. No I’m not trying to kill the local wildlife on bad food either. I do remember one of our cows dying while snarfing down Mac-n-Cheese once – Seriously – It choked to death. Shook all us kid’s right up. Daddy ELK, back me up on this story o.k.? So don’t call the humane society or anything because we are not trying to massacre the local creatures. Can I tell you that Itchy has a thing or Oreo Pudding, topped with coolwhip.

Anyway back to the food fight. We dished out the kids their yummies and then all sat around a blanket. They consumed maybe two minutes worth of that unhealthy food and Wham the food fight was on.

T-Rev groaned when he realized what was going on but he got right in on the fun. Unfortunately Abner was at work so we’ll have to do this again soon sometime so he won’t miss out. Everyone had a great time. Princess especially loved squoshing (not a real word but it sounds nice.
Something between squashing and squishing) her mini pie on P.E.’s head.
The only part she didn’t like was when people nailed her. So we still need to work on the can’t-give-what-you-can’t-take lesson.

Soooo Had a Blast and so did the kids.

You should try it sometime. I would recommend pudding with lots of cool-whip, runny mashed potatoes, baked beans, cake with frosting, and a very, very, very good stain remover. A really warm day wouldn’t hurt either. Then you can line the kids up to the hose and spray them off afterwards.

What to see some more fun things you can do with your family mealtimes then you’ll have to go to my Love is new additions group post and check out T-rev’s close-up.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to the Table

I've just posted a good list of mealtime ideas that will help get your family one the right track to health and wellness over at our new group Blog. These steps were instrumental in helping our entire family lose 180 pounds over the last year and a half. So take a peek if you’re interested in some good mealtime habits that you and your family might want to use.

Spa Day

The sun is finally out and shining after 90 years of straight rain, or so it felt that long. What better way to relax than to take a trip to a luxurious spa located within walking distance from our home?

Just imagine indulging in a rejuvenating skin treatment rivaled by none. You can soak to your hearts content in the soothing but effervescent mud-bath scented with local northwest foliage, perfect for exfoliating all the right spots. It will be followed by a therapeutic and pampering massage that can only be delivered by the world-renowned and highly sought after masseuse named Hope.

Mad Cow got a nice muzzle exfoliation treatment.

Baby-Boo the Monkey went for the whole spa sha-bang! Manicure, Pedicure, and facial.

Princess Jasmine stuck with the detoxifying facial and shampoo.

Hope even managed to give herself a pedicure soak before she used these puppies to administer and deep-tissue massage to her friends.

I myself have never been to a spa. I did have my first pedicure last year and I want to go back soon. But the thought of getting a massage tenses me up. I could probably get something similar in the neighbor's mud puddle. Maybe I'll have Hope treat me to my first massage? What do you think? A Masseuse in the making. At this rate she is going to be a Tatooed Masseuse running away with the first high-flying circus that comes to town. Whew, I'd better keep an eye out!

The toys are now off to their next spa treatment. A nice agitated whirl in our very own hydrotherapeutic washing machine with lots of detoxifying chemicals thrown in to boot.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Last Place - Not This Time!

Anything is better than my abysmal last place finish last week in my first ever 10K.

This week happened to be anything but abysmal. With the support and mad speed-walking, jogging, and sprinting skills of these fine super hero Wonder-Women, I competed in my second ever 10K.

By the way, I’m the pumpkin in the group. Number 5 entered under the name of Rocky Balboa. When she was picking up her race packet the super young thing at the table didn't even blink an eye. We don't think she even knew who Rocky is. Humm, the kiddos these days.

Well, wonder of wonders never cease and I shaved a whole 5 minutes off last week’s time. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could make that kind of time improvement every week? I know the majority of the reason was because it was a flat race and didn’t have the steeper than a cliff elevation climb right out of the gate like my last race.

The hot ladies who joined me were awesome and even though they competed in the 5K they kindly stuck around to cheer me on at the finish line. I also didn’t finish in last place – Wahoo! There must have been a whole one or two, o.k. maybe 5 people that finished after me, but still I did better and that feels great.

That and this week I lost 3 lbs. Maybe it was because I threw all the processed carbs and refined sugar out of the house for a couple of weeks to get over my cravings. Whatever it was it worked. However I’ve been a cranky-pants old wicked witch for the past couple of days as well. Darn sugar withdrawal. I know my family can't wait until my mood returns to normal.

The town where the race was located was celebrating their Fun Days as they called them with a parade and plenty of cute little craft, and food booths. So the awesome ladies and I celebrated our run by doing some sidewalk retail therapy after the race.

Bought myself a cute embroidered plum colored dress. I love rewarding myself with non-food items when I complete goals.

Evo-man ran the 5K and finished in 36 min which isn’t bad for 2 months off of not too much organized exercise. He now has the running bug and wants to join me on some of my morning jogs. Prince Erik also shaved a whopping 4 minutes of his last 10K time.

So there you have it. Did much better this week. I don’t have another race for three weeks and I’m hoping to work on a longer stride, because right now I’m stuck in the super slow mo shuffle.

At this rate I'll be running a 20 minute 10K, be in 1st place and be 33 lbs lighter by the end of the summer. Not possible, I know, but it was a great week with some big improvements over my previous week. Big improvements always make me happy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dream On - Princess Room


What you are about to view is the opposite of the Princess realm. And there resides this little marker wielding beastie and her two sisters. Don’t know what it is that she enjoys so much about inking up her body. Should I be worried about Hope being a future tattoo covered rebel?

What this picture doesn't show you is the appropriate slogan on her shirt which reads, 'If you hear me say Uh-Oh! It's already too late!

Nonetheless, her latest journey through the marker drawer convinced me to downsize our art supplies. Good-bye markers. I don’t think the kids will suffer too much this summer without markers. Sure we still have crayons, colored pencils and pens but those have now been sent off to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind Top Shelf. That, and since there is now a plausible hope that it might stop raining I can always send the kiddos outside to graffiti up the neighborhood streets and sidewalk with colored chalk.

So I focused my de-clutter war on the girls room. And it was a hard fought war. See, when three little princesses share the same room, well let’s just say they turn into little divas. Each has her own little hoard of toys that are not to be touched upon pain of slow torture and lots of high screaming. And since I didn’t want them to torture me, or blow out my eardrums, I decided to leave them out of the battle.

At the beginning of the year we got Hope a trundle bed that fit under her sister’s Bunk Bed and we were able to say good-bye to her crib. But pulling out a bed every night and putting it away in the morning, well that routine lasted about two weeks and then we got too lazy and it basically sat in the middle of the room and took up all floor play space.

We also installed a good closet system in January that allowed us to keep all the girls clothes in the closet, thus freeing up the dresser for toys.

But it wasn’t working as you can see from the pictures. So this Mommy Cleaning Machine loaded up…


Sent into Oblivian...

* Two bags of trash.

* A Dresser and a large bag of items for the thrift store. I mean come on, there were some items like the bedtime slippers that have been worn once in maybe three years. Sure they are cute but nothing but cute clutter.

* A huge laundry basket of dirty clothes. (o.k. that didn't go into oblivian - just the laundry room to be added to the mile high mountain there.

* And a large box of items that just don’t belong in the girls room.

I did have to purchase some under the bed storage boxes in which to put all the B.A.B. clothes from out of the dresser. But all in all, I think I’m happy with the simpler, less work, princess room.

As I de-cluttered I realized just how many unfinished projects there are. But before I start them I really want to simplify my home. Once I hit every room and the dreaded, can’t walk through it to save your life, garage; and then I’ll go back through every room and decorate. And in the case of the princess’s room… maybe I’ll try and finish the closet mural I started 9 years ago (wow, that long ago, really?)

Maybe, I'll even hang some blinds that work. And wouldn’t it be nice if they had some cute wall art with matching bedspreads? Someday….

But I won’t let that distract me from the task of overcoming my clutter creep.

Next week…..The Hypocrites Room. My bedroom. Oh, the Horror! How can I tell the children to keep their rooms clean when mine is the messiest in the home? So that’s where I’ll focus my next small battle with the clutter beast.

And yes the three Princesses were tickled pink with their clean room and didn’t even notice all the junk I threw out on their behalf. Whew!