Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mommy Have You Ever Had a Dream Come True?

This afternoon my youngest daughter and I were in the car on our way to pick middle daughter up from school. I wasn’t fully present. Instead I was incessantly creating mental lists. I need to take the bread out of the oven. Move the chickens to the garage. Take a shower. Clean out the car. Get gas before our trip tomorrow. Go to work. Bring food to work. Change the dog collar batteries. Buy more dog food. Write a pet care list. Pack. Eat.

Halfway to the school my silent inner chaos was interrupted.

“Mommy?” my daughter asked, “Have you ever had a dream come true?”

Her question shook me and snapped me back into the here and now. I hesitated not sure how to respond.

“Yes.” I finally replied giving her my short answer, “You are my dream come true.”

Satisfied with my response she grinned and began singing softly to herself.


The truth is I am living my dreams. I have three beautiful children, a happy marriage and a successful career as a veterinarian. I’ve been dreaming about all these things since early childhood (I decided to become a veterinarian when I was seven). Only here's the problem: my dream world and reality collided like particles in an atom splitter; the ensuing result an often stressful life full of concern, worry and second-guessing.

You see my dream career was to be challenging, fun and exciting. Any medical or people issues would be easily resolved James Herriot style with a quick quip or bucolic amusement. Days like this didn’t exist.

Raising children was to be equally as simple with no work versus home anguish, no arguing, biting, shouting or hitting, no concerns about childcare. The children of my dreams did not need their bottoms wiped. They did not vomit on me in the middle of the night. They did not cry when I left for work. They did not act like this or this. And it certainly did not involve days like this.

My ideal marriage left no thought as to who would do the laundry or dishes. Food would magically appear on the table. No one had to drag a crabby pre-schooler down aisle after aisle at the grocery store. It was all about hugs and kisses and snuggling and daily deliveries of floral bouquets. Chores, money concerns and child-rearing issues simply did not exist.

Now I am living my dream life in the real world. Today I did not lie. My children are the epitome of a dream come true. But I gave my daughter a truncated response. The full answer would be something like this:

“Yes, baby, all my dreams have come true. They're just not what I thought they’d be. But, if I had it to do all over again, I would not change a single thing.”

Someday her dreams and reality will also collide. I hope she feels the same.

Today is Thursday, aka Love Thursday.  Today I love my life broken dreams and all.  What do you love?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where oh where has my underwear gone?

My underwear have been disappearing at an alarming rate. I have absolutely no idea where they've gone. Perhaps Dobby-like creatures are using it to procure their freedom. Certainly indentured elves no longer maintain this household. That's why my kitchen is so dirty... my briefs have set the elves free!

It is also highly possible these undergarmets are disappearing down the labradork's gullet. If this is the case I foresee an embarrassing surgery in which my panties are put on display. Let's hope they pass and can be scooped with all the other yard nuggets. It wouldn't be the first time underwear was found in the front yard.

At any rate my lack of undies prompted me to start a new sewing project - underwear. I was additionally inspired by this and this. I did not have a pattern and thought I'd simply make one from a pair of old panties. Then I ran into a little (or not so little) problem: when one decides to sew oneself a pair of underwear one is presented with a very literal and visual representation of the actual size of one's buttocks. Let's just say not pretty.

My first two attempts were hopeful representations and ended with garments that, at best, were modified thongs. I do not do thongs. In the undergarment realm I'm with Beyonce and fully believe in granny panties. Really. Thongs are things you wear on your feet in the summer. They have no business on or near the derierre.

My third attempt ended with a baggy adult diaper. Not attractive or comfortable. I may keep that pair. After all I'm no spring chicken and it might come in handy in the future. But today I don't need a diaper.

Basically I need a good well fitting pattern. But, honestly, I don't want to look at the size of my arse on paper. So I broke down and went to Target. They had adorable panties on sale that actually fit my backside.

I haven't given up. I went to the cardiologist yesterday and got the go ahead to exercise. My heart is fine. Irritable but fine. I'm having multiple premature atrial contractions which are annoying but not dangerous. So my plan is to exercise, shrink my backside and try this sewing thing again. But for now I'll stand proud because baby got back.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grace Abounds

This morning my daughter and I were walking home from a friend's house. My daughter was "babysitting" their gorgeous babe while I went to an appointment. We paused in front of our house to watch a young robin struggle with a worm. He has a plan for dinner, I thought, but what about us? A trip to the store with a tired preschooler shot to the top of our agenda.

At that exact moment my neighbor came out of her house with a plate full of pulled pork and loaf of bread.

"This pork simmered overnight," she said "and we have way to much. I thought you might like some."

Grace abounds.

Now instead of worrying about dinner my daughter can nap and I can sew myself a pair of underwear.

No. Seriously.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

The weather has been gorgeous and we spent much of the past week in the yard. My husband and I both had time off work giving us an impromptu stay-cation. We elected to tackle overdue garden projects. Of course we’re building our chicken coop (my part of the “we” is a very loose interpretation; I fed the people who were laboring and paused on occasion to snap a photo or two). “We” are also building a pizza oven. The actual pizza oven was purchased in 2006 and proceeded to spend the past three years in our garage. Our cars subsequently spent the past three years in the driveway. It’s about time we got to work.

Me, I’m altering our sprinklers to fit our raised beds (another long overdue project) and am putting soaker hoses in my flower beds. I also bought vegetable seeds to start indoors. In addition I engaged in a battle with the pine tree in the backyard. It’s a game we play ... he drops needles and I pick them up. This week I’m ahead. Next week remains to be seen.

I’m thrilled to see these projects come to fruition. Plus it keeps my mind off other things such as my heart. So long as I’m working my it doesn’t bother me. When I stop I notice the irregular beats. The holter results are still pending. I guess I just need to stay busy until the results come in. Tomorrow it’s back to work ... staying busy ought to be easy.

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Evening

I stand at the kitchen window cutting strawberries for shortcake. The window is open and a breeze flutters in. Last week it snowed. Today it was eighty degrees.

A train bellows from tracks below. The whistle reverberates off the butte and carries me away. I wonder what goods the train is hauling, where is it going and how many vagabonds are along for the ride.

My husband is in the driveway building on our chicken coop; an in progress Poulet Palace. He's not had to work on his own ... friends and neighbors lent tools and helping hands. Those are some lucky chickens.

I continue to have heart palpitations and wore a holter monitor over the weekend. I'll turn it in tomorrow and then wait for results. I'm nervous about what they will find. Whatever they do find I will deal with ... I have no alternative. In the meantime life is good.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Heart's A Fluttering ...

Easter weekend was wonderful. Sunday was a tad chilly but still perfect for potlucks, a gathering of friends and egg hunts. We made cinnamon rolls from scratch and slow cooked baby back ribs. With a house full of friends and the kitchen in full swing it was necessary to throw open the windows and let the chilly outdoors in. What a perfect way to celebrate the season of renewal.

Thankfully I finished my daughters' Easter dresses (just in the nick of time). I'm still knitting for our neighbor's baby born yesterday. One bonnet and one bootie complete, one bootie to go. I expect to finish tonight ... just in time for the baby to arrive home.

And speaking of renewal ... this week also harbored some minor health concerns. After nearly a year's respite my heart issues have returned. I've had a week of near constant palpitations. Honestly, other than the odd rhythm and pounding of my heart, I feel fine. But the frequency and force of the palpitations is disconcerting. So I'll be visiting my cardiologist on Thursday to make sure things remain a'okay. Strangely enough I had severe palpitations around the same time last year. I can't help but wonder if there is a seasonal component. Or perhaps it's hormonal. And no, I'm not feeling particularly stressed or anxious. This body is a mysterious contraption. Who knows what it's thinking.

Last year my palpitations ceased when I began triathlon training. Assuming I have my doctor's blessing I will attempt the same cure this year. I'm going to drag my twelve -year-old son along for the ride. After all it's always more fun to train with a partner!

Today it snowed (so much for Spring!). But, just like last year, I will be the crocuses standing strong against the elements. Meditation, yoga, exercise, healthy eating and positive thought ... what else can I do?


Today is my husband's birthday... the big four two. Happy Birthday Daddy! Maybe you're the reason my heart's fluttering away. ;o)


Friday, April 10, 2009

Frugal Friday - From Old Sheets to Easter Goodness

This past week I went Easter shopping. I was trying to be practical and buy only things we needed and would use. That meant clothes. Between the Target clearance rack and the Goodwill I found several new outfits for each of my kids.

But while at Target I got suckered. I stopped and looked at the Easter dresses. Gaaaah! Why did I do that? It's akin to eating one potato chip ... it simply can't be done. Needless to say I came home with two dresses; one for each of my girls. At $15.00 a piece they weren't too expensive but truth-be-told I wasn't that comfortable with the purchase. Why? Because I had sheets at home. Sheets that could become dresses. With a little time I could save our family $30.00. And you know what they say a penny saved and all ...

I hid the dresses in an undisclosed location and kept the receipt. Then I made a deal with myself. If I could sew a couple of dresses before Sunday then I'd return the others. With this tutorial as a guide I've already completed one dress; one down and one to go. Easy peasy.

Now please keep in mind I am not a seamstress. I have an inexpensive sewing machine and one semester of home economics taken in the 7th grade. My point? If I can do it sew can you! (Pun fully intended.)


Yesterday son was kind enough to remind me that some of the best entertainment is free. He spent the day wallowing in the rain and catching frogs in the neighbor's pond. Hours of diversion at no cost whatsoever. It beats video games hands down.

Of course, as I soon learned, frogs are best kept in crystal pitchers that were given to your parents for their wedding. My son must know something I don't ... perhaps this guy is really a prince in disguise.


Seeing as I have another dress to sew, an Easter potluck to plan and a baby bonnet to knit (for yet another pregnant neighbor) I'd best get to work.

Happy Frugal Friday!!

For more frugal Friday tips go here.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Things I Love Today

  • Easter Chicks (our chickens are here, our chickens are here!!!).
  • Dresses fashioned from former sheets (go here for a tutorial).
  • Plants bursting from the earth.
  • Walks to the library.
  • Time to admire the daffodils and other gorgeous spring bulbs.
  • Borrowed dvds.
  • The smell of malt from the downtown brewery.
  • The smell of waffle cones from the candy shoppe.
  • Fresh from the oven cinnamon bread for the walk home.
  • Getting caught in the rain.
  • Turning down a lift from the neighbor and continuing our wet journey.
  • Alley chickens.
  • More baby knits on the needles.
  • Future clothing in the form of thrifted sheets.
  • Afternoon naps.

Happy Love Thursday!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Is she poor like us?

Lemons or Lemonade?

The other day I was talking online to a high school friend. My daughter was reading over my shoulder. The friend mentioned starting a new business in this economy. My daughter asked innocently “Is she poor like us?”

Ack. That took me by surprise because we are not poor. Nor are we rich. We are solidly middle class and work very hard for our money. The money we earn, however, is spoken for. Each month we labor to meet our obligations and are squeaking by. We also don’t want to work any harder and thus refuse to add unnecessary stuff to our lives (cell phones, gaming systems, fancy clothing). We are frugal and we talk about money a lot. We strive to decrease our debt, increase our savings and have greater financial security (which is easier said than done).

For now my kids live with the motto “what you see is what you get.” But perhaps they’re too young to really see. We have a lot; a house in a nice neighborhood, two cars, food on the table, money for extracurricular activities and our health to name a few. Instead they see Goodwill clothing (albeit often brand new), boring meals at home and a lack of electronic acoutrements.

Our frugal behavior stands in stark contrast to many people we know. This week we have friends in town. These friends live a much different life than us. They shop at Nordstrom's, we shop at thrift stores. They eat out at least once a week, we don’t. In the time they’ve been here they’ve skied more than us though we’re the ones living near a ski resort. Their kids took ski lessons. I nearly had a heart attack buying two reduced price lift tickets ($29.00 a piece) and elected to teach the five-year-old myself. They drive a Mercedes. I drive a Honda. She’s worried about loss of sleep after the birth of their third child and plans to get a nanny. We don’t have a nanny nor can we justify preschool. I plan to sleep in 2011. We don’t have a house cleaner or a gardener. I don’t get regular pedicures and massages. The list goes on and on.

How much money do our friends make? I don’t know. They live as if they have money. I worry that they don’t. We live as if we don’t have money and I worry that we won’t.

This week the kids have been watching our friends spend. Are they jealous? No. My beautiful children think our friends are irresponsible. Hallelujah! They are learning. But in light of my daughter’s recent comments I wonder if my children are being left with the wrong impression about frugality. We are not frugal because we are poor. We are frugal because we don’t want to be poor. There is a difference.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Frugal Friday

My kitchen sponge is looking pitiful.  The green scrubby side is worn out, the yellow spongy side is changing color.  I occasionally pop it in the microwave to sterilize it but lets face it ... my sponge is not long for this world.  It needs to be replaced but I'm tired of buying disposable products.  So I knit a dishrag instead.  

The total cost?  $3.38 for two skeins of Peaches & Creme yarn. One can expect to get at least two dishrags from this amount of yarn.  It is cotton, washable, durable and inexpensive. The pattern? Ballband Dishcloth.   A very simple knit really. Total time commitment?  I don't know ... a couple of hours?  I knit in between clients, during ballet lessons (the kids lessons not mine ... I'm not that coordinated), in the car waiting to pick up kids.  Knitting keeps me sane in those moments when I have nothing better to do with my hands. If I quit knitting I might have to take up smoking.  Somehow I think knitting is healthier.   At any rate the dishrag is done and is now sitting pretty on my kitchen sink.  The only problem is the hub thinks it's too nice to use. But, as the Mason-Dixon ladies say, ... "Must. Use. The. Handknits."  This is my first frugal tip of day ... knit thyself a dishrag and use it!  It's a perfect project for beginning knitters and yet still fun for those with experience. 

My second tip of the day?  Think outside the box when gift wrapping.  Anyone who visits here regularly knows my life is inundated with babies, babies and more babies.  Well the baby fest continues and two additional gifts went out this week (hand knits of course).  I've started wrapping these gifts in plain brown paper bags.  Why?  Because I found a boatload of them at the Goodwill for $2.00.  I couldn't pass them up though I wasn't sure yet how I'd use them.  I'd also found a huge bag of ribbon and a box of letters ... dum da da dum ... gift wrapping.  

I took this present to a baby shower last week.  It sat there looking tiny in comparison to all the store bought bags and wrapping.  I started to feel cheap and small and sooo lame compared to the others.  Then the mother-to-be got to my present. People started to murmur.  They liked it.  They thought is was creative.  They told me I was Martha Stewart (which I chose to take as a complement). Whew!  I stopped sweating and proceeded to immensely enjoy my cupcake (num num num -- cream cheese frosting; another fringe benefit of knowing mothers-to-be).  I'm not cheap ... I'm frugal and innovative (and good enough and smart enough and gosh darnit people like me!)

And, finally, one last tip. As spring kicks in the garage sale season heats up.  Check out my new tablecloth here and here and here. Well, okay, it's actually an Indian bedspread but it fits my table perfectly.   One dollar.  Yup, one.   Garage and/or estate sales are typically better than thrift stores to make your dollar stretch.  

Well, that's all I have for today ...  Happy Frugal Friday!


P.S. I googled Frugal Friday and found this site with lots of tips and ideas.  I'm adding my name to the list ... go check it out!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Love Thursday

"Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them...."
--Alan Watts

Today I love:
  • Hand knit dishrags in spring colors
  • Deep orange tulips with a hint of yellow and red
  • Paper bags, ribbons and glue on lettering (all thrifted)
  • Books on Zen
  • Educational games on
  • The off button on the television

Happy Love Thursday!