Spring

A blog you say? I have one, do I?

The Tile:

So spring has sprung and what that means is that I’m less apt to sit here on the weekends and more likely to be found gardening or cleaning. (It’s a “yay” response to that statement. I know that seems unlikely, but it’s true.) A few weeks ago I hand scrubbed 40 square feet of white subway tile from a stepladder on my counter.

I’d always hated that tile. It runs from our stove all the way to the 12’/ 16’/ “I should really measure this one day” ceiling. And it sounds like I shouldn’t have hated it. It, in fact, sounds right up my alley. But oh how it wasn’t. The people who flipped our house (aka Those Jackasses) did a pisspoor job on everything. Painting. Floors. Exterior Painting. Installing Cabinets. Wired in fire alarms that were wired wrong so THEY were a fire hazard. Jesus don’t get me started on the incorrectly installed french door that’s molding or the bathrooms that are going to have to be a complete tear out. So the Jackasses installed this huge counter to ceiling swatch of subway tile in the kitchen, and thanks to the open concept of our house there it was, staring me in the face every time I sat on the couch, ate dinner, cooked dinner, or peed with the bathroom door open when no one else was home.

And what was the problem with the tile? Well, as I mentioned it’s really hard to reach. Which explains why they never properly scrubbed the grout off. There was a mattifying haze of it left all over the top 4 feet. And just a badly cleaned job on the areas that were reachable. My husband and I had installed tile at our last house. We knew how to do it correctly. This was not.

And I CLEANED it before, don’t get me wrong. The thing got half assed wiped down a few times in the 2 years we’ve been here, we’re not monsters. But one recent random Saturday I just grabbed a bucket and a scrub pad and I LAID into those tiles. It honestly took hard scrubbing EVERY damn tile, all the way to the ceiling. And almost working by feel- you can feel the tile turn from gritty to smooth. I grabbed a butter knife for some excessively gritty corners. And I have NO idea how long it took to do. An hour? Two? Shorter than the two years I’d been hating it though.

And what do you know, I like that tile now. It no longer is a testament/monument to “you live in someone else’s house/ they did this” and made it ours. I felt that same feeling at the last house too- it took touching and changing literally every surface before it felt “us.” This is the same, just a dauntingly bigger place, and the beginning started out hugely pregnant and then dealing with an infant so we had no choice but to let it lie for a while. But now? We’re on a roll.

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SOOO carefully cropped to not show dirty counters…

And that has been what these past weeks have felt like. We’ve reorganized our bedroom. I cleaned out and organized my closet. We’ve gardened and gardened and gardened. We’ve put up a fence.

And now, there the tile sits, way up there. Gleaming. And I smile at it, because it is mine.

The Garden:

And… that felt like the end of the blog post actually. Bt the gardening… I just want to say we’ve gotten the side garden/ Japanese maple garden rocking these days. The husband and I got each other Japanese maples for our 14 year anniversary this week- brings the total to 8. We’re close to running out of space in the perfect high dappled shade of the pecan trees over there- but if conditions allowed the entire yard would be Japanese maples.

side garden

We hang out here a lot talking about how nice it is. Might be why the neighbors sold there house and moved. It’s better looking in real life.  *bare patch in the front left is a Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow shrub that we cut to the ground when we transplanted it in the fall. It’s coming back. (Yes, that actually is it’s name)

A few weeks ago we dug up the entirety of this awkward triangle section of yard between the carport slab and house and made a garden of it- antique rose, white mistflower shrub, dinner plate dahlias, pineapple sage, coreopsis transplanted from the wildflower area, rosemary, a different colored may night salvia (not the standard pink or two shades of purple. This one’s fuchsia with flower stalks twice their normal size)…

may night salvia

Put up or shut up about the May Night Salvia, I know, I know.

native monarda, spirea, a Mexican Olive Tree, Mexican Mint Marigolds (aka Texas Tarragon aka not related to any plant in it’s common names…), and bronze fennel (my FAVORITE ornamental herb). The husband has a gift for rocks, so there is a cool stone border and a nice walkway through it. It’s a very “us” garden… what predominates is it better not have any of the standard garden center bedding plants we see around here. We like the unusual or old fashioned, or at least unusual for TEXAS (sure other regions do NOT consider pineapple sage or may night salvia unusual… I get it. They make the cut ’round these here parts though).

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Did I oversell it? Because I feel like I oversold it…

But having worked in a garden center for a while, I HATE all the plants that are on the market for no reason other than that they’ll flower in six packs. Plants should do well in the GARDEN not on the shelf… I am very anti-standard plant offerings- if there was some kind of a walkout or march, or plant hat to crochet I totally would- this is an issue that speaks to me, dig? What I’m saying is if you EVER find a petunia or salvia greggii in my garden it’s because I’m DEAD and the next wife has no idea what she’s doing, the whore.

In the backyard this weekend the husband planted a new pomegranate tree, the needle palm we’ve had in a pot for years, and a vitex tree. They were big pots. They were HUGE holes. The toddler fell in one and almost couldn’t get out, if that conveys the concept… And I dug up a three foot by twelve foot section of the yard to put in tomatoes. I don’t think writing that out quite conveys the hours and hours we spent yesterday fighting the hard ground to accomplish those tasks… it was way more difficult than it sounds, promise.

tomato

Is that a 6′ T post driven into the middle of that 4′ tomato cage? You bet your ass it is. Sweet 100 cherry tomato is a BEAST. The T post still won’t be enough… grow my pretty, GROW!

Weirdly the section I dug up for tomatoes was super sandy (still rock hard? Not sure how that works, but it was). I feel like maybe it was the floor for some old pigeon coop that had been torn down or a sand floored shed. There are a couple of cut off to ground level cedar posts close by to give credence to that theory. And I unearthed a 70s astroturf doormat while digging. WEIRD to think there we were, mowing over a welcome mat buried 2 inches down this whole time. But again, it’s the same feeling: we’re slowly making it ours through blood, sweat, tears and the occasional demolished lower back. And FINALLY we can see the shape of the garden coming together… we’re well on our way.

front porch

Picture of front porch pots for no reason related to narrative whatsoever. Mint, Italian Parsley, and a tuberous begonia

Linked up with Samantha @ Fake Fabulous HERE!

It’s really the easiest of choices, Sweetheart

Our oldest has been moody lately. Distracted. Preoccupied. I chalked it up to upcoming tween years, but was keeping an extra eye on her as well. She’s a sensitive one, this child. Quite introspective- and so I thought, perhaps, something had been bothering her.

Last night, as I helped her pick out an outfit for her awards ceremony today at school and spent some one-on-one time with her it finally came out. There had been something bothering her.

In one of her books a father had to make a choice, save his son playing on train-tracks, or crash the train barreling towards the son but killing the hundreds of passengers onboard. He chose to save the train. (And WHAT THE F*CK, young adult authors?! A Bridge to Taribithia, Ol’ Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, the goddamn Lion King (a movie, but still), this shit… they’d be safer reading Douglas Adams and Tom Clancy!)

And so I found that the root of her issue lately has been the thought of that father’s choice keeping her up. She hasn’t been sleeping well. She’s wondering about the worth of a life/ her life, could a parent choose someone else over their own child, and what’s right when both choices are bad… life’s hard sometimes, my child, but this one is easy. I told her the god’s honest truth- that the world could burn for all I care, I would always choose to save her and her sisters.

She slept well last night.

Cooking with Toddlers

Last night I documented (for posterity and anyone considering having a third child) what cooking with a toddler is like.

This first picture is 10 minutes into cooking. I was able to focus and so was able to pound chicken breasts (tenderize and flatten) and get them in the griddle pan and snap the green beans. What’s my secret? Ye old blind eye.

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1,000 piece puzzle in an even film over entire house.

2 seconds later…

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999 piece puzzle

2 seconds later…

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I promise dinner will taste better than puzzle if you just give me a few more minutes, sweet child.

Negative time later… think we moved backwards 5 minutes. Time concepts get hazy in the kitchen wormhole.

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NOT THE SANDWICH BAGS, STAAP!

Time sense totally gone by now. Me revert back to primitive, pre-civilization time concepts. Somewhere between setting of bright sky ball and earth mother sleep in blanket of darkness later…

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Insert soundtrack of desperately sad and hungry toddler crying here.

If it was only 10 minutes later how did I age 3 years?

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YOU’RE F-ING WELCOME

Did I mention she woke up at 4:30am today? She woke up at 4:30am today.

Good thing she’s cute.

Lua’i

It was a normal day.

Heading to our niece’s birthday party, we were ALMOST there when the toddler started throwing up. Our eight year old was sitting next to her and gagged and puffed out her cheeks and turned towards her older sister. Monty Python came instantly to mind.

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Accurate Squash Recreation

Screeching halt. Older children pile out of the car. Clean up is spotty and Mcguyvered from a Target bag, napkins of various origin, and an old water bottle from under the drivers seat. How long it’d been there I have no idea, but maybe the leached out phthalates would have a disinfecting property. I have my doubts, but beggars and choosers and all.

Once we’re at the party the toddler gets a bath because of Puke Hair and we chalk it up to a long car ride after a lunch of raspberries and cheese cubes.

It wasn’t the car ride.

After having to borrow not one but two teeshirts for myself from my sister in law, no extra clothes remaining for the toddler, and the other brother and sister in law vowing to take the older girls home later- my husband and I set off for home, over an hour away. Me in the back seat (puked on again at this point, but I’m not asking for shoes this time for Christ’s sake) holding a towel around the baby, and we’re trying to navigate by memory through the neighborhood.

And that’s when this happens.

“Did we take a left on Kaanapali Ln. or was it Kipahulu Dr.?”

“No, no, left on Manawianui Dr., right on Moku Manu Dr., and then another right on Heleakalaka Dr.”

“Man, I don’t recognize Keanahululu Ln., I think we went to far.”

“Does Lamaloa Ln. run into Nuuanu Dr., you think?”

“Crap! There’s Keanahululu Ln. again!”

That’s right, on top of everything else we were now lost in Tahitian Village in Bastrop, where all the streets have Hawaiian names! LONG and difficult and inexplicable Hawaiian names- none of which is “Aloha.” (Someone tell the developer Tahiti isn’t Hawaii)

THIS SHIT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN MY LIFE.

(We made it out of the neighborhood and the toddler was fine the next day, but it was a confusing and puke filled commute. Commpuke? Maybe. And if you think for a MINUTE that I didn’t google map the neighborhood so I could use accurate street names you don’t know me very well.)

A Vow of Cake

We had our middle daughter’s 8th birthday party yesterday at noon. And so when 10:17am rolled around and my husband and I were in bed and instead of getting up he pulled the covers over his head I was so, so proud of him. And I then enthusiastically joined him under the covers. It’s like a fort of delayed obligations… I recommend it. (Yes we still have a baby around. We got up at 6:30am with her and then crawled back in bed at 9:30am when she went down for a nap.)

Now, the house had been cleaned, food bought, and the cake baked the night before- we’re not total monsters over here. But what were the first 2 things I did upon finally getting up and getting ready at 10:30am? Winged eyeliner (HEY I’VE NEVER TRIED THIS BEFORE SURE SEEMS LIKE A GOOD TIME FOR IT) and painting my toenails. THIS is what happens when I don’t make a list, for god’s sake.

We got everything done by 11:54am though, so it all worked out.

And I think we can all agree that cake is the worst. Not mine, I make decent cake- I just mean in general.  Icing is gross. And even the best cake is just nuthin’ special. I don’t tie up a lot of pride in my baking- but I made a promise, many many years ago that I would make every one of my children’s birthday cakes. And they get to pick whatever kind of cake they want. Shark cake? plastic sharks on top. Giraffe cake? Plastic giraffes on top. Dolphin cake? You see where I’m going with this, I think. And I have made each and every one and did it with the hand mixer I bought at a Big Lots at 18 before I left for college and that has somehow made it through about a MILLION moves and that I actually don’t think I used, ever, until I started making my kid’s birthday cakes.

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Image by C. Glass… half full? Half empty? if I was that photographer I’d go by my full first name, honestly.

It’s a weird promise to have made, and I made it only to myself- but it absolutely stands in as a symbol of the mom I want to be. It stands in as a succinct version of all of this- rolled up in my head.

  • I promise to be the mom that can make you dinner.
  • and make you laugh and to also make sure your sense of humor is top tier.
  •  to mend your clothes and sew on buttons and who can make curtains if I have to and gives you a clean house to live in.
  • I promise to call you outside to see possums and hawks and birds and snakes. And point out the biggest earthworm I’ve ever seen in my life holy hell that thing is HUGE!
  • I promise to impart upon you a concept of self that is more than to be decorative.
  • But also to let you see that being a feminist badass doesn’t mean having to deny one iota of the nurturing that goes into home cooked dinners or mending or you know. Cake baking.
  • I promise to give you a chore each and every time you say “I’m bored” and that you’ll get to a point where you’ll open your eyes wide in horror after you say it and say “NEVERMIND, NEVERMIND!” and run off to your room to do something creative.
  • I promise to make you play on at least one team in your life.
  • But I also promise to not overbook you because free time is important to kids, and also your father and I like sleeping in on Saturdays.
  • I promise you’ll love reading.
  • And hell no you can’t get a phone!
  • And I promise to sing you a song at night as often as I can and you know what? You’re 10 and 8. I really should just do it EVERY night still, because how much longer will you even let me? But the baby still gets the Silent Night treatment every night.
  • I promise to have National Geographic in the bathroom and that it’s totally cool if you drop them in the bath, I’m just glad you’re reading them. (hasn’t happened yet, but they’re in there for y’all. Ready for whenever you pick one up.)
  • And while I’ll bake your birthday cake, I promise to never get tied up in the Pinterest-y competition between moms and do all the stupid other crap that isn’t for the kid who’s birthday it is, but to show off for the other moms. I’m looking at you, mom who prints labels saying “Caitlin’s Birthday!” for the goddamn water bottles.
  • Also? No goodie bags, ever. Though we did give out whoopee cushions that one memorable time. That was awesome.

And so, I will continue to make birthday cake, every year, three times a year and neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night will stay this faithful courier from the swift completion of her appointed rounds.

And the only other promise I’ve made myself that I have never ever once wavered on? No more tequila. Super committed to both. Make kids’ birthday cakes and no more tequila.

Words to live by.

Of Possums and Raspberries

I called the girls out the other night to see a possum that ran across the street and hid under my husbands 4Runner while I was taking the recycling out. They loved it. Crouched down, shining a flashlight under the car while they talked about all they had learned about possums from the Wild Kratts episode. (good PBS show about animals. 10/10)

Here is what they decided about the possum:

  1. Her name is Nosey.
  2. She is the cutest possum they’ve ever seeeeeeen! (Beauty. Eye. Beholder.)
  3. They gave her raspberries for Valentine’s Day gifts.
  4. They are planning on naming the next possum “Feet.” (…? Man, don’t ask me.)

 

Boy I tell you what… I love these lovely children.

 

The Concept of Free Time/ Ode to a Young Family

My husband and I had some neighbors over the other day, both retired, and at one point they asked me- “You’re so busy! When do you get free time?”

Now, we were cooking and doing some minor kitchen cleaning afterwards, juggling a mildly fussy baby (we would find out less than eight hours and a fairly sleepless night later that she had an ear infection) and 2 well behaved but energetic older girls… music on, dog wandering around, etc. The question took me aback a bit- I didn’t even know how to answer! Is there an answer? Because this life- I don’t see any of that as not free time! It’s busy but not exhausting. Full but not taxing. Requires pretty constant effort, but not draining. And yet it was so foreign to them they were close to being shocked by the noise and pace of it. (and we’re not a pot banging, child screeching crew, mind you.)

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I don’t know. I guess it’s because I work in an empty house all day by myself and travel and have all the free time I could want in the hotel rooms in the evenings… and I hate it. All I want is to get back to the bustle here. Free time isn’t exactly fun time- give me my four favorite people in the world all in one spot, existing together- I’d never want for more.

Sure. I don’t paint much these days, but I could if I wanted to without causing hard feelings. Or write. I conveniently use the general humm and cadence of the household to complain I can’t exercise… but I could if I wanted to. (Do. Not.)

And I guess, there are definitely days where I’m not keeping up. (Is running behind considered exercise?) The laundry never seems like I get in front of it. And the floor, well I think I wrote a blog post about it the last time the floor was mopped (before Christmas 2016, if memory serves).

And while I certainly don’t need their sympathy for the busy young (ha!) couple down the street… the husband and I will take our kind neighbors up on it; because they’re offering to let us step out for a date night soon. And if memory serves the last one of those we had was around my birthday in August. Unless you count the other ones, that is. The date nights that were every  other night after that. And mornings. And afternoons… and I wouldn’t trade a one of them for all the open hours in the day.