Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My little Bible Scholar

My grandmother passed away this morning. We spent some wonderful quality time with her this weekend, visiting her at the hospice facility. Rest in peace, nana. We love you.

Last night, Henry was being an especially good boy. I asked him what story he wanted to read before heading up to bed, and he duitifully went off and brought back his little book of children's Bible stories. Isn't he so precious?

So, we settle in for his top 2 requests: Jonah and the whale, and David and Goliath. We read both of those. I suggest that we start from the beginning and read a few of the stories each night, before bed. He readily agrees. We begin with the creation story. He liked seeing how God created "earf" and when all the animals starting coming into the pictures. Then we moved on to Adam and Eve, which we've never read together before. This particular children's Bible called the story "The Sneaky Snake." "The Sneakty Snakey?!" Henry was downright doe-eyed. We read through the goings on with Adam and Eve, Henry rapt with fascination. When I finished, he repeated the mantra that parents of toddlers are so very used to:
"Mommy, I like that one. Let's read it again!"
It was very, very cute. He's my precious little angel.

Monday, June 29, 2009

You know you're neglecting your yard when...

It's been a tough weekend, but my grandma is still hanging in there. Thank you for all of your prayers and concern :) Henry and I prayed for her at Mass yesterday morning, him with his usual toddler "whisper" so that the entire sanctuary could hear our intentions. I'm certain everyone thought it was cute. At least I hope so.

Anyway, in the midst of all of this family crisis, an unusual event happened in our backyard. Despite my manic painting, I simply have not had time to attend to beautifying our yard. I also don't have a green thumb. Plants fear me. I love them, therefore I stay away with my angel of death powers. I should, however, weed the low maintenance landscaping that we do have, but since I'm focusing on the painting, plus add in working full-time, caring for Henry, and keeping the house clean, I'm fresh out of time and energy. So, our yard is looking a bit bedraggled. Mike keeps the grass mowed, but it's seen better days.

So, the other day I spot an Eastern Cottontail rabbit in our backyard. Boy, these are cute little buggers. Silky ears, absolutely heavenly looking fur, and faces cute enough to beat the band. They are also incredibly destructive to backyard gardens. I've always coveted them in my yard, because I have nothing for them to eat but weeds. People with flowers loathe them. This year, we planted vegetables, so the mean gloves have come out. We went from "OOOOHHHH! Bunny!! Hi Bunny! Aren't you adorable?" to "Hey *you*! Get out of there! SHOO! SHOO!" pretty quickly.

So, over breakfast I spot an offending bunny rabbit. He wasn't near the vegetables; the marigolds seemed to be doing their job. But he was acting strangely. He had honed in on a patch of dead grass that I've tried to replant and revitalize for two years running now. He was ripping up clumps, and with a flash of white tail, disappearing into our heavily weeded landscaping near the back fence. I was starting to get suspicious, but Mike seemed strangely unconcerned, convinced that the rabbit was just hungry. It was leaving the tomato and pepper plants alone, and that's all he cared about.

Well. The next day Mike went to spray some weed killer on the grass, and came rushing back into the house.


Oh fabulous. Turns out the 'he' was very much a 'she.' I like the cute bunnies, really I do, but I wasn't expecting to have to be quite this accommodating with my property. So, not only do we have to worry about random neighborhood rabbits eating our vegetables, now we have a full fledged family of them out there to fret over.

I rush out there, Mike on my heels with a bag of carrots. Mommy bunny is in the nest that she built with our grass, trembling with fright. Although she normally would have scurried off at top speed with the approach of dreaded humans, she was sort of stuck for the time being. Mike, suddenly converted to a tremendous love of bunnies who are in the family way, lovingly tosses carrots over toward the nest.

"Honey, don't scare her!"

"I just want to make sure she has enough to eat. She needs to keep her strength up."

*snorts* Pretty soon, mommy bunny hops out of the nest and retreats to the back of the yard to bathe and eat more weeds. We creep over to the nest. Inside, are a gaggle of teeny, tiny bunny rabbits. All squirmy furless bodies and kicky limbs. We call reassuring things to the mother, that we wouldn't hurt her babies, though she ignores us pointedly. Mike leaves more carrots for her, and we go inside.

It was all quite fascinating. But, for the love of heaven. My landscaping has so many long weeds that rabbits are nesting in it. This is beyond embarrassing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long week...

This has been a difficult and crazy week. I'll be back next week...pray for my family! Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Off for a few days...

yes, AGAIN, I know :) It's the summer! The best time to use those accrued vacation days. Anyway, I have to attend to a family illness involving my grandma (on my dad's side). A sad thing. My sisters are both coming into town, which is a happy thing. Prayers needed and appreciated.

Typical CatholicLibrarian/sister/mother event yesterday. Lots of family stuff going on. I'm volleying between my reference shift, starting on my annual report (kill me now), dealing with what is coming into my Inbox, and phone calls from my mom and sisters. Typical conversation with my mom, who insists on only talking on her cell phone blue tooth during the day, when she's doing a dozen other things:

"Mom. Mom? MOM. Can you hear me?"

*garbled, shouting background noises. She works in a high school* "WHAT? YEAH, YEAH."

"What's the latest? I'm worried."

"What honey? Oh, yeah, hold on a minute. Sherry, could you put that over there? Yeah, uh hum..."

"Who's Sherry? Can you hear me, mom?"



So, after talking to both her and my dad, the sister conversations begin. I'm on with Shauna'h, who is in route to the airport. My other line beeps in. It's Rhonda. I let her go to voicemail, figuring I'll call her next. Shauna'h and I continue to talk a mile a minute. Shauna'h then announces: "Oh, Rhonda is beeping in." "Yeah, she just called me too." We gab for another 10 minutes or so, and I head off to call Rhonda back.

"It's me."

"Oh, good. All of a sudden, nobody was answering my calls. I just tried daddy too. He didn't answer either."

"Ok. I'll try him. Shauna'h wants you to call her back."

"Ok. I'll call her, you call daddy. Have you talked to mom? I can never hear her when I call her."

As you can see, it was difficult to get any work done yesterday afternoon. But, that's just the way it goes sometimes...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Dynamics

This weekend, between admiring my newly brown bathroom, I was thinking about family relationships and dynamics. I only have 1 child right now, and as you know, he's a boy. I have 2 sisters. No brothers. Having a boy is a lot different than having multiple girls, at least based on my experience to date. Being married has also taught me this. Let's take for instance, male and female reactions to an upsetting event:

Male reaction: "This sucks. Moving on..."
Female reaction: "*&%!@$ *Months* of analysis with sisters and girlfriends about the cause of aforementioned upsetting event, and placement of blame. Possibly tears on multiple occasions. Creation of a new music playlist based on the event, and at least 1 glass of an alcoholic beverage consumed with a highly caloric item of food.

I'm generalizing obviously, but the point is, most of the time, females are more emotional and take things harder than men do. It's just in our nurturing nature :)

So, growing up in a family of 3 sisters, I'm very familiar with this phenomenon. I'm the middle, in case you're wondering, and no I don't have a complex. I like being a middle child; we're happy to please and pleased to be happy. My sisters and I are also spaced apart in age. My older sister is 5 years older than me, and our younger sister is nearly 9 years younger than me. So, there's been drama in our parents' house for a LOT of years :)

And despite the fact that we're all married and have been adults for a LONG time, we still resort to a certain child-like state when anything emotionally trying comes up. We gossip and comfort amongst ourselves, and hide things from our parents. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we do. All 3 of us adore our parents and have good relationships with them. But there's something soothing about having a sisterly conference call or online chat prior to addressing the issue at hand with the parental unit that has not dissipated with time. It's different as adults, certainly. But we still do it. And often times, it leads to sticky familial situations.

I encountered one this weekend. I get an innocent phone call from my wonderfully loving mom. We exchange pleasantries. And then I get the questions that all sisters dread:

"So. Have you talked to *your sister*? Has she told you what's going on?"

Ok. So, right at the outset of these simple statements, I know several things. I know that:

(1) I can buy myself a few seconds by innocently querying: "Which one?" and,
(2) I have no earthly idea what she is talking about. However, I can guarantee that,
(3) Whatever it is that she's talking about, not only do I already know about it, I have the complete detailed lowdown and week-long analysis on it. *But*
(4) I knew about it before she knew about it, and if she knows that I already know, she's going to feel left out be very unhappy. Thus,
(5) Even though I already know, I cannot let her know that I know.

Inevitably, this leads to me being vague, which leads to a follow-up slew of pointed questions. In the end, nobody is happy, and yet another sisterly conference call is initiated. And the cycle starts anew.

I always smile when I think about an anecdote my mom told me once. I was away at college, my older sister Rhonda already had a job out of town, and our younger sister Shauna'h still lived at home. My mom was on the phone with 2 sisters at once, me on one line, Rhonda on the other, and Shauna'h was in the room with her. All 3 of us were crying about different things. It's just the way it works with 3 girls. Lots and lots and lots of hormones...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Continuing house transformation...

So, I'm back. Yes, these 3 day work weeks are really getting out of hand. But I have dozens of accrued vacation days; I'm in a union, what can I say? I've been enjoying my painting, and I'm going to keep right on going. I am a bulldozing machine of a painting maniac. Old paint fears me.

So, yesterday I tackled our upstairs bath, as well as the trim in Hank's room, readying it for next week's efforts. Our upstairs bath was one of the few rooms in the house that was actually painted a color. And it was pink. A bad pink. Not only the walls, but all the trim and the *window* too. Here's the before, although the trim has already been transformed white, so imagine those pink as well:

And, in the spirit of bold color choices, here's the bathroom after:

Yes, it's brown. Mocha, to be exact. And you know they name those paint colors strategically. Who's going to buy a color called "Dirt"? "Earth worm..." You get the picture. Anyway, it is a nice warm brown, and with the white accents, it looks awesome, if I do say so myself. I managed to get paint not only on my clothes (butt included), but on my face and in my hair. It's all par for the course. Next week, Hank's room will be transformed into a sea green paradise...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And yet more painting...

Coming off of a 4 day weekend, I've been at work yesterday and today, and once again I'm contemplating taking a painting day tomorrow. What can I say? I'm a maniac. Aside from that obvious statement, I work at a college library. The summer is the one time that it's super easy to take vacation days. But I feel reckless, I tell you. I'm just slapping a big 'V' up on the office calendar willy nilly. I'm also off Friday, to care for Henry since my parents aren't available to watch him this week.

In my own defense, I rarely take time off during the main semesters. Really, in recent memory, the only days I've taken off during fall and spring semesters have been Henry-related or surrouding major holidays, like the day after Thanksgiving. I have amassed an unbelievable amount of stored vacation and other compensatory time (don't hate me, I'm in a union). And eventually, you'll lose the days if you don't use them. So there :)

Now that I've justified my painting obsession, we can dwell on the interesting details. I think I'm going to tackle the upstairs bathroom, the pink not-so-paradise, and paint it a warm mocha. It won't take long, since the room isn't that big, and it's tiled halfway up the wall. So, in between those coats I'll be once again schlepping with the white semi-gloss onto the trim in the bedrooms. This is gallon #2 since we moved into the house, and within days I'm going to need to purchase gallon #3. Again, maniac. But, it looks bright and cheerful, and the trim *badly* needs it.

I love these days I've been spending at home. I listen to my podcasts, paint my little heart out, and gradually our house feels more and more like it reflects *us*. It makes me happy :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back from long weekend...

and totally overwhelmed by my to-do list. So I will post more lengthily tomorrow. But I had a pleasant weekend visit to Pittsburgh. It was me, so naturally I was able to scope out multiple churches and see some birds. Wherever I go, I manage to frequent churches.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The cuteness of baby things...

The campus that I work at has some new residents - baby peregrine falcon chicks. These birds are an endangered species in our state, and thus the Department of Environmental Conservation is keeping a close eye on the well-being of these particular bird babies, and they came to "band" them, ensuring that their movement can be tracked as they grow. As you can see from the photo to the left, appearing in our local paper, the chicks were pretty unhappy with this whole process. I love the look on the little falcon's face. He's clearing saying: "What the *!@#! You just *wait* until MY MOTHER gets back!" And a formidable foe his mother would be.

Skilled hunters, these guys are. And they're not shy about it. As the article notes - even the babies have razor sharp talons. And they bite.

But baby anything gets my squealing instinct kicked into high gear. Birds, dogs, kids...you know what I mean. My Henry, at 3 and a half, is so cute, I can hardly stand it. Of course, as all parents can relate to, there are times when I can hardly stand to be in the same room with his high-pitched whining, but that's just part of parenting. The things little kids do only get cuter as they age, I swear it. Some recent examples:

"Mommy." *Henry rushes over, completely naked* *points to nipple* "What's this for?"

"Mommy, why do I have a skeleton? Can I take it out?" (Cute follow-up being me spotting Hank and Mike's afternoon reading material next to each other on the coffee table when I got home from work: The latest issue of Sports Illustrated and the Scholastic Honey Bee book of the month, Understanding the Human Body).

I love how 3 year olds don't understand contractions quite yet: "Mommy, do you have M&M's? Why do you don't?"

"Mommy, why that robin fly away?! I wanted to pet him!" In Hank's mind, how could anything eschew such loving affection?

We're bound for a trip this weekend to visit Mike's relatives. Should be fun, but consumed by family picnics that inevitably turn out to be overwhelming and exhausting. I'll survive. Hopefully, there will be wine. Oh, and I'm taking tomorrow off to continue my maniacal painting project. You'll get an update.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Children at Mass

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as I'm sure it is to most of you. How to keep the wee ones respectfully behaved for the duration of a Sunday worship experience. Without using duct tape, that is. I know that some churches have nurseries, but in all of my years of church-going I've never encountered such a miraculous phantasm. So, let's prevail under the assumption that we're all grinding it out on Sundays with our little tots in tow right beside us in the pew.

I know that parenting philosophies vary with regard to how to keep the children quiet and behaved for an hour or more once a week. My personal philosophy is: I'll do *anything* to keep them quiet and happy. Pretty much *anything*. This includes (neat, never messy or noisy) snacks, sippy cups, books, crayons, and a stuffed toy. I know that some disagree with me on the snacks and sippy cups, and to each their own. I won't judge you if you don't judge me. We're talking goldfish crackers here for the 2 year old, not a 5 course meal involving melted cheese. Now that Henry is 3, I'm trying to wean him off the distractions so much, particularly the snacks. No more sippy cup, and he gets 1 small snack per Mass. Like those individually packaged fruit snacks. When it's gone, that's it, and he knows it. I'm trying to get him more involved in the Mass - he does the sign of the cross, drops the envelope into the collection basket, and shakes hands during the peace offering. That's definitely helped. Inevitably, we get one "I have to go potty!" per Mass, and usually NOT because he actually has to go potty. He just likes the church bathroom. Sigh. We bring books, and he's pretty good about looking through those. Naturally, he has to ask questions about them in that toddler stage "whisper" but... you win some, you lose some. That just comes with the territory with pre-school aged children.

For younger children, my feeling is that whatever you need to do to secure their contented happiness for an hour - DO IT. We all understand, and those that don't will get over it. Jesus tells us to bring the children to Him, and for those that brave wrestling the 18 month old in church, much reward will come your way :) You're doing the right thing. I'm definitely of the mindset that the way to get children to behave better in church, and hopefully enjoy it as adults, is to bring them. That's how they'll learn and get an appreciation for being in a sacred space. There are certainly weeks wherein you just *know* that bringing them will be a near occasion of sin for you, because the chance of them behaving atrociously is near to 100%. I've had many a week of that myself. But we persevere, doing the best we can. Right now, Hank likes "chooch" and asks to go with me each week. He's a real sweetie pie :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The joy of painting...

Well, I'm back, and flush with house transformation success. I took a full day off from work yesterday to paint, and I tell you, I was a maniac. Aside from a lunch break (ok, and a break to randomly scarf down some chocolate chips) I painted for the entire day. When I was finished with a coat, and I needed to wait to re-coat, I painted something else. When I finished my goal for the day, but still had a couple hours left, I painted something else. I so rarely get uninterrupted time for projects like this, that I refused to let even a moment go to waste. If it wasn't moving and looked in need of some brightening, I painted it.

My day started out at Home Depot, because naturally, despite my careful planning, I needed another supply. It's just written in the stars or something, like the DMV. No matter how much prep work you do, you need something else, and have to make another trip. I was already clad in my ratty painting clothes. This is a lesson I learned early on, and all other eternal optimists heed this warning: I don't care how much you assure yourself "I'm going to be SOOOO careful!" do NOT wear your cute new yoga pants and a shirt you paid more than $3 for. You *will* get paint on them. You just *will*. I did this only one time, and after managing to put two full imprints of my butt onto the freshly painted wall and ruining my pants, I succumbed to having ugly "paint clothes" specifically for this butt-imprinting purpose. It's just the way it goes.

So, I got home, and got to work. And I tell you, I was a machine. I put 2 coats on the living room archway, a radiator cover, the downstairs hallway, and trim work on the entire second floor of our house. I suppose I should mention that when we bought our house, it was uglier than sin. The entire house, aside from the 2 bathrooms, were painted the same color. And by "the entire house" I mean:

Windows. Yes, the sills, but also...the *windows*. Why would you do this?!
Plugs and covers
Light switches and covers
*Inside* all of the closets
The fireplace hearth
And most unforgivably, the fireplace *brick*.

How long does it take to remove a light switch cover, people? Oh, I don't know, a full 30 seconds? What on earth were they thinking?! And the fireplace...this should just be a crime. I've spent weeks of my life inhaling paint stripper that peels the skin off my hands and is illegal in 20 states to try and rescue the brick, but that's another story altogether.

Anyway, if we were blessed with such a quantity of this paint, what color is it, you ask? I like bright colors. My kitchen is Afternoon, dining room Fine Wine, living room Artichoke, and the newly painted hallway is Lemongrass. The old color on every surface in our house can only be described as Oppressive Gloom - a dingy, ugly ass off-white variant. Oppressive Gloom flat edition on the walls, attracting every fingerprint and bit of filth accumulated for the past 50 years or so. And Oppressive Gloom Semi-Gloss for the trim. It felt *so good* to cover the heavy-handed depressiveness with brighter colors.

Ah, but then there's the bathrooms. I will grant, they were painted something other than OG. However, they have no other redeemable characteristics. The downstairs bath was painted the *exact same* shade (aquamarine) as the wall tile, complete with a matching (and filthy) heavy drapery over the cute old house window. It was like stepping into a rain storm every time you went in there. That's long since been painted white and the adorable window stripped and stained. Upstairs, above the wall tile, the walls are inexplicably pink. I like pink, I do. But not this pink. It's a drabby, crappy-looking pink that lots its bloom sometime in the mid 60's, and it covers the entirety of the walls, trim, and once again, window. Not just the sill, this bears repeating. Yes, they took the time to paint all of the individual woodwork on the window itself.

So, about mid-afternoon, when I had really worked myself into a frenzy, and was poised with my brush, just looking for something to paint, it came to me: The pink. The pink WILL BE ERADICATED. I'm going to paint the walls mocha, but I tackled the trim and the window with white semi-gloss, and I was downright gleeful about it. I actually have a wound on my hand from painting so much yesterday. Yes, I have Painters Palm. Affects mostly crazy people. Like me.

Anyway, here's the hallway, before:

And here it is, after:

Hank included, extra :)

Let me see if I can dig up our living room, and the infamous fireplace...Ah, here it is, the front mostly stripped by your resident crazy person. But note the wall-to-wall gold carpet. They even had *extra pieces* of this thing throughout the house, for use as mats. Welcoming? I think not.

And, thank merciful God, the after:

So, I'm scheduled to take some more time off in a few weeks to finish the hallway, and then tackle Hank's room and the upstairs bathroom. I'm looking forward to it, rubbing my palms together in a devilish fashion...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Painting and other fun projects...

So, I'm taking the day off tomorrow to finally begin my spring painting project. I'm all excited, and have the freshly bought paint out in my trunk and am loaded up with new brushes and pads. What this means is that within 24 hours, I will have paint in my hair and be using some very unladylike language. All of that notwithstanding, I will have a Lemongrass hallway by tomorrow evening, and I couldn't be happier. Well, at least part of the hallway. I'm going to do the downstairs, and then the upstairs trim so that I can paint the walls up there in a few weeks. The downstairs blissfully has gorgeous wood trim and needs no paint. At least, on purpose. The walls are filthy though, so I ended up selecting the semi-gloss finish. Going up and down the stairs lends itself to wall touching, apparently, and this way it'll wipe right off. Yes, go ahead and think it. I wash walls. I'm crazy.

The walls truly look awful right now, but that's because they haven't been painted, like, since the house was built. In 1935. I'm not joking. And it's all in flat finish, and they look dingier than a warehouse. I'm a machine when I paint, too. It's the reason why I have to take time off from work to do it, instead of trying to paint when Henry is around. Well, granted, there are other logistical issues surrounding why it is a bad idea to paint with your 3 year old "helping" you.

"Mommy look! I painted the (solid oak) cupboard! MMMMOOOMMMYYYY! I got paint *all over me*!"

But when I'm armed with painting tools, watch out sister. I'm feverish in my desire to accomplish, and even surpass, my painting goal. I'm a woman on a mission, I tell you. I'll post some before and afters on Wednesday :)