29 June 2015


For the first time in my gardening experience our tomatoes are flowing freely. I'm very ashamed of the dozen or so we didn't even notice before they were too ripe and fell off... One good crop makes you spoiled I guess. 

 2015 week twenty-six

Matthew carried our weed whacker strapped to his back while riding his bike to work because he was sick of peoples tall grass and tree limbs whacking him. He rode his weed whacker to work. Who is this person? Careful Lewisville or the Weed Vigilante will come for you.

We took a break from tantruming all morning after swim lessons (screaming while in the water, flailing around on the ground when we got out because she wanted more. the worst) to look at all the animals. The black kittens are on sale (!) because according to the sign, "Black kitties are the last to be adopted, please take pity on these sweet creatures." Petco, you almost won my $65. Too bad I'm pregnant and don't want to go near a litter box. 

Waiting at the airport for uncle "Jacum" to come home from Germany. V was more excited to wave the flag around wildly than to even see him, however. Also, I was clearly more excited to see her wave the flag around than to even take a photo of Jacob. Sorry. Still waiting for my chocolate, Jacob...

Toast, scrambled eggs with chives, tomatoes from the garden, apricots and peaches, and more of that best orange juice on earth.
It was cool enough to eat breakfast out of doors one morning, but Matthew was not brave enough to face mosquitoes. With our two citronella candles, however, we were just fine. I love eating outside. And I love sharing such a tasty meal with my little bug. That apricot was the most perfect apricot on God's green earth, and Vera cried and screamed at me when I tried to eat some of it. She knew what it was worth. 

The bug with the golden apricot. Later she would tell me to "shoo Mama" when I was in her way in the kitchen. Maybe she was still sore about me taking bites of her apricot. 
  Vera never put much of anything in her mouth as a baby. She didn't really chew or suck on anything and I was never fishing woodchips out of her cheeks. I thought maybe she was just smart enough to distinguish between food and non food since she has been obsessed with food from the start. She is still such a mooch. We only ever eat at mealtimes. EVER! And yet if anyone is ever eating anything within eyesight she sidles over with pathetic hungry eyes and begs for food. She could have just finished eating a huge meal and be stuffed to bursting, but if someone else starts to eat 3 minutes later she is begging for bites. I'm not sure what this means. I know she's getting enough food. Maybe she just thinks she is missing out on something really awesome and needs bites to make sure? Well, her adventurous palate has reached new heights this week. We don't use dishwasher detergent; just a splash of oxiclean and one pump of dish soap. I was loading the dishwasher when I see her little finger travel from the small pile of oxiclean INTO HER MOUTH! Luckily Matthew was right there with a full glass of water that we made her drink and spit. We told her it was not good to eat and that it was poison. Can you guess what she said 2 minutes later? "I love to eat poison."

  We're trying to eat more of the summer's bounty and see if we can only eat meat once or twice a week for at least the rest of the summer. I find the challenge exciting, and sidenote, our first week was magical. Every meal was better than the last. Can you keep a secret? I am loving summer this year and I have never experienced that feeling before. Something about all the fruit and veggies is just really calling my name this year. But back to the story: For our one meat meal this week I made hamburgers from local ground beef (I felt oh-so-fancy). I put the log of ground beef into a bowl and sprinkled some salt, pepper, and chopped shallots onto it. Then I turned around to wash my hands. As I turn back around she has two hands over the raw ground beef log and about a quarter of an inch of the log INTO HER MOUTH! This is not France and I am not equipped to serve you steak tartare, Vera!

  Then today, as I was skewering vegetables for family dinner I saw her sneak a piece of raw onion and not only put it into her mouth, but chew it up, swallow it, and politely ask for more. At church an hour later I thought I was going to throw up from her hot breath in my face. I guess she is taking too seriously our admonition that we "Always try one bite of everything."

22 June 2015


Toddling involves a lot of putting different toys in silly places. Apparently "Big Baby" was ready for lunch.
2015 week twenty-five

An entire beautiful summery week full of tears and whining and crying through the night. Poor little thing is getting some horrible teeth, or she's possessed. It has to be one of the two. 

Matt came home from high adventure and packed our freezer full of insects caught by his slaves: the young men. For a few days after Matt came home, Vera would walk past his camping gear and announce, "Papa made a HUGE big mess."

Bacon cake for a bacon birthday party for one of the young men. I was really proud of this; Matt thought it would probably need a sign so people would know what it is... rude.

Bacon cake, bacon chips, piles of bacon, bacon "crack", bacon log, (not pictured) bacon pizza. I'll probably never eat meat again -or for like a few more days. 

Bacon hanging from the ceiling, and a rousing game of "Pin the Hammer on Thor." I totally won. :)

Pumpkins are taking over my yard and I love it. All my other plants are dying from powdery mildew and I do not love it. 

Trying to distract her from her anguish with silly glasses and toys. I tried to distract her with popsicles but for some reason she cannot figure out popsicles -they simply confound her. She doesn't understand how to lick or suck on a popsicle. She wants to bite it and it makes her so mad she screams and kicks and begs for the popsicle that she doesn't understand. I have to bite off pieces and feed them to her. She is so weird. 

Captive audience. Watching Papa pin out bugs. 

At the farmers market. She cried and pulled on me the entire time, but then suddenly when she was able to go into the gazebo she was no longer sad. Strange how CRAZY she can be. There were some boys and she asked me, "What's that?" Me: "Boys" V: "I love boys." I would be alarmed but she also has this same exact conversation with me 100x a day and you can replace "boys" with anything from "dogs" to "rotten food" to "dirt" so really she just loves everything. 

Shrieking into the wind with temporary joy -and then we had to leave. I love the farmer's market even though I spend more money and still have to go back to the grocery store. But this one gives samples of everything and everything is lovely. The biggest score was a flat of overly ripe peaches for $5 that was turned into jars of jam and pie filling. V loved getting samples of berries and nectarines "neck dreams."

This is her permanent face -regarding everything. It doesn't matter if I give her the food she asked for, put on a movie (rare and special), go on a walk, give her cake or raspberry muffins or anything. It's this face constantly.  I also really hate hearing her begging for medicine all day. Medicine should not taste like candy. Medicine should taste horrible because it is medicine. I told V that she couldn't have too much medicine or she would get sick and when that wasn't enough of an argument then I said she could get so sick she'd have to go to the hospital. I paid for saying that. For 20 straight minutes, and several more 20 minute sessions throughout the day, she repeated non stop "Have to go to the hospital. Get so sick go to the hospital. So sad to have to go to the hospital. Can't go to the hospital today, maybe tomorrow. We go to the hospital later. Be so sad go to the hospital." I tried to stem it by saying well in a couple months we'll go to the hospital to get baby brother -wrong move. That only gave her more things to talk about while she obsessed over the hospital.

These two photos were taken by my niece. My poor sad toddler. Her little mouth just hurts so badly. Sadly, it took like 6 days of being miserable and angry and a turd before she made any indication that her mouth hurt, so we were all frustrated for a week with her behavior and had no idea what it was or what to do. One day she missed out on two birthday parties. She was so sad about it. She kept saying, "Can't go to the party. I have a fever. I have a HUGE big fever. No friends." 

Last week in church a friend of mine came up to me and said, "I just wanted to let you know how happy it made me today to see Vera scream and cry and throw a proper fit during sacrament meeting. I breathed a huge sigh of relief that she was a real toddler. So thank you." Yes, she is a real toddler. And for the first time in her life is having a difficult time teething, or something as equally evil. We didn't know what was going on and she was just so so so grumpy and whiney for DAYS. And the whining. The whining! There has got to be some sort of evolutionary explanation for the pitch and key that elicits a physical and psychological response in adults. I don't remember whining ever bothering me as a child. But something happens in the ear as it develops, I'm convinced, that renders the adult helpless to a whine. And by helpless I mean, unable to maintain their composure in the frontal cortex. It is all brain stem dealing with that jazz. I'm trying, trying, trying. I pray about it, I think about it, I discuss it, I take breaks, etc. I'm doing all the things that I can possibly think to do. 

The best thing I can do is to remind myself throughout the day that I am happy to do things. "I'm happy to wake up! I'm happy to be a mom! I'm happy to eat breakfast with my family! I'm happy to hold my crying toddler! I'm happy to do [insert anything that I have/get to do during the day!]" It helps, but only when I remember to say it before I deal with the issue. We also just give her breaks to compose herself before we can continue on calmly. I hope we're teaching her how to effectively manage and feel her emotions... Who knows. We're all trying. 

I was a really nice mom and took her to the park the other day. We walked there and she whined about being at the park for the 2 hours I forced her to be there. My sister-in-law came too and she gave us a ride home. I was not able to load the stroller into the car in time to talk to V about how she wasn't going to be able to sit in her cousins car seat (because he needed to sit in it) before she escalated and was really angry and screaming. Luckily we were only 5 minutes from my house. But for those 5 minutes she screamed -nazgul-like -and thrashed and flailed and kicked and tried to bash her head against things, pulling and seething against my arms holding her on my lap. I have never seen anything like it. She thrashed so hard she slammed her head into the seat in front of her and got a black eye. And did she stop thrashing after that? No. And when we got home she screamed for 20 more minutes in her room and then cried for 15 more minutes in my arms before she calmed down enough to fuss over her lunch and eat nothing. It was so repulsive and outrageous. I could not believe she would cause herself bodily harm over not being able to sit in someone else's carseat. Heaven help me. 

That night as I was rocking her and Matt and I were singing a few goodnight songs, V stopped her sniffling and started to sing with us. She was singing the words and to the right tune. It was so precious it melted me. How can a toddler be such a contradictory creature? Her favorite song right now is this lovely little one about the moon.

I see the moon and the moon sees me,
Shining through the old oak tree.
Please let the light that shines on me,
Shine on the one I love. 

Also, Happy Father's Day to my dad and my wonderful Husband. He is such a fun father to Vera. She and baby brother are so lucky to have him. For Father's Day I made him a breakfast of raspberry muffins, sharp aged gouda slices, local plums, and the seriously best ever orange juice (secret: You can buy it at Kroger!). We gave him a fun ice cube mold, some fancy root beers, his favorite ice cream, and a jar of some of the best pickles from Twisted Root. Apparently you can just go in there and buy some pickles! Happy Father's Day! I love you and you are such a perfect complement to me. 

15 June 2015


I love gardening. It fills my soul. And it makes me itch to read Little House books. And I am 5th in line at the library for the new Pioneer Girl biography and I'm dying from the 121 day wait time!!!

2015 week twenty-four

Beautiful early summer week full of gardening and playing.

Mopping the floors means a fun fort for V -which she is suddenly way into. 

For family night we got to tour a 911 call center with our neighborhood watch group. 

The last of the garlic from the garden, and I finally learned how to braid it properly.

And... The highlight of our week was cousins moving to Texas! We kicked it off by getting ridiculously messy at a Messy Party. It was the best thing ever for the dozens of kids running around screaming -and, well, yes, crying a little too. But mostly the screams were those of unfiltered-shaving-cream-smeared joy.

First jello. And Grant was really mad at me that I was watching them and smiling. :)

Such a good idea to just give kids jello to play with. I haven't eaten jello in years, and I totally wanted to eat it. 

The shaving cream joy was entered into tentatively by some...

And whole heartedly by others.

very whole heartedly. 

Drawing with chalk with cousins. Vera wakes up asking about cousins and goes to bed asking about cousins. She loves loves loves the cousins.

Vera has quickly learned that she loves to try on clothes: papa's shirts, mama's shoes, aprons, hats, swim suits, beads ... dog sweaters.

I promise I don't talk about Doctor Who all that often and certainly not to Vera -I'm not saying I don't dream about/think about Doctor Who all the time, I just don't gush about it to my toddler. But every time we have to go to the doctor's office, she chants in the back seat, "Doctor Who! Doctor Who! Doctor Who!" I don't know where it came from and I secretly love it.

V has started whispering and sometimes it's really annoying because she's trying to tell me something but every time I ask her to repeat herself she says it quieter and quieter. It kind of drives me nuts. I tried to talk to her about how I can't understand her when she whispers so quietly, but all it did was get her to yell quite loudly, "I CANT WHISPER!" and then proceed to whisper quieter and quieter... The other day she was just quietly mumbling "melissess" over and over. I think she's casting spells.

When we tell her that she cant do something because it will "break it/hurt her/be sad/etc" she will tell us that she wants to cut her fingers or fall or be sad, etc. She tried to grab the Bible out of my hand and I told her that she has to be gentle with the Bible because we don't want to break it. She nodded her head earnestly and said, "I want to break the Bible! Break the Bible!"

Trying to raise a toddler causes a lot of second guessing and wondering and I was trying to define clearly what I want to raise my children to feel like their duty and purpose is in this life. At least right now I think my feelings are most closely aligned with the idea that I want my children to enter into the world with the task of Making the world a better place and Making the world a more beautiful place. I think that is something I could teach them and not second guess or worry about.

08 June 2015


The plums ripened this week -all twelve of them. :) 

2015 week twenty-three

After the longest week of waiting and wondering, and then a very stubborn baby with tightly crossed legs, we found out we're having a boy. We're very happy.

At a fancy splash pad in a cute swim suit with friends. 

At our trailer park splash pad, naked, alone in the backyard. 

Vera really loves to play with play-doh. This week she was all about making cookies and kept handing me flattened bits of play-doh that needed to be put in the oven. She loved it. 

I had unexpected and quite intolerable allergies this week so a couple days we stayed in all day. And one of those days we dug out the rest of the sugar cookie dough from Christmas and made cookies.  She kept saying, "cookies so happy. cookies loves you [me]!" She is convinced that everything loves her, though. "This book loves you! Monkeys loves you! Strange dogs loves you! Pickles loves you! Baby brother loves you! etc."

And after a three-hour nap, you really need a good cookie. I let V pick the cookie cutters. She picked: a foot, a cowboy boot, a star, the letter "o",  an airplane, a flower, and the number "2". 

Beautiful grilled dinner: made in Texas smoked sausage, grilled tomatoes (some from our garden), and zucchini, tossed on the grill with pasta and some ripped basil from our garden. 

Vera found this Halloween decoration crow and she loves it. She takes it with us on walks, wants it in the car, pushes it in the kid basket around the grocery store and looks like she's tending a dead bird, and snuggles with its scraggly feathers and sharp pointy beak and claws while she sleeps. 

Ward cook out to celebrate summer. This is what summer looks like in Texas: Why am I outside? Also all the spiders' egg sacks have hatched in and around my house. I feel like I am walking through them constantly -even in my kitchen. Poor placement spiders, that is very high traffic and I will not tolerate any more of this. I almost feel like I'm living a Sugar Ray song, "Every morning when I wake up there's a [spider web] hanging from the corner of [every surface in my house]!"

We had a few bananas going quickly downhill and so we tried a recommended recipe I had never tried from a cookbook I already had. V loves to help me and that banana bread was perfection. 

We continued to feel sick this week. Eventually we figured out it was allergies and V started feeling better and I got some Claritin. One morning when the two of us felt just awful, we were snuggling in my bed. Before Matt left for work, he paused and said we both looked so cute, so he took a minute to snuggle both of us. It was a very brief moment in an otherwise very miserable day that was precious and perfect and I want to remember how tender it was to me.

When we flew to Mexico we lost the tiny baby doll that we let her take places. So one day I took her to a toy store and we picked out a new baby. This was her first experience of going into a toy store and walking away with a present. She could not believe I was a) letting her carry around a baby doll, and b) that I was letting her take it out of the store. Her little eyes were just glowing as she clutched that doll to her chest as we walked around the grocery store next door. She was practically floating through how wonderful it was to receive a surprise toy. It was so sweet.

One morning this week I had a lot of weeding and gardening to do, so we bug sprayed and sunscreened up and V toddled around the garden with me. It was a beautiful morning some neighbor was "moving the lawn" and we have had a lovely amount of bees this year who were all buzzing around. V found the grill brush and was cradling it like a baby. I paused weeding the pumpkin patch to watch her swing the grill brush around dreamily singing and babbling to herself. She paused to pick some chamomile flowers and shred them. She sidled over to my tomato plants and yelled, "Mama! I have ONE tomato! ONE tomato?!" I told her yes, she could pick a tomato but only one and only a red one. 5 tomatoes later, I catch her naughtily pick a green tomato. She saw me coming and quickly threw it into the carrots. Who taught you to already try to be deceptive? She helped me dig up the last few potatoes that didn't rot and carried them around the garden in a big red bowl with a little towel over her head. Then the towel fell off and she collapsed in anguish.

Last sweet story for the week:
One evening we were reading Madeline and Matthew was sitting nearby. She has asked to read several books so often that she has a good deal of many books memorized -Madeline is one of those books. So we try to pause at the end of each line to get her to finish the sentence. We came to the page that read: And all the little girls cried, "Boo hoo! We want to have out appendix out too!" And I prompted, "And all the little girls cried..." and Vera finished, "Boo hoo! We want to have a candy!" Matt and I laughed so hard. V didn't really understand why we were laughing but quickly joined in. Now when she thinks she's being silly or funny she'll say, "Boo hoo! We want to have a candy." I love her.

01 June 2015


Visiting with cousins on Memorial Day with snow cones in the rain. 

2015 week twenty-two

Here comes the sun! (I cannot add enough exclamation points! There is no rain in the forecast!)

Even though it was drizzly it was still too bright to not wear sunglasses. 

She was so sick this week. Miserable fevery sick. She hasn't stopped whine-crying in 5 days -even though she has been feeling much better for the last 4 of those days... One slightly unsettling part of her whine-crying has included her sudden fear (obsession?) with getting lost. All day long she tells me she "doesn't want to get lost," and that it would "be so sad to get lost." And this is not about getting lost in public. This is about getting lost in our house (!) or at the table (!!). Vera, sobbing about her giraffe. Me: Go to your room and get him. Vera, still crying: I don't want to get lost! And then sometimes she will turn to me and say, "I be fine?" "Protect you?" Yes! Of course you're going to be fine! We're in our own home! Where is this coming from?!

We took a long walk to get out of the house even though she was still feeling sick. She insisted upon bringing this weird book about going to the doctor that she picked from the library. She slept almost the whole time clutching her book. 

I had to salvage some early garlic from the miserable flooding in our yard. The rain seems fairly menacing and vindictive at this point. Also about half of the potatoes I harvested last week have rotted as well. I'm no longer even going to try to be kind about the rain. Stop rotting my garden. 

We decided to take a long walk through the enormous Nebraska Furniture Mart. Guess who whine-cried the entire time? I love her so much, but it's like she has taken a very abrupt 180 degree turn from her usually calm and patient demeanor. I understand "terrible twos" are upon us. But surely they are a gradual insanity, not a sudden change in personality. Is she a changeling?!

Some of the flooding in our area. 

Gathering carrots for dinner and shredding my chamomile flowers -but super peacefully so I didn't even mention it. 

So it looks like we'll have to find a new vet. I could not face them again with another animal. I'm sure they would report me or something.

After four days of cleaning up Yzma's weeping belly wounds, squirting Pedialyte down her throat every 2-3 hours, giving her antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds, wiping yogurt or wet cat food on her lips to try to force her to eat, I had to take her back to the vet. She hadn't had anything to eat or drink voluntarily for almost 6 days. Even with my fastidious Pedialyte squirting, she was still very dehydrated. They looked at her wounds and she had three new abscesses with more maggots that were now eating living flesh. The wound was so big they wouldn't be able to close it. So I had two options: 1) admit her to an animal hospital where they would keep her on a sedative and hooked up to an IV and clean her wound several times a day for at least a week or so before they could even close up the wound, or 2) make my peace and say goodbye. Obviously, we love her, but we are not prepared to go to such great lengths to prolong her life under miserable circumstances. So I picked up her little body in her stained-towel burial shroud and brought her home for Matt to bury. Let me clarify -the vet put her down, we did not bury her alive. I didn't think I would cry. I was exhausted from how terrible this must have been for her, but then her little white paw was sticking through the hole in the laundry basket, and I shed a little tear. The ground was so wet when Matt went to bury her among our blackberry bushes that he hit standing water after two shovelfuls. We had to go back the next day to make sure there was enough dirt on top of her. Two cats in one year. I have a hard time believing our luck. I am, of course, sad that a perfectly healthy cat got a strange injury and so suddenly died after much gruesome suffering, however, she was kind of a mean cat. What would she have been like for the next 10 years? Sadly, she wont have the chance to redeem her name. And now, we have an expanding cat graveyard for a back garden.

When Vera asks about the cat, she says that Yzma is in heaven with Jesus. Matt says "That cat is not with Jesus." Insensitive. :)