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This is a little off my beaten path, but what’s another jump in blog topics? ¬†After all, it is my blog.ūüôā Anyway, I made the most delicious chicken thighs last night based on this recipe.

More delicious than it looks

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients and I’m not that excited about paleo diets. ¬†I see coconut aminos, I read soy sauce. ¬†And I was out of lots of the other ingredients, so I substituted and left out and EVERYONE in my family loved the end result, so here it is:

  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into thirds¬†handful of chives from the garden, washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 slices of fresh ginger, each approximately the size of a quarter some shakes of ginger (maybe a half a teaspoon?)
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine malt vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons macadamia nut oil or fat of¬†choice canola oil
  • 1¬†one and a half tablespoons¬†coconut aminos¬†soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon¬†Red Boat fish sauce¬†worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or if you‚Äôre on the Whole30 or avoiding honey, use ¬Ĺ¬†small apple, peeled, cored, and diced)
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste¬†(I have a no-pepper kid)
  • 4 5 pounds chicken thighs

Blend it all up (except the thighs) in your blender of choice, marinade the chicken in it for a while (4 hours in my case), giving it a stir now and then.

Bake on a rack on a cookie sheet for 40 minutes at 400 (or bake at 44 minutes when the oven says 4 minutes until it’s preheated because you want to hurry up and go outside to play like I did). ¬†The original recipe says to squeeze off any extra marinade, but I figure I worked hard on that stuff, so it stayed on.

The skin is ridiculously crispy and delicious, and it all has a sickly green tinge to it.  My boys thought it looked like zombie flesh.  We had rice with this chicken, and we poured the drippings over the rice.  That was to die for. Wait, is that an undead pun? Then I mixed my spinach in with it, and it was even better.  Not paleo, but still seriously delicious.

Stress Relief Image Gallery

From the time we realize somebody else lost a tooth before we did, we start wanting to be like the other kids. ¬†It keeps going. ¬†“Heather’s wearing a bra, shouldn’t I get one, too?” ¬†“Nobody else needs a bra, why do I need one?” ¬†“I’m the shortest one in my class!” ¬†“Lisa has a car, I need a car.” ¬†I know I thought like this, too. ¬†I just didn’t expect it as I’m closing in on 40.

I know exactly three women that are close to my age that do not dye their hair to cover the grey, and only two of them actually have grey hair. ¬† ¬†I have no grey hair – I am no longer like the other girls. ¬†My dark hair used to be comforting to me. ¬†I do not like to fuss with my hair, and the idea of dying it repulses me – the smell, the questionable safety, the mess, the time, the cost. ¬†But, I wasn’t sure my vanity could take grey hair, and I was glad that there was no reason for me to even consider whether to take to the bottle or not. ¬†Let’s face it, I wanted to be like all the other girls my age. ¬†Apparently, this is still true for most of my friends. ¬†The only difference is that they are all (except those two) willing to make the effort to dye their hair whereas I (and that one friend) am just genetically lucky. Please take a moment to appreciate that I seem to be wrong here – they don’t want to be like the other girls their age, they want to be like the girls half their age. ¬†Or they are horribly misinformed as to how many women their age actually dye their hair.

People inclined to estimate souls describe me as a “young soul.” ¬† I love what I see as the characteristics of being a young soul – my¬†curiosity,¬† sense of adventure, desire to keep learning, confidence that everyone I meet knows something I don’t, and most of all my certainty that people are mostly ignorant or misguided as opposed to evil. ¬†However, these same traits seem to mark me as someone who still believes she is young and is ready to act that way. ¬†I seem to be reaching an age that does not mesh well with “young soul.”

I am older and wiser, which can be loosely translated as “I am a stick-in-the-mud fuddy duddy.” ¬†I am not interested in acting the way so many adults that think they are still young do. ¬†I’m not going to go out dancing at a club. ¬†I am not going to smoke – anything. ¬†Staying out past midnight might not actually turn me into a pumpkin, but it would incapacitate me for a few days afterwards. ¬†I’m not a threat to anyone’s significant other – I’m happy where I am, with MY significant other. ¬†I used to believe that the wedding ring said that for me, but, as I said, I am now older and wiser. ¬†I don’t need to pepper my speech with profanity to hide my inadequate vocabulary or use the latest slang to prove that I’m “cool.” ¬†When I see that a young man is good looking, smart, funny, hard working, all those things ladies look for in a man, I contemplate how he become this way, hoping to apply it to my sons. ¬†When I see a young woman wearing not quite enough clothing, struggling to maintain her ranking with the popular kids by doing things that would give her mother a heart attack, I worry and wonder what I could do to help her see her own value and how to help my daughter avoid these pitfalls. When I see a young woman who does know her own value, I want to place my daughter in her path and say, “Show her how to be like you!”

I have made peace with my age, and I would like for everyone else to appreciate my status of “older woman” or perhaps “a woman of a certain age.” ¬†The wrinkles are helping spread the word, but I’m not quite there yet. ¬†Grey hair should do the trick.

Maybe I’m wrong about this. ¬†I have learned the lesson a few (hundred) times over that the way I see the world is not necessarily the way the rest of humanity does. ¬†When I see a woman with grey hair, I immediately clean up my grammar and expect a conversation that does not have to do with how much she drank last night, gossip or reality TV. ¬†I see a woman who is less focused on fighting who she really is. ¬†I see a woman who is comfortable with herself, and therefore will probably accept me for who I am. ¬†I see a woman who has decided that the color of her hair is simply not important enough to be a priority when there are a plethora of exciting and/or vital things to be done.

Disclaimers: I realize this is stereotyping. ¬†I am not actually in a hurry to go grey. ¬†I am ready for the inevitable, appreciative of the time I’ve been given to make my peace with grey hair before actually having it, and hoping that I can slip into a new stereotype when my hair finally is like all the other girls’.

Step 1:  Boil an egg for each child.

Step 2:  Label eggs with names and a reminder of their goal.

 

Step 3: Make children carry egg wherever they would carry an iPod

Step 4: Deny iPod when child breaks egg within a week.

 

One day they’ll be old enough for expensive toys.¬† Not yet.

I can never get out of the house on the first try.¬† My kids and my husband always laugh at me¬†when I come back inside for keys, sunglasses, beverage, snack, shopping list, item I’m returning, etc.¬† Therefore, I’ve started having conversations with myself about what I’m forgetting¬†before I get in the car – that just makes them laugh harder, but I’m hoping that maybe one day I’ll figure out how to get everything the first time.

Joe jumped into one of these conversations the other day and suggested I bring Lucky Clover Percy with me.¬†That’s not actually his name.¬† Percy, the cheeky little green engine, came out in a special 60th Anniversary Edition with metallic wheels and funnel, which we promptly named Lucky Clover Percy.¬† Because I have an odd sense of humor, I did.¬† Here are the text messages that followed:

So many choices. Good thing Percy is here to help me decide!

No, Percy, we're not getting brownies

OH NO! I can't find him!

 

 

 

Getting into the holiday spirit

 

Percy is such a gentleman!

 

And this little Percy cried WEE WEE WEE all the way home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, if you never doubted my sanity before, you probably do now.¬†ūüôā

 

 

Fairy Dust

True story:¬†¬†One of Peter’s friends, Savannah, lost her grandfather recently.¬†¬† The family had divided up Grandpa’s ashes – some for each of his children and some for Grandma.¬† Savannah wanted some, but the grown-ups were not sharing with the children.¬† Before Grandpa died, Grandma had bought “fairy dust” necklaces for all of the granddaughters – they were little glass vials with extra-fine red glitter inside, with some silver decorations on the outside, strung on a satin cord.¬† Since the granddaughters were there, Grandma gave them the necklaces – it had nothing to do with the funeralFairy Dust Necklace.¬† Savannah somehow got it into her head that she DID get some of the ashes, and it was mixed in with her fairy dust.¬† She¬†never took¬†the necklace off.¬† Shortly after returning from the funeral, Savannah came to play at our house.¬† After the kids spent an hour climbing over the fence, running through several yards, doing cartwheels and various other acrobatics, Savannah realized she had lost her necklace.¬† We looked, and we did not find it.

About 9 months later, months that were spent with my kids playing in the yard and climbing on the fence, with me gardening in the back yard, with two different people mowing my yard, and even a birthday party in the backyard and still we hadn’t found the necklace, the boys came running in to tell me that they had found it.¬† Here is the letter I wrote to Savannah, explaining what happened.

Dear Savannah,

John and Peter found your Fairy Dust pendant today.¬† I want you to know that when you lost it all those months ago, we looked long and hard for it.¬† We knew how important it was to you, because it had a little of your grandfather in it.¬† We looked everywhere ‚Äď in the fence, in and under bushes, and through every blade of grass, but it just wasn’t there.¬† I even went to the upstairs windows to see if I could see a glint from the sun on the silver mounting.¬† I didn’t see that glint, but I did see something else that might just explain where it’s been all this time.

My neighbors put in a birdbath. Ordinarily, what happens in my neighbor’s yard has nothing to do with losing a pendant in my yard, except that fairies don’t respect fences.¬† You see, I’ve been very careful not to put any water features in my yard, because that was the only thing missing to invite the fairies.¬† Once you’ve attracted fairies to your yard, they are very hard to get rid of, and they are very mischievous.¬† I had already supplied them with¬† flowers every day of the year (they like flowers) and didn’t use chemicals on my lawn to kill bugs (they like bugs).¬† There are lots of places to hide in the different bushes, and lots of things that smell delicious.¬† The only thing missing from a perfect fairy yard was a water source.¬† When my neighbors put that birdbath right next to our fence, I guess the fairies moved in.

While you were running around and climbing on the fence, the fairies must have seen your fairy dust and thought it belonged to them and that they ought to get it back.  They must not have realized about your grandfather then.  They must have slipped it right off your neck and hidden it away in one of their little spots while we were looking for it.  They can be very fast, you know.

What’s most fascinating is what your grandfather did while he was with the fairies.¬† We’ll never know for certain, but I think I know what happened.¬† Before I tell you about that, though, you need to know something about heaven.¬† We all know that good people go to heaven when they die, and that they are made whole and healthy again.¬† What most people don’t know is that it can take a little while to get to heaven, especially if your heart is with the people you love (like your granddaughter).¬† So, your grandfather was back to his young, handsome, healthy self, but still here, spending a little more time with you.¬† And he was much smaller, since part of him went with each member of the family.¬† We couldn’t see him, of course, just like we can’t see the fairies.

The fairies are always intrigued with anything beautiful, and anything a little bit magical.¬† When they got ‚Äútheir‚ÄĚ fairy dust back, they were very excited when they found this good looking man who clearly didn’t have those human flaws like being so clumsy, or frail (fairies are so graceful and long-lived that we seem clumsy and frail to them).¬† ‚ÄúPleased to meet you,‚ÄĚ he said when the fairies saw him, ‚ÄúCould you help me get back to my granddaughter?‚Ä̬† But the fairies didn’t want him to go.¬† So they took him on an adventure, hoping to convince him to stay with them. First, they introduced him to all the bugs in the yard.¬† I think he liked seeing the ladybugs up close the best, but he didn’t have much patience for the stinkbugs.¬† The fairies let him ride a dragonfly to make up for the smell.¬† Then they took him for a swim so that he could meet the alligators and the fish.¬† He was worried because he didn’t have a bathing suit, but they just made the water stay in the lake when he got out.¬† Magic is so handy!¬† He was excited to see all these things, but kept asking when he could get back to Savannah.

‚ÄúOh, but we haven’t shown you the best part yet!¬† There’s so much more to see!‚ÄĚ they said.¬† With that, they took him to smell the flowers.¬† Since his nose was young again, and since he could really get close to the flowers, it was an overwhelmingly delicious experience.¬† ‚ÄúThat smells fantastic!¬† But really, I’d like to see my granddaughter again.¬† Could you – ‚Äú but they interrupted him with ‚ÄúYou haven’t even tasted the blackberries yet!‚Ä̬† The fairies all took hold of him and flew him off to the blackberry bushes.¬† They were delicious, and he ate so many that his face was almost all purple.¬† The fairies giggled and took him to the birdbath to wash up.

‚ÄúWell, that was yummy, but I’m full, clean, and had a big day, now I’d really like to go back to my granddaughter.¬† How about it?‚Ä̬† he asked.¬† The fairies begged him to stay and offered everything they could think of, but he still wanted to go back.¬† Their hearts were so heavy at having to say goodbye to him that they moved slowly while they took him back.¬† It took them months to make the trip from the birdbath to the fence. While we were sleeping last night, the fairies wedged your necklace into the fence and said goodbye to their new friend.

I suggest you keep your necklace at home when you come to visit us again ‚Äď I wouldn’t want them to steal him away again!

Emily

I wish I knew how to make this a published work, or how to make it something appropriate for children.¬† Unless you’re a kid who has already experienced the death of a loved one and is comfortable with the concept of cremation, it’s a little over the top.¬† And it’s a little childish for most grown-ups.¬† Instead, I guess this is the right place to share it.¬† Hope you enjoyed it!

Some are my own mothers, some are not, but I’ve learned from them all.

  1. If you make the recipe the exact same way every time, measuring every item precisely, it will turn out the same way every time.¬† This will be a good thing, until your family gets bored of¬†this dish.¬† When your cooking is more unpredictable, you don’t need as many recipes in your reportoire.¬† However, you may find that dinner is occasionally inedible.
  2. Using paper plates for every meal will make your children exclaim over how fancy their friends are when they use “the real china,”¬† thus exposing them as uncultured hicks.
  3. Sometimes, your mother wants a cigarette just as badly as you do.
  4. Teaching your child how to avoid getting arrested is always good advice.  Teaching your child not to break the law in order to avoid getting arrested is better advice.
  5. It is possible to escape crazy-cat-lady status by simply adding kids and a husband.  Voila!  You are now eccentric and loveable!
  6. Take care of your teeth if you tend to laugh with your mouth wide open or go slack-jawed in surprise.
  7. Actually, once you’re dead and gone, they WILL remember that you never did the dishes and there was always something growing in the sink.¬†¬† And if you always did the dishes, they’ll remember the time that you didn’t.¬† In the first case, your child will be grossed out forever (or worse, think that’s normal).¬† In the second case, they’ll wonder what happened that day.¬† Best to have the slow but steady attitude.
  8. The time to fix your child’s bad habits is not at another child’s birthday party.

Percy Jackson Birthday

It occurred to me that I never posted anything about the last birthday party I put together.¬† Considering how hard it was for me to find/come up with ideas for a Percy Jackson party, I thought I’d share what we did.

Printed on that same parchment-looking paper pad I bought 3 years ago for birthday invitations was:

Sons and Daughters of the Gods!

Please join us in the celebration of John’s 8th Birthday

Camp Half Blood

March 13, 2010 at 3:30

 Please note that Camp Half Blood has moved to the Isle of Lemnos (currently <our address>) 

We will practice warrior training (including monster evasion tactics), and Ancient Greek.  Dionysus will provide the drinks, Demeter will provide the pizza. 

 Please send an Iris message letting us know whether you’ll be able to attend or if you have been sent on some other Quest.  If you are out of Golden Drachmas, you may call (or text) xxx-xxxx to be connected to Emily, daughter of Hera, Goddess of Motherhood.  

¬†If Zeus throws rain and lightning bolts our way, we will reschedule for a sunnier day.¬† We‚Äô‚Äôll be outside, so make sure you‚Äôre dressed warmly‚ÄĒeven demi-gods can get cold.

 This was dressed up with a double Greek key motif (that pattern that you instantly recognize as Ancient Greek) and printed in Perpetua Titling font.  Honestly, a lot of parents were confused by the invitation Рyou really have to have read the books to get it, but they were able to get the important details out of it.

As guests arrived, they “consulted the Oracle” (a bucket labeled “Oracle”) to find out who their Greek God parent was.¬† They pulled out a name tag that said

Hi!  My name is                 and my Dad/Mom is <God/Goddess name>! 

The kids were always excited to find out what their parent was the god of.¬†¬†All the gods had multiple options, and I always chose the most exciting option – Apollo could have been music, archery or poetry.¬† Guess which one I chose?¬† They were occupied¬†discussing what powers they must have and comparing notes on their newfound heritage while all the guests arrived.¬† I wanted to give everyone a laurel wreath to wear, but that just didn’t happen.

Next, everyone got to decorate their shields.¬† I bought 16″ cake circles from a craft store with my 40% off coupon, then spray painted them black.¬† Add two bottles of gold craft paint¬†(a little goes a long way, so squeeze some out onto little paper plates instead of passing bottles around) and a bunch of cheap paint brushes, and you have an exciting craft.¬† Tip:¬† Write their names on the back with a gold metallic marker BEFORE they start painting.¬† When they were done painting, it was on to:

Medusa Freeze Tag – On one piece of paper, draw a picture of a snake (or Medusa‚Äôs head).¬† Make more pieces that are blank, so that there’s one piece of paper for each player. ¬†Each player chooses a piece of paper; the player who gets the one with the picture of the snake is Medusa, while the other players are demigods.¬† Medusa tries to freeze¬†the other players by touching them. When a player is frozen, he freezes¬†in whatever position he was in when touched.¬† Other players, the demigods, can try to ‚Äúrescue‚Ä̬† frozen players: to unfreeze them, they must crawl between a frozen player‚Äôs legs.¬† The game continues until Medusa freezes¬† everyone ‚ÄĒ the last player to be frozen then¬† becomes¬† Medusa, and the game starts all over again.¬† This was surprisingly more fun than I’d expected – I mean, I thought it would be fun, just not THAT much fun.

Next, Capture the Flag.  I just used squares of fabric that I had lying around for the flags, and hooked them onto opposite sides of the fence.  Since we only had two girls, we played shirts vs skins.

While they were playing Medusa tag and Capture the Flag, we grown-ups let the shields dry and attached zip ties through holes in the shields to make handles. 

Then it was time for battle training – Ambrosia Shooters (not as grown-up or intoxicating as it sounds).¬† I made marshmallow shooters out of PVC pipe for everyone (basically blow guns with handles and a bend so they are less likely to aspirate marshmallows), and attached bags of mini-marshmallows (ambrosia, food of the gods) for ammo.¬† These did NOT turn out as well as I would have liked, but the kids had a good time battling each other and fending off ambrosia with their shields.¬† I think it would have been better if I could have stepped down the end of the shooter to 1/4″ pipe so that the kids got better distance.

Battle Practice - the dead, the wounded and the fighters

Boring pizza and chips for dinner (did I mention I was pregnant during this and not up to my usual standards?), followed by the world’s coolest Percy Jackson cake.

Top View

Greek key motif on the sides.¬† Magical items include Persephone’s pearls, Poseidon’s trident, Zeus’s lightning bolt, scorpion from the Pit of Tartarus, Medusa, Hermes’s winged shoe, the Minotaur’s horn and Thalia, the girl who was turned into a pine tree.¬† I made enough for everyone to have a magical object.¬† They tasted awful, since they were made of royal icing, but the kids loved them.¬† Royal icing is ridiculously easy to make, and if you pipe shapes onto waxed paper, you can paint them with food coloring after they dry.¬† It is then pretty fragile, so be careful of thin lines and joints.¬† You can (and should) make them days ahead of time, and make extras in case they break.

This was the end of our party, but I had other ideas I didn’t use.¬† I originally planned the party later in the day so that we could go outside and play with glow in the dark necklaces/bracelets while the sun went down, then we could look for constellations in the sky once it was dark.¬† I was also going to teach them, or at least show them, how¬†to write their names in Greek.¬† Bobbing for olives sounded cute, but I didn’t think too many 8 year olds liked olives that much.¬† If I could have found enough cheap orange t-shirts, I’d have made Camp Half Blood shirts for everyone.¬† I couldn’t think of any blue food I wanted to make, but it would have been¬†appropriate – Percy’s mom had a thing for serving blue food (you know, blue like the ocean?).¬† I’m trying to get away from sending bags of candy home with kids, but I could have gathered blue candy to give them.¬† Trident, trident, lightning bolt (like duck, duck, goose) would have been fun, too.

If you like these ideas and want more details, just ask, I’m happy to tell you more!

The Nesting Urge

I’m now about 6 months pregnant (which hopefully explains my lack of posting???).¬† This is my third child, a girl.¬† She will be blessed with a decorated room and a very clean house when she is born, as I have been seized with¬†a need to clean and decorate that can only be called nesting.¬† I didn’t have this with my boys.¬† Oh, sure, I hung up a couple of pictures, put some toys out, washed the sheets before putting them on the crib, etc.¬† But I did these things because I felt like they were the necessary steps before bringing home a baby.¬† It seemed logical at the time and now.¬† This time, it is beyond logical.¬† I can’t do the things that need to be done because my brain NEEDS to make blankets, bumper pads and decorative items, and clean out cupboards and closets and change the showerheads and toilet seats and…¬† So much so that here it is, nearly 3 months later, and I’m finishing this post because I forgot that I hadn’t finished it back in May.¬† I miss my brain.

It seems the Christian fundamentalists, conservatives, bible-thumpers, whatever you want to call them, are getting riled up again.¬† Or maybe I’ve just had the dumb luck to keep finding articles about more and more irritating things people are doing to push the Christian agenda.¬† Such as the state of Texas having their curriculum railroaded by a young earth fundamentalist (Don McLeroy)¬†into one that focuses on all the Christian leanings of the founding fathers, their Christian¬†intentions and conservative leaders through the years.¬† Or the attempt of a local elementary school to make third graders sing “In God We Still Trust” – with the stipulation that if you don’t want to sing this song, you can’t be in the assembly, period.¬† (The parents of the children that didn’t want to sing the song sued and got an injunction against that particular song – the school ended up putting another christian song in the program.)

When our founding fathers drafted the Bill of Rights, the genius of it was that it was a living document.¬† They knew that¬†they could not foresee what issues the country would face in the future, so they wrote in a way for it to be interpreted.¬† When they wrote the freedom of religion bit, it was wildly liberal to allow BOTH forms of Christianity that were being practiced in America at the time.¬† They did not, however, state that the government would allow Congregationalists (derived from Puritanism) and Anglicans, they stated that government would not establish a religion, nor would it prevent a religion from being practiced.¬† In 1801, Baptists begged Thomas Jefferson to shed some light on the whole freedom of religion thing so that they and other “minority religions” wouldn’t be persecuted/left out/asked to leave town.¬† Jefferson came out with the idea of separation of church and state.¬†

Today, the same religions that benefitted from separation of church and state, that probably would have been squeezed out if Jefferson had come down with “Yes, well, really, that means proper religions, not those loony Baptists,” are trying to break that down.¬† Where would that take us?¬† Nowhere good.¬† We can’t pick and choose which religions are acceptable without risking becoming as fanatical as the fundamentalist Muslims many fundamentalist Christians mock.¬†

Clearly, not all Muslims are terrorists.¬† If they were, we’d all be Muslim by now (there are just so manyof them)¬†and there wouldn’t be a¬†terrorism problem anymore, at least not from them.¬† And, obviously, not all conservative Christians are ready to take up arms to ensure this is a Christian country.¬† But where is the line between rational preference to your own religion¬†and irrational intolerance towards other religions drawn?¬† Is it okay to say “no religions that encourage killing?”¬† That would¬†forbid Christianity – read the Old Testament.¬† For that matter, that would¬†forbid Judaism.¬† Government has every right to say “No killing,” which ought to be enough.¬†¬†The law doesn’t care¬†what motivates¬†a murderer to kill.¬† If a person doesn’t have enough good sense to follow the most basic of laws, it doesn’t matter what their religion tells them; you could probably convince them of anything.¬†

Is it okay to say “Yes, you can practice your religion, but here in the school where you must go unless you have enough money to go somewhere else, we are going to show you that you really ought to be Christian”?¬† That is tantamount to “Do as¬†I say, not as I do.”¬† Peer pressure is an accepted phenomenon.¬†¬† My own son decided to believe in God several times over because (these are his words here) ¬†he “didn’t think <his friends> would be friends with him anymore if he didn’t.”¬† That’s out of the mouth of a FIVE YEAR OLD, which is well below the age of serious peer pressure, from a child who has told me many times over that he doesn’t care what other people think of how he dresses, what books he likes, what tv shows he likes, or what food he likes.¬†

But say that we do end up with a Christian slant in public schools, thanks to people like Don McLeroy.¬† Now, if it works the way they wanted,¬†we’ll have a generation of people that mostly believes that Christianity is the preferred religion.¬† Even if that doesn’t get them to change their religion, they won’t be as quick to stand up for their own religion.¬† Children who were already Christian will have the feeling that they are “right” and all those other kids just aren’t quite up to snuff.¬† Hmm, now it sounds a little like the way whites related to blacks when I was a kid.¬† “Sure, sure, you ought to be in school, but once we can all read and write, we’ll be put in the advanced classes with the better teachers¬†and you can suffer with the bad teachers who don’t expect you to be able to learn anything because you’re, well, you’re black.”¬† Not a one of my friends (nor¬†I)¬†would have admitted to feeling this way (especially not my friend Kenya, who WAS black but had a mother strong enough to stand up to the school and insist that her daughter be put in the advanced classes as well).¬† But did we stand up and ask why we were suddenly segregated again?¬† No.¬† Did we question that the students who were good enough to be in our classes last year weren’t anymore?¬† No.¬†

Is this how it started in the Middle East?  That someone thought their religion was the better one, and made slight injustices to the other religions seem okay, then increased the injustices?  Ah, now it sounds more like Hitler. 

I don’t understand why Christians feel the need to make the entire world Christian.¬† Yes, I know, it’s in the bible, but WHY?¬† Arrogance?¬† Can’t imagine that another religion could provide as much comfort now and in the next life?¬† Simple peer pressure?¬† A need to fill the church coffers?¬†

I don’t really care what religion the people around me are, or if they have a religion.¬† I want my neighbors to keep their house and yard clean, to rear their children to be polite, law-abiding citizens, to be¬†considerate to their neighbors, to be polite, law-abiding citizens themselves.¬†¬† That’s all.¬† I’ve lived near Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus¬†and who knows what else, and I can’t single out one religion for having a monopoly on those traits.¬†

Our founding fathers knew that Congregationalists and Anglicans were both capable of being good people, they simply didn’t foresee that our country would be such a mix of religions.¬† Surely we can see that religion is NOT an indicator of how good a person can be, nor how good a government can be.

Feathering the nest

I’m trying to track back to find out where I got the urge to finally make my house a “home.”¬† For a long time, our house has been a place to store our stuff and for us to hang out in, but I’ve never actually made any place I’ve lived feel like it’s where I want to be.¬† I used to have pity parties for myself (okay, still do sometimes…) that usually ended with “I just want to go home!”¬† But I was already home.¬† It just wasn’t making me feel very welcome.¬†

So, let’s walk back the cat.¬† Most recently, I’ve found a home for all the little odds and ends that have been shuffled from this shelf to that table to that countertop.¬† That started from the purchase of a cabinet for the living room, because I put almost all the kids’ toys in there and suddenly had room to put other stuff, then got motivated to find a home for some other stuff just by looking for a home for stuff I had handy but rarely needed, then decided some of that stuff I really didn’t need.¬†

I got the cabinet (hutch?¬† technically it’s a buffet, but we’re not using it that way) mostly on a whim.¬† The Christmas tree made us move the furniture around, and we decided we really liked that arrangement, but we would need something where the tree was to keep it “right” after Christmas.¬† I think we rearranged the furniture in the same way last year, but we didn’t have a coffee table last year.¬†¬† The coffee table really ties it together.

A few weeks ago, I wandered into a thrift shop and found an old Ethan Allen coffee table – a little beat up, but for $10, I thought we could risk whatever damage the boys might dish out to it.¬† It turns out to be an excellent table for a child who likes to play cards but can’t hold them all in his hands.¬† The drop-down sides form a perfect card sized track against the main section of the table.¬† But I digress.¬†

Now that I have the cabinet and the boys can actually get the games away, they are following the rule of¬† “Put it away before you pull out another thing.”¬† Yes, they sometimes need reminding, and some games require more than one set of equipment (my favorite was army guys with Bakugon bombs and Cuisennaire rod and¬†Connect 4 Stackers¬†battlements), but my floors have remained miraculously clear since we got the cabinet.¬†

Maybe it’s that I can finally look at my house and see something besides toys that need putting away.¬† It feels like my brain finally got sucked through the domestic vortex and can clearly see that the globe belongs on the desk in the office, the square trivet should be hung over the stove, the Monet print scrapbook paper¬†can be framed and hung over the bed for some cheap and easy art, paint the bathroom¬†the same green as the bedroom but put a blue wash over it¬†and for God’s sake, get the curtains put up and the trim touched up.¬† Just to be clear, I am not on display to my neighbors at all times, I have “temporary shades” in my living room and office.¬† Temporary means they won’t be there forever.¬† So what if it’s been¬†three and a half¬†years already!¬†

Maybe it’s because it’s finally sunk in that we live here and will be living here for quite some time.¬† I was surprised last year that we were still in this house.¬† There’s no way we’re moving¬† until the real estate market recovers considerably (or we become independently wealthy and don’t care if we take a major loss on the house).¬†¬†

I’ve had the urge to make my house homey before, but I’ve never been able to pull it off.¬† When we left the B&B, we let the new managers move into the living quarters right away since we were already mostly packed and would be leaving in a couple of days.¬† Within a couple of hours, Emily & Jorge had everything out of boxes, pictures hung, fabrics draped, furniture arranged and had it looking nicer than we had ever managed to get it or, for that matter, any other place I’ve lived.

Where does this knowledge come from?¬† How do people instinctively know that you need a red vase just there, or that a little statue here would have a stunning effect?¬† I have a friend who is interested in interior design.¬† She tried to help me down this weird path by asking me what kind of energy I wanted.¬† Huh?¬† She offered some examples – warm?¬† calm?¬† cool?¬† exciting?¬† It was, I now see, a good question, but at the time I had no idea what I wanted.¬† She suggested looking through magazines and pulling pages of rooms I liked.¬† I liked a lot of bizarre combinations.¬† I liked (and am still somewhat slightly obsessed with) an Indonesian wedding bed¬†(or like this), preferably with a lot of rich fabrics and the smell of good incense.¬† I liked the blue and white scheme that looks like your windows will be open at all times to let that gentle breeze in to waft to all corners of the house the fragrance of the fresh flowers on your kitchen table.¬† I liked the simple, clean lines of Ikea’s displays.¬† I liked the Shaker look of bare wood, simple furnishings and (what used to be) utilitarian decorations of the herbs drying in bundles and bonnets hanging from the wall, a spare bobbin lying on the sole side¬†table.¬† I liked the fussy look of too many fluffy pillows with tassles everywhere, with so much art it felt like a museum for people who were allowed to touch.¬† I liked the Holly Golightly incredibly stylish yet tiny¬†apartment look.¬† I liked the artsy snob look, with local art on the walls and funky things the resident produced all over the place.¬† The only looks I could really nix were anything that had a lot of hearts,¬† toile or camoflauge in it.¬†¬†

Currently, I’m going for warm and comfortable in my living room.¬† Since we rearranged with the cabinet, I¬†enjoy sitting on the couch much more.¬† It’s motivated me to try to make something out of the “parlor.”¬† Technically, our parlor is a dining room, but since I won’t be serving food over carpet for quite some time (as in, probably enough time to get the hardwood floors put in), we call it the parlor.¬† Ideally, it would be a room that was always fit for drop-in company, especially since it is right next to the front door.¬† It is perfect for most of our guests right now – it has a train/lego table, a rocking chair and a sideboard full of books.¬† I’m not sure how many playrooms my kids need, but they only play in the living room and actual play room now.¬†

I bought a candle plate to use as a soap dish for my bathroom that looks very mermaid-like – kind of a pale turquoise mother of pearl looking thing.¬† It is now my motivation to paint my bathroom, although I’m considering replacing the light fixtures first.¬† This is the room that I’ll paint green and then put a wash over it.¬† If it were mine and mine alone and I would never have to think about selling the house, I would¬†use a very pale blue with some sort of sparkly additive for the wash.¬† I’ll have to ask at the boys’ old preschool – they both came home with something that had a very delicate sparkle to it that would be perfect.¬† Then I would want a print of Botticelli’s birth of Venus hung next to my sink, and either some greenish-blue-ish-grey or peach towels.¬† Yes, lovely.¬†¬† But might that be too juvenile with the sparkly?¬† Would that bother me later?¬† Hmm.¬† Crazy idea – make a sample board, leave it up for a month.¬† Yes, just nutty!¬†

As for the boys’ rooms, I’ve been inspired by Ikea.¬† I accompanied a friend down there to get her bed shortly before Christmas, and picked up a nifty decoration.¬† Technically, it’s a curtain rod.¬† It’s a wire that goes from one side of the room to the other.¬† I’m going to put clips on the wire and let them hang up their artwork, favorite pictures, posters, or whatever on it.¬† I think I’d like to have a shelf run along the wall a few inches above it, to display the random things that they get (such as¬†the trophy that’s the only thing disrupting my living room).¬† Ikea had a tiny kid’s room on display.¬† It was half the size of my closet, and had everything a child could need.¬† Baskets hanging from the wall held all sorts of little things (which tend to get left on the floor, then they have no idea where to put anything).¬† I would like to put more bright, bold colors in their rooms, but I’m not sure which way to go.¬† I love the knight/castle thing I made for John, but the colors aren’t terribly inspiring.¬†

Back to my original question¬† – where did this motivation come from?¬† I think it may be that I am closer to anwering my friend’s question – I want my bathroom to make me feel clean and light (like a mermaid!).¬† I want my living room to make me feel warm and cozy.¬† I want my kitchen to make me feel like a master¬†Italian cook.¬† I want my parlor to make me feel elegant and formal.¬† I don’t know what I want my office or kids’ rooms to feel like.¬† Does this say anything about me?¬† Does it mean that I know myself better?¬† I could point to lots of other examples in my life that say I do (but I won’t, because YOU don’t know me that well, either!)¬† Does it mean that sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees – in this case, the trees being all the toys and games and junk strewn everywhere?¬† I’m afraid I can’t just blame the kids, my housekeeping skills have improved vastly over the last decade or so.¬† Or does it just mean that I’m finally growing up?¬† Have I finally brought the right experiences together to make me aware of who I am and what I like, and therefore how I want my house to look?