Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome to Possum Cottage

Man, oh man, have I fallen behind on my blogging! Yikes! I feel like ever since Elka turned one (actually a little before that...) life has been seriously nutty. I am able to tackle everything that needs to be done (except laundry; don't ask me about my laundry) but there's no room for extras. None!
Well, unless the extra is buying a house. We apparently had time for that, back at the beginning of the month. And having a fourth baby. We're evidently doing that too, in April.
I'm going to begin a new blog, and it will be called I've got it already and there are a few seriously oversized and misplaced pictures on it and no text because I can't figure out how to do ANYTHING, including something as simple as resizing a few pictures. I don't know why they are turning out so huge over there when I've never had that problem here (that I can recall, anyway.) To tide you over until the new domain is up and running, here are the first pictures that will be featured there, and what will roughly be my introduction post. Welcome to Possum Cottage!

Back in July, I checked out a house on a whim. I've been pretty vocal about the fact that we'd been looking for a place in the country for some time and we were feeling really burnt out on the whole search. We'd come so close to getting a number of places and for various reasons, they fell through. "It's not the one," we got good at telling ourselves. But after more than a year, it seemed like we were never going to find "The One."

But then there was this place. I'd been seeing it on my real estate apps for awhile and had emailed about seeing it once, but got no response. It didn't really look that great online though. Small house. Only two acres. In the middle of nowhere. Meh. But it kept being there on my screen and I kept seeing it and I was kind of feeling desperate so one morning I just called the listing realtor and asked to see it. They could show it to me that afternoon! Yay! Obviously, Martin would be at work, so I just decided to go by myself. But then my mom called me and I told her I was going to see a house and she said she and my dad (freshly retired!) would come with me. (My mom is a really curious person.) So we did. It was about fifteen minutes or so away from our downtown house. I did not have super high expectations--I knew the area, for one thing, and was pretty certain, judging by that and the image on google maps, that this was going to be a boring little plot in the middle of prime Indiana flatness.  However, as I turned onto The Road (what would later be "our road"!) I was pleasantly surprised! What is that little rise in the earth!? Is that--is that a HILL!? Is that ROLLING cornfields?? I drove by a few nice little old farmhouses a few newer ones, and then I came over a rise and I saw in the distance the house I had seen on That was it. That was our house. I got really, really excited as I drove up and saw the address and pulled in the driveway. So excited that I already had my phone out and as soon as I put the car in park I texted Martin something I had only said once before: "I think this might be the one." I hadn't even seen the inside! I just knew.

There's a playset in the yard with two swings, so Anja and Greta were thrilled and occupied while we inspected the outside. A few trees, a nice rolling lot.... way better than I'd been picturing. Off to one side was a fenced in area that was so overgrown you could hardly see the buildings in it. No one was sure if that was part of the property or not, but after a phone call to another realtor, it was established that yes, that was part of it... it was where they kept their goats. (My heart kind of stopped there. No joke.)
 Doesn't Judy the Truck look nice? She fits right in .

As does Elka.

So, when we saw the inside it was only more obvious that this was the house for us. All hardwood floors, lots of windows, farmhouse sink. What more could you want? The bathroom is a little junky and the kitchen might need "updating" as they say (although I did paint some cabinets and my dad painted part of the kitchen which was a very nausiating blue to a much nicer light green) and we (Martin. All Martin.) built a wood floor over the bedroom's original cement floor. And it's really small. But even with all that, it is perfect for us. Just perfect. It has a nice little porch, a fun little mudroom off the kitchen, an attic that someday will be useable, and a basment that you have to remove floorboards to get to.  We have a chicken coop attached to the garage outside, a big pen with animal outbuildings, a firepit, a playground and the perfect area for a little orchard down the line. Right now the only animals are the two dogs, but they are so happy to be able to run free (as in, run away down the road with the neighboring farmdogs) and the two cats, who are still a little traumatized from the move and have a hard time gathering the courage to leave the bathroom. But this place has potential to be a beautiful little homestead.

We are so happy here. The kids are able to run and play. Instead of saying, "Can we go outside?" and me saying, "No sweetheart, the molesters are out," they ask and run out the door before I even answer. Because OF COURSE they can play outside. The biggest danger now is the prickle plants that grow in the yard and really smart if you step on them.

The drive into town so far is not at all daunting. We've been going in A LOT, like every day, and that's getting a little ridiculous for current gas prices, but the drive itself is not bad at all. Besides, the freedom we have out here is worth any commute.

We're still living out of boxes for the most part, but slowly things are finding their places and pictures are being hung on the walls. I think all of our stuff is now here.... at least the majority of it. We still need to clear out (to a big honkin' dumpster) the rest of the old house and clean it out and then put it up for rent and cross our fingers.

In other news, Anja is still in speech therapy this year and totally rocking it. She's making enormous improvements, and through her improvements, Greta's speech is clearing up at pretty much the same rate. We've been sitting out of ballet classes.... we took one over the summer at the community center but Anja didn't really want to take it again and Greta ran out of middle of the first class crying and refused to ever go back.... so that was kind of a bust. We're looking into one more session at the original place before Anja turns 6 and they can't be in the same class anymore.

We are expecting baby #4 in the spring! It's been the easiest pregnancy so far (about a week away from the second trimester), and my cravings have been very, very different. We're all guessing it's a boy and Anja is even hoping for a boy!

Hopefully the new blog will be up and running soooooon!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

YOU HATE ME!!!! (No, I hate Judgers)

 Today something really funny happened. It was funny to me, and someday I hope Greta will see the humor in it as well. This is how it went:
Greta: "Mama, will you put this bow in my side ponytail?"
Me: "Sure! Which way do you want it to go?"
Greta: "I want it like this." (shows me, sort of, which direction it should face.)
Me: "Okay..." (Puts in bow) "Now, you go look in the bathroom mirror and see if I did it right."
Greta: (Coming back from the bathroom) "No..... I want it looking THIS way." (shows me the same thing she did the first time.)
Me: "Well, I think I can just turn it, like this... there, now go see if that's right."
Greta: (Horror Movie-Type screams from the bathroom) "NOOOOO!!!!! YOU DIDN'T DO IT RIGHT!!!!!!  YOU HATE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "

She came back in, with just a bump left in her hair after she pulled out the rubberband and hairbow and threw them someplace in the bathroom. (I haven't found them yet.) She glared at me. She pouted for a second. Then she got back to the game she'd been playing before she found the bow.

So, I thought this was funny, I called Martin to tell him about it, we had a laugh, and then this evening when I was on Facebook, I put it up as my status. But then I read though it, and I thought, "that looks bad. someone will judge me." So I got on the computer and deleted it. And then I thought I'd write a blog post about Judgers.

I don't like Judgers, I don't like being judged, and I don't like it when I started judging others. Judging is an ugly, mean, pointless thing to do, yet we all do it. I do it! In fact, that's probably why I thought someone would judge me for that status update; because I could see myself falling into the trap. "Her four-year-old says "you hate me"? What kind of horrible things do they say in that house?!" The fact is, I have NO IDEA where Greta gets half the things she says and does. It's not like I go around telling her I hate her. It's not as if I've ever even said those words to her EVER IN HER LIFE. Likewise, I have never hit her, kicked her, bitten her, pulled her hair, scratched her, sat on her stomach and started jumping up and down, or physically harmed her in ANY WAY. She does all those things to me, though. Almost every day, and multiple times. We aren't a spanking family and our "time outs" involve sending them off to a quiet spot by themselves with a book or magazine to look at until they have calmed down. But if you met Greta, you would not think we were a gentle family AT. ALL.

I felt a little sad that I deleted the story from Facebook. It makes me sad that I read so many articles that are basically about how moms should stop being so hard on themselves, stop feeling judged by other moms, and stop doing judging ourselves. There are SO MANY blog posts and articles out there that are encouraging to mothers, saying "You are doing your best, and your best is great!" because we all feel so guilty and less-than and (am I overusing this word yet?) JUDGED. It's so sad. It seems like we all want to be the best, but at the same time, we all feel like we're failing miserably.

For the most part, all moms out there are trying their darndest to raise their kids the way they think is best for their individual kids and their family. Who can judge that?

Big news around here this past week: Anja lost her first tooth! And speaking of self-loathing, when she first showed me it was loose, I thought for sure that it was my fault, it was rotting out, because I was such a horrible mother and fed her too many sweets. I was convinced. But then the day after it fell out I took a look in her mouth and her permanent tooth is like halfway grown in already. So I guess the loss was natural. Thank goodness!
This past weekend was the 41st annual Indiana Fiddler's Gathering. We trekked out there on Saturday and it was glorious. It rained the whole time, but it was a warm, cozy rain and the girls had their faces painted and got to eat elephant ears and lemon shakeups and listen to good music and dance in the rain. Sounds like a good day to me! Sunday the festival was called off early due to the heavy rain in the morning. We got there and they were taking down the stage. Such a bummer. Anja cried. Sad face.

Right now we're in a chilly spell. We are having SUCH a different summer than what we saw last summer--last summer it was a Big Event when it rained, and this summer I feel like it's all we see!

Oh! Greta got her ears pierced!! Last Tuesday night as we were cuddling up to go to bed, she said she wanted to get her ears pierced TOMORROW. I warned her that it hurt but that if she still wanted to in the morning, we'd do it after swimming. She woke up all excited to get her ears pierced that day so right after swimming lessons (they lasted two weeks, every morning from 9:30-10) we went to the mall with the cousins and Aunt Sarah, and Greta got her ears pierced with little blue daisy earrings. They are really cute and really suit her. And she was so brave! Not one tear! That girl has some Determination along with all that Crazy.

My uncle generously gave us a kiddie pool, a kids popup tent, three little yard chairs, and a kids picnic table, and then the next day my parents gave us a climby thing with a slide, so our yard has gone from a tangle of weeds and tomato plants to a kids paradise overnight. We also have sidewalks that go all the way up the side of the house and loop around in the backyard, so they've been riding their bikes a lot back there too. Also, since they're big enough not to wander off, I can let them play outside the kitchen door. We've fixed up our side yard to have mulch and herbs/garden shelves along the fence, a birdfeeder, and their own gardening things. it's a nice little place for them. we might put a little patio by the bird feeder and put the little picnic table there so they can eat their lunch outside. It's nice to finally be able to let them outside to play on their own sometimes! Having older kids is so far way more fun than I thought it would be.

And they all just keep growing....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer..... and Elka is One

 Do you remember this 8 pound bundle of mohawk amazingness? It's hard to believe that she has gone from that little bundle of joy to this little bundle of mischief!
Elka. Elkaberry. Elkaphant. ElkaDelka. (or, the similar, ElikaDelika.) E. Elkie. Elkie-doodle. (and the also similar, but "mom don't call me that in public" version,  Elka-Doo-Doo.)

She is scrumptious and funny and fun and loveable. She has the loudest scream of anyone I've ever known. She is extremely opinionated and has made it very clear that she WILL NOT be bossed around by her big sisters. She's got a good grip. She loves to eat! She really, REALLY loves water. She has six teeth, green eyes, and still rocks the mohawk. She is wonderful!

And now she is one. An entire year has gone by and she went from a snuggly blob of person to a walking, talking, understanding PERSON. Last summer will live on in my mind as the most sunny, relaxing, liesurely summer of my entire life. It was amazing. It was like my entire life was just a huge beach vacation. (except replace that gorgeous beach view with my scummy street. Not quite the same. But still relaxing.) This summer is not quite as relaxing, but it is lots of FUN. All because of that silly one year old and her busy big sisters!

I wish I could keep this blog up more regularly. I saw a friend at church on Sunday, who also has three children, roughly the same ages as mine, and we were talking about how three is great number, but all of our time is spent parenting. There's no time for anything else. That's how I feel these days--it's pretty crazy, but it's a good crazy.

A good example of this is my Right Now: It's 12:25am and I am practically falling off my chair I'm so tired, but I can't go to bed because I have cherry handpies in the oven that have 15 minutes left to bake. I'm making handpies from the cherries we picked today with the cousins after swimming practice, because tomorrow after swimming we are having a Cherry Picnic with all these cherries we picked today. But swimming lessons start at 9:30 and I struggle to get myself and all three girls ready and over to the pool by that time. So, it's a good busy, but it's a busy busy.

More later, someday, when my brain can wake up a little more.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When I Grow Up

I was twelve when I got my first guitar (a Lotus, from a pawn shop) and shortly after I learned how to play "Love Me Do" and "Feelin Groovy," I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up: I wanted to be "a hippie."

I started out on the right foot, listening to the Bee Gees (old Bee Gee's, far before the white pants and disco moves) on my garage sale turntable, wondering what the heck Abercrombie & Fitch was and why the girls in my class went there on the weekends. My idea of a hippie was the beautiful part of the picture of the 60's and 70's; girls with long flowing hair and flower necklaces and fun shirts. I didn't even know what marijuana was until I was in highschool, so you can imagine how foreign the concept of free love and LSD were to me. Clue.Less.

My mom and my grandparents tried to dissuade me. They told me hippies were dirty. They told me they smelled bad and that they were homeless. (they didn't mention the drugs and sex.) What I really remember is them stressing to me how bad hippies smell. This really is interesting to me now, as I just got a stick of Nature's Gate non-antiperspirant deodorant from my monthly organic food co-op order. I don't think I smell bad. Well, not too bad, anyway.

This post is not really about deodorant though. (Unless, of course, your deodorant is what makes you who you are. Mine really has very little to do with my identity, I just was curious about ginger deodorant. My underarm stick useage ranges from Anything-Nothing and has very little to do with Who I Am.)

This post is about being true to yourself and how important that is. I'm realizing that for possibly the first time as I prepare myself for sending my oldest child to kindergarten next fall. This school year is over--the preschool year, which we sat out--and I have until July to make my final decision about whether or not to homeschool. I go back and forth on this every day, thinking through the pros and cons of both options. And since I'm only a year out from having to make the decision all over again with the next daughter, I tend to do a kind of two-for-one thought deal and consider both kids while thinking through this tough decision.

I went to Catholic schools from preschool to my highschool graduation and I turned out just fine. I never had any issues with bullying, I never had much drama, I never tried to keep up with the other girls in my class. I mostly didn't care. I'm not sure I had any enemies, and I had a small group of really great friends. I never felt like my identity or freedom of person was at stake just because I spent every day in a classroom, however, I remember our classrooms as being very free. I don't remember spending a whole lot of time in my desk. When I was in school there was a lot of "doing." And even if you were stuck in your desk for awhile, there was always the promise of some kind of doing right around the corner. I never felt my creativity was stifiled. I drew all the time. I wrote stories. In highschool, when the rest of the class was reading The Scarlet Letter, I simply didn't read it; I read something else that I really, really enjoyed, and I would tell my English teacher all about it. It was not classic literature, it was some stupid pop fiction book, and she told me I'd still have to take the Scarlet Letter test, and I didn't care, I never read it. I failed the test. She was never mad at me. It was what it was. (Except for that test, I did very well in her class.) I was being true to myself in the moment, and she didn't judge me for that.

Then I think about what I know of today's schools. It's very different. I feel like I've blogged about this before--about how creativity is being pushed out of the classroom. About how the fourth graders I subbed for weren't allowed to draw in their free time--they were expected to do worksheets. Always more busywork to do. Always in your desk. Always paying attention. Always following these exact directions. Never thinking outside the box.

I recently had a short email discussion with a friend about homeschooling and his response was that schools, as he has observed, are turning out people who are "intelligent, but dull." Martin and I thought that was dead on. Intelligent, but dull. Prepared for college. Prepared for work. Prepared for The Nine To Five. Prepared for a life of drudgery, following the rules, following the other sheep, doing what others do because that's what is expected and that's what they've been trained to do.

I so don't want my kids to be made out of ticky tacky. I talked to their ballet teacher last week and thanked her for being kind to them, (without saying "even though they are the worst ballerinas in the class") and she responded that they are a joy and that it's wonderful to see free spirits. And it reminded me that not everyone IS a free spirit. Not everyone is encouraged to be. Not everyone is encouraged to think outside the box, to be themselves.

Where the heck am I going with this blabbering post?!

I don't even know. I just know that I've been listening to a lot of Joan Baez lately and I realized that Joan Baez isn't very cool anymore, but that I don't care because I love her anyway. And I love anti-war songs because they are passionate. And I love Joan Baez for more than her great hair.

Listening to Joan Baez makes me want to homeschool forever.

Here is the point of this post: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. If you can, that is. For example, before I got my guitar, I really wanted to be a veterinarian. But then I realized that I really suck at science and math and that maybe a medical profession was not really my calling. But, I still love animals! I can still have a few goats or sheep and a lot of dogs and cats even though I can't administer vaccinces or anesthesia to them. I can play music to them. That's being true to myself. I can teach my kids all the words to "The Battle of New Orleans" because that is being true to myself. I can wear outdated clothes and ginger deodorant because that is being true to myself, even if it makes people stand a few feet farther away from me in checkout lines.

There are things I'm into and things I'm not into; there are things about me that are hip (maybe... I'm still trying to think of one, actually... oh, I have a small garden!!) and things that are out of style. (everything else.) There are things that are "in" that I wish I could be into! (Like bike riding--love the idea, hate the traffic.) But I am happy with who I am because I am the person I've wanted to be since I was twelve. I have two dogs, two cats, and I'm still obsessed with anti-war folk songs from the 1960's. I think it's really important to be true to yourself. I want to teach my kids the same thing. I fear it will be harder with Anja, as she ventures out further into the world. She might be affected by judgement in a negative way.

Greta, on the other hand, doesn't give two hoots about what other people do or think.

It's funny--I worry about Anja in a way of society having a negative impact on her internal person. I just worry about Greta wandering off and getting lost. Haha. Actually, I'm serious.

At the end of the day, I'd rather live in a tree than in ticky tacky boxes. (Anja and I have grand plans about living in trees. Maybe someday.)

I have another post in my head about daughters. Another time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Okay, so Joannie tagged me on this thing called the Liebster Award. I don't even get it. But I do like to play along, so here goes! Thanks, Joannie!

How it works is:
 Thank the person who nominated you and link your post to their blog.
List 11 facts about yourself then answer the 11 questions given to you.
Create 11 more questions for your 9 nominees, all of whom have 200 or less followers.
Comment on their blogs informing them of their Liebster Award nomination. (<
Let's begin.

Eleven Facts About Annie:

1. I am prohibitively short. We have this upper cabinet shelf where my mixing bowls live and Martin likes to store a stack of red cups there. I can't actually reach that shelf, so while he would like the three red plastic cups to be stacked neatly and set beside the mixing bowls, I just have to kind of throw them up there and it's his tough luck that he has to go looking for them whenever he wants a drink.

2. I love to bake biscuits! I love to bake biscuits so much that my family is sick to death of them. But I still bake them all the time. They are super fast to throw together in a pinch, it makes me feel like a real old-fashioned homemaker, and they are oh-so-yummy with melty butter and some fruity jam.

3. I love possums! I love possums almost as much as I love baking biscuits, except that biscuits don't have that potention rabies transmission risk. (which is why the biscuits made it to #2, which is above #3 on this list.)

4. I will never travel internationally. I hate airplanes. I spent a few years when my siblings lived out of state spending a lot of time on airplanes and for awhile I liked them, and then that changed to not minding them so much, and by the time my sister moved back to Indiana from Florida, I really hated flying. And so I have come to the conclusion that where I am is a good place to be, and if I want to be someplace outside of driving distance, well, that's just too bad for me.

5. There was this one time when Lisa Loeb came through our area on a tour and played at a couple of universities nearby. She didn't have an opening act, and I was involved in the local music scene and so I was invited to open for her for a couple of nights of her shows. I had pretty much forgotten about this after it happened, until I had kids and we listen to a lot of Elizabeth Mitchell (if you don't know her, look her up, you will love her) and she has an album with Lisa Loeb. I chuckle now, remembering that I did that funny thing long ago. She was a very nice lady!

6. I want a sheep farm. I do. I want to raise sheep for meat and fiber. I have always wanted to have a farm, ever since I was a little, little kid, and now that I'm a grownup I don't know why I haven't done it yet. But I really, really want to. And along with the sheep, I will have lots of dogs and cats because I really love dogs and cats. Especially cats....

7. I am a cat lady in training. I really should have a name badge or certificate to make this official. There are days when I look at my cats with the same kind of adoration with which I look at my children.

8. I was going to put down that I'm a procrastinator, but I'll do it for number nine..

9. Procrastination is my favorite hobby, next to knitting and snuggling my cats. I put off anything and everything for later, until I get that sudden angry urge to purge everything in my life and start over because everything has become such a huge mess. One example of this is how we're having a yard sale tomorrow (as I write this) because we'd really like to sell our house and move out of our scummy neighborhood. Last spring (an entire YEAR ago) we set an easy deadline of putting our house on the market on my birthday. That would be October 6th. For those of you without a calendar handy, I'll just tell you that my half birthday was a week ago.

10. I carry every day in my right hand pocket a Spyderco Delica knife with a green handle. It comes in handy for things like cutting yarn, be it from a knitting project or around the neck of a three year old, I'm always glad to have it. (Also, it'll be good if I ever need to stab a bad guy. Be afraid, bad guys. I have an excellent trainer.) If I don't have pockets I carry it on my skirt waistband. And I try not to mind when my skirt is saggy on one side.


Whew! I bet that's more about me than you wanted to know. Now, on to the questions from Joannie.

1. If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would it be?
:: I would be Robyn from the novel "Nice Work" by David Lodge. I can't really say why, but she is who I wish I was. (Sorry if you have no idea what I'm talking about. I couldn't think of anyone in current pop culture, she was the first one who came to mind.)

2. What's your favorite book of the Bible?
:: Zow. Can I just claim the entire Old Testament?

3. What's your favorite thing to cook or bake?
:: BISCUITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4. What's your favorite Christmas movie?
:: Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. HAND.DOWN.

5. Do you subscribe to any magazines?
:: Two! Country Living and Backwoods Home Magazine. They are like polar opposites of "country" magazines and they are the only two magazines I get.

6. Mac or PC?
:: What the Huh? I do all my internetting on an iPhone, but for big things we have this crappy laptop that we dig out. That's what I'm using now. We're never sure if it's going to live through startup. As a matter of fact, this evening things were looking pretty dire, but after a few restarts, it's still chugging. The scroll bar on the side isn't working, I have to use the arrow keys, but whatever.

7. What's your favorite city in the United States?
:: Lafayette, Indiana. (But if we go smaller than cities, I love Paoli, IN an awful lot... )

8. What's your go-to dinner for Fridays in lent?
:: GRILLED CHEESE AND TOMATO SOUP FROM A CAN. We had it every single friday this lent. I do love it so.

9. If you could spend one day with someone in history, what date would you spend with whom?
:: I would spend July 29th, 1987 with Martin Schap. We never actually met each other (that we remember) as kids, but we came so close, so often! That would be his 5th birthday party. Maybe we would have played with his new legos together.

10. If you could have a super power, what would you want and why?
:: I would want a superpower that turns whatever screaming child I touch invisible. That way when I'm at the store and someone has an enormous fit, I could just place my hand gently on her shoulder and, "what? I don't hear anyone screaming.... I think you need to see a professional; there's no screaming child around here...."

Winter or Summer?
:: Until this year I would have said winter and meant it with all my heart. But right now I'm so sick of winter I'm ready to pack it up and move south. Summer.

Okay, now is the really hard part where I have to nominate 9 people. The problem is that I'm not sure I know 9 people with blogs. But I will try, and I KNOW that some of you got nominated by Joannie too, and I'm sorry.


My 11 questions for those lucky nine are:

1: Your favorite flower
2. What's your cooking "style" ?
3. Who was your first sweetheart?
4. Can you roll your tongue?
5. If you had to flee your house in the event of a fire, but you had time to grab two material possessions (children and pets not included) what would they be?
6. Beer, wine or liquor?
7. All-time favorite childrens book author or illustrator
8. In the event of waking up to discover that you are out of coffee, share your survival plan.
9. What's your favorite social media... thing? (what are these? channels? networks? I don't even know the lingo.)
10. Dogs or cats?
11. How do you prefer your eggs?

And that concludes this Liebster post. Thanks, Joannie!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cultural Differences

We had a very nice Easter. Except for that part where even though we woke up at 5:00 in the morning, we STILL couldn't get to Mass on time. We were about ten minutes late and stood in the back the entire time. NOT the ideal Easter Mass of my fantasies, but whatever. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

The girls had new dresses and new haircuts, which is something we splurge on twice a year, and they looked all matchy-matchy and darling. Greta is four now, which is very different from being three. She's a completely different person than she was a few months ago, and mostly in a good way. The stories about her aren't quite as funny because they aren't nearly as ridiculous, but you know what, lack of stories is totally worth the new found normalcy of our household. She still wears bowie dress 24 hours a day, but she no longer cries about being wet when she's in the bathtub. Well, not usually anyway, but there I guess there's been an occasional relapse.

Elka wants to be outside ALL. THE. TIME. Today I opened the window, and she scrambled as fast as she could to the window, then climbed on top of the dollhouse so that she could get her face right against the screen.  She stayed that way for a long time. We're all happy Spring is here.
It's funny when you live your life within your home and don't have much coming in from the outside world. It's funny what you don't know. It's funny to hear your own conversations that wouldn't make sense to anybody else who might be listening. "Mama, can Amy have one of your Nutcracker books to give to Thundersnow for her birthday?" This was something I was asked today, and of course I understood that Amy is the little stuffed kitten that had just come out of the wash and the Nutcracker books are these little books within an advent calendar that Anja is completely obsessed with, and Thundersnow is the stuffed cat who has a birthday almost every day of the year. These things are talked about regularly in our house. I'm sure other houses have the same kind of conversations that to outsiders are just complete nonsense, and it's funny.  And maybe at other houses too the children come up to their parents and seriously ask, "What kind of animal are you?" and you are expected to choose. And you might be asked to change three times in ten minutes, but that's just how it is, and you have to be ready for the switch. That's just how the day goes.

Anja and Greta are in ballet right now and it's HILARIOUS to watch them. They're kind of clueless. They try, and they LOVE it so much, but they just ("they", being especially directed toward "Greta") are just so bad at it. Last Tuesday she spent probably 1/3 of the time admiring her round tummy in the mirror while the rest of the class was practicing the dance they're learning for the recital. (Our girls won't be in the recital. I'm sure the other ballerinas are beyond grateful.) Greta spends a lot of time hopping. I don't know how familiar you are with ballet, and I admit that I am not a dancer on any level, but I know for a fact that "hopping" is not a regularly rehearsed ballet movement. (Nor is "belly admiration.") They do this thing at one point in the dance called "run and leap" from one side of the room to the other. It happens during the instrumental part of the song they dance to and you can imagine how graceful and beautiful it's supposed to be. I wish I had a video of Greta, bouncing and spinning from one side of the room to the other. If I didn't know that what they were doing was called "run and leap" I would never, ever, ever guess that's what she was trying to do. She doesn't run, she doesn't leap. She's like a little bouncy ball. And just like a bouncy ball, you never know where she's going to end up, and often she arrives at a place where she isn't supposed to be. Luckily, the teacher is very sweet and redirects her kindly.

And I have to wonder as I sit there, stifling my laughter, am I expected to talk to them about how to dance? Am I supposed to encourage them to stop admiring themselves in the mirror and follow directions? Because I don't really want to. I LIKE the way they dance. I don't care if they are a step behind everyone else! They are having so much fun and they feel so beautiful! If I were to tell them to try harder and keep up with the rest of the class and stop making faces in the mirror, that would totally kill the joy. There's no way I'm doing that! I have never thought of my kids as being especially "spirited" but compared to the other little ballerinas they are pretty.... hyper. Which is funny because I've seen hyper kids, and my kids are not hyper at all. Anyway, all the other little girls follow the directions and do the moves at the right time and start their run-and-leaps at one side of the room and end up directly on the other side. Just like they are supposed to.

But my kids don't. And that's okay.

I'm thinking of homeschooling. Actually, I'm thinking of moving to a cave, far away from civilization where our only friends are stuffed cats named Amy and Thundersnow.

But I'll come back into Reality on Tuesdays, for ballet!

And this is my "Lark Rise to Candleford Shawl" that I just finished and that is now a permanent part of my body I love it so much Elka is crying I have to go

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Post I: Habemus Papam!

I would not normally have used this phrase as a post title, but it seemed to go well with my next one, which I started a few days ago, before we had a new pope.

Which, we now have!

It was a day of great excitement in the Catholic world and in our house today! We plugged ourselves into the hotspot with the laptop and watched the live coverage of it on EWTN. Anja was VERY into it, while Greta mostly whined "I wish we were watching Aristocats instead." Haha. Maybe she'll appreciate it next time a new pope is elected!

Our new pope chose the name Francis, which, as you might recall, has been our "boy name" for all three of our children. I love St. Francis (of Assisi.) I have loved him since 6th grade when I first saw "Brother Sun, Sister Moon." (Go ahead and laugh!) I've always felt our little family to have a closeness to St. Francis. I love that St. Francis lived a life of simplicity and peace and love. I think he's the patron saint of hippies, but I'd have to look it up. (kidding.) Really though, all of the things he stood for in his life are things that we try, as a little family, to follow. Martin and I are not much into loud, public evangelization. We more choose the style of living the faith, and hoping that we bring people to the church that way. I try to keep in mind the simplicity of St. Francis and his life (okay, I don't go quite as far as he did, but I try to keep that spirit) in our own daily family life.

Pope Francis seems to have a sweetness about him that I think the whole world needs. He calls for brotherhood, something the world needs. On facebook, a friend posted something that said "He is going to remind us how much we all love Jesus together." I think that childlike approach to our faith is so important! We as people get so worked up! We get so haughty! We get so mean! We need to a little more love and a little more sweetness and humility. We all could be more like St. Francis.

Plus, I really like animals.

Anyway, I'm so happy with our new pope! Part of that also might have something to do with being more involved in it this time--when Benedict was elected everyone was still sad that JPII had died. I was just a single girl and I found out about it just by my mom calling me at work and telling me. Not really very exciting. Today, with the help of social media, it was so exciting! So fun! I loved sharing it with.... well, with Anja. While Greta was hollering about wanting to watch Aristocats. But anyway, I hope that Anja will always have at least a little snippet of memory of this day. Maybe she'll at least remember the celebratory pizza party we had up at my parents house later!!

Now, let us leave the Catholic world for our religious roots, featured in my next post topic:

Post II: Shalom Aleichem!

(And that's as far as the Jewishness of this post goes. I am kind of in love with Jewish culture, but this post topic isn't really about that... it's about a sweater.)

I think I've mentioned on here that Martin is currently enrolled in grad school. He's in his first semester working toward a masters degree in library science. This is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that it's a degree that will hopefully enable him to get better jobs in the future. The bad thing is that it takes up pretty much every ounce of free time he would otherwise have... which isn't really much, considering he has a full time job, three very small children and two needy dogs who need to be walked at least twice a day (darn you, jumpable fence!)

But there's this secret good thing that comes from him being in school: while he is slaving away every evening getting his assignments done, I am having some super productive time with my knitting needles. I've have made multiple hats, some toys and a sweater since he started school in January and I'm working on a shawl! Nevermind that that timeslot runs us until the wee hours of the morning every day.... who needs sleep, right?

The purple hat Elka is wearing in that middle picture on my last post was the one I knit for her (the free soulemama pattern on her blog--I made it smaller than the child-sized one, I *think* I cast on 42 stitches) and here is the one I made for myself:

(photo by anja)

I really love it and I wear it all the time! Which is great, because I've knit myself a lot of hats over the years and I wear most of them, oh, never.

And here is another item I may or may not end up wearing often... the Shalom Cardigan! A free pattern from Ravelry (I can't remember who created it!) I think I like it. But it does fit a little funny, mainly in the sleeves. Now, I was warned about this, but instead of following the advice and alterations I was given, i chose to work the pattern pretty much as it was written (I did take a number of rows out of the body and it still came out longer than I would have preferred) and so the sleeves are kind of.... well, I don't know how to explain it. It's just a very shawl-like sweater with really big arm holes. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. Since I used Cascade Eco-Wool for it and it only took one skein, I'm only out twenty bucks. I think I'm going to make it again a tad bit smaller.

 Now, you might be thinking "why did Annie post such a dorky looking picture of herself?" or,  "She could certainly work on improving her posture!" But before you judge, I'd like you to take note of the person in the background. Yeah, that guy across the street. Wandering around at 7:45 on a Saturday morning. He provides for the the perfect segue into my next post topic!, which is:


Remember all that stuff I said at the beginning of this post about St. Francis, and living a life of peace and love, for everyone? Yeah, just forget I said that for awhile.

So, sometimes I love my house. Really, I love it. I love our bedroom with it's slanty ceilings and goofy closet that always smells good. I love the green painted wooden floor on the landing and the painted stairs.  I love my pretty upstairs bathroom and I love the wood floors in my front room. I love the way the sun comes through my kitchen window right at the time of day when I'm needing some motivation to be in the kitchen to make dinner for my family. I love the crown molding in my front room and the brightness of that room with it's powder blue walls. I love that after five years I have a place for every Christmas decoration. I love all these things!

But then there are things I hate about this place. Like actually LIVING here. Things I hate include:
The noise.
The neighborhood.
The people in the neighborhood.
The people who are always screaming at each other in the neighborhood.
The fact that Anja wants to move to the country because one of her little friends told her about wishing on stars and she can't see any here in the city.
The neighborhood. (oh, did I already say that one?)
Calling Martin on the phone to talk about an article he emailed me about keeping sheep, only to say "oh, sorry, I have to call the police, some homeless guy is trying to get into our house. AGAIN."

Okay, so it didn't happen exactly like that, it was more like this:
Me: "Um... somebody's trying to get in the house."
Martin: "Who is it?? Get a gun!"
Me: "I dunno, it's some guy with a blue sock cap and a backpack."
Martin: "Get a gun! Call the police!"
Me: "What gun?"
Martin: "You need to call the police. Is he really trying to come in?"
Me: "Not really... he's just at the mud room door. He was wandering around in the sideyard and now he's at that door. The dogs are barking at him, it's okay."
Martin: "Get a gun! Call the police!"
Me: "It's okay. What gun? This big one?"
Me: "Oh, I think he went to the front of the house, hang on. It's okay."
Martin: "I'm coming home."
Me: "No, no, don't be silly. We're fine. I have this...which gun did you say it was? Where is it?"
Martin: "CALL THE POLICE!!!"

By the time I got back to the front of the house, the guy was on the sidewalk talking to a policeman. (I don't know who called the police, but it wasn't me.) They talked for a long time and then the guy disappeared and the policeman stuck around awhile. Then the neighbor came home and the policeman talked to her, so after he left, I zipped over to talk to her and evidently the guy was a schizophrenic who didn't have a violent history, but who wasn't doing well and was going door-to-door allegedly trying to sell "something." He didn't have a sales license, and the policeman said if he came around again to call them and they would take care of it.

And I'm not sure he was actually trying to get into our house, but the fact that I saw him wandering around at the side of our house (our house is very long and stretches waaaaay back to the alley) and that he was almost in our backyard made me think he was kind of up to no good. (I mean, we DO have a front door. And a kitchen door. Our house is very long and we have a lot of doors.)

And I'm sure he would not have hurt us if he had come into our house. But I would have had to get him out again. And frankly, I just feel like that shouldn't be something I have to worry about regularly.... you know, getting mentally ill people out of my house in the middle of the morning.

Oh, did I mention this isn't the first time someone's tried to get into our house? The last guy was drunk. We still see him around a lot. I'm sure I've blogged about him before. I'm sure I also blogged about the time the drunk guy walked into my sister's house (when I lived there, but I wasn't home.) He just walked right in, through the backyard and into my apartment. She told him to leave, and he did... but then he tried to come in the front door..... anyway, you get the picture. She lives just a few blocks away from me.

This all sounds very judgemental, I know. I need to show more compassion and love for these people. And you know, I feel like I did, before I had three kids. Before my thought was, "someone wants to get into our house. The baby is sleeping, Greta's naked, Anja's in her pajamas. What do I do?" But right now, this just is not where I want to be raising my kids. When I was single, the people of the neighborhood were good for interesting stories. Now I've got kids. Now I'm a mama bear.

And so, Martin has started applying to jobs that might take us farther away, to places where we can see the stars, have lots of barn cats, some sheep, some chickens. To places where my kids can run and I won't have to worry about them falling on a dirty needle. Where they can play without being stared at by some creep-o across the street. Where the outside air is actually fresher than the inside air, and not just full of bus fumes. Hopefully something will pan out. We will just have to wait and see!

Let's get back to peace and love to end this post. Let's end with a little Elka! :