QOTD: At the garden

Confession: Javier and I went to the garden this morning for the first time in more than a week.

Yes, I am lazy.

No, I am not wasteful.

I actually donated whatever was ready for harvest to the organization that runs our community garden to sell at the local Farmer's Market. The feedback was that our basil was the tastiest and prettiest (thanks to my endless pruning) and that our tomatoes were the firmest and juiciest (thanks to us eating them as fast as they ripen ... and often before they ripen).

However they chastised me about our bell peppers, which we can't seem to save from blossom-end rot, and our cucumbers, which I can get to stay on the trellis, so they often have ground spots and take the shape of mutated gourds. But they taste good!

During the hour we spent this morning hunched over in the heat with stink bugs, bumble bees, and gnats circling our sweaty heads, Javier laid some choice phrases on me. Allow me to share:

Upon observing a pest-attacked cherry tomato: "Oh my god, Mama! Do you see this hole? It's like ... bigger than my nostril!"

Upon getting buzzed in the head by a rogue bee: "AAH! It's just like Daddy said - the bees are rising up against us!"

Upon reflecting on the size and scope of our tomato plants: "Wow, our tomatoes are bigger than everyone else's. I like being the biggest, don't you, Mama? Yeah, I know you like being the biggest - you're bigger than Daddy!"

Upon finding the water distributor broken on the hose: "Stupid water hose! You want me to stick my hand over it, Mama? I sometimes want to do that to my pee."

Upon finally getting in the car to go home: "Oh no! All this hard gardening work makes me have to go to the bathroom. AND I MEAN POOP!"

Hope you had equally funny and gross moments with your 8 year old today.

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Who IS in Rabbit's house?

Every Monday in July, Javier participated in the Lee County Library's "Be Creative" summer reading program. For an hour each afternoon, he learned the principles and practices of theatre by auditioning for a role in "Who Is In Rabbit's House?"

By all rights, any child born in my family should be chock-full of drama. While Javi didn't come from my baby-room (as he calls the womb), he possesses the flourishes and flounces that bud early in most actors. So, no one was surprised when he not only nailed the role he coveted, but also portrayed his character so fully and so earnestly that it brought everyone around him to tears (from the fits of "isn't he adorable" giggling).

Prepare yourself. Here is J. Stone Miller (his official stage name) in his first amateur production. Remember, you saw him here first:

Postscript: Javier would like everyone to notice that he did the best and he didn't even need his script. "I'm a great theatrer, aren't I, Mama?"

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Recently, some folks made the comment to Billy that I must not work very hard. I mean, obviously, if I have time to update my Facebook status then I'm sitting around popping bon-bons and watching the soaps, right?

Okay. Partially right. I do enjoy a good bon-bon (or sweet things in general) and I do have lots of stuff on my DVR to provide background entertainment...

But I want to give a big FU to people who have so much time on THEIR hands that they feel comfortable making judgement calls like that. So what I can update my Facebook status, Twitter, get one kid to daycare and the other to two separate camps, plan the family meals, balance the family budget, arrange for car and boat repairs, volunteer, work several different freelance jobs and everything else that needs to be done -- all in a day's work and without breaking a sweat.

If you think you know too much about me, there's a solution: UNFRIEND. It won't hurt my feelings, I promise.

However, please refrain from EVER discussing me negatively with my husband again. Because I have lots of hurtful, nasty things I could say about people. But I don't. And I wouldn't. It could be because I have more class. But in general, it's because I have 800 more important things to do and you don't rank.

Thank you and goodbye.

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In DUH news:

"New research from the University of California, Berkeley, has found that “grade schoolers with ADHD who take medications can actually improve their long-term academic achievement and make greater gains in standardized math and reading scores than students with ADHD who do not take medications.”

Thanks, Babycenter. Because some people really do need that spelled out.

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Cherry Tree Syndrome

This is Javi:

Shortly after this photo was taken, Javi decided to steal a handful of fresh cherries out of his mother's snack bowl. He stuffed a couple in his mouth and tried to chew them as quickly as possible so that he could finish the others in his hand before grabbing more. Unfortunately, that furious chewing and swallowing resulted in a serious misstep.

He swallowed a cherry pit.

So began an 18-hour saga of Cherry Tree Syndrome. Javi's mom couldn't resist acting horrified that he ate the pit because -- doesn't he know? -- that pit will sprout in his belly and a cherry tree will grow up, up, up, (same way the food gets down) until the branches erupt from his ears.

Hour 2: Severe and random belly aches.
Hour 15: Feeling the tree as it grows big.
Hour 17: Spotting its leaves just beyond non-lighted sight in his ear drums.

His mom had to break the first layer of bad news. If the branches happen to grow into his brain, Javi will no longer be one of the smartest kids in his class. He'll probably be last on the PBS board and won't be able to remember his times tables for the third grade. He may not be able to swoosh a basketball in the net from 15 feet a way. He most likely will forget how to ride a bike.

Then came the second layer of bad news. He can't simply prune the branches as they come out of his ears. Nope. That's because the branches will push through poor Javi's eardrum and bring part of it out with them. So if he trims the branches, he's likely to also sever his eardrum.

Which will leave him deaf.

Javi then used his brand new (to him) desktop computer, which sits upon his brand new (to him) computer desk, to search for cures for a sprouted-in-the-body cherry tree. He used search terms like, "how to get a cherry tree out of your body," "what happens when you swallow a cherry pit," and "weed killers for cherry trees in your ears."

Unfortunately, Ask.com returned no useful information. Javi used Ask.com because that's what his Internet browser defaulted to. He never asked his mom what other sites might be good for finding a cure to Cherry Tree Syndrome.

Poor Javi. Will he ever find a cure?

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Bella and the boys

This is for Sharon:

Yep, that's Bella sitting up on the couch with Kendall happy as a little 2-year-old clam. The good news is we'll have moved from this neighborhood by the time either kid is interested in dating. The bad news is she will always have an older brother with cutie pie friends. :)

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Time for a tea party

The boys in our neighborhood love to come play with Javi. The ring the doorbell at all times of the day and early evening asking for him to come outside to play or if they can come inside to play.

But they know the deal. Once they come inside, they are fair game for our Baby Monster. Here she is forcing Javi and his friend Kendall into a tea party, which she calls a "pic pic" (picnic):

Kendall tried to eat all his food and drink his tea super fast, but Bella refilled his plate and cup as quickly as he emptied them. Then he tried to hurry Javi up to Javi's bedroom, but Bella was too quick for them. She simply moved her picpic over to where they were standing and demanded of him "SIT DOWN KENNEL! HERE YO PICPIC!"

He never stood a chance. :)

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The baby pool

There are days when you don't want to go sit down at the concrete pool with the smell of a nearby water treatment mini plant and horseflies the size of my foot. On those days, you pull out the hose and fill up the good ol' baby pool. Luckily, your girl doesn't know the difference and has just as much fun playing in 6 inches of water as she does 3 feet.

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Summer time fun

One of the kids' favorite activities in the summer time is throwing on a bathing suit and heading over to Depot Park to play in the town fountain. It never disappoints! It's hard to keep Bella off the train -- which has open sides that make it easy for her to climb out onto the top/fall to her death -- but the water usually keeps her occupied.

And who doesn't love having water shot into his butt?

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"Feel better" craft

What is a day of sickly kids good for if not guilt-free time to do some crafting!

Our friend Maxine, who loves to watch Bella, had her hip replaced this week. I bought her some chocolates, a ceramic plaque thing that reads "Treat me like the queen I am," and a book that will hopefully help her pass the time until she is back on her feet.

But I needed a cute way to package the treats. So I bought a plain brown bag and delved into my paper crafting supplies. This is what I came up with:

I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I think I love the tag/bookmark the most simply because it's so small and cute. Here are the close ups:

I started working on these around 3 pm after Bella finally went down for a nap and was finished by 5 pm. A short and sweet crafting session! (Okay, that's short for me. I usually take forever trying to decide what to do and trying different ideas.)

I hope you had a fun Saturday, too!

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The Mean Streak

My sweet baby girl has a mean streak. She will sock you in the eye, kick you in the chest, and throw things at your head just because she feels like it... which makes it hard for the older kids in her life.

Because she'll tackle them:

Pounce on them:

Sneak up on them from behind:

And all they can do is smile about it. Once the sting wears off, of course.

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101 Dalmations at the Temple Theatre

I'm trying to get Javi more interested in drama and acting. It started back in the beginning of the summer when Javi decided he was going to write a play. He couldn't figure out how to do it exactly and needed a lot of help to move it along.

So I took that as the cue to help him learn more about plays as a genre and acting as a skill. For starters, I signed him up for a drama workshop through the library's summer program. At the end of the workshop, he'll perform in a little play as part of the program's talent show. Javi was stressed out about it at first, but now he's excited and loves practicing his lines. He plays the star of the show, though he's only on-screen at the end.

But to give him some perspective, I took him to see 101 Dalmations performed at our local theatre, The Temple, by the summer children's conservatory.

We had a fantastic time! The Lindauers met us over there and we all enjoyed 45 minutes of great music, dancing, and storytelling.

I loved that Javi had the chance to see local children performing on stage, as well as watching a real-life example of what plays are all about. I plan to take him to see more live theatre. He sat straight up in his seat, clapped appropriately, and smiled in delight the entire time.

I can tell we have a budding theatre fan -- even if he'll only participate as an audience member.

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Donna Lynn

Last weekend we had the privilege of attending the christening of little Donna Lynn*, whose parents Kevin & Melanie are friends we met through the Jaycees. Donna Lynn was born a month early at the end of April.

You can't tell from this photo, but this baby is the tiniest, strongest little girl I think I've seen. At a bit older than 2 months, Donna Lynn still only weighs 7 pounds. Which means she is now around the same size as Bella was when she was born. Only Ms. DL is a squirmy little nugget who holds her head up, tries to crawl, and can rock from left to right to the point that she just gets up on her side before she moves again.

I tend to forget how strong us humans are. It takes a sweet pea like Donna Lynn to remind me. Born at 4 pounds, she is a survivor! And my children were smitten with her. Javi held her for a good 15 minutes as he cooed at her and stroked her face. Bella kissed her all over, patted her face, and practiced holding her. She then cried for Doe-nuh Win the whole way home.

It was a sweet day and we were so happy to be part of it!

*Side note - Donna Lynn happens to be Billy's ex-wife's name. When Kev & Mel first told us this was the name they'd chosen, I was slightly buzzed on mojitos and let them know what a horrible idea it was. Luckily, they forgave me and named their baby the name they liked. It's a bit hard for me, but it's not my baby so I'll get over it!

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Potty training woes

Ms. Bella was somewhat potty trained -- or at least wearing panties all day -- for the first two weeks of July. But then something happened.

I think we pushed her too far. There was a lot of prodding and cajoling and bothering and reminding. All day long it was "Bella, do you need to pee?" or "Bella, let's go peepee in the potty!" And I suppose a two year old can quickly tire of such pressure.

So now we're back in diapers. She prefers to poop in the potty, though, so the diapers are mainly only full of pee... which is nice in a poopy diapers stink kind of way. However, being in diapers means that her daycare teachers don't bother taking her to the potty and she feels perfectly fine peeing whenever she wants. In fact, if I ask her if she wants to pee, she'll pat her diaper and say, "No, mama. I peepee in-a mah diapah."

But we were lucky enough to capture this shot before the regression took over:

Yes, that's Bella peeing. On a travel seat. That is resting on top of a cinder block. How great is that picture for blackmail one day?! We happened to be out at the garden and the building was locked. Bella May had her panties on and we had to make a decision. I think we made the right one. :)

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Surprise party

To welcome Javi home from camp and show him how much we missed him, Billy and I planned a surprise pool party for the Friday night after he returned from camp. We invited a handful of his buddies, ordered a stack of pizzas, and stocked up on pool toys. We also had some help -- Angela made a great welcome home banner that all the kids could sign for Javi to keep as a memento.

I picked Javi up at 1 pm but the party wasn't scheduled to start until 6 pm (with Billy keeping Javi away a while longer so everyone could get in place). Javi kept asking if he was going to get a surprise party (which he'd told me before leaving for camp would be really awesome)... but I played it down. "Oh, I don't think so buddy - we'll celebrate with Daddy and Bella later."

So when Billy rolled him up to the pool at 6:15 pm, the poor child didn't really know what to think. He just stood there for a moment with a big, confused grin on his face before rushing over to his friends to tell them all about camp and regale them with stories about how he had to take a swimming test and did they know what COOL stands for?!

The party was great and everyone had a blast. The Gordons brought the Casey kids, Angela brought Darrian, and we had Aaron, Camden, and Caleb dropped off.

I don't know if I have the energy for another pool party in the near future, but that went much better than I could've expected. And Javi was beaming. What more could I ask for?

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Long overdue camp post

Did you know Javi went to camp for a whole week? Of course you did ... because while he was gone, I mourned his absence and wondered what the hell I was thinking by letting him go.

But then I got him off the bus that Friday and he was so confident, so self assured, and so full of stories that I decided then and there he'd do a lot of camp in his lifetime. He was tanned (not sunburned), he was clean (though he did confess to wearing the same pair of boxers all week), and he had made friends (rather than sit in the corner and cry for his mom).

The child talked nonstop the entire hour and a half it took us to get home (including through a tasty lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Lillington). He let me in on a few choice acronyms that he still -- a month later -- likes to repeat. They are: cool something something loser (COOL) and junior educated rich kid (JERK). You only learn stuff like that at camp. In my day, campers learned: all day I dream about s??? (Adidas) and need interested kissing expert (Nike). (That last one came from the older girls who obsessed over kissing. Luckily this this time around the children are grouped off by age!)

This week-long sleepaway camp was Javi's first foray into summer camp and it really set the tone. He's participated in three day camps since then but none of them have lived up to the first. He did a three-day camp through the Extension Center that focus on soil and water conservation called Fun In The Sun. He collected leaves and soil samples to study their composition and learned about rain water harvesting.

Javi has also participated in the library's "Creativity Summer" program. He declined to participate in the reading contest (despite my best efforts to convince him to get in there and read the most books), but he goes every Monday in July to a drama workshop where he's learning acting and warm-up techniques and will perform in a play for the whole program on the last day. He also did a three-hour camp on pranks, tricks, and practical jokes. The only part of that one that he liked was learning to make fake vomit ... but his vomit looks more like brownies (which Bella did try to eat).

Summer is half over and Javi has only one camp left to do. That's the big shebang: Art Camp. He'll go for an hour a day for a week to class that will be held in the same art studio where Billy and I got married. I know he's going to love it.

I don't know what we'll do for the long, hot days of August, but as far as milestones and growing up goes, my Javi has definitely settled firmly into not-a-kid status. He can survive on his own for a whole week and has become a little social butterfly thanks to meeting so many new kids this summer. I'm so proud of him and can't wait to post pictures of his art!

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Bella singing with Mickey

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Our 4th

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Happy Independence Day!

loving the lights

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Local Reading

I love books. Beautiful cover designs, perfect typesetting, pages that make you want to touch them, spines that crackle a bit when you open them.

But I'm also a voracious reader who loves a great story. I daydream about owning a Kindle and downloading all the wonderful words out there into my own little sweaty palms. And reading on it after buying all organic vegetables at the farmer's market and packing my beautiful, perfectly behaved children into the automatically opening doors of our sleek and modern minivan that is fully stocked with DVD and music players with unbelievably wonderful movies and songs.

Uh... where was I?

So the books. The stories. I love them. But -- and this is a huge but -- I have neither the money, the space, nor the interest in buying them. Because what do I do with them after I've read them? I stick them on a shelf and rarely read them again. Of course I have favorites, like The Poisonwood Bible (which I've read 800 times and listened to on CD at least twice), my feminist theory, the Harry Potter series, the Mayfair Witches series, and lots of poetry and short stories. But if I'm not going to consume something over and over again, why own it?

So began my lifestyle as a library patron and advocate (local reading, as I like to call it). I love going to the library every week or every other week to pick up another set of books to enjoy. I've also begun buying books that I love or think others will love and donating them to our small little town library. It makes me feel like a real patron of the arts and supports my theory that people should share the things they love with others.

In that vein, I'd like to share my thoughts with you about the library reads I stumble upon. I hope to compel you to visit your own library and see what you find. And maybe you'll discover some new and wonderful storytellers who make you want to read (more). Without further ado:

"Local Reading" Reviews:
The Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

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Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Ever read a book that you could've written?

Well, you could've written it if a ghost writer climbed into your brain and captured the essence of who you are and what you think and how the pictures form and never procrastinated and had a really great vocabularly.

Because if you've ever read that book, then you'd know how I felt when I read "The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" this weekend. I checked it out on a whim because it's a 7-day book and I loved the title and cover design and because, as a student of Fred Chapell, I love the magic realism of folk story telling. The content did not disappoint.

Truly Plaice is a larger-than-life figure in a small, sleepy town that neither encourages or accepts differences. Despite a long string of personal tragedies (Truly's mother died while giving birth to her) and a world that contained no respite, Truly develops into a character of strength (physical and emotional) who creates a world for herself by relying on her own wits and willpower.

I could give away the story -- tell you about her perfect sister who the town idolizes or about her drunkard father or about how her body grows and grows and grows ... until it doesn't -- but I want you to read it. Now. Go get this book and devour it in a few sittings like I did. Feast on sentences like "Robert Morgan never liked a thing in his life unless he got to take the first bite out of it, and he never let a thing go, either, until it was chewed all the way down to skin and bone."

I had moments where I was catapulted out of the story by the narrative voice. Truly is our fascinating narrator, but she is also omnipresent. She tells us the story of her own childhood in amazing language, but then tells us what people across town are doing and thinking, as well. How does she know? It's a bit jarring, but then you accept it and move on.

Also, it contains some plot elements that some will not like. For instance, there's naturopathic healing that waltzes straight over to the dark side (some call it witchcraft, but there's no magic involved) and a relatively important character doesn't stick to his gender. But I think it's all written so well that even those who'd decry the book for its "values" will get over it.

Added bonus: I wanted to know more about author Tiffany Baker, so I went to her website. And read this. Is that not the best, most accurate, bio for a working, writing mom ever?

Please go to your nearest library to check out this book, or download it for your kindle (if you live in a beautiful reading fantasy land), or buy it to read and then donate it to your local library for the rest of us. And then come back here and tell me what you think!

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