Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I've Got the When-is-the-sun-coming-out-again-and-my-husband-is-out-of-town blues

Ain't no Sunshine when He's gone. That could've been my title too. I think when Jay is out of town I feel it more than I ever did before. Probably because I used to be used to him being gone frequently. Probably because even though we have new friends and connections here, I feel lonelier and more uncomfortable in the newness of this place. Probably because now there are three instead of two little needy children that keep me going from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Even though I miss Jay there is always this twinge of jealousy that he can "get away," while I am here with no break. Sometimes this even turns to bitterness in how I deal with the kids, or how I run to "less wild lovers" to make me feel better when I feel sorry for myself. I know this is my heart showing it's need for Hosanna- saving, now! So let me tear off some palm branches and lay them down for my Redeemer to tread more comfortably on, lay down some branches and raise my hopeful eyes to His face and say, "Hello, Great King, I am a great sinner, and I need you to save me now!" And he has, and he will. Let the King of glory come in!

Friday, March 26, 2010

I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Spatulas and Siblings and Such

Today was a rainy day, and the temperature dropped significantly- so as Jay said, the only thing to do was go to IKEA. I was looking for a step stool and lampshades, but struck out in those departments. I did get some handy dandy kitchen tools that I've been wanting, like a screen (a buck or so) to put over a frying pan when I fry stuff, and a spatula (56cents), and as an added bonus I got a cake decorating kit for $4.99! It includes several different tips (as in metal thingies, not helpful hints) and those white bags, a spreader and a cool device that allows you to slice a cake in small layers. I also got the simple, white, sheer curtains for our bedroom, only $9.99 (pictured below, sorry the picture is rather dark)! I hope you don't feel annoyed by my mentioning prices, I just love a good deal, and it is worth passing on if anyone else is in the market for such an item. My favorite thing was when the kids posed for me in an eclectic, red, wicker outdoor chair. I love Ruthie and Mac adoring their baby brother, and his little face saying, "they love me, mama, they really do. And I love them." Makes my heart ache a little. You know, that too-happy-oh-my-heart-is-so-full ache.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nothing like a little (British) Homefront Propaganda

If you've noticed the Keep Calm button on my sidebar- well, I just wanted to share the story behind the poster. I find it so interesting; history buffiness coming out I guess. I loved it the first time I saw it, just because it is so British- so unruffled, stiff-upper-lip, and straightforward. Well, it was actually a poster created by the British Ministry of Information, pre/early WWII. It was printed, but not distributed, thankfully, when you see what they were intending it for...ok, just go here and read it for yourself! It is so interesting!

( I also read on Wikipedia that parodies of the poster have been made with an upside-down crown and the words, "Now Panic and Freak Out.")

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is my friend, Laura

Here is a picture of me and my friend Laura who came for lunch today along with her husband, Toby. Laura and I were best friends for the four years I lived in Jefferson, Maryland from 5th grade to 8th grade. Her older brother Will was best friends with my older brother, Alan. The four of us would spend whole days exploring the farm and woods near our house, and either splashing in the Catoctin Creek, or tubing/rafting down it. Sometimes the boys would go mountain biking and Laura and I would create worlds and adventures with our Barbies, not the pink miniskirted Corvette riding ones, but more like characters out of our favorite books, like Anne of Green Gables, or Flower Fairies of the Spring. We dreamed, imagined, explored, laughed and took off on flights of fancy together. Laura and I had our own language that we made up, and we sang together, trying to harmonize and sound like angels. I have so many happy memories with Laura (and alot including Will too)- swimming in the Potomac (up where it is clear and unpolluted), electrocuting ourselves on an electric fence, sledding on a huge tractor tire inner-tube, writing stories, accidentally starting fires, dancing, and dreaming of what heaven would be like.

When my family moved away from Maryland, Laura and I kept in touch for several years, but the letters dwindled and we eventually lost contact with one another. Our moms talked every once in a while, but then we reconnected a couple of years ago, and thanks to Facebook (see, it can be a good thing!) and thanks also to the fact that Laura still has relatives and roots in this area, we were able to arrange a time to get together. It was really great to talk to Laura and remember all our carefree, fun days. I was glad to meet her husband, Toby, and hear about their life in South Dakota. Friends are such a gift, and I thank God for Laura- such an important friend in my childhood, and a friend for life!

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

Time Change

Here is a fun, easy project that I (as I always say) have been wanting to do for a long time (I think I saw this idea in Real Simple years ago but I'm not sure). I bought a cheap clock at Target for $8 and detached the cover and face. I used a piece of pretty paper to trace the face and insert it in place of the face, then reattached the cover. Voila! A boho chic clock for my kitchen, which I hope will soon show up on here with its own befo' and afta'! I also thought it would be cute to spray paint the hands of the clock (and the frame if one is feeling rather ambitious and spray-paint happy)- a bright pink or blue or even yellow, but that can be for another day.

BEFORE: booooorrrriiinnngg

AFTER! Ooh la la!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beep Beep!

We have done nothing but play outside for the past 5 days- the weather has been delightful. Sunny, clear blue skies and highs in the 70s! It has been warmer here than down where our family lives in the deep South, which is just crazy. We have eaten most of our meals outside, we have raked and bagged loads of leaves, the kids have ridden their bikes and raced and played ball and hid in their holly tree-fort and Harris has enjoyed his rides in the cozy coupe police car and the umbrella stroller. He has also eaten dirt and leaves, which he's not too sure about but somehow keeps going back for more. Hooray for Spring!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St.Patrick's Day!

Today was preschool day at our house, which was so fun because it is St. Patty's Day! We started off reading a book about Leprechauns, and coloring a picture of one with a rainbow and a pot of gold. We did this outside since it is simply gorgeous today- and then the boys were raring to go out in the backyard and play. Far be it from me to tell three little boys not to play in the dirt and run around- so they did, along with the girls. Harris joined in and we had wagon rides, and digging time with the kid-sized shovel and rake. I made lunches and we ate al fresco, then we gathered on a blanket and read about St. Patrick and how he took the good news about Jesus to Ireland. We talked about how he used the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity- three leaves (we counted them), three persons in the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We even hunted and found our own patch of shamrocks and picked some. Then there was alot of running around and hollering and barefeet and smiling. It was wonderful. These kids were so glad to feel the grass between their toes!

Lemme out too, Momma!

Mella and Harris go for a ride.

A yummy, green lunch! (Nope, no one ate the green pepper.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

We "Heart" our New Webcam

Yesterday we purchased a webcam, after wanting and planning to since we left Mobile. Our friends Jen and Brandon have been on our backs about it, so we thank them for their persistence in wanting to see our faces while talking to us, and not just settling for our voices. We hooked it up last night and talked with J and B for about an hour, and it was so much fun! I realized I hadn't "seen" them since last October when they came to visit, and it was almost in a tiny way like a visit with them last night. Jen commented on how long my hair has gotten, and she showed us the ultrasound of their 2nd baby on the way. The only thing we didn't like? When they tortured us by eating Blue Bell ice cream during the call. (C'mon McSheas, have a heart, for the love of Pete!) We miss our friends, and this is a fun way to visit across the miles. So if you, dear readers, have a webcam and desire to talk to us mano a mano, give us a call. We're on Skype and we love it!

We "heart" J and B!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Our bat friend has returned! This bat showed up at Thanksgiving, creating quite a stir in our guest room as we all stood on the bed and gazed at his tiny furry body all crunched in between the screen and the storm window. Was he dead? Hibernating in our window? Would he leave at night and come back during the day? We figured out that he was alive because his tiny toes would be placed differently each time we spied on him. The kids named him "Batty." He stayed for several days, and then he was gone.
Fast forward to today- he's back! I was so excited, you'd think I was a batologist or a 3 year old. (The correct term for one who studies bats is a "chiropterologist." Bats= order chiroptera, chiro meaning hand + ptera, meaning wing.) The kids were excited too- Ruthie wanted to open the window so she could "rub his fuzzy belly,"(nope!) and at naptime Mac was the happy one who got to sleep in the "bat cave" as we have redesignated our guest room.
I think this bat is a Little Brown Bat, ( Latin: myotis lucifugus, which sounds like an ear infection to me) "one of the most abundant insectivorous bats in Virginia." They do hibernate, migrate, and populate this State, which is great! (Sorry, got a bit carried away.) And I like the word insectivorous. Bats are our friends. Creepy friends, but still friends nonetheless. I quote, "Bats are great neighbors to have around the house. One little brown bat has been documented eating upwards of 600 mosquitoes in one hour!" Yes, this bat is now my hero. He can stay as long as he wants. In fact, I might build him a little bat house, and a bat garage with a little batmobile in it, and teach him to respond to my bat signal. And I could get a bumper sticker that says, "Proud foster bat parent of a mosquito eatin' MACHINE!"

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

St.Patty's Day Parade

Growing up as a McAlarney, I feel that St.Patrick's day has some legitimacy for me. And it's just a fun holiday. For some reason Alexandria had their parade this past Saturday, and since the forecast was sunny skies and close to 60 we decided to brave the crowds and head down there. It was really fun- even though we had to walk several miles from our parking space, we didn't mind. Warm sun on our backs, quaint Old Town Alexandria, and happy wee laddies and lassies- you can't beat that with a blarney stone.

Little laddie Harris giving a "thumbs up" to the festivities.

Alexandria is an extremely dog friendly town. Here is one nice doggie...

And a sweet golden retriever wearin' the green.

Ahh, the grand Irish pub wagon. Care for a pint?

Ruthie's vantage point.

Men in kilts and knee socks playin' their pipes. Erin go bragh!
After the parade we found a park on the bonny banks of the Potomac and the kiddies got to play.
Now ye olde Irish toast to friends and family:
To live above with the Saints we love,
Ah, that is the purest glory.
To live below with the Saints we know,
Ah, that is another story!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Before and After: No-Sew Curtains!

I got crafty the other day, finally doing this project that I hatched up months ago. I bought some cute, inexpensive place mats, folded down a few inches and hot-glued them. Voila! A polka dot valance with a tailored look. I especially thought these place mats worked well because of the contrasting solid color on the back. Super easy, super cheap- I think the place mats cost about $15 or less at TJ Maxx. Now I just need to find some fun, new, and inexpensive lampshades that will coordinate better. Gotta go to IKEA!

Our dining room window before...

And after!

A close up... I love the green, it brings out the hints of green in my grandmother's dessert plates hanging overhead.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pull up to the Big Boy Table

Here is Harris, so proud to be sitting at the "big kid" table where Ruthie and Mac sit for snacks. He is so big! Harris is 10 months old now, and such a delight (except between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm, bedtime). He "talks" so much and it cracks me up because Ruthie and Mac are constantly translating what he says, very proud of their baby bro, and very entertained by his choice of words.

"He said 'dirty,' Mommy!"
"He said 'no way,' Mommy!"
"He said 'actually cheese,' Mommy!"
"He said 'Odette,' Mommy!" (this was Ruthie, who has Swan Lake on the brain)
Even Jay said last night, "He said 'yes, Daddy!" Ok, Jay.

Harris crawls so fast it is amazing. Sometimes he is going so fast his hands slip and he does a face plant, but he just keeps going. He especially goes fast up on our second level- I think because he rarely gets a chance to explore up there as we are usually playing downstairs. Plus there are two toilets to lick up there. "No, Harry!" Big smile.

Harris is going to be a great wrestler. He is so agile and strong- he literally would launch himself off the boppy after he nurses, if I weren't holding on to his leg. The changing table is his main wrestling arena. The boy is strong, and he thinks it is really funny to see if he can keep me from putting his new diaper on his bootie. Once he wrestles out of my grasp he tries to throw himself off the side of the table, down into the trash can where all the dirty diapers are.

I am happy to say that the last three nights Harry has slept through the night, after several months of relapsing! This is mucho happy news for me. He is still getting his top 4 teeth, but I think I've convinced him that sleeping is much nicer than crying and jumping in your crib at 2 a.m.

Harry is also a little ham. He definitely feels the need to get some attention in our family of busy, chatty children. At dinner especially he hollers, and smiles, and gets very animated, beating his hands on his tray when he's happy and full. Ruthie and Mac love this and they respond, which makes Harris notch it up a level. It is wonderful to watch. He is a joy of a boy and we love him to pieces!

Barking up the right tree

While in the woods the kids and I try to identify trees by their bark, especially in the winter when there are no leaves. We feel each one and make observations. Here are a few we saw yesterday.

Smooth, silvery beech.
Reddish-brown, flaky pine.

Rough, furrowed ash.
I love trees in all their variety and beauty, and it is fun to teach the children and talk about the amazing diversity God made on his good earth.

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday, with the sun out and the high supposed to be close to 50, the kids and I went out looking for spring. We definitely found some hope, plus it was so good to just be outside in the lovely woods. It is supposed to snow again tonight, that's the reality of winter's grip on us, but it won't be long, as seen by our little sprouts.

Green shoots, pushing up through the ground- we can't wait to come back in a few weeks and see what they are. We also spotted a crocus and a forsythia starting to bloom bright yellow.

Stopping to rest on the path...

Water break!

So happy together... (for a moment)

We counted the rings on this cut pine tree to see how old it was- about 17 years old!

Exploring an uprooted tree.

Better than a playground, a bouncy branch!