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    I call the second one an almost after because there’s still some work to be done. But wow, you know? It didn’t take much more than a lot of labor, a little lumber and a few cans of spray paint to do what we’ve done so far. The grass has filled in where the old flowers were on the left – the new raised planting bed is filling in with asiatic lilies, silver mound, iris, gerbera daisies, hydrangea, giant sunflowers (they’re about 6 inches tall in the left corner by the evergreen), nastrium (however you spell it), wave petunias, mexican sunflowers, bachelor buttons, stargazers, english daisies and a few other small annuals. I’ll get a better shot of that when the seedlings are further along and flowering.

    The center blue bed is empty now aside from a few weeds, that one will go away and be replaced by a near ground level deck in the same green treated lumber, a small patio table or bench with a couple of hummingbird attracting potted plant arrangements.

    The wave petunias and gerbera daisies in the planter box we built are really taking off. you can see the difference from then til now:

    It’s doing just what I thought it would. I love it when that happens!

    As for me and my brood, summer vacation has begun. I heard “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry” too many times the first 6 hours yesterday, so if my posts start to sound mumbly or incoherent, I’m sure those of you with children home on summer vacation will understand the multi-tasking brain power involved in working from home and mothering at the same time. I will try not to let them break me down. heh!

    The Rainbow


    200rainbow.jpgLast Saturday, I waited with my neighbor as the ambulance came to pick her up and start more agressive treatments to help her breathe at the hospital. I knew then that she wouldn’t be returning home.

    She was diagnosed a couple of years ago and told she had about 6 months to live before her lungs would give out. She’d been on oxygen since then, breathing became her biggest effort and took every ounce of strength she had in the end.

    Mid week last week, I received a call from her daughter that she had decided to stop treatments and signed a DNR, and that she’d be transferred to the hospice care floor in the hospital. On Friday night, I returned home to a message that my neighbor was not doing well in hospice care.

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    Happy Mother’s Day!


    To all the mom’s out there today, I hope that you get to have your cake and eat it, too. I wish for you a bicker-free day. A day where your children excitedly cross something off of your to-do list for you.

    Cherish those big hugs and kisses from your kids, and notice the subtle hints of appreciation from your hubby for the things that you do to take care of your family.

    Grab a fork, or a shovel, or some mulch or something – and enjoy!


    Catching Up!


    I am finally starting to catch up with my “to-do” list. Here are some things I’ve crossed off my list, and I still have to get visuals to go along with everything for you.

    • Finish up a blog design, That one was an EW project that launched last week, it turned out really neat, new moms will love the tips and information on Breastfeeding and parenting. There’s a forum there, too – lots of nice supportive women there. Check it out!
    • Another EW blog design project that I just launched this week is The End User. This is my first fluid blog design for EW, and it’s that black & white one I talked about. It wound up being a really neat layout and project – even though I had to hold myself back from changing just one little hex code to bright red or something. The urge was there, and it persisted – but alas. It’s black, white, and shades of grey, and I shouldn’t even be showing you yet because I still have some tweaking to do. Go on and have a look anyway.
    • Live.Love.Read. It just so happy over there. My eyeballs really enjoy it, it’s like therapy. Go. Get happy. I’ll wait.
    • One of my blogging buddies enjoyed one of my Ten Little Fishies so much, she wanted a print of it. I’ve got one sitting beside me that I’ll be matting and sending out for her by Monday.
    • Sketching Titto for his next portrait – he’s such a ham. His second portrait will be much more colorful as he’s preening and really has a gorgeous spread of tailfeathers. I’ll get his sketch up here later today.
    • Two Mother-Daughter banquets. Two nights in a row this week, I’m telling you – it’s been a smidge busy over here this week.
    • Balancing the checkbook. Next on my list. Ugh.

    I still have some things to add to my list, too! I need to respond to some inquiries and add a photoblog design project, and I also need to find an hour to tell you about the wonderful experience I just had sending off my Great Blue Heron painting to his new home. The whole experience and sequence of events – beginning with meeting Laura – will leave you just as astonished as it did me. Divine intervention indeed.

    I also need to tell you about my neighbor. This lovely woman we’ve lived next to for 11 years is not doing so well. I’ve been assisting her whenever she calls for help, and last weekend I waited with her as the ambulance came to take her to the hospice where she is now staying. She’s had trouble breathing for a couple of years, and initially when she was diagnosed they gave her 6 months. She’s well beyond that, but now she’s suffering and the pain she feels just from the effort it takes her to inhale and exhale breaks my heart. I’m going to cut some irises from her garden and take them to her today, and I’ll probably be saying goodbye. It’s very sad, but I’m glad that they are keeping her as comfortable as possible, she shouldn’t have to suffer through her final days. If you’d keep her in your thoughts and prayers, I know she would feel comforted knowing everyone wishes her peace. It seems odd, and I may even sound glib writing about her, but she’s honestly ready to pass on, she has been. She is tired of having to experience the pain of her body failing her before the Lord is ready to take her.

    Mother’s Day, aaah Mother’s Day. What do you mom’s want for Mother’s Day? Me, I shared my secret with a friend, and I’m not going to spoil it here but wait patiently to see if my family knows me as well as they think they do.



    5 year old note to best friend
    See, this is the kind of stuff that turns me into a sniveling girly girl. The relationship my little Chickeymonkey has developed with her best friend that she loves so so so so much is the sweetest thing. They hug. They smile. They are sweet to each other. They bring each other presents and notes and exchange them at school. They’re adorable together, and I wish I could capture this time and keep them this way forever.

    Today I get to hang out with them at our local zoo for a little while. It should be fun, and I’m expecting to get a memory card full of sweet pics of both the girls and the critters!

    Hey ~ check this out! I’m glad I looked up the zoo site, now I have more motivation to fill up my memory card – they’re having a nature photography contest! WooT!

    Not again, not so soon!


    toothless grinIt happened again. Lastnight my Chickeymonkey lost the other bottom front tooth – in her pizza. Bawling that she couldn’t find it, terrified that she lost it or swallowed it, we found it on her plate next to her slice of pizza. (:phew:)

    It’s happening too fast. Why couldn’t it wait a couple of weeks? Why couldn’t I get to see one adult tooth before a new one popped up? Now, now my babies face is going to change dramatically, and it’s going to happen much too fast for me.

    I learned my lesson the hard way with Catybug. We were all excited when she’d lose another tooth – and then I’d have a look at her school pictures and think – holy cow. What is happening to my baby girl? With every new tooth, her face changes and becomes more mature. With every empty space, she’s growing further away from “my little girl”.

    It’s a little heartbreaking, I have to admit. Especially with the Chick, since once she outgrows her baby face, I’ll just have to envy all of the other baby faces I see. Then I’ll get that yearning for a baby again – yeah I know it’s going to happen. The smell, the snuggling, the unawkward and “don’t stop tickling me” behavior.

    Slowly, things have changed around here. The girls are more sensitive, and need to be tended to in a different more emotional way. You can’t tease and have fun as much, it’s become a little more serious. You can tickle, but not right now, because if she’s not in “the mood” you get “that face” and you’ll be sorry, beacuse now they hold a grudge for more than ten seconds.

    One more tooth – it’s just a reminder of how much further away I am from my sweet silly little girls, and how much closer I am to not getting to pick up the phone on a whim – since it’s in use by a pre-teen. The earnestly seeking guidance in their innocent and pure faces slowly turning into “doh mom, I already knew that.”

    It won’t be long before I’m carting them both to the mall and movies with their girlfriends, before I’m forbidden from listening or joining in on conversations they’re having with their friends. Before they’re embarassed when I hug ’em or kiss them when I drop them off or pick them up from school.

    It’s hard to start that whole backing off and letting go process. I can only hope I’ve already given them the information and tools they need to start really developing their individual opinions and character. Catybug is well on her way – but Chick – this is new territory for her and she’s such a mini-me. My heart is already aching for her, knowing her mind works just like mine – and knowing those “if I could change one thing about what I did when I was a kid…” talks will probably not make much of an impact on her, since nothing my mom told me made me change what I was about to do. Still, I’ve got to try, right?

    Sigh. Yeah, mom, you got your wish. I’ve got a kid just like me. I also have a kid who is a good mix between Aunt S. and Aunt T., so I’m a lot less worried about the fine young woman she’s turning into.

    Chickeymonkey. Ah, my sweet, mini-me Chickeymonkey. It’s going to be a long bumpy twisty-turney ride. I’ve just fastened my safety harness, it’s locked into position, so just cover your ears when you hear me screaming through the loop-de-loops.

    (anyone have any tooth superglue? I kinda really wanna put it back.)

    Kids & An Artsy Rant


    5 year old first lost tooth chickeymonkeyThe other night while Chickeymonkey was brushing her teeth, I noticed how loose her bottom right front tooth was. It flipped back & forth so loose, I told her she better yank that puppy out of there or she’d swallow it with her PB&J and wind up not even getting any cash. No tooth, no tooth fairy, you know what I’m sayin?

    She grimaced. And winced, and whimpered. That’s pretty standard.

    The next night, we were eating dinner and she held out her hand to me and said “my toof!” Yep, there it was, and how giddy was she? I think she was more proud of herself for not swallowing it. Then it was all about the tooth fairy, “maybe she’ll give me A HUNDRED DOLLARS!” – heh! Yeah, dream on, kiddo. When she’s big, she can pay someone a hundred dollars to take her teeth, but no tooth fairy in her right mind is going to give that for a measly little baby tooth, even if it is the first one. (No tooth fairy that I know of, anyway.)

    * * * * *
    So I slept hard lastnight – for the first time in a long time. So hard that I’m still sluggish, and if I don’t keep moving I’ll just go find my cozy spot on the couch and turn the ringer off. It could be the snow (depressing) or the cold (even more depressing), I’d like to think it had more to do with the steady stream of chaotic personal events that have suddenly given me some calm and clarity.

    * * * * *
    I’ve found myself terribly disappointed with this fine arts association I’m a “member” of. Not only did I work my fingers to the bone preparing for exhibition – but my pieces hung for over a month before tags were put up (and I’m assuming they’re up now, with less than 2 weeks remaining update: the tags are still not up. ), but on the brochures that went out? They spelled my name wrong. On the second set of brochures? They didn’t even put me in it! Why the heck did I get all jazzed about this, anyway? It’s nice to know people are walking by and seeing my work, definitely. It’s not so nice to think they didn’t have any idea that my work is available for purchase or who to call to obtain it. No information available for that long? Ugh. That’s just bad business. I paid for my membership, I was ready with my pieces and I filled their space with some kick@$$ paintings. I make them look good – why can’t they return the favor? Ok maybe that’s why I have a headache, too.

    I’m really glad I have other successful venues to make my work available.

    Phonetics Count (When you’re 5)


    phonetics 5 year old spelling
    “ice cream a little bit to eat
    healthy stuff chicken nuggets”
    This is what my little Chickeymonkey does when she’s bored. She writes me lists of things she wants, or faces that express how she feels. My little budding artist, she is.

    I just love the phonetics in this little note. It’s all about food. Because not only is she an artist, but I’m also convinced she has a tapeworm. You know that episode of House where he pulls a 20+ foot tapeworm from a girls intestines? That may as well be my kid. She eats. All day. No kidding. I think something has to be intercepting all the food.

    She’s smart, though. Last night before bed she said “Mommy, I think I need some protein before I go to bed.” Now, how can a mom refuse such logic from a 5 year old? It’s damn near impossible. She even knows her proteins. She knows chicken is protein (that’s why it’s on the list, after ice cream, with the helthe stuff.), and she also knows peanut butter is a protein. She’s whipping my butt in the nutrition department, I wish I knew this stuff when I was a kid.

    Thank you for your well wishes, too. That was the shortest lived cold I’ve ever had. My secret? I have to have antibiotics on hand for dental reasons, so I took 2 a day for 3 days to fix the pharyngitis. Then I took tylenol severe cold, and a benedryl for good measure. And I also went through like a box and a half of kleenex. I’m a firm believer in the blow it out method. You can hurt yourself that way, though. Trust me. Never blow so hard that you pull that really important little muscle, you-know-where.

    Dense Fog


    highway driving heavy fog
    What a weekend! We took a little road trip to Chicagoland (ok, the burbs, technically) to see my family. I started out with a smidge of a sinus thing, hoping it wasn’t going to turn into anything. We hit the road and over half the drive looked like that. Fog. It was scary, and it also made me want to take a nap. It cleared up, thankfully, (the fog, not my head) because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss all of the new housing developments that took over the forests and fields I grew up around. Good gravy!

    My high school was secluded 18 years ago. It was in the middle of a cornfield. You turned left out in the country, you took a right down a quarter of a mile long driveway covered in speed bumps, and at the end of the road was the school. Looking out from any angle, all you saw was corn, and forest. I grew up in a deer hunting farmland area. Holy cow have things changed.

    Now, when we visit, we stay at the hotel that sits directly in front of the school. I look out my window and see the school, and as far as the eye can see – houses.

    This baffles me. I spent the whole weekend with the makings of a serious head cold (and right now my head feels like the fog in the first picture), and it was spinning just trying to figure out how it was possible to even own a single family home (from the low $240’s!) where I grew up.

    We still don’t get it. How can there be this many people making more than $100k a year? How can there be so many fast food joints and stores (oh my, the stores) – where I’m sure folks are making just over minimum wage, how can these people afford to live in this area now? It’s seriously mind boggling. Still, everywhere you look, if there’s an empty field, there’s a for sale or lease sign in the middle of it. The Chicago burbs are creeping out further and further into the middle of the state – it’s closer to Rockford now than I’ve ever seen it – and soon it will cover the whole northern half of the state.

    It’s really quite frightening.

    Gone are the 1/2-5 acre properties with unique and original house architecture. Everyone is cram packed beside another house that is not even a full shade different in color, in a reverse layout from the one before it. Garages butt up next to eachother. Privacy fences are all that you can get that offer you any real privacy in your own home. You could toss a jar of peanut butter from one kitchen window to the next.

    I’m in an area that’s eh- so/so. I am feeling more and more crowded as the years go on, and I’m craving a nice big lot where I know the trees aren’t going to come down on the whim of someone who simply doesn’t like to rake.

    I have to know, do you live in an area like this? Do you like it? Are there more pros than cons? Does the traffic make you nuts?

    And more importantly, I’m sick as a dog over here. Pity and well wishes are absolutely welcome. (I promise I’ve covered my mouth while typing and I’ve sterilized my keyboard.)

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