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Because you can never have too much random in your life.

A little honeydew baby!

Wheeee!

 

I got a job!

 

Six little peppers, and how they grew

Beautiful prairie sunset.

My newest hobby was actually encouraged by Wesley. A few months ago, I was completely impressed by his ability to remember the difference between a woodpecker and a hummingbird and a cardinal, so for his birthday, we bought him a bird watching book and a pair of binoculars.

Our yard is definitely a bird haven. Surrounded by woods and empty pasture, there are many varieties of birds. Alice’s favorite, and the only one she can “identify” is, strangely, a vulture. As they soar over head, she screeches and yells, “A legal! A legal!”

We have a hummingbird feeder hanging above our kitchen window, and all of us enjoy watching ruby-throated hummingbirds come to feed. We fill a feeder full of seed and hang it in a tree for a wide variety of birds to visit.

If you want to hang out a hummingbird feeder of your own, there is a much cheaper way than buying the solution in the store. All you have to do is boil some sugar in water, let it cool, then put it in your feeder. Don’t add food coloring, because it isn’t necessary, nor good for the birds. Your water and sugar should be at a four to one ratio: one cup of water, 1/4 cup sugar. Super simple!

Our current favorite is the blue jay. We have a mama blue jay living in a bush in our yard, and we’ve enjoyed keeping watch on her eggs, and now, watching her babies grow.

Four little blue jay eggs

Hungry babies

Only three of the eggs hatched, and one baby died after the first day. But the other two jays appear to be thriving.

Mama Blue Jay

Their mama seems very attentive to her hatchlings. I’ve seen her bring nice, juicy worms to them several times.

The Blue Jay Family home

I wonder if Mama Jay didn’t quite think the location of her nest all the way through. There is their bush, to the left of my clothesline. It’s so close to the clothesline that I actually have to be careful when hanging out sheets not to drape them into the bush. (Er…Mama Little House didn’t quite think out the location of her clothesline, either.) And it’s really low, too, about waist-high on an adult. But so far, the babies don’t seem to mind, and Mama Jay doesn’t seem to mind my occasional peek into her nest, either.

Trying to see the stage at the Little House on the Prairie musical

We could not have had a more perfect night for the Little House on the Prairie musical. As you can see, it’s an outdoor theater. The weather was perfect. Not hot, and not cold. Not humid, either, which is a Midwestern Miracle. There was a full moon and a light breeze. Like I said, perfect.

There were approximately ten bajillion people there, so my hopes for getting Melissa Gilbert’s autograph were quickly dashed. But that’s okay. Knowing I was a mere two hundred yards or so from someone I’ve watched on TV since I was nine years old was pretty cool. Her voice sounded exactly the same as when she was on the original Little House series. And she looked eerily similar, too. Well, from what I could see through my opra glasses Wesley’s camo bird watching binoculars. And he’s messed something up, so only one eye hole worked. Oh, well. I’m glad I thought to stash them in my purse. (Along with my camera. And my Little House book, in hopes that I could get some autographs. And a pen, you know, just in case. My purse was stuffed.)

I loved the girl who played Laura. Her name is Kara Lindsay, and I thought she did a fantastic job. Her voice was amazing, and she was a great actress. She played Laura as a young girl, all the way up to her marriage to Almanzo Wilder, who was played by Kevin Massey, who was also really great. My very favorite song was called “Faster,” and in it, Laura and Almanzo are riding in Almanzo’s horse-drawn sled over the prairie, on their way from Laura’s teaching job back to her home.

The musical was a compilation of all the books, from On the Shores of Silver Lake all the way through These Happy Golden Years. There were a lot of lines directly from the book, including my favorite scene of all, the one in which Almanzo asks Laura to marry him.

From These Happy Golden Years:

“I was wondering if you would like an engagement ring.”
“That would depend on who offered it to me,” Laura told him.
“If I should?” Almanzo asked.
“Then it would depend on the ring,” Laura answered, and drew her hand away.

 A few days later, Almanzo arrives to take Laura on a ride.

Then, driving with one hand, with the other Almanzo lifted Laura’s, and she felt something cool slip over her first finger while he reminded her, “You said it would depend on the ring. How do you like this one?”
“It is a beautiful ring,” Laura said. “I think…I would like to have it.”

That night, after Laura tells her Ma and Pa about the engagement, Ma quietly says,

“If only you are sure, Laura. Sometimes I think it is the horses you care for, more than their master.”
“I couldn’t have one without the other,” Laura answered shakily.
Then Ma smiled at her, Pa cleared his throat gruffly and Laura knew they understood what she was too shy to say.

To sum it up, I was impressed with the entire musical. Everyone was fantastic. I was going to point out the other actresses and actors who were amazing, but I would have ended up listing the entire cast. Kate Loprest, who played Nellie, got a lot of laughs. I was super impressed with the little girl who played Carrie, who was only ten years old. I loooved the woman who played Eliza Jane and Mrs. Brewster.

Of course, no night would be complete without a little adventure. Just before we arrived back at my house, as we were driving down the gravel road, we saw a mass of black fur in the road. Apparently Mama Skunk thought it was a grand idea to give birth smack in the middle of the road. Daddy Skunk must have been a bit apprehensive, because he was pacing around on the side of the road. And of course, once they staked their claim, we were not welcome, and they let us know by lifting their tails and giving us a nice spray as we passed. Thanks for the welcome home, Mr. and Mrs. Skunk!

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you may or may not have noticed that I am a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series of books. (This is no doubt a shocking statement. Surely I have never mentioned Little House before!)

I first read Little House on the Prairie when I was eight years old, and bored out of my mind. I had found the book in my grandma’s basement, and the back cover sounded exciting, even if the front cover didn’t interest me at all. (The back cover describes a scene where wolves surround the cabin, and Pa and Laura are looking out at their glittering eyes. It’s slightly more sensationalized than what actually happened in the book, but I can forgive that.) I cracked the book open and was instantly hooked. It didn’t take long to devour the rest of the series, plus any and all biographies about Laura and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane.

My book collection, and Alice's rag doll, Emily, made by my mom.

This is my second set of books, as I read the first set to absolute shreds.

In the fifth grade, I wrote to each of the Little House homesites (this was in the days before the internet!) and they sent me back information, postca rds and bookmarks. I still have all these things stashed in an envelope in my closet.

I have visited the Independence, Kansas homesite three times, Mansfield, Missouri twice, and De Smet, South Dakota and Walnut Grove, Minnesota once each. I have a rock pulled from the banks of Plum Creek, mere feet from where Laura’s dugout once stood. (I like to imagine that this particular rock was tossed into the water by Laura herself.)

I’ve based much of my life around things I’ve read in Little House books. My obsession with small houses started because of these books, not to mention my obsession with living on a prairie. I like to base life decisions around WWLD? (What would Laura do?)

I’ve also seen every single episode of the 1970s drama Little House on the Prairie, starring Melissa Gilbert as Laura.

Melissa Gilbert

And now, on Thursday night, I’m going to the Little House on the Prairie musical, starring Melissa Gilbert as Ma!

I am so geekily excited. I’m going with my sister-in-law and neice, and I couldn’t possibly be more thrilled. When she first told me about the Little House musical coming to The City I almost screamed with excitement. Thankfully she didn’t hold it against me, and invited me to go along with her.

I hope she doesn’t recind her invitation when I show up in two braids.

Or if I scream and faint when I see Melissa Gilbert.

And if I get the chance, I’m soooo asking Melissa Gilbert for her autograph.

Don’t worry, though. I’ve decided to leave my sun bonnet at home. I didn’t want to overdo it.

“Oh, Pa, let’s go on west!”
“I know, little Half-Pint,” said Pa, and his voice was very kind. “You and I want to fly like the birds. “

I think one of the main reasons I’ve always felt so connected to Laura Ingalls Wilder is because we both have itchy feet. She was always longing to keep going west, never to settle down in one place for too long. I feel the same way. I can’t leave my family, so instead of going west, I move to different houses.

After about two years, I get this claustrophobic feeling and I get the urge to move. I’m one of those strange people who actually LIKE moving. I like the whole process, from going to all the local grocery stores to scavenge for free cardboard boxes to packing away all the knick-knacks to settling in the new home. I adore house hunting, and even when I’m happy in a house I spend a great deal of time searching the real estate ads in the paper and on-line.

But this time, I’m going to have to stifle my desire to move, because it just isn’t gonna happen. My small house dreams are just going to have to keep waiting.

So instead of getting a new house, I’ve decided to change the way my current house looks. I think changing things up a bit might give me an extra year or so before I smother under this feeling.

I have big plans for painting all the rooms in the house. To keep it green, I need to find low VOC paints. I’m happy with this, because I hate the smell of paint fumes. And especially since I have kids in the house, I don’t want to have to worry about what chemicals they are breathing in.

I’ve decided to do a ’50s retro inspired theme, that will be super fun and cheerful. Maybe a little too cheerful…

                                     

Yesterday I spray painted these two things this crazy aqua color. This is going to be one of the colors in my new overly cheerful house. One of the other colors will be green – like a Granny Smith apple green.

And this is the fabric I ordered for some kitchen curtains:

                                     Sky Blue Cherry Confections - Robert Kaufman Fabric - 1 Yard

Yes, it will be bright. It will be cheerful. So if you come to visit, wear your shades.

I feel like I should explain why I’ve not posted very often lately. You see, I’ve been doing something very important: watching “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

Yes, you read that right. I ordered season three through inter-library loan, and they gave me one week to watch all eight discs. That is twenty-nine hours of “Dr. Quinn” in seven days. Thirty-one hours if you count that I’ll have to watch one of the two-hour episodes twice so that I can listen to the commentary, too.

So far, I’m right on track for finishing it up exactly one day late. Hey, I can only watch so much television each day.

I love this show. I was ten years old when it first came out, and I can still remember watching it for the first time. My dad, who was also the one who introduced me to the “Little House on the Prairie” television series, insisted that I sit and watch “Dr. Quinn.” I was instantly hooked. It was canceled in 1998, and I’m still ticked off about it. I still haven’t even gotten over when they replacing old Colleen with new Colleen in the middle of season three. Sorry, Jessica Bowman, I got nothing against you. But you just aren’t Colleen.

There are so many things that I love about this show. First of all, it’s set during my favorite time period of American history: post Civil War, pre 1900s. Second, I get to see all kinds of cabin-y goodness. And third, Joe Lando as Sully. Need I say more? How about a picture? (There you go, Mom. That’s for you. Wink, wink.) Oh, and let’s not forget Hank the bartender.

So, yeah. I’ve been parked in front of the television for twenty-five hours now. Only six more to go. I guess it’s a good thing (good thing?) that I’m up four or five times a night with Alice. Gives me plenty of “Dr. Quinn” time.

I’ve been riding my bike all over town, running errands, and I’ve learned a few things.

1) There is no convenient way to get to the only grocery store in town. To get there, I have to ride three blocks in the opposite direction, backtrack back to the main road, cross the main road, drive through three parking lots and TA-DAH! I’m there. It’s really a pain. I’ve decided to go to the next city council meeting and ask about the possibility of putting a sidewalk on the main road through town.

2) Crossing the main road is a major pain in the patootie. And people are jerks. I wait. And wait. And wait. The cars come past at a steady pace, and no one slows down or stops to let me cross the road. No one speeds up, either, to give me a wider gap to cross. So I wait. And wait. Last time, I had to wait no less than five minutes each time I crossed the road. And this is not some big huge town with a traffic problem. In fact, we live in a town with only one stoplight in it.

3) It doesn’t matter if you are walking or on your bike, people are STILL inconsiderate. Today, the kids and I were out walking to a few garage sales, because it is citywide garage sale day. It started raining pretty good while we were out. So there I am, walking down the road with two kids, getting soaked, and people in their nice dry cars are forcing me off the road. Thanks a lot, jerks! 

4) I have no idea where to park my bike most places I go. We have a gorgeous town square, with wide brick-paved lanes and old buildings. Each sidewalk is painted with the words, “Do not ride bikes on sidewalk.” (a fact which Ryan didn’t notice until I told him…after he’d ridden on them three days in a row.) So when I go to pay bills at the city hall or our car insurance office, I’m stuck trying to figure out where to park. Do I haul it up the steps to the sidewalk, where I’m not supposed to be? Or do I park in a parking spot, and risk having some inattentive driver on a cell phone smash my bike? I’m still totally stumped on this one.

This is a question that was posed by an online friend of mine. And lately, it kind of seems like it is.

First we’ve got the biggies, that we’ve been hearing about for awhile: global warming, crazy high gas prices. We’ve got the tanking economy, with real estate prices in the pooper, the lousy exchange rate of the U.S. dollar. Now the food shortage. Sam’s Club and Costco are both putting a limit on how much rice people can buy. I look into my nearly bare cupboards and feel a little uneasy.

Now, I’m not panicking. I’m not rushing out with the shovel to dig a fallout shelter in the backyard. Yet.

But seriously, when is it going to end? Was I just oblivious as a kid or what? Was I just trotting around in the 80s, swinging my Strawberry Shortcake lunch pail in one hand and Cabbage Patch Doll in the other, completely unaware of things going on in the world? Because I do not remember the kind of natural disasters and money worries that we are seeing today.

Even in high school in the 90s, when I was slightly more cognizant of my surroundings, I don’t remember this kind of thing. Earthquakes in the Midwest, hurricanes nearly wiping out major cities, busy bridges collapsing…I just don’t remember any of it.

I’m sure a quick Googling would tell me all I need to know about what I missed when I was paying more attention to the cute boy in English class than I was to the morning news. But I’m not going to bother. I know that no matter what happened back then, all I need to worry about is what’s going on today. I have my kids to think about, and damn if I’m not worried about what’s happening to the entire world.

I don’t want to start hoarding food, because I’m afraid that we would be adding to the shortage. However, I do think that I’m going to keep at least a small stockpile of non-perishable food on hand. Not just in case all hell breaks loose and horrible things start happening (more earthquakes, terrorists attacks, George W. being re-re-elected to the presidency) but also for more mundane reasons: job loss, food price hikes, unexpected cravings of Spam and canned pears.  

In any case, by keeping food in stock, I’ll save trips to the grocery store. And that’s green, right?

That’s right, garage sale time! I absolutely love going to garage sales. I like holding my own slightly less, but this year, I’m really looking forward to it. Today we started The Big Purge.

I sorted through mountains of baby clothes, and I now have four massive garbage bags full of clothes that will go in the sale. I sorted through all of our kitchen stuff, went through both Ryan’s and my clothes, and have an enormous pile of baby paraphernelia in the bedroom, all ready to be sold in one fell swoop on the front lawn.

I’m a little overwhelmed at deciding on prices for everything. I don’t want to overprice anything, but I want to get my money’s worth, too! How much do you charge for a onesie? A crib? A maternity shirt? Gak! It’s too many numbers! Math was never my strong suit.

We’re basically trying to scale down most of our belongings so that we can fit into our tiny little dream home, which doesn’t exist yet. Once the house is less bloated, we’ll be calling our real estate agent to come over and tell us how much our house is (or isn’t) worth. This is what I’m most nervous about. I’m terrified that we won’t be able to sell the house for enough to get out of here, and we’ll be stuck in the house indefinitely. Blast you, crappy housing market!!!

So, I’ve been thinking even more about that teeny little dream house in the country. I guess that’s why it’s called an obession, huh?

I’ve found my perfect tiny little floorplan, here.

I love how the “master” bedroom is just exactly big enough for a bed. I think that’s a great idea, especially for us. Our current bedroom seems to be the catchall for every piece of junk that we don’t know what to do with. The more space we have, the more crap we pack in there.

Of course, I’d make a few small changes. As much as I love the idea of pioneering, I’m thinking that scrubbing clothes with a washboard would get old pretty quick, so I’d turn the back entryway into a mudroom with a washer and dryer. I’d also extend the loft over the entire living area, to give the kids more room and to not waste energy heating the ceiling.

I love the fact that we could probably do this tiny little 800 square foot house relatively cheaply, and we could make it as green as we wanted. One thing I’ve been eyeballing for awhile is a dual flush toilet. They basically have two flushes: one for…er, the first order of business and the other for…your other “duties.” So to speak. Okay, okay. Enough beating around the bush. There’s one flush for pee and the other for poop. They use way less water than the 1.6 gallons a typical toilet uses, and even though they sound like a novel new concept, they’ve been around in Europe and Australia and other places for quite some time. In fact, I read yesterday that it’s illegal in parts of Australia to do a new construction with a regular toilet.  Come on America, get with the program!

I’d also love to use green materials, or things that are being discarded from other houses. One man’s trash is a cheap woman’s treasure, you know.

Of course, there is just one hitch: where to put this dream house? I guess I’ll be scouring the papers and real estate websites, hoping to spot the trifecta: private, scenic, and above all, dirt cheap. Why, yes I live in a dream world, why do you ask?