Thursday, October 20, 2011

Girl Scouting in Canada

I was reminiscing with Johannes this morning and he suggested I share memories of times past on my blog.

Over the years of mom-hood I have done many, many things to be able to be active in my children's lives (training for becoming a Helicopter Mom?) I've been a soccer coach, church youth leader, school volunteer, PTO Secretary and President (middle school and elementary, respectively), cub scout leader and girl scout leader, many of these at the same time. This link is to an album in my picasa for Green Mania Ottawa. In May of 2009, my girls and I drove four hours to Perth, Ontario, Canada to join up with the Canadian Girl Guides for a weekend of fun and learning.

We have so many memories. From making breakfast casseroles in a home made outdoor oven to geo-caching (I still have the portable first aid kit we located.) We made friendship bread and, even though the starter didn't survive my move, I still use the jar for my own friendship bread. We learned folklore, ate grilled cheese sandwiches cooked over a tin can, and met some of the nicest people you could ever wish to know - it's true what they say about Canadians.

Click on the pic to head to the album

During the long drive we practiced the Canadian National Anthem out of respect to our hosts and sang it proudly while they raised their flag. When Old Glory - that I bought just for that weekend - was rising on the second flagpole, our Canadian neighbours sang the Star Spangled Banner like they had been singing it for years. Well, okay there were a couple of girls who must have missed the meeting and asked why they were singing our song but it was touching none the less. I still fly this flag proudly during special days and guard it like it's gold the rest of the time. My kids and I debate over the actual name of this flag. I believe that since it originally hung over Canada it's an Ameradian flag. My gang believes it would be called a Canadican flag. The debate continues...

During the silent auction I lost, but was given by Suzanne, the official green mania hat and it hangs with my other hats in my bedroom.

I always travel with bottle of Aleve, which is available by prescription only in Canada. I ended up surrounded by leaders as I passed these pills out like a drug dealer. ("How many do you want?")

My greatest memory is also my greatest fear:

Since the Girl Guides only sell two kinds of cookies, I was asked to bring some Girl Scout cookies for the leaders to buy as well as for the silent auction. I ordered extra boxes and then stopped at the council on my way out of the country for more and tucked these safely under our pillows and sleeping bags in the back of my van. When we went through customs they asked if I had anything to declare and I told them "no". It wasn't until several miles later that I realized that the nine (yes, 9) cases of girl scout cookies should have been declared. I'm still waiting for border patrol to show up and tell me they know what I did.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Embarrass Your Daughter Without Really Trying

India has a roll in the senior play at her school.  They are doing a comedy about pirates (go figure) and she, appropriately enough, is cast as the little native *snicker*.  Apparently the natives are like the Three Stooges which makes my plan work beautifully.

Here's the plan:

I told India that we will all go to the play and be seated in the front row.  

We'll pull a "Lowville" which means we will cover the entire row in coats so no one else can sit in any of the seats.  

Each of us will hold a large sheet of poster board with a letter on it to spell out her name, plus the exclamation point.  These we will hold high in the air during the entire performance so as to block out the view of anyone sitting at floor-level behind us.

Each time India enters the stage we will jump to our feet and cheer for her until she exits the stage.  

Throughout the show we will do a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and make editorial comments about the show, the lines and the acting.  

We will encourage "plank walkings" "gizzard slittings" and whatever other forms of punishment we deem necessary.  

In recognition of the most commonly yelled word in Pirates of the Caribbean, we will often yell out "FIRE!!"

In honour of Matthew's stage crew days, when the stage crew does anything significant we will have an air horn and blow it while cheering for the fantastic feats of the crew.

Even though India has a bit part we will show up with the largest bunch of long-stemmed red roses known to man.

When the play is over I will cry loudly about how I'm losing my baby!!!!


Will I do these things?  Who knows?  

I have until June to work on my plan, if I decide to go ahead with it. 

In the meantime, the sheer joy of seeing the fear in India's face is worth every minute I spend making these threats. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn in Western New York

As Autumn arrived, life here in Amish Country became much slower - despite all of the school activities.  Coming home from school I often meet up with local buggies and their friendly occupants.  I usually just follow them for a while and listen to the sound of the horses hooves on the pavement.  This particular buggy had a teenage boy hanging his legs out the "door" as he ate a slice of pizza from a local store.

Part of the grove of trees at the front of my property.  Thankfully I not only live  in the country but I live in what Johannes calls a "draw".  The wind comes off Lake Erie and blows the leaves up the hill, past my barn and off into the distance. Rake-free lawn care.  With five acres to maintain, I can't argue with that.
When we bought the place this staghorn sumac was just a small cluster. In the two years since, it has to be mowed back to keep from smothering the lilacs I transplanted. Every Autumn it gets this most amazing shade of red.
While I was taking photos of the trees these geese flew overhead.  Mandi thinks they look like leaves blowing off the tree.
Such a pretty cluster, but looks can be deceiving.  The green trees in the center are actually about 200 yards away, in my neighbour's backyard.
The trees at the top of my hill.  I love this side of my lawn because of the large grove of trees.  I miss the Adirondacks and their woods in my backyard, so this makes me feel less homesick for my mountains.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Naptime with Teens

I had one of those nights last night and just needed a little nap.

I was checking out the interesting characters over at People of Walmart and couldn't leave. I don't know what it is, but once you start looking at the freak show there you just want to keep looking to see how bad it gets.  I finally was able to get to sleep a little after one and slept great until my hearing, that was once described as so sensitive that I can hear a pin drop in Indiana, picked up the tell-tale sounds of Mandi taking a shower in the bathroom below me. She had to be at a football breakfast and wanted to get up early so that she could dry and style her hair.  Unfortunately for little me, she kept dropping things and I kept waking each time.  Eventually Mandi had to wake me when I hit "snooze" way more times than the alarm clock likes.  Don't blame me. Blame the People of Walmart. 

Advance to this afternoon, India and Andrew were sitting on my bed - building a city on the computer. I laid down and the next thing I knew, I was sound asleep. After a while Johannes called and then I tried to get back to sleep.  This is when it got weird.  India sat on the floor by me, took my hand and used it like I was a puppet while she and Andrew carried on bizarre conversations in several different accents.  All the while India continued to use my hand as if I was gesturing with it while I spoke.  This went on for about half an hour.  The last thing I remember I was laughing...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Halloween Video Fun

I found this over at jibjab and just had to make a video using my gang.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Picasa and random pictures

After two days of tweaking my blog, I finally finished.  Somehow I ended up in my picasa and just for the fun of it, I started wandering through photos that haven't made it into web albums yet.  I thought it would be fun to share some of them here.
Sugar curled under the Christmas trees boughs
as we assembled the
Andrew in the willow tree, again
Sign as you come off the interstate in Erie.
This cracks us up every time we see it
My Sweet William and me. 
Jerome playing on my cell
as we cruise down the interstate in the Subaru.

No wonder my battery is always dead
India, before haircut, yakking her way through church
Ummm... Where are her clothes?
India again, in my room
Don't ask.
Me.  I have no idea what this is about
Mandi after her hair experiment
Mandi, basketball cheerleading days.
Much cuter this way
Me, stuck in the tire swing.
Timothy panicking.
Notice how much help I'm getting
India at 5am, wishing me farewell
as I headed for Oregon the first time.

Serious bedhead
Matthew washing the house?
My own Andrew Wyeth Painting
India managed to convince people she had been bitten.
By a vampire?
Oh My God! Johnny Depp touched this!!!
India on the Bounty
Jerome tolerates us so much.
Here he is at his father's
Jerome in his snow cave.
Tempting as it was, no he didn't have to live there
Esme relaxing on Mandi

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...

 In honour of my favourite holiday, Halloween. I went wa-a-ay back in my facebook and dug out this story.  It began as an observation of my evening but several friends, and my daughter, joined in and it turned into a suspenseful ghost story.  Enjoy...
So Jerome usually sleeps with his mom (me) instead of in his room, but he went to his Dad's. I was watching Ghost Adventures, and a t-storm came up while I was putting away things from the last moving box in my bedroom - at 1am. I was wandering around the house feeling pretty brave with lights off. Then I heard noises. Ghost show, t-storm, dark house, noises.....
Ingrid O'B: ‎... India was taking a shower. *muffled scream*

Ingrid F: and there it was, a cracking sound on the front porch. I was unable to make out what it was, but then..

Ingrid O'B: Then I realized all the downstairs windows were open and the front door was unlocked.

Colleen: As lighting flashed across the dark sky . I realized, I have no electricity, the house is dark.

Ingrid O'B: But yet, the dogs make no sound. Is it fear?

India: I step out of the shower and wrap the towel around me as lightning flashes. I hear an eerie noise. What was that?!

Joy: Two yellow eyes peered out of the darkness and a strange animal-like sound coming from their direction. "Who's there", I called out.  

Colleen: I hear the floor creaking. Someone or something is moving closer to me. I can feel its presence all around me. Like heat radiating off it's body.

India: I quickly get dressed and run out of the bathroom running straight into you.
India: Who's there? I look around in the dark.

Colleen: I can't see, it is so dark. Lightning flashes across the sky, I think I see it.

India: I slowly back away trying to make no sudden movements.

Ingrid O'B: I'm not sure if it can see me so I try to stay in the shadows, not knowing if the shadows are safe.

India: What is it? I whisper.

Ingrid O'B: We tremble in fear. Whatever it is is so close we can hear it breathing.

Colleen: I can feel the heat of its breath , it is getting too close. I close my eyes.

Ingrid O'B: I'm too frightened to open them. If I'm going to die, I don't want to see what kills me. Or am I afraid to see my death?

Colleen: I keep thinking to myself. I know someone will find me, either dead or alive. I want to live.

Ingrid O'B: Matthew is asleep in his room. I want to call for him but I am afraid. What if it goes after him. I need to protect my son, if I don't then we will die. But if I call for him then it will know where I am. I am so frightened.

Colleen: I forgot I still have my cell phone in my back pocket of my jeans.

Ingrid O'B: I open my cell. The light comes on!

Colleen: I want to scream" OH NO" but I can't.  I'm stiff as a board . The fear is so great. What should I do? Stay calm, I tell myself.

Ingrid O'B: I can't think. Did it see me? The tears come to my eyes as my heart pounds in my chest. Can it hear my heart? What do I do?

Colleen: The air is so thick, and humid. I feel as though I can't breathe.  I take a deep breath, as deep as I can. I breathe slowly out. Hoping it can't hear me. I hear a cry from the bedroom. 

Ingrid O'B: I'm too frightened to call out for fear that whatever it is may not be alone. I have to protect India, but I can't let it harm Matthew. I grab India's hand and take a deep breath...

Colleen: Over there, those eyes. Could it be. A long pause and a sigh.  I think it's the cat, no, is it the rat out of Matthew's room? Umm...

Ingrid O'B: ‎"Charlie?" I ask. "How did you get out of your cage?"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

When It Becomes Too Frightening To Sleep

   I admit that I believe in ghosts.  I also realize that for many years my house was income property and some tenants had a thing for, shall we say, graffiti.  I kind of question some of the art work that they created.  Take this whale for example.  Cute, but child-like. I think I had two-year-olds who did better.
   Next we move on to stating the obvious.  Exactly how much do you need to be hung up on your name to do this to the door frame? 
   I guess we should be proud of her for remembering what her name was because then there is ... a backwards alphabet. Practice for their next DUI test?  Nobody knows for sure.
   Eventually they progressed to more intricate artwork.  Intricate for them anyway. 
   Now this is where things get creepy.  All of the other "art" was done in what became Matthew's bedroom.  It was all in fun and, for the most part, colourful.  Today I rearranged my living room.  When we bought the house, the most recent tenants had left behind a very large television sitting in the corner.  In the two years since we moved in we have used this set while it sat in the same spot.  Today I moved it across the room.  While Matthew was sitting on the floor, sorting wires, I took down the coo-coo clock.  The afternoon sun was shining through the French doors of the sunroom and onto  the bead-board.  It picked up the waxy shimmer of this:
   For those of you who aren't quite certain what this is, it says "MURDER" backwards.  

Did the tenants write this?

Are the orbs seen in photos that we take around the house more dangerous than we thought?

Or is Jerome correct on the most frightening of all of the speculations?  

Jerome believes that friends and relatives of the spiders I have killed wrote this to warn me, and to let the dead spiders know, that there will be pay-back.  That I will be punished.  

Oh Sweet God! Please don't let it be the spiders!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Nights, Computer Games and Weird Netflix videos

   The boys went off to their father's house for the weekend.  Well, Andrew and William went there.  Jerome stayed home to play his addiction, Joint Ops.  
   Once upon a time Jerome was a normal, mild-mannered little boy. But then Johannes talked me into purchasing Joint Ops.  The original plan was for us to play together.  Since we live so far apart, we try to find activities online that we can do together.  I played a few missions and when he felt I was ready, Johannes and I decided to play a game by ourselves.  Unfortunately, the pace was so fast that I became nauseous.  Enter Jerome.  He saw me doing missions and decided he wanted to do them to.  After breezing through the missions, Jerome started playing the game and soon was kicking butt and killing people.  Now he is a Joint Ops junkie.  In fact, when Andrew asked him if he were going to his father's, Jerome replied that he had "games to play".  There he is on most evenings, with Johannes 2600 miles away often playing the game with him. So much for Johannes and me playing games online together.

   Mandi is cheering at a high school football game an hour and a half away.  Up until just now I have been looking from my laptop, to the tv, to the clock above the tv with my mind wandering to Mandi telling me the game was at 4:30.  Just now I checked the school calendar and realized it was a 7:30 game.  I can breathe now...
(Update: 11:50pm and the oldest headed off to school to pick up Mandi, the bus will be there in a few minutes. We won 18-0!)

   On to India and me.  So far this evening we have watched what could possibly become a cult classic, if it isn't already.  I have a secret crush on Neil Patrick Harris.  I KNOW he's gay but I can still have a crush, can't I? In this show he sings *swoon* and the plot is pretty cool.  I'm still waiting for the sequel. 
    Next on the queue is Elvira.  A corny movie with a lame, over-used plot but I really like Elvira.  I loved her character since she first appeared on the scene.  Her silliness and ditziness just cracks me up. 
   Why is India picking weird movies to watch tonight? Could be because we are a little weird to begin with. Or so we've been told...  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ribbon Sunflowers

Hey, folks!  I found this adorable sunflower arrangement over at  via  It's so adorable and easy to do!


STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam:
   One – Sheet, 18″ x 12″ x 1″
   Two- Balls, 4″ diameter
   Five – Balls, 3″ diameter
   One – Cube sized to fit inside watering can
Other materials:
Watering Can
5/8″ ribbon, yellow
3/8″ ribbon, black
Seven – 1/4″ dowels
Three – 1/2″ dowels
Felt pieces in brown, green, black
Sequins, black
Straight pins, black
Glue Dots
Sunflowers & leaves
  1. Use black straight pins to adhere black sequins to half of each foam ball.
  2. Cut yellow ribbon into desired petal length.
  3. Bring ends of ribbon together and secure with two pins underneath ribbon at base of sequin line.  [NOTE: It is important ribbon is pinned underneath so that it does not lay flat against the ball. ]  Continue with ribbon all the way around sequin line.
  4. Cover remaining ball with black felt, securing with black straight pins.
  5. Cut leaf shapes from green felt.  Secure beneath ribbon petals onto the foam ball.
Sunflower Stem
  1. Apply glue dots along dowel.
  2. Wrap black ribbon around dowel, covering wood.
  3. Secure beginning and end of ribbon with glue do.  These dots will not be seen as they will be pushed into the ball.
  4. Insert Sunflower head onto dowel stem
  1. From the foam sheet, cut three strips, each measuring 9″ x 2″.
  2. Using a scrap piece of foam as a sander, sand the corners of the strips until they are rounded.  Repeat for top of cattail.  Make sure there are no straight edges.
  3. Cut small, rectangular piece of brown felt and secure to the top of the cattail with black straight pins. 
  4. With remaining brown felt, and overlapping the top piece slightly, cover the length of the cattail, securing with black straight pins along the back seam, and along the top and bottom.
  5. Insert cattail into large wooden dowel.
  1. Insert foam cube into watering can, cutting down the cube to fit, if needed.
  2. Add sunflowers and cattails by pushing stems into the foam cube.
  3. Cover base with moss, secure with black straight pins.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

(No) Vacancy

   I don't know at what point in time someone put that sign on the interstate near my home but I need to search for it and take it down.  I realize I would have to search at ground level but this has to stop before I become that crazy cat lady that everyone talks about.  Well, maybe I already am that woman.  I hope not.  I have enough cats. More than enough, in fact, but they don't seem to be happy with the company that they have and keep inviting other cats to come on over.  
   Since moving to our new house, it began with Skittles and Ghost.  These girls were left in a carrier by my van one snowy morning.  Unfortunately, Ghost didn't make it but Skittles went on to my dear friend's home and is driving her crazy while maintaining perfect cuteness.  Which, as you all know, is the primary function of adorable kittens.
   For a while things seemed to be moving along smoothly until this last winter when the kids were followed the mile home from the library, through the snow, by Romeo.
   Romeo worked his way into our hearts with the first lick and continued licking us until we couldn't part with him. So, we made our way through the last of winter, through summer and on into Autumn.  Just when we thought it was safe to go back outside, Mandi was taking my pic by a tree for her Photography assignment and she saw a cat run up the hill behind the house.  We headed up to the barn to see if it went there and lo and behold we found Mr. Mittens.
Mandi and Mister Mittens
   Mr. Mittens leaving us isn't even an option, since Mandi's Sir Fat Louis left in July.  This now bumps us up to "am I crazy" status.

   Is it over? Will there be others?  We're in the country, with a barn/workshop, you tell me. All I ask is that if anyone sees that I start brushing my cats and knitting their fur into sweaters, please send me someplace with nice soft walls.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adventures in Blogging

Sometimes I feel for my poor family.  It started with facebook, with me posting interesting little things happening in the family.  They would do something that I thought was too funny not to share and I would run off to my computer. That wasn't good enough for me. I started fiddling around with this blog and they knew they were doomed. That everything was now fair game.
 I can't say they minded, though. More times than not they would say "that would make a great status" or "you should blog this".  They are really getting into this.  In fact, today I asked India to bring the camera to school so that she could take some pics that I can use in my blog and she was all for it.  
 One thing I have noticed is that blogging is like a drug.  Once you start getting into it, it is really hard to stop and you begin looking for more ways to get your fix.
 Today I discovered Pages on facebook. I had just created my page this afternoon and within a few minutes, another blogger who's page I like and comment on had found me and was recommending me.  By this evening I was up to 32 likes and climbing. This is serious now.  I find myself checking back constantly to see how the numbers have grown in such a short time. It has gotten so bad that I almost forgot about this blog.
 I think an argument could also be made for the fact that I am blogging about blogging.  I promise I will be alright.  Just let me have my fix and I will be a happy Mom. Really, when it comes to family harmony, isn't that what really matters?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Things You Do For Love

No. I'm not talking about walking in the rain and the snow... (Did I just seriously date myself?  Wow!)

You know that you are totally crazy about someone when you want to know everything about them.  From when they were little...
Johannus and Johannes - 1952

to where they spent their childhood.
Kinderdijk, Noord Brabants, Netherlands

Their life in their new country, from the younger years...
Norwalk, California

to their life as an adult...
Santa Paula, California

as they grew older
Porterville, California
and on into middle age.
Crater Lake, Oregon

You become fascinated with where their folks met...
Courting at the " Coastal Batteries" Batavia, Indonesia- 1946

and all about where they now live.
Caveman Bridge (6th Street) over the Rogue River, Grants Pass, Oregon

You grow to truly love their native food and want to cook the dishes as well as they do...
"Singapore Sate"...Sate Ayam & Gado Gado
Listening to them speak in their native tongue becomes a complete fascination and you ask them to teach you so that the two of you can have your own "language".

When you devote hours of your days learning all about siblings and children,
friends and family.
When the kids were younger

The Folks
and every job that they ever held.  
Hanging Steel in Bakersfield, California

Home building in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon

Building Dutch Bros' Kiosks throughout Southern Oregon

Then you spend days organizing their hundreds of photographs (thousands,eventually) into albums just so you can know more.

That is when you know for certain that this is the person that you love more than you have ever loved before. It is when you realize that you have found the person that you have spent your entire life looking for and you will never let them go.