Sunday, June 29, 2008

All your base are belong to us

A retro geek for your Sunday afternoon.

What you say?!?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mama's Got a Brand New Chair

Before JB and I learned we were having a baby I had made a list of three things I would like to obtain pre-baby. I figured that once the baby came we'd be living in poor-town, so any major purchases would need to be made beforehand.

1.) China cabinet: not everyone needs one, but I do. At least, I would use it a lot. Marian saw one at a high-end consignment shop for a good deal, and her good eye, along with some Bush Bucks helped me to realize this dream. Isn't that crazy! I mean, these suckers are usually really expensive! Marian postulated that it was marked down so much because of it's large size--not many people would want one this big. I am still floored that I have a china cabinet. I feel so glamorous!

2.) Bedroom furniture. Right now we are using the furniture from JB's boyhood bedroom, which really belongs in baby's room. We did get fabric to make a headboard and drapes, but I don't think we'll be able to swing getting new dressers. This hasn't really bothered me because I have my china cabinet and I shouldn't be too greedy.

3.) La-z-boy chair. A few years ago my parents gave me "the Big Blue Chair," which is the la-z-b0y that my Dad bought at least 16 years ago. He special ordered it to be BIG because he's a big man. It's called the Grand Canyon. It was actually big enough for one dad and one kid or wife to sit in. It was heavily used. One night Annie was sitting in the kitchen when she heard a loud CRASH! She ran into the living room to see mom and dad lying on the floor behind the chair, cracking up. The back finally broke on it and flipped them backwards out of it. However, my dad rigged it and it became the "trick chair" in JB's and my living room. Guests would sit in the chair, assuming that the back would stay in place, only to be launched backward in it.

I am almost obsessed with the wonderfulness of a rocking/reclining la-z-boy, so I insisted on a new one for me to rock Baby H in (Big Blue doesn't rock as nicely, and the fabric is tearing apart, it's dirty, it's broken). Of course, the leather model that we picked was really pricey. Eee! Today I called to get the exact price because JB and I were talking about getting it in August when he got his bonus check. I know--who spends that much on furniture?!? This is how deep my obsession went. "Oh, the Barnett?" the saleslady asks. "The cloth version is actually on clearance right now. And with an extra 10% off." What!!! Aaagghhh! So....we bought it. It is WONDERFUL. And it was a LOT more affordable--it actually cost the same that my dad paid for his back in the early 90's.

JB and his parents debated over putting Big Blue Chair on the curb or giving it to Salvation Army. I told them that I have to prepare myself emotionally to part with it before anything like that happens. I think that they found my silliness to be amusing, but I seriously place lots of sentimental value on things like this.

Here is JB (woah! A chair big enough for a 6'3" man!):

"This'll probably be the last time I ever sit in this chair, as April will take it over forever as soon as she sets that camera down."

Here is me. Me and baby gut:

It's not as wide as Big Blue, so JB and I can't share it, but there is just enough room for one parent and one little baby to rock.

The Lord is good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I don't think you should eat that

Each week April and I attempt to follow our pregnancy progress in the book Your Pregnancy: Week by Week. The book is full of descriptions of how the baby is growing and the changes to expect as well as tips for healthy living with a baby inside you. There is quite a bit of good and interesting information and quite a bit of information for those who need to know EVERYTHING that could possibly go wrong. Needless to say we only read the applicable entries.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I heard April read, "Are you concerned about Anthrax?" WTH? Anthrax? This should have been an indication of this week's reading which went something this like...

[I'm reading from an article titled Some Alternative Food Choices]
J:To help control a sweet tooth, limit yourself to a 100 calories of candy a day - a handful of jelly beans---
A:A handful of chili beans?!?
J:No, a handful of jelly beans.
A:That's a handful of bullshit.

Ladies and gentlemen this is my wife...

and i love her just the way she is.

Hilton house wrap-up

A few notable moments from our stay at the Hilton:

Photographing plants:

Marian asked me to photograph her peonies as they bloomed, and of course I couldn’t resist shooting her other flowers, too. I was greatly intrigued by what I called “space needle” flowers. They were flowers without petals. I
many photos of them. When Marian returned this weekend I commented on them. “Oh, those are aliums that have already bloomed and lost their petals,” she said. Agh! I’m a lame brain! I thought she had some rare funky species of outer-space flower or something!

Killing plants:

One of my jobs was to keep her indoor plants, front porch plants, back porch plants, garden plants, and vegetable garden plants alive. Most things that were planted in the ground survived. The potted plants did not fare so well. See this beautiful one? Yeah, it shriveled up by the time I was done with it. Marian was good natured about my murders and was also very patient as she taught me (again! I’m a slow learner) about how to care for potted plants. I am determined to get it right! (Says the girl who killed almost all of her own houseplants this last winter when she was sick!) I also was so unobservant that I totally missed the chipmunk and groundhog infiltrations in her vegetable garden. I could blame it on pregnancy brain, but honestly, I think the problem is my general “blondness” that rears its ugly head once in a while.

Breaking Appliances:

The water heater broke with a week left to our stay. And they don’t make that kind of heater anymore, so the new one will take almost 2 weeks to come in. Of course, the water heater broke on the day that we had out-of-town friends stay the night. Bathers were subject to what my family calls “Lake Superior washes.” Eee! I was not one of those bathers. I am not brave. I went to my own house for showers when I could.

A few days later, after a really long day of hard work, I sat down to watch an hour of TV before bed. And the TV broke. Agh!

So there we were, out in the an old antique house, no hot water, a broken TV, no normal internet or normal working computer. We were roughing it! Haha.

After that I was afraid of some other catastrophe—you know, things come in threes. I kept a wary eye on the dogs, lest they befall doggie malaria or something. I certainly was not going to let a dog be the third blow!

Dog watch:

Marian said that I could cut Maggie’s hair. I was so excited! I love stuff l

ike that! And Maggie was a total peach about it. She LOVES people attention. Here is a shot I took of her before I trimmed her mane. Look, it’s Aslan!! J (Maggie is not a natural model like Lucy.)

Here are some shots of the dogs playing “Launch.” (For a gross story about a Launch game snafoo, read “Ruiner of Fun.”)

Birthday boy:

JB celebrated his 28th birthday. Happy Birthday, Jeddie!

I tried to be a good wife by making him his favorite cake: spice cake with homemade pneuka frosting (a brown sugar frosting). Well, his birthday fell at the beginning of water heater drama and I was just crazy busy and ended up jacking up the frosting—I didn’t have enough to spread around and when I tried to spread it farther, I ended up pulling up part of the cake and it got smashed in the frostng. I told him that I had made him a Kindergarden Cake, because it looked like a Kindergardener made it. He said that we could just make more frosting and put that on. So we did. It still turned out looking like this:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gadget babies

I helped JB celebrate his first “sort-of” Father’s Day by making him accompany me to Babies R Us to make our baby registry. I told him that the place weirds me out, and that we needed strength in numbers.

Most of the registering went fine, though I could have done with a few less “requirements.” As my friend Heather said, “You walk in the place and it makes you feel like you’re a bad parent if you don’t buy your kid every $80 item available.”

I had really wanted to register at Target, but they are not “return-friendly” when it comes to baby registry items. You can only return twice in a one-year period, and only up to a $35 maximum or something stupid like that. So I registered for some fun, colorful things there, but had to do the bulk at the scary store.

When you register, they give you a massive list of everything possible to register for. It’s ridiculous! It is nice to have a list, but seriously, who wants all that crap taking up space in their house? Not me! Half of the stuff is for newborns, and is only useful until they’re like 3 or 4 months old. No. Baby barely has a grasp on the five inches in front of his/her face at that age. Baby does not need a million sitting contraptions, etc. JB and I kept looking at the weight limits for swings, strollers, etc. We are large people who will have a large baby who will probably outgrow everything in a month.

Anyway, it’s quite frustrating. Fortunately, I have friends who can steer me right. I showed the “what to register for” list to some coworkers today and they gave it to me straight. They helped cross ridiculous things off the list. Here is one ridiculous thing :

Baby video monitor. Woah. Talk about overly-invested parents. The children whose parents use this device will have trouble cutting the cord when they turn 18.

Here are two items that may be useful for some parents, but I think that these models are a little too much:

Baby Sauna that includes a shower and a pump to pump in clean, warm water. What?!?? Put the kid in your cleaned kitchen sink and squirt some soap in. My coworkers promise—it works!

Baby walker. What is this? A mini-apartment? This would probably scare the daylights out of any child who is not colorblind. Waay too much stimulation! I mean, I really dig colorful things, people, but even I have my limits.

We are not done registering. I’m sure I missed a million actual important things because I was too stupefied near the end to concentrate. I had these visions of what our house would look like with a baby in it. Basically, it would look the same, except there would be a devastatingly cute baby playing on the living room floor, with a lot of colorful baby Einstein toys surrounding her, and upstairs there would be a child’s bedroom with colorful blankets and books and toys.

I forgot about the walker. And the bouncy chair. And the “lay and play” (play mat thingy). And the ugly Johnny-jump up because they can only make ugly gadgets these days. And the swing, walker, booster chair, high chair, potty chair, nursing stool, bathtub, you name it.

Argh!!! I keep asking myself what little people did in the 1800’s. Or 1700’s. Perhaps we could raise our baby that way. Those people seem to have made it. The just had crawled on dirt floors and played with errant sticks. Yeah, I don’t think we need all those gadgets…

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Ruiner of Fun

One of the dogs’ favorite games to play at the Hilton is tennis ball chasing. It goes like this:

I get out the tennis ball slingshot. Lexi and Lucy go beserk with excitement. They both spring off all fours straight into the air, several times, until I can get around to shooting a ball. It is quite impressive to see Lexi do this, since she weighs about 90 lbs. She really gets some air. Lucy jumps so high that her head hits the slingshot and if I’m not careful I could shoot her in the face.

I shoot a ball. Lexi takes off like a speeding bullet, but Lucy shoots off like a firecracker, way outrunning her, and gets the first tennis ball. She races back to me before Lexi has even turned around and tries to make me want the ball.

“Haha! Look at me! I have the ball you just threw! And I’m not giving it back! Chase me, I dare you!”

I launch another ball. Lucy again beats Lexi to the ball, but since she already has a ball in her mouth, she can’t retrieve this new one. Lucy races back to me with the original ball in her mouth, still taunting. Lexi gets the new ball and brings it back. And drops it like a good dog. And I launch it again.

We go on like this for quite a while. Lucy basically is running in a circle the whole time, delirious with excitement. And Lexi plays catch with me.

So on Tuesday we were in the middle of a game when Maggie, the old geriatric dog, saunters out of the woods to take a dump in the middle of the yard. In the middle of our play area.

Why didn’t she do that in the woods?!???

I felt like I was in one of my slow motion nightmares, where your body just won’t move fast enough to divert the horror that is about to take place in front of you.

Lexi and I are in a dead heat to reach Maggie. I tell my legs to run faster, but they don’t. I holler at Lexi, but it’s not loud enough. Lexi has dropped the ball and is racing with reckless abandon toward her prize. I am too late.

I don’t know why I kept running to get closer to the crap pile. It’s not like I could ever outrun a lab. And before I can avert my eyes they are accosted with the grotesque scene of Lexi gulping down hot, steamy, fresh dog excrement. Purely vomitous. I scream and yell, but she doesn’t give a shit, no pun intended.

Then she trots back over to me so that I can throw another ball for her to fetch.

“You a-hole! I am not touching another ball that goes into your mouth! You ruined play times! YOU wrecked it! Why did you do that?!???”

I can see Lulu in the background, still holding on to her ball, a quizzical look on her face. She wants to know why we’ve stopped playing. She wants to still run! I tell her that Lexi has ruined everything.

All the dogs are oblivious of what just happened. I trudge back to the house, demanding that they follow me. In their eyes, I have wrecked play time. I am the bad auntie-mother who makes them go inside and lie down.

In their doggie eyes, I am the ruiner of fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I realized that four months from today, I will probably be holding my little person. That’s so crazy. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but whenever I achieve some big life goal, it seems so surreal to me. Like I never thought I’d live long enough to do it. Perhaps it’s because I was always taught that Jesus could come back ANY DAY, so I just go about life not really expecting to reach “Granny-age.”

So when I

  • Moved away from home
  • Obtained a Big Ten degree
  • Got a full-time job with paid vacation
  • Married a wonderful person
  • Bought a house
  • Got my very own dog,

I was quite surprised with myself. Perhaps I am surprised because I am also a pessimist, so I don’t trust myself to reach goals.

I also have life goals of writing my favorite book (it doesn’t need to be published, but just bound and put on my own shelf), owning a single-cab pickup truck, living in a lovely house on several acres, and seeing my family live for Jesus.

These goals aren’t quite as easy to reach as getting knocked up. But they probably also require less follow-up work than giving birth to a little person.

And they’re less nerve-wracking. I am not afraid of the actual raising of the child, like most people are. The kid will be FINE. It will not die because I didn’t do every perfect parenting thing possible. My fears are selfish ones. How much will this baby wreck my life? How much will I resent the baby for snatching away my quiet times? How much crap am I going to have to lug around everywhere for ONE little person? How many weird parents will I have to deal with (you know, the ones who freak out too much over their kids, or who don’t believe in the word “discipline,” etc.). Ugh. All the sacrifies for one little person!!!

She had better be extremely cute and wicked smart. Lucy is a bucket of trouble in herself, but her cuteness and cleverness help me to love her to pieces and not hate her. I don’t know how the parents of ugly children could do it… :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Drama Clean

This is Lucy’s new favorite thing. She LOVES Drama Clean shampoo.

At least, that’s the only explanation I can find for her actions. Every day (with the exception of Sunday) that we have been staying at “The Hilton,” Lucy has gotten so dirty that she has needed a bath—sometimes twice in one day. It’s got to be the shampoo. At our house Lucy uses Bunny Shampoo, which is supposed to be nice on pet skin. But at the Hilton, she gets people shampoo, which leaves her fur smelling and looking way more glamorous.

Her favorite stunt that requires a bath afterward is rolling in deer poop. She loves deer poop more than dead animal (I am grateful for this). If she rolls in dead animal, she will get one long streak down her back. But deer poop is a wonderful thing, if you ask Lucy. It is worth rubbing your whole face in. It is worth rubbing down both of your sides. It is The Shit.

Yesterday when I got home from work, I praised the Lord that Lucy did not crap in her pen while I was gone. She is touched in the head and freaks out when we leave her alone. And I won’t get into the details, but the dog food at the Hilton affects her bowel movements in a disgusting way. So cleaning up her messes is dreadful. “Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus!” I hollered as I did a little Pentecostal rejoicing dance next to her pen. I’m sure she thought I was crazy. Yeah, well at least I don’t crap my pants everyday like you do, Lucy!

Not having to clean a dog pen allowed me to spend some time outside having fun. I brought out a blanket and laid in the sun, reading a good book. The dogs all came over to me to say hello, and then wandered off to do dog things. For Maggie and Lexi, the older dogs, this means basking in the sun, casually perusing the yard for the stray bunny or groundhog. For Lucy, this apparently time for a hot date with deer poop. I had forgotten this and was happily reading my book until she sidled up next to me, REAKING of filth and was brown all over.

“Excuse me, mother (said in a Brittish accent, for she is a Brittish dog), but I’ve had quite enough fun for one day. Do you mind if I lean against you on your nice blanket while you read your book?”

“Lucy, you stink! Go away!”

“What? I think I smell quite wonderful. But if you insist, we can rub some Drama Clean shampoo into my fur. Here, let me sit really close to you unti you’re ready to do so.”

“Go away, Luly! You are a stinky dog! You an animal and you are disgusting!!”

She finally gets the message and walks away. I return to my book for a few blissful seconds until the rankness enters my nostrils again. If that dog is trying to touch me again, I’m going to kick her ass! I think. I look around. She is not near me. No, she is standing 15 feet away, her nose lifted to the air, enjoying the sweet breeze that I am downwind from. I can see the wind ruffling her fur. She is in heaven. I am ready to commit murder.

But I am determined to read my book for more than five minutes. I tell myself that the dog bath can wait and that she might as well get all her “poop rolling” kicks in now, while she’s still dirty, which she does. She happily returns to the poop, wherever it is, a few more times.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that SEVERAL poop rollings are way harder to wash out than one?!??? It was nasty. I had to wrap her in a rag towel just to transport her to the utility sink upstairs. It took at least two applications of Drama Clean and I had to use my nails to scratch the poop off of her face. GRRR!!! Afterward, I could still faintly smell the gross. I decided to wait for JB to return to give me a “clean enough” verdict, since I have a superwoman sense of smell. He said she was fine.

Sigh…she’ll be fine until today, when mama deer or baby deer or some young buck’s fresh pile beckons her name. Tonight we may just have to try shock collar therapy…

Monday, June 9, 2008

This past weekend was a little wonderful. I’ve been getting my butt kicked with busyness for the last few months and I was really looking forward to this weekend—no social plans, no required house projects/cleaning, and we started our dog-sitting stint that has us staying in a beautiful old farmhouse in the country. I have actually been so busy that I’ve been really sick, so I really needed a rest.

Now, as a workaholic, I still got tangled up in working this weekend, but a big part of my exhaustion is emotional. I make these huge lists of “to-do’s” and am all in a tizzy until every last thing on a list is done. The things that I did this weekend were not on any list, so it didn’t seem to take as much out of me. I know. I’m weird.

I’m looking forward to the next two weeks of dog sitting, because I’m taking a break. We don’t have high-speed internet or even a functioning computer there. Don’t have cable tv. Don’t have fixer-up house projects. It’s just me, the three dogs, my husband, and the gardens. And the mama deer and her baby that I saw moseying across the lawn this morning. Well, okay, and those damned mosquitoes that find my flesh to be irresistible. And dog fiascoes of course—like Lexi eats turds, Lucy rolls in turds, and Maggie pants so much that you think a dog keeps peeing all over the floors. But those things seem so minor compared to what feels like 24/7 mania at the Calvin house.

So be ready folks, for some hopefully good “stories from the farm!” I just don’t know when I’ll be able to post them, given our technology setbacks. :)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Leaping Lulu

Lucy has finally been able to enjoy the freedom of a fenced-in yard. Our yard has been fenced on all sides but the front. A few weeks ago JB and his dad erected a fence to go across the front of the house on the right side, but we had to be a little more creative with the driveway side. Our driveway is flanked very closely by the neighbor’s fence and our house, so there is no way to get a gated fence in there and still be able to fit our cars down the driveway.

JB had noticed some neighbors doing this, so we copied them by buying a little doggie fence thing that we can stretch across the driveway when we go outside with Lucy, but can easily move when we need to pull a car in. We’ve considered ourselves lucky that Lucy is terrified of inanimate objects, especially ones that can move, like the gate. We took a gamble with the 2-ft high fence, as it was cheaper and easier to transport in and out of the house.

And it works. Lucy is afraid of the thing. And really, she doesn’t care about getting out, because there are far more fascinating things in our yard, like squirrels, birds, and this little chipmunk that lives in the wall of our garage that she is determined to catch, etc. She also doesn’t like being away from JB or I, and since we’re usually in the backyard with her, she’s quite content.

I’ve been a bit sick lately with stupid pregnancy crap, and on Tuesday I had overworked myself making a pie for Grandpa Hunt’s birthday (he and Grandma came over that night), making a nice dinner, and cleaning up the downstairs for company. When JB got home, Lucy and I went out to meet him. I was exhausted and so glad to see him.

As we are talking by the car, Lucy hears children’s voices out front. She races down the drive, barreling toward the gate with break-neck speed. “She’s totally going to smash into the gate and have a meltdown!” I think.

Then it happens.

The impossible that is totally possible with Lucy, the circus dog.

She leaps. Her little doggie legs spring her puppy-sized body into the air and she sails over the fence to sweet freedom.

Oh no!!

I start to walk quickly toward the fence, because my wardrobe of flipflops and extra long pants, coupled with my breaking-down pregnancy body, won’t let me run.

The piercing screams of terrified little girls fill the air. They scream and scream, certain that Lucy is going to eat them alive.

JB is still standing there, in shock, I think. I turn to him and say, “Get your ass out there!! You’ve got tennis shoes on!!!”

The screams continue, and I am afraid that the girls’ parents are going to come out of their houses and club our dog to death for frightening their children.

When JB gets on the scene, Lucy has not left our yard. He calls to her and she stops barking and sits down for him. The little girls are across the street, all in a tizzy. They’ve met Lucy before, but that was when she was on a leash, and not running at them full tilt, barking like a mad dog. JB apologized and said, “She won’t ever hurt you! She’s a big scaredy cat!” The littlest girl, about 7, said in a polite voice, “Well, I was bit by a dog before and I didn’t know what was going to happen!”

I felt awful.

JB brought Lucy across the street to meet the girls again, and she was all sweetness and tail-wagging. The girls pet her and JB tried to reassure them.

No parents came out with clubs.

We’re safe. For now.

But now Lucy has found our kryptonite. And anyone who knows Lucy knows that she could even scale a three-foot fence, or probably even a four-foot, if she really wanted to.

I’ve been keeping a wary eye on her. Every time she trots down the driveway I call out to her, and she comes back. But I can’t keep that act up forever. And I’m really worried about the day that she sees a stray dog and jumps the fence to yell at it. And the stray dog murders her.

I told Lucy that we’re going to have to string barbed wire across her gate now. That she’s been sanctioned to doggie Alkatraz. I don’t think she gets it though and I really don’t feel like taking care of a doggie with barbed wire cuts on her belly.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yardsale for the Cure

I traveled to Mayville to visit my family last weekend, and on Saturday us girls went down to Berkley to help my Aunt Carol with her neighborhood’s annual garage sale.

This year her sale was extra special because all the proceeds from her sale are going toward the fundraising for the "Susan G. Komen for the Cure" Breast Cancer Walk that she does each year (my aunt is a breast cancer survivor). This year her and my cousin are doing the walk together.

I had only been to the garage sale once before, and this year when I went around, I could tell that our sale was the best by FAR. All of our family brought in stuff to sell, as usual. There were MOUNTAINS of clothes in all sizes, and the clothes were nice quality—not ratty stuff that you usually find at a yard sale. We had furniture, jewelry, household, you name it.

My mother personally contributed one large “extended bed” pickup truck load and one carload to the sale. My cousin Bonnie asked Anne and I, “This was only a year’s worth of stuff? Where does she GET it all?!???” Good question, as my mother doesn’t shop anywhere except for Salvation Army and Victoria’s Secret (yes, weird combo). She’s not a shopper, but man, can she accrue stuff! (Okay, some of it is due to my sisters' castaway clothes, too.) My sister Annie and I had to remind our mom not to acquire any new treasures from the yard sales, as this is how it all starts. There is this large walkin closet at my mom’s house that used to be my brother’s bedroom and every year it becomes PACKED with stuff that she ends up bringing to the big yard sale.

So we had a little motto for my mom:

“Just say no to knick-knackery and pack-rattery!”

She kept repeating that mantra. She did a good job, as I don’t think she bought a single thing!

(However, my Granny, her mom, was another story. She is a true collector. Though we told her that anything she wanted was free, she insisted on paying, and purchased at least $60 in garage sale items. LOL. She shopped the sale the entire time, either selling things to shoppers or herself.)

People hit the sale in droves. It was crazy. At the end of the day, the sale had grossed over $750. My aunt said that was double what they’ve ever made in their sale, which she has been doing for probably 10 years. Yay!!!

If you want to help the fight against Breast Cancer, you can donate via my aunt’s page: