Happy Birthday Jeffrey

Six years ago tonight, tender, torn and unable to walk without looking like a cowboy too long in the saddle, I spent my first hours as a mother. Little did I know what was hurling down the tracks- had I known, I might have trembled in fear, and perhaps paused before lying down on the tracks.

My big, freckle-faced red-headed boy lies in his bed above, clutching, even in sleep, his beloved new Transformer robots. The day was a resounding success- and despite the necessary evil that are children’s birthday parties, everyone left happy and mostly not bleeding.

It was money well-spent to rent the local big-blow-em-up indoor bounce facility. For $100 we got to play for two hours, invite 12 friends, have the birthday party room, use of the velcro wall and two velcro suits, and all I had to bring was the cake. Yatzee! No mess at my house, 12 tired little boys, and one overwhelmed little Abby.

As I look at my now six year old boy- his long, bruised, battered and scabbed legs, his giant puppy-paw like hands, his cowlicky haystack of hair, I can’t believe it’s only been six years since he entered the world. He is pushing 4 feet now, wears a size 3 shoe and a size 8 pants. He tried to pick me up the other day- and he almost got me off the ground- much to my suprise. How on earth did this happen?

When did my tiny little miracle grow into such a… a… a big boy?

This child made me a mother. I have learned from him, tested my ideas on him, figured out what works, what was a good theory, what failed in the real world, and to ultimately throw all the parenting books away.

Sometimes I feel bad, since he is, and will continue to be, at the cutting edge of my parenting skills. His brother and sister reap the bennefits of his trailblazing. By the time they get around to things, Jeffrey has whacked his way through the parenting-ignorance-jungle and we’ve managed to make a little clearing.

There was a time I wondered why he was so headstrong, and what I could do about it- now, I know he needed that head full of concrete and stubborness so we could all learn to be a family. A gentler, meeker child would never have had the strenghth to weild the machete needed to create parents from the raw materials he was given.

I will be eternally grateful for the wild, stong, obstinant, fiery, brilliant spirit that is my oldest child. He made me a mother. I love you, baby boy.


Yesterday morning, Jeffrey, three days shy of turning six, got on his big-boy bike and pedalled off down the street. Now, maybe I’m remembering wrong, but it seemed my own learning-to-ride experience was frought with danger, skinned knees, lots of tears and terror. Then again, maybe I’m just a dork who couldn’t figure out how to “become one” with my two-wheeled conveyance of death. Er, bicycle.

Not my oldest. Nope. He just got on, and tore off. Never even fell- well except when he wanted to stop. Stopping involved not gently pushing back on the pedals, but rather ramming into whatever stationary object was convenient. Knocked the wind out of himself three times.

Earlier I overheard him explaining to Beanie “Bean, the faster you go, the easier it is!”- yeah, that’s just what I need. Go faster, Beanie. I’m looking for a program to make the car to drive itself to the ER. The next few years are going to be, er, chaotic.

Then, in the afternoon, while snacking on crackers, Jeffrey lost yet another tooth. That makes six now- he looks like a Jack-o-lantern- or like he needs a corncob pipe, a trailer, a sofa on the porch and coon dog.  Running in from the backyard, he eagerly held out little tooth number 6, proudly grinning a bloody smile sprinkled with Triscuit bits. These are the moments that the books never tell you about.

So this morning, he comes in my room, tears running down his face- the Tooth Fairy FORGOT him last night. Again! Yes, it’s happened one other time.What kind of evil sprite would forget a boys treasured offering?? She must be really, really tired at night to forget something so important. I can’t imagine how she must feel.

We decided she must be on vacation in Maui- and then headed off to the dentist. Yes, both boys had to go in for cavities this morning. Hook their little noses up the to nitrous line, and watch the giggling happiness take hold. Jeffrey picked “Surf Blue” for his filling, and Beanie picked “Glitter”- Jeff already has a glitter tooth from last time, so we’re mixing it up a little.

When we got home, while the boys were outside playing, the Tooth Fairy magically came! She pilferred Beanie’s piggy bank to do so, but hey, at least she came. I know I’m going to hell for this one…

Speaking of Michael Jordan

Yeah, so, um. Baseball didn’t work out so well for me, either.

Here are some excerpts of e-mails that flew back and forth this week:

  • Watching my blog die is killing me. I want to post so badly- and I don’t know what to do! My little graph of my stats (which I never care all that much about) is declining and declining- and it’s like watching something die. Slowly. Slowly… the graph is like a heart monitor in a hospital, and soon it will flatline.
  • As I go back and re-read some of the posts of the last two years, I realize a big part of my life and my kids lives are documented- and that is really neat. There are memories I would not recall if I hadn’t written about them- and I’m wondering now at the wisdom of giving that up. Ugh.
  • Would it be totally lame if I started posting again? Should I start a different blog under another name? It really feels like a kid to me, and as stupid as this sounds, I don’t want it to die!
  • I “killed” my blog for three weeks last month and finally swooped it back up into my arms and have been nursing it back to health.  In the end, I said “screw them” and began writing again.  My stats are still pathetic though but it’s not about that – it’s like you said, it’s documentation of a beautiful life that vanishes all too quickly from memory when we go to sleep each night.  It’s validation for the mundane, repetitive things we do every day and when I stopped writing about them they did in fact seem mundane rather than chances to look into them for writing fodder and heartwarming conclusions. 
  •  Girl, you need that blog.  Open up shop, we’ll all be glad you did.  If your main concern is just not looking silly after saying it was closed then that’s not a good enough reason for me. 
  • OK, I say you keep blogging. Purely because I’m selfish and I like your posts. Too bad you already said you weren’t pulling a Michael Jordan- maybe you could put a picture of him up or something.

Done and done. The truth is, I’m flakey. Acutally, my husband calls it “a slave to whimsy”, as I think I’ve said before. I like that one better.  Last week, shutting down seemed like a fabulous idea. I can write all I want, and not blog. But the truth is also this: being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating. Sharing my experiences makes it not so.  A blank piece of paper in my journal doesn’t talk back to me- at least when I’ve had enough sleep.

So the Esty store is still on. Telling tales about my kids’ crazy exploits is back, and I hang my head and beg forgiveness for, well, for being me.

I’ve already missed a week of recorded memories. I wish you all could have seen what Abby did with ONE blue M&M in Home Depot. Seriously, she looked like she got hold of a can of blue spray paint. Melts in your mouth, my @ss!

Dandelion Mama at Etsy

Oh! One more thing… 

OK, I’m not pulling a Michael Jordan here, but I just wanted you all to know I am going to open an Etsy store. There you will be able to peruse some of the things I will be making now that blogging isn’t going to suck all my time!

It’s not open yet, but I’m building it- you can look for Dandelion Mama diaper bags, painting and prints, dolls, blankets and quilt patterns. I may even turn the diaper bag into a pattern, so those of you with the inclination, can make your own.

The site will be dandelionmama.etsy.com

Thanks, one and all. Catch ya on the flip side!

Curtain Call

Remember in Forest Gump when Forest was the running man? The man who runs and runs and runs, and then suddenly, one day, for no reason, stops? I think I may be done.

This is post number 501. Coincidently, it’s also the two year anniversay of Dandelion Mama. Almost 100,000 of you have checked in on my life over the last two years- and that is both flattering and a little frightening- why on Earth would my life, my ordinary, messy, simple life be so interesting?

Many fabulous people have come my way via this blog- people who are now real, flesh and blood friends, whose faces and children’s snapshots grace my refrigerator. I have learned about myself, have journaled my children’s lives, a cataclysmic pregnancy and a joyful birth.

But lately, I have been phoning it in.

And I just don’t want to do that. My life is so much more hectic than it was when I began Dandelion Mama. What was a lifeline for my creativity and thought-spillage has of late, been not serving it’s intended, desired, and ultimate purpose.

For now, I will still be on permanent staff at MMW, and will continue to write parenting posts for those fabulous ladies and friends. There are absolutely blogs I will continue to regularly read- and keep up with your lives. My archives will remain open, for the time being.

To those of you who have given me so many lovely words, gestures of friendship, and kindness, over the last two years, I kindly and warmly bow my head, and say, with genuine and deep sincerety, Thank YOU.

So, with a tender heart, and a little trepidation- but suspecting it is, indeed, time, I bid you farewell.

All is Well- and Much Love,
Tracy M

Garage Sale Motherlode!

Nevermind what a mess my garage is… LOOK at that sewing machine!! It’s a 1910 Singer, completely intact treadle WORKING sewing machine!! It even has all it’s bobbins and shuttles. The leather pulley for the treadle is intact, for heaven’s sake!! I’m giddy. I’ve wanted one of these since I was a girl. It needs a little care, and some refinishing of the cabinet, but otherwise is absolutley, totally, completely perfect. What would you pay for something like this? I don’t know what e-Bay says, but I’m willing to bet it’s more than $40. Yup. Forty. Dollars. GIDDY!

Also to be had today:

  • handmade oak circus animal train. $5
  • vintage food mill with red wooden handles, $2
  • depression glass bowls, 50 cents each
  • hobnail white fluted plate, free
  • depression glass candy dish 25 cents
  • a zip-lock bag full of antique documents, including five warrants for a Mr J. Pillit for “disturbing the peace at a religious gathering” on Jan. 20, 1874. His fine was $5.10, which I imagine was quite a sum at the time! There is also a marriage license from October 3, 1910 for Frank Pratt and Jeanie McAdow. October 3 is my birthday. $2
  • A depression glass citrus juicer, 25 cents

Eight Things About My Marriage

I stopped playing these a while ago, but since Michelle tagged me, and I love Michelle’s blog, I have decided to be a good sport. That, and I really have nothing exciting to write about now. My days are full of the late summer-ness and Abby had a stomach bug over the weekend. You all really don’t want to read another post about barf, I’m willing to bet. The only tidbit I’ll share is that last night, I spent about an hour picking blueberries out of the washing machine. It was blueberry barf. Enough said. On to the meme…

  1. Where did you meet your husband? Well, I’ve posted the entire story, but for any newbies who have better things to do than keep up with my life, we met at a pizza parlor. It was my first job, I was 17,  and he was a friend of a guy I was then dating. It was love at first sight, and I’ll spare you the 411. You can relish and glory in the stupidity that was me if you have an hour to kill. Check here, here,  here and here.
  2. What was the first thing you said to him? “Him? People are scared of you? Why? Look at his eyes!” My then boyfriend had introduced him by stating how indimidating he was; DH’s a really big guy, and often folks give him a wide berth- but never once did I see that in him- even on first meeting. I just saw an amazing man that I immediatly felt connected to.
  3. Where was your first date? Kiss? Well, we never really “dated” in any official capacity. He was my best friend. We were always together. The first real thing I remember doing together was spending New Year’s Eve hanging at a park we both played at as kids, and buring a pink candle that got all melty in the wind. Our very first kiss was after his third proposal when I finally got it and said YES.
  4. Did you have a long or a short courtship? Well, he waited ten years and three proposals for me to say yes, so I think he gets some sort of Purple Heart for perseverence.
  5. Where did you get engaged? In my kitchen. We had been out to dinner, and we hanging out with my cousin Michael, and I made some joke about liking bald men- and he said “Sheesh, is that all it’ll take?” and he told me to cut his (long) hair all off. I did. Shaved him bald right there in my kitchen. My cousin and I were leaning against the counter, and I stage-whispered to him “What am I going to do?” and he said, putting his hand on my back and giving a gentle nudge: “You’re going to marry that man”. So I went and kissed him for the very first time, and said Yes. By the way, Michael was our best man at our wedding.
  6. Where did you get married? At a local park in northern California. We went pretty low-key, had our ceremony and reception at the same place, and loved it. Looking back, we both still think of it as that happiest day of our lives. Hands down.
  7. How did the reception go? It was a great party. Relaxing and fun for just about everyone- I think. Vernal Falls
  8. How was the honeymoon? Short. We only had a few days off, and we were pretty poor at the time. We went to Yosemite, and stayed in my folks’ lake house just outside the Park. We spent the time hiking and I have a special place in my heart for Yosemite, and Vernal Falls, in particular.  We hiked all the way to the top, and it was one of those hikes that take all day, and by the time you get back, your legs are quaking and you think you might fall. But we did it, and someday I want to take the kids there, so they can see it for themselves. We have a big black and white Ansel Adams print of Vernal Falls framed in our dining room. (Those are people up top of the waterfall, to give you a sense of scale.)

I tag Mo Mommy, Em, and HSF. Anyone else want’s to play, have at it.

Garage Sale Haul Today!

Jeff and I went out this morning, and while I didn’t score any major antiques, we did get some cool stuff:

  • Vintage ironing board with cover and original turquoise paint, way cooler and stronger than current board- guy said it was his grandmothers- $5
  • Limited, numbered edition WDP collectors plate in the original box, for my mom for Christmas. $3 ($65 on e-Bay; I win!)
  • Vintage Fisher Price farm silo and animals that go with- $1
  • Vintage jell-o mold- 50 cents
  • Vintage metal spinning top with wooden handle- 25 cents
  • Vintage Fisher Price dump and load dump truck trio- the kids are having a ball with it- $1
  • Barbie roller skates- Bean is currently wearing them- $1
  • Vintage tin coaster with cute red and blue flowers- 50 cents
  • Bag of antique wooden thread spools. $1
  • Two complete quilt patterns from Thimbleberries- 75 cents
  • A big wheel pedal bike for Beanie- $1
  • A cap gun for Jeffrey- 25 cents
  • A Begian waffle iron- 50 cents
  • Six pairs of winter jammies for Abby, almost new, 50 cents each
  • 3 new chuch skirts for me- $1 each
  • An oval silver platter, very old, with feet- 50 cents
  • Two sets of mini molds for pudding or jello- vintage- $1
  • Three vintage bread baking pans- 50 cents
  • A first edition hardbound Knopf copy of Julia Child- Art of French Cooking. $1

So what’s that make my total? Umm…. $25.75. Yeah. I like garage sales.

Mailman Primadonnas

(First, my apologies to anyone who is or whose spouse is a mail carrier and does not fit this rant. But these are my observations, as of late. And I use “Mailman” in the general, so as to not neuter my subject for the entire post. I am well aware there are plenty of valiant Mail Ladies.)

When did mailmen become such flippin primadonnas? When did delivering my mail become such a terrible chore? When did “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night” get replaced by “not if you’re parked within 30 feet of the mailbox or if I have to step foot out of my mail wagon”?

Twice within the last week I have had disturbing encounters with mailmen.

While stopping to visit my husbands Aunt, I had parked about 15′ from her curbside mailbox. Getting ready to leave, I noticed the big, square mail wagon just sitting, about six feet from the curb, glaring at me. Auntie got very flustered and asked me to quickly move my car- that if I was within 30 feet of the box, the mailman would deny her dilivery and move on to the next house. That explained his angry glare and the obstinate, childish way he was just sitting. There was plenty of room for him to pull in and deliver the mail- but Auntie said he had CLEARLY told her 30 feet on either side  was what he, personally, required. To honor Auntie, I moved my car and Pissy Mailman went ahead and delivered his letters.

When I got home, I went online and checked out the USPS postal code for mail delivery standard. Check it out for yourself. Nowhere does it state a required clearance. What is stated is simply “adequate clearance for the mail carrier to deliver mail without leaving his vehicle”. Fabulous. Um, 30 feet?? On BOTH sides of the box? Can you drive at all? Can you manage your box-like wagon any better than a child? Holy crap, this is Mail Man dictatorship and mannipulation- a Napoleon complex of the finest order. A playground bully- “I’ll just take my ball and go home”. Nevermind that taking mail is a Federal offense. If I never got my mail in the first place, Mr. Mail Jerk isn’t stealing. 

Exhaling now.

Then, when out garage sale-ing last Friday, the exact same thing happened again! I was parked near a lady’s front drive, and while I admit I was far closer to the box than I had been at Aunties house, there was still clearance. Busy looking for treasure, I didn’t notice the ominous humm of the Mail Wagon approaching. An older woman tapped me on the arm, with a look of panic in her eyes, breathlessly and frantically told me I needed to move my car NOW or the Mailman would not give her her mail.  What?

This old lady was near panic. Obviously she had been tortured by her Mail Jerk recently, and was fearful of her life- or at least not getting her Social Security check. Shaking my head, and shooting the Mail Gestapo a dirty look,  I promply left.

What the holy heck is going on? Did I miss something somewhere? Is this just another bead on the long string of the Curture of Entitlement in which we live? Do the words Public Servant have no meaning anymore?

Now, I know not all mail people are like this- and I know they certainly should not have to climb over uncle Cooter’s dilapidated cars and brave junk yard dogs to deliver the J. Crew catalog. But seriously- Can we find some middle ground here? I also know there are good, kind, hardworking people who are Mailmen. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a few by name. Mac, Norm (really) and currently, Janet, my own gem of a mail-lady.

Rant over.