Sunday, April 21, 2013

How does my garden grow? With sweet girls and a whole lot of horse poo dirt.

My sweet baby turned one last week. Right after we received three tons of dirt in our alley.
Here's my pretty one waiting for our garden delivery.

The truck arrived and we laid a tarp in the alley for them to dump the soil onto.

See the steam? This garden mix is fertile stuff. 

And the shoveling begins.

This horse poo will make my garden grow.

I made the garden beds the week before, and loosened all the soil underneath so the plant roots can grow down deeper. Here's the rest of the "crew" filling the beds.

My favorite little worker helping move the soil into the beds. 

My sister smoothing the soil.

Filling up her bucket. She helped us the entire 45 minutes it took us to move the soil.

The baby did a great job watching and smirking at us as we worked. I think she's a baby genius.

More shoveling. The pile is quickly dwindling!

Lexi enjoyed a fun wheelbarrow ride after we were done! And what is with that cheesy grin with the eyes closed?!?

And let's not forget about the chickens. They are in their ugly adolescence. And boy do they have LONG necks! They have been chirping incessantly. Yesterday I walked in and Gloria flew up out of her tub and smacked me in the chest. After a few days of hunting for missing chickens behind Eric's camera equipment, Eric finally finished the coop enough for the chicken to inhabit it (he had to put it off for a few days because our sink was clogged).

They are out of the house now, thankfully. Although I do kind of miss their chirpy music all day long. So I traded in the chickens for a dog, which I love. I mean, you can't really cuddle with a chicken, unless you like getting pecked at and scratched. But this dog? Love her. And this girl. I mean, is she for real? 
Too much cuteness.

Friday, April 19, 2013


My sisters are back in town. Our whole family is in the same state again for the next six months. 
I am so happy about this.

The other day, while the six of us girls and my parents were seeing each other and reconnecting again after almost a year of being apart, one of my sisters said something to me that kept me up most of the night thinking.

My thirteen and fifteen year old sisters both said to me, "Isn't it strange to think that you are related to us? I mean, we don't even know you and you and we are related. It doesn't feel like you are my sister. It feels like you are just someone we know."

The comment wasn't intended to be mean or spiteful, the girls were just being honest. But seriously? Talk about a knife right to the heart. Why don't you just twist it around a bit while you have it in there and sever it completely?

I was up most of that night thinking about this. I was also up because we had a crazy horrific thunder storm going on all night and it sounded like there were canons going off in our bedroom, but that's besides the point. I was up anyway, so I spent the night reflecting on these words.

On the one hand, I am completely shocked that these words are really how my younger sisters feel about me, and it hurts. But on the other hand, I totally get it. And it hurts, but it makes sense.

You see, when I was four years old, my brother was born. My older sister and I were enchanted with him. And the night he was born and his arrival home from the hospital will forever be etched in my memory. The same holds true for my four sisters who came after. I waited and hoped and dreamed for them during my Mom's entire pregnancies, felt with my hands as they kicked and wiggled in the womb and was even there when the youngest two came into the world and took in their very first breaths. I cared for them as infants, carrying them in my arms, rocking them to sleep, singing to them when they cried. And yet it makes sense that I am a stranger to them. Because most of my dearest and most precious memories I have of being with my sisters happened before they could even remember...

Reading books to them before they could read, playing with Legos, building with blocks, changing diapers, giving baths, feeding them lunch, and tucking them into bed. My parents had seven children. I was the second oldest, and had many of the responsibilities that a mom has. I was fifteen when my youngest sister was born, and left home for college (and forever) when she was just three years old.

After that, I saw them only once a year.

It's no wonder they feel this way about me.

And it's no wonder I feel differently.

During my childhood and adolescence, these girls were my whole world.

But I've been here in our home country for seven years.
My sisters have grown up in Mexico without me.
And they barely remember life when I was an every day part of it.

Time is fleeting. And I have every intention of building relationships with them during the time that they are here before that time is lost.

And girls, because I know you will probably read this, know that my love for you runs deeper than you will ever know. You were the infant in my arms that I saw smile for the first time. I have watched the four of you grow from the moment of your first breath, to taking you first steps, saying your first word, learning to eat with a spoon, ride a bike, memorize a song, read a book, write a story, play music from your heart, and now for the oldest of you, preparing to leave home for college. It is true, that I don't know you for who you are now. You aren't my baby sisters anymore who really need me. You are beautiful young women who are almost all taller than me (which really isn't hard, but hey, you must be over achievers, and what the heck happened to me?!?) and to you, I am a stranger who oddly enough, looks kinda like you (the short version) and calls your parents Mom and Dad. But as strange as it is, know this: You hold a part of my heart that no one else can replace. And I will always be there for you, as much as I humanly can. I am your sister, and for the next six months into the rest of our lives, I want to know you as my sisters too.

Here's to making up for lost time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Man the Plumber

This guy is awesome. Not only is he an aspiring urban farmer, self-taught carpenter, electrician, tiler, fence builder/installer, and all other things construction, he also is a husband, dad to two kids and ten chickens and dog, and finally, a plumber. 

I've been doing dishes in my bathtub for a few days now. 
It's not a thrill, let me tell you. For some reason, seeing noodle remnants and chunks of spaghetti sauce floating around in my bathtub just makes me never want to shower in there again. 

Anyway somehow or another, the kitchen sink drain clogged a few days ago. I, wanting to be the heroic DYI wife who can take care of man problems like this, gave forth my best efforts. Drain-o and a plunger. 

No luck. Still clogged. 

Eric got back from work, assessed the situation, and started removing pipes. Now realize, our house was built in 1914. That's 99 years ago. Crazy, right? So neither of us were really surprised when he removed the main pipes and they kind of crumbled in his hands....

Two evenings, a few trips to the hardware store, a pipe router and some new pvc piping later, he found the clog. EIGHTEEN FEET INTO THE PIPES. It turned out that there was a huge mass of hair/yarn/fur/weird gunk that had built up and finally plugged the piping. And who knows how long it had been building up in there! Eric broke through it with the router and the mass finally broke up and washed through. Gross, right? 

The bad news is that I still have a lot of dishes to wash. The good news is that Eric is now installing a food disposer in the sink, so a future clog can never be my fault. :-)

My man is mister multi-talented. And he has great hair. Or as he says, "How can you resist me with my luscious locks?" Yup. Glad to have him around. 

On another note, my family is finally back in the good ol' USA for six months and I have their dog. More on this soon. And on even another note, Chicago is completely flooded from all the crazy storms we have had the last two days. Our basement is dry (whew), but boy, is the city wet! I kind of wish we had a canoe about now... Needless to say we are staying away from the river (the fire department is sand bagging) for a while and are staying dry in the house and thanking our lucky stars that I covered the box gardens when I did. 

More on on these topics at a later time. I have a date with this quiet house and this comfy couch. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

7 Reasons why grocery shopping with children is more entertaining than shopping alone

 1. You can bribe with food. Good behavior = special yogurt treat that the child can pick out at the store and consume when home. Unacceptable behavior = no yogurt. But then if while in the store the child decides to behave unacceptably, said yogurt must be taken away. Prepare yourself. Much sobbing and screaming is most likely to occur. Thus making the food bribery a very bad idea if you are trying to avoid public disgrace in a grocery store.

2. You may end up bringing unexpected food items home with you. For instance, while you are weighing your bananas in the fruit section because you have a coupon for 2 lbs of free bananas, you may happen to look up and see your daughter leaning over the lowest shelf of baked goods and (with her hands politely behind her back) full on gnawing and licking a large fresh loaf of artisan bread. Face planted in the bread. You will probably take a moment to assess the situation, pull your child gently away and then take another moment to seriously consider leaving the loaf on the shelf and nonchalantly walk on by. But then you will probably see that old man staring at you horrified and will quickly snatch up that incredibly expensive Tuscan loaf that just sent you over your shopping budget for the week and throw it in your cart. I mean, it could happen.

3. You may discover hidden food passions in your children that neither of you knew existed, before this moment. When your daughter passionately says that she must have the package of that German bologna looking thing, and you say "No way," I hope that you are looking your best and remembered to put on makeup and wash your hair and wear something other than the ripped jeans and sweaty t-shirt that you were wearing while digging fence post holes in the dirt in last night.... Because you now have the attention of the entire store as your child bellows and wails and gives you hateful looks with crocodile tears streaming down her face.

4. You may get to experience strange glimpses into the future when you get into the store and your child who has barely completed three years on earth says to you, "Please don't hold my hand." and then politely thanks you when you let go. Think twice before giving in. You may have to buy a pre-licked loaf of bread you weren't planning on.

5. When you arrive at the check out, and are distracted by the lady telling you that your coupon for the free bananas has already expired (even though you only got it last week), you may suddenly discover that it is raining candies and pills as your child pulls them off the shelf one by one. Again, now is not the time to be in grunge mode. You may as well be walking the catwalk.

6. No matter what color or style clothing you dress your youngest child in, everyone will probably think she's  a boy. Prepare to pay mega bucks for therapy in the future all because you accepted a free infant car seat years ago from someone and it just happens to be navy blue. Consider piercing the baby's ears, while cheerfully assuring the people who comment that "No, she is a girl, actually. Did you see that she is dressed entirely in pink?" And then you will probably look down and see that you, in fact, dressed her in blue jeans and a brown sweatshirt.

7. The closer to their naps you shop, the more exciting the trip shopping experience will be! And then the drive home will be even better as you pinch and tickle and do everything possible to keep them awake (even though they are finally quiet) until you arrive home for lunch.

**Disclaimer: This story is based on fictional events. All characters have been made up.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go plan a meal with a rather large loaf of fresh Tuscan bread...