Saturday, August 7, 2010

Buried Treasure

I like to metal detect. In the past few months, I haven't been out much, so I've decided to head out--yes, even in this heat--and hit the playgrounds, schoolyards, and parks again.

For the most part, metal detecting is a private, solo event. With my goofy-looking headphones clamped on over my ears, I can embrace my nerdy side and escape into a relatively quiet world of beeps.

But start swinging a metal detector around and you immediately become a magnet for inquisitive children. Quite frequently, I get the kid who shadows me and wants to talk. Apparently, I turn into a Pied Piper of sorts when I go out treasure hunting, so I'm not sure just how much quiet time alone I actually get.

"Hey, lady, didja lose something?"

"Whatcha doin' with that thing?"

"Can I help you dig?"

"If you find a nickel, it's the one I dropped last week."

Most of the time I just pretend I can't hear them and look right over their little heads. Most of the time, it works too. If I'm feeling especially snarky, I will tell them that I'm looking for a missing contact lens.

"Hey, Mom, this lady is looking for a lost contact lens!" (That usually gets me a dirty look from the mom.)

One time I overheard a boy ask his mother what I was doing. "Oh, that's a Geiger counter, son." Oh yeah, a Geiger counter. Apparently, I'm digging for radioactive material, right here in the city park. You just can't make this stuff up. Next time, I'll don a haz-mat suit and freak everyone out.

I come home with an odd assortment of goodies when I treasure hunt. Mostly coins, but sometimes I'll find sterling and gold jewelry. Of course, there is the occasional dog tag, Boy Scout neckerchief slide, or award pin. You just never know what is lurking under the soil.

I've kept a log over the years of what I've found and where. I haven't stopped keeping that record, but I stopped counting when I got to $1,500 worth of coins. And I haven't dug up the mother lode yet or that box of buried treasure, but I can always count on unearthing enough for a cup of coffee or a drink from Quiktrip on the way home.

So, kiddies, just keep swinging upside down on those monkey-bars. I'll be there tomorrow to clean up after you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Little Orphaned Footie

Every family has one. Known only as "the sock bag", this bag holds the lost, orphaned mates to matched pairs. There they lie, in hopes that an eventual reunion with their mate may someday be made.

Our sock bag is monstrous. Our sock bag is the stuff of legend. You think I kid. Oh, I do not. I would not kid about something so serious as a giant, overstuffed sock bag. I present proof of this hideous, ever-growing monstrosity:

A full cubic foot of stray socks

Our sock bag started out small. A stray sock here or there, nothing major. I think that might have been 13 years ago when there were just babies toddling around the house. And then something happened. Something horrible. (Something that Stephen King might take interest in.) The sock bag began to mutate. Or so it appeared. One day, I decided to count: 70 unmatched socks in the sock bag. 70! But wait, there's more: the sock bag has now grown even larger.

I dare not count them now.

We will buy brand-new socks for our four children, and only a few weeks later one of the new socks will find its way into the sock bag, having already lost its mate. Orphaned so soon? How does this happen?

I was assured when we purchased our washing machine that it had a non-sock-eating feature, so they aren't being gobbled up by the washer. So where are all the socks? And only the childrens' socks go missing; my socks and hubby's seem to be unafflicted by this malady.

The other day, my oldest daughter pointed to one of the socks and informed me that its mate was chewed up by the neighbor's dog. Okay, that's ONE sock. Where are the other 70+? We've turned the kids' bedrooms upsidedown, we've made a game out of the Giant Sock Hunt, and even looked in places we've never thought to look. Occasionally, one or two might turn up, but so far, we are not making a lot of headway on reducing the size of our sock bag.

Where ARE the socks?!

Sometimes I will find a sock outside, where I will joyfully rescue it and bring it in. A few times I have spotted socks out under the deck, becoming "one with the earth", decomposing to the point of no return. Those socks make me kind of sad.

I'm very bothered by the sock bag. I'm one of those people who likes everything in its place. Missing game or puzzle pieces drive me crazy. So you can see why the sock bag sends me into orbit. Here's the sock bag, dumped out:

While taking this photo, I swear I saw the pile move!

I keep all the socks. I've never thrown any of them away--in all these years. There are socks in there--baby socks--that no longer fit any of our children. But I know--I JUST KNOW--that the minute I toss that cute little baby sock, I will find its mate. There's gotta be one of those Murphy's laws or something that covers that.

Perhaps the biggest problem isn't the size of the sock bag. Perhaps it's me. It is rather odd that a person continues to hold on to socks that no longer fit anyone in the family. Maybe I don't want to toss those socks because they once fit my children and I can't bear the fact that they are growing older and more independent (the children, not the socks). Oh, horrors: am I becoming one of those hoarders? *shudders*

Occasionally, I will sit a family member down and instruct them to find mates to the sock bag. Sometimes we will find a few matches, so there is hope that maybe the sock bag won't need to graduate to the next larger bag size. Here's my oldest, Alyssa, (note grimace), tackling the sock bag:

I'm afraid I may have to resort to bribery in the future. This task is becoming more and more distasteful.
Another theory as to why I hang onto the sock bag and all its lonely occupants may be that the sock bag is simply representational of my outlook on life: an ever-hopeful, optimistic outlook that believes every lost thing will someday find its place, its rightful owner...its home. Yes, perhaps that's it: the sock bag is symbolic!
Then again, maybe I'm just full of it. ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Etta has arrived in Kansas! We were so excited to be a part of the infamous Meerkat World Tour. We were surprised at what a tiny, petite thing she is!

Etta has lovely manners, a charming British accent, and lots of stories about the U.K, where she is from.

Alyssa and Danielle welcome in the weary traveller!

Brenna and Collin listen while Etta explains that not all meerkats live in Africa.

As Cocoa gets to know her, Etta is thankful that she is stuffed with fluff and not catnip.

Hoping to not be mistaken for a rat, Etta peers warily over the couch at Serena.

Etta is more than happy to explain the different types of tea to us.

Since we are from Kansas, Etta was most interested in learning about tornadoes and "tornado alley". A quick homeschooling lesson ensued.

Etta understands the updraft/downdraft thing but isn't too sure about that cow.

Later, while we weren't watching, it appears that Etta may have hooked up with Teddy. You know these young kids: you have to supervise them constantly!

This looks suspiciously like a date to me. Etta honey, you know these long-distance things never work out. And you KNOW how your mother feels about inter-species relationships.

Later, I took Etta down to my jewelry shop, where her best to help me make jewelry.

Etta learned that observing is best before you jump in.

Later, after we got her detangled, Etta filled us in on all kinds of English lingo. Nappies are diapers, a lorry is a truck, and people in the U.K really do say "rubbish".

Etta is on her way to Texas next, but not before leaving with a Kansas trinket: a bead shaped like a toad. What else would you expect from someone who makes jewelry and has nine toads?

To see more meerkat cuties like Etta, please visit Heather and her very creative designs at

Beadstylin - out!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

I've been a mother for 15 years now. I'm not quite what you would call old and wise, but I am definitely older and I do think I might be a bit wiser than when I first started. Having four children has taught me some things.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that I've learned along the way that I thought I might pass along to you--just in case you were thinking about having children. And...if you do have children, well, you have my sympathies.


1. Twist-ties make a lot of sparks in microwaves and will even catch tea towels on fire.

2. Dishwasher soap is NOT the same thing as dishwashing liquid.

3. Your child might think it amusing to call "911" and hang up, but I can assure you, when the police show up banging on your door, they are not amused in the least.

4. Cats, children, and vacuum cleaner hoses do not mix.

5. As a parent, you will--at least once in your life--absentmindedly accept the "thing" on your toddler's outstretched finger.

6. Bathroom floor vents make excellent receptables for your child's unwanted bread crusts and will hold hundreds of them.

7. Ants are drawn by the hundreds to bread crusts in floor vents.

8. Your baby does not have a nutritional deficiency that is causing his scalp to be patchy and bald. Do not--I repeat--do NOT even think of calling the doctor to take him in. Instead, hide all household scissors up and away from older sibling's reach.

9. Also, your cat does not have a vitamin deficiency that is causing his whiskers to fall out. (See #8).

10. Children make lousy gluers of lamps, statues, and vases--unless you are going for the mosaic look.

11. A soiled diaper on a bored child is never a good thing.

12. Magnifying glasses do ignite paper through bedroom windows.

13. And last, but certainly not least, never let your child sneak off to bed with neon green silly putty!

Good times!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Disguised as WHAT?!

Another Halloween, come and gone. Not too sure about these costumes. My youngest went as a witch. Again. I think she spent all of two minutes on her costume. More interested in candy than in presenting herself as a proper witch. My son went as a Clone Trooper. I think he looks like an alien kitty.
And my two oldest went as...well, I'm not sure! They didn't do much trick-or-treating. They handed out candy and terrorized the little lions, bunnies, and kitties that came timidly up to our door. My second oldest is supposed to be a spook of some kind. I think she looks more like the bride of Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Fans of Jeff Dunham will know what I'm talking about.

What a crew!

So, my husband takes the younger two out. They're gone for two hours or so. Check out the plethora of candy they brought home. That's quite a haul! Naturally, I had to "check" it all to make sure it was safe. Now, where did I put those spandex pants?

I'd be smiling too if I had this much candy.

Before you start thinking that these kids are a little on the odd side, I thought I'd better show a more presentable picture of them. Friday, they got their pictures taken. They were awesome for the photo session. Not one problem with them. But I wanted to slowly strangle the photographer. She stressed me out so much that I wanted a cigarette by the time we were all done. And I'm not a smoker!

Ahh....much better!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Visit to the Farm

Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. What the heck--lather, rinse, and repeat again. Don't bother me now: I'm in the shower with some incredible, homemade soap!

Little did I know that when I joined Etsy to sell, I would soon become a die-hard homemade soap addict. Handmade soaps rock! They are so much better for your skin than store-bought brands, they don't dry out your skin like regular soap, and you don't need a translator to read the list of ingredients. And, most don't holler like a banshee if some of the lather gets in your eyes. Makes you wonder what's in those storebought soaps, doesn't it?

I've purchased from a variety of talented Etsy soap sellers. And...I would buy from many of them again. But I keep coming back to the same seller: MapleHillFarm. Please do check out this wonderful shop: I can assure you, you are in for a treat.

Lynn Culver of maplehillfarm is quite the amazing lady. In my book, she ranks as a master soap maker. As soon as I tried her soaps, I knew they were different than any other handmade soap I had tried. Lynn's soaps are highly fatted with extra olive oil, which results in a very moisturizing soap. The difference is quite noticeable! And the lather is a creamy, lotiony lather that is very skin pampering. That is why I have taken the "lather, rinse, repeat" mantra to new levels. ("Why no, honey...I have no idea why our water bill is so much higher now!") ;-)

One of the reasons why I like Lynn's soaps so much is that they are highly fragranced. But not in a you-just-fell-into-a-vat-of-rose-oil-what-in-the-world-are-you-wearing sort of way, but in a you-smell-amazing-what-are-you-wearing sort of way. You WANT these fragrances to stay with you!

Let's meet Lynn.

She's a doll, isn't she? And....she homeschools her five kids. (Did I mention she's amazing?)

I sat down with (well, okay, I convoed) Lynn a few days ago and interviewed her. Here goes:



My name is Lynn Culver. I'm a soap maker from Clio, Michigan. Clio is just north of Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors Corporation. As a young, single woman I pursued an MBA and worked as a production supervisor for GM. Most everyone I knew worked for GM in those days. About the time that I finished my MBA, I married, quit work, and began a family. Steve, a graphic designer, and I now have five children - 18,16, 15, 12, and 7, whom we have always home schooled.



We chose a country lifestyle and bought a little stone cottage on ten acres. We filled it with antique flowers and vegetables, sunflower houses, chickens, and kids. An elderly woman had lived in the house since it was built in 1934 and she had surrounded it with hollyhocks and herbs. I had never grown anything in my life but immediately became hooked on herbs and flowers - particularly the antique varieties like hollyhocks, cosmos, cleome, and sweet peas. I got stacks of books from the library to learn about them, and one of the books introduced herbal soap making. Always a romantic, I loved the idea of using beautiful herbs while learning a historic craft. I've been a soap maker ever since - about ten years now.



Living in a household of artists - hubby, a graphic designer, and kids who draw, sing, play instruments etc.. - I never thought of myself as artistic. But soap making is different somehow. It allows me to have a creative outlet - even though I am only capable of drawing stick figures!



I would like to expand my craft by offering body butters in some of the soap scents and creating more gift set choices. I also make lip balms and need to get those listed on my web site as well. I would also like to sell my laundry soap in bulk to make it more economical and to start selling soap flakes for cleaning again. So much to do!

Out of all of Lynn's soaps, this one is my favorite: Mineral Salt Spa. Be sure and grab a bar or two of this soap; the fragrance is SO clean and fresh! Just be sure and leave me some. Otherwise, I might have to hurt you.



I really don't have a favorite item. Since I am so indecisive, I usually have about six bars of soap in the shower at one time. That way I can use a different one each day! (Jeannie: She sounds just like me! My husband is always hollering that there's no room for his Dial. Sooner or later, I will edge that soap right OUTTA HERE!)



When I am not making soap or homeschooling, I'm reading, gardening, cooking, knitting, running, or helping hubby restore our turn-of-the-century farmhouse. We moved from the stone cottage four years ago and now live in a big, old house in a grove of maple trees - hence, the Maple Hill Farm name. If I had a whole day to spend at home, I'd choose to make soap, of course. And I would also like to take a walk around the farm through the mounds of yellow leaves.

This is my son's favorite soap from MapleHillFarm: Green Tea. It smells so amazing!



I have a twin sister who is also an Etsian and fellow sheteam member - Beth Roy, of Wired Vintage

Well, there you have it. If you have ever wondered about homemade soaps, do try out Lynn's shop. I've ordered from her several times, and each time I try a different soap. They all are so wonderful! I've given them as gifts many times, and I always hear rave reviews about them.

Gotta go...I hear a shower calling my name.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Colonoscopy Gone Wild

Here the past few weeks, I've been thinking about my husband a lot. Mark's been working some pretty late hours and hasn't been as home as much as he used to be. And when he is home, he camps out in front of the TV way too much--at least in my opinion. I've been thinking about how I wish he would get a hobby, or at least read a bit more.

I wasn't thinking about any of those things this past Monday night. As I was cradling his unconscious body in the bathroom and watching him go through things beyond his control, I wasn't thinking about how his life could be so much more "well rounded" or how hobbies can be so fulfilling. I wasn't stressing about his TV habits as I was riding shotgun in an ambulance on the way to the hospital--with him in the back, registering a blood pressure of 80/50.

On Monday night I was thinking I might lose him.

Our priorities can change pretty fast. In the blink of an eye, what is important to us suddenly isn't so critical anymore. We hear this so often, but it is easily overlooked until what matters most to you threatens to be taken away.

Mark is much better now. His colonoscopy/polypectomy gone awry is now a thing of the past, and he is home now, recuperating and regaining his strength.

So tonight, when I came downstairs and saw him watching "The Hunt for Red October" for at least the 12th time in his life, I just chuckled and handed him a nice big, homemade strawberry-banana shake. Something to make the movie more enjoyable.

Sometimes I think I just think too much. Maybe I should do less thinking and a lot more appreciating. You never know what life is going to throw at you.

Refill on that shake, Honey?