Christmas Eve gift inspection
G’nite and Merry Christmas, friends…
Posted by Freckled Hen at 3:40 PM
I woke this morning to gray light. I could feel the stillness of the snow even though I was snug as a bug in a rug.
This is the view from my bedroom window…this is what was missing. It feels Christmas-y now.
I put my boots on and ventured out to look at the brook.
The brook runs right next to the barn, it sounds comforting. I think of all the people who have lived here the past 200 years and listened to the same babbling water. Living in the country, it makes me feel less alone.
The shed in the back looks cold and forlorn. We haven’t done anything with it…there’s bunk beds in it but truthfully I can’t imagine sleeping it for fear a bear would come knocking.
The old truck is almost reaching vintage status…almost?
I hope these last few days before Christmas find you warm and happy.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 6:05 AM
Posted by Freckled Hen at 5:09 AM
The one activity the kids and I return to each year is making gift tags. We set up some tables and all the stuff that can be glued onto card stock and spend our free time making tags. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes and sometimes the whole day. There is always Christmas records playing and candy to munch on. Often we are loud (some of us more than others) and occasionally we laugh and fight at the same time.
I save the tags each year and love looking back at them.
Hadley comes home today, as well as my husband. The house feels warmer when everyone is home, so does my heart!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 9:52 AM
Growing up my grandfather shared many stories about his parents. Quickly I fell in love with them, and I think it’s safe to say so did my brother Mike. We were the youngest kids in our family and those stories we heard were better than TV. And not just because our TV was miniscule and only got 2-3 channels depending on the weather.
As we grew older we inherited the contents of their lives. I know my great grandmothers handwriting like that of a familiar dear friend. And though I never met her I just know her. Do you know what I mean?
I had a small box of cards from her older years. There were stacks of cards all neatly bundled and tied with the year tagged on each. She labeled everything, maybe knowing that someday someone would be looking at each one with appreciation. Did she know it was me?
I laughed out loud when I saw she put a special index card where 1954 should have been to let whomever know that year she used her cards to make gift tags. It’s a good thing as I would have been up all night wondering where all the cards from 1954 were!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 8:13 AM
One of the great things about saving things (aka collecting junk) is sometimes you have a brainstorm and after digging through barn bins and boxes (aka making a huge mess) you find everything you need to begin and end a project. That is one of my favorite feelings.
This project is relatively easy and a good alternative if you are tired of hanging a wreath on the front door.
These pictures are terrible as there was an awful glare, not that I’m complaining about glorious sunshine.
I glittered the skates, added vintage ribbon laces and some faux feather boa trim around the top. Then Henry and I went in the woods and cut some greenery, this was my favorite part as it was a foggy, gray day and it felt like an adventure to both of us. The only sad part being he found where I hauled our jack-o-lanterns after Halloween-- they sat with distorted expressions all saggy and deflated. He talked about those pumpkins all day. Oh the sad facts of a jack-o-lantern life.
Sally O’Malley has become a part of our family. She has added a softness and sweetness to our days. I have to refrain from talking too much about this cat. I can only imagine how I will be when there is a baby in the house.
This brings me to say thank you for your well wishes… we are halfway there, the baby is due in April. The good days are slowly pushing ahead of the not so good days, I have some other health stuff going on but each day feel more and more invigorated and dream of holding that little baby in my arms!
PS Recently feeling lowly and gruff I reread the first year of my blog, it’s so dumb! I wanted to delete the whole thing. Has that ever happened to you?
Go ahead and act like those two grouchy old men on the Muppets and ask me, what are you so worried about? It’s still pretty dumb! ha-ha
Posted by Freckled Hen at 9:17 AM
I love this time of year. From Thanksgiving right up until the New Year, I like the busyness, the sparkles the school programs. The days spin along with their own agenda pushing us from one thing to the next.
We went down the road to cut a Christmas tree, something our younger kids have yet to experience. We walked about the tree farm until we all ended up in the same corner and decided we found the right tree, somewhat because it was the right size and somewhat because we were tired and the trees all started to look the same.
That’s Ken and I giving each other the look of love, and Molly setting off on her high speed trek to find the right tree. She runs everywhere, do you have a child like that?
Thanksgiving came and went. I spent that morning with my head over the garbage can, something that is all too frequent and I really wish would stop. But in just the nick of time I managed to get dressed and go to my sister’s house. My brother was there whom I haven’t seen in 5 years and it made me cry. Surely he thinks I am a freak with my dry heavy breath and wild look of black mascara tears.
After that we went to Ken’s side. We had a full day, in a very good way. It was a much different Thanksgiving than in past years when we had a table full of airman who were unable to go home for the holiday.
This is my Irish mother in law. She likes to pick on me and I like to pick on her, so it works out nicely. This would be an example of the face she would make if I asked her if she boozed it up before we arrived.
My oldest came and went. We tried to fit a lot in while she was here, to include crafting marathons and sushi. I miss her being close by. She makes me laugh so much!
(This is where a picture of Hadley should be but after a recent Facebook incident of posting pictures that are unflattering without asking all us girls agreed to only post pictures with permission,though pictures of my mother in law are always okay.)
Henry turned five yesterday and is officially not a baby anymore. He has hauled around a stuffed cat he named “Mama Kitty” for years. She used to be vibrant and cute but now well... she smells a little tangy in a not so good way.
So we got him a kitten. A real one that doesn’t take batteries. I put her in a gift bag and Henry was pretty surprised. I think I will remember his face my whole life.
I love the little kitten. We named her Sally O’Malley, okay I named her Sally O’Malley because if we let Henry name her he would have said something like ChukkahBukkah or CheezyWeezy.
Sally O’Malley and Mama Kitty. One of these cats smells better than the other.
That’s all I gots for now. It’s time for dinner- chicken soup with rice. So I best be getting to the kitchen and doing some cooking while listening to holiday music of the big band swing variety.
PS We saw the Muppet movie and it was good, it was the first movie in a very long time that our whole family could watch together without it being too loud or scary or full of fart jokes.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 1:33 PM
Today is Saturday. I woke this morning with supreme optimism…I will clean the entire house! I will haul the Christmas stuff from the barn! I will sew! I will bake bread!
Soon enough my people woke and stumbled downstairs and ate the eggs I cooked that were beyond overhard. Then I swept the floor and Henry pouted about not being able to build a huge Lego set that is his brothers.
Then I was tired.
So I wonder am I really tired? Or is it just watching all the energy of my children that makes me tired? I will never match their mad skills of running full speed to be first outside or riding bikes up and down the driveway enough to equate the Tour de France.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a mother/wife in limbo. It’s obvious what needs doing but what you really want to do is go to the candy shop on Main St and buy candy for a gingerbread house that you are determined to make this year but by Dec 23 you kind of realize that you won’t and all that glorious by the pound candy is sitting in the dark hutch drawer in your dining room.
This is how I live my life, it can be the candy store, the fabric store, the craft store. When I was first married I followed through on my projects 100% of the time. I would save and purchase and create with such determination that it makes me nauseous to even think about it. I remember looking at stale mothers who had kids with unmatched clothes and boogers and thinking with a shudder how that would never be me.
But sometimes I feel like the train is pulling into the booger station and it’s my kids who are about to climb aboard. Some days when I am buried under the proverbial mountain of laundry I open my eyes and see Henry wearing pants that are too short and tiny shirts that dig into his armpits. Poor Henry! How did this happen?!
There is a whole list of reasons why this happens, and the more I study my own list the more it makes me appreciate my kids.
Instead of joining a playgroup I would much rather join a group of mothers of large families… we could get really loud and try to top each others stories. None of us would have manicures or even a decent haircut for that matter. Many would be wearing clothes our teenagers didn’t want and we would all most definitely be wearing comfortable shoes. We would tell our kids to go outside. They wouldn’t be whiny though, they wouldn’t squeal for snacks and they would climb trees way up high. They would create games to play amongst themselves. They would build a fort with stuff from the woods and tie the pieces with proper knots made from vines. One of us mothers would have a pack of graham crackers in a purse made of faux leather that the kids would open and divvy up evenly. They would break each cracker into four small rectangles perfectly because they had lots of practice doing that.
And I suppose that is why I love having a big family. As much as my instinct is to have a clean house I would much rather have plenty of little armed hugs, even if they struggle to put their arms around your growing belly and wipe their nose on your shirt in the process.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 6:59 AM
Blogging about making stuff seems so far away. Did I really do that?
Slowly I am finding routines I like and making stuff is creeping its way towards the top of the list.
I finished the boys curtains and set about decorating their room. Though they are far apart in age it seems to work somehow. It’s kind of an eclectic mix of airplane and cowboy with a couple sports oldies just for fun.
The airplanes are hung from the ceiling with fishing line, and what you can’t see is the gouge I made in the plaster ceiling. (Note to self screws and anchors won’t really work in a plaster ceiling.)
On a whim I decided to make the curtains above the beds just valances as I wish I could say I trust my four year old not to play with regular panels and pull them over his head but he is four and often surprises me with his antics.
I always forget how homey curtains make a room feel. The kids rooms are easy for me to pick and choose what would look right…I struggle with the other rooms as it’s such a permanent decision, you know? The investment of fabric and time only to wonder if you really like it. I guess that’s called procrastination!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 2:25 PM
Last weekend I tagged along with my husband as he was to speak at a small Polish Veteran’s club in Massachusetts. He will often speak on behalf of the Air Force or veterans because I think he feels honored to do so. This is why he is the grown up in our relationship and why I am always learning from him.
The club was being dedicated to Capt John Ogonowski, a 9/11 pilot whose plane hit the first tower. He left behind his wife and three daughters. I knew all this beforehand but what I didn’t know was how I was about to change on that somewhat sunny and breezy Sunday afternoon. Much like my husband he was a farmer who loved airplanes and joined the Air Force…his parents are quirky New England folk and his wife and daughters felt like instant friends. He was no longer just a name on paper that I read a tragic story about.
This wasn’t a memorial service but a day for him and his family and friends. They had taken a large rock from his farm and had it etched for the front of the building. It was very pretty. I sat amongst the crowd that was mostly Polish people and listened to their stories with their Boston-like accents. They all knew John, from the diner, the post office, from grammar school. We stayed all day and ate food and heard stories and ate more food. It was humbling.
I felt his void within his family and his land. And these emotions can’t seem to leave my mind.
The uplifting part of all this is getting to know his family and seeing their spirit for life and how much he still lives through them is really a beautiful thing. And though I have never met him he has taught me so much about my own husband and that intense drive he has for the things he loves most. Even if it’s the smell of silage or fresh cut hay.
Hopefully I haven’t depressed you all with my thoughts, even though it was an awful thing that should never have happened we should never stop learning from it. And learning is always a good thing for everyone.
I realize this is a hard post to comment on…that’s okay. I just felt compelled to write.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 1:45 PM
The last two sales I went to kind of made me crazy. I could have just sat there with my number high in the air the whole time. The last few years of sales have changed me, they were of a different pace.
Anyhow I sat and watched box lots of stuff with no bids until it was down to next to nothing and my arm would twitch and the yellow number card would boing into the air. That is how I ended up with an elephant kewpie and lots of other old toys. My youngest was with me, he is all about lincoln logs and I think I have built him a set in which he could now build us a full size house. So I’m pondering not buying anymore, even when they are only a dollar and they have roof pieces that are SUPWER COOL, MOM.
Since I last posted we have had 20” of snow, and been without power for a bit. It’s a whole new life style and as long as the woodstove is full of fire the world is just fine.
I hope your world is just fine, too!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 2:51 PM
Thank you all so very much for your kind words on my last post. It was magical for me really, to read your words. I wrote that post feeling uncertain about so many things and all your comments made me feel even more that it is hard to draw a line between “real” friends and blogging friends. If I could come to your house with baked goods and hugs I surely would.
I am so thrilled to have another child, it felt so fragile there for a while that I was afraid to say it out loud. My thoughts made little sense and it felt hard to talk…about anything. Everything seemed so minor compared to that little bean in my belly and it’s steady beating heart. So yes, from the bottom of my own heart- thank you!
Today has been a funny day. I went to the closest large town to pick up a few groceries and I couldn’t find the grocery store. I have been there before but with the one way streets going the wrong way I got so discombobulated. I found a different plaza and it was even nicer than the original store. Lucky for me there was a Michael’s and I found myself roaming around until Henry’s craft store meter was used up. He only piped up after I went to the glitter glue aisle for the third time. And if all that wasn’t smiley enough the clerk let me use two 40% off coupons at once.
Soon after we came home it started spitting snow. We ran outside like any people from Texas would when it snows in October. I took these pictures of the old school house across the street…
You can’t really see the snow coming down in those pictures, but now as I look out the window it looks like an entirely different season…all in the same day!
We live near this mountain, I’m guessing snow will be part of our lives until April.
As for the old school, I will answer your questions before giving you a chance to ask them.
The town owns it and it’s full of junk. I peeked in the windows and other than the junk it still has lots of old charm, like a gigantic chalk board. I wish I could buy it just so we could play school in it. I would love to decorate it for Christmas.
I hope you had a good, funny day, too. I hope you are warm hearted and happy and when your kids come in the house and track in muddy snow try not to yell, it’s only the first time of the season for goodness sakes.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 2:13 PM
It’s autumn and I love pumpkins and the changing leaves and um… I’m pregnant.
I envisioned myself writing this post in a couple months in a fun and surprising way. But as I have started my second trimester it has been a tumultuous ride. I’m not a good pregnant person. It sounds silly as I have five children but writing about it now seems to feel right and maybe that worried mind of mine would selfishly be a little comforted by hearing what you have to say.
Being a mother has always dominated my thoughts, even from my doll playing days. I love being a mother and from the moment my first child was placed in my arms I knew I wanted more kids, lots of them. Luckily my husband thinks the same way.
Like many journeys in life, pregnancy and childbirth have never been storybook for us, if there is such a thing. Over the years we have had our share of sad moments and fear and I suppose even a little anger.
And now I find myself full of fear again. I made it through the first part and felt like I won a marathon…and now this morning an unexpected call from the OB and my worrying is back into full swing. When I was younger I felt such resolve and determination, I wish I had that back. It seems so wasteful to worry when God has been so good to us.
The last few months were up and down, my poor family in Connecticut must think the worst of me. This post is their announcement (Guess who’s expecting again!)… I’m not so good at the personal stuff, and I think I may have hurt some feelings and been hiding too long. Not that my whole family reads my blog but really it only takes one person in my family to read this and news spreads like wildfire.
As I write this my youngest daughter is in bed and singing to herself. It comforts me and makes me feel things will be just fine. That is a pretty similar emotion I get from you. You comfort me, from wherever you are. You never make me feel shy or self conscious- things I struggle with nearly everyday.
So if you are giving free hugs or want to tell me I’m a hormonal lunatic, it’s okay. I love your comments.
Posted by Freckled Hen at 7:03 PM
My sewing list is long, and I don’t seem to take time to do it. There’s always more important stuff. Or more stuff to procrastinate with. Like blogging.
I need to make curtains, the house seems empty and echoe-y without them. The boys room is first as I bought this fabric in June just for their room and I finally washed it and carefully folded it back on the bolt.
I folded carefully for about 10 seconds then savagely wound it up like the spin cycle on an out of control washing machine.
Now it has sat like that waiting for me. And I keep procrastinating. because I would rather sew other things. And really I don’t feel like ironing 32 yards of fabric.
Now that I’ve taken pictures of sewing stuff I think I am ready. I think I will play the Mamas and Papas and dump the lincoln logs on the floor for Henry, eat some chocolate covered raisins and sew.
Au revoir! A bientôt!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 8:37 AM
Boston holds dear memories of the early days while getting to know my husband. We strolled through the cobblestone streets like young love does, holding hands and taking no heed of time. We were young but it didn’t feel like it. I think we felt grown up eating in fancy restaurants and shopping in city stores.
We have tried to take a trip to Boston each time we headed east through the years. Slowly we added kids to our city treks. In fact I remember Molly taking her first steps on a little patch of grass near the wharf as we watched the boats.
Yesterday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and marched our kids through the city. We had a yard sale on Saturday and conveniently spent all the loot we earned on dinner at the Oyster House.
don’t step on a crack
this is the first time I realized Sam is much taller than Maggie
the sky was so blue and clear
Henry had a birds eye view much of the day
the public garden was so pretty, I could have sat there all day
the Oyster House is kind of touristy but we can’t resist
And that is how we spent the day in Boston, it’s still pretty fun even though our young love is just a memory. Old love is just as good!
Posted by Freckled Hen at 8:22 AM