Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Home Was Vandalized

I stood in the middle of our dining room, itching all over and refusing to sit anywhere.

Something in our house was "off".

The yardstick we had above a door walkway lay on the ground.

A vase with dried roses was trampled on the floor.

The Wild Boar's head still grinned at us, but his sombrero had been knocked off.  (The Boar was feeling festive recently.)

When I went into the kitchen I realized the window ledge had been cleared of all the little glass treasures I have collected and they lay smashed to pieces in the sink below.

The day before, S1 had gone upstairs to do his school work and immediately came back down.  "Would you believe me if I said a bird was in my bedroom?"

I looked at his face.  "I am going to have to say, yah, I do."

The bird had flown into a window when we were trying to catch it and it killed itself.

All I could figure is that another bird must be in the house as well.

How?  I blame the littlest two but really, we have no idea how.

I worked on cleaning the broken glass as I thought of how insane our dog must have been acting as the bird had flown around the house trying to get out.  We searched high and low and found...nothing.

Today I had the day off and I was determined to find this vicious vandalizing bird.  My favorite drinking glass was broken, my little figurine from my Great Grandma's was smashed and my antique bud vase in darkest cobalt blue had its neck snapped off.

I sat on a stool in my kitchen, eating my cream of wheat, straining to hear any sound.

It sorta felt like I was stuck in a horror movie and I needed music to let me know if something bad was about to happen.

I sent a text to my friend, Alicia.  "Remind me NOT to watch Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds."

The fluttering sound as she reaches the door? EXACT same sound behind my basement door.

I heard a fluttering and it sounded like it was in my laundry room so I literally tore the laundry room apart.  In doing so, I found I may have hoarding tendencies.  I had armloads of empty boxes in there.  But you just never know when you may need a box!  And if you need a small one, hey, I have one for you.

Even vacuuming behind the washer and dryer didn't turn up any clues.  I sat on the, dejected.  I was jumping at any fluttering I would see from the corner of my eye and straining to hear any odd noise.

I was hoping my dog would be on high alert as well.  She was snoring but I fully expected her to come to my rescue.

Looking down into my scary basement and hoping nothing was down there, I heard a fluttering so close to my ear it knocked me over.

Where is that soundtrack music to life I keep asking for?

Behind our authentic 1900 basement door there was banging and fluttering.  The door is always open and kept open by a small bookshelf in front of it.  There was a small area behind the door and in that small area, there was a vandalizing bird.

I began moving the bookshelf filled with containers we use for leftover food from dinner (there hardly ever is any use for them), cake carriers and thermos' for games and beach days.  Calling S1 down to help me, he eased the door open (or shut, if are me standing in the laundry room).

In S1's hands was a large net.  He could have caught the tension in the air.

The grackle bird darted out and flew drunkenly around the kitchen.  It knocked things off my clean window sill - ironically my little sign that reads "In Everything Give Thanks" had survived the assault of the day before as well as the assault today - and the bird stopped at the window to catch plan it's next attack.

Being blogging mindful, I squeaked out to S1 who was about to drop the net on the bird, "Wait! Let me get a picture!"

You're welcome. I knew you would want to see this photo.

The bird was caught, the house is now safe and rid of birds, my laundry room and basement walkway have not been this clean since I was nesting with S4 and my nerves have been sedated by the immense amount of cinnamon rolls I then made to recover from this trauma.  The dog snored through it all, missing the excitement and the sombrero is atop the wild boar's head again.

Never ever ever a dull moment here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Pee Talk

I write this cautiously.

I don't really want to share this with you but since the boys keep telling the story and anyone who hears it doubles over in laughter and then says, "Now, there's a blog post for you!" I am typing this out to you.

Those of you with just daughters may not understand this blog post and should read with caution.

I am often asked for S3 updates.  There aren't nearly as many blog posts or facebook updates with him because he lives in a world all his own.  He's friends with everyone and most anything just rolls off his back.  He talks the least of all the boys and hugs the most.  He has, by far, learned how to annoy his brothers the best.

Well, here is a S3 story for you.

On a bright sunny day, my boys boarded the big yellow school bus and began the hour long ride home.  Because we live in the country, we have a lot of dirt roads around here.  Friends of ours recently returned from Africa, as in the wilds of Africa where they make a day long trip into a city to purchase groceries for the next weeks of living in the middle of nowhere they lived.  When they have traveled the dirt roads near our home they have declared them by far worse than the roads they traveled in Africa.

That is some bad rough pot holed roads.

My boys bounced around in this bus.  Often kids stand just to take the shock off their spines in bouncing on the bus.  My S3 kept asking Mandy, our friend as well as great bus driver, how much longer until they arrived home. Most kids DO ask "how much further?" but she was even surprised at him continually asking her.

As they pulled to a stop in front of the house, I watched from my kitchen window as my darling boys hopped off the bus and ran for the driveway.

Except S3 stopped soon after taking a few running steps into the yard.  He dropped his backpack, unzipped his zipper and let the pee flow.

Yes, my son, in the broad daylight, with the bus stopped at our driveway and a line of vehicles (oddly, even Mandy commented on that) waiting for the bus to move on, stood there peeing.

The other boys, laughing, ran from him.

S3 didn't care a bit.  Back arched, I could swear I could hear him saying "ahhhhhh" as he finally was able to pee after being jostled around on the bus for an hour.

Mandy tried to put the bus in gear as quickly as possible to drive away but she said she was laughing so hard and when the few kids on the bus did realize what they were doing, they all started laughing too.

I had a strict talking to with S3.  I informed him that if he had to pee so badly he couldn't make it into the house (boys...they feel the whole world is their urinal!) then at least wait until he made it to the pine trees so they were shielding him as he peed.

He agreed solemnly.

Yesterday, I picked the boys up from school.  S3 was the first to make it into the suburban and after he had climbed in his seat in the back, I hopped out to chat a quick second to a friend of mine two vehicles over.  When I got back in the suburban, S3 was gone.  His brothers were all climbing in and he wasn't there.

Suddenly, he was climbing back into the suburban, stepping on his brothers as he climbed over the seat again.  "Where were you?" I asked, shocked.

"I had to pee.  Don't worry.  I stood behind a snow bank this time."

So glad that "pee" talk really stuck with him.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Did NOT Eat Opossum for Dinner

Dear Readers,

This post could also be titled I Need A Girls Day!

Big sigh...and so the story begins....

We have been working hard to remodel our living room.  We painted the walls and tore out the carpet and now it resembles a cabin.  A man cave.  The walls have photos of hunting and football hanging on them. It really does look great.

The floor was uneven so my husband to take the snap in place floors up, sand the floor down a little and add some floor concrete something or another to make it more even.

The sanding caused the house to be covered in dust.  As in, nasty, thick icky awful dust.  The. Entire, House.

But the living room looks amazing.

And, yes, I took photos to document it being clean.

So, I am standing on a stool, washing a boar's head and I suddenly stop to think, "This is the weirdest thing I never imagined myself doing."

It was about to get crazier.

The Cabela's catalog arrived in the mail.  Suddenly, I find myself debating over whether we would get a camouflage toilet seat and a bone collector shower curtain - in our only bathroom.

And I think, "How does this happen?" because it looks like it just MIGHT happen.

As the conversation after dinner dwindled on this subject,  S1 grabbed the pot of chicken scraps and headed out to the chicken coop for our four chickens that have survived the raccoon massacre last summer.  Jake and I were chatting when the door burst open and slammed against the cabinet I hold all my glass things on - nothing dropped.

"PossumInTheChickenCoopGetThe22," he rushed in one breath.

S1 and Jake quickly loaded up their guns and ran outside.  Here is how S1 tells the story....

"It started when I was carrying out a pot of chicken scraps and I had this weird feeling something was in there so I kept my flashlight away from the window to not care what might be in there so I get ready to dump out the chicken scraps when I thought I would shine my light around in the corner was an opossum.  So I put down the pot, run to the house and grab gun.  Dad came with me and I shot it in the neck "all done" I think to myself when Dad asked me if there are any more.  I thought tat was crazy at first then turning, I see another one.  I quickly reload and shot it in the head.  I make a thorough search of the chicken coop after shooting that one.  We walked up to the house and got pictures taken and I finally took out the chicken scraps again, checking that I missed no other opossums to surprise me."

I would not let the opossums come into the house.  They left the nasty, sharp teethed varmints in the snow beside the kitchen door.  The next morning, the other boys had to check them out.  S3 tentatively was checking to see if they were dead and S4 hissed, making S3 jump back and the other brothers double over in laughter.  

The boys asked if we could have the possums for dinner that night.

"No!" I shuddered.

"Oh come on, we ate roadkill!"

"This is nastier.  No," I answered. 

At work, Jake called and teased we should have some for dinner. "No!" I answered determinedly.

Friends stopped in and asked me seriously, SERIOUSLY, if I was going to cook them up for supper.

"No!" I shrieked.

My husband arrived home from work,  "Hey!" he bellowed through the house, "How are we supposed to eat those possums if they ain't skinned yet?"

The boys rolled their eyes at me and sighed dejectedly.  "Mama won't let us," the moaned.

What a mean Mama I am.

I posted this on facebook....

I keep finding myself saying this today - "No! No, I am NOT cooking opossum for dinner! No, it is not coming into the house! Yes, we ate roadkill but NO opossum!"

These are words I never thought I would say.

It got quite the response.  My brother in law said, "Just eat the dang thing. You know you want to."

No.  No, I do not want to.

Someone, someone save me!!! You all keep me here and I keep posting these stories for you but really, I could use tea at Downton Abbey and all that formality to help balance this all out.


Your blogging friend who refuses to eat opossum

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Garden Gate Cafe

(Written in January)

Today I visited the most adorable cafe and met the most energetic sweet people.
Perhaps it's because I have a head cold of huge proportions.
Or perhaps because I am in a sugar coma.
Whatever the reason, I cannot seem to make any of the words I want to say about this place make any sense or do it any form of justice.

So I am going to ramble out a blog post for you.  Sorry, all of you are my therapy.  I cannot post it until February 1st when the magazine goes live but I'll include a link at the end of this so you can read what ends up being printed.

And so I give you....

Garden Gate Cafe

I had heard about Garden Gate Cafe but did not recall why.  When I looked up their facebook page I noticed friends who liked them and when I asked a mom's opinion I knew would give me the honest truth about the place, she admitted she just wanted to get there but hadn't made it there yet.  I knew the place would involve cupcakes...but that's all I knew.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and found me squinting in the bright sunshine.  My head was a foggy pounding sinus headache mess.  I consciously was making an effort to think full complete thoughts but they kept getting lost in the fogginess of the my head cold.  I wasn't sure what sort of first impression I would make, but I didn't think it would be my best ever.  Especially when I drove past the place twice looking for a parking spot and finally had to park in the parking ramp (when you visit there, do that.  Just park in the ramp.  Notice I said WHEN because you must go here.)

Upon entering, I was taken back to happy spring time.  I walked in and physically relaxed.  This is my sort of place.  Instantly they greeted me and offered me something to drink, I said water was just fine but really, their tea mugs were so adorable and the tea bags enchanting.  I should have chosen tea.

Learn from my mistake.

I wasn't there to take photos but I just had to.  The above photo is of Shann who quit her job as a Dental Hygienist to work for Nancy at the Garden Gate Cafe because she loves this place that much.  Nancy and Shann did not even know each other before working together.  "I have always dreamed of baking and nothing is better than lovin' on people with food. Food draws people together."

Shann spoke the words of my heart.

Shann had on the most adorable rolling pin apron.  She told me Santa took good care of her this year.  As he should have.  She was as kind as could be, wishing me a speedy recovery before she rushed off to the kitchen but not after sitting down to chat with me.

Here is a sampling of their food....

Katie, our photographer who I consider a friend and am so grateful to know, was thrilled to have so many options to photograph.  Usually we are left alone to talk amongst our selves and sometimes to feel as intruders.  Not so here.  She was snapping photos to her hearts content and I was making new dear friends as I sat at the table and chatted with Nancy, the owner.

How did this energetic woman sitting across from me go from being an educator to owning a cafe?

Nancy went to visit her daughter who had a boutique in Chicago.  Nancy looked around and said, "Yes.  This is what I want to do."  Six months later she and her husband, Doug, opened an antiques store in Schoolcraft, Michigan.  They were still teaching and working the store and within a year they had moved from a tiny shop to a house in town to sell their antiques.

Because if you are into antiques Shipshewana, Indiana is really the place to be, they closed the shop in Schoolcraft and opened a store there.  Not long after that, the little cafe across the street from their shop closed and Nancy thought, "Hmmm, a cafe sounds fun."

So she opened a cafe.

Nancy is a ball of energy.  I am quite convinced this woman can do whatever she puts her mind to and would have all kinds of fun accomplishing it.

How cute are their lights????

They describe their food as "Like Grandma used to make, but better."

Their slogan is - Garden Gate Cafe, Where the food is great and the fun never ends.

Nancy just bubbled in her joy over her cafe.  She shared with me how they deliver lunches to neighboring businesses and corporations by way of little red wagons.  They have special cupcake and cookie decorating times for the kids.  They hold parties after hours for groups and showers and birthdays.  They donate cupcakes regularly.

Looking for ways they can be involved and help their community is important to Nancy and Doug.  They are currently selling their beautiful farm in Schoolcraft (that has hosted weddings and has an antique shop) to spend their time and energy in downtown Kalamazoo. Nancy lived in downtown Kalamazoo in 71 and she says she has never seen downtown so alive. 

The cafe sings of friendliness and warmth.  You can't buy that.  You can't fake that.  This group of women love their work so much it seems like an extension of themselves.  The college students and others who they hire to help their bustling business (they cater weddings regularly) have to have a certain spark.

They sent me home with lunch - on the house, anything I wanted.  They had given me so much of their time so I chose something they had all ready to go in the case.  A chicken ranch wrap.  

It was a great choice.

Then they sent me home with three cupcakes.  The Cherry Almond one I am writing about in the magazine - a cherry explosion of moist yumminess with the comforting after taste of almond -, a cupcake filled with Bailey's, and a cupcake filled with peanut butter (swoon).  Just for good measure they sent me home with one of Doug's (Nancy's husband) famous chocolate chip cookies.

I spent the morning with my body half turned away from them, not wanting them to catch my nasty head cold.  But when I left they rubbed my arm as a dear friend would and wished me well.  I felt filled with warmth as I left their cozy country cottage cafe and walked toward the parking garage.  I can not wait to return.

How cute is THIS hanging on the wall?

Garden Gate Cafe
230 South Kalamazoo Mall
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Open Seven days a week except closed on Sundays in January and February
10 am to 4 pm

Offering a full Gluten Free Menu
Gluten Free food is prepared at Gluten Free Sensations in Three Rivers, Michigan

Cupcakes - Cookies - Whoopie Pies and Muffins

Lunch and Brunch served
HUGE variety of soups

And....while I was there THREE separate men walked into the cafe to order food.  Evidence that this place makes good good good food - like Grandma's, but better. 

Garden Gate Cafe Facebook Page

Friendship Farm that is now for sale.

Read the finished article in Women's Lifestyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo

You can pick up a FREE magazine at many Kalamazoo locations.  I choose Biggby

A week later, sick as could be still, my mom and I went here for lunch.
We were greeted warmly, even though they were very obviously in a rush. 
The wagons went out to deliver lunch.
Huge displays of cupcakes were getting ready to be sent out.

My mom and I ordered two lunches to split between the two of them.  I ordered tea.  My mom ordered coffee.  I think my tea would have been phenominal if my mom hadn't continually said, "This coffee is sooooooo good."

The little adorable cup and pot are tea. The mug is coffee. I oohed over the colors.
The slice of something? Red Velvet whoopie pie to try.

My mom and I split a salad and a chicken salad sandwich on pretzel bread.

Had I just had the salad, I would have raved over it.  I would have gone on and on and on about how yummy it is.  But I ate the sandwich and I nearly cried when it was done.  That sandwich was divine.

The salad was super wonderfully delicious too.  It makes me wish I hadn't tried the sandwich.

Except the sandwich was that good.

We got a few cupcakes to take home because we were stuffed.

The sprinkle ones were beer cupcakes. 

One may wrinkle their nose at that but I seriously believe those cupcakes helped make me well.

The other is a peanut butter one and a chocolate cherry one (that one was for S1 at home alone while we were out.)

My only sadness of this day is, well, two fold, I was still sick and so foggy in the head.  Second, no photos of my mom and I.  How did we do that????

The place got packed! And oddly enough, the photographer I work with at the magazine showed up with her husband and son for lunch too!  She was impressed too!

Visit there.  Pronto.

Garden Gate Cafe and their staff simply can not disappoint.