Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dear Zelda...

At Chickadee Lane Lodge, we have a very special tooth fairy named Zelda. How she came into being is a little foggy in my memory since she has been around for years, but what I can tell you is that she has provided hours of entertainment and interest to our little world.

Zelda is a little bit zany, and can definitely be quite scattered when it comes to collecting and forking over the payment for those golden little baby teeth, but she eventually gets the job done. She loves the children dearly and is quite good about writing back and forth to them when they have notes and teeth left out for her. A dental pen pal, if you will.

The children are quite comfortable with impromptu notes to her, so much so that they often forget to publicly announce the loss of a tooth since Zelda takes care of that anyway. This, of course, results in a massive parents-to-Zelda communications breakdown and only gets resolved when the injured and ignored party finally decides to take their complaint to a higher court (mom and dad).

As a mother, I really, really like Zelda. One subject she doesn't mince words on is clean teeth. The children know that if they don't take good care of their cherubic smiles that they will have Zelda to answer to. Naturally, this means that I don't have to nag them about their oral care since they have a healthy respect for Zelda's tooth-garnering missions and they aren't about to jeopardize any future payouts.

Occasionally, however, things do go awry in the realm of tooth loss and financial gain. At such times the children have resorted to writing her rather pointed notes to inquire if she was ever going to produce a payment for a tooth lost several months ago that they have been hopefully checking in their little cup each morning only to be sadly disappointed (yes, I know, shame on me). It is tough to be a making opportunities are few and far between and they have to make the most out of what they have, you know. Therefore, teeth are a precious commodity and not to be trifled with.

Other extenuating circumstances have occurred as well, resulting in some fairly unique notes to Zelda to explain the situation, as seen in the following day-brightener that I stumbled across one day:

(Dear Zelda I lost my tooth and I can't find it! Will you still forgive me and give me money? )

(We were playing football tackle me and my sister and my brother.)

(My brother knocked it OUT!)

Whoever said being seven was easy?


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another Four Letter Word...

A few days ago I wrote about our difficulties at the Lodge with a certain four letter word. The children really do hate it when I use it but it is one of those unavoidable facts of life that they need to get acquainted with, and the sooner the better. I have observed some grownups who have never learned the value of a work ethic themselves and I pity them greatly. Hard work is a blessing and although my children are convinced they are greatly mistreated since they are expected to contribute to this household they will be all the better for it.

They do however get some pretty sweet revenge just by uttering a little four letter word of their own.

They can count on getting my instant, one-hundred-percent undivided attention the moment they spout off and I don't mean maybe. That in itself is a pretty impressive feat considering the demands they collectively make on their dear old mom. But this word is one of those that almost makes my head snap off when I hear it, and my eyes zero in with fierce radar on the poor child who said it.

The setting for these momentous occasions is typically the beginning of a normal wild and crazy Chickadee Lane Lodge school day morning. The kitchen will be in its usual flurry of stampeding children who are simultaneously cooking breakfast, bickering, eating breakfast, bickering, packing school lunches, bickering, and shoving last minute school permission slips in my face. Oh yes, and lets not forget the frantic search for missing homework by some poor victimized child who is positive that someone else moved it (on purpose, of course).

In the midst of this bedlam, morning chores are also being performed. Of primary importance is the unloading of the dishwasher which adds another element of interest to the scene since the open dishwasher door effectively blocks movement in the small kitchen space. Several of the children have developed some impressive gazelle-like characteristics as they hurdle this obstacle. The cats add to the general confusion by dashing in from outside anytime the door opens and then weaving around human legs and plaintively meowing for food. None of this really bothers me though since I know that in just a few short minutes the magical Kid Recycler (also commonly known as a school bus) will whisk away my brood in one magnificent fell swoop and I will have blessed peace and quiet for eight lovely hours. Oh the things I will do!

I dreamily plan it all out in my mind...I will race through my household chores, throw something into the crockpot to simmer all day for supper, and head up to my sewing room to do some quilting. With a hot cappuccino, of course. Or maybe I will settle into a comfy chair in front of the crackling fire and immerse myself in a great book. Or perhaps I will practice some more classical music pieces on my beloved piano or actually listen to Handel's Messiah all the way through without interruption. And all this will happen after I take a piping hot shower and not have to worry about anyone pounding on the bathroom door with an "emergency" which almost never consists of either of my two emergency qualifications (1. Gushing Blood or 2. A Household Fire). It will be just fabulous. Trying not to actively dwell on that lovely thought I make myself concentrate on the craziness at hand.

Suddenly a little voice will pipe up and I hear that awful word.

"Mommy, I don't feel so good. I think I'm sick."

Recoiling in horror, I instantly whip around and rush over to the poor little mite.

"Did you say SICK?"

The vision of my beautiful peaceful day just got ragged around the edges.

"Yes tummy feels like it has a roller coaster in it and the room is spinning round and round..."

"Are you sure? Try focusing your eyes. Are you sure you're trying hard enough? Hmm. Maybe it's just something you ate last night. You did have a big snack last night, you know. All that food takes a while to digest and I bet you'll feel right as rain once you get to school!" Desperately I try to hold on to my vision which has now developed a big gaping hole right in the middle of it.

"No, Mommy, that's not it. I think I might need a bowl."

Now my vision has sprouted wings and is sadly waving goodbye as it wafts away into the distance.

"Oh sweetheart. Come on, let's tuck you back into bed." And as I mournfully watch my vision fading away I know that the next eight hours will most likely be filled with fun activities like emptying icky bowls into toilets, running back and forth with facial tissues, dampened washcloths, blankets, ice chips, ginger ale, stuffed animals, books, and the helpless parental feeling of frustration in trying to comfort a whimpering, miserable sick child that you can't make better through any power of your own.

But that is okay, because this job has perks. It has taken me almost sixteen years to get to this point, but I am blessed that occasionally some of my days are like the one in my dreamy vision above. Then you have the One Of Those Days category. Sick children definitely come under the category of One Of Those Days but you know what? One Of Those Days are the reason I am so thankful for the privilege of being at home with my children and I wouldn't trade that ability to be there for them when they really need me for all the high-powered careers in this world. Both categories count as perks in my book.

Four Letter Words?

I love 'em.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings....

The crew at Chickadee Lane Lodge wishes all our dear friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

May God bless you on this wondrous day as we reflect on our many blessings!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Swing Time....

This swing is another one of Chickadee Lane Lodge's little places to sit and gently soothe away your cares. It hangs down by the water off of a massive oak tree that I'm certain God put there just for this purpose.

There is nothing like curling up with a quilt on this creaky old swing with the breeze softly ruffling your hair. The sun sets in a riot of sherbert colors in the western sky across the lake. The fish jump, turtles peek at you while they swim by and the birds sweetly sing you a good night benediction.

We are so thankful for this little swing. It really only has this one purpose in life and is always standing ready to embrace us in its comfort.

Our little swing doesn't see much use right now. The seasons have turned and the weather is cold. There will be no more sunsets down by the lake for us until next spring, but the swing will still be there, patiently waiting. It knows we will return and together we will once again gaze upon this wonderful world...


Sunday, November 18, 2007


This is my latest sewing/quilting project...a table topper I am piecing together. I know my limitations and focus on larger pieces to lessen my frustration level! Someday I will have the time to do smaller, fussier patterns but for now it is just not happening. I seize a moment here and there for cutting and piecing and am happy to still get a sizeable project for my efforts.

Now on to the batting, backing and quilting. Simple and sweet! I can't wait to see how it all turns out...check back for pics of the finished project!

God bless all of you "piece"makers!


Friday, November 16, 2007


Here is one of the little cuties our home is named after. Aren't they sweet? I love the fact that they stick around through the winter months and brighten every day with their presence and song. We do our part to keep them well-fed with lots of birdy treats all winter long.
Bye bye birdie! Come back soon!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Four Letter Words

I need to make a confession.

Although I may portray it as such, life at Chickadee Lane Lodge is not always perfect. Although it often feels as though we are living in a dream come true, we do have our issues just the same as any other family.

Take four letter words for example.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit it, but we have been having an ongoing problem with one in particular. Try as I might I cannot seem to resolve the problem.

I have tried everything under the canopy to change it but it just won't go away. The children have begged me and begged me to stop using it, but I just can't seem to help myself. I hate to subject their tender little ears to such language but what is a parent to do? I try to muzzle my mouth but sooner or later it just spills out and I am forced to ask them to do some work.

Their reactions are predictable though varied.

As soon as I utter the word, I can count on gasps of dismay. Some go so far as to fall over in a dead faint. Others cry out protests, sometimes in unison (I am positive they practice when I'm not around). One instantly conjures up phantom injuries or illnesses. Another plays the magician card and magically disappears under my very gaze (how does he do that anyway? Houdini had nothing on this kid).

Sooner or later they cave in under the pressure and willingly chip in and do their part. They are pretty good little workers too, and are quite capable of cleaning up their little messes (and big ones too). It's a blessing because the Lodge is a lot of home to take care of, not to mention the acres and acres of yard and landscape. It can wear a woman out and make her long for a day in which there is nothing to do but curl up with a book, some peace and quiet and some chocolate. Of course that almost never happens around here because there is always something that needs to be done.

I do however have a trick or two up my own sleeve. When it all gets to be just too much for me I simply announce that they need to get ready for some real long, hard work because the time has arrived for the annual (Pick-A-Season) Cleaning Day!

You have never seen kids scatter so fast in your life.

You know, maybe four letter words aren't so bad after all.

Bon-bon, anyone?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sitting Pretty...

One of my favorite parts about the Lodge are the secret and not-so-secret little seating nooks scattered all over the house and property. They are the perfect spots to curl up in with a quilt and a favorite book or to just contemplate the state of the world (or the state of you).

This is a rocker I found at the thrift store. Someone had already painted it cream a long time ago and it is chipping off in just the right way. It sits on our front porch and is almost always occupied by a cat or, when they can beat the felines to it, a real live human.

It looks like the perfect spot to just relax for a bit, doesn't it? Stop by for a visit and sit a spell!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Pint Sized Hospitality

My seven year old Dear Daughter Number Two had a friend over the other night for a sleepover.

This was quite an event since it was her first time ever to play hostess, and she took her role seriously. We had talked extensively beforehand about good hospitality, stressing how important it was for her to see to it that her guest had a good time. I was quite proud of how well she did throughout the visit.

Especially impressive was the fact that the girls took care of their own breakfast needs even though they got up at the ungodly hour of 6 am on a weekend morning. (Translation: they let me sleep in).

I was planning on making a hearty, healthy breakfast later so I knew that even though they only had a light breakfast of toast or cereal, they would get something nice and hot in their little tummies before we left for church.

Imagine my surprise when breakfast was ready and I offered it to the two little cherubs, and they turned me down flat, politely saying no thank you, they were still full from eating breakfast earlier, and they scampered off to play. Being busy at the time getting the whole crew fed and out the door for church, I was puzzled at the longevity of their earlier undoubtedly skimpy breakfast but didn't have time to pursue the point before we left in a mad rush.

Once we arrived at church I deposited the little girl with her whole-foods-only-health-nut-parents. As I walked away I could hear her exclaim to her parents that she wanted to come back again...that we served the best breakfast! And they let us have as much as we wanted! I knew she hadn't eaten any of the big breakfast I made so I thought it was an odd comment. Who knew toast and cereal were that exciting? And of course they could eat as much as they wanted. I shrugged my shoulders and reflected as I often do that kids are funny sometimes.

After we returned home from church it occurred to me that there weren't any cereal bowls in the sink and no toast evidence anywhere. (I don't know about your children, but mine always feel it their duty to leave a direct food trail in case historians ever wonder what human beings were eating circa 2007). A slight feeling of unease began stirring within me.

I called my daughter over and casually asked if they had cereal for breakfast.


"Well, toast, then?" I said hopefully, my fingers crossed behind my back, as my feeling of unease grew.

"Oh, no, Mommy."

"Well, what did you eat then?" I asked, having run out of seven-year-old options and cringing inside at what I might hear next. Sure enough...

"Milk and cookies!"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Luggage Love Affair...

At Chickadee Lane Lodge I have a love affair going on with anything old and well-loved. The more worn, the better! I love articles around me that offer a glimpse into a world gone by. A world where everything was not plastic and disposable. This old luggage was no exception. I love how the finish is streaky and mottled. I also love the latches that snap shut.

I wonder where it has been and the places it has seen?

Although I tend to not roam too far from home, I sometimes think of the places I'll see someday when my children are old enough for me to journey afar. Until then, this old luggage helps keep those dreams alive.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Little Black Typewriter

I found this darling typewriter at a garage sale. Sad and forlorn, it was on a table covered with junk, half-buried under a pile of scraped up Christmas decorations. I took one look at it and fell in love.
It came home with me. Once it was cleaned up, it seemed to whisper a silent "thank you" and I could see how it used to shine with importance.

I love to look at it. The keys make a satisfying clickety-clack sound if you tap on them, and children are drawn to it like it is a magnet. There is just something about it that begs touching.

I can't help but wonder what was written on it in a time long ago, and by whom. Love letters? A great novel? Poetry that moves the soul? Profound words to live by?
How many hands tapped those keys, and at which point did it become a dinosaur? How on earth did it ever wind up in someone's garage sale, all covered in dust and grime and begging to be taken home, cleaned up and loved? These are questions I will never have answers to, but that doesn't really matter anyway. The Little Black Typewriter will have a place here at Chickadee Lane Lodge as long as I live. It serves as a reminder of a time when everything wasn't push-button-automatic, a time when life was lived more deliberately, thoughtfully. It serves as a reminder of the kind of life I want to have.

So welcome to your forever home, Little Black Typewriter. You are here to stay.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crazy Cat Lady...

We had company at the Lodge the other night. A very nice group of very down-to-earth, no-nonsense, very practical people came over for a meeting. We didn't know any of them, which was nice since it meant an opportunity to make some new friends.

Wanting to make a wholehearted effort to welcome our guests, I worked hard to make things nice. Part of what makes the Lodge the gracious, loving home that it is are all the little extras. So candles were lit, soft music was playing, fresh linens were hung, and yummy morsels were put out for partaking of. Little details that were all geared to make our guests feel special.

My quirky sixteen year old son who tries to inject humor into every situation helpfully added some detailing of his own when I wasn't looking.

He tied the fattest, flounciest, most absurd bow around our fluffy black cat Smudge's neck. It wasn't a sweet, cute, tiny cat bow. It was an overblown, ridiculous parody of a bow. But this suited Smudge just fine since she has a very high opinion of her resident Princess Cat status. The bigger, the better. She's been looking for her crown ever since we got her and refuses to believe that she was a Humane Society Special. Her version is that she was feline royalty who was swapped at birth with some poor carpenter's cat.

I snickered when I saw it but mentioned that I wanted him to be sure to take it off her before they all got here because these were the kind of people who wouldn't think it was cute, they would just think I was nuts. Then I forgot all about it in the rush of getting ready.

It wasn't until after everyone had left that evening that I saw Smudge again. She still had the bow on, and I gasped and turned to my son. "I thought I told you to take that off! Don't tell me anyone saw that!"

A wide smile and an impish gleam in his eye was my only answer.

Horrified, I demanded an explanation.

He told me that the meeting was deep into conversation when she chose that very moment to prance her way smack dab through the living room, flicking her tail the way she does, a cat with true attitude. All conversation came to a grinding halt for a full minute as she slowly wove her way through the room, conscious that every eye was upon her and receiving their full attention as her due.

Giggling uncontrollably from his perch above on the balcony, my son watched her progress. All heads turned to watch her traipse across the room and it was only upon her sashaying off into the sunset and a lengthy pregnant pause that conversation resumed as if nothing unusual had happened.

I, of course, was in the kitchen seeing to the necessities and completely oblivious.

I asked him if he at least explained to everyone that it was a joke.

He said that that would have ruined the fun.

He also says that they will all be calling me the Crazy Cat Lady.

He's probably right.

Or at least, he maybe would be, if I hadn't told all our guests when they got here to watch out for my son's fluffy black cat that he adored and sometimes dressed up, just for fun.

Motto of the day: Don't mess with your mother.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tip Of The Day...

It is not advisable to inadvertantly point the nozzle of your super-duper-ultra-sticky-shellac-coating-hair spray can right at your eyes when you are cleaning said nozzle off.

'Nuf said.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Laughter is good medicine....

Our family was having dinner together the other night and reviewing the events of the day. My twelve-year-old son was telling me how excited he was about getting to learn origami in art class. Listening attentively, my seven year old daughter saw an opportunity to add something to the conversation and burst in. "I am learning how to do origami in Spanish class!"

"That's great, honey!" I automatically said. "Good for you!"

Then I stopped and looked at her. "What did you just say?"

"I said, I am learning origami in Spanish class!" Impatiently, now, because this wasn't exactly the response she was looking for.

I sat and looked at her for a moment. Then I looked across the table at my sixteen year old son. A smile was threatening to erupt across his face. I looked down at my plate to try to control myself. It was no use. I'm not sure who caved first, but pretty soon the whole table was rocking with laughter.

Only in America can you have a Chinese girl, living with a family of Scandinavians, taking Spanish language lessons, and learning how to create Japanese origami, all at the same time.

As my son said, "Were you eating tacos, too?"

Laughter is good medicine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Not Taking Chances....

At the Lodge we have every personality type known to God and man all under one roof. I recently discovered this includes some pint-sized skeptics too. Case in point:

My seven year old daughter brought me a form to sign the other day.

This in itself was nothing unusual. As the chief autographer signer at Chickadee Lane Lodge, I have grown accustomed to a constant flurry of permission slips, assignment books, appointment and sick day notes being paraded past me on a daily basis. I had no idea I was so popular. I should start charging a fee.

But this form was different.

It was a book reading log that needed to be filled out every day for a month, upon completion of reading so many minutes per day. At the end of the month if the child has put in the required minutes they win a certificate good for a pizza. Very neat program. Very nice form. All that is required of the parent is to sign off at the end of the month on the bottom of the form (that is the best part about it).

So far, normal.

She took me off guard, sneaking up on me like that while I was busy with something else, thrusting her paper under my face and saying,

"My teacher says you have to sign this."

Obediently I took the pen she had prudently brought with and mechanically scribbled my John Hancock across the bottom line. (They know if they don't physically place a writing utensil in my hand the chances are not great that their form will get signed. At least that day, anyway.) As she thanked me and turned to walk away it struck me that there was something odd about the form. I called her back. Sure enough.

It was blank.

And it was the beginning of the month, not the end.

"What gives?" I asked, thoroughly confused.

A defiant and somewhat guilty look crossed her face.

"Wellourteachersaysifwedon'tgetourformssignedwedon'tgetourpizzas..." she said in a rush.

"But honey," I said kindly, thinking she misunderstood. "Mom is supposed to sign the form at the end of the month, after you have completed all your reading minutes."

"Oh, I know, Mom." she said, relieved that she wasn't in trouble and turning to walk away. "But I'm just not taking any chances."


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happiness Is...

...a full cookie jar.

At least it is to my eight year old daughter.

She has been asking me for some time now for cookies in the cookie jar. In fact, she has even gone so far as to hint that she considers my not keeping it full a rather blatant dereliction of my motherly duties.

Apparently this is written down somewhere in the parent-raising manual they hand out to children when they are born. I guess I missed that part.

Mind you, keeping this jar full is no easy feat. There are some major cookie-killers in this house. They can wipe out the contents of a full cookie jar in no time flat (unless they are store bought, of course. Then they won't hardly touch them with a ten-foot pole). At any rate, the Chief Cook & Baker at the Lodge cannot keep up with their ravenous cookie appetites.

So, after struggling with a packed schedule for several weeks, I was quite proud to present to her a stuffed jar full of homemade cookies when she came home from school the other day. She was thrilled. I was thrilled. She told me I was the best mom in the whole world. I apologized for my regrettable lapse in parenting and she forgave me.

All was right with the world again at Chickadee Lane Lodge.

Milk and cookies, anyone?



Saturday, November 3, 2007

Downsizing Collections...

I am a collector. By default. You might not know this, but some collections are pursued, while others are thrust upon a person.

I am a victim of the latter.

Somehow I have managed to accumulate an astonishing number of children, cats and dogs, all mingled together. One husband, too. I'm not sure how it all happened, but I think they came with the place.

Which suits the Lodge just fine.

It's flouncy skirts of lawn were meant for romping children. Trees cry out to be climbed. Frogs and turtles are just waiting to be found down by the lake and fish jump tantalizingly close to fishing lines strung to fishing poles clutched in hopeful little hands. Dogs delight in the acres of freedom they have to bound and bark, cavort and play. Cats love to curl up on the rocking chairs for languid summer afternoon naps (and come to think of it, any other time as well).

How many people and pets can there be you ask? At last count there were eleven.

I think.

It's hard to count them all at once...they keep moving around. To be honest, I can't keep track and really, what does it matter? The Lodge does not discriminate and is open to multiple guests of the furry variety or otherwise (but no snakes or rodents, please). And as for the children, they just seem to reappear at regular intervals, often with friends in tow. I think it is because I encourage them by feeding them. That must be it.

Meet two of the locals. Their names are Smidge (l) and Smudge (r). Smidge was just a little smidgen of a thing when we adopted her, and her sister Smudge a smudgy black mark in motion. They are part of the ever-present landscape that makes up Chickadee Lane Lodge.

You know, from time to time reality sinks in and I look about in bewilderment at the revolving parade of children and pets that cycle through this home. The thought of downsizing flashes through my brain.

But really, I don't mind at all.

I like this collection just the way it is.

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's A Lodge Life

Living here is a dream.... Chickadee Lane Lodge truly is a blessing from above. Never could I have imagined living in such a lovely, gracious home. But unexpected life events happened and just about before I could blink it was my new home. It really is a gift from God.

One of the best parts of a blessing is getting to share it with others. I love having visitors at the Lodge and the doors are always open to those in need of a haven. It's my chance to give a little bit of pampering and home-comfort to fellow travelers on the Road of Life. I also welcome each and every one of you who visit me online and thank you for all the kind comments! Join me for a tour of our living room....

It has a vaulted ceiling with a second story balcony above. There is also a balcony out the open door that overlooks the lake. Very serene and peaceful. We have been blessed beyond measure to have this home to live in...

Wall of tin stars just peeking at us in first picture....

Other side of living room with piano in corner...

Entrance to master suite...

Stop by anytime! We love company and the cider and cookies are always waiting!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Time To Be Thankful...

November 1st.

Typically this day after Halloween signifies the beginning of the full-blown retail glut known as the Christmas Shopping Season. Retailers clear their shelves of almost everything autumnal and pour on the holiday green. Thanksgiving gets shouldered into the corner as the mad dash to Christmas begins.

Not in this house, toots.

At the Lodge we have a hard and fast rule that no Christmas decorations can be put up until the day after Thanksgiving. November is a month we spend reflecting on our blessings, rejoicing in the bounty of our lives, and giving thanks.

So move over, Christmas. We're not quite ready for you yet.