Last year I accidentally had a garden.  My friend Trina gave me five tomato plants, and since I had nothing else to do with them, I collected a mound of dirt and planted them on the west side of my house.  To my surprise, and even despite my lack of faithful watering, they grew and produced yummy tomatoes.  I know they were yummy because I got to eat three of them.  VeeVee ate all the rest of them straight off the plants even though I tried hard on many occasions to put a stop to her buffet. 

This year, I decided to be brave and start a real garden.  On purpose. 

I had a gift card to Home Depot, so while the big girls were in school, I stowed all my stow-and-go minivan seating, and Vee and I drove to Home Depot where I thought long and hard over which supplies would be the best to create a couple raised garden beds.  I read all the claims on all the plastic bags and finally settled on some hollow gray cinder blocks to form the edges and some organic dirt with natural fertilizer to fill the beds. 

The nice, strong workers loaded my 25 cinder blocks and 16 giant bags of organic dirt into my van.  I then s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully maneuvered my new low-riding vehicle through town and out into the country to home.  In my driveway I realized I wouldn't have enough time to unload my new supplies before I needed to pick Liberty and Mercy up from school, so I s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully maneuvered my low-riding vehicle to school and waited in car line for my children.  They opened the van door and exclaimed in surprise, "Where are we going to sit, Mommy?"

Once they had situated themselves safely among the dirt bags, I s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully maneuvered my low-rider the short distance home.  But when I parked in the driveway, I once again realized I wouldn't have enough time to unload my new raised garden supplies before our chiropractor appointment.  I sighed, then s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully backed up and headed down the road again toward the office.

About halfway there, Liberty said, "Why am I all wet?"  And Mercy said, "Yeah, my knee is sitting in a puddle of water, Mommy."  That seemed odd to me because the bags of dirt had been dry when they were placed in the van.  I told them to resituate to dry spots.  "But there are no dry spots," Liberty replied.  "It's wet everywhere."

We parked and walked into the chiropractor's office.  Something smelled putrid in there, but I didn't mention it because that would have been rude.  After our appointment, we opened the van doors to head home, and a wave of terribleness smacked our noses with reality.  I discovered the putrid smell in the chiropractor's office had been us.  Oops! 

The girls complained, "Do we have to ride home in that?  It smells terrible!"  It was too far to walk, and I had nothing with which to start a car fire, so we rode home doing our best not to breathe.

Finally at home, I removed the offending bags of dirt and cinder blocks and created two new garden beds.  Then I vacuumed the sopping wet van floor and left every door open to air the smell out.  That night, I pulled the van into the garage and closed all the doors.  The next morning, our neighbor arrived to carpool to school with us, but the van stunk so badly that Jeremy had to take the three girls in his car.  We left the van out in the driveway again all that day to air out, but by evening, the smell had not dissipated in the slightest.  After we tucked our kids into bed, Jeremy and I spent a few hours scrubbing the van carpets with a special deodorizing carpet spray.  We left the van open in the driveway all night to air out, but in the morning, Jeremy had to take the girls to school in his car again.  The next afternoon, Jeremy and I vigorously rescrubbed, and a neighbor let us borrow their steam vac and pretty smelling detergent.  The van again spent two nights and a day wide open in the driveway.  But the gorgeous sunshine and strong breezes did nothing to remove the odor. 

In desperation, Jeremy searched our local auto store for some kind of solution.  He came home with two car bombs.  That's what they were called.  They said they would get rid of any vehicle odor, any time, any where.  I read the instructions out loud.  "Seal all the vehicle doors and windows, allow the vehicle to run with the air conditioner on full blast.  Set the bomb inside the vehicle and do not disturb for one hour.  DO NOT OPEN ANY DOORS OR WINDOWS DURING THIS TIME!  DO NOT COME CLOSE ENOUGH TO INHALE ANY FUMES FROM OUTSIDE THE VEHICLE!  **Note to doctor:  This vapor causes heart palpitations and myocardial infarctions.  Normal treatments for these conditions will make it worse.  Please be aware the patient has used this product."

Now, I don't know about you, but that doctor warning put the fear of God into me.  "Let's just see what another few days can do," I suggested, but Jeremy has a death wish, and he would hear none of my cautionary ideas.  He parked the van in the driveway, sealed all the doors and windows, turned the air conditioner on full blast, and set not one, but two bombs at once inside my van.  Then we ran for our lives.  THREE hours later, we ventured closer to the vehicle, hoping it would be safe.  A sweet smell rolled over us from twenty feet away.  "Stay back," Jeremy warned me, and he bravely put his life on the line and opened my van door. 

"Whew.  That smells...good," I hoped out loud.

Yes, it definitely smelled good.  It smell so good that we had to leave the van out in the driveway to air out for another two days and nights.

That was a month ago, and when you open the garage door in the mornings, our garage still smells sweetly beautiful. 
For about two weeks, Victory has been coming to me asking to have her diaper changed, but when I change it, it becomes apparent that she has simply dribbled a tiny bit, not nearly enough to necessitate a diaper change.  This started me thinking, maybe it's time to potty train?  She's only 19 months old.  Our diaper budget would rejoice if she were trained, but I remember Liberty at 22 months obtaining that same awareness, and then not being really trained until just before her third birthday.  I remember Mercy at 20 months becoming aware and even being able to use the potty appropriately, but then the months of agony and accidents when she decided she wanted to "be a baby" and purposely not use the potty chair until her third birthday.  Vee's not even two yet.  I decided to hold off.

Then I pulled out the box of 2T clothing because she's in-between her 18 month clothes and 2T clothes, and lo and behold, it had big girl underwear in it.  Sigh.  Maybe I should?  I spoke with a couple friends of mine asking their opinions, and they also thought I should go for it.


Today, we had a lovely snow day, and the big girls stayed home from school.  I told them, "This is the BIG DAY!  We're going to start potty training Vee today!"  We went to the basement and dug out Liberty and Mercy's old potty chair, set it up, showed it to VeeVee.  She wasn't impressed.

All the talk about potties gave Liberty's bladder an idea, so we encouraged Vee to sit on her little potty while Liberty sat on the big potty.  Poor Victory was terrified of the cold seat and the strange sensation on her bare little tushy.  She refused to stay seated.

A few hours later, Mercy tried again with her.  This time she willingly sat on the seat, and I gave both Vee and Mercy an M&M for their efforts.  Liberty didn't think that was very fair, so I doled out M&M's to everyone. 

Liberty and Mercy suddenly felt a great need to empty their bladders every ten minutes, and my M&M supply is now running extremely low.  Thankfully, they'll be in school tomorrow, so the correct child might get trained.
I is for...  Imagination!

Victory Joy is my first baby that I've been able to be home with during the day.  If you've been reading this blog since it's auspicious beginning back in 2006, you'll know that I worked full-time until my middle daughter Mercy Jane was a year old.  So this staying home and raising a baby is new to me even though she's my third child.  I can't say that I've loved every minute of it, but I have definitely treasured every minute of it! 

Now that my baby has turned one, her little imagination is blowing my expectations away.  I don't remember when my other two started imaginary play, but I feel like VJ has started earlier, or at the very least is more advanced right from the start than her sisters were at imagining.  But then again, maybe I don't remember what I'm talking about.

What I do know is that living with Victory right now is so much fun!  I was reading a picture book to her the other day, and she "picked" a leaf off the page and handed it to me.  I'd never seen her do something like this before, so I played along to discover what would happen next.  She placed it in my hand and let me hold it for two seconds, then she took it back and blew on it.  Then she placed it in my hand for another two seconds before taking it back.  She hesitated, not sure how to get rid of it.  She finally dissolved it by rubbing her fingers together over the pretend leaf, and it disappeared. 

She carries her baby with her everywhere.  This is another first for me because Liberty never played with dolls.  Liberty had too many brilliant, active ideas to waste her time caring for a piece of plastic, and since Liberty always had something amazing going on, Mercy joined in her older sister's play instead of messing with dolls.  So watching VJ tenderly care for her little baby pleases me immensely.  Today she fed it a bottle before buckling it into the highchair and shoving a banana into its mouth (which I need to clean out, now).  Yesterday, she overturned an empty laundry hamper and the two of them spent the afternoon together inside its coziness.

One of my other favorite imaginary games VJ plays happens in her crib.  From the living room, I hear squeals and growls as Victory imitates various animal sounds.  Then she begins a conversation with her baby or her stuffed dog in her crib, and it can carry on for 30 minutes or longer some days.  It's very dramatic and entertaining, and some day, when she enunciates better, I'm going to be even more amused.

For now, I'm loving this stage of my baby's life!

H is for... Homework, Hurting, and Healing.

I'm cheating a little by backing up and writing after the fact, but it's my blog, and I get to make the rules, so...I'm not cheating at all.  I'm just catching up!  :-)  See? 

(That's the way the rest of my world should work, too.)

I love watching my girls sitting  in the dining room together to get their homework done after each school day.  There's something so simple... no, uh, sadistic?... no... um, satisfying about seeing your progeny peacefully and industriously engaged.  Well, for as long as the peace lasts anyway.


I mentioned in my October 7th post, that Victory had climbed onto my treadmill while I was running and scraped the skin off the right side of her face.  Well, it turned out to be more serious than that.  Here's what her face looked like about an hour after the incident.  Not very significant-looking, right?  I didn't think so either.

Here's how she looked on Day 2.  My poor little baby.  Still not too bad, though.

But on Day 3, the scabs turned black and grew larger, covering most of her face from eye to chin.  Her skin bubbled up and began peeling off in chunks, then bleeding.  The places not covered by freaky-looking bubbly skin, bloody spots, or charred scabs were an angry infected red.  I panicked.  At that point, I realized she had been burned by the treadmill.  I don't have any pictures of Day 3 because I was too worried about it to take photos. 

The doctor confirmed Victory had been burned and had developed an infection.  She said treadmill burns were fairly common, and she gave us an antibiotic and some burn cream with silver in it.  Silver is a natural antibiotic, so I skipped the med dosage and kept my baby slathered with the silver cream.

Victory enjoyed licking the cream off her face, of course.

The cream began working immediately.  Overnight, the angry red disappeared and the charred chunks began softening until they finally fell off revealing raw pink skin underneath. 

Here's what she looks like today, one week after hugging the treadmill.  She's healing!
G is for...  Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire!

My innocent little baby Victory Joy has turned one.  Except she thinks that she has turned two, and so she's doing her very best to live up to the reputation of those terrible two-year-olds.  If I had to rate her performance, I would say she's excelling. 

In addition to all the behavioral boundary challenging that is happening here, Victory is pushing her physical boundaries as well.  She believes no closet, cabinet, or drawer belonging to this house should be  off limits, and EVERYTHING inside those closets, cabinets, and drawers should logically be strewn around the house at all times.  I mean, really, what's the point of having "stuff" if you cannot see all of it at all times whenever you look in any direction?

Yesterday, she took the lava rocks from the fireplace and pushed them into the hole where the key goes to turn on the gas fireplace.  Yeah.  Please imagine with me, my Joy.  Next, she sneaked onto the back of my treadmill while I was running, and the poor baby has no skin left on one side of her face anymore.  Then, she tossed several toys into the toilet and tried to fish them out by herself.

But, look at the cuteness.  (Or actually, don't.  It can be hazardous to your resolve.)

C is for...Captive Audience. 

While driving home from a party last night, I heard the girls in the backseat putting on a play.  "Which vowel are you going to be?" eight-year-old Liberty asked her sister, "I'm A."

"I'll be B," six-year-old Mercy decided.

"No, you have to be a vowel."

"Oh...  I'll be E!  'Cause E's the most powerful!"
"Yeah, and sneaky!" Liberty agreed.  "Okay, we'll be in kindergarten together.  Aaaaaaa," she cooed to her sister.

"EEEEE!" Mercy shouted back.

"No, Mercy!  You don't have any other vowels around you.  We're not close enough yet.  You have to say your short E sound."

"Oh.  Eh."  Mercy responded.





"Okay, pretend we're close enough now," Liberty instructed.


"No, Mercy!  I go first because I'm the first in the word."




"NO, MERCY!  You're the second vowel so you boss me around, but you stay quiet!"

"Oh.   ......"

"Good!  AY!"


"Yes, Mercy!  You're doing it!  AY!"



"I don't want to be second anymore, Lib.  You be the second one."

"Okay.  You go first."






"Okay, you get at the end of the word, now, Mercy."

"I don't want to be at the end.  You go to the end, Lib."

"No, Mercy, you have to be the bossy sneaky E."

"I don't want to.  I have to be quiet if I'm at the end."

"Yeah, but you're BOSSY.  And SNEAKY!"




The play continued, but since you're not as captive of an audience as I was, I'll draw the curtain there.  :-)
Looks like I missed September altogether.  Here's hoping I'll get into a routine for October and start blogging again.  I've decided to continue the monthly challenge idea, and here is October's list.

B is for...BOOYAH!!!

Because I downloaded the couch to 5k app today and completed the first workout!  Tis the dawning of a new era.