Annie had tubes put in her ears today. At her pre-op physical I questioned whether tubes were really necessary. I was relieved when her pediatrician confirmed that she really did need the procedure. I was sorely afraid of putting Annie through an unnecessary surgery just so I could get some time alone with her (and get some free babysitting for the little rascals).
It was such a treat to have the whole day to ourselves. The surgeon was running behind schedule, so they let Annie walk the halls while she waited. I’ve always thought the open-in-the back hospital gowns put the patient at a disadvantage…not so when your bottom is as cute as Annie’s.
A few weeks ago I saw a huge antique-looking American Flag hanging on a wall in Pottery Barn. “Why pay 200 dollars for that, when I could just have Dan whip one up for me?” I thought to myself. Being the agreeable husband that he is, he agreed. The project was so successful that I have decided to post instructions here, so that your husband can make one for you.
Step 1. Buy wood. On a freezing cold day when you have nothing else to do, go to Menards and buy three 12 foot long boards – one ten inches wide, one eight inches wide, and one four inches wide. You may want to do this in a rental car, as we decided to do. The upside of this decision is that there is absolutely no risk of scratching up your van during transport. The downside is there will be lots of yelling, “Don’t scratch the rental van,” as you load and unload your wood.
Step 2. Load your wood onto your car. You will find that twelve foot long boards don’t fit in a standard minivan, rental or otherwise. Do not be discouraged, simply lay the boards on top of the van and then have the husband and wife each stick an arm out a window and hold them on top of the car.
Step 3. Drive your wood across the parking lot. As you begin to drive through the parking lot, you will notice that the wind catches the boards with surprising force, and it is only by driving at a snail’s pace that you can keep your grip on the boards. Of course you will not be able to get on the highway, due to your pace, so it may take a great deal longer to get home than you imagined. It is best to bring food and drink for the road, or, as we did, buy a lot of candy at Menards.
Step 4. Drive your wood home. Since many people feel inspired to tackle projects on a cold or rainy day, you will likely be battling both the elements and the wind as you attempt to keep a grip on your boards. If you find you are losing feeling in your fingers, as we did, it is best to pull over to the side of the road every few minutes to warm your fingers and eat some candy. Then proceed, with spirits renewed. We found that it is also helpful to take off your sock and put it on your hand, or just scream as you drive as it takes your mind off of the pain.
Step 5. Storing your wood. You will find that you are much too exhausted from driving your wood home to begin the project any time soon. It is best to lean your unfinished boards up against the wall in your dining room or living room for several weeks while you contemplate beginning your hand crafted flag. Take care that your children do not bump the boards as they are likely to fall on and damage a small child. We find orange cones and disaster area tape helpful during this phase of the project.
Step 6. Begin building your flag. There are many ways to build a flag. First you must ensure proper proportions for stripes and stars. You will want to spend several days on internet research before cutting your boards. When you do decide to cut your boards, you may want to do it in the yard on a rainy day lest you get carried away with the project and finish in one day. The coming storm will let you know when it is time to call it a day and return your boards to their storage spot in your living or dining room.
Step 7. Begin painting your flag. Once you have cut your boards and bracketed them together, you are all ready to begin painting your flag! At this point, we recommend several more days of internet research. Once internet research is completed, you will need to make another trip to Menards, assuming you, like us, forgot to bring home the paint you bought on your initial trip. Do not be tempted by the blue painter’s tape at the check out line. Hand painted flags should, of course, be painted by hand without tape or stencil.
Step 8. Paint the stripes and blue area. As you are painting your flag without a stencil, the red and white stripes must be lined with a perfectly steady hand, as must be the rectangular blue area. Picture a robot, devoid of that irritating pulse that could cause ever so slight irregularities in your stripes. Now you are getting it! Steady as she goes.
Step 9. Paint the stars. At this point you may be tempted to download and print a stencil. DON’T DO IT. Dan found a much simpler way. You should allow some extra time for rooting around for your old calculus text book, a graphing calculator, and a protractor. Once you have these tools in hand you are in business.
First, determine the size of your stars (2 inches across) by consulting the “Standard Proportions” of an American Flag.
Second, create your two-inch star stencil by hand.
Third, upon realizing how long it might take to paint 50 stars, create instead a vintage 1776-style flag — with just thirteen stars.
Fourth, to create the circle of stars, do the following:
4.1: cover the blue rectangle with six pieces of 8 1/2 x 11′ paper–sketch out a circle on the paper.
4.2: Measure the circumference (in this case, 42.9 inches), divide by thirteen (3.3 inches), then sketch out (on the paper) 13 2-inch across-stars exactly 1.3 inches apart.
4.3: Assuming all looks right on the paper — use a pen to poke through the paper to mark the points of the stars on the wood.
4.4: Using the original stencil, trace out the stars on the blue rectangle and paint the stars using a fine pointed brush.
Step 10. Distress the flag. To achieve the true Pottery Barn look simply borrow a hand sander from your handy mother, as Dan did, and begin sanding your flag. This should be followed by a coat of brown stain you will find lying around in your laundry room. Be sure to have a rag ready, since the stain should not remain in one spot or the stain will stain. As you apply the stain, frantically wipe it off. This frantic wiping will result in just the perfect amount of dirtiness hitherto attained only by carrying your handmade flag through an actual battle.
Step 11. Mount your flag.
If you’d prefer to not go through the above arduous steps — just let Dan know (seriously) if you’d like a vintage flag of your own. He never turns down an opportunity to make a buck.
Charlie and Elizabeth were telling me about the rules in their classroom, such as: 1. Don’t Run. 2. Use Inside Voices 3. Clean Up After Yourself…Etc. I said, “Well in our family, we only have two rules: 1. Obey Right Away. 2. Be Kind.”
“And,” Charlie added very seriously, “Do NOT scratch your bottom.”
“But you CAN rub your eye,” Elizabeth finished.
I am thinking of having a plaque made to hang in our home:
THE OLSON FAMILY RULES:
2. BE KIND.
3. DON’T SCRATCH YOUR BOTTOM (but you can rub your eye).
Above: the twins dressed themselves for school today in their uniforms and fashionable Christmas socks:
Charlie and Elizabeth turn five today. Several people have asked me if I feel sad about this. For the record: I am extremely happy about this development. We celebrated the twins’s fifth Birthday this weekend with a bowling/art party. Charlie and the Hoffner boys went bowling. Elizabeth and the Benson girls did crafts.
I may be alone in this, but I do not look forward to children’s Birthday parties. In fact, I would rank managing a child’s Birthday party right up there with managing a child’s stomach flu. Even if it goes well, I always feel a little traumatized afterward.
This year, I traded Dan’s web design services to Kettie’s new business in exchange for an arts and crafts Birthday party for Elizabeth. This worked out very well for me. (Not so much for Dan and Kettie.) Then I asked Mary Olson to make the Birthday cakes. This also worked out very well for me. (Not so much for Mary Olson).
The crafts were a big hit. The girls made necklaces, painted flower pots, and decorated spring purses. The boys also enjoyed themselves at the Memory Lanes Bowling Alley down the street. The three little boys teamed up and bowled against the daddies. This worked out very well for the daddies. (Not so much for the little boys). A good time was had by all. Even me.
Last week we found a baby bunny. We fed him breastmilk from a little dropper and made him a home in a cardboard box. He was just thrilled to be adopted into our family. He had so much fun being handled by the children. Picked up and put down. Picked up and put down. Carried around. Picked up and put down. Mary and Phil came to visit on Friday. Elizabeth ran to get Little Rascal (so named by Charlie) to introduce him to Grandma and Grandpa, who took one look at the stiff bunny and whispered to me, “I don’t think he is alive?”
Dan immediately began a resuscitation attempt that involved some squeezing of the rabbit and some injecting of water into his mouth, but rigor mortis was already setting in. Elizabeth dissolved into tears in Miss P’s lap, who rocked her back and forth like a baby whispering, “It’s okay Wibbeth.”
Charlie ran back and forth between Elizabeth and the kitchen delivering updates, and helpful suggestions, including: “I don’t think he’s dead, Elizabeth. I think he is just frozen with joy!”
And: “Well, couldn’t we keep him and play with him just like we do with our dead rooster?”
Although tempted to add a dead rabbit to our interior decor, even I must draw the line somewhere.
Then much to our shock, as quickly as it had set in, rigor mortis set out! “He’s thawing!” Dan shouted. And oh, what rejoicing filled our home. Little Rascal was breathing again.
Dan and I left Little Rascal to the care of Phil Olson, M.D. and went out for a hamburger. Upon return, we immediately inquired about the rabbit. Phil brought us to the little patient who was wrapped in a washcloth warming on the radiator.
Except he wasn’t. The washcloth lay empty. After a little bit of running around, Dan found Little Rascal down in the radiator….still alive! There was another life saving infusion of water into his open mouth, followed by another onset of rigor mortis….which was again a false alarm. He lived! Things went on this way until morning, when the committee decided that, inexplicably, Little Rascal did not seem to be thriving under our care, and Charlie should release him to the wild.
About an hour later I walked out the front door to find the little fellow had been released into the middle of our front walk… where he had died. We remember him fondly and are comforted by the thought of the good time we showed him those last few days. Thus ends the tale of Little Rascal.