One-Yard Wonders projects

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mildewed Memories and Green Bay Packer Burgers

Things aren't looking so hot for the Pack. Fourth quarter is just starting and they're down by two touchdowns. Mazy and Shawn are NOT happy. In fact, Shawn is downright crabby. I'm ignoring him.

However, our Green Bay Packer burgers for tonight's supper were fantastic! Both boys told me several times that they were "awesome, mom!" And they were. We started with toasted ciabatta rolls, grilled hamburger patties, one slice of cheddar, one slice of provolone, grilled cheddarwursts (cut into slices), jalapeno mustard, jalapeno slices, tomato slices and sauteed mushrooms. Wow. They were good. Very terrible for your heart, I'm sure, but we only ate one each. :)

Today I started cleaning out and organizing the basement. I know, I know, it's hard to believe. But I did it! I started, that is, I'm far from being finished. Shawn took a van load of donations to Goodwill -- including a huge bag of winter coats, sweaters and sweatshirts that I'm sure will quickly find good homes. We filled the recycling bin with old boxes and laundry detergent bottles. We hauled out two big bags of trash. And I organized all of the Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day and Easter decorations and supplies. If you ever need a Halloween costume, please call us. We have two giant tubs full of masks, robes, costumes, accessories and makeup. It's kind of crazy...

I also did a ton of laundry today. We rarely do laundry during the week, so there are always at least three loads from the week to do. And then there's ol' Mt. Laundry that is slowly, slowly disappearing from the basement floor. I'm in the living room right now and staring at five laundry baskets that need folded and then put away tomorrow.

I'd asked Shawn and Mazy to fold while watching the game, but apparently cursing the 49ers is taking too much of their time.

Anyway, while cleaning the basement out I ran across a couple of awesome discoveries -- our old wedding mementoes box and one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books! First the wedding stuff, all my cool feathered Mardi Gras masks were mildewed and ruined. Bummer. I had to throw them all out. All of the wedding cards we received from people were also a big stuck-together mildewy mess. I salvaged what I could and will repack the remaining memories into a plastic tote, instead of a cardboard box...

The book I found was the real treasure of the day. I haven't seen it since we moved from Milwaukee to Iowa in 2002! I thought I had bought this book, but then I began to doubt my memory and decided that I hadn't bought it after all. And I couldn't remember the name so I was never able to find it on It really bugged me because it was such a powerful book and even though I didn't have children when I discovered it, I knew it would be a book I'd want to share with my future kids.

(Side note: the Packers are doing really bad. Mazy has tears in his eyes. Shawn is stonily staring at the TV, muttering under his breath.)

So the book is called Material World -- I just spent an hour reading the first half of it with Bo. The premise of the book is a photojournalist traveled the world in 1994 to find about 35 families around the world and photograph their belongings. Instead of just taking photos of their homes, he actually moved every single possession they had into their front yards with their homes in the background. It's really, really cool to see. And really sobering to see the difference between the first family, in Mali, Africa, and the 16th family, in Pearland, Texas.

About the first five families you meet (all in Africa or Asia), there's nothing but kitchen cookware and livestock. You just assume the photographer didn't actually get all their stuff. No extra clothes, no toys, nothing. Just a handful of crocks, pots and baskets. Then you get to families in developed countries and you begin to see elaborate furniture, TVs, radios, beds full of stuffed animals and dolls, bookcases filled with books, refrigerators, washers and dryers, cars, bicycles, etc. And that's when you realize how very, very lucky we are to live in our houses and in this country.

(Holy crap. The 49ers just scored again. This has become a bloodbath. Poor Mazy, he's crying and just asked if I'd take him up to bed. He loves his Packers. But seriously, it's just a football game...)

The author provides lots of stats about each country featured in the book, including avg. income, population, life expectancy, etc.  It's really cool. Go check it out on Amazon. I provided the link. I didn't read much to Bo. He mainly wanted to hear the kids' names, find the country on the world map and look at the pictures of their lives. He thought it was strange that many families eat while sitting on the ground. He wondered why so many kids slept on the ground, or shared beds with 3 or 4 siblings or adults. I obviously didn't read him anything about the violence in many of these countries -- the Bosnia-Herzegovinia story is heart-breaking.

I'm going to read the book to Mazy -- tell him each family's story. It's definitely made me more aware of our home and excess of belongings. Our house is bigger than every family in the story, except the Texans, and there are only five of us. Most of those families have 10+ members once you count all the extended family members who share the home.

OK, Mazy really wants to stop watching this game. So I'm taking him up to bed. Have a great Sunday, everyone!

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