Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unanswerable Questions

Have you ever wondered...

Where do Baby Bop and BJ go when they disappear off the show?

What does Charlie Brown's mom look like?

What did the Red Sea really look like when it parted?

Why can you wear a swimsuit in public but not pajamas?

What languages came out of the Tower of Babel?

What color is love?

What are my birds saying to each other when they chirp?

Is light made of waves or particles?

Why does Beethoven's Ninth Symphony move me so much?

Who steals socks out of my dryer?

Why do we humans follow fads?

Where did Gandalf come from?

Who in the world thought homonyms would be a good idea?

What am I going to fix for lunch?

What would the world look like from an earthworm's point of view?

When will this migraine go away?

How did Jesus heal the blind man?

Why do I hate pickles when my daughter loves them?

Why did God create both sunsets and cockroaches?

How big is the universe?

Does the Terminator go to the bathroom?

What kind of world will my children live in after I am gone?

Have I ever met a CIA agent without knowing it?

Is Britney Spears going off the deep end?

Why do we make ferocious, scary animals like bears into stuffed toys?

How can one small baby produce so much poo?

What would two-year-olds do without security blankets?

Where do Chip and Dale live?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My hubby

My hubby gets a blog entry solely in his honor tonight. There is a reason for this. He came up with another "hat" that I wear on a regular basis. I told him how long my day had been and he told me that since I am going crazy, I might as well be known as the Mad Hatter. *theatrical bow*

So in thanks for making me laugh and then taking the kids on a long walk in the blue stroller so I could have some time to myself, I want to tell the whole cyber-world what a cool hubby I have.

I was going to write something PC like "I love him because he loves Jesus." Well, that's true, but it's not the primary reason I love him. I think I am a lot more selfish than that. I love him because he spoils me rotten. I appreciate that he loves the Lord. We're both on a journey to love the Lord more. I appreciate his seeking and his studying. I am seeking too. I adore my Jesus, and He has my whole life, but sometimes the nitty-gritty of life seems to interfere with being a super-spiritual God-oriented person all the time. But I digress from the intent of this post.

Some things I love about my hubby. He does chores around the house and helps with the kids. Wow! Like, how cool is that?? I didn't know hubbies ever did those things. But he does. and he doesn't look down on me for not being a perfect super-mom either. This is a continual surprise to me. I have always felt like I had to be perfect and do everything for people to like me. Instead, hubby has taught me that it's ok to just be me. The me who has health problems that will probably be there for the rest of my life. The me who has to do continual battle with herself to have a good attitude. The me who gets annoyed over dumb little things like hubby drumming on the table with his fingers. He loves me through all of those things.

I once read a book called the Five Love Languages. People express love through touching, spending quality time, acts of service, words of appreciation and gifts. I have not figured out which one is my primary love language so hubby does them all! I feel so loved!

Hubby believes in pampering. I had never experienced this phenomenon before I met him. I grew up with parents who believe that money spent on pampering is money wasted. At least my dad believes this with ever fiber of his being. But my husband never squabbles when I ask for bubble bath from Bath and Body Works. He agrees that we need a hotel with a jacuzzi for our anniversary. He happily goes along with my plans to eat out at restaurants far too often.

I knew this man loved me when we were looking for our first place to live before we were married. I had two dogs. The little fluffy, yappy, frufru type. Now hubby hated dogs at the time. He still doesn't have much use for them but back then he was actively anti-dog. As we house-hunted, it became apparent that very few places in Moscow allowed pets. The logical conclusion would have been to ask me to get rid of my dogs. Instead my hubby bent over backwards to look at every one of the few places in town that DID allow pets. He bought a trailer that wasn't the loveliest place for the sole reason that it had a fenced dog yard. I asked him why he did that when he doesn't like dogs. He replied, "I don't love dogs, but I love you."

What do I do with this wonderful man? This man who is the sweetest friend I will ever have in my whole life? How do I express love to him? I feel so inadequate to ever return the love he has showered so freely on me. I had prayed for a husband who would be the perfect person God had for me. But somewhere deep in my heart I never actually believed that God would answer that prayer. But God in His goodness chose to ignore my unbelieving heart and sent me a soul-mate anyway. A man who can turn my Mad Hatter days around just by making a few jokes. A man who loves classical guitar, robots and gourmet coffee. And me.

I know wives who complain non-stop about their husbands. Everything they see is a fault or a failing. I suppose maybe they are justified. I have not walked the proverbial mile. I know my hubby has plenty of faults and failings. I suppose I could focus on them and be miserable. But then he makes me laugh or brings me a treat out of the blue and I thank God for him again. We made a promise to each other when we first got married that we would not expect each other to be perfect. We both tend to be perfectionists and have idealistic expectations. We discovered right away that to do that to each other would spell ruin for our marriage. Instead we remind each other that we don't have to be perfect. Sometimes he is indecisive. Sometimes I am mean. We forgive. We laugh, we love.

Hubby, you'll probably read this at some point. I want to tell you how much I love you. I appreciate you. I appreciate how hard you work to take good care of us and provide for us. I appreciate how you want to help with the kids and get to know them. I thank God every day that He put you in my life. You are the most wonderful man I have ever known and I love you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Many Hats I Wear

It constantly surprises me to notice how many hats I end up wearing every day. A Stay-at-home-mom is a professional at just about every career in existence. And then some.

I am a chef. From short-order cook to gourmet, I do it all. Meals to order, made fresh daily, unlimited menu. I prepare curried pork on rice from far Bombay and baked enchiladas from sunny Mexico. When the occasion calls for something special, I rush to comply. Broiled kabobs are my specialty. Greek gyros assemble under my deft fingers. A dietitian could not be more careful than I to count servings of vegetables passing in front of my family. Then there are the days when I have worn so many hats that the chefs hat gets hung on a peg and my family eats Grilled Cheese. So it goes.

I am a barber. Every six weeks, my hubby sits on a kitchen chair surrounded by implements of haircutting. Like a surgeon, I choose my weapons and dive in. I've gotten really good at giving him just the right haircut. With trimmers, scissors and water bottle I snip and slice and shave until each hair is the perfect length. Hubby pays for my services by doing the cleanup. Compared to him, Natta's bangs are easy. One quick nip with the beard trimmer and her hair cutting time is over. It's a good thing too, since she holds still for approximately 2.3 seconds before she's gone.

I am a maid. I make beds and clean bathrooms. I replace the soap in the shower.

I am a magician. My magic kisses heal wounded knees. My hugs heal hurt feelings. My presence makes the monsters go back in the closet. Lost objects reappear at my command. I wield the power of the TV remote control.

I am an EMT. When the magic kisses aren't enough, I am certified in the administration of cough medicine.

I am a repair technician. Call me Mrs. Fix-it. My arsenal includes scotch tape, super glue, staples, thumb tacks, hammer, pliers.... I have repaired everything from the towel-rod to the paper hat with a bee on it that came from Old Country Buffet. I even assembled the plastic toy kitchen that came to us via the US Postal Service after Christmas. Tim Taylor, eat your heart out.

I am a historian. Seth rolled over for the first time the other day and my first thought was, "I have to go write that in his baby book!" I definitely have my priorities in order.

I am a cow. "WAAAAAAAA!!!! More Mommy-milk!" Moo.

And today I was a real estate agent. I could probably stretch the analogy to include Prime Minister of a minor country, but I think that might be pushing it, although anyone who has ever been married knows that politics are very present in household relationships. Along that line, I tend to also become the arbitrator in situations when politics fail between my husband and my strong-willed two-year-old.

I think I could go on all night with careers. I am a painter, a teacher, a fashion designer, a computer programmer, a student, a landscape architect, a dog groomer, an interior decorator, a photographer, a smiley-face artist, a prayer-warrior, a singer and a home-movie producer.

Tonight, I am an insomniac writer. Time for bed. :)


I am sooooo ready for spring to come. Natta and I went to the park today. Although it was still chilly, I just wore a sweatshirt. I did have Seth in the backpack sling, so he was warm against my back. But the bug has bit and I am so excited to see spring. I hear birds outside and I know it's around the corner. The sun was out for a while today, but only enough to tantalize me and then it hid behind clouds again.

I am ready to take long walks outside in the fresh air. The Valley will unfurl its flowers everywhere and hide its barren ugliness in a soft mantle of transparent green. Gray clouds and sodden skies may last for a few more weeks, but they too will have to give way. Soft blue skies and sunshine are coming my way.

I noticed that the light lasted until about 5:30 today. Like a dear friend, each day takes its leave a little later, staying to chat just a few minutes longer. Soon Daylight Savings Time will come and the evenings will become once again a time for playing outside, barbecuing and sitting on the front porch.

My son was born in October. It just struck me that he has never seen a spring. In his entire short life, he has only known winter. How awful! He has never seen the flowers or known the feeling when you step outside the first warm day without your coat on and a surge of joy rises up in you as if the world had suddenly burst into song. He has hardly seen the sun at all. Well, little son of mine, the times they are a'changing. Spring is coming. Your first spring. I will show you the flowers and you will hear the birds sing. I will carry you outside and set you down on soft new grass. We will lay and watch the clouds together. You and your sister and I will draw with sidewalk chalk again. We will taste freedom as we leave the four walls behind and set out on adventures in our stroller.

Another fun part of Spring is the Dogwood Festival. I want to go see the booths and look at all the crafts. I'll show my daughter how the dogwood trees bloom before they even have leaves. We'll look at the trees around town and predict which one will win a prize. We'll enjoy bags of homemade kettle corn as we browse among the tents and booths of the fair.

This spring, just like last spring, we are moving. Yuck. But this spring I am approaching good health again. I feel like the bulbs outside that are already beginning to push up green leaves. I am ready to feel alive again. I am ready for spring!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Smarty Pants

Her milestones keep coming! She is about the level of a 3 1/2 year old with her speech and height and knowledge of colors. She also can draw a circle and knows about half of her letters by sight. She'll count to three consistently and knows that numbers refer to objects. She'll tell me she has "two happy hearts" if she does have two, but "lots of happy hearts" if there are three or more.
She is surprisingly creative in her play as well. Today I looked in the playroom and she had made herself a bed on the top of her toy box. She likes to cook meals in her play kitchen then bring them out for me to eat.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Survivor Fiji-episode 3

A few comments.

Bye-bye Sylvia. No surprise there. I'll bet Anthony feels a lot less secure than he did though.

I think this "rich get richer, poor get poorer" theme is a really bad idea. I'll bet the producers are kicking themselves over it! It has created a couple of interesting dynamics though. For one thing I see the Moto tribe becoming very loyal to each other. Someone even said "Gary is more important than winning". He would not have said that if he'd been starving for the past 6 days. I do feel sorry for Papa Smurf breaking a rib. Hey, you're not 20 any more, buddy!

As far as Ravu goes, the emerging leader appears to be Rocky. His choice to boot Erika was dumb, but the fact that he talked everyone else into it shows a lot of power. Michelle, by starting the fire earned MAJOR brownie points for herself. I'd say that and the fact that she is cute and knows how to keep her mouth shut will ensure that she is safe for a long time. Yao-man had better do something brilliant or he's toast.

I think my favorite character is Dreamz, the street guy. He said he wants to win to help his family and he survived on the streets, so this is easy. That may have just been talk, but it was still sweet. Boo is funny. I'd predict that if Moto had to start dropping people that Lisi would be one of the first to go. She's annoying. There are a couple of Moto people that haven't gotten hardly any screen time at all yet. I'm sure as Ravu disappears, they will come more into focus.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Ten things I love/hate about my life right now

Things I love about being a Stay-at-home-mom
1. Being with my children all day
2. Wearing jammies every day if I want to
3. The Internet
4. Having no boss
5. Naps
6. Cooking dinner for my hubby
7. Having access to my refrigerator
8. Waiting for 6 o'clock to come every day
9. Taking good care of my house and family
10. The opportunity to influence my children

Things I hate about being a Stay-at-home-mom
1. Being with toddlers all day
2. Feeling like I have nowhere to go
3. Boredom
4. "Barney & Friends"
5. Being lonely
6. Housework, all of it!
7. Only having one income
8. Waiting for 6 o'clock to come every day
9. Never feeling like I get enough done to justify my time
10. Seldom getting a change of scenery

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sweetness in Seattle

Last Thursday I boarded a plane with two babies.   After I sat in a terminal for an hour with two babies.  After I went through security with two babies.  After I walked in from the car with two babies, a backpack and two car seats.  It actually turned out to be a lot of fun.  Through the eyes of a two-year-old, the most mundane things become wonderful.  Did you know that if you wrap yourself up in the Idaho State flag you can see Mommy through it?  It's true.  Also, the security officer is good for getting stickers.  And the other passengers are great at picking up those pesky crayons that roll everywhere when Natta turns her toy bag upside down.

She loved the plane ride.  So did Seth.  The vibration put him right to sleep.  And the nice lady across the aisle held him so I could play with Natta.  Her favorite part was the safety information card.  The colored pictures of people escaping from burning wreckage and surviving water landings looked pretty cool to her.  We had a snack of corn chips and salsa.  We colored Elmo pictures.  We played with plastic animals.  And an hour after we boarded, we landed in Seattle.  That was the best part by far.  No long, screaming-child-filled car ride.  

The SeaTac Airport contains roughly the same number of people as Kenya.  That, combined with the fact that I had to find a bathroom made that part of the trip the least fun.  I found one, located the baggage claim and hooked up with Bear, who had driven the car, all within the next hour.  He was tired, since he'd been driving for six hours and had just crossed a major mountain range.  With the help of a pre-printed Mapquest map, we located a Motel 6 and gratelfully entered our room.  There, we encountered the first of many challenges to be creatively solved when travelling with toddlers.  No tub.  I immediately volunteered to go get dinner.  I felt like a big wimp, but bathing little squirmy people in a shower was not my idea of a good time.  I took my time, bought McDonald's and drove back.  On a side note, I think McDonald's is one of the better parts of travelling.  It has a comforting familiarity and would taste uniformly bad even if you ate it in the farthest corner of Siberia.  You're sure of the menu and they're located approximately every 15 feet within the continental United States.  But back to the Motel 6.  When I arrived, both children were clean and clad and watching the Cartoon Network.  I don't know how he does it but Bear has a gift.  I presented my offerings and we all partook.  After which we bedded Natta down in the Pack-n-Play with a quilt over the top.  She thinks this is "like a little tent" and therefore accepts it.  Being the party animals we were, Bear and I laid down and went to sleep too, as soon as Seth was done nursing.

Friday morning dawned drizzly but warm.  We loaded everyone up and set forth on our great vacation adventure.  Destination:  IHOP.  I have discovered a common trend as our family enters a restaurant.  The waitresses watch us enter with fear in their eyes.  Visions of food splattering the walls and floor run through their minds.  They smile wanly and ask us bravely if we want high chairs.  We settle two children in two high chairs, and order.  We further alienate the poor waitstaff by splitting an entree.  They see their tip dwindling to half of what it was.  After a wait that is just long enough to really get Natalie good and bored, the food arrived.  Although not exactly gourmet, it was edible.  We paid and hurried to leave after Natta began decorating the table with the maple syrup.  

We packed up, checked out of the hotel and off we went.  Without incident we drove to Fry's Electronic Store where after some deliberation, I chose my new laptop.  Because I chose the cheapest model, the salesman didn't count me as his especial friend, but since I wouldn't see him ever again in my whole life, but I would see my Quicken account the very next week, I didn't care.  Then Bear and Natta took some time to explore the huge store while I went out to the car and fed Seth.  Next came a guitar shop.  Bear had three shops on his list to see and this was his primary reason for coming to Seattle.  I settled in for a long day in the car since they weren't exactly next door to each other.  It was next door to a MotoCross bike store however.  Now, I know about as much about MotoCross racing as I do about Buddhist Monkery, but I decided to stop in anyway.  My primary reason being to keep Natalie from climbing on guitars costing $4,000.  So she climbed on dirtbikes costing $4,000 instead.  Happy as a lark, she wandered through the showroom, to the amusement of the staff, naming the color of each bike and hopefully asking if she could sit on it.  Her request denied, she'd travel to the next one and ask if she could sit on that one.  I sheepishly explained to the staff that I was waiting for my husband.  Sympathy and understanding came into their eyes and they nodded and went back to their work.  I didn't bother to let them know that my husband was not the burly man outside looking at the newer model of dirtbike but rather he was in another store entirely looking at classical guitars.  I figured they didn't need that information.

From that stage on, it was my turn to drive.  I tend to take over the driving responsibility if the road has more than four lanes in it, so this definitely qualified.  Bear let the stress ooze back out and became the navigator.  The next shop resided in a little granola section of Seattle called Greenwood.  Not only was it full of beautiful classical guitars, but it was also located across the street from a coffee/chocolate shop.  Bear was in seventh heaven.  He spent a happy half-hour browsing about while I fed Seth and Natta snoozed in the car.  Then it was diaper-duty time.  Never have I felt so homeless as when travelling and it's time to change diapers.  We invaded the coffee shop with the force of the British Navy.  We changed, we held, then we bought coffee.  Glorious coffee.  Homemade chocolate in the mochas.  Mmmmmmm.  Natta helped herself to the little wrapped chocolate hearts sitting on a low shelf in the meantime.  We were all in our element.  Because my blood sugar demands protein-related foods every couple of hours in order to stay level, I decided to forgo the homemade chocolate in favor of a gyro from the greek place down the street.  There I discovered what Moscow is missing.  Yes, they do have gyros, which is more than I can say for Clarkston, but they don't have gyros like these.  Soft, succulent lamb and beef, smothered with cucumber sauce and piled high with veggies.  Even Natta liked them and her palate isn't educated much beyond spaghetti.

The rain had begun again and the clock was nearing 3:30 by this time.  I convinced Bear that it was time to be on the move south to our friends' house where we were to stay the night.  Unused to the city he reluctantly agreed, thinking, I am sure, that the 40 miles to their house could not possibly take 2 hours.  He was right.  It took 4.  The weekend rush hour slowed our progress to 20 MPH all the way down I-5.  We crawled past the Space Needle.  To pass the time, Bear brought out Lord of the Rings and began to read aloud.  I likend our passage south to Frodo and Sam's journey into Mordor, past hordes of Orcs and a nasty giant spider.

Seven o'clock came and went before we finally pulled into the driveway in Spanaway.  Warm, fresh spaghetti and salad awaited us.  Natalie ate joyfully and we followed suit.  Our friends were not even surprised at the late hour, since they were more familiar with city driving.  We enjoyed the hospitality, good food and even better conversation.  We compared babies (both the cutest), commuting horror stories and stay-at-home-mommy woes.  After dinner I set up my new laptop.  Although he calls it mine, Bear could not keep his hands off of it for more than ten minutes, much to my amusement and gratitude as he knows how best to get the thing set up and running properly.  We all crashed early again, this time on the living room floor.  Did I mention the tub?  They had a bathtub designated for our sole use.  The trip got rapidly better from there.

The next morning our big adventure involved going to the zoo.  I hadn't been to a zoo since I was ten so I was anticipating this event.  I tried to entice Natta with lists of the animals we'd see.  "There'll be elephants and tigers and monkeys and sharks and..."  "all kindsa stuff" she finished for me.  She had it covered.  We drove, we arrived, we parked, we paid.  Our wonderful friends did the waiting in line before we got there, which was a huge blessing.  Ensconced in her red stroller Natta entered the world of the Point Defiance Zoo.  She was the landscaping.   Who cares about sharks and elephants when there are sticks and pinecones?  She insisted on walking.  Well, to be more accurate she was climbing on every step and ledge she could find.  I let her climb and I enjoyed the elephants, tigers, monkeys and sharks.  Bear took the brunt of chasing her around, so I think he enjoyed the zoo somewhat less than I did.  The best part to me was the fact that the weather defied all Seattle tradition by being incredibly warm and sunny.

Too soon it was time to leave.  I planned to meet an online friend, Bella, in Federal Way and we wanted to leave with enough time to drive up there.  Without incident we found the Old Country Buffet, waited in line and got a table.  Because it reminds me of the school cafeteria, OCB is not my first choice of venues, but it was worth it to meet my friend face to face.  She was as sweet in person as she is online and we had a pleasant chat.  She is one of those delightful calm people that can smile through anything, even eating lunch with my energetic two-year-old.  Natta was rapidly bored by her muffin and green beans and began to limb on chairs and roll around on the floor.  She ate ice cream.  She drank milk.  She commented on everything.  Seth smiled at Bella and cooed.  Between Bella's talkative hubby and my noisy children we had the conversation rolling right along.

Although hubby would have preferred to hit another guitar shop, we agreed that we needed a break.  We drove back down to our freinds' house.  They were napping and we thankfully joined in.  Sleep claimed us for an hour and a half till all the babies woke up again.  I was so glad for the nap, because as soon as everyone was up, we were off again, this time to a Mexican restaurant.  We enjoyed a good meal, a quick trip to Fred Meyer next door and back home to bed.  I feebly tried to get a Starcraft game going, but when the network didn't cooperate, we all gave up and went to sleep.

Sunday found us at a little church in Spanaway.  I am not sure what good the church service did our eternal souls since we spent the bulk of it in the nursery with our various children, but at least we tried.  We serve a patient God.  K and I had time to chat finally as we sat and nursed the babies in the mom's room.  I realized again what a joy it is to have friends as we shared our similar experiences, hopes and dreams.  We took leave of them after the church service and headed north again.  Bear had set up a reunion with three of his buddies in a restaurant called Bahama Breeze.  in spite of the ten minute wait, this was by far the coolest restaurant I have been to for a while.  It served carribbean food and the atmosphere included a large open cooking pit and tiki candles.  All this and the price was better than the OCB.  We had jerk-painted salmon, splitting an entree as usual.  We treated ourselved to a mixed drink and dessert too, so the savings cancelled out, but that dessert was worth every nickel.  Fresh, hot banana bread covered with ice cream and caramel sauce and little slivered nuts.  Even Natalie, being a banana connoisseur, approved.  Bear chatted with his buddies, joking and laughing and Natta and I colored pictures.  Al in all, we had a great time there.

The third and final guitar shop was calling hubby and we obeyed the call.  Navigating proved more difficult than we had planned, but at last we found it, tucked in a basement shop.  This store, Dusty Strings, deserves a good mention.  It was amazing.  They make harps, guitars and dulcimers, not to mention selling various other instruments.  We were in paradise.  In spite of having to take turns with Natalie in the kids' area, we had ample time to browse and play.  The kids' area, though tucked under the stairs and roughly the size of a radio-flyer wagon, nevertheless contained enough toy instruments and drums to hold Natta's attention for several hours.  Whoever conceived of that toy area was a genius.  It was late when we reluctantly took our leave and resumed driving.  This time our destination would find us half-way home in Moses Lake.  Bear and the kids napped while I drove cheerfully through driving rain and snow over the Pass.  Grabbing dinner at a Burger King on the way, we forged ahead.  By this point in our trip Natalie had had enough.  The fact that the Burger King failed to give us the promised strawberry applesauce was the last straw.  She burst into wails that would have deafened a Banshee.  Seth woke up and discovered that he was hungry, thus adding his cries to the din.  We were glad and tired bears when we finally pulled into the Motel 6 in Moses Lake.

Our trip was winding down.  Monday morning I sneaked a quick nap and washed Seth (again in a shower...yes, I screwed up my courage and did it) while Bear and Natta scoured Moses Lake for coffee shops.  They found one on the third try, as well as a bookstore.  We wearily packed up again, strapped the now-resigned kids in their carseats and headed for home.  The duty of navigating fell to me as we were back on rural roads and hubby wanted to drive.  I steered us toward a short cut that would hook up up with highway 12 in 30 minutes.   Unlike most doomed shortcuts, this one actually did what it was supposed to do, although it was a bit twisty.  Because of the need for protein we even stopped in the (almost there) town of Starbuck, Washington.  I think Hubby was drawn to it because of the name, although the town itself was not very impressive.  In fact I don't recall even seeing any pavement on the roads.  He procured the only protein he could find, which was a sausage-egg croissant and we continued.  Farewell Starbuck.  We arrived home about 4 o'clock.  Natta's first thought was to take a bath in her own bathtub.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Seattle Trip

Thursday I am using my Christmas cash to FLY (yes! How luxurious!) with the kids to Seattle. It cuts a 6 hour trip to 1 hour. Hubby is driving and meeting us there so we have the car. We'll stay in a motel that night and begin exploring the city on Friday. On our list is a guitar shop (of course!) a Best Buy (of course!) and Pike Street Market. We want to eat seafood and drink Starbuck's coffee. Then Friday night we'll go stay with some good friends, D&K who moved over there. They have a baby who is Seth's age. We'll stay with them Friday and Saturday nights. We plan to visit the zoo and let them help us play tourist. Then Sunday we'll go to church and drive halfway home to Moses Lake. On the way there we plan to visit a winery. Then Monday we'll drive the remaining three hours home. It'll be a long, fun, tiring, exciting trip, especially since we have two babies! Knowing Seattle it will also rain the whole time, lol.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Les Miserables

What an amazing play. I have seen the actual stage production in Spokane and I immediately bought the soundtrack. The $40 one, not the highlights one. Wow! Not only the music that just pulls at my emotions and wads them up in a little bunch, but the story is so compelling.

Jean Valjean is put in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister and her family. He broke a window and was caught. Nineteen years later he is bitter, angry and out on the streets on parole. Because of his yellow parole papers no one will give him shelter or work. He is still in prison. A prison of hate and injustice. Then a Bishop takes him in and gives him food and shelter. In return he steals some silver and flees. He is still in prison. A prison of his own bitterness toward mankind. A prison of revenge upon the innocent the wrongs inflicted by the unjust. The police capture him and take him back to the Bishop. Instead of the accusations he expects, the Bishop thanks the police and explains that the silver was a gift and that this man has done no wrong. A lie. Valjean has stolen the silver. The truth. After the police leave, the Bishop explains that the silver Valjean posesses is his to keep. With it, Valjean's soul is purchased for God. Redemption. He is no longer in prison. With a lie and a couple of silver candlesticks he is set free.

Skip ahead a few years. Valjean has left his old name and his parole slip behind. He becomes the mayor of a small town and a factory owner. A woman in his factory gets fired for refusing to allow the foreman to fondle her. Valjean doesn't realize what is going on, but asks the foreman to stop the disturbance. The foreman blames Fontine, the woman, and she gets fired. Another lie. Another injustice. Fontine, in order to support her young daughter, becomes a prostitute. Her health fails and as she is dying, Valjean finds her. He realizes what he has done and offers to help her. Although it is too late for her, she begs him to take her little daughter, which he promises to do. Javert, the policeman who oversaw the chain gangs earlier has just caught up with Valjean however. Just as he learns the truth. Just as justice begins to be done. He begs Javert to let him go get the daughter ofthe dying woman. To Javert, the only wrong done was Valjean breaking parole. The only injustice is him living free. A criminal. To capture him will bring justice, to call him a criminal is the truth. The truth to Javert.

Valjean escapes and collects Cosette, the little girl, then flees to Paris. Ten years go by before they are discovered again by Javert. By then Cosette is in love with a student, Marius, who leads the uprising against the political leadership. Javert takes his dutiful part in helping to quell the rebellion. Justice. Valjean helps Cosette and Marius fight for the oppressed people at the barricades. To bring justice. The students capture Javert and hand him over as a captive to Valjean to guard. Alone and unarmed, Javert is in the power of a criminal. To him, that is all Valjean will ever be. Javert has worked hard his whole life to overcome the shame of his own mother's imprisonment, by serving the side of justice and truth. But at this moment he finds out what true justice is. Valjean, instead of killing him as Javert expects, shows him mercy and lets him go. Javert cannot understand how the whole world can be upside down. Everything he thought was wrong is right and right is wrong. Justice, mercy, redemption. As the Bishop redeemed Valjean, so Valjean offers Javert a chance to be redeemed. But instead, Javert kills himself. Justice?

Valjean rescues a wounded Marius as the students in the rebellion all die. After a fervent prayer for the boy's life, Marius recovers and weds Cosette. Mercy. Valjean reflects on his life, in the service of God. Redemption.

What an incredible story. The depth of what is good, what is bad, what God expects. Is blind justice and narrowminded thinking conquered by unexpected mercy? When I look at issues in life, do I take a stand? Do I show mercy? What is important to God? Do I obey the authority just because it is authority? Can authority be the corruption and the kindness of the lowly be what is clean and pure? What is true love and what is defiled and perverted? There is always another way to look at something and there IS Truth. But it might be wearing a striped criminal's uniform.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

By Dose is Rudding...

I have a cold today. Ugggghhhh. I want to just curl up in bed and have someone bring warm things for me to sip. Instead I sit here on the couch listening to Dragon Tales in the background and waiting for my baby to wake up. Surprisingly, Natta is being quiet and not demanding, which is unusual for her. I tried to anticipate her wants and needs, even down to the pile of Oh's poured all over the kitchen table for her to munch on throughout the morning. It seems she usually comes up with something else she needs though, something that is dire and she can't do without. However, right now she is sitting on the floor in her little play room watching cartoons and pretending something that only she knows.

She just wandered out, filled her little fists and rosebud mouth with cereal and wandered back into her room. Sweet child. Maybe I can slip in a little nap...

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Diamonds on the Wallpaper

We're moving soon and I will leave my first house that I lived in as a wife and mother. The house where my son spent the first days of his life. I want to remember it like an old friend whose time in your life is done but who left her mark on the heart. This little house is old. Old and patient and wise. It has sheltered many different owners. One of them chose wallpaper for the basement that is covered with diamonds. They run in endless diagonal rows up and down on their green background and each one has a little basket of flowers in the center. If you cross your eyes just right, you can make them pop off their background and come floating in the air toward you.

The first owner built the house in 1946. Was he a young soldier just returning from World War II? Was it an older man whose grandchildren would sit in the living room of this same house and watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon? Back in those days the house had a round concrete front step. Somewhere along the way, someone built a front porch right over that step. Someone planted rosebushes in the front yard. I think the house likes its rosebushes.

Not long ago, the previous owners ushered the little house into the 21st century. They painted the kitchen a soft light green color and installed laminate flooring. A new flat-top stove arrived and a nice dishwasher. The downstairs bedroom received a new up-to-code egress window. But in its bones, the house remembers the old days. Little reminders peek out here and there like the real cedar panelling lining the tiny closets. The doorknob to the bedroom looks older than the one in the antique shop down the street. The putty on the walls is hard enough to turn the point of even the most aggressive thumbtack.

I wonder a lot who has lived here before me. A child colored on the diamond wallpaper in one place. Where is that child now? There are several small dents in the ceiling. Who made those? Who installed the curb that runs around the grass in the front yard? Someone replaced a light fixture in the right-hand bedroom. Was the other one broken? Who chose the linoleum in the bathroom with the white and green squares? Did they go to the store together and pick it out? The house keeps its secrets and I will never know.

Soon I will move away from this little old house. I will hardly have lived in it for a year. One short year and then new owners will move in. Will they love it for the little built-in knick-knack shelves and the arched doorways like I do? Will they bathe their babies in the old tub? Will they sit and wonder who made the dents in the ceiling too? Will they wish the little house had a dining room? Maybe they will hang their Christmas lights across the front of the little porch like I did. Maybe they will watch the mailman out of the dining room window as he parks his truck across the street like I do at lunch every day. Maybe they will tiptoe around the creaky place in the floor late at night and sit in the cool dark on the front porch in the fall. I like to imagine the little house welcoming them as it has welcomed us home each day. Like it has welcomed families home for sixty years. Goodbye little house.

Friday, February 2, 2007

In My Imagination

I'm taking a trip in my imagination today. A trip away from cranky toddlers, yapping dogs, poverty and boredom and winter February weather. Today I own a big RV. You know those behemoths with a full kitchen, waterbed and big-screen TV? Fancy free, I'm driving down one of those long straight roads in Nevada that seem to go on forever with no turn. My destination: Arizona. I can see it in my mind. The tall, red cliffs above Flagstaff. Warm sunlight spills onto the desert landscape, covering the hills like a bright blanket. My heart is light, free of worry. I drive on and on, humming to Broadway tunes on the CD player. For lunch I'll stop and get a gourmet salad. Why not? I can afford it. Then maybe a nice hour at a gym and spa, just for fun. I think of my several different friends in Texas and my plans spontaneously change. I'll go see them. I'll visit the ocean there. I'll eat southern food.

Then I think I'll continue on to the east coast. I'll finally visit my friends in North Carolina. My RV rumbles down the road. I stop for the night in a lovely park with grass all around. My family enjoys a relaxing dinner and we sit under the stars talking and playing our guitars. The babies sleep snuggled in their beds after running around and playing on the nearby swingset. Bear and I sip an after-dinner drink. When we turn in, the sheets hug me close like a friend. Tomorrow will be another day of adventure. New sights to see, people to meet.

As I travel, I keep a camera close. This is a good camera, one that takes professional photographs, not a point-and-click. Shapes catch my eye, beautiful landscapes, a small beetle, an odd cloud, an indian woman selling pottery. My collection grows with each click of the shutter. To go along with the photos, I write a journal. Words pour onto the page, recording memories. The smell of the morning. Dew on the desert. I glory in the landscapes, in the grandeur of creation all around me. I read back over the recent entries. Last week we were in a forest. Majestic trees marched past us. Then a city. The city was for Bear, not for me. We ate in small cafes and sipped espresso. We enjoyed a concert and Bear bought his dream guitar, handmade from a little man in San Francisco who had a crooked leg. He discovered it by accident but knew immediately it was perfect. That was the day we ate lobster on the wharf. The day of the lobster and the new guitar. A good day.

Now my RV is pulling in next to a tiny cafe in New Mexico. Sunshine spills onto my face as I open the door. I stretch my legs and head inside to sit at an orange formica table. A pretty Mexican woman named Rosita bustles up, serving me authentic Mexican food like we had when I lived in Fresno. The real stuff. And salsa to burn the tastebuds off your tongue. Hubby orders a grilled cheese sandwich. Rosita laughs but brings him the sandwich and an ice water. After lunch we wander into the curio shop to buy postcards. I snap a picture of the old man sitting on the bench outside in the sun, his brown skin wrinkled into soft leather.

His face still hangs in my mind as I slide back into reality. A watery February sunshine filters through the blinds to lay in patches on the carpet. The last shreds of a migraine headache nag at the back of my mind. In the background, the noise of the baby swing and the soft chirping of my parakeets are all that I hear, now that my grouchy daughter has finally settled down to nap. My son, awake in the swing, sneezes. Yes, I am blessed. My life may not be exciting, but it belongs to me. My sweet babies are all mine for a few precious years before they begin to belong to themselves. And I am blessed too, to have an imagination. It is there that I can wander towards adventure and discovery, towards sighteeing or being pampered. To think and dream about the "somedays" and even the "never-will-bes". All are golden.