Saturday, September 29, 2007
For a dollar, Natalie and Seth had unlimited time in the ball pit. Seth, looking like just one more round ball, sat solemnly in the mass of plastic orbs. With a ball clutched in each hand he looked up to watch his sister enter. A blur of motion, Natalie entered the pit, swam around in the balls, exited, climbed the rope ladder, crawled through the maze and slid down the slide. We followed her progress by the sound of her constant chatter.
For a while, hubby and I sat together on the parents' bench and read our book aloud. We sipped a shared Starbucks coffee, our tummies happily full. We congratulated ourselves on procuring dinner at Qdoba for $5.30. My friend, the Duchess of Cheap and Free would be proud. After watching Natta scramble around the slide for a few more minutes, we were ready for action. I changed a few bills into quarters and we were off. A few rounds of Ski-Ball and 22 tickets later we were able to redeem them for two glo-in-the dark bracelets. We let Natta pick out the colors. She chose orange...and orange.
Next we played the most embarrassing game of pool either of us had ever participated in. We missed the shots over and over. I suppose part of our problems might have been due to Natta's attempts to steal various pool balls and Seth's journey on hands and knees underneath the table where he got stuck. His howl echoed through the arcade until Daddy rescued him.
Natta, banned from taking our balls decided to create her own pool table. Trip after trip she made to the ball pit bringing back handfuls of colored plastic. Adjacent to our our game, she transformed the air hockey table into her own pool table, covered with 3" orange, blue and purple balls. Batting them around the table, she scored several points against herself while Seth balanced himself on his feet against the edge of the table, watching. This activity rapidly palled, however and she wandered off to the car racing games.
Hubby finally beat me in our miserable pool game so I returned the balls to the kid at the counter, ransoming my car keys, which he had kept as collateral against me walking off with his pool set. Natta and Seth, absorbed in watching some kids drive the bumper cars, now gave up and began to whine. We took this as the signal to leave. For a while we wandered the mall, rolling some pennies in the "drain" (a hyperbolic funnel) and stepping on the green squares. We tested the lotion at Bath and Body Works. We examined spatulas in Bed, Bath and Beyond. Soon, we drove home, a few dollars poorer but rich with the shared memory of a night spent as a family, playing, talking and enjoying each other's company.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Next thing I knew, we were in L-town at Grandma Doris's house. We found Grandma Doris in the back yard, but since it was chilly we all went inside to play. Sister showed me where the toys were but I thought everything else around the house looked more interesting. The first thing I went for were the nice, shiny books on the coffee table.
Grandma Doris and Sister were over in front of the toy cupboard so Mommy hauled me over there. Then she tried to do something on her laptop. As soon as she wasn't looking, I decided to go find the plant that I had eaten last time I was here. It was really cool and I had so much fun biting chunks out of it, although I heard Mommy tell Grandma Doris it was poisonous so they were kind of freaked out about the whole thing. That plant wasn't there but Grandma Doris has lots of houseplants so I was sure I could find a tasty one. Before I could find one, Mommy reappeared and grabbed me. Rats! She took me back over to where Grandma and Sister were playing. For a while I stayed and played with a stick but pretty soon that got boring.
This time I headed off through the kitchen to the sun room. Grandpa Dave has some really nice model cars in there right on a low table. I'm sure he put them there where I can reach them because he knew I'd like them. I crawled right over and lifted one down. It had a really neat registration tag on it. I thought I'd try the flavor so I stuck it in my mouth. Paper is always good because it disintegrates and you can get bits off to stick in your cheek and save for later. Just as I was getting a good soggy piece off, Mommy stole it and put it up on the table. This was the last straw so I gave a really good, loud howl. I think she got the message because she got out some Cheerios and gave me some. I think it kind of shocked Grandma that I ate them off the floor, but that was all right.
Grandma and Mommy fixed lunch for themselves and Sister. They gave me a graham cracker and I liked it ok but it made me gag. I almost threw up all over the place again so I think Mommy had a good reason to freak out just a little.
While they were eating I decided to re-arrange the houseplants again and to get out the watering can. Sister put this on my head when she was done eating but I didn't like that and I put a ball in it instead.
Once I got bored of the sun room I decided to explore down the hall. At home all the outlets have these boring plug-covers over them so I can't unplug anything but here at Grandma's house they didn't. The outlets in the hallway had these really nifty night lights in them. I had never seen anything so cool, so of course the first thing I had to do was to pull on them to see if they came apart from the wall. They did and that was awesome but Mommy started freaking out again and saying "nono, nono" so I tried to put it back. For some reason that wasn't what she wanted so she scooped me up and we left the cool night light there.
I was getting really hungry and fussy and my diaper was stinking to high heaven. I fussed at Mommy to tell her about it. She got the bottle part and tried to feed me but the mess in my diaper was bugging me too much for me to enjoy food. I fussed and squirmed a bunch to tell her but she wasn't getting the message. You'd think after taking care of me for 11 months she'd get the message a little sooner. Instead she was scolding me for squirming. I cried and squirmed harder, trying to tell her and finally the light bulb came on. I have to say I was pretty patient with her over all and only kicked my feet a little. She changed me then we had some bottle and snuggles and everything was so nice I fell asleep right there on her lap.
I don't think I'd been asleep very long when Grandpa Dave came in talking really loud and woke me up.
I think about this time Mommy was starting to run out of juice. She'd taken Sister potty about a billion times and listened to Grandma Doris tell the same story about how her TV didn't work for the third time. Now Grandpa Dave was telling her something about mice in his truck and she was getting this glassy stare. I decided maybe she needed some distraction so I squirmed down and crawled off to find something to distract her with.
Instead, I got distracted by the kitchen garbage. It had some really nifty stuff in it, some slimy stuff and some paper and that awful diaper from earlier. Wow! I was right in the middle of taking all that cool stuff out when Mommy came looking for me. Man, what a spoilsport. She put it all back away and took me back to the toy cupboard.
I decided since she wanted me over there so badly that I'd stay there and play with the toys. Relieved, she left me with Grandma and went to get herself a mocha.
Late in the afternoon we went to Bell Choir practice where I played in the nursery with Sister and Mrs. Elliot. When it was over Mommy put us in the car then she dithered around for a really long time with something that she and the other grown-ups were calling a "flat tire". Whatever it was it wasn't worth all the time and attention so I screamed really loud and long to tell her so. Finally she got done messing with it and she went to McDonald's then we drove home (Sister talked the whole way and I slept of course). Mommy had Bagpipe practice too so Daddy met her and took us the rest of the way home. Now tonight after our baths, Mommy seems unusually tired. I can't figure out why; I had a wonderful day!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Tuesday morning after a quick goodbye at 7:00 AM, he drove down to L-town and boarded his plane with no incident. Upon arriving in Seattle though, the fun started. During one of his layovers (not sure if it was Seattle or Salt Lake) he missed a next boarding and did not get on his plane. Panicked he was able to get switched to another flight, this one routed through Atlanta! Yikes! After flying all around the United States, he finally arrived, exhausted, in Boston at about 2:00 AM (EST). Having missed a night of sleep the night before due to the house gaining refrigerator temperatures, he was so tired he could hardly see straight and absentmindedly left his backpack on a taxi. This backpack contained his laptop, my iPod and several valuable library books.
Panicking, he called the taxi company several times but at that hour they were less than helpful. He finally gave up, checked into his hotel and fell into bed around 3:00. An hour later he was awakened by a call from the front desk that the backpack had been returned intact. Relieved, he went back to bed for the remaining three hours of the night.
Wednesday he began his conference about Flash programming. An international conference, the attendee who had traveled the farthest distance turned out to be from Finland, although the Polish guy came in a close second.
Having missed two nights of sleep now, hubby's main activity during breaks was returning to the hotel for a nap. The hotel itself was worth mentioning as he happened to get upgraded to a "concierge wing" where a full buffet of food was offered all day in the lounge and it required a private elevator.
Thursday, after finally getting a night's rest, he was ready to explore Boston. Between Thursday and Friday he visited numerous eclectic used bookstores, Harvard University, various seafood restaurants and miscellaneous cafes and shops.
Friday afternoon he boarded the plane bound for Salt Lake City and then straight back to L-town. He arrived without incident about 10:00 PM, collected his luggage and headed up the hill, getting home at 11:45 to a wifey who had been looking out the window every two minutes! He was so glad to be home. He said the big city was fun but he really missed his family and it got pretty lonely being there all week by himself. Someday we'll go back...together. :)
Monday, September 24, 2007
AAHHH, quick breather...until the next "happening"!!
Sunday, September 23, 2007
As we climbed the stairs, I looked around for Eva, the pastor's wife. An amiable, outgoing woman, she had greeted us effusively on our first visit, overwhelming us with information and insisting that we fill out a visitor card. When we failed to complete this important duty, she went out of our way to find us in the sanctuary and remind us. To her dismay we never did get that visitor card filled out the first week, what with whining kids, greeting other people and heading home to get lunch.
The next week, I decided more of a priority must be put on meeting Eva's agenda so I looked for her when we got there. She spotted us and bustled over. I was delighted that she remembered us. I filled out her card then we chatted about small groups.
Today we attended their introductory meeting, getting information about the church. It's really a mix of types and beliefs, but they emphasize the things that are important. I found it refreshing after visiting churches who quibble about the most meaningless issues. This one welcomed anyone who wanted to worship Jesus without worrying about the unimportant details. I have a feeling we'll return!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
"We going past the green tractor?"
"We going through downtown?"
Satisfied, she sits back in her car seat, watching her little brother fall asleep. The car is magic for him. He would infinitely prefer to sleep in his car seat in a moving vehicle than in his crib.
As we drive along the country road, Natta points out favorite landmarks. The red barn, the tractor and the moon all deserve mention. When we get into town, however, the fun really starts.
"That red sign says STOP!" she crows delightedly. "Stop, Mommy, stop!" Obediently I pull the vehicle to a halt.
"Go, go, Mommy!"
"Well, Natta, I have to wait for the other cars to go."
"Go cars, go!"
At last we are moving again. Seth by this time is fast asleep and Natta settles into her role of backseat driver. She reads the street signs to me, naming letters as we pass.
"There's the East City Park."
Then, oh glory! We get downtown where the stoplights are.
"Red light, stop. Green light, go. Yellow light, go slow." She recites to me over and over. "Mommy, red light. Better stop. Oh, now it's green. Go, go, go!"
Suddenly distracted, she inquires whether the escalator will be working today as we pass the downtown bank. I assure her that it probably is but we aren't going to stop today.
After listening to her enthusiastic commentary on the stoplights for several weeks, I eventually asked her to stop saying it for a while. My plan backfired on me the day after I made my request. We got safely through a stoplight without Natta's intervention and I thought we were home free, but she immediately chirped, "I didn't say go, go, go! Mommy, I didn't say go, go, go to you when you went through the light."
Hmmm.... Now we have retroactive backseat driving. Instead of giving me directions, she gives a litany of directions that she has succeeded in NOT giving me. Always observant, she intersperses comments on the cars, buildings and pedestrians that she notices. We pull into our destination and she calls "Here we are!" in imitation of me then works on unbuckling her car seat.
Five-point harnesses are a pain. Usually she puts hers on herself, but the buttons defy the strength in her small fingers to undo them.
As we walk through the parking lot with a flushed and groggy Seth, she comments, "That was a fun trip, Mommy."
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I think the hardest thing is that he gets to go do something cool in a new place while I stay home and do the same-old, same-old all week, and that by myself. I love to travel too. I guess I'll just keep reminding myself that the kids won't be little forever and that I will get to travel someday too. :)
Oh, and, we're not even going to make an offer on the house. The price is simply too high for us to be able to make the monthly mortgage payments. So the house issue is back on the back burner too.
Monday, September 17, 2007
So I sat, my head in my hands and prayed. And dreamed. Like Anne, I imagined my "house of dreams". Not so much about the details, although I'd really love a brick house with a fireplace, but more about a place where we belong. I have moved thirteen times in the past twelve years and I know this trailer isn't the last one. I dream about a home of our own, where we can live a least five years, maybe 50. A place to make mine, to love and take care of and make a home for my family where my children will build memories. I struggle to be patient, to wait on God's timing.
But on Thursday my patience ran low so I began looking at real estate listings. As is usual when you get looking, you find something. A little brick "fixer-upper" caught my attention. Although most houses in Moscow are hopelessly beyond anything we could ever afford, this one was closer than any I've seen yet.
It is as though this house was built with me in mind. Brick with darling archways, lots of big trees, fireplaces, little nooks and odd closets everywhere. The price is so low because nothing is up to date; most of the appliances are '60's and '70's. The fixtures and carpets date even earlier. An elderly lady lived there for 50 years and it looks like it. We visited the place Thursday night with a Realtor. I wavered between desperate desire and frustrated despair.
How I want this house. Not any house, this house. This darling house that looks as though it jumped off the pages of a storybook into reality. This wonderful house that is located in one of the nicest old neighborhoods in the heart of town where Hubby would have minutes to drive to work, where our favorite park is only a block away....
I have no idea how we could ever make it happen without help. Help from our families or a miracle from God. Right now this house is in the category of a dream. Probably it will be bought by a rich real estate investor and fitted with cheap fixtures then advertised as a rental until it completely falls apart, its charm crumbling into ruin. I have seen many older houses come to this end here. God, please.... ?
I tell myself to wait. The right house will also have the right timing. I tell myself to trust God. He knows our family and knows that we need a house. I know all the right answers and parrot them back to myself. Then down inside my heart there is the burning flash of desire. I desire to belong, to live in a special place that is not a tin can. God...?
Is this a selfish prayer? Am I being materialistic? Perhaps this dream is not to be fulfilled for our family. Perhaps God has other plans. Will I wait, maybe forever? Will I be content with where He has me? At the church we have been visiting, the sermon Sunday was all about money, about not letting money be our god, about not letting possessions rule our lives but letting God rule. Oh God, help my unbelief....
So there it stands. I present the desire of my heart to Him. I lay it there on the table, exposed and vulnerable and quivering. My life belongs to Him and He may do with it what He will. Right now I will wait; I will hope and trust. And be content...or try to.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The number of children and even adults who do not keep their mouth closed while chewing simply amazes me. Don't they realize that the pitiful sight of them hunched over their plates shoveling food into a constantly smacking mouth makes the rest of us quickly lose our appetites? It seems not because the non-mannerly flourish everywhere. I am not sure if ignorance or apathy is to blame but the end result is the same. People eat like animals.
Well, not in my house, thank-you-very-much. I intend to teach my children to eat politely. Tonight seemed like as good a time as any to begin.
Natta already eats well with a fork and when gently reminded to do so, she picked it up and began scooping and spearing with a vim to match her hunger. I grinned inwardly as she awkwardly scooped a bite of cut-up spaghetti noodles complete with sauce and bits of ground beef, tipping the whole lot into a wide-open mouth. Smack, smack.
"Natta?" I began, wishing that I felt better.
"Mmmm-hmmm?" Her attention was on Baby Seth who was busy blowing raspberries around a mouthful of pureed sweet potatoes.
"Let me show you something," I directed, putting a piece of broccoli in my mouth. Immediately, I was faced with a dilemma. With the piece of broccoli in my mouth, the mannerly thing to do was chew it quietly without talking. But I wanted her to understand that the demonstration was not about eating vegetables but rather chewing quietly. Sheepishly I continued around the bite of broccoli.
"I'm going to chew with my lips closed," I said, feeling like a hypocrite. I proceeded to chew, swallow and then show her my empty mouth.
"Good job, Mommy! You did it," she praised while Seth blew some more sweet potatoes. Undaunted, I tried again.
"You try it," I suggested. She picked up a piece of broccoli again with finger and thumb. I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything, watching her insert it and chew loudly.
"See?" she asked proudly. "I chewed it with my mouth closed." Hmmm...I think she meant she closed her lips with every vacillation.
Throughout the meal, I demonstrated a few more times and tried to put my finger on her lips. Basking in the attention, she attempted to chew, her eyes wide with concentration. Unwilling to push the issue, I decided it was enough to introduce the concept and watched her enjoy a second helping of "noonels and sketti sauce".
By the end she was pursing her lips as hard as she could in a face that looked like she was ready to kiss a particularly slimy frog. I doubted that she'd get a prince with a face like that. I finished by praising her for eating so much of her food and let the matter rest. It takes a while to learn a new skill like that. Her attempts were so comical, however, that I look forward to our next lesson, though I'll probably give her a break for a few meals.
Until then I'm sure I'll hear a running commentary about her chewing... in between the smacks!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Monday, September 10, 2007
"Here, Mommy, hold this."
With the violin safely out of Baby Brother's reach, she pranced across the living room and into the dining room where the stereo lives. Little fingers searched for, and found, the right button. Shortly thereafter, the sweet notes of a violin drifted through the house playing "Twinkle, Twinkle" and variations. In reverse historical order, Bach followed Mozart and the Minuet danced through our heads.
Curly retrieved her little box violin and dowel bow from me and sawed furiously, grinning from ear to ear.
Yes, Curly Miss has begun Suzuki Violin instruction. Her class, the "Pre-Twinklers" met in the United Methodist Church. Ensconced on a futon in the Shalom Room, I listened raptly as the teacher instructed us in proper bow-holding technique. The first three classes were parents-only. I was glad for the String Techniques class I'd had in college as it put me ahead of the other parents who were biting their lips in concentration while attempting to put their "thumbs on clip, finger on the grip, fingers on the frog and pinky on the log."
It was with joy that Curly received the cardboard facsimile of a violin and wooden bow. She has hardly let it out of her sight all evening, even going so far as to place it on the cedar chest during dinner, the hallowed spot that formerly was reserved for her Nap.
Watching my daughter's joy tonight had been pure pleasure for me. I had certainly had my misgivings about the whole thing. The teacher had initially wanted us to wait a year since Natta was younger than the rest of the class. I knew the long hours that go into learning an instrument. How would I get her to practice? How would I get her to listen to the same CD over and over? I needn't have worried.
The first thing we did when we got home from class was insert the CD in the player and show her which button to push. From there it was a walk in the park. In her eagerness, she has played it at least 7 times this evening.
Reading the literature I was amazed at the knowledge Suzuki had of children. The method, called "mother tongue" makes an incredible amount of psychological sense. The children learn an instrument in the same way they learn to speak, by hearing, then doing and being encouraged and praised. But it is so much more than that. Using the natural bubbling enthusiasm of children, he capitalizes on the young brains that soak up input like a thirsty sponge. Repetition is food and drink to them. She is overjoyed to listen to her CD over and over and over, just like she watches "Finding Nemo" over and over. She carries the violin around like a toy. In this natural way it becomes a part of her. Practicing becomes a joy, a discovery.
The teacher need not have worried about Curly's age. Taller than some of the four-year-olds in the class, she has the coordination and intelligence to excel even at her tender years. Her boundless energy suddenly has an outlet, a focus. The very thing which has been a frustration to me now becomes our greatest asset.
I found a surprise side-benefit as well. Accompanying the ten children in the class were ten other parents. All were strangers but had this in common: they were there to help their kids gain a skill that would give them livelong achievement and joy. This brought us together and made us friends. It was with delight that I became a Suzuki mom today!
As she got ready for bed, during prayer time, Curly took my hand and bowed her head. "Dear Jesus, thank you for violin lessons. Amen."
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Plaid Kilt - Based on Traditional Design, no pattern.
I made this kilt based on the Scottish traditional 8-yard kilts where the lines in the plaid are exactly matched. I needed a kilt to wear in the bagpipe band.
Maternity Formal - Original Design, no pattern.
This knee-length formal uses black velvet for the bodice and straps, which cross in a diamond on the back. The skirt is a black sheer chiffon edged with triple satin ribbon and lined with black satin. Accessories include a silver choker and black strappy sandals.
I wore this to a wedding when I was 6 months pg with Seth.
Bumblebee Costume - Original Design, no pattern.
I made this little dress for Natta to wear to Janelle's Halloween party. It is felt and flannel in size 12 months.
I also had bumblebee slippers for her to wear with it.
Robin Hood Costume - Original Design, no pattern.
This costume includes a Robin Hood hat, a medieval hood, floor-length cloak in hunter green microsuede and puttees. I brought as accessories my grandmother's longbow and some target arrows in a homemade quiver.
Celtic Wedding Dress - Original Design, adapted pattern.
I designed this wedding dress for my best friend. The gown is unbleached linen in the celtic A-line Princess style with a square collar. The entire gown is fully lined. The sash, collar trim and sleeve sashes are lightweight wool in the McKinnon tartan with metalic gold piping around the edges.
Here is the original design inspiration:
This is the finished dress:
Here is a closeup of the collar:
Here is the final fitting on the bride! :)
Blue Maternity Dress - Copied from another dress, no pattern.
This simple, floor-length dress uses bias tape made from the same fabric to line the neck. Pleats beneath the empire waist made it adaptable to maternity or everyday wear. The fabric I used was a pin-striped rayon blend that draped nicely and I added extra fullness in the sleeves.
This is a terrible picture, but it shows me wearing the dress when I was VERY pregnant with Natta.
African Ensemble - Original Design, no pattern.
This piece was inspired by the fabric. I saw it at JoAnn's and thought it looked like an RV awning and therefore I had to buy it and make something out of it. Based on traditional ethnic garments, it is a tunic and pants. The placket uses wooden toggles and the trim has gold metallic thread throughout.
Poet's Shirt - Adapted pattern
I used a poly blend for this white shirt in the modern adaptation of an artist's smock. The tape collar and wide cuffs are formal enough to wear at church.
In this picture, I used it under a velvet vest for an even more formal effect.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
IN the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894). A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods. 1913.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I pulled up to the red stoplight, squinting against the setting sun. After a moment the light turned green and I headed into my left turn, aiming for the far curb so I would be sure to be on the correct side of the road.
To my utter horror, as I pulled along that curb, I found myself facing rows of oncoming headlights! There was no double yellow line in sight. In panic I looked around and discovered that curb I was aiming for was actually a median on a highway that was much wider than I originally realized. I was facing south on the northbound side and there was no way to get into my lane, short of backing up and trying the whole thing again.
With adrenaline racing through my veins, I made a split second decision. Before my passenger hubby even realized what I had done, I pulled out of the path of the oncoming headlights up onto the median curb. Years of driving instinct took over and I knew that rather than risk a collision, the best thing to do was not be there. The little Toyota Camry lurched horribly as I left the asphalt and drove right up onto the median curb! It was actually easier than I had anticipated so I kept going. My passengers rocked as I continued across the flat space of median and bumped down onto the other side. I found myself on the shoulder of my own lane, breathing a sigh of relief. Checking over my shoulder, I edged into a lane, fully expecting to see flashing police lights at any second. Although I had never read an actual rule about the situation, I was pretty sure that driving over a median curb was less favorable in the eyes of the law than using the more conventional method of driving on the road. To my relief no lights appeared. In the crowd of sixty cars at that intersection, none of them were cops.
As I settled back onto my seat, I glanced sheepishly at hubby who was staring at me, open-mouthed.
"I went off-roadin'" I explained unnecessarily.
His slack jaw turned into a wide grin. "Go Bear!" he chuckled then gave me a high five.
I returned my attention to the road, feeling the pounding in my heart gradually slow. To my surprise, hubby allowed me to continue driving as we headed south along the lake to the cabin and he cheerfully read our book aloud. I had to laugh later; my first thought after the whole thing was over was, "That will make a great blog post!"