Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Harvest Party

Tonight we left the Trick-or-Treaters with a dark porch and no candy as we merrily headed off to the Nazarene Church's Fall Harvest Party. They were pleased to welcome a Clown, Pooh, Spiderman and Braveheart.

Family in costumes

Seth received a cookie and was happy the rest of the night.

Seth in a stroller with a cookie

Natta's favorite game was the "Cupcake Walk" where she danced and hippity-hopped to the loud country music coming from the stereo. (See video also!)

Natalie in mid-hop

Posing next to the "funny guy" for a picture.

scarecrow with a pumpkin head

Embedded flash video of Natalie doing the cakewalk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mack-en-roni an' Cheese in the Bathtub!

Kids get the funniest idea sometimes and TV does NOT help. On one of our Thomas DVD's there is a commercial for "Todd's world" in which Todd eats Macaroni and Cheese in the bathtub. My daughter immediately seized upon this idea as incredibly cool and for the last two weeks, Macaroni and Cheese has been her lunch of choice.

The other night we had a long discussion as to whether we ought to actually eat macaroni in the real bathtub. I immediately pictured my small daughter, armed with a fresh bowl of homemade mac-n-cheese climbing gleefully into the tub. Her brother, who joins her at bath time loves to splash and I could see bathwater flooding the dish. Then the food dropping into the tub... I took firm hold of my imagination and stopped it.

Instead, I cajoled her into thinking a bowl was a pretend bathtub. She sat in her chair at the kitchen table eating her snack out of a pretend bathtub and chattering a mile a minute. Whew!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Birthday Party!

This afternoon we threw Natta and Seth a big birthday party. Well, it was supposed to be big, but at the last minute two invitees called and canceled with sick kids and others did not bother to call but just did not come. So only two invitees out of eight RSVP'd people showed up, along with my parents and sister. I was not too surprised. I have the worst luck when it comes to social activities. I was glad that anybody showed up at all.

We had planned the party for 4:00 and by 4:45 they were there. We decorated the house in a Thomas the Train theme with blue and red balloons and streamers, which Seth highly approved.

Then we set out snacks and I had decorated a Thomas the Train birthday cake. Natta loved the cake and her pleasure made up totally for anything else that happened the rest of the day.

Hubby and I worked through nap time to make sure the house was clean and the gifts were purchased. I debated on Thomas gear at the store then finally chose a battery-operated "Diesel-Ten" who is a prominent character in Natta's favorite video. With grandma-money I got a big fleece Thomas blanket for her. Seth was easier as a tool set seemed to be just the thing.

At last the time came for the party and Hubby and I sat on the edges of our seats, waiting for the fun. Matt's co-worker and her family came right away, then my family. Natalie and the co-worker's daughter happily colored with crayons. At last me good friend came and I realized that she and her kids were the final guests. I thought unhappily of the 24 hamburger patties I had sitting in my freezer. I don't know why I always think that I will have more luck with guests. I hear friends talk about the numbers of kids they have at their birthday parties and I wonder how they entice them to come. So far, no matter how many invitations I send out, the most families I have been able to have is two.

Still, my kids had a blast and that was the important thing. They played with the toys and games and opened their gifts. I had two games planned which went off without a hitch. The kids got some Thomas books, a doctor set and some wooden puzzles from their friends.

At the end of the night, after we were full of hamburgers, cake and ice cream, and our guests had departed with full goodie bags, we sat around looking at the chaotic aftermath. We'd had so much fun and the house showed it. We tucked the exhausted kids in bed and set to work on the dishes.

Natalie loved her "Diesel-Ten" and carried it around the house with her. I have a feeling it become a long-time favorite, especially since it runs on its own, a feat that carried it under the couch, much to her very vocal dismay.

Our kids have reached another milestone. I love watching them grow and change. They're such treasures!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Rug That Would Hide a Million Cheerios

My earliest memory took place when I was somewhere in my twos, the very age Natalie is right now. In the dim evening lamplight I squatted on the living room floor looking at homemade flash cards created by my father. Although his handwriting wasn't neat, he carefully drew capital letters with blue permanent marker on white index cards. Then Daddy lay on his tummy on the floor next to me, pointing out letters. As he pointed to each letter I named them. "H-O-U-S-E".

"What's that spell?" he would always ask. This time something clicked in my brain and I absorbed the fact that those letters spelled a word. "House!" he told me triumphantly and I gazed at the letters, memorizing them, filing them away in my memory as a representation of the home I loved. I am told I could read well by the age of three but I remember at the time I would have gladly traded it for a friend my own age. It would be several more years before I would have the chance.

In the pools of lamplight, the shag rug was a soft yellow, fading into gray away off in far, shadowy corners beyond the reach of the light. The lamps had been made by my father from some salvaged antique milk cans and their tall cylindrical shades shed a quiet warmth into our lives in the peaceful evenings before I was tucked into bed in the chilly dark of the back bedroom where I lay and listened to my parents talk quietly, the buzz of their indistinct voices blending into the comfort of the still night.

The season must have been winter for this activity because we lived on a farm, tucked deep in the wheatfields of central Idaho, so if it was summer my father would have been working still, far past my bedtime and into the murky dusk.

During the day at this age Mama and I kept each other company. For a while she babysat another little girl who happened to share my birthday, although she was a year older. I don't think she continued coming to our house by the time I had reached three, however, because I have no memory of playing with her. Instead my memories involve inventing games for myself to keep busy through the long, quiet days.

Eschewing dolls as boring, I gravitated toward building blocks and cars, building sheds and roads for them. All I knew was the farm so I played farm using toy horses and hay, hauling them around. While I played, Mama gave me a sandwich baggie (the old kind with a fold-over top and no zipper) full of Cheerios. As I toted it around dropped Cheerios disappeared into the thick shag, blending and hiding as if they had been magic, only to be found later by the noisy Kirby vacuum cleaner which roared around the house almost daily cleaning up the rogue cereal. I am sure that much of my time was spent following my mother around as she did her housework, chattering non-stop to her about everything on my small mind. People would comment on my ability to speak clearly at age two, but I'm convinced it was simply a result of the extensive practice I got. I don't think I ever stopped talking.

Mama would fix us lunch and we would sit companionably at the round dark table. She would usually have the record player going and I absorbed her taste for John Michael Talbot and Keith Green.

Every day, even in the cold, we would go down to the little shed where Mama kept Gypsy, her pet horse. She'd feed and water her and make much of her. When the weather was nice she'd throw on a saddle and bridle and we'd ride off through the graying stubble of the silent fields. I had mixed feelings about these rides. Getting out of the house and into the chilly wind was exhilarating but the fact that she made me ride in front of her on the pommel of the saddle was so painfully uncomfortable that I was usually thankful the ride was over. As we trudged up toward the shop and house from the horse shed, the big, black farm dog, Josh, would rush to greet us. Although he was the most polite dog I have ever met, Josh's size still intimidated me and one sweep of his eager tail could knock me over. I would edge closer to Mama.

On these walks, I remember being fascinated by the gravel on the road and the bigger pieces of rock that comprised the driveway of the big blue shops and outbuildings. Sharp gray rocks spread in every direction, no two alike. I would pick up a couple to collect each time, much to my tidy mother's dismay. I am sure that as soon as I wasn't looking she'd toss them back out to the driveway where they belonged.

On Sundays we would drive into Craigmont, the nearest village, which boasted a population of almost 600 souls. We always ended up at a small Assemblies of God church which stands out in my memory as having tall, narrow stained glass windows along one wall of the sanctuary and no children my age. I do remember the first time I tied my own shoelace successfully, sprawled awkwardly on the floor by those windows, the warm, mellow colored light flooding across the floor beside me.

My days were spent with my mother, either at the house or at a neighbor's. Once a week or so we would make the long drive to Lewiston to get groceries and other necessities. Strapped in my car seat I would watch the trees flick past along the canyon walls, waiting for the landmarks of train trestle bridges and the colored balls on the high-up power lines. On a rare day, Daddy would take me with him for a short time. Standing carefully well-behaved on the concrete shop floor next to the warm wood stove, I'd breathe in the scent of motor oil and sawdust, smells I lovingly associated with my father who enjoyed the mechanical aspect of farming. He'd put up with my constant chatter while he worked on a motor or cut wood for some project. He was always making something. In the inventive spirit of the 70's, he made our end-tables from old cable spools, sanding and varnishing them, then hauling them into the house and setting the milk-can lamps on them. This project happened before I can remember because those spool tables had always been a part of my life, squat and round, with a hole in the center that would eat my toys if they got too close. Once my father, as a special treat, took me with him on the combine during harvest. Sitting with him in the dusty cab, we drove slowly around the golden field, watching the whirling header dance as it grabbed the stalks of wheat in its long teeth and pulling them into the machine's big underbelly where it chewed and digested the kernels. He'd take me back to the hopper and grab a handful of dark golden wheat kernels, giving them to me to chew until they broke into glutenous gum. The big white trucks came alongside us and collected the loads of wheat, lazily matching our slow pace as the header continued to whirl. The dusty kernels spilled into the truck which headed off with it load to deposit into the round, silver bins sitting in front of the big shop.

I see all of these memories in short flashes, pieces the size of a small child's attention span. We moved from the farm shortly after my fourth birthday, which gives a reference. The memories come quickly, snapshots that include the sound of a laugh, the smell of baking bread or the feeling of peace I felt when everything was right with my small world. My mother created that peace with her carefully planned routines and tidy ways. Generally in those memories, I was sitting on the floor, just as my daughter does now, playing on the rug that would hide a million Cheerios.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kid Stats

Seth went to the pediatrician yesterday. He weighs 25 pounds and is 31 inches tall. He's in the 95%ile, but his head size of 49 was off the charts. He certainly has the Jepsen gourd!

Natta stood on the scale today and weighed in at 32 pounds. She's more of a string bean, tall and thin.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Honeybear!

Here's to many more great years!

Thank you for:

-Being a GREAT hubby!
-Being a GREAT daddy!
-Following Jesus
-Working hard to take care of us
-Doing the dishes
-Being a cool friend
-Reading aloud to me every day
-Having a sense of humor
-Being patient with me
-Helping me with Seth's Doctor appointment today
-Going camping or to the cabin from time to time
-Putting up with my dogs
-All of your encouragement
-Being Team Bears
-Just being YOU! I love you :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Weekend Report

We had a wonderful busy weekend! Yesterday I went in to work, very much wishing I could stay with my family. When I got there it turned out they didn't need me and I got to hang out with my family after all. We went to the grocery store and the bookshop owned by a friend of hubby's.

While I was at the grocery I bought stuff for the kids' birthday party next Saturday. I am going to make their cake in bread pans and decorate it to resemble train cars. Then I visited the Dollar Tree while the kids napped. They had lots of good stuff for the party. Instead of buying an expensive party pack, Natta and I stuck stickers on the plates, cups and napkins. We had so much fun together Saturday night.

Also during nap time, Hubby and I worked on a computer program we're making. I have been working several hours each day on some correspondence lessons for certifying in Braille transcription. For later we're writing a Braille transcription program that will do parts of it automatically. They have software out there but it's really expensive. So we're going to try and make one. Also, I bought an old Braille printer off Ebay so we hooked it up and got it to print my first lesson to send off. I have been excitedly waiting for this for weeks, but had to wait for the special paper to arrive before I could print it.

Yesterday, after church, we drove down to the Valley to my parents' house. We celebrated Seth's birthday (yesterday) and Hubby's birthday (tomorrow). They fixed us a nice lunch and two birthday cakes! A regular one for Seth to get his fingers into and an ice cream cake for hubby. We had some presents and cake and ice cream with an aunt, grandparents and some kids my sister was babysitting. Seth didn't dive into the cake like I expected but he had a good time letting his sister poke little round cake-confetti pieces into his mouth.

After that, Hubby and I went on a date. We saw "The Kingdom" then went to Applebee's for a treat. We got back really late so the kids slept in the car. They were so sweet and cute and sleepy when we put them to bed. What a great weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Seth is a year old today. At this time a year ago he arrived into the world to much welcome and joy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Love Calming Fear

This morning my daughter settled down to watch Over the Hedge and stared, wide-eyed at the preview for Flushed Away. In the preview, a Wallace-and-Gromit style mouse gets swirled down a toilet where he finds a subterranean world in the plumbing. Natalie, however, is fascinated by the image of the screaming little mouse-man swirling down the white toilet bowl that looks so much like the one in our own bathroom. After viewing the scene the first time, she no longer wanted to use the toilet. Fear filled her whenever she saw a drain, whether in the toilet, bathtub or sink. As we let the water out of the tub during her nightly bath, she panicked, thinking she, like the tuxedo-clad mouse, would be swirled around and sucked right down the drain. In the mall, the toilets have an electronic eye so they are intelligently able to flush themselves, an action that invariably happens during the child-potty process. With a deafening roar, the water swirls and splashes right below a small bottom sitting inches from the diabolical sucking water. When this happens, she clutches me in a blind panic, terrified that she will be seized by the mighty waters and swirled right down that drain.

In attempting to calm her fear, we have discussed the drain issue at great length. At the end of her bath Hubby takes her water-wrinkled foot, showing her that it simply won't fit into the drain holes in the tub. I tell her how tiny the mouse on TV is and that she, as a real human being, will never fit into the drain in the toilet. The mouse is pretend anyway and people don't go into drains. I have a feeling my daughter will never aspire to be a plumber. If need calls during visits to the Mall, I hug her close, holding tightly to a small, quivering body. "Don't let go, Mommy," she pleads and I assure her that I will never let her fall into the drain.

The picture of a loving Parent holding a child safe comes back to me as I remember the circumstances of last night. I sat, crouched in a dark living room, pleading with my Father God to keep us safe, to hold on to us and not to let us fall.

Hubby and I had been talking about finances. The woman who bought our trailer in Pullman last year is in default, not paying her loan payments to us and we're facing the frightening prospect of lawyers, repossession, confrontation and endless miles of hassle, red tape and expensive legal advice. If everything goes well, we will gain our mobile home back and then have to pay lot rent on it again, a $250 monthly bill that simply cannot be squeezed into our budget at all right now.

On my face before God in tears, I pleaded out to Him the fear I felt in my heart. I feared the trouble, the work, the expense. I feared something going wrong. I feared that we will lose the trailer that we are even still paying off ourselves at a rate of $231 a month. I feared confronting our buyer who uses every manipulative tactic in the book to garner pity and weasel out of trouble. Like the swirling, roaring drain, it seemed to be sucking hubby and me inexorably into its cold, dark depths.

"Don't let go, Jesus," I prayed, like my daughter, and clung tightly to Him. As I prayed last night, His love washed over me. I haven't been trusting Him. Doesn't He promise in His Word that He will lead me and His right hand will guide me? As I ran to Him in the dark middle of the night last night, His arms surrounded my spirit and His perfect love reminded me that He will not let my feet stumble.

In complete peace, I miraculously slept like a baby last night, sweetly resting in His love, His arms holding me tightly. Usually I toss and turn when I'm worried about something. This morning, I gazed out to the soggy street and dripping leaves, thinking about what is to come with this whole mess. I turned my head to see my daughter watching the mouse once again disappearing down the swirling toilet drain. She looked up at me, her eyes huge.

"It's just pretend, honey," I assured her for the umpteenth time as I hit the forward button on the remote. The fear left her eyes and she snuggled down in her Nap to watch her movie. Her belief in me and trust in my words of love took her fear away. In the same way as I re-read the promises in God's word I believe Him. I believe that He will hold me and keep me and my family safe. He will give us wisdom and guide our steps. He will provide for us when the budget loses its last penny and we have no more left. I believe Him, not because I am good at mental gymnastics (I'm not) but because I felt his love last night, huddled on the living room floor in the chilly quiet dark. It is that love that calms my fear and makes me ready to face the upcoming problems and trials. His perfect love casts out my fear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The Warrior is a Child

The Warrior is a Child
Twila Paris

Lately I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
'Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I needed to re-read this.

Psalm 139 (New International Version)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reader's Digest

Haven't started work yet...

August 22 Pick up and turn in application.

August 23 Get hired. I tell the manager I want to work non-business hours because of babysitting. Emphasize this point. She reassures me that I will work Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

September 1 (Saturday) First Aid/CPR training. So far, so good.

September 12 (during business hours) Background check and fingerprinting. I took the kids with me and it took over an hour to drive one block and do the ten-minute appointment.

September 17 (during business hours) Hubby makes a special trip home to watch the kids so I can go in and fill out paperwork. I go in but the manager does not have the paperwork she needs. She tells me to come back the next day.

September 18 I am not feeling well and send her an email. No response.

September 20 I leave a phone message. No response.

September 21 I intended to go in but Hubby was in Boston and things were so crazy it did not happen. I figured since I hadn't gotten a response that she either didn't know or didn't care anyway.

September 30 I send an email. Kids are sick and I can't go in. No response. I give up on trying to make contact and focus on getting my family healthy again.

October 7 (during business hours) At last we make contact. I call and actually talk to someone who knows what is going on. Hubby once again takes time off and I go in and do paperwork. I am told now that I will not be allowed to take the videos home and will need to come in to watch them sometime during the week.

October 10 Temporary secretary calls me wanting to set up time to view the videos. I ask if there is a time when hubby won't have to take time off and she arranges for this Saturday.

I still have not started work yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stack of Bowls

Years ago, I remember sitting in a women's group listening to my pastor talking about making her bed. She said that even though her days were crazy-busy and her kids make the house messy, she has a measure of peace if her beds are made.

This morning those words came back to me as I opened my cupboard door and gazed at the tall stack of bowls inside. Just a few weeks ago our household was going through a bowl crisis. Over and over I would open the cupboard and there would be no clean bowls. For some reason, I was unreasonably irritated by this fact. It seemed like unnecessary added stress on an already crazy life. Compounded by the fact that I get extremely grouchy when I am hungry, my constant dieting means that I have to be on guard against lashing out at my family over the stupidest little details. Instead I would sit and stew inside over not finding a clean bowl to have my minuscule 150-calorie bowl of Cheerios. (The dieting is working, though. I am down 20 pounds since summer.) Finally the irritation erupted out of me one night at hubby. I blamed the poor man for stealing our bowls and leaving them at work. It turned out that only one had disappeared in this manner. There were several others in the fridge and still others had apparently gotten lost in the move.

The next time we went to Wal-Mart, we tackled the problem with zeal. We bought four more bowls and also a package of Glad-ware to use in the fridge. We transferred the leftovers to the plastic containers and washed the bowls. We added the new ones. Now at any given time, even if some are in the dishwasher, there are at least six clean bowls in the cupboard. AAAAHHHHHH!

This morning, feeling so hungry I was dizzy, I went to obtain my usual Cheerios. Opening the cupboard, I smiled with relief as a tall stack of bowls stared back at me as if to say, "everything is really okay." I lifted one down and filled it with cereal. Yes, everything was fine. It may take something as simple as having clean bowls to bring a spot of peace to my day. That was all it took today. Like my pastor's tidy bed, those bowls remind me that no matter how many toys are strewn over the floor or how many times I have to send Natta to time-out or how whiny Seth gets, everything really is okay. I have my stack of clean bowls.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Monday, October 8, 2007

Typical Chaos

Taking a 1-year-old and 3-year-old to violin class is not for the faint of heart! Especially today. Although the lesson did not begin until 4:30, I started getting us ready to head out the door beginning at 3:00. Sleepy and tousle-haired, Curly Miss wandered out of her bedroom after her nap and was immediately shooed off to her potty chair. Little Mister, also looking bleary, was given a full warm bottle of formula while I ran around the house collecting violins, notebooks, a baby chair, the Nap, some toys and Puffs for Mister to munch. Stowing all of these useful and necessary items in the car, I added to the load a banana and a cup of milk for Curly Miss to drink in the car. Natalie by this time had emerged from the bathroom and was assisting me to load the car by removing items from my bag. The clock crept past 3:30.

At last both kids were buckled securely in their car seats and we were off. Two seconds later we were back, leaving the car running while I sprinted into the house to grab a clean diaper. Take two.

We sped through the drive-through at McDonald's where I obtained a Snack Wrap and an iced coffee. Curly happily chewed her banana and Mister slurped his bottle. The clock read 3:42.

With trepidation we entered the construction zone, aka Confusing Obstacle Course. Highway workers in hard hats gave half-hearted directions as we navigated the maze of orange cones. Stopping twice, we at last made it to Pullman at 4:17. Pulling into the parking lot I unloaded kids, violins, baby chair, purse, Nap, notebook, foot chart, toys and Puffs; then, feeling like a pack mule, I staggered inside the Methodist church.

Thankfully we arrived early in spite of all the delays so I sat on a bench in the foyer and waited for a class to clear out of our room. Mister, as soon as he was released, took off exploring, crawling interestedly into the sanctuary where a stack of hymnals tempted him. Natta followed me as I went to retrieve him. Chatting with other moms in the foyer I kept an eye on him as once again he attempted to escape into nearby open doors. Turning to look back at me, he let out a delighted giggle and crawled away again as quickly as he could.

A door slammed on the balcony above us and the class before ours was at last over. Like a salmon swimming upstream, I gathered my bundles and children and fought my way through a tide of downward-heading cellists who appeared to be about eight years old. We gained the landing and entered our classroom, already the temperature of a sauna from the previous group. I claimed a chair and used the calm before the class began to set Little Mister in his little chair and give him some Puffs and a few small toys. I considered the chair to be a stroke of genius on my part as it would keep him corralled while the lesson was going on. Curly Miss bustled around, setting up her foot chart and removing her cardboard violin from its dilapidated cardboard case. That thing has had a lot of loving already.

Her teacher, Mrs. B was busy handing out lessons and setting up her toys and tricks. She circled the class sticking stars on cardboard violins, tuning parental real violins and admonishing children to stand on their foot charts. I let out a breath. The class was underway.

As the lesson progressed, Curly got more and more distracted, declining to stand and participate in the group activity and stubbornly clutching her Nap. Through gritted teeth, I encouraged her in the nicest voice I could summon to re-join the class and do the activities her teacher demonstrated. At last she obeyed and to my delight she showed that she had the skill to complete all of the actions her teacher requested of the class.

Mister meanwhile was picking up his Puffs one at a time and strewing them around himself on the floor. He banged his toys on the tray, but didn't fuss. I was happy at how well he was doing. I noticed the teacher glance his way from time to time but since he wasn't hollering I didn't worry about it.

The lesson ended with the parents scraping out the notes of "Twinkle, Twinkle" on their full-sized violins while the released children delightedly played in the corner. I could not keep my years of teaching music to myself when the poor Asian lady next to me clearly had not understood a word of the teacher's frenzied instructions on correct violin-hand position. My attempt to quietly help her earned me a grateful smile from her and a sharp reprimand from the teacher. Feeling like the know-it-all class pest, I relapsed into silence, irritated. Finally the teacher offered her ending Japanese bow and we erupted into a clatter of cases and bows. Sweltering, we were thankful parents to be done and to open the door for a breath of air. I picked up Mister and cuddled him, happily impressed with his quiet play for an entire hour.

To my consternation, Mrs. B came up to me and began telling me as nicely as she could that he was a distraction and would I mind please using the provided childcare? I was completely taken aback. What childcare? You mean I have been dragging my poor baby to lesson after lesson and stressed myself out keeping him out of other parents' violin cases when there was CHILDCARE??? I had packed an entire baby equivalent of living room furniture across town when he could have been happily free in the care of a babysitter?? Why did I not know about this? Scraping my jaw off the floor, I hastily apologized for my son and scuttled out of the room with my daughter and armloads of stuff. I am pretty sure there was smoke emanating from my ears. I vaguely remembered the newsletter saying something about childcare but when I could not find the room and the teacher did not mention it, I assumed that they hadn't had enough babies and had abandoned the idea. I had even questioned another parent the week before and she had informed me that there was no childcare.

With forced sweetness I ushered my children into the car and navigated the obstacle course toward home. It was nearly 6:30 when we finally arrived in our driveway on the opposite side of Moscow. My wonderful husband had put the provided lasagna into the oven so a spicy dinner-smell wafted through the house. My reserve finally reached its breaking point and poor Curly, innocently removing a DVD from the player and covering it with small fingerprints received the brunt of my pent-up frustration. Shocked, her little face crumpled as I barked at her and she burst into tears, running sobbing into her room. Hubby looked up in surprise. I explained to him the whole long, frustrating story. He simply hugged me, sympathizing with the work of taking two small children to a different town and an hour-long lesson (the length of which comprises about twelve times the length of my daughter's attention span) and the aggravating series of miscommunications with the teacher. I knew the curriculum would need some adaptation because of Natta's tender years and I had thought myself equal to the task, but I had not expected something like this! After venting to him, I calmed down enough to coax Natta out of her room and apologize to her, cuddling her close and reiterating the rules about not touching DVD's.

Over a dinner of lasagna, pineapple and green salad, we discussed the fact that next week is bound to go better as Little Mister can go to childcare! Brilliant! It turns out that an obscure email attachment, sent the day before by not the teacher but the program secretary, begged parents not to bring babies into class but to use the provided nursery. I had glanced over it at midnight last night when we arrived back in town but hadn't read the letter-length attachment at that late hour. Little had I known what confusion that one missed email would bring my way! Now, hours later, when I have stopped fuming and I can laugh about the whole thing, I vow to myself to read EVERY email extremely carefully from now on!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Look What Came In the Mail Today!

We got this out just long enough to take a picture and admire it; then to Curly's disappointment we put it back in the case to await private lesson time!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fall Happenings

Little Mister-man is 11 months old now. I can hardly believe how the time has flown. This week he has another cold. He seems to be sick a lot this fall, which is a bummer. He's still a happy little guy though. He pulls himself up and walks along whatever furniture or wall he can find.

His favorite game right now is "chase". He crawls as fast as he can down the hall, baiting us to chase him. When we catch him and tickle him, his happy giggle fills the room. He plays this with the kids at the tree-slide too.

Curly made a tent out of a big cardboard box. She also dug out her pumpkin shirt from last year. For some reason, she absolutely loves "happy face pumpkins". She even talked us into buying a plastic pumpkin at the store last night. Now she carries it around with all of her favorite toys in it.

A Very Short Camping Trip

Friday afternoon my phone rang. "Do you want to go camping this weekend?" My best friend asked eagerly. Did I ever!!! After arranging with hubby to watch the kids for me for an afternoon, I was set. Sunday we'd go Day-Camping.

Since she had some work to do at church during the Sunday School hour, we decided to meet at 10:30 at her house. I took the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee then ran errands like putting gas in the Stinky Banana Car and obtaining the camping box from the storage unit. I accomplished this task with less trouble than expected, considering the box was buried under a dresser. After a quick trip to WinCo to pick up hot dogs, I was off.

After navigating the construction, I pulled into her street only 15 minutes late, which wasn't too bad, considering I'd left the house 1/2 hour later than I'd meant to. She was ready to go. We loaded my stuff, got the dogs and set off, stopping only briefly at the Daily Grind.

We set our sights on our favorite campground, McCrosky Park. The problem was that it had been two years since we had approached it from the west. After consulting a map of Washington, we made it through the village of Farmington and out into the fields. Since we could see the hill covered with trees that was our goal, we blindly meandered on any road we could find heading that direction. Our haphazard technique worked, however and soon we were climbing into steeply tree-covered foothills. At last we were driving along the crest of the ridge, aptly named Skyline Drive. Brilliant fall colors shone from the foliage and white-tailed deer flashed their flags at us as they bounded away down the hill. Through breaks in the trees the Palouse with its rolling patchwork quilt of fields lay gleaming gold below us. Through the misty distance the far mountains rose silent and gray like so many waiting sentinels.

Stopping at an unused fire pit we proceeded to set up camp. S's first priority was to take her camera and head down the road in search of a vista. Mine was more mundane: I needed to visit a tree, if you get my drift. This accomplished, I set about starting our campfire. In true Survivoresque fashion I must needs use my flint rather than the more convenient matches. Even so, within minutes I had a cheery blaze and my frying pan was soon filled with hamburger patties and hot dogs.

The weather, which had looked like it would rain at any minute, broke into sunshine as we sat down to eat, tempting my camera-happy friend to go take pictures while the light was good. She decided to eat first. Of course as soon as she was done, menacing clouds obscured the sun and for the rest of the afternoon we sat under ever darkening dreary skies.

Since we were ten miles from the nearest town, I dragged out my bagpipes. My Scottish friend highly approved and for the next half hour we took turns wheezing and moaning with great gusto. I do have to say, my rendition of Amazing Grace at the end was not half bad. The rain finally put a stop to the piping. I stowed the pipes safely in the truck then we huddled in our coats in front of the fire, talking and playing Boggle.

As we sat and talked, two guys drove by in an enormous white pickup truck. Instead of continuing on their merry way, the backed up and got out to say hi. The dogs, going into guard mode barked furiously at them, but undeterred they sauntered up to our fire, obviously wondering what two females were doing alone on a Sunday afternoon in a rainstorm. Politely we made small-talk, wondering if they planned to stay all afternoon. S's dog Tres decided to make friends but Piper continued to yap as though her life depended on it. Finally they found out that we were married and not interested in a further relationship so they took their beer bottles, got back in their truck and drove away. S and I breathed a sigh of relief then laughed as we thought they had probably been hopeful that we were hot WSU chicks. Too bad for them.

The afternoon wore away and we re-packed the frying pan and poured water on the fire which had gallantly withstood the drizzling rain. Driving back down to town was a delightful ride through the twilight, both of us still chattering merrily. One last stop at Daily Grind again, this time to split a cinnamon roll and the wonderful end to a perfect day had come. Resuming the chilly front seat of my own car, I once again entered the construction zone on the highway. I discovered that the dark rainy night all but obscured the road, save when the blinding headlights glared off the shiny new pavement. Terrified, I inched my way along, stubbornly ignoring the insistent headlights of the tailgater in my rear-view mirror. It was with a profound sense of relief that I entered the tunnel of glowing streetlights that marked the edge of my own town.

When I pulled up to my own door, I was greeted with adorable babies in the midst of their bath and a living room that betokened a day of wild play. I grinned and headed down the hall to help with bath time, pulling off a smoky-smelling sweatshirt as I went. My camping trip may have only an afternoon but it was time to talk with my friend, time that I could be just an adult and not worry about caring for my family. Time to be carefree for a few precious hours. What a beautiful day.

Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wisdom from "Finding Nemo"

It's possible to learn about every subject right here in one movie!

Math: Three sharks have 4800 teeth.

Sociology: "See a man about a wallaby" is Aussie for use the loo.

Life Lesson: Friends trust each other.

Biology: Sea turtles live to be 150 years old.

Geology: The zones of the sea are: "There's epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathyal, abyssalpelagic, all the rest are too deep for you and me to see!"

Language: "Let me try humpback. That sounded a little Orcaish."

Art: "Look! Scum angel!" - Peach

Navigation: All drains lead to the ocean.

Geography: If you follow the East Australian Current for oooh, about three weeks it'll put you right past Sydney.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Parts of the Violin

Curly was practicing today before she even got dressed!