Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day Miracle

Today's events can only be described as miraculous. Some of the news will have to wait, but the part I am going to share is jaw-dropping to me. God is so good!

Almost since we bought this trailer nearly six years ago, we have been trying to re-sell it. We have posted ads, hung flyers, reduced our price... nada. So this spring, when we decided we were looking for a house, the idea of selling this place seemed impossible. I prayed that we would sell it before we moved. Actually I went out on a limb faith-wise and prayed that not only would it sell, but it would sell for a good price (more than $8,000) and it would sell soon so we would not have to worry but that we would not have to move until the semester ended. I didn't quite know how God would even do that but I laid my needs and wants on the table.

We did the usual posting classifieds, pictures, website, flyers... and waited.

Oh, I also sent an email to the church announcement list. Today a young man showed up at my doorstep who had seen that announcement via HIS church email. He liked the place so much he offered $9,000 for it and asked me if it was ok to wait to close until the end of May. I just about fainted. OKAY?!?!?!

Once he left I danced around the room (not literally, the babies were asleep) and thanked God from the bottom of my heart. Then I repented for not trusting Him more.

We are getting out of trailer-land for good. What an amazing feeling.

In farewell celebration, I have for you a lovely picture:

Redneck Condo
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I'll miss this ol' place. NOT! :D

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bye-bye Sickies!

Natta and Seth finally both feel better. Seth was only sick for two days, thank Heaven. But his spectacular mess in the car made up for several benign messes in his high chair! Wow! We still have his car seat cover in the dryer.

Natta finally wants to eat again. She has settled on chicken nuggets as her food of choice. She went from eating a variety of healthy food to only accepting chicken nuggets. Period. Ok, she'll eat some applesauce with them. I figure they are protein and bread so if I can entice her to eat some broccoli or green beans with them then at least we have four of the food groups!

House update: hmmm.... still looking. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Better possibilities

My fears are laid to rest since we looked at the other two places. They both were great! What a contrast from earlier today. They both had updated kitchens, nice new paint everywhere and didn't need any work.

The Cottage, on third street, is right across the street from the entrance arch to East City Park. It had darling 1920's glass doorknobs and beautiful hardwood floors. There were two bedrooms and two more spaces that could be used as bedrooms although they weren't "official". The location, just a few blocks from downtown would put us right in the middle of the action, especially during Rendezvous and Renaissance Faire, which would be both annoyingly noisy and also fun. The biggest drawback beside the traffic was the fact that the washer and dryer were down in the basement past a flight of stairs so low and twisted you almost had to crabwalk to get down them.

The Condo, on North Lincoln, looked great too. Although it was as vanilla as could be in character, it had so much space! The living room with a cathedral ceiling and hardwood floors was open to a wide stairway leading to three big bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen and dining area had a washer/dryer just off to the side. A nice big deck opened onto a fenced back yard. We timed the drive back into Campus and it clocked out at 7 minutes: not bad at all.

Because of the space, the newness and the price, I am really leaning toward the condo. Since it is just a duplex, there are no homeowner association fees, just a collaboration with the neighbor for maintenance issues. One of my "must haves", a wood stove, could be installed. Although I like the charm of the 3rd street house, I feel like the practical condo would make life so much easier that it might be worth it.

Hubby and I need to talk some more and think some more about it. It is possible something else might come along too. We'll see!

Life: Always Interesting, Seldom Easy

Just before putting on the kids' coats to go out the door, I discovered that my laptop had died again. I was now back to using the old lappy, which had not even been put away yet, I am so behind. In this case it has been useful and I whipped it out to check my email.

Once the kids were coated and shod, I buckled their car seats and headed off to McDonald's and then to pick up Hubby. We had an appointment at 11:30 to look at the first two houses, the Rental and the Grandpa House. After procuring Chicken Nuggets in the family pack size, I met Hubby at work and we set off. We had five minutes to stop by the gas station then meet our realtor.

Seth took this opportunity to throw up. And I don't mean a spit-up, I mean a several-gallon flood of sour, stinky...well, you get the picture. It covered his car seat, his clothes, the back seat of the car and my purse. Obviously Natalie had shared her flu bug much more willingly than she shares her toys. I panicked and began driving in circles. Hubby calmly told me to go to the service station where he bought a roll of paper towels and began damage control. We were near the Mall and I ran into Ross to get some clean clothes, something I was kicking myself for not bringing with me. When I emerged, a naked baby sat joyfully in the back of our station wagon and hubby had used about 453 paper towels on the car seat.

Praising God for the invention of cell phones, we hurried on to meet our patient realtor some 20 minutes late and went into the Grandpa House. It was an absolute dump. Disappointment filled me, since that one was a good price and the best location. But it was hardly worth our time to look at it. No updates, large foundation cracks, old, drafty windows, lots of cosmetic defects. It was terrible. I held my chattering daughter's hand, wondering if there would be a house in our price range worth seeing. We exited quickly, to get away from the musty old house and drove quickly to the nearby C street house.

This one at least had some new paint slapped on the side although whoever had done it didn't bother to scrape the peeling old paint off before they set to work. We entered and noticed that this one was in much more livable condition although everything still was very old. Instead of mold, this house smelled of the gas and heat was pumping from the giant, old heater in the middle of the main room.

Like the house we had in Clarkston, this house had no dining room to speak of and the bedrooms were small. The apartment downstairs had a tiny, closet-sized kitchen and partial bath. I think the best way to describe it would be "I'd live there if there was nothing else." With the promise of other tours after work, I dropped Hubby back at work and headed home, tucking my pale baby into bed with a bottle of Pedialyte.

Now, during the quiet of naptime, I will take some medicine in an attempt to stave off the migraine nagging at my left temple and try to clear my mind of houses, headaches, broken computers and sick kids to study for my test. Or maybe I'll just take a nap too.

Help me shop!

Which house am I going to get? Here are four that are good possibilities. Each one has pros and cons, of course.

1. The Cottage

Pros: It is really cute, new kitchen, extra space in unfinished basement, close to downtown
Cons: busiest street in town, lots of stairs

2. The Rental

Pros: nice and big
Cons: shabby, as far as I can tell

3. The Grandpa House

Pros: metal roof, hubby could walk to work, semi-quiet street, cheaper price
Cons: house and windows are old and would need some work. Yard is dinky.

4. The Condo

Pros: Lower payments, good condition
Cons: It's a condo, come on! Also not convenient location. Too far north.


Still, they are good choices. What's a girl to do? Ask her friends for help of course! :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why I have not written as much lately

1. Natta is sick. She loses her cookies several times a day and has been since Saturday. Hubby and I administer Pedialyte and do lots of laundry.

2. We found out last night that in order for Dad to avoid paying capital gains tax we need to shop for a house RIGHT NOW. We're looking at several this week.

3. Since listing the trailer on Craigslist last week we have had 6 calls asking about it and have shown it once.

4. I have my second test this week in Calculus.

5. Hubby and I went on a spontaneous trip this weekend, which meant Mom got the brunt of the Natta ickies. Poor Mom, poor Natta. Our trip was so great, though, and such a needed getaway together.

6. In spite of feeling sick, Natta opted to go ahead and play her first violin solo at recital day yesterday. She played Open String Blues and did super. Way to go Natta!

7. This is all on top of the usual kids and housework and Hubby's job and violin practicing and (not) keeping up on my web jobs, my braille class and my bagpipes.

WHEW! You know, I have to remember it sure is better than laying in bed, sick and unable to do anything day after day, like I was at this time a year or so ago. :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tag, you're it

On Monday, we came home to discover the Fed-Ex delivery fairy (a cousin of the tooth fairy, I think) had visited our house intending to leave my laptop, but since we were not home she left a slip of paper on the doorknob which was covered with barcodes and writing which said we could either go pick up our package in Lewiston, where we had just been all weekend, or wait until tomorrow for a new attempt at delivery. An entire day. Since I would be home most of the next day, I opted for the latter and waited not-so-patiently for my lappy to arrive.

Although I fully intended to leave the signed slip on the door, in the rush of getting ready for preschool on Tuesday, I forgot. As Murphy's law would have it, the delivery person arrived while I was in town for a few minutes and left another barcode-covered slip on the doorknob. I saw it first when I got home, took it promptly inside, signed it an replaced it on the door. Then I settled down for another day of using the old lappy.

Wednesday came around. For much of the morning we lolled in our pajamas watching movies because Wednesday is our "relax and recoup" day; the one day where we don't have to go into town we spend the day catching up on household chores and I spend time on the computer doing web work. Toward the middle of the morning I hopped into the shower. If the package arrived, the signed slip on the door would ensure it stayed here.

It turned out the delivery lady waited until just after my shower when I had on only a bathrobe. The knock at the door caused Piper to erupt into loud barking, then Seth had to rush over to the door, attempting to open it himself, which he almost can manage. Rather than allow him to succeed, I opened it myself, smiling as though I was not in my bathrobe and three days behind on receiving my parcel.

The delivery lady turned out to be really nice. We both said "Whew, you're (I'm) home" at the same time then laughed at each other. I obligingly signed her machine and accepted my package. With alacrity I carried my box into the house containing my wonderful lappy. I would have to wait until the evening since it currently lacked a hard drive, a fairly essential piece of operating equipment.

Hubby arrived home from work and right away he re-installed the hard drive as well as the battery. We held our breaths as we booted it; it did not even hiccup but booted successfully right away. It was fixed! I have my own lappy back at last! There were all my pictures and webpage tools, saved on the hard drive my hubby. There were my bookmarks, looking up at me like old friends.

Everything seems about back to normal. Magnet is back, my lappy is back. We can continue our crazy life as if nothing had happened. Except... I have a feeling that the respite from Happenings is short-lived!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Work and Play

Life lately has been pleasantly busy. Website design work continues to trickle in. I made a banner ad to place on other people's sites to advertise my business. So far, I am still mostly word-of-mouth but a few friends offered to put an ad on their site. Here's my ad, linked to my site:

Whistlererin, web design

Calculus continues to go well. I love going to class. Walking around on campus yesterday in the sunshine was sheer delight. The pagan practice of worshiping the sun to me makes so much sense to me during the month of February. The sight of that glorious warmth spilling over a tired winter landscape fills the heart with wonder. Not that any of you who read my blog should get your knickers in a twist because I'm not going off the religious deep end. But the sun, after a long, gray winter feels fantastic!

Seth's personality has been blossoming out like the spring sun. He chatters and babbles, commenting on just about everything. His sister can do no wrong and he imitates her imaginative play. He especially likes to play "eating" where he stirs imaginary food in a dish then mimes eating it. He drives toy cars around the floor, making "brrrrmmmmm" noises. He still shows mechanical aptitude, taking lids off and putting them back on. This weekend he figured out how to get the lid off of a partially filled water bottle, to the detriment of his clothes and the floor!

Natalie has become much more affectionate lately. She discovered that hugs and kisses not only bring smiles but she tries to use them to manipulate her way out of trouble. The wheels are always turning in her little head, coming up with all sorts of schemes. She and her preschool mates like to role-play, a practice which has been implemented at home as well. She usually is "Lightning McQueen" while we are supposed to be other characters from the movie.

This coming Monday, she will perform "Open String Blues" on her violin for Solo Day with Hubby accompanying on guitar. Her teacher is thrilled with the fact that her Daddy will accompany her, a rare occurrence in our Suzuki group. They have been practicing every day and I'm sure the performance will be a hoot, especially since she still needs to count out loud to maintain her correct place in the music.

Hubby's job has been especially exciting this spring. I am so glad he loves his job. In the past he has had jobs where he is miserable, but this one keeps him on his toes. He has gone from maintaining a database to converting recorded class lectures to streaming video on the web, initiating a new web-based remote classroom program. His boss is so impressed with his work that he has been recommended for a job reclassification, resulting in a nice raise and more career recognition. I am very proud of him.

We both are still excited about the prospect of moving to a "real" house this year. In order to advertise the trailer, I created a website with the info on it. Now we're hanging posters around town and putting ads in the classifieds in hopes of attracting some interest. It won't sell until this summer, of course, when the students are looking for housing, but it doesn't hurt to get it out there now. We have tried on and off to unload this place for four years and have never had any success. I pray that we are able to get rid of it this time and be done with it once and for all!

That ended up being a novel-length update on our lives. What a change from a year ago when I was still so sick and felt as though there was nothing going on to write about. This promises to be an interesting year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Getting Back on Track

The three-day weekend saw me down at Mom and Dad's house for a few days. I have to say, although I love visiting them, my diet has suffered terribly. In spite of refusing food right and left (an extra slice of pizza, McDonald's breakfast, a tea cake with lunch, mayo on my fish etc.) I discovered this morning that I am up three pounds. I admit, it is entirely my fault, especially the movie popcorn yesterday afternoon... But I had fondly hoped that packing Seth up and down the stairs over and over would burn a few calories.

This is something I do not understand about my body. With hard work and intense amounts of portion control and calorie counting, I can shed three pounds in about 4-5 weeks. But a weekend at my parents' house can add those pounds right back in as little as two days. That is so weird!

So, it's back to work. I have been exercising more lately, which feels super. In my mind I have been going over the frozen broccoli we bought and thinking cheerily about my rice cooker. I'll get those darn three pounds back off if hard work can do it.

Meanwhile, my tummy is growling. Bummer. Maybe a cup of tea will pacify it... :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pictures of the table I built

1. Little Mister and I install the hardware on the underside of the table. I put a work glove on because the screwdriver was making blisters on my palm. Mister thought the screwdriver was a VERY cool toy.

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2. Mister was a BIG help in putting it together. Well, for such a little guy...

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3. The finished table!

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4. The kids tried it out and decided it was just right. I covered it with a plastic tablecloth so the contact paper didn't get ripped. It was a good thing I did because Curly Miss spilled on it first thing.

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5. We moved it to its final location in the dining room. Here are the kids eating lunch on it today. For a treat, they shared a microwave dinner with fun fruity bugs. EWWWW!!!

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Where are our priorities?

One of the blogs I read recently told of a man from India who has helped lead thousands of people to the Lord. Here is the post, which also tells how the man's church, the one he attends in the States, has put him on their missionary budget for $1,000 a year.

My heart sank as I read this. Our family's tithe, although meagre, amounts to quite a bit more than $1,000 a year. We are not a multi-million-dollar suburban church but a single family who actually got a tax credit this year for being below a certain income. Yet we could give more to this man's work than he is getting from his church. The church in question, like so many American churches is enthusiastically planning to build a large new suburban church building so that its "seeker sensitive" message will sit more palatably on the tongues of pampered middle-class Americans.

The churches here are doing the same thing. The church I used to attend is struggling under the weight of a building much too big for the congregation. My parents' church has scheduled the construction of a huge new lobby and coffee area for its current building.

This kind of thing makes me a little bit sick to my stomach. Our family has toned down its giving to the church and instead we give directly to a mission or charity. For the pastor's sake we give some to the church and it helps that our new church has a small, modest building and fewer administrative expenses.

What is wrong with our churches? When did coffee bars become so vital? Is it truly the only way that we can entice unsaved Americans into our churches: to make them so fancy and comfortable that they are acceptable places to sit our overfed derrières? Meanwhile the people right here in my trailer court won't set foot in them because they can't see that the people in these churches even care about them. You hear lots of announcements about fundraisers for a new cappuccino machine, but you never hear about a church paying the rent of a family in town for six months as their new baby is in the hospital.

Do I sound a little bitter? Perhaps the fact that our family has fought sometimes to buy diapers and pay rent while at church we notice that the pastor's desk cost more than our trailer has something to do with it. I'm not passing judgement, just wondering where our priorities really are. I am not sure Jesus had "keeping up with the Joneses" on his list of church budget priorities. The cappuccino machines are supposed to attract people to the Lord, but if people are only coming to church for the coffee, you gotta wonder...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Woman In A Man's World

My car pulled away from the preschool building, the weak, winter sun glinting off the windshield. My son, now the sole occupant of the back seat held a small pink heart-shaped eraser in his hand, a cherished treasure belonging to his sister who had not been allowed to take it into her class. Little Mister confiscated it and now held it gleefully in his chubby fist.

Instead of going home, I mentally ran through the list of stores in town, wishing I has some kind of errand to run. We had just been to the department store and the grocery store during the weekend, the two places that furnish our home with basic supplies. Suddenly I recalled that I had wanted to check some prices at one of the local hardware stores. For months now I have wanted to get my kids a toddler table and chair set, which unfortunately cost several hundred dollars on sites like Amazon. I wondered if the building supply place would have the materials to make a table more cost effectively.

Ever since I worked there I have loved going back. I love doing projects, building and creating things out of wood and paint. I enjoy talking to old co-workers, many of whom still work there. I pulled into the parking lot and extracted my cheerful baby from his car seat. Once inside I stuffed him into a shopping cart and headed off to look at table legs.

As I passed the counter, the man there looked from me to the baby and asked, "May I help you find what you're looking for?" with an expression that implied if I attempted to navigate the store by myself I might end up completely lost in the caulk aisle and begin shrieking for help. Rather than explain that not only did I used to work there but I probably arranged the aisle in question and programmed the computer to print the bin tags for it, I merely thanked him and said "No."

Ten feet further I was accosted by another employee, this one a woman, asking if she could help me. "No thanks," I answered. I pushed my baby-filled shopping cart toward the table legs once again and heard the inevitable, "May I help you ma'am?" before I had gotten twenty more feet. Looking around at the males in the store happily browsing in respected peace and tranquility, I gritted my teeth. "No thanks. I know where I'm going."

I got to my aisle at last, looked at table legs and actually decided to purchase the materials to make a table. Out in the lumber yard, I hunted down a yard monkey and selected a scrap of particle board for the top. He quoted me the price of $1.00 for the piece. I thanked him and headed to the register to pay for my items. The woman there looked at me as if I had two heads when I described the scrap of lumber to her. "It's a closeout," I said. "The guy in the back said I could have the scrap of particle board for a dollar." Unconvinced, she must needs radio to the back to make sure that I had told the truth, asking the yard monkeys about my "plywood", and ended up charging me $1.50. I thought wistfully of the days when I had worked there and the guys who came through the line were assumed to know the difference between particle board and plywood.

Eventually I bought the stuff, which came to $30, picked up my scrap of wood and headed home. I got out two screwdrivers (one for me and one for Little Mister) and we got to work. It took 45 minutes to screw the hardware to the particle board piece, attach the legs and cover the top with contact paper, in spite of Mister's help. Soon I had a sturdy, cute little table. Little Mister highly approved, testing it out by climbing on top of it.

Soon it was time to go to class. I dropped the baby off with Hubby who was scheduled to pick Natta up from Preschool as well. I trudged up the hill and entered my classroom where of the 45 students, maybe 6 were female. The teacher passed back our tests and to my delight I found my score quite acceptable. It was most likely better, in fact, than the 39 guys sitting all around me.

Reflecting on my day, I found myself somewhat irritated by the fact that nearly every person I encountered today treated me as though I had the mental capacity of a goldfish just because I was carrying a baby. The civil rights movement may have opened opportunities for women but it has done little, I think, to change the underlying assumptions that women are less ambitious or intelligent than men. Chatting with a friend the other day about taking Calculus, she casually mentioned that her mother had warned her, "Don't be smarter than the guys."

I don't want to fight a civil rights battle. I just want to be myself and build tables when the whim strikes. Unfortunately I have a feeling that this won't be the last time I'll encounter this phenomenon, of being a woman in a man's world. I guess the way to educate them will be to do my best and show them that success doesn't depend on gender but on skill and work ethic.

See pictures here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

When the screen goes blank

Unexpectedly in the middle of watching a Netflix movie last night my laptop died. Kaput. And even a call to the customer service people at Hewlett Packard did not revive it for more than a few minutes. All day today as I dragged out Hubby's old laptop which runs Windows 98, I have felt as though I was missing my left arm. I was unable to watch my online video lectures as they use Quicktime which won't install on anything older than Windows XP. All of my bookmarks were missing; my pictures of my kids were gone. I feel as though I am in mourning.

Hubby, after making a trip to the storage unit where the filing cabinet lives, called HP also and discovered that my lappy is still under warranty. In fact we bought it February 14, 2007 so we squeaked in under the wire. Lucky, I'd say, or blessed. To cut a long story short, Hewlett Packard is sending us a box, which will ship back to them with my computer in it in four days. They will receive, fix and return my lappy in two weeks at the soonest.

Two weeks? Sniff. Two weeks without my computer that I use for everything? Oh dear. Sigh. Oh well. I'm glad hubby had this old one. It's like keeping your old pair of glasses in case the new ones get broken. Sometimes those old pairs that sit around gathering dust in the back of the bathroom cupboard really come in handy. Same with this old nineties laptop. At the very least it has internet, which feeds my ongoing addiction to blogging. And now I am counting down the days to the time when I will have my own lappy back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Art Photography

What makes a photo fall under the category of "art"?

Alex Hedison is an Art Photographer; this is one of her pieces in her "elements" series. She makes OODLES of money selling this stuff to rich L.A. people.




Here's a picture I took by accident the other day trying to photograph the snow. Man, I need to get myself an agent!!!

Valentine's Picture

Saturday, February 9, 2008

New Friends

Attending a new church gives ample opportunity for new friendships to form. In this case, a couple we met at the marriage retreat came to our house for dinner. Their kids are the same ages and genders as our so we felt as though we were seeing double as two little girls and two small boys ran around playing with the toys.

Natta was thrilled to make friends. She tried to initiate E into the wonders of Thomas the train, but E, having none of it, insisted on playing dolls. The two compromised at the play kitchen and delight reigned.

J, the little boy, was fascinated with our birds. He kept going over to pound on the sides of the birdcage, much to the consternation of my parakeets. After a discipline from his Daddy, he decided to just watch them.

Around the noise and bustle of the children, we adults chatted, getting to know each other and sharing histories. K and J work full-time with Campus Crusade so they had lots of stories to share. They have been overseas on short-term missions trips as well. We enjoyed cooking a special dinner (shish-kabobs) and having the company and conversation.

I love making friends. A person can never have too many friends, in my opinion. And though I don't see some friends as often as I'd like, I still count them in my ever widening circle. Tonight it widened yet again to include more new friends.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Two new teeth

Tonight I followed my pajama-clad children into the bathroom, intent on the task at hand of brushing 25 tiny teeth. To my great joy, I discovered a 26th. Seth has a new tooth poking up from his bottom gum, bringing his personal tooth total to six. For many moons he possessed only four teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom. Now as he approaches his sixteen month birthday he finally is acquiring more, a fact which pleases me to no end as he has such trouble eating. His body needs more foods than his gummy mouth can handle. From his swollen gums and constant drool-riddled fussing, he apparently plans to cut all of them simultaneously.

Daubing the new toothbrushes with non-fluoride, fruit-flavored baby toothpaste I set to work. Natta brushes her own teeth every other night. Tonight was her turn. Yesterday she had obediently opened her rosebud mouth, exposing twenty gorgeous pearly teeth for me to scrub. Tonight she solemnly performed the operation herself while I attempted to clean Seth's chompers. Since his newest acquisition had just today pierced the gum, it was still sore and he frowned at me trying to disturb it with the brush. His little tongue pushed the nasty brush away and he shook his head. I persevered and after four attempts to penetrate the tongue defense I gave up. I brushed his top teeth and made a mental note to do the bottom ones especially well in the future.

Often hubby brushes their teeth, since the process somehow got hooked onto bath time. Tonight, however, I found it to be a lot of fun. Their new toothbrushes have characters on them and the kids looked so cute lined up side by side in front of the sink. All too soon they were finished and rinsed and headed out to the living room for their nightly bottle and story before being tucked into bed. I hope Seth gets a few days of respite before the next tooth pushing its way through his poor, red gums necessitates more teething tablets and Tylenol.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pendulum

Good: Down two pounds this morning.

Bad: Seth is teething. Still.

Good: I am ready for my Calc test tomorrow.

Bad: Calc test tomorrow. Ugh.

Good: Got to see "Juno" three times this week.

Bad: Angry wind-gods woke me at 5:24 this morning and refused to let me resume sleeping. They tried to tip over the trailer.

Good: It didn't tip.

Bad: I was mad at hubby.

Good: We talked.

Bad: Magnet-cat has gone missing again. (Hole's open this time.)

Good: Mom's staying again as the Wind-gods succeeded in closing highway 95.

Bad: The Avista bill was $216.76 this month.

Good: Natta has been giving me hugs voluntarily for the first time in her life. She isn't a touchy-feely person.

Bad: The weather!

Good: We'll get to shop for a house this spring.

Bad:

Good:

Bad:

Good:

Tick.

Tock.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry that I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Off To Preschool

Three-year-old Natta goes to Preschool twice a week at a Lutheran Church. Today, being Tuesday, was finally a Preschool day and she was thrilled! She was ready to go the minute she awoke this morning. A gentle reminder about the necessity of getting dressed and she consented to at least get ready first. I tried allowing her to choose her clothes today. First she chose a pink shirt with hearts on it. So far, so good. But next she added some pajama bottoms sporting garish pictures of Elmo and I realized that she may need some additional guidance. We compromised on the pink shirt and a pair of jeans then went to work putting everything on. She can almost dress herself but she likes help from Mommy as it is much more efficient and she is amazingly impatient.

Once clothed, she had to wait for Mommy to take a shower and get ready, for Baby Seth to be clothed and changed, for bottles to be made, for laundry to be started and for the car to be warmed. At last it was time to go. She wavered on whether she ought to take her Nap or leave it at home. It lives in her cubby while she's in Preschool, so she decided to take it. She ended up leaving it in the car.

We buckled everyone in their car seats then drove across town to the church. She hung her coat on her own hook labeled with her name which she recognizes by herself. We greeted her teacher, Teacher M, and her friends who were busily playing with puzzles. The room, a large, sunny space boasts a big doll house, a cozy book corner filled with soft rugs and bean bags, a fish tank, two Parakeets and shelves of blocks, toys, puzzles and drawing materials.

Without a backward glance, she joined her friends in constructing puzzles and to my delight, I heard her say, "Would you like to share this one with me?" Aaah, she was absorbing the niceties of friendship and social skills. I glanced over the February newsletter that told of the theme of the month which was occupations. The children would play dress-up, most likely. I wondered how Natta would like that and decided she most likely would try to dress up as a truck driver. My feminine-looking daughter who this morning was arrayed with two curly ponytails and painted fingernails still scorns Princess and instead opts for trains, race cars and heavy machinery. I can't blame her. When I was growing up, I found Legos and Tonka Trucks infinitely more exciting than dresses and dolls, which don't have any moving parts. Maybe it's fitting that I'm studying to be an engineer.

I scooped up Seth who was inspecting the table full of puzzles and kissed my daughter on the top of her silky head. Her ponytails bobbed as she turned to say good bye then she quickly resumed her activity. Joy filled me as I watched her, so interested and happy. I want to equip my children to be successful in life, in friendships, in their jobs. Seeing her enjoying her school and her friends assures me that she is on a good road where she can take her place in a fast-paced world someday. I picture her there now, chattering to her friends and her teacher, learning to take turns, singing songs, learning letters and colors, talking about Jesus. I smile to picture her enthusiasm and laugh to myself as I remember Hubby's stories of going to pick her up and having her say, "Oh, Daddy, you're here but I don't want to leave yet!" Yep, I think she loves her school.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Movie Review: Juno

Something happened for the first time ever at a movie. I cried twice. I never cry at movies, but this quirky little film moved me to tears not once but twice.

Hubby had heard good things about this show and though it is out of our usual adventure genre, we decided to give it a try. Somewhere between comedy and tearjerker, Juno stole my heart. It's nominated for four Oscars and I hope it wins every single one of them, not just for its strong anti-abortion theme but for its merit of outstanding writing and acting. Ellen Page played spunky Juno to perfection, for which she also is nominated for an Academy Award.

I won't post spoilers here, so my review is doomed to be short, but I have not enjoyed a movie quite this much in a long time. I feel as though I have new friends who ought to be just a short phone call away. The characters seemed so real and believable it is hard not to imagine them continuing to live their lives somewhere right now. The director pegged the experiences of high school, of family, of longing, of dreams all so thoroughly that I when the movie ended it was almost a shock to come back to myself and my own life after walking in Juno's shoes for a while. And what places her black Converse shoes went! This is a movie where I might actually buy the DVD and watch it over, which is a rare thing for me to say.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up! :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cabin Fever

The power went out for three long hours last night. Unexpectedly the house plunged into darkness about 7:30, cutting off Simba singing "I just can't wait to be King" in mid-phrase. Curly Miss screamed with terror, falling blindly off her chair. Panic filled her voice and I rushed to her, taking her trembling body in my arms. Hubby, rummaging in a drawer for a flashlight, called out to her and Mama T. held Little Mister, who seemed to think that since Curly was screaming the entire world must be about to end in crashing disaster.

The flashlight flicked on and Curly's death grip on my neck relaxed the fraction of an inch. Hubby and I lit oil lamps and candles. We sat around on the couch, holding the kids, chatting. I realized that bedtime would come soon and with it the need for warm milk. Mister refuses to drink it cold, a fact that suddenly presented a major obstacle as the microwave, stove and oven were all electric. Finally I jury-rigged a temporary grill over a large green decorative candle which drifted the sweet scent of sour apple around the kitchen. Pouring the milk into a pan, I set it over the triple flame and stirred gently. Twenty minutes later the milk had heated sufficiently to be poured into bottle and sippy cup and presented to tired children.

Once they went to bed, Mom, Hubby and I played a game of Scrabble by candlelight then went to bed. The house after two hours had cooled to 65 from 72 and I began to worry in earnest. I covered the babies warmly, reflecting that a power outage would be fun if we had a wood stove. The house looked like "Little House on the Prairie" with the candlelight and the huge drifts of snow outside, but the dropping temperature awoke an anxiety in my heart that made all of the adventure not-so-fun. I resolved once again to put a wood stove high on my list of amenities in a new house once we begin looking again.

Later, as we snuggled into bed after digging all of the extra blankets out of the antique cedar chest, the lights flickered back on and the furnace roared to life. The water in the toilet sputtered and whistled as the well pump revived and resumed operations. Hubby and I breathed a sigh of relief and went to blow out the rest of the candles.

This morning as the sun shone on sparkling white drifts we decided we'd had enough. I had been stuck at home since Monday night and Hubby and Mom had been in the house since Wednesday night. In spite of the Weather Pages screaming another winter storm warning, Mom braved the snow-packed highway home since work was closed and there was a break in the weather.

Hubby and I took the kids to the Tree Slide. Other parents also had the same idea and our kids had a ball running around with the many other little people getting some exercise. All of the energy they'd accumulated while cooped up all week came boiling out in one joyous, activity-filled morning. They chased each other screaming in circles. They slid down the slide and lined up in a long, not-so-patient line to jump off the nose of the big Frog. They pretended they were mermaids in the river next to the toy canoe. They built a house in the tunnel under the slide. While they were there, I popped into Safeway next door where the school closure had created almost a holiday atmosphere. Everywhere we looked businesses were closed, but people still drove around town, enjoying the reprieve from the blizzards that would later drive them back indoors.

This afternoon the sun still shines, as if in mockery of the weatherman's predictions for another heavy storm. When it comes, we'll be ready with jugs of water and candles and the memory of sunshine sparkling on fields of white snowdrifts.