Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stocking Up

We sold a trailer yesterday that we owned for a couple of years. Not a trailer-home-house as Natta puts it but a little converted pickup bed. We couldn't tow it and never used it so off it went.

With part of the cash my ambition was to lay in an extra stock of groceries. I have to admit the current state of the economy was part of my motivation. I'm not really afraid that everything will collapse, of course. But hearing about the gas shortages in the South in the wake of Hurricane Ike really had me thinking that something alarming could happen here too without warning. Plus with winter coming it's always good to have some extras.

Hubby, I think, was purely humoring me. We live four blocks from a grocery store, for crying out loud. Every look and posture of his indicated that he thought I was being very silly but he didn't actually come out and say it. After all people went crazy preparing for Y2K and nothing happened. I tried not to care; after all I have been right before and he has been grateful for my silliness.

It was with alacrity, therefore, that I pushed my cart around the grocery store picking up staples like flour and sugar and canned goods. I figured I could feed my family for several weeks in a pinch and it was all food I'll use anyway. I got several kinds of soup, a bag of potatoes and cans of chicken. I bought baking powder and yeast and salt. I felt exactly like the pioneers laying in provisions for their long trip across the wide plains in flimsy canvas-covered wagons, walking behind the slow oxen.

My in-laws who live on a farm 20 minutes from the nearest small town, take this lifestyle as a matter of course. They have an entire basement filled with cans and jars. For us, living in tiny trailers for the past five years, we have never before had the space to stock up on food or other supplies. I have to say it feels good. I'm not sure what is in my farmer blood and ancestry that gives me so much satisfaction to know that I have extra food and firewood, to know that even in the worst storm or crisis I can keep my family warm and fed for quite some time, but it does and I am quite happy with it.

The trick now is to actually remember to use the food that now lives in our basement storage room. Otherwise we'll end up looking like my Grandpa's house where there resided cans of peaches from 1954. I can only imagine what good those would do in a crisis.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Descriptive Movies

Sometimes a book on tape is just the thing and today I found something equally cool for background entertainment. These movie audio tracks have descriptions for blind people added to them which make them perfect to play while I'm cooking dinner or whatever. Best of all, they're downloadable for free!

I already downloaded Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which I have seen about twelve times already. I love that movie! Since they are in .mp3 format they'll go onto my iPod too, great for car trips or walks around town.

A Man And His Dollhouse

This weekend saw us driving for three hours (an activity the kids never enjoy) and staying for two nights with some good friends of ours who live three hours away. Three hours in the car. Did I mention that it was quite a ways from our house?

We had a wonderful time and the main contributor to peace and harmony was the shower of new toys we brought for the kids. I highly recommend new toys when traveling. Oh, and DVD's for that three-hour car ride. But back to the toys. We decided to give our share of birthday presents to the kids a month early, namely, this weekend to facilitate lots of happy play time so that Hubby and I could get a few minutes' conversation in with our friends before being interrupted by a toddler wanting milk or stories or food (we don't feed our kids) or a movie or a $40 allowance or a cookie.

It worked like a charm. Our friends E & K designated a rug in an out-of-the way location to be the play area so we would not be constantly tripping over toys. The kids started out there and drifted along like dry leaves until they were playing precisely in the middle of the kitchen floor. I can't wait till E & K have kids and all these pre-conceived notions of how they are going to raise them will fly right out the window as soon as their kids turn two and start expressing their own opinions and preferences. E thinks he is going to travel with children and bring only one toy. Bwahahahahaha!!! Pardon me while I wipe away tears of helpless laughter. Oh, E, you will learn. Yes, you will learn. Your kids will teach you the reason we travel with three or four giant suitcases as well as bags, boxes, a large steamer trunk, and an eighteen-wheeler full of luggage when we stay for two nights away from home.



The toys we chose reflect the normal gender-opposite preferences our children usually exhibit. Of course they both played with all the new toys but Curly was thrilled to receive a new Thomas the Train set while Little Mister got a new doll house complete with babies, beds and pets. Freud would have a hey-day with our family.





Meanwhile I was amusing myself by taking closeups of chrysanthemums and nectarines.





And a pepper.



Oh, sorry, I digress. The kids. As you can see, Curly Miss happily drove her new trains all around the house while Little Mister carefully put his new baby to bed in the new doll house. Then he put a train to bed.





Today while Curly Miss is at preschool, the doll house continues to amuse him. He especially likes the lamp for some reason. I wonder what Freud would have to say about that?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scrapblog

I tried out the Scrapblog page and it was kind of fun! I just did a quick page using a template and some pictures from my Texas Trip in April. I think I could tweak it forever and make it look better, which I probably won't but it is kind of a cool toy.

Blog Tag

I had never even heard of blog-tag before and the first time I hear of it I get tagged. Hmmm, thanks Jilann. I feel kind of like I did in elementary school, an awkward, slow, nearsighted bookworm to whom playing tag was about as natural as flying. If I ever got tagged I went inside for a Kool-aid break. Plus I couldn't think of six items that you, my loyal readers don't already know about me since I post more than you ever want to know of my boring exciting, adventure- and romance-filled life on here. But she did it, so I will too. Here's how you play:

1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Write six random things about yourself.
3. Tag six people at the end of your post.
4. If you are tagged, JUST DO IT, and pass the tag along.

Okay, hmmm... six things.

1. I love socks with pictures on them. Thanks to my whimsical mother I own more picture socks than non-picture socks and my poor husband who usually does the laundry has to fold them and match them every time. The other members of my family wear white Hanes that don't have to be matched but my socks are important to me and I feel loved that he never complains about them. I have socks with Valentine's hearts on them, socks with butterflies, socks with pineapples, plaid and even one with a tomato.

2. When I was 15 I went on a ten-day mission trip to Alaska. While there we presented a VBS to kids in Soldotna, walked on a glacier and visited the spit in Homer. I experienced the all-day light and enjoyed 80-degree weather in August. It was also only one of two times I have ever been on a big commercial jet, which I loved.

3. My favorite color is Kelly Green because once when I was about six I was coloring at my Grandma Crandall's house and using these oil pastels. The picture was Cinderella on some stairs against a wall and I colored that wall with the oil crayon. The color that came out was so vivid, so beautiful, so GREEN that it knocked my socks off (not picture socks yet) and ever since then I have been deeply, wholeheartedly in love with the color Kelly Green.

4. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

5. I don't plan to grow up till I am 83 so I have some time.

6. I love popcorn, especially popcorn made in the air popper and drizzled with melted margarine and sprinkled with TONS of salt. Or movie theatre popcorn. I usually go to the movies just for the popcorn. Of course the movie is a bonus, but the popcorn is the main attraction.

Ok, now the friends. Here we go!

Six People who are now tagged:
1. jyantj- She loves this kind of thing.
2. TexasT- The one who inspired me to blog in the first place
3. Hubby- He needs to blog more anyway. Oh wait, he's watching the kids while I blog. Hmmm...
4. AlaskaSnowAngel- I love seeing pics of her cute boys!
5. Wholarmor- Most faithful commenter and the one who whips me in Scramble on Facebook
6. Tiddleywinks- Can she take a break from the 4,698 books she reads per week to blog??? We shall see!

I have a lot of other blogging friends and blogs that I read but I'm not sure they would want to do this. So if I did not include you, please don't feel hurt, just vent your feelings by writing nasty comments which I will then delete without reading and life will be peachy.

Small Steps Toward Reading

Because I learned to read at an early age, I have been excited to see Curly Miss learn building blocks toward the same goal. I always felt secure in academic settings because I was a good reader so I want to give my children the same gift. In our information age the importance attached to reading is greater than ever.



For age 3 1/2 her skills are fairly impressive. She knows all of her letters, the order of the alphabet and can write them all. She knows the sound each letter makes and can spell easy words by sounding them out. She also recognizes familiar street signs and brand names.

Another important step is pretend reading which she does daily, usually reading books to her little brother, always a delighted audience. Little Mister, too, absorbs stories and is already interested in letters, pointing to my shirt and saying "d, d, d" although I can't tell if it was coincidence that he was actually pointing to a "D".

Curly Miss, in conjunction with her reading readiness skills, shows a greater interest in numbers and counting than she does in reading, to my surprise. I was never a math lover and haven't really pushed for it, possibly the reason she likes it; anything that is her idea is better. She has chosen a favorite number, 5, and will gladly count to twenty at the least excuse. I wondered how much actual math she knew until I was watching her count her trains with a perfect 1-1 relationship. I asked her some simple addition and subtraction questions (I think involving macaroni noodles) and she answered correctly with numbers under 5.

It is so fun to watch her learn; I so enjoy learning myself. It is fun to watch the light dawn on a new concept and to anticipate the world of books and numbers about to open up to her. Reading has been the most consistent passion in my life from the time I myself was three and sharing that with my daughter brings me immense joy and satisfaction.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spinning

We are visiting overnight at some friends' house today so my blogging time is limited. So instead of reading, please enjoy this inspiring video I uploaded the other day of my children twirling around and running into walls. I could not be more proud.



In re-watching it, I notice that my table is covered with junk, my floor is covered with junk and my kids... my kids... I really am proud. Really.

This is a good representative excerpt of how my day goes every day.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Two Words

Any milestone in Little Mister's verbal advancement absolutely thrills me and today was a big leap. Today with some prompting he said a two-word sentence. We were talking about Daddy coming home for lunch and he said, "Dada 'ome." He was so pleased with his "Daddy Home" sentence that he said it about twenty more times.



At last he began to elaborate as you hear in the video to "Natta Home", which she was. It has not been long since he progressed to two-syllable words; this new milestone was a welcome surprise.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paper Pregnancy

That's what my friend TexasTschirgis calls adoption. A Paper Pregnancy. Last night after the kids were in bed, Hubby and I sat down together at the table and began on a stack of papers. They remind me of a job application. Only more personal.

Here's what is looming in front of me:

Biographical Questionnaire

General Information - Self and Family
1. Physical traits, height, weight, eye color, hair color, ethnic background
2. Personality traits.
3. Spouses physical traits and personality
4. Do you have pets? If so why?
5. What are your hobbies and interests? How do you "assign your time", both in your personal and professional life? In what ways do you give your time to others? In what ways do you give time to yourself? Describe volunteer work that you do in the community.
6. Describe your role in your family; your spouses role; you children's role. What changes do you envision with the addition of an adopted child to your family?
7. Goals: Where do you see yourself, you career, and your family in 5 years?
8. How would you describe your value system? Who or what were the most influential factors in how your value system developed?
9. If you have an affiliation with a church, describe the nature of your affiliation.
10. Please describe why you have chosen to adopt a child. How did you decide on the type of adoption you are pursuing (international/older/infant/etc)

Education and Employment History
1. What was your school and social experience growing up? What were your interests, hobbies and activities? For higher education, please give names of schools, degrees earned and dates.
2. Pleas give a brief chronological summary of your employment history.
3. Briefly describe your current job and work schedule.
4. Do you plan to take leave from work when you adopt?

Personal History
1. Describe your childhood, family, and your place in it. Include: Where you grew up; your parent's education and occupations; the number of children in your family and your place among the siblings; roles your parents played and the nature of their marriage; family activities that you remember; relationships with extended family while you were growing up; the quality of your relationships with your parents and siblings while you were growing up.
2. What were the "good deals" and "bad deals" about your growing up years. What would you have changed about your childhood family?
3. Were you or any members of your family ever the victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse? If so, how was it handled within the family?
4. Current information about your parents: Where do they live; marital status; occupation; quality of your relationship; how often you see them, etc.
5. Current information about you siblings: Where do they live; marital status; occupation; quality of your relationship; number of children; how often you see them, etc.

Marital History
1. Have you been married previously?
2. How and when did you meet your current spouse? What attracted you to each other?
3. How long have you been married? What do you see as the greatest strengths of your marriage?
4. What have been the biggest challenges for each of you in this marriage? What areas are you still working on to improve your relationship?
5. How would you describe your conflict resolution style as a couple? What usually happens when you disagree on something important?

Children
1. Describe each of your minor children: name, age, personality, grade in school, academic progress, activities, social and family adjustments, special needs if any. Indicate their current living situation.
2. Do you have any concerns about physical, emotional, or intellectual health or development of any of your children?
3. How will each of your children adjust to the addition of an adopted sibling?
4. If you have adult children...

Financial Resources
1. What are your sources of income? Are they steady or fluctuating?
2. Who handles the money in your family? How are monetary decisions made?
3. What are you financial goals?
4. Describe your plans for medical insurance coverage for the adopted child.
5. If you and your spouse were both to die or become incapacitated, who would become your child's guardian? Why have you selected them?
6. How will the addition of an adopted child change your financial situation.

Health
1. Do you have, or have you had, any major health concerns or disabilities? How have these affected your lifestyle work or relationships?
2. What is your approach to health, diet, fitness, and wellness? What do you do for relaxation? How do you handle stress?
3. Describe you past and current use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. If applicable, describe how you dealt with any substance abuse problems.
4. Have you ever needed counseling or mental health treatment of any kind? If so, please briefly describe the circumstances, interventions, and results.
5. What is your support system like? If you had a crisis in your family, to whom would you go for counsel and support?

Criminal History of Abuse Background Check
1. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? Include juvenile incidents.
2. Have you or anyone in your family been involved with child protective services, if so, please describe.
3. Have you ever been the victim or perpetrator of domestic abuse/violence?
4. For international adoptions...

Parenting experience and philosophy
1. Discuss the parenting you received form your own parents as a child. How did your parents discipline? How did they show affection? What was positive? What would you improve?
2. Describe any preparation or training you may have had for parenting (parenting classes, your own reading, training seminars, college courses, babysitting, raising your own children, etc.)
3. What kind of rules do you have for children in your home?
4. How do you discipline children when they misbehave? (Think of different ages, from toddlers to teenagers), what methods of discipline are acceptable/unacceptable to you?
5. How will you spend time with your children? What kinds of activities will you be doing?
6. What daycare arrangements do you expect to use for the adopted child?

Adoption Issues
1. Why is adopting a child a good option for you and your family?
2. How do you think adopting parenting differs from biological parenting? What will it be like for you to parent a child who is not born to you and does not share a genetic or biological connection?
3. What are you thoughts about the process of attachment in adoption?
4. What do you think birth-parents are experiencing when they relinquish or have a child removed from their care? How would you explain to your child his/her special connection to a birth family?
5. What questions do you think your child will have about adoption? When and how will you explain adoption to the child?
6. What kind of continued contact with birth parents after placement would be comfortable for you? What about birth grandparents or siblings?
7. If your child wanted to search for birth relatives, how would you feel?
8. How will you support the cultural heritage or racial identity of a child whose race/ethnicity is different than yours? What resources could you draw on in your community, family, or social circles?


Good thing I like to write.

Reading adoption blogs and the comments of other adoptive parents, they usually all come to the conclusion that if somehow we made people go through this intensive process in order to conceive a child, we would have a world full of much better parents. Part of me agrees. It's actually quite helpful to step back and examine my life in relation to a new baby. The reality, however, is that we don't have to do this to get a biological baby. God made the process very different. I am not sure why he did it that way. Supposedly there is a "mother instinct" that ensures for the care of the child. Obviously by the number of abortions and abandoned babies, this doesn't always work correctly. In a perfect world, we'd all follow God's plan of committed marriage first, then sex, then kids. We all know that doesn't always happen. It's odd really, how easily babies are made. Yet the process to adopt one is fiendishly difficult and invasive. I understand; nobody wants to adopt a baby out to parents who are going to neglect or mistreat it or who don't have the necessary income to support a child through formula, schooling, bikes, braces, increasing sizes of clothing... the list goes on and on. Still, the irony is not lost, either on me or on any other adoptive parent, I think.

I'm really glad we have been through this whole process once before. I have a lot more confidence this time. A lot more patience. My hat is off to TexasT who has been through it at least three times, maybe more. We moms do a lot for our kids. In this case rather than spending hours puking I am spending hours filling out paperwork. Definitely better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Daytime Nap, Nighttime Nap



For nearly four years, Curly Miss and her Nap, that is to say her security blanket, or comfort object or whatever you like to call it, have been pretty much inseparable. She totes the thing around with her everywhere, hugging it, sniffing it, wrapping up in it, forgetting it and dragging it on the ground. Just the other day it got caught under the wheels of the stroller and ground into the mud, necessitating an instant trip through the washing machine.

When I was little I was exactly the same way. My mom sewed a little green terry-cloth pillow and that green pillow went everywhere with me. I loved the way it smelled, the way it felt against my face. One of my earliest and most traumatic memories is when my dad, with a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, told me I must put my green pillow on my bed and never carry it around but only have it at night time. He told me this devastating news on my fourth birthday, thus completely ruining the happy event and sending me into secret mourning for weeks.

Because I remember this abrupt announcement with such lifelong loathing, I decided Curly Miss's transition needs to be more gradual. My comfort object was complicated by the fact of my thumb-sucking, a habit my dad was eager to break, but Curly Miss doesn't suck her thumb, she just carries the Nap around with her. Still, she's getting old enough and active enough that I keep expecting her to declare it a hassle and leave it at home.

She never has so I decided to try an alternative plan. When I cut out the pieces for her fleece jacket, I cut out an eight-inch square piece with Mater (the character from Cars) smack in the middle of it. Then I gave it to Curly Miss explaining that if she wished it could be a daytime Nap. I really didn't expect it to fly. After all, it wasn't THE NAP and did not have the correct texture and smell at all, but I gave her the idea and the choice.

To my utter astonishment she readily agreed and declared her Nap henceforth only her "Nighttime Nap". She put it up on her bed of her own volition and for two days has been carrying around the square of fleece, small enough to be easily tucked into a pocket. I think even she is enjoying the small size and convenience of her "Mater Nap" which I found thusly the other day:



Since I left it up to her, I think we avoided having to lay down the law on when to stop toting the Nap around. Due to my aforementioned trauma, I was prepared to let her carry it with her till high school if need be, but I have to say I was getting pretty tired of the darn thing! I much prefer the smaller version we now use. Now if only we can keep from forgetting it various places!!!

Playtime for Little Mister

Upon the recommendation of Teacher M, Little Mister and I went to visit the Parent-Toddler Co-op, located in the fair grounds. Although Mister is perfectly happy playing at home while Curly Miss is at Preschool, I still wanted to do a special activity with him. He is getting old enough to notice that Curly Miss is constantly getting to do cool stuff: she goes to violin class with Mommy, violin lesson with Daddy and to Preschool three days a week. Little Mister, always the little brother, has to stay home.

With that in mind, then, Little Mister and I checked out the group at the Fairground. We found a good mix of one-, two- and three-year-olds and a nice schedule of playing, snack and a circle time reminiscent of the Library story hour. Little Mister, of course, had a blast, choosing to play with the toy kitchen, the dollhouse and later, the train table. We both loved the healthy snack of cheese squares, raisins and whole-wheat animal cookies.


Last year's group

I think we'll probably go back, likely once a week. It doesn't cost much, just enough to maintain the toys, rent the fair building and buy a snack. As the weather gets worse I am sure we'll both appreciate a place to socialize and play!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Miss This



I did Marching Band for six years and LOVED it! I was the official nerdy band geek and it was such a huge part of my life. It's odd that now I do nothing band-related at all. Life moves on whether we want it to or not.

Family Fleece Finery

Unlike most projects which take much longer than you think they are going to, these fleece hoodies for the family are going together quickly. I already have two done for the kids.



Little Mister picked out the fabric himself, pointing to the sport one and exclaiming "ball!" over and over. This project was definitely fabric-inspired, the way I often sew. I don't usually start sewing something until I find a piece of fabric that I absolutely must use and then a garment appears out of it.



Curly Miss's is a pullover so that Lightning McQueen could be featured on the front. Although all the character gear is somewhat tacky, I decided I don't care because it makes her happy. When the fabric was sitting on the couch yesterday waiting to be cut, she pointed to the Cars print and commented, "This one is pretty good for me." Well, that's good. :D

This afternoon during nap-time, I'll head back down to my sewing machine and work on the two adult hoodies. After my tye-dye print is done, I'll officially be, as Hubby puts it, "Hippy Mama." Well, whatever. Guess I should find that VW bus.

For now, a Tye-Dye hoodie will have to do.

Nerves

I awoke this morning feeling nervous about adopting. When I was pregnant I felt really nervous, especially with the first one but there was nothing I could do about it. Inevitably that baby was coming whether I liked it or not. All I had to do was sit back and let nature take its course.

This time I have the jitters and I could call the whole thing off at any time. That's a weird feeling; everything is less sure, less certain. I don't know what our baby will be like, what race, what gender.

Of course I am choosing to do it this way. Too much control and I am sure to screw things up. Instead, our baby is chosen by God, just like the previous two. I'd like to have a girl. Curly wants a sister. But we may not get a girl.

The race issue worries me. Not for myself because I think little black babies are the absolute cutest things in the world. I know my hubby and kids would be super too. I worry about the rest of the world. Would my baby struggle living in a white family? Would classmates be cruel, would strangers make comments? He or she would look so different and though that doesn't bother me in the slightest, it might bother the child, especially as the teen years hit. I suppose we'll pray for wisdom to deal with it just like we deal with every other childhood issue.



Hubby, too, is thinking about it a lot, I can tell. He talks about having an infant in our house, of doing things with the kids and wanting them to finally be old enough to do things like camping. We have gone camping with infants but it's a lot of work! Still, I look forward to being much healthier than I was with my previous infants, ready to get out and have adventures. With a shudder, I remember Mister's first six months of life and I pretty much stayed on the couch the whole time, completely unable to walk even to the store due to the abdominal injury I sustained during labor. We did venture out a few times but it took several days to recover from the pain of walking even a few blocks. This time I will be able to enjoy my baby with energy and enthusiasm.

This time around everything feels very different. Yes, I'm expectant. Yes, I am very nervous. Those are the same. But this time I am not puking my toenails up, lying in bed under the blackest of depression. This time instead we are making phone calls, talking to agencies, wondering at the unknowns, the possibilities. We are wondering and waiting and praying. Possibly the baby already exists somewhere out there, conceived and growing. My baby. God is even now setting everything in motion for the child He will place in our family.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Going Fleece Crazy

Going shopping with Little Mister after dropping Curly Miss off at Preschool can be dangerous! Today after walking up and down the mall, looking at every circular sign and proclaiming it the "moon", we got a Starbuck's and headed to JoAnn Fabrics. Not smart. Not at all. They had a sale on fleece.



Honestly, I was just going to get ideas. I even called a friend who plans to sew a pioneer dress for her daughter. She came to look at fabric with me only she was a good girl and did not buy any. Yet. She is not infected as badly as I am. Yet.

Now I have hours of sewing ahead of me. I can't wait! :)

Oh, did you notice the designs on the fabrics? Can you tell which one goes with which family member?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mini Van or VW Bus?

Hubby and I have made some decisions regarding our family planning. We're going to seriously pursue adoption, like hardcore. We contacted the Idaho Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization that does the homestudies for the State of Idaho and for many area adoption agencies. They turned out to be a really interesting organization, in typical Idaho style they don't just specialize in one area but they do everything from adoptions to actually taking in troubled youth to live at the Ranch. They use horses as therapy for the kids there, as well as many other programs. Interesting.

Anyway, the lady in charge of adoption there was quite helpful. Adoption has so many different choices it can seem really overwhelming. Do we do international adoption? Do we go with an agency? Which one? How do we handle the legal end of things? Can we afford all the fees?

Of the hundreds of options open to us, we have narrowed it down to a couple choices. We know we want an infant. That means we probably should not go with foster care since most of the kids in the foster care system are older than two or a sibling group. We want to stay domestic rather than international, but we're open to taking a minority race, as long as the child is healthy. We probably aren't willing to take in a special-needs child at this point. The Idaho Youth Ranch works in conjunction with a Catholic Agency that finds Idaho families to adopt minority newborns from Louisiana and Texas. The Idaho Youth Ranch does the home study and acts as the contact between the families and the agency. Because there are so many infants in that area who need families, the waiting period is much shorter, about 4 months on average.



This would put our timeline at late next spring to get our baby, likely an African-American. About the same as if I was pregnant. Having done the homestudy once before really helps in knowing what to expect. For fees, we need to pay $800 for the homestudy then set up a payment plan for the agency fees. An adoption tax credit can help offset these fees.

Walking downtown today I suddenly realized we're going to have to get a larger vehicle. Once your family grows to three kids, a standard car just isn't big enough to accommodate all the car seats. Curly thinks we ought to get a minivan, the sooner the better. All of her friends' families have them, why not? Hubby and I, on the other hand are toying with something a little more fun and frivolous.



Either way, we'll need to get a bigger vehicle by next spring. I hope our car gets a good trade-in!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Goblin Story

From Little Bear's Visit by Else Holmlund Minarik









This is Curly's and Little Mister's current favorite story. Curly will sit and read it to Mister, but of course it's much better when Daddy reads it!

Just A Regular Saturday

This morning we went shopping, driving to Wal-Mart then to the antique store. At Wally World our first find was paper towels. Aside from this thrilling purchase, we got a few videos from the bargain rack. Hubby and I got Spaceballs since he has never seen it before. As one of the twelve people on the planet who has not viewed that particular piece of cultural iconism, he is sadly lacking in educational advantages. He needs to see it. For $5 I couldn't resist. Next we'll look for Spaceballs, the placemat.



Curly Miss picked out Bee Movie. As soon as we got home she stuck it into the DVD player and we haven't heard from her since. If you know Curly, you know how unusual that really is.



Little Mister, always the practical one, is more interested in food.



Before coming home I picked up this cute foot stool at the antique store. I have been watching for on since I got my nice chair. This one was $10 off the original price, bringing it down to $15. At an antique store, that's a steal! I'm happy too that it complements the colors in my living room. I could re-cover it but I'd rather not if I don't have to.

Hubby has been spending his time burning through the books he bought last Saturday. The one he's reading right now is about coffee. He made a batch in his French Press, sitting and sipping the brew while he read about it in his book. I think he's in his own personal happy place.

For just a minute, I pulled him outside to take a picture. The family has been requesting a new one of him; he also wanted a new one for Facebook. I swear he is as hard to photograph as the kids!



...and finally, a smile.

Friday, September 19, 2008

You're Not Alone

One of the fun things about having a blog is viewing the stats on the readers. Because LJ is a free service and I don't have access to the host site, I can't get as much info as I can on the pages I make myself but I can still get a general summary. I usually get about 50-80 hits a day. I always get the most on Tuesday. Sometimes Wednesday. Never on the weekend. And one of the most fascinating bits of info is this:



Each of those little arrows represents a reader from the past week or so. Looking at this piques my curiosity! Why did someone in India search for Caswell-Runyan cedar chests and then click on my blog post about my cedar chest? How come nobody in California read my blog this week? Femme? Femme, are you okay down there in LA?

I don't know why I even post about this except that I find it so very interesting. Probably because it is about me. Anyway... have a good evening all you readers out there, you in Africa and Kansas and New York and Amsterdam. Be well and blessed. :)

On Freedom

This was posted on Dan Bukvich's office door in the Music Building:

Lying on my table is a violin string. It is free. I pull one end of it and it responds. It is free. But it is not free to do what a violin string is supposed to do: to produce music. So I take it, fix it in my violin, and tighten it until it is taut. Only then is it free to be a violin string. Only then can it sing. ~Rabindranath Tagore, poet and Nobel prize winner

Sometimes I feel stifled in my life. I feel trapped, too attached to my family, to my husband, to my house, to this tiny town in the middle of one of the least populated states in the country. Sometimes I long to break free, to run off down the road, to pursue old dreams or fame and fortune, to leave behind me this life that seemed to choose me but is not always of my choosing.

What is freedom? Is it Braveheart lying on a wooden table clutching the rag of his memories and screaming his defiance to the world? Is it the wife who abandons her husband and two daughters to flee to the next state with her Lesbian lover? Is it Mother Theresa working feverishly among the poorest in Calcutta, choosing to give her own life so that others might be cleansed and fed? As the POW said, does freedom exist only inside us and no one can truly take it away from us?

I tend to think that is right. All of us have before us an open road, a blank slate, a myriad of choices. Even the chains of pain or poverty don't actually bind us any more than the ties of love. In making the hard choices, in choosing to be bound to a life which doesn't always yield the highest personal dividends, in pouring out our own cups so that others may drink; there is where freedom can be found. Only when we have the proper amount of tension, the exact amount of pressure, bound tightly at both ends, that is where we are set free to sing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PhotoShop and Grandma Doh

Before the weather turns bad with ice coating the highways, I loaded up my progeny for the trip down the hill to see Grandma Doh. I've blogged about her before; she's my dad's mom, the one who has a green thumb, does crafts and sewing and whose house looks like it could grace the cover of Country Living. She loves little kids, particularly her grandchildren and great-grandchildren so going to her house is always a hit with the kids.



They immediately gravitated toward the cupboard where Grandma Doris keeps the toys. As usual, Curly got out the cars while Mister chose baby dolls and toy dishes.



My job turned out to me much more technologically advanced and it was hard to do so I'm going to brag shamelessly because I think it actually turned out pretty good. I had my laptop and printer with me; it was my intention to print some recent photos of the kids for Grandma since I had not gotten my act together to do it ahead of time.

Grandma then showed me a picture of Grandpa Nave she had cropped. She loved the picture of him, one from a church directory a few years ago but she hadn't thought it was a good one of her. My dad had informed her that I could remove her rogue hand and shoulder in the picture with my computer, a feat that to my non-computer-literate grandmother was nothing short of magic. But she had nothing to lose so she gave me the picture and I set to work.



Meanwhile she entertained my children and fixed them lunch. I'd call it a good trade. One of the highlights of visiting Grandma Doh is a trip into the back yard to swing on her arbor swing, under the grape vines. Every one of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have sat on the basket swing with Grandma Doris, swinging gently under the grape leaves. For lunch we ate the tiny, sweet, seedless grapes from her back yard.



I used my digital camera to photograph the picture she wanted me to alter. Since I don't have a scanner, it seemed like a quick alternative. It probably didn't give me the best quality but it was better than I expected. I did a lot of color and light alteration and a lot of clone stamping. According to Reader's Digest, the correct term for altered pictures like this one is "fauxtography". Cute.

Here's what I finally came up with and printed, much to her delight. I'm glad I could produce a little photographic magic for Grandma in return for a morning of entertaining my children.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fresh Pico de Gallo



Woo Hooo!!! I think this might be one of the foods they serve in Heaven. MMMMMM!!!!

Recipe

1 sandwich bag full of fresh garden-grown cherry and pear tomatoes given unexpectedly by a friend
1/2 a sweet onion left over in the fridge, chopped
1 good sized green chili pepper diced very finely (was supposed to be a jalapeno but that wasn't what came out of the store with Hubby. Maybe Safeway had a recent run on jalapenos and they were out.)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt

1 bag Tostitos mini tortilla rounds
Optional: 1 episode finale of Big Brother in which Dan the MAN pulls off a sweep victory over worthy foe Memphis who was actually my pick to win since like week 2 but I am not upset because I totally love Dan and I am so glad he won!

Watching Paint Dry

While Natta is in Preschool I have had quite a bit of time to work on projects. The one that seems to occupy the most time this summer is my window painting which is showing slow but steady progress.



It has to be done in such small sections that a few hours a week on it is all I can do before I have to leave it to dry for several days. With my constantly interrupted schedule, that's perfect.



So I have advanced to the point where the main part of the picture is done on the middle window. All the flowers, leaves and vines have been created and applied, now the work changes and I need to fill in the clear background and do all the straight lead lines.



Because the clear paint goes on white, I feel like a little kid, full of wonder as I watch it dry, turning clear right beneath my very gaze. Then I have to laugh at myself for sitting there watching paint dry. I hope that's not an indicator of the normal excitement levels in my life. Watching a project unfold is exciting to me, however tedious it may seem to a casual onlooker.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Divide and Conquer

I hate laundry. My husband hates laundry. Everyone I know hates laundry. People blog about hating laundry. It's un-American not to hate laundry.

Our laundry gets clean with no problem. We use the washer as our communal laundry basket. When it's full, we run it. The problem is the clean stuff. It multiplies, procreates, breeds... load after load, item after item, dryer sheet after wrinkled dryer sheet. I sorted, folded and put away laundry this morning and counted at least ten dryer sheets. Yuck. Suddenly this kind of overwhelming existence was no longer acceptable to me. No longer will clean laundry get the better of me and my family.

I went into Crazy Organizational Mode, loaded the kids into the car and headed to Wal-Mart. If you're ever at Wal-Mart when I am in CO Mode, watch out. I have the focus of a NASCAR driver. Muttering to myself things like "One for Natta's jammies" I bought nine lined baskets and a cloth triple bin. Still in CO Mode, I went home and attacked my laundry room. I moved all the cleaning supplies, wiped the shelves clean and set up my baskets. Assembling the bin did not take long and soon my system was in place.

Now it will be possible to successfully ignore ten SORTED loads of laundry rather than a huge ambiguous pile in the corner of my bedroom. Each basket is labeled with a family member's name and the item of clothing that is supposed to go in it, paving the way for confrontational drama with Hubby when he absentmindedly puts Mister's Nemo jammies in the bin labeled "Her Underwear". Our lives will never be the same.

Stay tuned. I plan to post pictures when I get around to taking some. Your life, too, will never be the same.

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Edited:





Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall Flowers At Kindlewick

Today has been a glorious Indian Summer day. My front yard is blooming with a profusion of dark red mums. I had to wait all year to find out what color they were but it has been worth the wait.



In the pot on the front steps, the red geranium unexpectedly burst into bloom once again. In the heat of the summer it wilted and shed most of its leaves so I thought it had given up the ghost. I half-heartedly gave it a little water and did not hope for much. I don't have a good track record with live plants. This one somehow forgave me!



Knowing my dismal failure with live flowers in the past, I decided to go with the silks in the window boxes. I had used some left over in our garage for most of the summer but now that fall is here I wanted something new and bright. The dollar store has small bundles of silks and they were clearing out their fall collection. A lunch hour and $12 later, I had a bright new fall bunch to go in the boxes. I love having window boxes on my house! It's such a nice, cottage-y touch and the spots of color add so much to the front of the house.