Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Christmas Tree Is Leaning

Hubby left at 5:30 this morning. Through the haze of sleep I heard his frantic leap out of bed and some godforsaken hour before dawn and his subsequent shower and departure. He's traveling to San Francisco to participate in a training seminar for work. His new job requires him to use a certain software but they won't offer technical support to him unless he attends their training and passes a proficiency test. Since he is already pretty darn good at using it, this is merely a formality and and excuse to travel in December when the planes are fogged in.

So he is currently still sitting in the L-town airport waiting to take off. Hopefully he'll make it to Seattle and then to California sometime today. He has all day to do it and it is only two one-hour flights. Knowing air travel, however, he may not actually make it.

Adding to his misery is the fact that he has some kind of intestinal bug resulting in stomach cramps and frequent bathroom trips. I think he's having about as much fun as a crash dummy. Poor guy.

Left at home I have been designated the status of Single Parent. Since my cold has calmed down into a residual cough, I'm doing great. Always an optimist, I determined that rather than pine away for my other half, I would find something to enjoy. That something turns out to be my anal propensity for perfectionism. I have been doing everything today exactly how I want to. I ran the kids through their "getting ready for church" routine and things went as smooth as greased lightning. We were even on time for church. Coming home, we did lunch and nap and I even have the dishes loaded in the dishwasher. I find it pleasant to putter around the house putting things just where I want them and knowing they will stay there.

The only thing that is causing me problems is the Christmas tree. It won't stand up straight. The other day it fell over entirely so Hubby bought a bigger stand. Well, it still needs some tightening because half an hour ago it was leaning madly toward the door. I fussed with the screws and now it is leaning madly toward the fireplace. I am having premonitions that I am going to be spending my entire four days commando crawling under the thing tightening this screw or that in an attempt to get the tree to stand up.

Still, I think I'm having a better time of it than poor Hubby. I hope he feels better soon and that his flight connects. I suspect that part of his intestinal woe is due to worry. Once he is there he can relax and enjoy his trip.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nativity

One of the traditions I remember loving as a child was the ritual of setting up the Nativity. The last couple of years I saved mine until a time when the kids could help set it up so they can begin to look forward to it too.

This year the wise men were a little farther away...which I guess is historically accurate. :)

Nativity Scene with wise men on a nearby window sill

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dressing Kindlewick Up for Christmas



A few years ago I found these darling stockings on sale after Christmas and picked up a bunch. Then they got lost in one of the last three moves and I did not see them again for some time. Well, a few months ago they resurfaced. I painted names on them and hung them up today!



Yours truly attempting to coerce a string of lights that was only half working to light up.



Success! Here's our lovely Scotch Pine that fills our living room with spicy tree-scent. I need a tree-skirt.



Hubby is in charge of outdoor lights this year. He chose blue and has the front pillars done so far.



Another frugal find: a wreath from Goodwill that set me back a whopping $0.99. I won't tell you how much we paid for the tree. I'm trying not to think about it. I'll just bask in my frugal wreath purchase instead.

******************

Later...



The kids help get the lights out, ready to put on the tree which has a new skirt. Much more modest.



Putting the finishing touches on our beautiful tree!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Pictures



Grandpa Nave and Grandma Doh play with the little people while Hubby and I cook.



Papa approves. My sister, meanwhile, shows off her best side.



Too bad my kids are so shy, quiet and never ham it up for the camera. Such a shame.



Still Life With Cranberry Juice (and Grandma Doh)



Still Life With Cranberry Juice (without Grandma Doh)

Wait a minute!

That was trippy....



Let's see that again.






wait for it....







Look at that! I can make her come and go at will... *insert Twilight Zone theme song here*



OK, OK, I was kidding about the best side. Here's the real deal. Note: every serious portait should include a bag of marshmallows.



My willow ware.



Little Mister chillin' with Mawmaw.

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

This year the thing I am most thankful for is our house. It has made a HUGE difference in our lives. The location, the space and most of all the feeling of being settled in a "real" house has improved my life so much.

I feel a little weird admitting that a material item like a house is the thing I am most thankful for. People usually list family and friends. Of course I am thankful for them, but I also feel like Kindlewick Cottage IS a member if my family. A quiet, strong protective member who will be there for me day in and day out, who has its own personality quirks but who embraces me just the same.

Our house represents so much more unspoken things to me, too. It means we can live here and not move again for a very long time. It means my kids have a nice home to grow up in. I'm definitely not knocking people who live in other types of dwellings and goodness knows I have put in my time, but there is something solid and enduring about a house that is what my heart craved.

As it fills up today with love and laughter of family, I look around and say a little prayer of thanks. I love my house.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Birthday

Grandpa W, my mom's dad, is 88 years old today. We went down to L-town to my aunt's house to celebrate where my kids got to play with four of their (second? third? second-and-a-half?) cousins and where we had lots of talk, cake, pie and LOT of shouting as Grandpa W and his brother, Uncle C are both quite deaf.

Grandpa W has always been my favorite and I think he's everyone else's favorite too. He's a charming, gentlemanly fellow with hair-raising stories of his time in the Navy during World War 2 where his gunboat was destroyed while he was on it by a hidden mine. He also tell us of his later life as a mining engineer in the Silver Valley back in the boom days. Everyone is sorry to think that he'll probably be with us only a few more years because he is really something special. He is one of those wonderful and rare individuals who makes you like yourself more when you are around him.

The year I was 17, Grandpa W had a stroke and was laid up so I lived up in the Silver Valley with him and Grandma J (she died several years ago) to care for them and cook meals. I remember that they didn't like my alfredo and I refused to clean the bathroom. Other than that we got along well. That summer was one of the loneliest ones I remember yet it is also one of the times in my life I cherish because I got to know my grandparents well in a way few grandchildren are ever able to. I like to think that some of what they are has rubbed off on me for I admire them greatly, especially Grandpa W. His strength of conviction, his equal treatment of all, his love for his country and his duty, his care for his family, his awareness of good culture, his ability to look only at the good in others... all these and more I saw in him, and still see although his health is failing. I can picture him being at ease in the court of kings, yet he has never been above lending a helping hand to anyone he met, no matter what position.

Of course, one must balance out the picture of perfection I have just painted. He did just about drive me batty that summer with his fussing and worrying about everything. When he hugs me, he just about breaks my ribs and always has; his philosophy apparently being that the more you love someone the tighter you must squeeze when hugging them. And I must admit I don't always share his taste in watching the "Lawrence Welk Show". But, hey, nobody's perfect!

As you can tell, I love my Grandpa dearly and I was delighted to gather with my family to celebrate Number 88. Here's to as many more as God gives!

Side-Down-Up

Curly Miss hanging upside-down on a dining room chair

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Collaborative Sewing part 3: Sleeves and Hem

This was our fourth Tuesday out at "Grandma's" house in the country. I didn't feel like we got as much done today as I would have liked, however, because things kept cropping up. For one thing, I am still not over this cold so I was drippy and stuffy and tired.

Curly Miss decided after being there an hour that she needed to go potty and absolutely refused to go in the big toilet. Unfortunately we'd forgotten to bring her potty seat. I knew her little bladder wasn't going to make it four and a half hours until we got home, so I spent the better part of an hour trying to find some method by which she could relax enough to pee.

Her continued toilet phobia really tends to create problems from time to time and this was one of those times. We tried my lap, we tried a different toilet, we tried a step stool, we tried making a potty seat out of cardboard. Nothing worked. I would have put a diaper on her but I forgot a diaper too.

Finally "Grandma" came up with a small bucket which my daughter sat upon and went. Yippee!!! Then it was back to sewing but I didn't feel like I got as much done as I'd like.

For lunch, A made a delicious taco salad and I contributed some leftover pumpkin pie. All in all, I think I would have done better to stay home in bed nursing my cold.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Feast

Curly's Preschool hosted a Thanksgiving Feast today at lunchtime. They served fruit salad that the kids had made, popcorn like the first Indians had brought to the First Thanksgiving and yummy pumpkin muffins.

The kids also dressed as Pilgrims and Indians. Native Americans. Whatever.




In a semi-related note, did you know that we Americans are forgetting our heritage? Do you know why the Pilgrims came to America? Take a look:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."


Huh.

Why are you adopting?

GGGAAAHHHH!!!!! If one more person asks me that question, I am seriously going to throw something at them. Nobody goes around to pregnant women and asks them, "Why are you having a baby?"

Is there some terrible reason for adopting that people are trying to ferret out of me? Don't people adopt for the same reason they get pregnant? BECAUSE THEY WANT A KID!!!! Like what is so weird about this people?

I guess with pregnancy a lot of times it is an "oops" and people tacitly acknowledge the fact that "these things happen". Well, not with adoption! There's no "Oops, things got a little wild the other night and whoa! Looks like we've adopted a kid!" Nope. You have to REALLY WANT this kid. Adoption is never an accident.

Also, why do people give me the hairy eyeball when I say I have two bio kids and I am now adopting? Because I can *technically* have more bio kids, I should save the adoptable babies for couples who are infertile? Geesh! There are plenty of babies to go around, folks! Lots of babies need homes. And no, I am not doing this out of some altruistic, save-the-world syndrome. We just thought adopting would be a good idea.

ARG.


Rant over.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Words Have Impact

Sitting on the couch, still drippy and sniffly and achy, I opened my laptop and began searching for new sites of interest to keep me occupied while Hubby had the kids. Lately I have been finding myself more and more at the message boards at Adoption.com where I read first-hand stories of adoptive families, birth moms and adoptees.

In this particular case, I noticed the chat room button and clicked it to see if anyone was chatting. Once the room loaded I found that there were indeed six other names listed on the register.

If you have never chatted, there are a few odd things about an online chat room you should know. There is an unwritten etiquette that states that a new person entering ought to be greeted whether you know them or not. Online chatting is such a transient activity that a person in the room becomes a part of the room no matter if it is the first visit or the fiftieth. Often there are people who know other chatters intimately, have had phone conversations or even met face-to-face. Others may be nothing more than a screen name.

In this chat room the only thing we might all have in common was adoption. Other than that the chatter might be Australian, European, South American or any other nationality on the planet. They might be young, old, rich, poor, black, white, male or female. There is a fascinating anonymity in chat rooms that allows a depth of conversation to take place without any preconceived notions whatsoever.

But back to my story. I logged in on this particular night a few days ago with the vague thought that I might connect with some other adoptive moms and maybe hear some fun stories. What I got was the farthest thing from that.

Upon greeting me, the other chatters asked me a surprising question. I had expected the usual age/sex/location questions that often accompanies chat rooms. Instead, these people did not seem to care about those mundane details and instead asked what connection I had with adoption. I saw right away that there was some lingo I needed to learn and a steep learning curve to go with it. Was I an amom (adoptive mom) or an adoptee or a bmom (birth mom who had placed a child)? I responded that I was soon to be an amom. I discovered, following several confusing threads of conversation, some of which included baking and the weather, that the other chatters in the room were all either adult adoptees or bmoms or both. Suddenly feeling like the enemy, I wondered if I ought to look elsewhere for my sickbed diversion.

Instead I decided to stick around and see what came up. I knew I would be meeting a bmom soon, the mother of our baby, and I was a little curious to get life from her perspective. Would she be like Juno in the movie, at peace with her decision, grieving, but quickly moving on? Would she be hostile toward the baby? Toward us? I simply did not know.

I had pondered this question in my heart a lot lately: if I had to give one of my babies up for adoption, what would it be like? There are certainly times (like last Monday) when I had felt like I could willingly surrender that child and never deal with her again. But I knew that in reality it wasn't true. Even now, as I write, the kids are at my Mom's (Thanks Mom!) and I miss them. I wonder how they are doing, whether they are happy or sad or scared and whether they have their special blankies for nap-time. The thought of giving one of them up forever gives me chills. To give a child to total strangers forever, knowing that we may never meet again goes against every fibre of a mother's nature.

But, I wondered, what about bonding? Has a birthmother never bonded? Maybe that makes it easier. I thought I would ask these people, these women who had been through it, who had experienced first-hand what I could not even imagine.

They were very open, these chatters. People often are when the safety net of anonymity surrounds you. I could not see their faces, did not know their names. I could not ever contact them or spread rumors to their friends. So they shared their stories. Awkwardly I asked them, knowing it was personal. I tried to explain why I wanted to know.

They understood. They shared their stories, stories of being young 30 years ago, 45 years ago. Of making mistakes, of wishing to keep their babies, of loving the babies that grew in their wombs. They told of family who disapproved, who shunned, who told them it was all for the best. They shared of years of grief, of secretly wondering. They all said it was worse than if the baby had died. Those years of wondering, of no closure, of hoping their baby was okay. They spoke of empty arms, of hearts with a piece missing. They had all gone on, gotten married, had other kids. People told them they did well to "get over it". But they never "got over it". Not inside.

Some had reunited with those babies as adults. Sometimes it was awkward, sometimes joyful. Sometimes the children were resentful and felt abandoned. Sometimes there was love at first sight.

I wanted to weep as I heard their stories. They spoke of years of being misunderstood. They told of a society who had frowned on their mistakes and did not want to share their pain, of family and friends who looked the other way.

My emotions mixed and swirled as I listened to their stories. I knew as an adoptive mom that it was not my fault the birthmother would grieve. I knew I could not put that on myself. I was merely another character in the story. I felt lucky, in a sense, to be on the glad end of the story, the one who gets to have a baby, the one with the joy.

Suddenly it struck me full-force just how different adoption is from pregnancy. Giving birth was full of physical pain. Adopting, I am discovering, has its own birth pangs. Apparently new life cannot enter the world without jolts of pain to the ones already there. Part of me grieves with the mother. I know I cannot change for her the circumstances that have shaped her decision, but I can change something. I can love her. Instead of pulling back and pretending she does not exist like was so common in the past, I can acknowledge her and her gift to our family.

I know that the day I first hold our new baby in my arms will be full of joy unspeakable. I can't wait, I'm so excited for it to come. But I'm also beginning to accept that like with anything wonderful in life, there is a sacrifice being made. It would be selfish of me not to acknowledge that sacrifice. Not to give validation. Some would callously say, "she deserved it for her mistakes", but do any of use really deserve to grieve? Don't we all deserve to grieve?

These women, these nameless, faceless women in a chat room the other day made me peer for a moment into a place of shadow, a place I did not want to go. But I am glad I went. I am glad I sat and listened and did not pull away as so many others have done. I am glad I can someday share with my child a story of a bmom who loves her. In a way she is lucky. She has extra people in this world who love her from the depth of their hearts. I think I understand that just a little better now.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Homestudy Interview

Yay! Our interview is done, for better or for worse. As far as I could tell it went quite well but having a total stranger examine the intimate details of my life, marriage and household is always incredibly intimidating. I found it so the first time and I did not find it much better this time.

Still all of her comments were positive and it sounds like there should be no problem in getting approved within a week or two. I feel a bit as if I just finished a very important job interview and now have to sit biting my nails until I get closure.

Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.

At least I'll be waiting with a squeaky-clean house... (for a day or two at least!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Daddy Dressed the Kids

This morning I still felt pretty crummy so our compromise was that Daddy would get the kids ready and take Curly Miss to Preschool. Then he'd go in to work where things are piling up on his to-do list at an alarming rate. Little Mister and I would stay home where presumably I would rest on the couch and Mister would play toys.

This master plan worked fairly well except for this:

Curly Miss wearing an orange shirt under a pink and brown flowered top

Yes, she actually wore this to Preschool.



Little Mister, being male, has much less colorful ensembles to choose from, therefore giving Hubby a shot at actual success. If you look closely, however, you'll see that the corduroy pants are on backwards.

But hey, who's to quibble about a little thing like that??



Daddy, you did good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ahead of Schedule!

We got a call last night from our assigned social worker. She is going to be in town Saturday and wanted to know if she could stop by for our home inspection then! Yikes! I was in bed sleeping all day and the house, while it started out fairly clean, has been inhabited by Hubby and the kids pretty heavily for two days. Granted, he's pretty good about tidying here and there, but there is still laundry piled from the "incident of the gift in the night-time" and the bathroom... well, you get the picture.

We called her back and gave a tentative yes. If we can get the house whipped into shape and get me into an upright position for two hours on Saturday, we'd like to do it.

During that phone call, she dropped another piece of fantastic news. Once she does the home visit, she only has a few more days' worth of paperwork and we could be approved as early as Thanksgiving!!!

Of course with this process it is always "hurry up and wait" but it's still exciting to think that things are moving along so well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sick

I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a truck. Looks like I have joined the ranks of those who have this nasty whatever-it-is going around. Hubby took part of the day off to wrangle the goombas.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Disaster Is Never Far Behind

Lest you get the erroneous idea that all is rosy and peachy in the Suzuki arena, let me remind you of the intense nature of my firstborn offspring. Curly Miss seldom delivers a proud-parent moment without soon after delivering a moment of equal magnitude in the reverse direction.

Case in point Monday afternoon.

It was with some hesitation that I bundled my daughter into the big, blue stroller and headed off to Suzuki group Solo Day. She would have to sit quietly and listen to other soloists before being able to play in the big group play-in at the end. Since sitting quietly is as impossible for her as differential calculus at this point, I definitely had my reservations. I should have skipped it altogether.

We got there deliberately twenty minutes late. I figured that shaving off some time that she had to sit there never hurt. What I did not take into account was the fact that the room was packed. It was so full I could not find two seats together when we quietly sneaked in between songs. The recital was being held in the fellowship area of a local church which included among other things an electric fireplace with a seat-sized hearth. Due to the lack of seating I chose this as a location for us. I set our coats and violin on a nearby table and Curly and I settled in to listen.

The footfalls of doom approached as Curly immediately became restless. She crawled along the hearth and back to me. She sat up on the edge of the nearby table and let her feet swing to and fro. She began whispering to me. Frowning I told her to be quiet and sit still. She obeyed briefly then was soon squirming again.

The hammer fell when her friend J. and his dad walked into the room. A fellow Pre-Twinkler, he made a beeline for Curly and she in turn rushed to see him, in the process accidentally catching her foot in the strap of a nearby cello case. Down off the hearth tumbled Curly and the 1/2-sized cello with a hollow-sounding thud. My heart stopped beating. My daughter was fine, scrambling to her feet and attempting unsuccessfully to untangle her foot. But the cello... oh, no, the cello....

A tall, well-groomed, intimidating-looking woman rushed to my side, anxiously unzipping the cello case. My heart, still stopped, now threatened to explode. The bridge lay in the bottom of the case, the strings, once so straight and taut, were tangled, and the neck... My eyes fell on the snapped neck, the splintered wood and I suddenly wished I could sink through the floor or that I could hit a magic rewind button and go back half an hour and never go to that ill-fated solo day. Perhaps it would be better to rewind to my decision to enroll Curly in Suzuki and make a different decision. No, it would actually be better to rewind even further and decide to never have Curly at all and to live my life in blissful childless ignorance and lack of cellos.

All this flashed as I stood there gaping at the broken cello, the irate blonde woman, my weeping daughter, aware of hundreds of parents behind me gaping at the same thing while up in front of the room an eight-year-old violinist bravely soldiered on through "French Folk Song". I wanted to disappear. I was THAT parent. My kid had just busted another kid's cello.

"I'm so sorry..." I stammered, "If I can do something...I'll pay you."

"You'd better pay for it," the blonde woman snapped.

At that moment my dumbfoundedness ended and my poor brain triggered a fight-or-flight mechanism. I chose flight. Grabbing my still-screaming daughter's arm I ducked into the nearest open door which happened to be a Sunday School classroom that was thankfully dark. I shushed Curly and began some sort of half-coherent lecture on the consequences of not obeying Mommy when I told her to sit still. Somewhere in there I must have moaned about the cost of repairing such an instrument because she mentioned it later.

At last I took my courage by the horns and headed back out there. By then the cello teacher was examining the damage. He did his best to reassure us that it happens from time to time and it wasn't too hard of a fix. The instrument was a rental and was covered by insurance and he would also get an instrument for the boy to use while his was being fixed.

The poor cellist, still shell-shocked, was distraught that he would not be able to play his carefully-rehearsed solo after all. His mother, still frustrated, had calmed down somewhat and I, since I could not be more humiliated, conveniently burst into tears.

The cello teacher, aware that solos were still being performed with ludicrous persistence in the main room, pulled us all into the Sunday School classroom where he once again assured us that all would be well. I delivered my name and telephone number, much as I would if I had hit someone's car and repeated my profuse apologies.

The woman and her son left.

I sat meekly back down in the newly vacant back row, wondering if we too should just leave. I decided to try to stick it out, although my penitent daughter still didn't sit still. We were rewarded at the end, however, when the students all played together and my little munchkin, still fully a year younger than any other student played her Twinkles right along with the best of them.

Still, I walked home with a heavy heart. I felt humiliated and angry. Sure that people were whispering and thinking "she's too young," or "there goes THAT one," I tried unsuccessfully to shrug it off. Ugh. My only consolation is that Curly got a much-needed object-lesson in direct consequences for her less-than-desirable actions.

Unpleasant Surprise

Friday night we had guests staying with us, E & K, good friends who enjoy music, good food, fine wine, church and good conversation just like we do. We went to a Jazz concert at the University, returning home after 11:00. Our poor babysitter finally got to go home but we were ready to party, not go to bed. We stayed up talking and singing four-part harmony until after 1:00, pretending we were carefree college students instead of responsible parents of two children. Little did we know the night was not done yet.

At last we dragged our tired hineys to bed, our noses still full of woodsmoke from our downstairs fire that had filled with room with glowing warmth. With the lights low, we climbed into our soft sheets and Hubby read a chapter of our current "light reading" paperback, in this case, a Louis L'Amour western. As Hubby clicked the light off and we prepared to drift off, the nagging thought kept entering my mind that something was wrong.

"Do you smell something?" I asked at last to the darkness.

Hubby affirmed that he did indeed smell something stinky. He hadn't at first noticed it because he had been smelling woodsmoke all night (we forgot to crack the window, so the fireplace smoked more than usual). But now he was sure. There was definitely a smell in the room and the more we thought about it the stronger it seemed to get.

Our first thought was that the cat had sneaked up there and messed under the bed. So far this cat has been the model of propriety when in the house, but we figured it could end at any time. The smell wasn't particularly cat-like; still Hubby jumped out of bed and flipped on the light, sniffing under the bed where he reported there was no smell.

Now I was thoroughly concerned and began looking around too, pushing back the sheets and blankets I had been snuggled into for the past twenty minutes. As I did, I received a shocking revelation. There on my sheets was a slimy, sticky mess of dog-poo! It was on my pajamas, sheets and had seeped through onto my blankets. I flew out of bed like a rocket, gagging. I don't believe I have ever changed clothes faster than that night, stripping out of my pajamas there and then. As fast as we could we stripped the sheets and dumped the whole gooey mess in the laundry room.

Why had she done this? My dog has NEVER messed in my room before. A few times when I have been remiss in putting her out all day she will find a corner of the basement to use but never has she done anything like this. I wondered what message she was trying to send me.

But we weren't done yet.

Hubby began putting on a clean flat sheet when he encountered something additional. Down a crack beside the mattress there was another "gift". I think at that moment I heard swearing from my usually gentle Hubby. The clean sheet went downstairs as did the mattress pad. Out came some disinfectant. We both worked to clean, remove, disinfect and attempt to hunt down some additional sheets and blankets. All the sets we owned were now in the laundry. We finally found a Christmas afghan and a top sheet and remade the bed.

Our clock read 2:13 when we finally turned off the light for the last time, me clad in clean pajamas and with hands and body carefully washed. Although I was the one to get the brunt of the mess, I felt sorriest for my poor Hubby. He hates dogs at the best of times and I think Friday night he would have cheerfully poisoned my poor little Piper after the mess she had left. I have to admit, I was not far behind him in that sentiment.

Needless to say we drank a lot of coffee the next day in order to keep our eyes open to do the Saturday chores, take care of the kids and talk coherently with our friends. We ain't in college no more. Nights as late as that one take their toll and I have not felt myself since.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thunder of Applause

Things have really been clicking for Curly Miss on her violin this fall. The new teacher, as I have mentioned, does a marvelous job with her and the switch to a better instrument hasn't hurt either. At last she has the whole Twinkle memorized; not only that but she does it with beautiful posture and left-hand position, something that certainly cannot be said for her five- and six-year-old classmates who mastered Twinkle in the space of about six weeks but who scratch it out with the joyous abandon and disregard for proper technique inherent in the age.

Curly still practices every night with Daddy for twenty minutes or so down in the "Secret Music Tower" which still holds magical fascination to her. We have seen good weekly progress but had yet to see a leap forward such as I am told usually happens at this stage.

Last night we got the leap.

Up to this point, Curly has been extremely hesitant to play in front of anyone, her Daddy and teacher included. I fretted about this as both Hubby and I have severe performance anxiety. I am told that most Suzuki students don't struggle with this as the method itself incorporates only positive performance experiences to boost students' confidence. I had not seen this yet so I determined to be patient and hide my worries.

Yesterday we had four guests to dinner: the couple who stayed the weekend with us, E & K, our frequent visitors, and their good friends, S & K, a couple they had wanted us to meet. Hubby and E fixed us a scrumptious meal of Thai food which the kids even ate tolerably well then we sat around the table chatting and working on logic puzzles ("nerding it up", as Hubby calls it). Practice time came for Curly and she and Hubby headed off downstairs. Before she left I invited her to play for our guests, fully expecting her to decline. To my surprise she accepted and soon she and Daddy were back with her little violin.

She stood tall, planted her feet and set her little violin on her shoulder. With lovely left-hand position and a beautiful bow-hold, she played Variation A of the famous/infamous Twinkle Theme and Variations by Mozart. She played with charming confidence and stunning tone. I wish I had gotten a video of it because it sounded light-years better than the last time I had heard her do it on the old violin. Everyone (who are all musicians, incidentally) listened raptly and when she was done and gave her cute little Suzuki bow, we all broke into such a great round of applause I thought her little face would split, she was grinning so big.

We know that music is not meant to be performed to gain accolades or attention; it is performed for the joy of the performer. But for such a little mite, working away day after day with such slow improvement as to be unnoticeable, such a performance with such great feedback is truly vital. It shows her the milestone she has reached and shows her, too, that her music can bring joy to others.

To see her play with such obvious enjoyment, confidence and poise even though she is still little brought great joy to me. The language of music, when begun at a young age, builds pathways in the brain that will last a lifetime. It is for this reason we spend the time and resources to bring it into our children's lives.

As a postscript, Little Mister always watches his sister with interest and longing. A couple of times I have allowed him to play very carefully with the 1/16 violin now that Curly is no longer using it. He always views this as a very great treat. I think I might try giving him a few games to play here and there to introduce a bow-hold, for instance and see how he does. It will still be a few years before he can begin formal lessons but I can see the interest and ability already beginning to show.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

As if I don't have enough...

Just for fun, I started a restaurant review blog, Moscow Dining Review. It's intended to be a completely informal review of area restaurants that our family visits and our experiences there. I also intend it to be a companion to Hubby's blog, Moscow Coffee Review. So if you like to dine out in this area, check for updates, reviews and stories!

Also, feel free to leave comments about your own dining experiences.

A Family Story

Once upon a time there were two children named Curly and Mister
They lived with their Mommy and Daddy in a beautiful cottage
The family loved each other so much that they wanted another baby to love
so they prayed for a special new Baby Bear to come
One day Grandmama came to stay with Curly and Mister
Mommy and Daddy got on a big airplane and traveled to Far Away
where a little brown baby was waiting
Mommy and Daddy brought the brown baby home to the beautiful cottage
and to her big brother, Mister and sister, Curly
Curly loved to hold her new sister, little Baby Bear
Mister loved to give her soft toys
Mommy took good care of her and fed her lots of warm milk
Daddy held Baby Bear and read the kids a fun story
Baby Bear first smiled, then found her toes, then sat up, and at last she walked
She gave her big brother and sister a hug
Mommy and Daddy love Curly, Mister and Baby Bear very much

*********************************

An artist friend plans to illustrate this and make it into a beautiful book for our family.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to make a really awesome eggnog latte

Bag of Cascade Pride Java with a handwritten note that says Espresso Roast

A Brikka Coffee maker

my hand holding a measurement of whole beans

Beans in the burr grinder, set to fine

the finely ground espresso coffee

pouring the grounds into the brikka

pouring bottled water into the bottom of the brikka

putting the Brikka together

Brikka coffeemaker on a burner set to high

pouring 16 ounces of eggnog into a four-cup glass measuring cup

microwaving eggnog for 2 minutes forty seconds

picture of an aerolatte foamer

setting the aerolatte in the eggnog

foaming the warm eggnog

Brikka coffee maker with shots of espresso in the top

Pouring the espresso in the mug

pouring the foamed eggnog in the mug

a beautiful mugful of yummy, foamy, creamy coffee!  wow.

Thursdays at the Tree-Slide

Every Thursday morning, a group of moms gather informally at the play place in the East Side Marketplace to chat and let their toddlers run off some of their energy before nap-time. The Stay-at-home moms around town who have kids of similar age usually end up making friends with one another; after all, Moscow isn't a very big place. So there is a group of moms I have become acquainted with through Preschool, MPTC, church, the Library Story Hour and the Park. Many know each other from MOPs too, but I have yet to go to that since my schedule is full.

One of the moms has two adopted daughters from Taiwan. We spent the morning swapping adoption stories last week. One of the moms has two kids the same ages as mine; her son loves Cars also. Another one I met just this morning is new in town so we exchanged emails and have hopes of future playdates.

I have met moms from Kentucky and moms from Wenatchee. Today I chatted with a couple of Dads. Subject: Potty-training. You never know what you're going to get at the Tree-Slide. A genuine Idaho cowboy chatted with a sophisticated-looking transplant from Seattle. Their offspring chased each other through the tunnel across the play area.

My children love going there to play. When given the choice of playing with her brand-new birthday toys or going to the Tree-Slide, Curly opted without hesitation for the latter. When we arrive, Little Mister rushes to push the "robot button", the handicap automatic door opener. Once inside, he always reminds me that we saw the Chihuahua movie there at the Cinema. "Wa-wa. Moo." He states it emphatically, just in case I had forgotten the important incident. Chihuahua Movie. Curly Miss runs at full-speed down the corridor toward the playplace, has her shoes and coat off and has made five new friends before Mister and I have found our seats along the "parent bench". I take his little shoes off and set him on his sturdy feet, smiling as he takes off for adventure.

Today I stopped at the Safeway Deli, grabbed some kid-friendly food (and a Starbuck's...I am really racking up the coffee charges this week!) and took it back to the Tree-Slide where we had a picnic. Sitting at the nearby table, munching macaroni-and-cheese and chicken strips, my children were in Toddler Heaven.

Normally I dislike sitting on a park bench watching the kids play. But on Thursdays at the Tree-Slide with friends to talk to, I find that the time goes quickly. All too soon we're saying goodbye and heading back home to housework and naps. Until next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Birthday Madness



I actually got out from behind the camera and helped Curly open presents.



Auntie still loves opening presents too!



The famous Curly-and-Daddy Birthday Cake! (It looks more like the Fourth of July to me!!!)



The usual off-key song and blowing out candles



Curly Miss and Little Mister took the lead on Candle Removal.



A new tea set had to be opened right away



The tea set turned out to be Little Mister's favorite toy.



Curly Miss got a traffic light to put in her room.



Lincoln Logs, a classic toy. Note the horse on the roof, an important feature of any Pioneer building.

Curly was so funny. She opened just a couple of the presents then she wanted to stop and play with them and didn't want to open any more. I think if she had her way she would open one birthday present a week throughout the year.

I am pretty sure she had a good birthday. Now she's counting down until she's five. I told her she had a long time to wait. Silly kid!

The Crew



Taking a family photo gets harder every year. It doesn't help that Hubby absolutely detests "taking a family photo". We really needed one to go on our adoption application so I am VERY thankful for my in-laws who took one when we were down there for GG's 80th birthday party. They sent me the CD today with all the pictures, most of which turned out pretty well, a surprise since my kids had not slept all night the previous night and were supreme fuss-budgets.

So here's our "official" family photo. I'd say it is a lot better than last year's orange monstrosity! I like this one. :)