Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Count

One... one cute goomba, ah, ah, ahhhhhh....

Two... two cute goombas, ah, ah, ahhhh.....

Three... three cute goombas! I love to count!

And for a little more counting love:

Monday, August 30, 2010


I love to work.

When I used to take those personality profiles, they told me I was an "accomplisher" whatever that means. I guess it means I get my jollies from checking things off a nice, tidy list. Helping someone get something done lights me up inside, particularly if they're nice enough to throw a thank-you my way.

Although Mommy-ing is a lot of work, a lot of raw, physical labor and ongoing drudgery, it doesn't quite satisfy my accomplisher side. Somehow the fact that when you cross something like laundry off your chore list, yet you know all along that it'll be right back on there staring you in the face the very next day takes some of the shine out of it.

So I've been racking up part-time and work-from-home jobs. I've now collected three, along with the Braille Transcriber Certification thingy, which I have nearly finished. All this is great as long as they take turns demanding time from my day. There are weeks like this one though, where they all descend on me at once and I feel like a circus performer, spinning plates, frantically dancing around the stage from one shaky pole to another to keep them all going.

I'll put together a web page and proof the content, stopping long enough to get my son a cheese stick and change the baby, hauling him off the stairs where he had climbed to precarious heights. When that is done, I'll answer an email from another coworker, shoot a second email off to a web client, dash into the bathroom to prevent the baby from flushing a toy car down the toilet, toss some clothes in the washer, proofread a flyer I needed to get done, check the calendar for the next time we play music at church, make a mental note to double proof my braille manuscript for the final certification test and get it sent off, as well as filling out some more adoption forms... then wonder why I have not been out in my new shop at all since I finished the wiring ten days ago. It hits me that the only homeschooling my children have done for days was to watch The Magic School Bus ten times, so I plan another trip to the Science Center.

By the end of the day when I have walked the dog in the ever-earlier darkness, I feel exhausted but euphoric. Being busy, talking to people, chatting online about task lists, keeping my kids healthy and happy and safe and learning... I love to work.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Country Brushfire!

Today we spent the afternoon at some homeschool friends' house who live out in the country surrounded by wheat fields. We drove on gravel back roads for half an hour to get to their house.

When we got there we discovered that a nearby field was ablaze, filling the sky with smoke.

The wind, as you can see whipping Curly's hair, got up to 40 mph, fanning the innocent field fire into something much more deadly.

Most of us hung out in the kitchen, munching on pretzels and talking, while people took turns watering their grass on the north side (where the fire was) and checking on the location of the fire over the hill to the north, standing in the whipping wind.

My baby took a nap in their spare room and when he woke up, he was hungry! We all restlessly roamed around, watching the fire as the the wind blew it along. It jumped the highway, passed by our friend's house, burned around a neighbor's farm (they apparently had a good fire break) and finally on toward the newly harvested stubble to the east, spreading ash on the surrounding region.

I think by tonight the fire crews have it contained, but it sure gave us an exciting afternoon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pics from the Backcountry

I received a few pictures from E&K with a promise to get the rest of them next Saturday when we see them.

Yours truly in front of a lovely pristine meadow. We didn't see much wildlife but the Idaho scenery left nothing to be desired.

Independence Creek along which our trail ran and crossed and crossed and crossed.

E&K resting after a hike.

My trusty hiking stick. You can also see our tent and the weeds growing directly in front of our tent. No picnic tables here! We were in a true backcountry meadow with nothing but the sound of the creek (and a few illegal motorcyclists!).

I had a great time, got 30+ bug bites and was truly refreshed to be out in God's creation and have some "me" time away from the kids.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sister Love

Curly and Mister made a train out of a cardboard box. Then Curly, needing an actor to play the part of "delighted passenger" recruited Baby Bear to ride around in the train.

For some time she pushed him around the kitchen while he shrieked and squealed in sheer glee that he got to play with the older kids.

It's a good thing a baby can never be spoiled by too much love. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shop Project

This odd little building sitting to the left of our house was intended to be a garage, I believe. Unfortunately our minivan doesn't fit through the doors and once inside, it hits the rafters. For the past two years it has been a catch-all storage shed.

This summer, I took it over. Hubby basically gave it to me, a whole building! All mine! I've dreamed of having a woodworking shop for years, ever since I took a woodshop class in school.  Now this summer I was going to see my dream come true. 

We took the storage stuff out and piled it on the driveway.  I'm pretty sure the neighbors thought we were having another yard sale.

But the stuff got covered with a tarp.  Unfortunately the stuff is still there.  I'm not sure quite what to do with it.  I assume we'll eventually find places in the basement for everything.

The garage building had a dirt floor (not level) and unfinished walls.  The other main problem was that it was not wired for power.  It basically had four walls and a roof with three ancient windows stuck randomly here and there.  The side doorway had no door.

Step one three weeks ago was building a floor.  I hired a carpenter from our church to do it, since I knew I would never have time to do it myself.  Hubby has been entirely hands-off on this project, since the shop is my baby.

After the floor was in I needed to plan wiring.  Sketches of wiring diagrams and building plans began to cover my kitchen table. The kids watched me add numbers of inches and feet, calculating the amount of wire I'd need.

I talked Hubby into calling the City for permission to dig.  One week many workmen came and spray-painted the gravel in front of our gate, assuring us that we would not unearth a water line, sewer pipe, TV cable or telephone wires.

Hubby spent all afternoon in the sun digging me a lovely trench where Mr. Carpenter-Guy installed conduit, drilling a hole in the foundation of the house to insert one end.

Next Mr. Carpenter-Guy built and installed a wonderful sturdy workbench along one end of the shop.  The front angles inward so I don't hit my knees.  He even made a back so tools don't slide off the shelf into the no-man's-land beyond the wall studs.

In a comical carnival trip to the hardware store with all three noisy kids, I bought Romex wire, boxes, outlets and switches.

Although I've never done this type of wiring, I figured it couldn't be a lot harder than repairing lamps or installing fixtures.  I started googling directions on the internet, calling my Dad every two hours to ask questions and calling my friend K who has worked on wiring her house this summer.

Like putting a puzzle together, I nailed in boxes, ran wires, nailed staples and installed outlets.

I even put two outlets on the front of my workbench, the thought being that plugging in hand tools there would keep the cords out of my work space.

Today, Dad came up for the day to help me finish the wiring.  We ran a separate circuit for the lights, of which I installed five, although the shop is only about 12 feet on each side.  I figured woodworking with vision as crummy as mine could use as much light as possible.

With that thought in mind I put in a directional swing-arm lamp above the work bench to shed light directly on my projects.

My Dad, happy to clean out storage items from his garage gave me a table saw and a drill press as well as some hand tools.  Along with my planer, drill, jigsaw and sander, I have a good start on a well-outfitted wood shop.

With the workbench already covered in junk, the floor covered with sawdust and my new piece of pegboard hung up ready for tools, I'm beginning to feel right at home.  I need to get the vise and two circuit breakers I have on order and I'll be up and running, ready to build all sorts of wooden toys for my children, or delicate musical instruments, or furniture or someday new kitchen cupboards.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Minuet 1

Since I haven't posted a violin video for quite some time and I know the grandmas at least like to know how it's going, here is Curly playing Bach's Minuet 1 after a practice time tonight. I've heard better tone from her and stronger rhythm, but it's pretty late and she granted me the privilege of taping her so I jumped at the chance.

She has been doing well on violin this summer. After a six-week break and some hard-core review, she is back on track. I wouldn't be surprised if she finishes Book 1 by Christmastime... not bad for a five-year-old. We're still trying hard to let her take her own pace and not to push her to perfection or to perform. We would like to give her more performance opportunities so that she doesn't feel nervous playing for people but we're not pushing for any sort of child virtuoso, just good musicality and enjoyment of her instrument. So far, although it's not always a lark to practice every day, she does still love "being a violin player."

New Dress

I stocked up on character fabric the other day when our store had a "phasing out fabric" sale. Curly discovered I had not only Lightning McQueen fabric but also checkered fabric just like the flags on the racecourse. To her delight I whipped out another original designed dress just for my little racing fan. She wore it to church the next day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I woke up with a sore throat this morning.

People who only know me through this blog probably think I'm a sunny sort of person. I try to blog about cheerful subjects or put a humorous twist on unfortunate incidents. I like to write about happy things, fun things, funny things or cute things. Once in a while I'll slip in some editorial opinions, but I think for the most part I keep things pretty light around here.

Inside my own head or to my family, though, I'm a lot more negative. If I'm in pain or have a headache or feel tired or blue I have a really hard time keeping a cheerful face or a patient temperament. Since I can't remember the last pain-free day, I'm sure my family feels it.

I struggle too with my job. Being a stay-at-home mom is a simultaneous blessing and a curse. I'm blessed to get to have my children around me, to guide and guard their little lives. But sometimes I feel trapped in my house with nothing to think about and no energy to go anywhere or do anything. My Hubby, who understands that I feel this way often says things like, "Mommy needs a break and needs to get away." I completely appreciate his sympathy, but I worry about the effect on my kids, who have this impression that I live for the moments when I can get away from them.

I feel helpless to change this because in some sense it's true. I'm happier when I can shed my shackles and do something else, to go down to the coffee shop and work unhindered for a few precious hours on something mentally stimulating or take the dog for a three-mile walk with a good book on my iPod. I would certainly rank those activities as more fun than changing diapers, cleaning up spills or reminding my daughter for the thousandth time to chew with her mouth closed.

Then once in a while some good fairy comes along and sprinkles into my life a little reminder of why I do what I do. Today it was this post, "Christmas Every Day," by a blogger-friend who happens to share both my profession and my name.  I read this and nearly cried. Because, you see, I feel exactly the same way. And if I could have five kids or twelve kids or twenty kids, I would. Each child is amazing. Each child is a blessing.

Somehow I long to live my life so that my kids KNOW that I love being with them. So they know that they are a blessing to me. They are more important than marks on the walls, than table manners or spills or cleaning up shreds of paper they have snipped into confetti. Somehow I ask for just a little more patience to endure the repetitive endless questions or the neediness or the hundreds of times I have to put on little shoes.

I hope my kids remember me, not as a grouch, but as a Mom who delights in them. Heaven knows I'm not perfect nor will I ever be, but if the scales tip, I hope they tip toward the side of love, and that my children will look back on these golden days of childhood and see me in their memories with a smile on my face and arms open wide.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Blackberry Season Again!

Last year we made the mistake of picking blackberries in the heat of the afternoon.

This year, as wise, experienced blackberry pickers we went down after the sun went down, during the cool evening "gloaming." As a family we drove through the ripe wheat fields, listening to the Purple Puzzle Tree, a children's series from Hubby's fond memories of childhood.

Because we had Hubby's help picking, we got quite a bit more than last year. I foresee pies and ice cream in our near future, topped with fresh, ripe blackberries.