Sunday, July 31, 2011

Camera Silliness

Hubby holding Bean to the ceiling

closeup of Mister

closeup of Curly

Bean talking

Hubby posing

Bean reaching for the camera

Hubby dinking around on guitar

Bikes, Sunset, and Large Machines

In our never-ending quest to find fun things to do in the two hours between supper and bed time, we took the bikes to a parking lot on campus. Not long ago, a new road had been built next to this parking lot, so two lifts had been stored there still. They rode their bikes around them in the mellow sunset light, their shadows stretching behind them across the parking lot.

We got Bean a new type of Kid bike called a Boot Scoot. It is a tiny two-wheeler with no pedals. The idea is, they learn to balance first. It would work great...if his feet could touch the ground.

Edited to Add: For all you Safety Sammies out there, yes, I realize Curly's helmet got pushed back at the precise time I was taking pictures. Believe it or not, I did fix it shortly after I snapped the photos.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Snapshot: Finished Dining Room Set

Recycled: Wooden thrift store table.  Metal chair frames.
Made new: Wooden benches and chair seats.

Edited: Tonight, I added wooden finials to the backs of both chairs.

Court Date!

We got our court date in mid-October! I'm sad it's so late, relieved that we have time to make plans, sad she prolly won't be home by Christmas, glad we at last have a date, and mostly sad. Eleven weeks is a long time. More later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Bench

I've spent several days in the wood shop, making benches for our dining room table. The idea is to seat kids and guests, and whomever needs to sit at the table. A secondary benefit was to give me something to do this week to ward off the stress and blues resulting from the roller-coaster adoption ride.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Elk Creek Falls

On Saturday I went hiking by myself for the afternoon at a lovely spot about an hour from our house. For fun, I took the camera along, trying to capture some of the beauty and light that I love so much about the forest. Here are a few of the photos, which I ran through PhotoShop to make them look a little more "artsy."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Of Swimming and the Airport

Grandpa and Grandma came up from Oregon yesterday for a visit in Grandpa's little plane. While they were here, they simply spoiled us rotten, as Hubby insists all good grandparents should. Grandma brought a cherry pie (thanks Becca!) and homemade cookies.

They treated us to lunch at Gambino's, then took the older two kids swimming, while Bean took a nap.

Little Mister, heretofore anxious about "sliding on the green tube slide by the orange steps," was coaxed by Grandpa to attempt the feat.

Once he did it, he was so pleased with himself, he told me about it twice when he got home.

I've had a tough time getting him to enjoy being in the water. I suspected it was because of the aversion he has to bright light, rather than any fear of the water itself. We found some wrap-around sunglasses for this trip, and I think it assisted Grandpa in his coaxing Mister to be brave and go down the slide.

When we took them back to the airport for their departure, they graciously let the kids explore the plane a little. When Bean began pressing buttons, it was suddenly time to get out again!

We posed for a family shot (a rarity), then it was time to get down to business.

Bean decided that Grandpa could not possibly refuel the plane without his expert assistance. I'm sure he was a huge help.

Little Mister opted to stay in the shade and watch from a distance. The poor kid probably would have liked to go watch up close, but he got caught in the middle of Mommy sternly telling Curly to sit (she did) and Bean to stay (he didn't) and we were all hot and cranky and hungry. Mister, who is generally the quietest and most well-behaved kid should probably be allowed to do stuff like help refuel the plane; instead he is the one who obeys when I bark at the kids to sit down and behave themselves!

We stayed to watch them take off, something Curly insisted she had never seen "in real life" before. (She has; she just didn't remember it.)

We waved until they were a tiny speck in the distance.

I'm grateful that they can fly up here to visit us (travel time 1.2 hours) instead of us having to drive down there (travel time 4.1 hours, with screaming Bean, feels like 8.9 hours) as often. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for coming up to see us!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Recommended Reading List

I've had several friends ask me lately to recommend books to them to read. I suppose you know this about me if you know me at all: I am a bibliophile to the nth degree. Since I learned to read when I was two or three, I have been absolutely addicted to the printed word, reading several books a week. I gravitate toward characters rather than plot; each new book offers a smorgasbord of new friends to meet, and reading an old book is like renewing an acquaintanceship long cherished. I particularly like stories whose characters have a unique perspective on the world, whether gained by their experiences or by having a disability, or just by a personality painted in different colors than the drab, gray usual-ness of normalcy. I also love books without regard to length or genre. A children's book can be just as meaningful and thoughtfully written as a novel of a thousand pages. Although I gravitate toward fiction or biography, I have read many a nonfiction book and enjoyed it. Also, I'm extremely picky. I've read hundreds of books that I did not enjoy at all. Many books never even made it into my pile to be read. So this is not a list of books I've read, only books I liked.

Here, then, is my list of favorite books in no particular order.(I think I will put an asterisk by the ones that are especial favorites, though. Also not going to list the Bible because, well, duh.)

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
The Chronicles of Narnia (series), By C.S. Lewis
The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton*
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell
The Cay, by Theodore Taylor*
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton
Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruen
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
The Distant Hours, by Kate Morton
Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
Anne of Green Gables (all 8 in the series), by L.M. Montgomery
Elsie Dinsmore (series), By Martha Finley
Children's Pilgrim's Progress, by Helen Taylor
Hind's Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
The Zion Chronicles, by Bodie Thoene
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter
Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson*
The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
A Wrinkle in Time (trilogy), by Madeleine L'Engle
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
Holes, by Louis Sachar
100 Cupboards (trilogy), by N.D. Wilson
The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
The Indian in the Cupboard (series), by Lynne Reid Banks
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
Little House on the Prairie (series), by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The BFG, by Roald Dahl
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
Night, by Elie Wiesel
Touch the Top of the World, by Erik Weihenmayer*
Blind Courage, by Bill Irwin*
Crashing Through, by Robert Kurson
Planet of the Blind, by Stephen Kuusisto
Eavesdropping, by Stephen Kuusisto
Sight Unseen, by Georgina Kleege
Cockeyed, by Ryan Knighton
The Flying Scotsman, by Sally Magnusson
The Story of my Life, by Helen Keller
The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, by Bette Bao Lord
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler
Misty of Chincoteague (series), by Marguerite Henry
The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli*
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri*
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare
Indian Paint, by Glenn Balch and Nils Hogner
As I See It, by Judy Taylor
Light a Single Candle, by Beverly Butler
Timothy of the Cay, by Theodore Taylor
Good Night, Mr. Tom, by Michelle Magorian
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
The Story Girl and The Golden Road, by L.M.Montgomery
Dorie: The Girl Nobody Loved, by Erwin W. Lutzer and Doris VanStone
The Forbidden Door, by Jeanne K. Norweb*
The Wind in the Wheat, by Reed Arvin*
Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Kim, by Rudyard Kipling
Right Ho, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
Dave Barry Slept Here, by Dave Barry
A Sense of the World, by Jason Roberts
Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books), by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Little Lame Prince, by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories, by Arthur Stanley Maxwell
A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson*
The Clan of the Cave Bear (series), by Jean M. Auel
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger*
White Fang, by Jack London
All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls
The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (entire series), by Dorothy Gilman
Brother Cadfael mysteries (series), by Ellis Peters

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slowly Come the Hours

Waiting kind of kills my creative muse. Well, that, and typing for several hours a day for work. It makes blogging a lot lower on the priority list, and I apologize for that.

By waiting, I mean waiting for a court date for Ethiopia. Our Social Worker still remains hopeful that we'll get one before August 6th. Each day that goes by makes me a little more anxious. If we do get one that soon, travel plans are going to difficult, expensive, and rushed. For this rural Idaho greenhorn, that sounds horribly daunting.

Every day, I struggle just to keep afloat with this weighty burden of waiting upon me. I pull myself out of bed in the morning after another night of restless sleep. I get the Bean, change him and give him his bottle of warmed milk. For a few precious months, he is still my baby, and I'm reluctant to give up the bottle and snuggles just yet, although I know the time is coming. It is peeking around the corner, in fact.

At the noon hour, I give the kids their lunches, and then send up a prayer of relief when "quiet time" comes and I can be alone with my burden. I pray. Broken, disconnected words. I think of my little girl, so far away.

It feels like that interminable last week of pregnancy when the body is preparing itself for birth. That time that seems as though it will never end, but you know in your head eventually it will... It's the mother's way of preparing herself for the trauma and wonder of labor and birth. I guess I am being prepared for that as well... The birth of a new relationship, a new child into my life and heart and family. A mother goes through this transformation sooner than anyone else, a secret, silent metamorphosis. I am trapped right now in a chrysalis, and I almost cannot breathe.

Life goes on all around me. Children grow and chatter and laugh. On the outside, I talk to them, kiss them. I take them to the science center and teach them new words. But on the inside, I am buried in a cocoon of silent, trembling waiting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Coffee Roaster

It occurred to me as I was paging back through some of the 2007 posts in my blog, that I used to write a lot more.  I had much fewer pictures, but I painted pictures for myself in words.  Lately, I have been cheating, writing thousands of my blog words with the snap of a shutter.

I'd like to go back to the words.  Words, however, take thought.  They take time to corral them and organize them and type them out.  So I'll probably still do mostly pictures for a while.

This picture is painted on the wall of a certain favorite downtown coffee shop.  It's of a man, probably the original owner of the shop, roasting coffee with a big gas-powered roasting machine.

I post this picture because as of this weekend, this picture is my Hubby.  He has acquired his dream job and is now the main roaster there at his favorite shop.  It is now up to him to order the beans from exotic locations around the globe.  It's up to him to measure and weigh them, to pour them into his machine and time them carefully, listening for the first crack and the second crack.  It is his job to take careful notes and improve his art, to blend the bright tones of the light roast, the fruity mid tones of the medium roast, and the rich, dark tones of the longest-roasted beans.  It's his job to let the beans out with a whoosh of fresh-roasted-coffee smell into the hopper where they stir and cool and the chaff falls down below.

Oh yeah, this isn't Hubby's day job.  He's still a computer programmer.  And it's not his night job.  That involved helping Goombas practice their music, of washing little bodies, and helping them into their jammies, and reading them books before bed.  It's not the job he does after that, washing the dishes and helping with the chores.

This is his dream job.  This is his art.  Hubby has three outlets for his artistic passion: his guitar, his theology blog, and most importantly, his coffee.  His goal, a perfect cup of coffee, from the bean that come from across an ocean, to a roast that is perfect down to the millisecond, to a grind that brings out the flavor of every bean, to a shot pulled into long, frothy, foamy, brown perfection.  His canvas is espresso; his audience the discerning palette. 

I am excited to watch his masterworks come forth, day by day. 

Bean's New Word

Also a fun sample of the usual chaotic nature of our family conversations...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Music Down The Street

Life seems to have settled down into a rhythm this summer, now that we're all healthy again. The days fly by while Hubby's at work; I care for the kids, do schoolwork, and then Steph plays with them while I build websites and do transcriptions on my computer.

Hubby comes home and we have dinner, then we walk downtown and play at the park, or get a treat from the coffee shop. Tonight I walked even farther around a two-and-a-half mile loop with the Bean in the stroller in order to give Hubby some tornado-free time to help the kids practice their music. Curly is working through Suzuki Book 2, and Mister has begun with the John W. Shaum piano method, with a most lovely piano teacher, who teaches via Skype, since she just moved to Arizona.

Hubby reads to the kids, and then we tuck them all, with prayers and kisses into bed. Tonight, music is wafting down the street from the park, where it's Rendezvous in the Park time again. Our curb is full of cars, and our sidewalk is once again full of friendly strangers who smile at us an wave as they go on their way to the park to buy beer and enchiladas and listen to rock or reggae.

After we do some of the evening chores, Hubby and I settle onto the couch to watch a TV show or documentary, or just to sit and converse. Tonight we bought a baguette and some creamy brie as a late-night treat.

These are long, sunny, happy days as we wait to find out when we travel to Ethiopia and life becomes once again full of upheaval.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pedal Tray

Tonight, Hubby requested a black tray to hold his guitar pedals and a power strip. I was happy to have some time in the woodshop making it for him.

Snapshot: Daddy Award

Hubby mowing the lawn with Bean on his back