Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday Ten: I Wonder

Why? What? How? Ten Things I Wonder:

1. So, here I am going through my day appreciating the blue sky and this suddenly pops into my head: Does everyone see the same colors? I mean, I know that mostly we can agree that the sky is blue, trees are green and stop signs are red and so forth. But if I were to be able to pop into your head, would your red look the same as my red? And if I were to pop into your head, would I be able to tell the difference between your red and my red anyway, since your brain would code that color as "red" so that's what I'd perceive? And if I were to pop into your head suddenly, would I really care about the color red, or would I be screaming "Get me back to my own head!!!" or would I think, "Hey, this is cooooool. I'd better figure out how this thing works." Or would I just turn into you? Maybe we're head-hopping all the time and don't know it.....I wonder how that would work? Maybe....

I have a headache.

2. Am I the only one who thinks of random stuff like this while driving or folding laundry? Seriously, help me out here. Let me know if you wonder as you wander too. I can't be the only weirdo with odd thoughts bumping around in the ol' brain.

3. Where is my other red sock? I put two red socks into the washer. Only one came out. Did the pants get hungry? A sock thief with only one leg? The shoes hated that sock so they ganged up and took him out while I wasn't looking? Sock divorce-- irreconcilable differences? Think it will turn up if I only pretend to get rid of the other sock, or will it catch on to my wily ruse and stay in hiding until its partner is gone for real.

4. Why wasn't (weren't?) Brangelina at the Oscars? Oh wait. I don't care. I do wonder, though, who came up with that stupid nickname. No, I really don't even care about that. Why is this pressing news? Who cares?

5. What are my sisters and my friend Dawn writing for their Tuesday Ten? Will mine be really really bad in comparison? Are they waiting to steal my ideas? Hmmm...can I sneak over and steal some of their ideas?

3....why some people wait until the last minute to do anything? It isn't like you don't KNOW it needs to be done or anything. No, you have to wait until the deadline is looming and there is stress and pressure. Uh, speaking in general terms here, of course. Not pointing fingers at anyone in particular.

(Hey....wait a minute. Is she talking about me sitting here doing my Tuesday Ten when it's nearly Wednesday? Wait, maybe she's talking about Irie sis Megan since hers isn't up either. I wonder if I'll beat her. Maybe she's finishing hers right now.)

6. I do wonder if winter will ever be over, so I really will steal that one from Dawn. February is the longest month ever. Grey (with an "e" because it looks drearier doesn't it? Gray with an "a" is a soft word, like a fluffy gray kitten). Dreary, chilly. Blah. Bleh. I'm in a funk. I wonder if I will make it through until the sunny weeks we usually get in March.

7. Do chickens dream?

8. Why can't Cristy spell "refrigerator"? Doesn't she know that it's the easiest word to spell? Doesn't she know that we measure her worth as a human being by her grammar and spelling? Doesn't she know that we just enjoy reading her blog and seeing her beautiful pictures of her farm and family and her lovely close-ups and we really don't give a rat's patootie if she can't spell worth a darn? Doesn't she know that she took the steam out of my ship, the wind out of my sails, the toot out of my horn by making fun of herself before I got a chance to do it? Darn.

9. Why hasn't my poor sister just upped and smacked me yet? I tease her mercilessly and she's still nice to me. Go figure.

10. Why, every Tuesday, I can think of either nine things or eleven. I mean, I do wonder lots and lots of weird random things, believe me. But when it comes time to actually write them down? Poof! Gone. Ten just doesn't seem to come easily. So either I act like I can't count and/or the rules don't really apply to me ("Only ten things, p'shaw! Genius can't be held to such restrictions!"), or I sit here in front of my keyboard staring at the monitor waiiiiiting for inspiration to strike. Why can't I just do the sensible thing when I get stuck on the last one-- Publish the post and go read a book.

Which is what I'm going to do right now. Happy Tuesday!

Cristy wonders lots of stuff too, like about the spelling of the word "refrigerator." C, it's r-e-f-r-i-g-e-r-a-t-o-r. Let her know if you like her close-ups.

My dear cyber-friend Dawn at Follow Me is joining us this week. What Dawn is wondering.

Irie finally got her Ten posted. Sheesh. Yes, sis, we're laughing at you. Nothing new there. It's not like we really even need a reason, but it was nice of you to give us one. Smooches.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I woke up, straight out of a sound sleep last night. Fine young gent, 2, was rasping and rattling so he could barely catch his breath. It sounded awful. Frightening. I immediately picked him up, held him so that he was upright. Unbuttoned his pajamas so that I could watch what his little chest was doing while he was trying to breathe. Held him and walked around the room waiting for his breathing to settle a little. The horrible raspy breathing didn't seem to bother him much, he just put his head on my shoulder and rasped his way back to sleep. Point one for not taking him immediately to the emergency room. If it wasn't bothering him enough to wake him all the way then he's probably all right. That, and there was no high-pitched wheezing, and his breathing settled some, just a little, as soon as I sat him up.

But still....scary.

I grabbed a blanket and a pillow and settled in for an upright night in the recliner. This is the worst part. Sitting in the dark, listening to the baby breathe. Thinking that I'm pretty sure he's fine. Worrying. Listening to baby breathe. Knowing in my head that I have good instincts for my sick babies, knowing that he's really fine and that croup sounds worse than it is. Wishing I could breathe for him then realizing that I'm breathing deep with every breath he takes. Listening to the baby breathe. I've been through croupy nights several times over these years with the gents. Experience helps the rational part of me, the part of me that knows what to do and that babe will be ok. But it sure doesn't help that scared mommy part of me that keeps thinking, "What if I'm wrong? What if we need to go now and I decide to stay home and we don't get there in time?"

Still pretty raspy. After half an hour in a steamy bathroom he sounded a bit better, his breathing still loud and rattly but a little quieter and more even. I was wide awake, though, listening to his breathing quiet a little. He slept upright on my shoulder while I knocked out a game of online Scrabble and watched a tv show I'd recorded. Then I just sat in the dark holding my baby. This is the part that I love, holding my sweet gent while he sleeps. As the gents get older, I don't get to hold them the way I did when they were babies. Rocking them all night, feeling their sweet soft heads heavy on my shoulder. All still in the house except for the squeak and sway of the rocking chair. We've got the night to ourselves. Someday they'll be bigger than me and I won't get to rock them at all, even when they're sick, so I take this time and love it, those quietly rasping breaths and all. Definitely a silver-lining kind of a blessing, but a blessing nonetheless.

We finally headed back to bed. Fine young gent slept propped on my shoulder the rest of the night, both of us restless.

I took my little gent to the doctor today. Not our regular pediatrician, who's gone this week. This doctor is young and fairly new, a nice nice lady. Not a mom yet, which is fine. I am not of the persuasion that you must have children in order to understand them. But how do you explain to someone who has never spent even one night rocking one croupy child, much less far too many nights rocking croupy kids over the past few years, that even though baby sounds fine now while out-and-about in the middle of the afternoon that you already know what's in store for croupy night two? It's not even so much the loud breathing, it's the sitting in the dark praying that it won't get worse. Fortunately the fine young gent didn't want anything to do with this stranger who wanted to touch him and look in his ears. He cried, and as soon as he started crying he started rasping. "Oh, there it is. I hear it now," she said.

Wish us good rest tonight. Fine young gent got a nice long nap this afternoon, but I didn't. I'm tired.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Mitten

The Mitten
, adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett, is a simple and charming story about Nicki, who persuades his grandmother to knit him snow-white mittens. Out exploring in the snowy woods, he drops a mitten. Along comes a mole, burrowing through the snow, and the mole decides that the mitten looks like a snug cozy place for a rest. He's joined one at a time by several forest friends, including a hedgehog, an owl, a hare, and a bear. Finally a little mouse wriggles his way in, right on top of bear's nose. ACHOO!

The story is sweet and simple. I've read it over and over since the lovely lady was small and I'm not tired of reading it yet. Even better than the story are Brett's lovely and charming illustrations. The mitten-shaped windows to the side of each page develop the story beyond the words on the page and help young children predict what's to come on the next page. It's absolutely charming, one of our favorite picture book read-alouds.
Brett's site has some lovely crafts and activities to go along with reading The Mitten, including animal masks, a lovely letter about the creation of the book, a coloring page, instructions on how to draw a bear, and much much more!

The Mitten made a perfect jumping off point for the Bridgeway House Theater troupe, though Brett's tale has no fairies, trains, or tornadoes. Read about the play based on The Mitten and put on by a cast of children with autism here (or click on The Mitten tag at the bottom of this post).

Curtain Call

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Am I Famous, Mom?"

The newspaper article on Sunday's Bridgeway House production of The Mitten (read my glowing post about the play here first if you haven't yet) was in today's newspaper, the feature article on the front page of the Arts section. I was delighted when I saw that the article was out. I showed lovely lady that her play was in the paper, a nice long article. I sat down to read it right away.


When I'd finished reading, I felt let down. I couldn't put my finger on why, but I didn't feel inspired any more. The article was very long and detailed, well-written, had good photos of the children, and ended nicely. But still....

It wasn't until later this afternoon I realized why. After dropping off lovely lady at her girls group, I chatted with the mothers of lovely lady's two friends who'd also been in the play, and found that they'd felt the same way-- somehow disappointed but unable to really express why. Driving home, it dawned on me that we hadn't seen our daughters, our lovely, joyful, beautiful daughters in the article. The reporter, a very nice and gentle man, kind and well-meaning, had walked in expecting to see disabled kids, and that's what he saw. So that's what he wrote. Our children disappeared behind their labels and behaviors. We got to read about the difficulties and the behaviors and the tears instead of how the kids persevered and practiced anyway. Was the play a challenge? You bet. Darn tootin' it was, just ask the exhausted director and the parents who had to help their kids hold it together during and after play practice. My lovely lady had an utter sobbing meltdown over changing her clothes after the last dress rehearsal.

Because the play went well, Mr. Keefer wrote that they "played above their game." But they didn't. They really didn't. This was no miracle. The cast of The Mitten responded to the audience, to the fact that it was the real thing, to the energy in the theater...just like the cast of any play anywhere. It was their moment to shine, and they knew it, so they shone. Because they are children first and foremost. Great kids. Funny kids. Charming kids. Who happen to have autism.

I did like this part, near the very end (the lecture happened during the run-through, not during the actual performance):

The show was sweet and funny. But was it art? This was, after all, nothing but a half-hour grade school performance. People like to gush about "risky" art, even when the risks are utterly conventional. This was a true theater of risk. No one involved had a clue what would happen on Sunday afternoon, from the kids and their parents to the director. "The Mitten," in that sense, was a grand piece of conceptual artistry, raising questions of identity and difference without a moment of preachiness. When Annie stormed off stage to lecture that hapless mom, she broke the fourth wall of theater more honestly than any postmodernist playwright ever has. We are all part of the show, the moment said, no matter how much we might prefer to sit back and watch.

~Bob Keefer, “Opening Act”, The Register Guard, February 22, 2007.

I liked the online slide show better. It's got lots of smiles and fun pictures. There's an absolutely stunning picture of my lovely bunny near the end, holding her roses. I'll try to link it here, but it may not work. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday Ten: What to do?

Ten Possible Future Occupations for My Children

1. Space explorer cowboy scientist. Fine young gent, 6, is convinced that not only will he be a space-exploring scientist some day, he'll be able to wear cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat while he's doing it. Now if only he can convince NASA to let him carry a sword and shield....

2. Artist. Lovely lady, 13, wants to be an artist. I expect that she will be. She's very talented. She sketches, cartoons, paints, works in pastels and charcoal, sculpts.

3. Writer. She's an author too. She's in the process of writing her third novel.

4. Storyteller. Lovely lady, 11, loves to act out stories. She's got a wonderful rote memory and she's very dramatic, gestures and all. She enjoys repetition and loves young children.

5. If the storytelling thing doesn't work out, she can always fall back on Drama Queen. Oh, wait. This list is supposed to be about future occupations. Lovely young lady certainly occupies plenty of her time as the reigning drama queen right now. I should just go out and get her a crown. Ah well, perhaps she'll retain or regain her crown in her future if she finds someone who actually takes her seriously and agrees that yes indeed, her life is the worst life ever, that everything is ruined, and that it's all Mom's fault. Surely there's somebody out there in need of a little drama to spice up life. My complete lack of sympathy is ruining her life!

(Hush, Mom, I can hear you laughing right now. It is not funny....I was not like that. Hmph. You're ruining my life.)

6. Motorcycle police officer or firefighter. Or motorcycle firefighter. Or a firefighter who arrests bad guys. Or a police officer who fights fires. Oh, the possibilities.

7. Can you get a job playing with Legos?

8. Superhero. I keep trying to tell them that folding several loads of laundry and mopping the kitchen and washing all the windows in under half an hour is too a superpower, but they're on to me. They're all going for the glamor, in training already-- swooping around the house in their capes chasing bad guys out of the bathroom and cleaning out the bad-guy lair behind the couch. Oh well, at least the house is pretty clear of bad guys.

9. Fine young gent, 2, replied "Tom and Jerry" and "Two" when asked his future occupational aspirations.

10. Awwww. Ok, I forgive my lovely little drama queen because she says she wants to be a mom just like me. She even gave me a little hug to go along with it. I would've forgiven her anyway, but darn, isn't that sweet?

Cristy's kids future occupations here.
Irie has big plans for her future too.

Oink, oink

I don't really want a pig. Just checking to see if loving husband is really reading my blog.

No reaction so far. Either he hasn't read it or he's afraid I'll start crying and begging for a pig. Heh heh.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chickens After Dark

Chickens put themselves to bed, which is one of the things I love about chickens. I have to tuck in the gents, tell the lovely ladies it's lights out time, call the cats. But the chickens put themselves to bed. Unless, of course, they fly over the chicken yard fence into the big back yard. It wasn't quite as dark as it seems in the photos, but the chuckly biddies were sure happy when I opened the gate to their yard so that they could waddle their way back to the coop. Why can they fly one way but not the other?

Today, loving husband and I decided to put an end to their sport, especially since last week an escapee made it into the neighbor's yard while I was gone and had to be chased by my very dedicated friend B. This afternoon we clipped their wings. Easier than giving the gents a haircut. Loving-but-not-so-sure-about-the-chicken-thing husband held the chickens for me while I clipped, and he was visibly relieved that it wasn't completely awful and thinks that chickens might not be so bad after all.

For directions on clipping a chicken's wings, complete with diagram and pictures, click here. Another set of directions here, with tips on how to hold the chicken and emergency directions in case you clip the wrong feathers and your chicken starts to bleed to death.

A couple weeks ago we put a glass egg in the nest box and started getting eggs within a few days. First Hattie with her dark brown eggs, then Lucy, whose eggs are a light pinkish-tan. Ethel has finally started laying too, eggs the same color as Lucy's, so we're getting 2-3 eggs per day. Sweet husband was absolutely charmed when he collected an egg still warm.

Wonder what he'll think when I tell him that now I want pigs too?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Mitten

A child with autism in the family. When people learn that we have a child with a disability, they typically think of challenges and hardships. And those certainly exist. Difficult behaviors, obsessive and repetitive conversations and play, difficulty with abstract concepts and reasoning are all part of our daily life with our autistic lovely lady. When one hears of a child with a disability like autism, triumph and inspiration aren't exactly the first things that spring to mind.

Today, through Bridgeway House, a local agency serving children with autism, lovely lady and several other children on the autism spectrum put on a play loosely based on the picture book The Mitten, Jan Brett's adaptation of a Ukranian folktale. The production was a rousing success. A local company filled a grant allowing Bridgeway House to get rehearsal and performance time in beautiful new community theater, The Wildish Theater in downtown Springfield. Each child got to choose his own character, so the story expanded to include two fairies, a tornado and a train, in addition to the usual forest creatures. The children had been rehearsing since December, the costumes were fun, the theater was packed, the story came off perfectly, and the actors (and actresses!) received roses and rousing applause at the end.

I'd watched most of the rehearsals and was expecting to sit back and enjoy the show with a smile on my face. I didn't expect that for most of the show, I'd be be near tears. The production has been followed from start to finish by a reporter from the local paper. I'd arrived early today to help with set-up, and was sitting in the front row trying to fix lovely lady's fluffy white tail (a feather boa) onto her white pants. He sat next to me and asked if he could do an informal interview. "Sure," I said. We chatted about lovely lady, the play, the rehearsal where she fell down the steps. Then he asked me the questions that had me near tears, the good (but embarrassing) kind of tears: "Tell me about how she's changed over the years," and "What do you see in her future?"

This is the second time in the last two weeks I've been asked a question that really made me consider lovely lady's past and present-- the first was in a videotaped research interview for an autism treatment study, and the interviewer asked "What would you like to go back and say to all of the people who knew your daughter when she was first diagnosed?" To my credit, today I didn't break down crying like I did on the video. I managed a watery-eyed answer. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what I said, even, because I was trying not to cry. And as I sat waiting for the play to start, I couldn't stop thinking about how lovely lady has exceeded my fears, my expectations....maybe not my dreams, but when she was four and spinning in circles repeatedly reciting dialogue from Disney's 101 Dalmatians, I certainly didn't expect that I'd eventually see her hopping around on a real stage in a real theater in white bunny ears arguing over a giant mitten.

"Tell me about how she's changed over the years." She's gone from a child caught in her own world to a young lady, quirky and lovely, gladly living in ours.

"What would you like to go back and say to all of the people who knew your daughter when she was first diagnosed?" Look at her now. I wish I could take her to all of those people who said she'd need visual schedules and extra supports all her life, and say "Look what she can do!" I wish I could take her to all of the people who told me, "Look at all the time she's spending in therapy. She needs time to be a little girl too." I'd say "Look at my daughter now. Because we spent so much time teaching her and pulling her into her life, she's able to be a lovely young girl."

"What do you see in her future?" For the first time ever, I can honestly say, "I don't know." I have no idea because her life has opened up. She wants to be a teacher, an artist, a mom. She may always need minimal supports, but it's likely she'll be able to work and to live by herself and to live her own life. She's going to be able to participate in her life and pursue her dreams.

So it's not the play itself that turned me into such a weepy sap. All parents sitting in the audience of their child's play are proud and excited, and rightly so. And, well, you all know I'm kind of a weepy sap anyway, so I'd probably have been a little teary no matter what. But all of those challenges lovely lady has encountered make her victories doubly sweet. A hundredfold sweet. I watch my other children and marvel at how they seem to sail through life's challenges, learning and growing seemingly without effort. And I celebrate this autistic lovely lady's victories with tears because they have been so hard won, because she and I have worked hard and battled to get to where she is now, and because my worst fears have not come to pass. She can carry on a conversation. She has friends, real friends, of all different abilities. She can pursue her dreams.

Along with the challenges and worries and hardships come blessings. Not silver lining blessings. Real, genuine, life-is-sweet blessings. Life is good. Really, really good.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Fart, fart, fart

Lovely lady, 11, participates in a weekly social group for girls with autism. The girls have become great friends, and love to giggle and joke together. A great deal of that giggling and joking lately has begun to revolve around mildly taboo words. The group leader has mentioned that she's been trying to redirect the behavior to more appropriate topics of conversation but it's been tough going.

So picture this: Two other moms and I, sitting on the couch outside the meeting room, chatting about an upcoming play involving the girls. Gales of laughter from the girls, laughing so hard that they can barely speak. We stop to listen because, naturally, we love to hear our daughters laughing. Then we begin to make out what they're saying.

"Snot. Snot snot snot snot snot."

"Fart! Fart fart fart faaaaaaaaaaart! FART!"




"Boobs, boobs, boobs!"

You get the idea.

At first we're mildly amused. And a little taken aback, looking at one another with raised eyebrows, half laughing. Hoping, I think, that the other mothers aren't shocked by what our own child is saying. At least I was. (Mine chimed in with "fart" and "boobs," in case you're wondering.) Has the facilitator completely lost control?


beep beep beep goes a timer.

Facilitator: "Ok girls. Now that you've got that out of your system, I don't want to hear those words for the rest of group time. Agreed?"

And she didn't.

Mondrian Study, Part 2

Our Mondrian study culminated with Mondrian imitations on canvas, now hanging in the art gallery. (Well, hanging in the playroom in the basement. There goes that creative license again.) I gave the kids white canvas boards and paint-- black, red, blue, yellow. The lovely ladies and fine young gents painted the black lines on the first day, let them dry overnight, then added color the next day.

Part 1 of our Mondrian study, in which we study Mondrian's paintings and create Edible Mondrian, here. We looked at Mondrian's paintings. We watched a movie (Artists of the Twentieth Century: Piet Mondrian) in which we learned that it's pronounced "MON-dree-uhn" instead of "MOAN-dree-ahn." So now we say his name properly. We made beautiful art and ate it. All leading up to the final project. The only instructions that I offered for these paintings were to paint vertical and horizontal lines with the black paint, to fill the spaces with color, and, for heaven's sake, put something on the table before you start painting!

Fine young gent, 6. You see him working on this painting in the photo above. He was as careful and serious about getting the lines just right, as right as he could make them anyway, as he was playful and active during our fall action painting project. He was very careful about his color placement, as well. It was clear that he had a vision. He knew he wanted some large and some small spaces, he wanted to use all of the colors, and that he needed to leave some of the spaces white. I love the vertical yellow strip down the middle of the painting. He had a very specific reason for it that I can't remember. If he wasn't sleeping I'd ask him, but decided that waking him just to ask a question for my blog would be unwise.

Lovely young lady, eleven."I don't like painting," she said. "I might get paint on my clothes," she said. "Do I have to?" she said. "Hmm," I said. "Wear this," I said. "Yes," I said. Sound familiar? It was nearly an exact repeat of our conversation about action painting. So I just used cut-and-paste. Easier that way. Maybe I'll just paste that conversation on every post that involves this lovely lady and art projects. This lovely lady added some diagonals for effect. Interestingly, her painting is symmetrical, and she filled all of the spaces even after looking at several Mondrian paintings and commenting on all of the white spaces. This lovely lady also cannot stop reading in the middle of a chapter, must finish playing or singing a song before moving on to something else, and must color every single bit of a picture before it's considered finished.

Lovely young artist, 13. She really enjoyed this project, and found it challenging. "I kept wanting to make curves in my lines," she said, "But I didn't because I knew that wasn't the project." She really struggled with the idea of imitation as a way of experiencing art in our Klimt collage project. (You can read a bit about her struggles in this post.) It was a bit of a process to help her understand that there was a method to my madness and that I did, indeed, have something valuable to teach her. So this time she created a Mondrian-style painting with straight lines even though she really wanted to make curves. I suspect that if I'd told her she could only make curved lines she'd really want to make straight. She is 13, after all. Her painting came out perfectly as she'd envisioned it. The picture doesn't do it justice. I've bought her another canvas board so that she can make a Mondrian-style painting with curves. I can't wait to see how it comes out.

Fine young gent, 4. His Mondrian-style painting looks a lot like his Pollock-style painting (Scroll down to the middle of the action painting post to compare the two.) What the heck, he's four. He had a grand time painting and it creates a nice chaotic contrast to the controlled lines and carefully separated colors of the other paintings. He says, "It looks like the night turning into the day." So it does.

"De Stijl" painting, a la Piet Mondrian

You need:

White canvas, canvas boards, or poster board. (One per child.)

A ruler or yardstick and a pencil

Black paint

Red, yellow, and blue paint

Newspaper or other table covering, paintbrushes, paint rags

Step one: Using a ruler or yardstick as a guide, lightly draw the lines onto the canvas with a pencil. The elder of the lovely ladies painstakingly outlined both sides of her black lines so that she could carefully paint straight edges. Fine young gent, 6, drew a single line so that he could see where he wanted to paint.

Step two: Paint the black lines onto your painting. Set the painting aside to dry.

Step three: Once the black paint has dried thoroughly, use the red, yellow, and blue paints to carefully fill in some of the spaces created by the black lines.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Be Mine

Who knew that handmade Valentines would replace the perfect card set in a dozen roses?

That pink heart-shaped pancakes are just as tasty as a steak dinner, or that hot chocolate with heart-shaped marshmallows and Red Vines for straws could be just as much fun as a bottle of wine?

Of course, there's still time to stop and smell the roses. Loving husband made sure of that.

Valentine's Day the Sunshine Acres Way (In Which an Entire Day Turns Pink)

Breakfast: The day opens with pink heart-shaped pancakes. Blueberry pancakes except for the middle gent. He doesn't like "things" in his food. A side road, but a necessary one:The "I hope you have children just like you" curse zinged right past my picky sister and hit my house instead. I'm going to send him to her house at mealtimes and make her feed him.

Back to the topic at hand.

Lunch: Heart-shaped open-faced sandwiches topped with strawberry jam and peaches in heart-shaped dishes.

Valentine making party: Hot chocolate with marshmallows, served with Red Vines and those chalky little hearts in boxes. I may have taken a bit of creative license with the whole heart-shaped marshmallow thing above. Really two mugs of chocolate were topped with misshapen marshmallows that resembled hearts if you tilted your head and squinted your eyes. Everyone else got just plain ol' marshmallows. Obviously Martha Stewart and her beautiful-hot-chocolate-making buddies used a different kind marshmallows or a different cutter or something. We made Valentines while we sipped the chocolate and read the chalky hearts. Each person decorated one Valentine. I wrote a family member's name on the back of each Valentine, then we passed them around and wrote notes inside. Lovely. Fun. Easy. We also made Valentines for the neighbor because she's a lovely older woman with no grandchildren to make her Valentines.

Family Valentine Party: Games and sundaes. On a whim eleven-year-old lovely lady and I stopped at the store while out and about to buy pink sundae fixin's. Strawberry ice cream, strawberry topping, pink and purple sprinkles, whipped cream, and those disgusting maraschino cherries. Yummy! We built Valentine sundaes, read our Valentines and played games.

Valentine's Day took over the day a bit, but what the heck, it only happens once a year. And any holiday that celebrates love and togetherness is tops in my book, even though it's got an entirely different context than it had my single days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday Ten: To-Do List

Ten Things I'd Like to Accomplish Before I Die
1. A clean basement. I don't really want to clean the basement. But I'd like to have a nice organized basement. Pretty sure that won't happen unless I clean it.

2. Quilts. My grandmother made gorgeous quilts for all of my kids when they were born. I'd like to be able to make quilts for all of my grandbabies.

3. Rock my grandbabies. I'll cuddle them and rock them and sing to them. I'll let them eat as much candy as they want and stay up past their bedtimes. I won't care if their clothes don't match, if their faces are dirty, if they jump on the couch. I'll let them watch tv on Sundays and eat ice cream for lunch.

4. Mmmmmmm.....I'd like to learn to make a really fantastic margarita.

5. Hike across India with nothing but a change of underwear and a spoon. Well....this one used to be on my list. I would like to visit India, though. But I might bring more than one pair of undies. And a credit card.

6. Move. I love my house with the big backyard and the basement and the white picket fence. I love my neighbors. They're swell folks. But I don't want to be able to look out of my window into theirs. I want room for a really big garden and a dog and a whole flock of chickens.

7. Livin' my life. Life is good. If I accomplish nothing else on this list, I want to be able to look back at my life and say that I loved the people around me, I looked for beauty, I learned new things, I let the sunshine warm my days instead of complaining about the itchy grass.

8. Re-do my blog. No really, I will make time. Someday. Don't hold your breath. But eventually I'll get to it. Hopefully I've got a good 40+ years left, so I've got time, right?

9. Read. Read all of the books on the "Books I'd like to read before I die" list. I don't have time to actually write my own list because I'm too busy reading. But here's a list. Or this one. Or this one. Don't look at the lists, though, unless you want your own list to get longer. Mine just did.

10. Visit Mars. Or the moon. My fine young gents assure me that they will be able to live on Mars by the time they're grown. Maybe I'll be rocking those grandbabies on Mars, or in a space colony on an asteroid.

Galaxies Away

From the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive

Cristy has a list of ten things she'd like to do before she dies, too. Read about them here. Last week she was feeling peevish: Cristy's Ten Pet Peeves

Irie sis is joining in this week (hooray!) with a list of things she'd like to do before she dies here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More Ways to Ruin Your Daughter's Life

Or, Drama Revisited

Seriously, this is getting ridiculous. Last night as I trudged up the stairs after a very very long day I hear 11 year-old lovely lady sobbing "Mom hates me. She just hates me! I'm going to go live somewhere else! This is blasphemy!" Apparently saying matter-of-factly, "It's bedtime, let's turn off your light," is hateful vicious behavior. And, obviously, my lovely lady needs a vocabulary lesson.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Oh, the Drama!

In Which I Ruin My Daughter's Entire Life

By asking her to empty the recycle bin.

The horror.

"I can't believe this! You've ruined my life!"

Who knew it would be so easy?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Random Notes

The Oregon Coast is just as beautiful as the eastern side of the mountains. My sisters and I visited Mom this weekend. We shopped a little, walked a little, read some, ate good food and fantastic bread, sewed and knitted. Mom gave me a hat. We laughed a lot. Who knew that my mother made fart jokes? When I was a kid I used to get in way big trouble for thinking farts were funny. Apparently you have to be an adult before you can share fart humor with others. I shared that one of the car games we'd played with the kids on our long car trip was "What's that smell?" also known as "He who smelt it, dealt it." (To be fair, once the smell really was a skunk.) My middle sister, who looks as though she'd never make a fart joke ever, shared that the average person farts fourteen times a day. Well, she primly said "passes gas." Whatever. When Mom came down the stairs a bit later with a sheepish look on her face and said, "Oops. Well, that's only five. What happens if I don't make my quota?" I hugged her and told her that it's an average. I had beans with lunch so I'd more than made up for her shortfall. So, yeah, it was a good weekend. I mean, we did other stuff too, but mostly we sat around and laughed about farts.

The weekend wasn't all fun and giggles. A dear friend's husband was badly injured. We spent a good part of the weekend worrying and grieving and praying. They've got a lot of support and strong faith to help them through this time. If you're so inclined, pray for healing and strength.

Loving husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary tonight. We ate dinner, went to the bookstore, had delicious dessert from our favorite bakery. I can't believe we've been married for seven whole years. It seems like just yesterday we were jetting off on our honeymoon. And yet, I barely remember my life without him. It's been a good seven years.

And....I still love having chickens.

Aren't they beautiful? I thought about putting a chicken poem up to go with the picture, but I can't find a chicken poem that I like. Drat that Google! I just wasted half an hour reading chicken poems. Some of them are pretty funny. But seriously, you'd think someone out there could have written one decent poem about a chicken that's just a little ridiculous and charming without being too cutesy. Kind of like chickens themselves. Maybe I'll write one myself. Well. Better not hold your breath for that one.

Oh, we talked about vomit this weekend too. Yup. Good times.

Read about Cristy's weekend here. She actually used the word "fart" on her blog. I'm telling her kids, in that neener-neener voice: "Your mom said faaa-aart."

And Meg, who would like to pretend that she was too mature to have talked about farts, here. You'd think her blog was supposed to be mostly about knitting or something. And yet, she mentions her "Fascinating Life" right in her blog title, and what's more fascinating than humorous body functions?

Peace to all of you.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Memory Work

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop! Beau--ootiful Soo-oop! Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop! Beau--ootiful Soo-oop! Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beauti--FUL SOUP!

-- Lewis Carroll

For some good ol' family fun: Assign Carroll's "Beautiful Soup" as a memory poem to all school-aged family members. Tell them to make up a tune while they memorize it. A lovely lady or fine young gent may suggest that each person make up their own tune, a la the Hogwarts school song. ("And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song! Everyone pick their favorite tune and off we go!" ~Albus Dumbledore) Serve soup. A raucous chorus will ensue. Enjoy! (Or plug your ears.)