Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tangible Beauty...

I've had a bad day. I'm sick. Sicker than I've been in a while. When I lay down my breath sounds like a bag-pipe. A Bag-pipe? Yes, a bag-pipe, I take a breath, it whistles, I stop breathing and it keeps whistling. Snot does amazing things inside the body...and apparently it's able to slow the air down long enough to produce sound far longer than I want it to.

Anyway.

So I didn't do much today except sleep. My head hurt so bad this morning that I couldn't eat anything. I ended up taking activated charcoal to settle my stomach but still sinus headaches are no fun and my neti pot was doing little so I basically entertained myself inside my own head most of the day.

Being alone in my own head isn't so great right now. I think of my dad a lot. I think of our lives a lot. And today, I was thinking about how beautiful my childhood was and how not as beautiful my kids' childhood is.

I moved a lot as a kid. By the time we moved to California when I was 14 years old, I'd been to or though 42 of the contiguous states and had lived in Washington, Oklahoma, Washington again, Pennsylvania, Florida and then, of course, California. Today I kept thinking about Florida. I was still a really little kid in Pennsylvania...we moved the second half of third grade...and by the time I was in California I was a busy teenager. But Florida? My childhood in Florida was pretty idyllic.

See, back then, 30 ish years ago...people weren't so worried about kids getting swiped. Oh sure, it happened. The incident with Adam Walsh's son happened while we were in Florida...but it was shocking instead of commonplace. And Florida, unlike any other place that I've lived (except MAYBE Washington, but I was too young to enjoy it) was FULL of nature. I mean you couldn't get away from it.

We rented a house that was set on two lots...we had SEVEN mango trees, an avocado tree and a banana palm...never mind the palmetto bushes, the swath of ferns, the huge big Norfolk pine and the aloe vera...well and the grass that in summer could swallow you, that, at times my dad had to use a machete just so he could then go at it with the push mower.

And that is just the flora. We had fauna too...lots and LOTS of fauna. So much fauna that all of us school kids went to the Environmental Center every year to learn all about the fauna. The reality was that in some cases we were MEAT and we really needed to learn about the alligators and stingrays and snakes and spiders and such...you know...all the stuff that really COULD kill us.

There was a place that you could get down to the Indian River just two blocks from my house...a big old palm tree had been taken down by some storm or another and we'd climb up and over that tree down onto the beach and play in the alligator infested waters. We never saw one. Never saw a water moccasin either...but bites and attacks were common place even back then...so we just didn't tell my mother. Not until MUCH later.

That doesn't even COUNT the friendlier fauna. The squirrels...the raccoons that were nightly visitors to my dad's little cement coy pond. The armadillos that waddled and were run over everywhere. The manatees that really WERE in the rivers and we saw them on several occasions.

I think a lot of my sense of beauty comes from Florida. Watching the storms come across the water...Black sky butting up against the almost turquoise water...it always looked more blue with the storms coming in. Playing at the bathtub beach that was enclosed a little way out by a coral reef, that on clear days had the BEST tide pools I've seen to this day. Riding in my dad's 22 foot sail boat out from the river into the salt water and seeing dolphins jump alongside the boat. Mangrove Swamps...if you've ever canoed through one, you know what I mean...they're just beautiful...sometimes stinky, but beautiful.

Because of all this nature...we all learned a bunch of stuff accidentally. Like how to bait a fish hook. How to clean a fish...well and how to freak out mom with the heads and tails of said fish jutting out of the pavement...it was art...I thought it looked like the fish were jumping through the pavement. She wasn't NEAR as keen on it as I was.

We learned a LOT about fire ants...how to break open the nests from afar and then wait a minute and creep up and check out the tunnels and caverns from which they were scampering to remove their children.

We learned how to climb trees...and more importantly how to get down from trees, when you KNEW your brother wasn't going to get home in time to rescue you.

We learned how to DIG HOLES...big deep ones...that in time would fill in with water which taught us about something called a "water table".

My kids don't have that opportunity. We live in suburbia...where they cut down all the trees to build houses and then put up all these little ones. Our backyard is pretty good sized, but it's boring. We haven't figured out what to do with it yet...it's been 7 years...and still nothing. Everywhere around us is pretty much suburbia or city. We live in north Texas...there is no beach around here...the best I can hope for is a lake, and it's not close enough. I'm going to have to actually search it out. MEH!!

So as this was going around in my head...this crabby old, feeling sorry for myself cuz things are so much harder right now. I realized...that's not how my kids feel, they don't know what they are missing yet...and maybe they don't have to...I can do stuff to bring them tangible beauty. I can plant a garden. Take them to the lake (if I can find it), teach 'em how to fish. I can take them to the nature park. I can. I can. I can.

And what's more...it occurred to me that some of the beauty in life isn't outside. It's in our hearts and if we just keep TRYING...there's beauty there too.

Here's some of my tangible beauty today...look at the sun on her hair...breathtaking...



Sunshine, almost all the time, makes me high...

See ya around...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Balloon...ESCAPE!

Now, this last couple of weeks things are not quite what they should be around here. I'm not on my feet yet...there I said it. I'm working on it...but grief stinks...and there seems no way to go but straight through.

That being said, I'm not watching my kids as closely as I usually do and over the last couple of weeks this has lead to a few incidents that aren't nearly as funny as this one. This one, actually made me laugh.

I give you exhibit A. Children swinging decided outdoor toys around in our playroom area...They were also saying things like, "Come down, come back..." I figured it was some sort of game and that high wall was Rapunzel's tower or some such...


So I left 'em...(couple of weeks ago, I'd have made them at LEAST stop swinging the yard toys)

A few minutes later, Bean says, "Hey Mom, could you please help us?" I'm thinking, "sure, whatever could they want?"

Wait'll you see!!



THAT, dear reader, is a statically charged Valentine's heart balloon that they had been rubbing on each other's hair to make it stand up...that got out of control...and stuck to that high wall. The balloon didn't much like being bashed about with yard toys either...

See ya around...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Music???

November 2009

Okay, back in November, maybe even before, I knew that I wanted to take the kids caroling for Christmas. Back then I had big dreams...maybe getting a few of the neighbor kids in on it and going to an elderly care center or some such.

But singing with children is an interesting thing. Well singing with, and getting them to sing, isn't really that big a deal...but getting them to be able to stay on their note while someone else sings harmony is a tough thing to teach...especially if there are only 2 of you singing. When it was just Beanie and I singing, it was impossible. But over the years, my parents would come...or S.P. and Camera King...or Dr. Bo's family (6 GIRLS, 2 BOYS...there is lots of singing potential there) and we'd have the opportunity to have more than one person sing melody while those of us that could would do some harmony or other.

This year was kind of fun because Beanie and I had a bunch of practice with the little worship team we did at church and Bear was old enough to want to sing, too. So Bean and Bear would concentrate on singing together while I harmonized in the background. And, of course, if her sisters were doing it, there was no keeping Monkey Face out of it.

I thought I'd show you a "rehearsal" of The First Noel that we were working on...it should be noted that *I* was flat on the high note...something has gone wrong with my soprano over the last few years...eventually I'll warm up enough to hit the high notes, but it takes awhile...but they were so cute with the blame placing...



This next one is the one "in which the children REVOLT". This is the second or third time that we'd pitched it BADLY...in this case too low...and they had just had it with REAL singing. I'm so glad I had the camera on...SUCH fun.



By the time Christmas rolled around...we'd had some illnesses and it was COLD and so all my big plans boiled down to a single night of caroling on Christmas day with some of the girls around the neighborhood...there were 9 of us traipsing around in the sub-freezing weather, singin our little hearts out. It really was a lot of fun. Wish I'd gotten pictures, but at least I have the memory.

See ya around...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nearly Wordless Wednesday...

Smell my BREATH!



These pictures came to mind as this directive was leveled at me once again today...made me laugh.

See ya around...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ginger Bread 2009

As I finally sit down to review all the pictures that I took in the last year, it occurred to me, how terrible I've been at blogging. FOR SHAME!!

There is some gold in last year...and as I never DID get around to finishing my year book...I'll site technical difficulties...it's about time I caught up.

Over the Christmas Holidays, nearly 3 months ago, my folks came to visit and we absolutely did some of the things that have become tradition...for instance, our yearly Gingerbread offering...(remember 2008).

This year, we...ehem, I...was VERY ambitious. Grandma had bought us a kit, in the hope (I'm sure) that I wouldn't make her try to build another one (Silly Grandma).

I had EVERY intention of building another...and what was fabulous about the kit that grandma bought is that I could STEAL the pattern from already existent cookies...ni-ice. What's more, this particular kit had a gable situation that made it easier to stabilize the roof during the drying of the cement (I mean royal icing).

OOOOOooo, what a lovely house we would create...but first, I had to try my chops at cookies...I'd read a post on another blog that talked about pre-painting sugar cookies with kids, seemed like a great idea...so we gave that a whirl.

Here is the mess part of the sugar and gingy cookies...


And here are the girls painting the cookies. As you view the pictures on this post, I would draw your attention to Monkey-Face. Who knew, when I dubbed her Monkey-Face back in 2005, how TRUE the name would remain well into her fourth year...prophetic, I tell ya...





And here are the fruits of our labor...I somehow failed to get a picture of them all laid out. Bubba and my dad pretty much ate them all over the course of the month of December. The verdict being that the sugar cookies (the painted ones) were okay...but the gingies were REALLY good. Which was just fabulous in my mind, because now, I thought, I had an awesome Gingerbread House recipe...



Now as the day of the DECORATION loomed in, our recollection of the chaos of trying to set up last year's house came to the forefront. Grandma and I remembered how UNhappy the little girls were to wait for the house to dry before they could decorate. So we decided to get the business part of the houses taken care of during quiet time a few days before the big day.

Here is the kit house...it went together SO easy. Once we had it together, we stuck it in a perfect little shoe box to dry and then completely forgot to make the other one until the day before we were supposed to be decorating it. Yeah, not so good.



Here is the one we made...it DID NOT go together so easy...it wanted to break and buckle. I'm positive it's because I rolled it too thin...or maybe because I used the COOKIE recipe...I don't know...but hmmm...it was slightly less that perfect...but VERY tasty. When all the votes came in (you know there were 7 of us) it was well decided that although the kit house really stayed together, the homemade house was so yummy we pretty much ate the whole thing. That really was a vote in it's favor...so much less to throw away!!



Now if you look you'll notice the gable situation on the front and back of the house...the ORIGINAL kit house only had the gable on the front. But it was SO handy holding up the roof while it dried, on my copy I put a gable on the front and back...but, well see...I didn't take into account the roof needing to be shorter to take into account the gable section. So when I put that back roof on, it overlapped the front by 1/2 inch. "No worries," said I and whipped out my handy dandy serrated knife. And it actually WORKED...I was indeed able to shorten that roof. However, there was a structural issue with the thickness of the roof and in the midst of moving it back and forth, it split right down the center.

Not a terrible tragedy...we decided it was a sun-roof. The bigger problem came later when we discovered that the front roof also had the same issue....you'll see.



And then we decorated...BOY HOWDY, did we decorate...







There were concerns ALL through the decorating of the homemade house...for one thing we'd only given it a couple hours to set up before decorating...the kit house sat for about 3 days...the homemade house only about 3-4 hours...

We used MANY fingers to hold it up...We also used many fingers to POINT out issues....





Eventually we knew for certain that the roof was not going to make it without some SERIOUS help...



But we did finish them...and as much as the pictures don't show it, we laughed a lot at our predicament. And you can tell that the WHOLE family was in there because there are actually pictures of ME in there!! I don't think we'd win any prizes but it really was so much fun...

Needing a caption for this one, we thought and thought. Bubba thinks it should be "Location Location Location"...and an old friend who grew up to be a real estate agent suggested that one is "welcoming" and the other is "newly remodeled"



And here we all are...



In the interest of completing the "Monkey-Face" examples...I give you several OTHER pictures I could have chosen...



A true adventure...

See ya around...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hiding and Seeking...

So it's winter here...and OH what a winter that we've had. I think I read that we've had 4 snowfalls so far this year. Now that may not seem like much to you, but trust me...for this area...it's huge. We've actually had enough snow that I'm not looking forward to any further snow, no matter how determined the weather man is to send me some, thank you very much! Mostly snow means mud, dry grass, wet-underdressed kids (note: we do not own snow clothes, nor snow pants, only one really warm jacket each etc) and hours of wondering what ELSE to do. You can really only eat so many bowls of blueberry syrup slathered snow before you just wish for a warmish day.

You northern people, hush. I'm well aware how much of a baby I am about the cold weather...but the reality is I've lived in the warmer climes since I was 9 years old...and that's...well that's...well suffice to say it's a really long time.

So what do my children do? Same as everyone else's children. They wish for the outdoors, and their bikes and scooters and sidewalk chalk. In other words, they run wild.

Hide and Seek is one of the few outside games that has made the transition inside at our house. It's a little sad because there just aren't that many places to hide...and what is available is known to all and sundry...and if you ARE the hider, you know it is only a matter of time before all 6 places are searched. When you are 4, this is a wonderful thing, because it means there is ACTUALLY a chance you might find them...but at the same time, you are almost always INSTANTLY found. It's a trade off she is learning to deal with...




This is the aftermath of a game that happened just before quiet time. See, Bear has discovered that she fits under the sink in the guest bathroom. Of course, to fit, it takes a little...ehem...remodeling. Hmmmm, wonder how long it took the seeker to find her. There were a FEW clues apparent to my untrained eye...



hmmmm...she didn't EXACTLY pick it up now, did she?



And so it goes in winter. It's far messier and louder than I would choose...however, methinks it's still pretty sweet...

See ya around...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Blessings...

Huh, s'been a long time again.

On Wednesday, February 3, 2010, my dad went to be with Jesus. I have a memorial post that is waiting in the wings...it involves several other people, at least one video and maybe an audio file...but it is taking time to gather and life has been going on around here...and I didn't want to WAIT for that post, before I could blog again. So I guess this is the announcement...and then we'll just move on, for now.

The title of this post is blessings. As hard as losing my dad is, this last two weeks has been incredibly full of blessing. (This is bound to be a long post so saddle up...or get a cuppa-whatever...or open a new tab... ;) )

For instance, I flew nearly immediately to Arizona to be with my mom but that left Bubba and the girls here to deal with school/work etc. It became clear within hours that we were going to NEED Bubba in Arizona to help us figure out some of the financial aspects of this loss. What to do? What to do?

I'd been talking to my friend (S.P. elsewhere on this blog) throughout the long night of surgery. She knew that we were going to need help regardless, so she started organizing in her own little head (she's like that) and called Bubba after I left and they worked out a plan between them. Seems that they love us so much that Camera King (her husband) was willing to take off work and drive S.P. and her girls the two days to our house to make this terrible week seem like more of a girlie trip.

While they were here they made the girls EAT, and NAP, and do a little school work...bossed them as needed...made them do chores and all the other things that are necessary to keep moving forward...check out the fun they had...





video

During the week they all went to a local-ish museum for a day of fun. The huge blessing from the momma perspective was that our family had recently paid for a membership to the museum and after explaining the situation to the staff at the museum and showing a companion membership to a museum in Colorada, they let them ALL in, no further questions asked. Kudos to the folks in Ft. Worth for making it even possible for them to go...





Here they all are once again...Topo, Coco, Monkey-Face, Gabby, Bear, Beanie and Tibbie...


And THEN, we got home. Another little blessing (well HUGE, considering how much I hate driving in precipitation) we flew through some snow...it seemed not that big a deal in the plane...a matter of moments really. Then we landed on dry pavement. Drove all the way home on dry pavement. Kissed our friends...kissed our girls...slept in our own beds and woke to this...



And it snowed like that for the entire day...and stayed snowy like that for another whole day...we got somewhere around 10 inches...I didn't measure, but them that did came in with numbers from 8 to 12 inches...and we PLAYED. Who has time for grief with this kind of stuff going on? Well, we still had time for it, but this was a welcome distraction.



I made blueberry syrup that pleased me GREATLY and we also had real maple syrup, a la Laura Ingalls...twas a terrific "snack" of colored snow...



We had a big ole snowball fight...

video

Here I am, BEFORE the snowball to the head...I think



A rare picture of our boys together...Bubba and Camera King with Monkey-Face, Tibbie and Beanie after our EPIC snowball fight...notice how wet they are...I was worse...well I was about the same as Beanie and Tibbie...my hair literally dripping...



And here is what Auntie S.P. was doing while we were flinging the white stuff...she was warm and dry (except for the one snowball that Bubba threw at her to make sure she was part of the "fun") and making sure we all got fed...these were so nummy...I'm not sure what I would have done without S.P. there reminding me in her quiet way that it was time to cook/clean/eat/live and DOING a lot of it for me when I just couldn't face it...


That night it snowed some more...and we played some more...



And then we relaxed...watched a movie...celebrated a birthday a little early...and that was a blessing too. The quiet...the peace.





It was a terrible reason to be together...but it was still a joy. God provided us the peace that we needed to feel "okay" again. As far as the sad...and what Bubba and I were doing during most of the time that our friends were with our kids...that's another post for a different day...


See you around...