Sunday, June 29, 2014

Birthday Weekend

June is a very busy month in our family. Clint and I celebrate our birthdays at the beginning of the month, and then Jared and Lauren celebrate theirs back to back at the end. So, Jared (somehow) has skipped right along to his eighth birthday. 


One of his cuddliest presents was this stuffed doggie (more about him later).


After presents but before we headed out to the lake for the day, Daddy decided the kids needed to recreate a picture we took of them when we brought Jared home from the hospital. Surprisingly, it was a little more difficult this time around.


And Lauren turned 19 this year (seriously? how is THAT possible?). Jared was so helpful with her present opening. Just always giving, that kid.


Lauren's favorite present was SuperBoyfriend, which Dad picked up at a garage sale a few weeks ago. Who knew something like this would become So Important? (And the bonus: SB is fully poseable.)


But what really surprised us all was the revelation last night that the birthday celebration wasn't over yet. Jared's new doggie was celebrating his birthday TODAY. So, Jared and I spent a few hours last night planning Shorkie's birthday party. Shorkie invited all of his friends. And, happily, they were all able to attend. Even though Grandpa Perry (the platypus) and Grandma Lumberjack (the beaver) are moving to Texas TODAY.


Shorkie loves his new collar, made and designed by Jared.


He's also very thankful for the thoughtful card his grandparents made for him. (That's Grandpa Perry and Grandma Lumberjack, of course.) (Oh yeah, and his full name is Shwarcansquater, but that's a bit of a mouthful for some of us.)


His grandparents also gave him a real dollar bill.


And he got a new home, which smells a little like cinnamon and apples, for some reason. And also a tennis ball.


Jared was hoping I'd make Shorkie his own birthday cake, but I told him two cakes in two days is enough. Shorkie can have some of his or Lauren's leftover cake. Apparently Shorkie is allergic to chocolate, though, so he'll have to settle for Lauren's cake.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Gramps Turns Ninety

I remember when I was a little girl, I would fall asleep next to Gramps, both of us stretched out in the sun streaming in their living room window, the flecked green carpet rough under my smooth cheek. I remember walking across the road to go fishing with him, watching the birds fly to his squirrel-proofed bird feeders, sitting on his lap and watching--fascinated each time--as he sucked his dentures back into his mouth with a click and a grin. 

It seems impossible to believe he turned ninety today, but he did. 

My youngest sister planned a surprise for him: as many of us children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren as possible would meet at his house in the morning and surprise him by cleaning up his yard. Gramps had a stroke about 13 years ago, and while he can still get around in a wheelchair, he certainly can't get outside to tend to his yard, so this sounded like the perfect way to wish him a happy birthday. 

I must have read the memo incorrectly, though, and we arrived almost an hour early. Gramps and Grandma get tired out pretty easily, and we didn't want to cause any fuss by walking in early, so we killed some time at a park down the road. I found the first empty robin's egg, always a reminder of the precious tenderness of new life.

It was a cool, windy morning, perfect for our first family hike in the woods.

A tree had fallen, split maybe by a lightning strike or a heavy burden of ice. Someone had begun to cut up the fallen limbs.

And the best treasure of the trip, this find, sitting near the trail head:


Clint figures it's a chicken egg. 

And then, we left the park and headed over to see Gramps. We raked leaves in the front yard and the back. We didn't have much to do, maybe an hour's work of leaves that had been blown up against the fences and the house.




We found all sorts of treasures as we were working. Gramps and Grandma both hate to throw things away. 


And then, when we were done, we went inside for a few minutes to give them hugs and kisses, to sing, to eat cake, and to remember. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Altoid Tin Craft: Young Isaac

A few months ago, I finally bought the pattern from Larissa's shop to make the Wee Princess Pea. I'd had my eye on the pattern for Quite Some Time, but it's a funny thing: our extended family has produced a plethora of little boys but very few little girls, so I didn't feel like I had enough little ones to craft for to make the (not really that expensive at all) purchase worthwhile. So anyway, when Jared got the invitation to his best friend's party (Yeah, she's a girl. I love that/), I felt the craving to buy the pattern again, and this time I caved. Also, I figured I could use the pattern a few months later to make a princess for my god-daughter.
Then, as I was crafting away on the princesses, I had a moment of pure crafting genius. I have lots of little boys to make things for, I thought. Not many girls. If only there were a way I could use this pattern to make little princes. Hmm...but would a boy play with a prince? Probably not.


Now get ready: here's where the genius part happened.

As I drew a face and glued on lovely long hair, I kept thinking: What would a little boy play with if it was tucked into an Altoid tin? Especially a tin a thoughtful Mama has tucked into her purse to keep the boy quiet during...say...church?

I thought of my nephews: Elijah, Sam, Noah, Micah, Jacob, Thaddaeus, Gideon, Isaac...Hmm...Yes! That's right. Bible characters. They wear long cloaks and tunics not much unlike a princess's nightgown and robe. I would just need to alter the pattern a bit. And that's how Young Isaac was born. You see him above with his princess friend. He's wearing his tunic and has long-ish hair. (My artistic critics thought it was a bit too long, but I was happy with it.)


This is his Altoid home. I glued paper inside the tin, and I copied out the verse from Genesis that is the climax of young Isaac's story.


And here he is with his robe on. I added cross stitching to the hem to spiff it up a bit.


 I cut some strips of leather for his bundle of sticks and tied them together with a piece of brown embroidery floss.


And of course he needed a lamb friend, so I made a very tiny lamb out of wool felt. He's about as big as the last joint of my thumb.


And here's Isaac waiting to be packed up into his new home. I gave him to my tiny baby nephew as a baptismal gift. I hope my sister tucks him into her purse when her Isaac is old enough to play with him in church.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pioneer Living

It's tradition at their elementary school that the 2/3 graders visit the local historical museum to learn about daily life for pioneers. Jared was really excited about the trip because they'd finally get to see Inside the Log Cabin. I didn't go along, but I heard the following report from a Very Reliable Source.

When they entered the pioneer log cabin, the tour lady invited the children to look around carefully and observe ways this cabin was different from their houses. One child raised his hand and pointed out the ladder to the sleeping loft.
"Yes, good job!" the lady said. "We don't have ladders in our houses anymore to get into the upstairs. We have stairs."
Jared raised his hand. "Actually, I have a ladder in my house."
The lady smiled at him. "But you don't use the ladder to get into the upstairs, do you?"
Jared nodded. "Actually, we do. That's how we get into my bedroom."
Nonplussed, the lady looked around at the adults. My Source nodded. "He's telling the truth. He does basically have a ladder up into his bedroom."
The lady continued. "Pioneer children slept in lofts like this one," she said, pointing up. "Don't you think it would be unusual to sleep in a loft like this?"
Jared raised his hand. "I sleep in my attic."
The lady stared at him for awhile, maybe uncertain whether or not to believe him. Then, she continued. "Well, children, do you see any other things that are different from what you have in your houses?"
A child pointed to the wood burning stove. "That's right," the lady said. "In pioneer days, people used these to heat their homes."
Jared raised his hand. "We have one of those."
The lady raised her eyebrows. "Okay, but you probably don't use it to cook your food like pioneers did."
"Actually, we do. Sometimes. My mom makes soup on it in the winter and my dad likes to cook on it too."
The lady eyed my Source. He shrugged. "They probably do," he said.
The lady continued, talking about chores and how hard pioneer children had to work to bring in enough firewood to keep the house warm in cold months. Jared raised his hand. "I help bring in firewood at my house."
At this point, the lady just led the group outside, where she showed them trees
with sap-collecting buckets.
The children listened attentively as she explained how syrup is made from sap. Jared's teacher leaned in close to the lady before they moved on. "Jared's dad collects sap too. Just thought you should know."
I do not know how she responded to this little tidbit.

So there you have it. Apparently, we live like pioneers. Who knew?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lesson Learned

I've been nagging Jonah all week (yeah, I know it's Spring Break) (yeah, I know I'm mean) to study for his upcoming AP World History test. But I have to add this note: he stresses out about these tests, and his teacher Kindly Gave them extra time by setting the test after break. So WHY shouldn't he take a few hours here and there to study and prepare for the essay questions?
Today, after I nagged him once again to stop procrastinating (this morning, it was building darts out of thorns and printer paper), he asked if he could invite a few friends over to study. Why not? I thought. Why not indeed.
This is what I pictured: while I finished up a project upstairs, Jonah and his well-mannered friends would sit around with binders and highlighters, politely asking: "What do you think are the impacts of globalization and industrialization in 19th century China and Japan?" or "How should we best discuss the geological and cultural impacts of silver mining in Central and South America?" You know, stuff like that.


Clearly, I don't know my son or his friends very well. Here's a small sampling of what I overheard:

"Wow, Jonah. You already most of the (15 page) packet done? Wow. We haven't even started yet...." (Jonah sighed. He was hoping they'd be able to help HIM with a few answers.)
"Jonah, your binder is really cool. You're so organized." 

And that, folks, is about all they said about AP World. Here's what came next:

1. Jonah showed them all the neat birthday presents and gadgets he has acquired since they visited last, complete with full explanations and demonstrations of how each works.
2. Jared popped in and out of the conversation, just enough to be annoying.
3. They had a lengthy Nerf Gun battle.
4. I'm pretty sure I heard someone say: "Jared, just stand still. Right there. We promise this won't hurt" at least once.
5. I heard a lot of that snickering sound teenage boys make when they have just done something a) painful, b) embarrassing, c) disgusting, or d) all of the above.
6. They ogled an Army Surplus catalog.
7. They tied fishing line to one of Lauren's old baby dolls to make a marionette named Cody (who is currently watching Star Wars VI with Jared while Jonah's at a movie with Clint).


So...next time Jonah asks to invite a few friends over to STUDY, I think I'll make sure those teenage boys spend at least twenty minutes doing what they're supposed to be doing before the inevitable mayhem begins.
Hmm...yeah. Maybe I'm a little too optimistic.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What I'm working on

Today we have another snow day, and I'm hoping it's our last! To keep winter at bay, I'm embroidering this bird, which will decorate the front flap of a new messenger bag soon. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Not to Cut an Avocado

As I held my (very sharp) chef's knife over the pit of a halved avocado, the silky green flesh winking up at me, I had a thought: You know, one of these days I'm probably going to cut myself as I whack a knife into the pit to remove it.
I can't remember whether I physically shrugged that little pearl of wisdom off, but I know I did a mental shrug and a wink to boot. Nah, I'm not going to cut myself. How silly is that.
Then, with a wickedly sharp swish, I dropped the knife and a jolt of pain spun through my body.
Here are three things you should know right now:
1. Clint is very keen on keeping our knives sharpened.
2. I was holding the avocado in the stupidest possible fashion--cupping it as I should have been--but with my thumb sticking up at least an inch above the edge of the avocado.
3. I have awful aim.
I must have cried out. I'm pretty sure I tossed the knife across the counter (thankfully injuring nothing else). And I looked down at the rush of blood--far too red, far too bright--welling from the cut in my thumb.
I dashed to the sink, turning on the water, squeezing my thumb and watching my blood drip down the drain. That's when Clint and the kids rushed into the kitchen. Now, if you don't know Clint well, you need to know this: he is a man who knows about bodily injury. He once got a fish hook stuck in his back while cleaning the shed--and he tried to make me remove it  by pushing it the rest of the way through. He almost chainsawed his leg off and then walked up to the house holding his leg together to calmly ask for a ride to the hospital. His hands have had many intimate encounters with power tools, and once, as the doctor was stitching him up, he said, "Huh, I've never seen anyone with skin this tough on his hands. The needle (tug tug) doesn't even want (tug tug) to go through it at all." And Clint just sat there. I am not saying my husband is clumsy or foolhardy! No, when a guy works with dangerous tools as often as my husband does, the likelihood of injurious encounters grows exponentially.
So, back to me: as I wailed at the blood flowing into the sink, he took charge of the situation. He stood beside me and bent over the wound. "Let me see how deep it is," he said. He pulled the edges of the cut apart gently, and that is when I remembered that I had felt something Very Wrong when the knife hit my thumb. As in, I thought that maybe the blade hit my bone. Suddenly, I could feel my heart battering against my ribs and tingles shot up and down my skin.
"I think I'm going to pass out," I breathed.
"What?" he asked, still staring down at the skin he was pulling apart. "You only lost a tiny bit of blood."
"No," I said. "I feel sick. I think I'm going to..." And then the tingling got worse and my scalp started to buzz. I was going down.
So, like any veteran fainter, I did the smart thing. I crouched down beside the sink, getting as close to a prone position as I could, while Clint continued to fiddle around with my thumb. I'm pretty sure he just sighed at me at this point.
That's when Jonah showed up with the bandaging stuff. Clint wrapped my thumb in several layers of intricate bandages and then released me.
I sat on the floor, holding my injured hand to my heart. I could feel it throbbing in a separate rhythm of agony, but I didn't dare to look at it for a long time. When I finally did, I saw that my bright blood had already stained the bandage. "Don't you think I need stitches?" I asked, my voice charmingly tremulous.
"You're fine," he said. "It's not really that bad."
Not that bad! It was awful! I almost fainted. He has no sympathy.
I had to lie down on the couch while Clint and the kids finished making dinner, and afterward, they pressed me back toward the couch to lie down while they cleaned up. I felt faint for the rest of the evening, suffering from heart palpitations and flashbacks of that awful knife descending toward my innocent thumb. (Oh, and I also hosted the first meeting of the Boozy Girls' Craft Night, which was going to be a blog post but I'm not even really sure what happened once everyone showed up. That's what ibuprofen + wine can do.)
The next evening, Jared wandered into the kitchen as I was chopping carrots for dinner. "You should be careful with that knife, Mom," he said. "You might cut yourself again."
Yeah. Thanks, smartie. Momma already thought about that.