Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sewing My Friend's Disco Pants

You know, when the night before Halloween rolls around, and you find yourself doing all the usual things: candy shopping, pumpkin carving, stocking up on insulin... you might want a break from the usual -- so you volunteer to sew your friend's disco pants. That's what I did. My husband asked me why. Another friend asked me why. Let's just say I was in the mood for something a little unique on this October 30th.

So I went to her house and set up my sewing machine on her dining room table. We had to hem six inches off these glitter-y zebra-y fancy flouncy pants in time for the limo to whisk her away for a party on the other side of town.

I felt like a real seamstress for about half an hour. I completed one pantleg more proficiently than I expected and started in on the second. At this point, everything went horribly awry.

Somehow I sewed the entire thing wrongside out, completing two long seams and two short ones before my customer discovered it. It was now 3:45 and I was late for a scheduled pumpkin carving at my home involving another family. My "customer" needed to shower, apply glittery eye shadow, and get ready for the babysitter. So I packed up the machine and the pants and headed home to seam rip my heart out with a promise to deliver the correctly-sewn pants by 5:45.

While the kids and the parents who DIDN'T take on last-minute sewing projects carved their pumpkins - I ripped out seams from the psychedelic fabric and re-sewed the hem properly. I was quite stressed out as I didn't want my friend to have to ride in a limo cross-town with no pants on. I would have felt responsible.

By 5:05, the pants were six inches shorter and looking groovy. I asked a nearby pumpkin-carver to take a shot of me with the pants. Now all was right in the world and I did my part to ensure a happy Halloween.
Little John, inept seamstress Teri, and Cherize's fabulous pants!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who Do You Love More?

"Who Do You Love More?" is a game that Cayna likes to play. It goes like this:

Cayna: Mom, who do you love more? Me? Or a toaster?
Me: You.
Cayna: Who do you love more? Me? Or your friends at Church?
Me: You.
Cayna: Who do you love more? Me? Or Daddy?

It can go on and on. And at bedtime she wants to play "I Love You More Than You Love Me." And I reply, "No you don't!" She can't win that one. She doesn't get it yet, but I'll explain it to her after she has a child - of course by then she'll have already have "gotten" it.

My prayer for Cayna is that in all her complicated thinking, she will know God's love, live it, and love others. The hint of insecurity that she has makes me nervous and confident at the same time. Nervous because I don't want her to go through life thinking she isn't loved. Confident because in her search, I know there is plenty of love to be found.

Meanwhile, this morning, she was mad at me at breakfast for not getting a bowl for her. The slightest things can set her off. She said, "I wish Daddy was here!" I answered, "I do too. I could use the help." So then she said, "I wish today was your Mom's Day Out!" I answered, "You're in luck. It's this Saturday. I can't wait."

She was appalled. "WHAT? You like to be away from your kids?"

I refrained from exclaiming "GOD YES!" and replied simply, "Yes."

"You have fun without us?"

"Cayna, don't you have fun when you're at your friends' houses and I'm not there?"

"Who do you love more? Us? Or being away from us?" (Never mind that "being away from us" is not a "who" it's a "what"...)

"Cayna, you are my family and I love you more than ANYTHING, especially toasters. But I do have fun when I do other things."

I have no idea how this realization rests in her brain - but it was good for her to hear.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quiet, Cold House

I wanted some quiet time - it's the result of being exactly half extrovert and half introvert. Half the time I wish my house was full of friends, and the other half, I'd like it empty. For a stay at home mom who homeschools, it is exceedingly rare that I am in my home alone. This might be the second time in three months at our new address. My alone time is typically OUT of the house.

So Kevin took the crew to Cayna's soccer practice, and I am soaking up the silence. It began to grow dark about twenty minutes ago, enough to start switching on lights. And I'm a little chilly. As I walked through the house with my arms folded, I was seeing my house in a new way. We moved here in the hottest part of the desert summer, therefore the chill, the early dusk, and the "feel" of the place in Autumn is all new to me. I like it.

I think I'll go light my "Ember" candle from Pier 1 and sit and stare into the weird, quiet light. How's that for introvert?

(Tomorrow night I might like to invite a dozen friends over for pie and coffee.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

For All Your Moccasin Needs

I got great customer service from The Moccasin House and told the guy I'd tell my friends. This is humorous because I am not sure any of my friends are the moccasin-wearing type. But they messed up an order, I complained, and they fixed it! This is such an amazing happening that I had to offer to spread the word.

Cayna is dressing up as Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha for All Saint's Day and the same for Halloween. For the amount I spent on the costume, she should also wear it at Thanksgiving for a re-creation of the celebration at Plymouth. It should be said that of all people to buy moccasins for, Cayna would be the best - she could be voted "Most Likely to Wear Unique Footwear" in our family.

After Halloween, I'll post pictures of the kids in their costumes and the saints they represent. In other costume news:

It is now two days til the All Saints party, and my St. Michael the Archangel has no wings. Nor will he wear dorky ones, so I have to fashion something amazing from two pieces of foam board and five bags of feathers. I did TRY to purchase wings. It involved a lot of fruitless internet searches, a lot of scantily clad models wearing their wings with their lingerie, and one horrifying trip to the Halloween Store. I'd rather forget that experience.

I may or may not post photos of the wings I make. Thankfully, St. Michael will lose the wings for trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and convert to a knight.

John is going to be St. John the Apostle and then an astronaut.

Bethanie is St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, which basically involves a Pilgrim costume.

Cayna has informed me I need to dress up, so I'm wondering what I can adapt from my own wardrobe to look like St. Catherine of Siena. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Soccer Mom?

We're about halfway through soccer season in our family. It's my first time having kids play soccer. Here's a list of my thoughts:

1) Two kids = two practices and two games per week. That's four more places I have to be, and I have to be there with water bottles, shin guards, uniforms, sun shades (thank you, Sport Brella), and a blanket and folding chairs. Frankly, a pain in my booty.

2) The pain in my booty is somewhat worth it considering they seem to enjoy it --- the weather is nice so we're out enjoying it, and we have met a few nice people. Which leads me to #3.

3) We have met some nice people. But we've also met some of those pesky snothead parents you hear so much about in this context. The ones who stand on the sideline and yell at their kid and order the coach around and just generally make giant asses of themselves.

4) Snacks and drinks for an entire soccer team (or two) are pricey.

5) I'm not convinced that my children gain any team-player skills or coordination that they don't already pick up by being part of a FAMILY and by playing outside with the neighbors. But then again, we do get a cool jersey with their names on the back...

6) Like every other thing in life, kid sports have their pros and cons. I'm quite aware of both.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Well, THAT'S a relief!

Did you hear the news? Sun Chips is discontinuing their compostable bags. Good move, Sun Chips! We bought a bag and it drove us nutso. I think it's actually funny that they're going to quit making them and try something "quieter". Or maybe it's funny that they tried them in the first place. Don't they test-market this stuff?

Then again, who eats chips in a movie theater? Or a library? Honestly, though, those things crinkle and rustle at the slightest touch. No matter where you are.

Supposedly the new version will still be "green" (compostable). Think this through carefully, Sun Chips! We don't want to exchange noisy bags for, say, odoriferous ones.

Other tidbits I got from my brief and frightened foray into the news this morning:

1) Toyota is recalling more vehicles. Perhaps a Honda employee was sent over as a spy to Toyota to throw a whole bunch of wrenches into their works.

2) Some salad brand might have glass shards in their bags. Seriously? How the heck does THAT happen? And why do they say might? Seems that's the kind of news you wouldn't screw around with.

3) Jon Stewart and his edgy gathering in D.C. is having some potty disputes with the Marine Corps Marathon.

4) Deanna Favre will "get through this" with her faith. Still don't know what Brett Favre did, and I don't want to.

This is why I avoid the news. It's a novelty to me, and only a novelty. It certainly isn't helpful or necessary. Even the more "important" stuff is slanted and error-ridden and blah blah blah blah blah. I'll spare you by cutting myself off right there. It's just a novelty. You know, like plastic barf. That's what I think of when I think of "novelty" - cheapy, cheezy, and only available in stores you really shouldn't patronize anyway - see? there are significant parallels between news and novelty.... (okay, I said I'd quit talking).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Before and After Photos (and a prize to win!)

Okay, we've been busy overhauling the downstairs.

Before you read this post, please know I am in a chatty mood and plan to include LOTS of unnecessary detail. (Kevin, you might as well just go back to work.)

First job, give away the pub table. Here is Kevin in the back of a pickup truck (where many people fall to their death) along with the table, delivering it to its recipient.
If you can tell me in the comment box who we gave the table to, I will give/send you a prize!

Next job, say goodbye to the choppy living room/formal dining room combo.
This is the well-known "room that never gets used" - POINTLESS! And when we did have company a few times in the past two months, the table here was too squishy.

And here was our more-utilized "family room":
Sadly, I didn't think to take the "before" photo until after we'd started rearranging. The above photo is kind of dark, but it shows our green recliner in the center of the room, but it used to stand off to the left. And the nook to the right of the fireplace held our television. Just use your imagination.

Here are the rearrangements:
Ahhhhhhh! Lots of space. Way more room for company, parties, Bible studies, and kids to run around.

And the new improved dining area:
You can't see, but the buffet is off to the left, and the china cabinet looks okay on a diagonal (it won't fit flat against the wall and I was worried about how it would turn out). The toy basket and the play kitchen are also residing in the dining room. Kevin wants it all moved to either the loft or the living room, but I like it back here in the busy area, away from what you see when you walk in the front door. It is a debate we maintained all of yesterday. Stay tuned to see who wins (remember that I spend WAY more time in this house and do the bulk of the cleaning and tidying...)

With the removal of the pub table, we have a giant free space at the bottom of the stairs, flowing out the sliding glass door and between the living room and dining room. I think it's glorious. It also gave us a lot of room to shift the "portable" island.

Before the shift, we had about 30 inches between the oven and the island:
This is also a dark photo, but that's the oven on the right. It was a crowded space.

Here is the new island position:
Once again, ahhhhhhhhh! More room for cooking and more room for hauling in grocery bags and piling them everywhere. Also, more room for kitchen help! (WHERE is my kitchen help?)

We are LOVING our new configuration. I love it, Kevin loves it, and the kids love it. They were excited to wake up yesterday morning and see all the changes. And I'm excited to enjoy them!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Out In The Field

Field trips. Last year, my first year of homeschooling, I thought we'd do all kinds of field trips. We barely did any. This year, as I'm relaxing a great deal, we are enjoying our freedom to get out and about a lot. Here are some photos of a few of our adventures.

First stop, the Renaissance Festival for a day of creative anachronism (read: some unique people who play dress-up ALL the time).

The kids are engrossed either by the weaver's presentation, or by his facial hair. I'm not sure which.
Here Joseph has been brought before a queen for some questioning. Considering how odd the whole thing was, he did a pretty good job responding to her inquiries.
Cayna attends juggling lessons in the tent of the jester.
A camel ride! I thought knights and princesses rode horses...

Next stop, the Gilcrease Orchard. Who knew there was a real live ORCHARD/farm in Las Vegas? This was better than Joe's first grade field trip to a Las Vegas dairy, sans cows.
We're corny. And to think this is Nevada, not Iowa. Imagine!
Bethanie with a just-picked apple. Last time we did this was in Oak Glen - so a shout out to my Yucaipa buddies.
Cayna searching for a good apple.
Finally, we attended the "Bridging America" event to celebrate the completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge). If you've had a chance to see this thing, it is awe-inspiring. We watched it being built and marveled at the size and span of it. Yesterday, we drove out to the lake, parked, and took a double-decker bus (VERY exciting transport for the kids) to the bridge. Drove over it and parked, then walked across. It is breathtaking to see the dam from there, but I've seen the same view in photos taken from airplanes. It was hard for me to imagine that we were standing on that HUGE bridge.
So here's the dam! But the shadow in the lower part of the photo is the bridge. We were 900 feet above the Colorado River and 1,500 feet south of the dam. I took this photo, but let me see if I can find a photo of the bridge.
Here it is. This photo doesn't do it justice, though. Look at the website I linked below to see photos of the construction and give yourself a nice little case of vertigo.
You can watch a cool time-lapse video of the bridge under construction and see photos here. Or better yet, come visit me in Las Vegas and see this modern wonder of the world in person. It's less than half an hour from my house.
My girls in the front seat of the top deck of the double-decker bus. If you ask them, they'd probably tell you they were more excited about the bus than the bridge.
John and Joe (and Joe's forehead tattoo of Spiderman).
Bethanie showing off her "Bridging America" tattoo. Nothing says field trip like a temporary tattoo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Why Not Go Unless He Tells You To Stay?"

I was blessed as a college student, and then as an InterVarsity staffworker to attend Urbana - the mission conference held once every three years in Illinois. The music and the speakers I heard there still reverberate in my heart to this day - even though I attended years ago - in 1993 and 1996.

One such speaker was Marilyn Stewart. She had been a missionary in Mexico for a long while and I loved hearing her testimony about how that came to be. She had been attracted to missionary work, and prayed about whether it was for her. She said that when she prayed, and didn't hear from God she figured she was "a stayer". I remember she said she shared this with a "wise missionary man" who said to her, "Why does God have to tell you to go? Why not go unless he tells you to stay?" And from that moment she began to pursue leaving the U.S. to become a foreign missionary.

I believe God might be speaking to me in this same way about having another child. And, for me, the prospect of another child carries many of the same doubts and fears that foreign missionary work does (and I know this because I considered such work for many years - only resulting in short-term projects in Mexico, Guatemala, and India - but of course my life isn't over yet). Am I mentally stable enough? Can I handle it? What about the health risks? Do you see? -- there are MANY comparisons for me between missionary work and bringing another child into the world. I wouldn't have thought so until this morning.

Since my most recent miscarriage, I've avoided pregnancy - not out of fear of another miscarriage, just out of fear of another child. And Kevin and I pray every day about our family size. And I've talked off the ear of every close friend. No one can really give me any wisdom - and God hasn't told me to "Go!" But why not go unless he tells me to stay? That talk by Marilyn Stewart 17 years ago entered my mind this morning as I was thinking about the decision yet again.

There are many ways that God can tell me I shouldn't have more children. But he hasn't done so. At this point, I think I'll try stepping out in faith and see what happens. I hope one day to have a testimony as powerful as Marilyn Stewart's - even in the realm of family size.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I'm doing it again... the mile-high 5K in chilly temps with my swift and skinny father-in-law. Honestly, it sounds better to sit and sip hot cocoa on the deck overlooking the valley than it does to make myself dizzy putzing uphill way too early on a Saturday morning. Last year, it took us (me--- he could've gone much faster) 42 minutes to run that sucker! FORTY-TWO! That's ridiculous. My normal 5K time is 30. I've never come in under 30. Maybe that oughtta be my training goal between now and then - to do 5K sub-30.

Katie? Sharon-Anne? Do you hear me? I gotta go faster! And perhaps I should be running up at Mt. Charleston (like, at the peak) in order to properly prepare.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Things I Want to Remember About 10-10-10

10. How cute John looked with a blue Gatorade mustache all afternoon

9. My peaceful house when Kevin and the boys went to the park, the girls had a friend over, and I got to sit and read (once I did the dishes)

8. Bethanie spontaneously wrote out the alphabet on a scrap of paper and the J, N, and Z are backwards

7. I talked to my Uncle Don and was reminded I miss my extended family - we never see each other

6. Joe and a friend and Cayna laughing hysterically at themselves playing Wii - archery and track

5. Cayna setting up a funeral in her room for a Betty Boop doll - she asked to borrow the school chairs and some "beautiful music"

4. It's Columbus Day Eve - which was a bigger deal when I was a kid... poor Chris, are we beginning to forget you?

3. Kevin making a drawing of how we could set up the downstairs if we get brave and move things around

2. Running with my "team" of four neighbors and scheming to incorporate scorpion hunting into our mileage

1. One year, one month, and one day til 11-11-11 --- party at my house!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Prefer To Shop Alone

Even all these hours later, it's not hard to remember exactly how I felt this morning, sitting in my minivan in my garage with all four kids about to go to Target and the grocery store. I dreaded it. One of those "I'd rather have a root canal" moments. Yet it HAD to be done. I was down to only one diaper for John (which, in this "Age of Costco" is almost unheard of - I can't remember the last time it happened). (P.S. If you're reading this and wondering why my three year-old isn't potty-trained, then you're not my friend anymore!) And my refrigerator was ghost-town desolate.

It all turned out okay, both stops. My kids aren't monsters. But it takes a tremendous amount of Mom energy to keep watch in four directions, ensuring that none of my offspring trips a senior citizen. And believe me when I tell you that there are a LOT of senior citizens in the aisles of the grocery store on an early Thursday morning. I'm happy to say none broke a hip as a result of the "hop from one color tile to the other color tile" game that my children were playing. It could have gone a lot differently.

Tonight I sat on the couch reading and noticed when Kevin dozed off around 9:40. I was fighting to keep my eyes open and thought I'd come up here to blog and then brush my teeth and be done with the day. But I was puzzled about why I was so tired. And then I remembered that moment in the garage - BEFORE the shopping trip. And it all came back to me. And I'm blogging about it so that one day I'll be reminded how enormously difficult it seemed, and how tiring it all was. And hopefully I'll laugh about it then.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not Enough Adjectives

I'm not sure I could earn a living as a book reviewer. Do they just spend all day in a thesaurus? When trying to think how to describe a book, I find my otherwise creative mind thinking, "Great book," and that's about it.

How can I go deeper to tell you about Laddie? I'm fresh out of adjectives. How about I tell you what I learned by reading it?

1) I want to live in Indiana.
2) On a sweet little farm.
3) A long time ago.
4) I'm seeing a pattern emerging in the books DeMille included on his "read these first" list.
5) Equestrian care goes right along with classical education. Buy good books, buy a horse!
6) Good writing makes the characters come alive in your head.
7) I can read hundreds of pages a day of good writing.

This was book number three on my "syllabus". So far, I think I could place each of them on my list of "Lifetime Favorites." Admittedly, though, that list is fairly long.

On to The Lonesome Gods!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One is the loneliest...

For inspiration, I'm copying the post title from someone else's blog today.

In this case, it is apropos. I am without my husband these past few days, and it truly sucks. Thankfully, he returns tonight - but once again I am thankful beyond belief to have a partner in parenting... and a partner, period.

Yes, it's nice that his earlier alarm hasn't gone off as usual, but other than that, I can't think of one single advantage to having him gone. We don't even fight over the remote, so that's not an issue.

I'm tired, lonely, and counting the minutes til his plane lands.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Loved Little Britches

What a good book. I sure like selecting my reading from a list of tried and true titles. Little Britches made me love the characters as much as it made me want to be a better parent and person. As I read, I kept thinking about the reasons for reading classics I learned in A Thomas Jefferson Education: "Classics allow us to experience, in an intimate way, the greatest mistakes and successful choices of human history." (page 62) And "As we study the characters, real or fictional, in the classics, we are inspired by greatness, which is the first step to becoming great ourselves." (page 63)

Ralph "Little Britches" Moody, and his father, Charlie, are real characters who inspire greatness. Charlie is already great, and Little Britches wants to be, like his dad. So then, I, the reader, also want to be. I want to be like that dad! Like that mom! I want to live my convictions like they did. (I also wouldn't mind memorizing great writing like she did.) And I want everyone to know that Little Britches was a good book.

The last chapter almost had me sobbing. And now I need to let the whole story "soak in" and take its place in my memory before I start the next book: Laddie.