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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

For a long time I used to look down my nose at new year resolutions. Now I have decided to wholeheartedly embrace them. I am a list person. I am a planner. How can I NOT love new year resolutions? I have tried to make my goals for 2009 really mean something for my family. Of course I have the eat right/get in shape mindset. After the gorge-fest that is the holiday season, who doesn't feel that way? But that is just on my big goals of life list. The unwritten, no duh sort of rule that is always there. My goals for 2009 are gentler and feel right for me for this time.

My goals for 2009?

1. Wake up grateful for the day before me. I don't care if I rise early, late, tired or alert. I just aim for grateful. Maybe a mug of tea and gratitude. Life is short, passion-filled and amazing. Each day is more time! I am grateful for this time.

2. Listen more, listen better. I want to be more in the moment with my friends and family. I will work harder to not get so lost in the planning that I miss the event.

3. Reach out more to those around me. I want to be a better letter and thank you note writer, a better phone friend, a more attentive real life friend. I am not bad at this role, but I want to offer a bit more of myself to people. I hold onto reserves by my nature. I've learned that there is no reason to horde love. It flows continually.

See? Not too bad. It should definitely make for a more mindful year. Just the subtle tweaks that take a life from good to lovely.

Wishing you all the best in the New Year. The economy is crazy, the world is scary, people are scared and hurting. Let us all ride this coaster together with kindness and empathy. If we reach out, console, and allow others to do the same for us. We'll make it through stronger than before.

Happy 2009 everyone! And hey, it's an odd number. I've always preferred odd numbers :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas

All is calm... Finally. :)

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Even the playmobil animals are festive and have been spotted caroling in the neighboring village.

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Santas are guarding the stockings. Alas, not my headless wookie Santa. He has to wait for next year.

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Snowmen guard the new/old toybox.

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The girl has been spotted with 'holiday hair' and glittery lip gloss.

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And how ready is this kid?

Today was my day to cook the roast beast for my husband's family. It was the great ham fiasco of 2008. But it is too long a tale for this night. There are children to nestle, and cookies to eat.

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Wishing everyone a warm and safe holiday!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Marble paper with shaving cream?!?

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Oh, yeah.

Okay, I've seen this in a million places lately and I would love to credit them, but I can't remember what blogs I found them on. When I googled I came up with this , this and this.

This has been such an amazing find for me because I used to marble paper before I had kids, (and a sink drain that I was responsible for for that matter). I've wanted to make more but was daunted by the hideous work involved. I used to use the oil paint floated on wheat paste method. Stunning results but what a MESS! Not to mention you have to rinse the wheat paste off the paper running the risk of clogging your drain, and end up with a ton of wet paper that takes forever to dry. In fact, when I googled the only link I could find for it was this. Because I am guessing no one in their right mind does this anymore.

Especially not when there is the awesome shaving cream method. Where you basically just smear some shaving cream on in the bottom of a pan. Sprinkle any type of pigment you want - ink, tempera, food coloring, watercolor.

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I used sparkly ink and food coloring.

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Swirl it around with a fork then lay the paper on top and smoosh it down a bit.

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Lift paper off. I put it on some paper towel and then wiped it off with more paper towel.

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Voila! Marbled paper. Yay!

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My lighting is bad so the flash is really washing these out. The color is much better in person and they have a nice sparkle thanks to the ink I used.

This is so fun and fast. In fact I just threw it all together on a whim to see if it would work and I know with a little more time some stunning marbling can be done with this method. Tonight I spent a half hour from start to finish, including clean up, (which was so easy since it is shaving cream). And now I have a neat little stack of marbled paper I can use for a million things. What a satisfying little project.

My only complaint is that I used whatever shaving cream we had on hand which was some funky smelling men's sport stuff. So the paper has a 'manly' cologne smell. Ick. But it still beats the nasty wheat paste, oil paint, and turpentine smell the old method used to have. And I already added food coloring and shaving cream to my grocery list so I can do this again. I can't wait to try it with the kids!

Christmas Village unboxed...

Remember this?

It turned into this...
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The kids ADORE it and keep adding Playmobil characters to the scene. It is starting to look a little more holidayish around here. It certainly looks like it outside. We have had so much snow this year and we're supposed to get some more tonight and tomorrow. It makes staying snug indoors surrounded by Christmas lights pretty darn cozy. Keep warm!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let me guess... A headless wookie that's been shot?

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No silly, it is my needle felted Santa. You can't tell? Okay, he still needs a little work. Yes, he is headless. I am still trying to work that part out. I might have him done in time for Easter, but I make no promises. We started decorating for Christmas today and by Saturday I expect we will have our other Santas out, so I might get all inspired and finish him all in a rush. Maybe. I do enjoy this new little hobby. But I also need to organize my kid's toys before the 'real' Santa visits. And by organize I mean donate, because seriously - where do they all even COME from?

An update...

We are finally getting somewhere after months of shelf building and painting and organizing. Now that we are on this end of it, I can say it was worth it. Yay!

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Before - my nightmare (Texture paint = BAD)

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After - my library

We are all so happy with this transition.
It just plain works for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ninjas...

For the past couple days I've been stalked by ninjas.

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Cute ninjas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting ready for the new toys...

With an old toybox...
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This is my husband's old battle-scarred toybox. I love the way it looks all scratched up with the cool pirate theme in faded (probably lead) paint on the outside.

This weekend we put new hinges on the outside (old ones were long gone)...
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A safety hinge on the inside...
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See all the crayon scribbled on the inside top?
My husband did that as a child. I am so proud.

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They are intrigued with the box. Of course they are. Kids like boxes. But I am hoping they will enjoy what we are going to fill it with as well. (Shhh.... if you promise not to tell them. This, this and these. They will go along with the geometric blocks we already have from their math manipulatives that they love to play with. Lots of building in our future.)

Tomorrow the boy gets his 5 year old shots. Poor kiddo! We are taking the girl in for her well child check up as well and she told me that she wants to ask the doctor for a flu shot so she won't get the flu. She's always been a bit odd. :)

Quit bothering me while I am reading....

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Check out how she has her little husky stuffed animal propped up to watch the snow out the window. Awwww....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A cat...with wings!

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I am pretty much convinced that cats should have the option to grow wings.

His tail is lumpy, but otherwise I am happy with how my first fairy cat turned out. I think I am going to try to do a Santa before I get back to the cats. We used to buy a Santa each year but haven't recently. Since I've discovered needle felting I want to try to make one myself. I would make his face out of clay, but his suit out of material and needle felting. My husband wants him to be a Gandalf-ish Santa. Of course he does.

I LOVE NEEDLE FELTING!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wow. Christmas Village in the house.

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My husband and I often hang out at the local mom and pop bookstore/coffeeshop. It is a Cheers sort of environment, like a daytime bar with regular faces and ongoing jokes. One of the women that work there is one of the people on our big lottery list. Our lottery list is a short list of names that if we hit it big in the lottery would get some sort of contribution to make their lives easier. In her case we'd help the old girl retire. She is nice and grumpy. Just perfect for an adopted grandmother. Our list isn't long, we aren't that generous. So it means something that she is on it.

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For the last couple years she has told my husband about her Christmas village collection. Not one particular set or type of village. A natural hodgepodge that grew over the years. She was too old to be bothered with it, couldn't carry the boxes, didn't want to clean up after, but wanted to see them into a good home. She has wanted us to buy them and kept wanting us to make her an offer. But sheesh... We had no idea what to offer. Not to mention while my husband is an intense lover of all things involving holiday decorating, we do not have the room for such a display. We tried to talk her into ebay, or putting it in the paper. But she wanted her much loved collection to remain loved.

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This year my husband gave in. She offered him an amount and he gave her more. I don't know if they are worth what he gave in money, but it was worth the look on her face. Happy, tearful. And the faces of my kids when he brought home the boxes of carefully packed little treasures. Delight, awe.

I have NO idea where we are going to put this mad purchase. My husband's delight in decorating for holidays already stuffs our little place to the point of holiday explosion. But at least some of it will get displayed this year so we can give her pictures of her little village lit up and loved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The season to drag up the past and all that...

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Don't we all have stories? Crazy, cool, true stories that feel like the point of life? I've decided I want to start randomly sharing past stories here when they come to mind. Since I don't expect I will ever sit to write a memoir, I might as well put them here. Since there are those places that can make your blog into a book, then some day I might just do so for my kids and say, "Here. Now stop whining that you don't have baby books." And it would be nice to have some of my 'good' stories thrown in. So why not? Let's get down to some of the good stuff, yes?


Perspective

In my early twenties I wandered. For awhile I lived with my biological dad near Seattle. His family's friends were quick to take me in and soon I was hiking with some of them regularly. One in particular was interesting to me. (Read, hot and intense.) He was a Romanian immigrant that was passionate about raising awareness for the plight of teenage girls turned out of the orphanages in Romania. He had seen so much hideousness in his life, fighting for things I've always taken for granted. He climbed mountains barefoot and called chipmunks timber tigers, though the way he said it was 'teem-bur tie-gurs'. Crazy sexy.

My first time mountain climbing was with this group. I am not afraid of heights and was pretty strong at this point in my life, but it was all rather like spitting in death's face so I was shaky. We climbed up to the point where we all would sit there unhooked, waiting our turn to climb. That's when you learn the difference between people who climb mountains and those that just like to walk around on big rocks, bouldering. The so-called starting point where everyone just lounged around and read and told stories was a little ledge about forty or fifty feet in the air, one large sneeze away from death. It took a bit to get used to.

So it was my turn to climb. I was the one on the ropes with someone else on belay, everyone waiting for me to climb up already so they could have their turn. I wanted to climb. I knew I could do it. But my hands just wouldn't find the holds. I wasn't going up. So my Romanian friend, perhaps showing off a bit in his sexy bare feet, basically enveloped me and told me he'd help me start. I argued with him. It was insane. I was on ropes and he was not. If I fell, I could kill him. I told him it was too dangerous, and he told me the thing that changed my perception on life forever. I know that sounds all cheesy and cheap-novelish, but half way up a mountain, wrapped in the embrace of a hot foreign man - deep statements etch themselves onto you.

He told me, "Safety is an illusion. We are all in danger, all of the time. Sometimes, we just know it more than others."

At that point the only two choices I had were to climb the damn mountain or to molest the man. But since the process of turning around would throw him off the mountain, I climbed. Holy lord, I climbed the damn mountain. And it was awesome.

No, I didn't end up even kissing that wonderful, intelligent, sensitive man, and yes I wanted to very much. I was way too much a ball of turmoil and he was ready for some stability. He deserved stability. So the most I allowed for was a very intense session of hand holding after a concert one night, but it was world-shifting hand holding. And if you don't know what I am talking about, you haven't been holding hands well enough. But that is a different story altogether.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My first family

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My first little gaggle of kiddos.

I have been doing that thing that people do when they hit mid-thirties. (Which I happened to hit a few weeks ago.) Not any whacked-out, criminal, raging thing. But that looking at babies and thinking.... "Hmmmm.... cuuuute.... Maybe I have what it takes to handle one of those critters now that I am all grown up."

This is how people end up with 'second families'. I don't mean the mid-life crisis, across town kind of backdoor family. No, more like how people have two kids early on and then about five or six years down the line have two more. This is also why I had my tubes tied with my last little happy surprise. I don't think this urge ever goes away.

Then, as I was pouring through baby pictures. See? Baby bug biting... I realized I was currently parenting my 'second' family. My husband was a package deal. With him came my awesome stepson, and well, my niece. She just liked to hang out with us. All. The. Time. She was my little groupie. Unfortunately as a newly married person, I didn't understand how quickly kids grow up. How I wouldn't have FOREVER to play Barbies with the little girl at my heels.

I was a clueless, selfish twenty-something that had little talent with children. But I was good at piggy back rides and had lots of craft supplies. However, looking back I wish I had the maternal patience that came from having my own babies. I would have for sure played Barbies with my niece more. I would have taken the time to enjoy it. It would have meant the world to her and I would have learned earlier that the joy was in the moment.

Daughter at 7 (arrow pointing to their twin moles)
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Niece at 10

Daughter at 7
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Niece at 9 (with my daughter)

My stepson and niece at 10. Always lots of crafting happening here.
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Daughter at 7

It is so stunningly odd that they are so similar and I am just realizing this. So quiet, smart, beautiful and creative.
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Niece

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Daughter

My niece and stepson are seventeen years old. I met them when they were seven, exactly the age as my daughter is now. It is unbelievable how fast this time has gone. One day you are surrounded by children, the next the house is quiet and you find yourself staring at the toy chest in the corner, tempted to get the dolls out and brush their hair. Guess what I am going to be doing tomorrow with my small ones? Yep, bring on the Barbies, tea parties, crafts and nerf gun fights. (I have a little boy to please too.)

And I will savor every second of it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

New Obsession! Needle Felting!

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The girl and I picked up a needle felting kit at the local yarn shop. Who knew this would be the project that would complete me? Why is it I am only just discovering this tiny corner of heaven? If only I had sheep. I need wool like I need air.

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Daddy can't watch her with the needle. We both poked ourselves a couple times, but no blood. We're tough.

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Finished little birdies. But we had withdrawal and had to go back for more wool. Seriously... this is a new addiction.

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My new project. Hopefully it will be a fairy cat. But I can't figure out how to do a cat face. I am having fun experimenting though. Even the girl started her own little cat today.

Needle Felting, yay!

Gross but sort of cool...

I noticed this shot when I downloaded the pics.

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The kids have been painstakingly trying to shoot shapes using nerf guns onto the mirror. I find the fact that they 'shot' a bullet heart onto the mirror a bit funny. Like love with a side of violence or something. All the previous little smudgy bullet marks on the mirror are sort of nasty as my kids do tend to lick the bullets for maximum stick power. Makes it really nice to 'accidently' take a hit to any exposed skin.

I can thank daddy for the nerf gun addictions in this house. He's the biggest kid of all.

Jedi Birthday

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Let's all pretend I can decorate like this, yes?

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Happy Birthday my big five year old!

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The perfect blowing out of the candles shot - thanks to my sister's awesome photog skillz.

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Look! A baby! Awwwww....

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After the fun. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tired and grateful...

Yesterday was my boy's birthday. We had a pretty good day, but at bedtime the poor boy came down with a very sudden stomach thing; vomiting, very low body temp and then had trouble breathing. My husband ran out to buy a new thermometer because we thought for sure my kid's temp couldn't be under 95ยบ, but he felt so cold and that was what ours kept measuring. While daddy was gone, the boy did a weird gasping, not able to breathe thing that seemed to last forever so I called 911.

My husband arrived home about the same time as the police and ambulance and exactly at the moment my son threw up all down my back. But then his breathing regulated. So he was either choking or having an asthma attack but all that ended up taking a backseat to the concern over his inability to stop throwing up. They recommended taking him to the hospital, (but we drove, he wasn't ambulance ride sick at that point), and so we spent the evening in the place where he was born, but in less fun circumstances. But the good news is in both cases we got to bring him home :) From what it sounds like the whole darn town has the same stomach virus and it is pretty vicious.

Today we are exhausted, mellow and above all, grateful. Appropriate for Thanksgiving I suppose. I am grateful for people so inspired to become policemen and paramedics and ER staff. I know I couldn't do those jobs, but I sure feel comfort that others can and thrive at it. I am grateful I have my family around me, and what kind and good folk they are. I am happy that for once I am not freaking about cooking Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Usually I work myself into a tizzy and my husband always says to relax, no one wants me to be Martha Stewart, they just want some turkey and mashed potatoes. So that is what we are having, and I am relaxed. Nothing like an ER visit for a healthy dose of perspective.

I have birthday party pics I will share later when I have the energy to mess with the camera. We had a fun "Jedi" themed birthday party on Sunday for my big five year old. I'm sure it will be after the holiday that I get around to all that. Until then wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Same Girl, Same Hat... New Attitude

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December 2006

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A few days ago.

To be fair though, see her dark circles? She's fighting a cold in this picture, so that's probably to blame for the snarky little 'tude she was pulling on me that day. Still, it is unsettling to catch a teenish look on a seven year old face. Eek!