Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the plug

Well, it is time. Time for weaning Miss Katie off her plug addiction. This is no overnight project, but we are definitely making some progress. Today we present an Ode to the Plug. Above you will see the plug in Katie's preferred position. She was quite particular about having the handle pressed up under her nose for some reason. Ours is not to reason why.

Here is an example of favored plug activity - the super spin. She started doing this, apparently without really thinking about it. She just hangs out or even walks around, spinning her plug. Silly monkey.

I find interesting the objects that Katie has found for comfort. She is a blanket kid, a doll girl, and a plug kid. Stereotypical choices, all three. In the car she likes to have a book handy - that's my girl! We cannot leave the house many times unless she has all these four items. She didn't have this behavior modeled directly for her, but I suppose that we did teach it to her. Crying girlfriend - give her the plug. Time for bed - here's your blanket and your dolly. Her choice of the ugliest doll on earth as her favorite is her own contribution to the story.

Lately she has a new favorite: her 'I love Aunt Mag' t-shirt. Given the choice of what to wear, that's the first thing to come out of her mouth. 'Aunt Mag shirt!' Today she had to carry it around for a while, saying 'I like Aunt Mag shirt.' Sweet girl. I'd say it's a good replacement for her beloved plug.

Monday, November 26, 2007

adversity and example

I recently went to another funeral. This funeral was one of the most uplifting meetings I've probably ever attended. Not that there wasn't crying - this was a funeral. Most of the crying was not being done by the family, but by the others in attendance.

The funeral was for a woman who died after a 25 year struggle with Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. A number of things really struck me. In no particular order:

This woman planned her own funeral. She had been on the verge of death for a number of years. Her primary hope for her funeral was that it not be about her, but that through her funeral at least one person in the audience could become closer to Jesus Christ. That's how she lived her life, and that seems to be how she wanted to be remembered. This got me thinking about my own life, mostly in a positive as opposed to morbid way. What would I want my own funeral to be like? Not that I am even close to being ready to go. Which got me thinking some more . . . Not that many people want to die, but more often than not the timing of things is not their choice. What do I have left undone? Where should I be spending a little more time?

A number of comments were made about her illness, and how she chose to not let it define her. It's a horrible disease - two horrible diseases - and they both struck her quite young. She said that given the opportunity, she would not have changed the course of her life. She would not have chosen to be healed from her diseases. Being ill forced her/allowed her to do things that she would not have taken the time to do, and blessed her family in ways that they would not have been blessed had she been healthy her entire life. This got me thinking about my own adversities in life. Now, grant you, they are nothing compared to this. But with the benefit of hindsight - which is to say, at the time things were occurring I did NOT say HOORAY! I'M GROWING - I think I can say that I wouldn't change anything about my life. The things I learned through not so delightful times has shaped who I am. I wouldn't be the same person without those experiences, good or bad. Hopefully I've learned what I needed to from them so they don't have to be repeated, and I can experience new and different forms of 'torture' in the future. :)

One of her sons told of how when he was young, he remembers running all over the house yelling 'MOM' as he searching for his mother. He'd often find her kneeling by her bedside, praying. She never yelled at him to knock it off and leave her alone, but she also did not acknowledge that he was there until she had finished. This got me thinking about the example that I set for my kiddos, as well as the example my parents set for me. I don't think I have ever heard my father say an unkind word about anyone. He has certainly gotten testy at times - he is still human! - but he's never ripped on anyone. My mom never had to teach us about service, it's just what you do. Someone needs something, you help them out. I was trying to count how many 'strays' we took in to the 'Reese youth hostel' and I lost count at around 10. I'm sure I'm forgetting many. Thanks mom and dad for all you taught me by doing, instead of preaching. I hope that I can set the right pattern for my own kids.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy thanksgiving!

Hey Tommy, Julie, Mag and Kalle, David, Pam, Katharine and Griffin, and the rest of you all that couldn't - or chose NOT to! - make it back to Colorado for Turkey Day this year. Here are the pies for this year's feasting. From the left, we have apple with a crumbly topping; 'chocolate mania' - chocolate/butter crust, almost flour-less chocolate brownie topped with cream cheese mixture, swirled with more chocolate; key lime; peach custard; mini-blueberries; pumpkin; and mini-pumpkin and key lime. The key limes went to my pie helper on the right. The apple went to some of our tenants, who have taken it upon themselves to refinish the kitchen cabinets. They are crazy indeed, and trying to bring that kitchen into the current century is worth more than a pie, but right now that's all we can do!

Sorry we don't get to break crust with you all on this day of gluttony and lounging about. I'm thankful for you all, far and wide, and we'll just have to make more pies when you're close enough to enjoy them! Of course, we will skip the pumpkin, since mom is the only one that wants eat that one anyways!

Just for a chuckle, here is a picture of a girl who really wanted to go swimming. She kept asking me for days, and then found her swim suit and took it upon herself to show me how serious she was. She originally tried to get her arms in the suit with her sweater on, but was unsuccessful. The rest she managed all on her own!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

trip to CA

Alex and Katie have finally made it to northern California! Lizard was flying out to visit Mag in Mountain View, and she had a layover in Colorado. We jumped on the flight and borrowed her lap for one of the wee ones. I don't know that it was the relaxing vacation she was originally intending, but we had a lot of fun! We flew out on Halloween, but little Miss Katie wasn't in the mood to be a leopard. Alexander is still willing to do things my way most of the time.

Thursday Liz and Mag went to the spa and got massages. I got to kick it with my entourage. That night we visited Aunt Amy and Grandma Dorothy out in Danville at Amy's house. Sometime during the week Aunt Mag found Alex's second tooth!

Friday we dragged Kalle with us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Katie was most excited about the sharks and the octopus - they currently have a great white shark that they are rehabilitating to release back to the ocean. The otters were also a big hit.

(not my photo) Saturday we headed over to Berkeley for some Zachary's pizza, tie-dye for Lizzy, and some strolls down memory lane for Kat. We parked near my old apartment, just down the street from People's Park - which is still full of homeless people - and walked up Telegraph to the campus. It was fun to stroll around campus a little bit. It really is a fun campus - lots of open grassy fields - but boy had I forgotten about the steep slope from the top to the bottom! The view of the bay from the Lawrence Hall of Science is still fantastic. Too bad I couldn't remember which building up the hill I used to work in. I guess some information starts to leave after 20 years!

Sunday we drove up the coast to the beach at El Granada, in honor of Dave and Pam's bunch. Once we got set up, the fog totally rolled in and froze us out. This did not stop Katie from playing, or Alex from giving Aunt Mag lots of kisses! If we had just continued on to Montara or Linda Mar we would have had nothing but sunshine the whole time! After the beach we went and had dinner with Aunt Mary in Pacifica, and had some girly spa treatments with her. The herbal hand scrub was amazing!

(not my photo) Monday we headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods. We would have hit the beach again if it hadn't been totally foggy. The redwoods were gorgeous - a 600 year old tree had fallen a few weeks ago, so they're in the process of rerouting the walking path a little. Katie enjoyed running around, although she wasn't too keen on wearing a sweat shirt. Her purple fingers are on view in the photo album of the kiddos. Driving back across the bridge, I MAY have ran the toll. The sign said 'carpools - no toll'; we were definitely driving with more than 3 people, but I just paused and then zipped right through. We'll see if a ticket shows up in the mail! Mag and I were laughing so hard afterwards that I missed the exit for 19th Ave/Highway 1. We ended up taking 101 home. Guess I was a little cooked after our week of playing!
We flew out at the crack of dawn Tuesday. So sad to say goodbye to our North-America-based aunties! When we got home, Katie slept for about 6 hours, and would have slept longer if I hadn't woken her up for some dinner! Thanks Mag and Kalle for giving up your bed for us, and thanks Lizard for letting us come along on your trip! We didn't get to really chat much with the little people running around, but we had a great time. Hopefully we didn't totally wear out our welcome and we'll be able to invite ourselves over again soon!

environmental pondering

A post from another blog - lowercase numbers: the link is just over to your right - challenged folks to try to walk a little instead of just hopping in the car. My knee jerk reaction was 'Yeah right, tree-hugger boy. Easy for you to say. Try that idea with small children!' But honestly. How much harder is it to strap the wee ones into a stroller instead of into their car seats? Who doesn't need the sunshine? And how about getting myself moving a little more often? What better excuse than doing my small part to save the planet?

That challenge - thank you Mr. Pulsipher, and sorry, I don't remember how long ago it was offered, but it has indeed been a while - got me thinking about small things I can actually do to use less energy - fossil fuel kind or non-renewable, that is. It would actually not be so bad if I expended more energy. So now, if it's a minor grocery run, we walk it. This also has the benefit of actually only buying what is on my list, instead of everything that looks good. One benefit of where we live in Wrongmont is that we are just one block off of Main St. - easy access to many fine eateries such as Good Times, Chipotle, and Three Margaritas, as well as fine shopping Murdoch's Ranch Supply and, my childhood favorite, BigK. We even took a stroll over to the monster Wallmart before our trip out West - even though I HATE Wallmart, the walkability of it won over hopping in the car and going to Target. Insanity. It's a whole new Kat! The car trip that we've cut out that struck me as the silliest was to the park. There's a pretty good park about a mile away, which we used to drive to most of the time. Let's hurry up and drive to go play! That's just funny to me. Half of the fun is the getting there. And if we actually get to wait for a train, it's like Christmas morning for little Katie!

Other painless changes:

  • Switching out incandescent bulbs to CFLs as they need changing. A little pricey at first, but they should pay for themselves in no time.
  • Hanging a few loads of laundry out on the line instead of using the dryer. I admit I'm not ready for crunchy, scratchy towels, but I actually like the feel and smell of sheets that have dried outside BETTER than ones dried in the dryer. Bounce tries hard to recreate that smell, but nature wins on that one.
  • Garden/canning adventures. We are not self-sufficient over here . . . yet. But we're practicing. With Roger 'McGyver' working his magic on the watering system and grow boxes, we're getting a pretty good little garden going. I just need to figure out how to keep the poachers out of my blackberries! There are a fair number of man hours involved in the canning process, but in a couple of days I canned 20 quarts of apple juice and 42 pints of apple sauce, all with fruit from a tree that we do little in the way of taking care of. The grapevine that we don't even water yielded approximately 25 quarts of juice as well. And my cost, outside of sweat? A trip to Boulder to borrow all the equipment from my mom! :)Since I'm not ready to grow EVERYTHING we eat yet, buying locally-grown produce and making more things from scratch are relatively painless changes too.
  • We've (by 'we' I of course mean Rog) started to install low-flow toilets, experimenting with our place first. Jacuzzi makes a nice one that actually works well - the American Standard did not have adequate power for our needs, shall we say. The city pays $50 for the old toilet, and we easily saved $20 off our water bill with just one toilet changed out.

Just some musings. Once again, I've been surprised at what actually paying attention to things in my little world shows me. Bottled water has been making me shake my head lately. Buy a Nalgene bottle and a water filter if you really need one! Why so much plastic?! Guess a little Berkeley rubbed off on me after all!