Monday, January 28, 2008


Yesterday we took a little field trip to the Butterfly Pavillion. It was fun, although I have to admit that I had visions of millions of butterflies fluttering about, landing on Katie's nose and enchanting her with the magic of nature. She's just a little too young to really get into things, and the butterflies were smart enough to find the warmest places to hang out - which were far from the people, for the most part - but we had a good time checking out bugs and spiders and butterflies with Oma and Opa. Next time maybe I'll coat her in rotten banana to try and attract some friends to come and visit more closely.

The butterfly above was just hanging out on a tree. I spent some time watching a couple trying to photograph it. The man looked 'official' - he had a serious camera, with long, large lenses - while the gal had a small point-and-shoot digital. They both kept moving around the tree, trying to get the best shot of this butterfly from the front side. They didn't even bother to look at the underside.

I found the shot to be much more impressive from the other side. The light shining through the wing gave it much more dimension, and I like that the detail on the thorax is much more visible in this light and from this angle. It seemed odd to me that the 'professional' photographer was more interested in what to ME was a much more boring, every day shot. Just a good reminder to me to not get stagnant - to try and look at things from at least one other side.

Here you go, Mag. I didn't have a still of me holding the tarantula - I was busy running the video much of the time and carrying Alex around on my belly - but I did get some live action of Roger holding Rosie. Too bad I didn't get a good shot of Katie's face while she watched. She takes after Oma in that she had no desire to take a turn with the spider herself.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

rental rant #3

It's been a while, but have no fear: our renters are still creating heartburn. To be more accurate I should properly state FORMER tenants.

The 27th of December, sometime around 9 pm, I got a call from a tenant's sister, asking if they could come over to talk to us. 'Well, if you feel like driving 12 hours, knock yourselves out.' The brother had to go back to Mexico for a family emergency, but the sister wanted to take over his apartment. Would that be OK? I'm in New Mexico and it's late. Right at that moment, sure, it's OK. What else am I going to do? My first thought was that at least we wouldn't have to do much to turn the apartment over. HA HA HA HA HA. I never learn.

We return to CO and meet with the gal to go over the lease, etc. She'll be moving in Feb 1, and all she wants is the bedroom set. Anything else that was left she isn't interested in. I went over this a number of times, as - to my continued detriment - I have not yet taken a Spanish class.

We head over and HOLY SMOKES! Someone should have brought her camera. They clearly left in a hurry, but still. This two bedroom apartment housed two adults and their 4 children (most recent one 2 months old). [Two separate friends of ours - each with 2 children and houses that are two stories and have basements - are looking for new abodes because they just don't fit anymore. HELLO! But that will be another post.] They managed to take or dispose of their 4 TVs, living room furniture, crib, and double bed, but left two closets full of linens, bags and bags of children's clothing, three dressers, and a kitchen full of everything. Oh man.

We took an entire Saturday and loaded up two truck loads for the dump and had a family friend who recently suffered a fire come and take what she could use. This still left a mountain of stuff in the living room. When I went back to clean some more, the living room was empty! Apparently the sister changed her mind, and came and got the stuff. Craziness! We would have happily let her move ALL of the crap out of there!

Two things really struck me with this turn over:

1 - I could NOT stop thinking of the irony that the chore I probably hated MOST as a kid is what I end up doing far too often as an adult: washing walls. I understand it's a rental, but they have to live there. Are people really OK with black walls? Is there some black/white colorblindness that I don't know about? Do we need to switch paint colors from the landlord-standard Dover White to some gross shade of brown that will better hide hand prints and nose waste? And WHY OH WHY do you need to have 800 holes in the wall to hang one picture? I'm stating up front that filling holes will cost $50 an hour. Totally ridiculous.

2 - When folks have limited funds, why does the amount of junk seem to multiply like wire hangers. For example, these tenants had three hand mixers, and probably 4 sets of beaters. Call me crazy, but it seems like the amount spent on these three junky mixers would probably be equal to one that actually worked OK. Why does something being FREE suddenly make it something you can't live without. The friend that came to get things for her house took TONS of stuff that I thought should have been destined for the dump for sure. Does anyone need two sets of silverware? But there were two, so in the box they both went. Three colanders? Sure, why not? Tupperware without lids? Throw it in. I felt like we were just transferring junk from one over-crammed place to another. Oh well. Just very interesting to me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

project runway

Perhaps inspired by Christian's and Chris's dress this past episode, here is the Kat and Katie take on Project Runway. Maybe the next iteration will have more ruffles to be more true to the original inspiration. :)

This afternoon I converted a queen-sized dust ruffle down to a twin, and Katie immediately got busy draping the scraps all over herself. So, once the dust ruffle was finished, project Princess skirt was on. For once, the idea in practice has lived up to the one in my head - she has been twirling and making the ribbons fly since she got up from her nap.

This is really just a segway into commenting on my sadness that Kit got the boot. How on earth did Ricky survive?! I agree that Kit's dress this week was lame and looked cheap, but Ricky's dress was even worse! It was a hard call between Christian/Chris and Victoria/Gillian, but I think their combination was the best couture/ready-to wear match up. Christian is irritating but good!

Ok, Mag and Kari, what are your rundowns?!

the right way

We've just experienced our first ear ache in the Young household. Captain Handsome was the patient, and it took a while to diagnose because he didn't exhibit any 'normal' symptoms, he just had a fever that spiked between 2-4 am for 5 nights in a row.

By the 5th night, things were getting ridiculous. The little guy would start squawking, completely out of it with tiredness, but he kept climbing all over me and trying to sit up. Knowing, as everyone does, that it's easier to sleep laying down, I kept trying to help him to the 'correct' position, only making him more wiggly and determined to sit up. I finally rocked him in the glider, raised up on my shoulder, and he fell right asleep.

The next morning at the doctor's office, when the problem was finally diagnosed, all his behaviour made sense. (Well, the signs he SHOWED. It's still crazy to me that he never showed any direct signs of discomfort in his ear, even when Kat the fake doctor poked it a little to see if was infected.) Naturally, in his case, sitting up and having his head elevated made it easier to sleep, because it relieved all the pressure in his head.

This has been swimming around in my head. While there are often many ways of accomplishing the same task, let's be honest: most of us have a favorite, or RIGHT, way of doing things. Many times this is even true - at least for us. Through trial and error we have learned what works optimally for us in a variety of projects. It tends to follow that this course is the best way for OTHERS as well.

Occasionally we are even right. I hazard to say it is universally true that socks going on before shoes is the way to go - if you're choosing to wear shoes and socks together. And generally it IS easier to sleep in a prone position - unless your head is clogged and feels like it's going to explode. Then you need to reevaluate.

This idea of MANY right ways - or at least different right ways for individuals - is continually reinforced as I watch Katie create things. She hasn't yet learned to be afraid of the vast white space of her paper. She has no inner compulsion to be symmetrical. Colors don't yet match in a particular way. She is already very particular about the way things need to be lined up in some instances - you can't thwart genetics entirely! - but she's still young enough to be experimental in most things.

Hopefully I can keep this in mind more often than not: just because a way of doing things is right for me, does not mean it's the best for ANYONE else. Anyone want to lay odds on how long it will take me to forget this? Probably the next time I have to work with someone on something . . .

Friday, January 11, 2008

the birth of taste

Katie got to stay up late the other night because we were watching Project Runway. The designers are such total oddballs, but the clothes are sometimes fun and interesting. I am most interested in the process of how they create their designs. It's interesting to me to see how the artistic process works so differently for different people. Much of the the time I'm thinking thank you TiVo for letting me skip all the commercials and silly banter! The meat of the show - if we can call it that - generally totals about 30 minutes.

Katie was cracking me up, because at the ripe old age of 23 months, she is already expressing quite definite opinions about what she does and does not like. At first I thought she was just echoing me as I talk to the TV - 'I like that, I don't like that.' When I paid closer attention, though, I realized that she liked - and disliked - different designs than I did. I could still be kidding myself here, of course, and she could have just been mimicking how mom was talking to the TV.

It's TONS of fun to watch HER little artistic process develop. She is VERY into painting on her new easel. She puts a lot of care and thought into her little projects. So much so that she couldn't even chat with me while she was first painting. She's getting better.

So, is there hope for training her to hate rap 'music?' If she exposed to the classics - classical music, as well as 80s classics like Peter Murphy and New Order, of course! - will she come away with a natural aversion to garbage? My dad is shaking his head, because despite his best efforts at modeling good musical taste I still had a Devo phase. I can dream, can't I? :)

hey mag! sam says 'hi!'

Amish Kat is no more. I finally bit the bullet and went under the knife. Long over due. Long hair works for some folks, but I'm just not girly enough to do fun and exciting things with the mop. So, now I'm back to 'regular kat,' and Alex, King of the Hair Pullers, has been officially thwarted!

I need to work on my self-photography skills, but here's something to give you the idea.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

end of christmas

Oh sadness. Today I put away the Christmas decorations. The table where the tree was looks so empty now. I already miss looking at the advent calendar over on the silly wall. At least we have some pictures, right?

We spent Christmas in Colorado with the Reeses. Katie decided to move in to Oma's house a few days earlier. When we were getting ready to go home Sunday night - Christmas Eve eve - we asked Katie if she wanted to come home with us or stay at Oma's, and she promptly replied 'bye bye Mama, bye Dad!' We could here the 'Don't let the door hit you on your way out' in the background. As you can see from the photo album, we now have a toy store for Katie and Alex to play with. Now where to put it all, so that Roger doesn't do a toy audit!

The day after Christmas we drove down to New Mexico to spend some time with Roger's folks. What a drive! The kids did great, in spite of their colds. It was nice to spend some time with Granddad and Grandmother. Hopefully we didn't infect them while we were there. I was up a couple of nights with each kiddo - separately at least - with the flu, but now that we're home everyone seems to be on the mend.

Now that we're getting things back to normal, I guess it's time to start thinking about 'areas for improvement' for the new year . . . but we'll think about that another day.