Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Honor of My Wonderful Mom...

My Mom, Virginia Mae Sass, died at 5:01 Sunday, December 21, 2008 of a massive heart attack. She would have been 61 on January 20th.

She had known since 2003 about her heart condition, and wished to keep it private. The recommended course of action was invasive surgery she did not want and felt with her diabetes she would either not survive or not heal properly from. Though Dad, Sarah and I often tried to convince her to see a doctor, she steadfastly chose to decline medical intervention. She wanted to live her life out naturally and privately, at home and without the trauma of invasive procedures, and that is what she did. It seems so clear now in retrospect that her health was waning and leading to this for some time. But words cannot express what a sad, sad Shock it was. She would have been 61 on January 20 of the new year.

Last night we said goodbye to Mom. Her wish was for there not to be a fuss following her death. She did not want a big, public funeral, and wished to be cremated, which will take place within the next few days. According to her exact wishes we had a private viewing with only her nuclear family in attendance. Dad, Sarah and Amentahru, me and Nat, and the kids went to Washburn McReavy funeral home in uptown Minneapolis at a little after 7 last night, once Sarah and Amentahru arrived from Illinois. Mom wore one of her favorite turquoise and navy plaid tops, with the mom bracelet I made her containing birthstone beads for Sarah and me and a love pendant. We stood around her and sat with her, kissed her cold forehead and grasped her cold arms, and stroked her hair that felt like normal, soft and wispy. In the background we played the lovely, ethereal, other-worldly Enya Paints the Sky with Diamonds, as she wished.

Mom loved Corrie Ten Boom. So I read a quote from her writings, 'A life is not measured by it's duration, but by it's donation.' And that fits Mom to a tee. She gave so much--what she lovingly and painstakingly created in yarn for loved ones and acquaintances alike, any overflow of resources she delighted in giving away, her love and time and joy and affection and teaching for the grandkids, so many hours into delicious comfort food meal preparation and celebrations....

Nat read from scripture about how God is the healer of the broken hearted and the crushed (Psalm 34:18), how the old order will pass away and in the new order God will wipe every tear and there will be no more sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4), and how he went to prepare a place for us and he promised he will take us to that place (John 14:1-4).

The kids had listed special things they love about Grandma: she was really nice, she hates to have her picture taken, she was an awesome artist even though she doesn't admit it , she made us beautiful things, she likes to clean other people's houses, she loves to babysit her grandkids, she loves her family, she was the soup queen...

Sarah suggested we sing songs and the ones that came up were By the Light of the Silvery Moon (from when she played piano out of the Reader's Digest book), Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken (from the hymn book she played often), She'll be Coming Round the Mountain (one of the songs we would sing on our road trips), Blessed Be the Tie that Binds, It is Well With My Soul, and lastly, The Lord Is My Shepherd, the last line of which goes, 'Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me, and in God's house forever more my dwelling place shall be. '

Dad led us in prayer for Mom and those loved ones surviving her passing ahead of us into the promised land and we bought a balloon to release to symbolize the freedom of Mom's spirit and as Clara says to watch her fly up to heaven where God is.

Though it is so painful to have to say goodbye for now to Mom, I know now wholeness and healing and perfect love have come to her, and it is a comfort to know she is with God and all is well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chillin' Out

Jack Frost has arrived to find our family firmly ensconced in our schooltime schedule. Nat's work demands are 'reasonable' at the moment, so he is able to be involved in dropping and/or fetching the kids at their various endeavors. That is a good thing, since my clone just doesn't show up when called upon. Once the four travelers have gone for the day, Emmett and I have calm before the after school storm. Of course, Mr. Emmett isn't a big fan of calm so considers it his duty to disturb that in such an inventive and effective manner, you would not believe he didn't have chums helping in the effort. Many, older, stronger and more diabolical chums.

His thing right now is throwing. Everything. Heaviness is just a bonus. Since I am the object of his affection (and often the only other human present), I also make a handy target. Have you heard that fact that babies zero in on the face when their vision is still forming? How they can recognize their mama even before they can see very well because they possess an instinct that measures distance between facial features? Apparently that facial fascination stays with a baby into toddlerhood. And Emmett has a rocket arm and surprising accuracy. I'm lucky my nose is not broken and I have not suffered a concussion (yet). Calm can be painful.

The after school storm consists of All District Band practice, jujitsu workouts, dance practice for both girls, Girl Scouts meetings, chess club meetings, and starting next week I jump into the mix helping out at school once and twice a week. Am I missing something? I'm sure I'm missing something. Or no, that's just my recurring nightmare talking. Dinnertimes are a fun hodgepodge of times and places, and I won't even get into the effects of finickiness. Actually, I will. Last night, Miss Finicky (that would be Clara) had actual tears because I insisted she eat the bread with the hot dog--in an effort to buy a little more time before the ''I'm hungry" cry went up after dinner. I thought this was kid food, folks?! I hadn't even forced her to eat the disgusting chili and cheese with it, and she was only required to have one teensy spoon of the corn, red bean, artichoke salad on the side. Oh the injustice! and oh the drama it inspires!

It was yesterday that Jack Frost paid us a visit. Today a steady and gentle rain is falling, and the skies are a dismal gray. Clara was not amused, she really does not enjoy clouds or the potential for storms of any kind. We talk about the earth and how it really needs a drink, and it helps some. But she is still not amused. I, myself, am not particularly jolly of a rainy day like today. But since I'm a few years more than six, I've developed strategies. Like long and hot baths and good books, steaming hot pots of chicken soup and fresh warm bread to accompany them, and getting lost in a project of some kind. Here's hoping Emmett allows me to employ at least one of those strategies, and if it's the soup, that Miss Finicky finds nothing objectionable after today's storm.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don't be fooled!

looking sweet

He looks so sweet, doesn't he? Just a little angel, yes? If you came to that conclusion I would understand. But if you were his mommy, nursing a cold and with your energy at very low ebb, this beautiful little angel might just cause your sanity to slip yet another notch or two.

Today he swiped all the papers and pens and notes and calendar items off the desk not once, but 3 times. I think I may need to abandon dignity and get a portable commode to bring around wherever Emmett may be when nature calls, because while I was in the bathroom (a really brave or idiotic move on my part) he found the only cupboard we didn't recently put baby stoppers on (the lazy susan one because how would that work?), grabbed the nearly full drum of Quaker oats, brought it into the living room and sprinkled it over the carpet as thoroughlyas one might if trying to meticulously rid the home of fleas. When I finally got a little energy and decided to tackle the messes and restore some order, I dragged the garbage can over to the earthquake epicenter and went to get the vaccum. In those 30 seconds my sweet little dearie decided his next task was to turn the garbage can upside down and scatter it's contents. Those would include the fruit extrusion and rinds from the fresh juice smoothie my sweet hubby made me to help me get some good vitamins this morning, along with the coffee grounds and a whole assortment of other goodies.

As I type this account, he is one by one dropping the potatoes out of the bag and on to the kitchen floor with a delightful thud, roll, roll; thud roll roll. Is it any wonder my cold is hanging on? Calgon, take me away!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Homemade card

Today I had fun in my craft/laundry room creating a spiral pop up card (idea found on a website my sister-in-law introduced me to called Splitcoaststampers). Emmett fell asleep for this crafting session, so I was able to go with the flow and take my sweet time, having fun with the details.
I forgot to take the photo before I signed the card though, so don't look too closely!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The reason I normally exercise when Emmett is at Grandpa and Grandma's

I'm on a health kick. I found sparkpeople.com and am using it to return to exercise and a fitness focus. I have been meaning to since Emmett was born, and had a really great phase there for a while when he was about 5 months old until I got very sick and achy for months with Fifth's disease and decided to back off. It is now time again, and it's feeling great to have an organized approach.

I am blessed to have my retired parents living 7.5 miles away from me, and they are very generous with babysitting favors. It's great for everyone: the grandchildren get doted on, the grandparents get delighted by their progeny and I get a break from the 24/7 Mom/homemaker duties. I do various things with my "me time"; run errands, do yoga, take a walk, write, read...

I missed a babysitting date yesterday bringing Dakota to the vet (she is evacuated and feels and smells much better, btw) and so I decided to risk it and do my prescribed strength training followed by yoga this morning while Emmett was with me, and awake even! I know--what was I thinking?! It felt so good! Emmett sat on me if I was in a prone position doing ab work, and copied me if I stood up for wall push ups or resistance pulls. When I started doing yoga to stretch it all out he wandered off after a while. I heard him but couldn't see him over in his toy corner, and decided to go for a body scan to finish it all off and get centered. I was so thrilled that I got all the way through it and in the zone before the Mommy instinct kicked in and I realized it was... (say it with me) TOO QUIET.

Somehow while I was in the zone Emmett got in my baking drawer--his reach has really increased lately!--and found a delightful set of colorful, capped objects and brought them into the living room for closer inspection--squeeze bottles of food coloring! Thankfully, instinct kicked in before the coffee table got permanently stained. I'm afraid the birthday candles I had socked away for the next celebration are toast, though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A teacher among us...

Today's snippet is merely an announcement from a proud mama:

Ellibelle was cast in the play! Yay, Elli! Yay, Elli! She will play (drumroll, please....) A teacher. Rehearsals begin on Wednesday, and the performances will be in the third week of November. Needless to write, we are somewhat excited here today :)!

Maybe in the photograph below (taken at rehearsals for her spring dance recital) she was already preparing for her role :).

spectacle face

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dinner preparations...

I love to cook. Well, I should rephrase that. I love occasion cooking. Everyday cooking turns into somewhat of a chore. But I love having a special guest or occasion to plan for and really enjoy preparing and enjoying a big spread.

Since I had baby #4, I have been pretty slow to get back into making a big deal over dinner, and my efforts at hospitality have been slim to none. I think I'm (kinda) hitting my groove again now. Emmett is 20 months today, after all. Wow. I think I should get back in to cooking and having friends over.

Clara and I planted a little pot garden this summer, and the basil was starting to flower, so yesterday I decided it was high time to make fresh pesto. I found an authentic Genovesan preparation of pesto on 101cookbooks.com, which told me I needed to chop all the ingredients by hand which I was in the mood to do. It referenced homemade gnocchi to go along with it, which I've never had a go at, so... I bought the ingredients needed and a bottle of merlot and at dinnertime had fun sipping, chopping, kneading, sipping, rolling, boiling, sipping... It was definitely labor intensive, but I had fun and the family enjoyed the results.

I think pesto and gnocchi would be a fun group event. Get several couples together and have a party chopping and kneading and boiling, and definitely sipping.
When I was at Trader Joe's for the extra virgin olive oil and the 3 buck Chuck, I saw in the freezer section a Tiramisu Torte, which seemed an ideal choice to finish off the Italian meal. As it turned out, everyone in the family loved it! Even with the cocoa dusting and the hints of both coffee and alcohol. Even Emmett had a slice of it. I thought I'd share a picture of exactly how much he enjoyed the tiramisu. Not sure how much of it actually made it down the hatch, but as fingerpaint it really hit the spot. *sidebar* we have not bothered with a bib on him for months as he is a bib Houdini--it's off within 5 seconds and all you did by putting it on him was get his dander up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ahh, Friday

That day when once the morning rush is over, and it's just you and the baby boy in the bathtub (you can imagine where I sit as I type ;), you can happily anticipate a little slower pace for the next couple days. Nat makes a big ceremony on Friday night of turning off his alarm, announcing it's deactivation with great delight. I'm sure now that she has a 6:45 wake up time, Elli will be feeling the same way of a Friday night.

I am still looking at the blank canvas of the day and imagining different effects without a sense of commitment. Perhaps I'd better go get the second cup of coffee and just get moving in one of the directions I'm contemplating. Walk to the park? Shop for dinner and some extras for that care package I've been meaning to get out? Clean Clara's room? Nah! Go downstairs to the craft room and lay a few greeting cards by? Maybe what I'll do is this (and I'm sure you are waiting on bated breath to know): walk to the shopping center and come home and do some crafting. Ah, there's the plan, even without the aid of caffeine to clear the fog.

Speaking of crafting, here's the latest card (glue not yet dry) I made. Nothing particularly special, just a way to keep a visual record of things that go out the door. This one's a thank you to a wonderful co-worker of Nat's who met Elli recently at a get-together and was inspired enough by Elli's love of reading and writing that she went out and bought Elli some books. Thanks, Sharon!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Our drama queen

My oldest child just started middle school. It has been quite traumatizing... for me! She was more than ready to dive into a new learning environment (where a special IBMYP curriculum is taught) with a completely new group of people, count-em, FIVE whole miles away from me. She switches classrooms between periods, has all the usual components like physical science, math and language arts, plus she gets to start Spanish and continue with band and choir. And one of her favorites is a brand new experience, Theatre Arts. The work they do in that class really brings out her dramatic side. I get to pick her up after school every day, and it's a real joy to hear about her experiences on our drive home (the photo I'm sharing is of her just arriving at the van after school has let out--I didn't quite catch her but somehow I like it:).

Last night I drove Ellibelle back to the school an hour after it let out, because she had an AUDITION! The middle school is putting on the play, My Teacher Is An Alien. I am feeling very proud of Elli for being bold and putting herself out there. Callbacks are announced tomorrow, cross your fingers!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Decree from the baby: "Take those off"

The snippet for today is from my 19 month old baby boy (pictured here dressed after a bath by his big sister and looking a little bit like Obi-Wan to me). This morning we heard the pitter-patter of little feet in the hallway and knew Emmett had awoken and was about to join us--such a sweet sound it is, too. Then he saw me and started reaching out, clearly displeased. Though he is at that age where he has learned the power in expressing his displeasure, this was a genuine bother. As it turned out, he wanted me to take my glasses off (and this is not the first time)! I guess now I have the clear answer to the question, "Do I look better wearing glasses or contacts?"

the new glasses on the old face

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Betta believe it!

Several weeks ago my 11 year old, Elli, had a hankering to start an aquarium. She loves animals and considers herself somewhat of a champion for living creatures. She makes us take insects found inside the home outside rather than disposing of them by other means, she scowls at us if we refer to living things of any kind as "it". She has declared that when she is old enough to have her own apartment she will have her very own ferret (I wonder if she'll feel that way when she gets a good whiff of one?). Since she would absolutely love to add to the animal component of our family, fish seemed like a good way to go.

We went to the local pet store and perused the offerings. We priced out the extras one needs like the tank and pump and fake fauna and calculated out allowance savings required before the parent matching or doubling program might kick in... And decided we'd need to wait a couple weeks.

Then we got a fresh idea at the wedding we recently attended. For the table centerpieces at the dinner reception the bride had chosen large, clear glass vases tied around the neck with tulle and filled with water, a handful of colorful marbles, a peace plant with roots dangling, and a pretty little betta fish swimming around. As it happened, our church friend, Carolyn sat with us during the reception and is a happy owner of several betta fish herself. She described how to set the habitat up and how to care for the fish, and even better, how inexpensive the whole deal is!

So yesterday I went to Michael's and found the large vases and little sacks of colored marbles and river rocks on sale, woohoo! I bought a peace plant at Cub foods and split it three ways, and that turned out to be the most expensive and laborious component--who knew it took so long to rinse dirt from plant roots? That left a trip to Walmart with the three musketeers so they could choose and name their new companions. We are proud to announce 3 new additions to our family: Ringo (Elli's), Poseidon (Deven's), and Sweetiepie (Clara's). The vases are pretty to look at, the kids got their own new pet, and at $12 a pop we're pleased with the investment cost--everyone's happy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Best Wishes to Anne and Paul

We got home not too long ago from attending (and helping out in) the wedding of some church friends today. I am worn out! Why is it that I somehow always choose to wear brand new shoes to these events? Perhaps I love blisters, deep down.
The wedding was beautiful and everything came together very well, thanks to our little church family who pitches in and gets things done. It was my first time trying to be the "coordinator" type person, which really means doing things the bride would do if she could be everywhere at once. Thankfully, all the important stuff seemed to happen according to plan.
One day last week I finally got around to cleaning and organizing my craft/laundry room, a task that was long overdue. This morning before I dressed for the wedding I went downstairs to make the wedding congratulations card and the freshly organized area inspired me to create. This is the first card I've made in a while, amazing what a clear tabletop and knowing where the supplies are will do for creativity :).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Starting to close a chapter...

Today I dismantled Emmett's crib. Because Nat and I have a family bed approach to the nursing months, he never really slept in it anyway, except for naps when he was much younger. I was unexpectedly nostalgic as I loosened screws and stacked parts. This crib became a part of our home in 1996 as we eagerly awaited Eliana's arrival. Since every one of the kids has used it, I've set it up and taken it down several times before. But this is the first time that I dismantle it with the full intention that it will not be used again. Always before I stored the baby supplies away again with the hope that one day I would once again have the privelege of participating in the miracle of life. Today I filled up a hefty bag of baby accoutrement that Emmett has now outgrown, put the low lying toddler bed in the cribs place (wondering how exactly I'm going to get him to start using it) and started my goodbye to the baby years.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Is that smell mandatory?

Dakota with a faceful of snow

We have been in our current home for 5 years. One of the reasons we chose to sign on the dotted line was its large back yard. Large at least comparatively, our starter home had a much narrower and shallower space for the natives to be restless in. When he first set foot in what was to become our new back yard, Nat termed it a "dog yard". At that time, the idea of joining the masses and adding a dog to the family really appealed to me. Probably because I'd never had a dog.

A few months after we moved in, I attended an annual woman's cookie exchange with a group of my lady friends. Lo and behold, one of the women present had rescued a real, live pound puppy in her home state of South Dakota, and needed to find a home for her because she already had two dogs and couldn't keep another (pesky community laws!). I brought Dakota home to meet the family, and everyone agreed that she should be ours. If she wasn't already responding to the name her rescuer gave her, I might have called her Cookie, because that was all I expected to bring home from that little party.

Of course, that was before I knew her by her smell. Based on that knowledge, I might call her Fishy Stinkbomb! She's a sweet, patient and good-tempered girl. She has been known to let children stand on her for minutes at a time or grab fistfuls of soft rust-colored hair without complaining. Clara was not yet two when she came to live with us, so she has a devoted love for her and dotes on her with treats and combings and a special game I'm sure Kota looks forward to with relish where she is put on leash and taken throughout the house.

But the smell! We bathe her so often it's ridiculous, but it only takes a day it seems for her to get that horrible smell that makes us shoo her away so she doesn't pollute the air. I really don't know what to do about it, except I have a vague notion there are some glands that are supposed to be squeezed on a regular basis in the hind quarters somewhere?!&%?! A girl once alluded to such a process at the PetSmart groom room, but I promptly tried to erase the memory completely.

Please tell me, all you who have lived with a dog at one time in your life, is that smell mandatory?!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Starting fresh

One of the best feelings in life isn't it? A blank page, a new leaf, a fresh start. I've got that feeling right now for a variety of reasons.

My older three children have just begun a new school year, leaving me at home during the school day alone with a toddler boy and time to spend on things I love to do. Like writing, taking photographs, going on long walks in the cool autumn air, cleaning toilets, doing laundry, washing dishes... Wait, I was writing of the enjoyable things, wasnt I?

Blogging falls into that category for me, which is why I am starting back at it with this fresh new blog, Suburbian Snippets. I regularly blogged about daily life in my home for some time before my youngest child was born (evidence of that can be found here). I even kept up with it for a while after the little monster (I use the term in the most affectionate and loving of ways, of course) became a part of the fabric of our family. Then I discovered digital photography, and transferred passion for some time.

But I am ready to return afresh to my original love: writing with the added benefit that someone might actually read it, aka blogging. Disclaimer: I still love to play with my camera, so any readers will be subjected to my photographs frequently.