Monday, December 5, 2011

December is here...

December seemed to arrive with out me noticing.  When we travel for Thanksgiving, preparing for Christmas is shifted a week later or more.   Depending on how cold it gets and how fast, sometimes the outside decorations don't even get put out these days.

But yesterday the family went out and chose a live tree, rearranged furniture, installed the holder and tree, wound lights around it, and put our ornaments up while listening to our traditional Nat King Cole Christmas CD and sipping hot chocolate. The tree emanated cold when we first brought it in, and as it soaked up the warm water we gave it, the scent of fir tree filled the house.  It really is a pleasant aroma.

Every year our kids get a new ornament, and so from youngest to oldest they get to put up their personal collections before we fill it out with shiny purple and teal globes.  Now that Deven is 12, he takes objection to his first year ornament, which for all of them is a photo of their infant or toddler selves, but he happens to be adorably naked.  At his advanced age, he is not amused.

I think this will be the first year that Emmett leaves the tree alone, and is old enough to look at the gifts without touching.  He really wants to give gifts too, and has already put some homemade items under the tree :).

It's fun and comforting to keep the traditions each year, to listen to the same music, drink hot chocolate, pull out collections of things we've seen year after year.  I think it is interesting how we humans (animals too I guess) like our traditions.  For Nat and I, Christmas is not a tradition we carry on from childhood, it is one we established in our lives when I was pregnant with Eliana.  But it has come to mean a lot, add great enjoyment to our lives, and give us a special focus for worship, tradition, correspondence, family, togetherness and fun.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A goal met...

The final blog of the National Blog Posting Month. I met my goal of posting every day in November--yippee!!  And my inspiration, my daughter Elli, met her goal of writing 50000 words for NaNoWriMo--You go, girl!!  It has been fun to check in every day and spend time expressing life in words.  I'm not sure yet how frequently I plan to blog going forward, but it's likely it will be more often than before forming the daily blog habit.

During this past month, I enjoyed more time at home than months prior, due to my henna business experiencing its seasonal slowdown.  I dedicated time not only to writing, but to exercising, managing at least 16 workouts in the month, which is a vast improvement to months (years) prior.  Some deep cleaning, organizational and decor ideas for my home were implemented, and I'm enjoying the changes, and plan to keep the ball rolling.

My writing and home energies have been met mostly with appreciation and supportive attitudes.  But one friend expressed confusion about why a person would possibly want to blog, and who on earth would read it anyway?  Furthermore, her opinion was that someone who uses the computer often and dedicates time to writing a blog must not be wholly engaged in living, and essentially, should 'get a life.'

Though I generally dismiss views from such an obviously closed minded place, this made me examine why I want to blog, who I want to read and why.  Mainly, I just love writing.  It's something I enjoy doing.  Will any of the world's problems be solved by reading my thoughts expressed in the written word?  No.  But I got to create, I got to think, remember, and string words together to express things that mean something to me.  If I didn't 'have a life' there would be nothing to say.  I have no delusions of grandeur.  I'm just about the business of writing and sharing.  Perhaps something I write will resonate with you, or bring a chuckle, or just bring a friend or family member close when proximity is not an option.

So I finish this my last blog in November by quoting wise words from the Dalai Lama that can benefit us all, whether we are on the same page or from opposite ends of the book:

"Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek."

Here's to happiness, tranquility, compassion and understanding for us all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday, Henna Day!!

Today I got the chance to spend time in Rochester with a bunch of my favorite peeps--my lovely henna girlz!

We filled up a van this morning (many thanks to our fearless driver, Amy, and our priceless navigator, Beth!) and headed down the highway to Rochester where our hosts (many thanks to Jazibe and her sister!) had reserved a beautiful party room for henna playtime.  As we are wont to do, we shared a delicious and nutritious potluck grazing buffet which we visit freely in between doing henna designs.  Some of us brought our wee ones, and some of us brought our yarn (though the yarn didn't see a lot of action this afternoon methinks), and there were design books, henna cones, alcohol bottles, lemon sugar sprays, cotton pads, face paints, brushes, cameras, and above all, CHOCOLATE!  From Switzerland no less, mmmm.

During six hours together, we chatted about a wide variety of things, personal and general, and got to know one another better.  We created beautiful designs on each other, planned future dates and activities, made a mess and cleaned it up again.  It was good for the soul.  I love my henna dearies!  Maybe some time you will join the crew, eh dear reader?

Here are a few pictures from today's meetup:

My work on Amy, Have fun in Cancun!
Her daughter applying her first ever henna to our lovely hostess

My work on Jazibe, angle 1

My work on Jazibe, angle 2

Two of the adorable wee ones present, making their own fun

Victoria Welch's gorgeous design on me

My work on Tasia

Monday, November 28, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Has this ever happened to you?  When I am away from home for a period of time, I return with a fresh eye and fresh enthusiasm for projects and goals at home.  Maybe it's the fonder heart due to absence syndrome.  Whatever it is, I'm glad for it!  I've experienced this many times over the years.  It leads me to the conclusion that it is really good to leave home periodically.  I wonder how else this can be applied in life.  How else might it be a good idea to completely step away and focus elsewhere and come back fresh to the matter at hand?

This morning my handy dandy notebook is populated with ideas for home improvement.  I have errands to run at places like IKEA and Home Depot, and some measurements to take before I leave. 

I'm enjoying the fresh energy vacation gave me, and intend to use it along with inspiration from spending time in Sarah and Tahru's new home to freshen up our old one.  Now that I slept in quite luxuriously of course.  Emmett did too--he slept 3 - 4 extra hours this morning.  So now, well rested, off we go to make some simple, revitalizing changes!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggety jog...

Glad to have made the 1000+ mile return trip again and to be safe and sound.  I'm happy to report there was no inclement weather and zero vomit on our return trip, and we made it in 90 minutes less than the GPS projected at the beginning of our venture, so therefore it was an ideal journey.

I write better in the familiar surroundings of home.  Sitting on the settee by the bay window, looking out at bare trees, brownish grass, and the milky grey lake today, I'm happy to have been in Texas and happy to be back again.

We made good time on our return trip, the kiddoes were able to sleep for most of it, watch a couple movies, eat and take a few stretch breaks and they were home.  Us drivers had a little more difficult time of it, but really, with cruise control, chewing gum, stiff coffee and the iPod going, taking four hour or a little more stints behind the wheel is manageable.  And very worth every minute of it.

Emmett was a little shy and out of sorts away from home at times.  He's very happy to be back in his home environment, he's bright eyed and bushy tailed, and was very compliant and happy on the trip home.

When you have been away for some time and you round the corner and see your home still standing, it is a feeling of relief.  When you enter and everything is as you left it, safe and sound, and the kitty greets you, purring, all is well.

Now time to prepare for the holidays, and the happy week when our gracious Thanksgiving hosts come to see us, and it's not too far off!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

It has been a wonderful visit, full of relaxation, exercise, yummies for our tummies, sharing, learning, entertainment and togetherness.  As always, it is bittersweet to say goodbye.  Sweet because the time together has been precious and we are looking forward to the next time we meet.  Bitter because it will be a while before that happens, and we don't prefer there to be such distance between us.

Many thanks to my sister and brother (in law) for hosting us this week and showing us wonderful hospitality in their beautiful home.  We feel home when we are with you, and we love you very much!

Friday, November 25, 2011


I LOVE MASSAGE!!!  Amentahru's Mom is a massage therapist, and tonight she gave me a wonderful session, using me in order to demonstrate how to use elbows and the meat of the arm to get into the sore spots.    I've developed bad habits of holding my body while doing henna and sleeping that have given me very tight shoulders, and she showed how the neck and chest muscles and around the collarbone, under the scapula in back and all the way down to the elbow...  All these are factors in my achy shoulder.  Now that she is done working on me, I feel soooooo great!!  Many thanks and much love to Leela!

And dear reader, here's some advice she gave me.  Explore your own muscles and sore spots, and when you find one gently rub it out.  Don't be afraid to use deep pressure on your neck, it does a lot of work all day long and can really use the release.  Regular massage work can really make a difference.  I know I feel wonderful now, and I intend to get a massage more regularly in the future to help me keep my shoulder up to snuff.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I am thankful...

I have sooo many reasons to be thankful, it is impossible to list them all!  I am very thankful for the special family I'm blessed with.  Thankful for the ability to travel and spend time with dear and distant loved ones.  I am thankful for abundance of many kinds that I'm privileged to experience.  I'm thankful for my health.  Thankful for the many freedoms I enjoy.  Thankful for the artistic endeavors and relationships that grace my life, and for the way the journey is surprising and full of gifts and challenges and how far I've come and for the adventure yet ahead.  I'm thankful for hope and joy, love and acceptance, and oneness.  And I'm thankful for you, dear reader!  May your life be blessed with abundance and joy and may this holiday find you with many, many reasons to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

State Parks and Oven Fires

Today we went to Tyler State Park and walked around the lovely, still lake.  The weather was absolutely perfect for a hike; sunny, not too hot and not too cold.  The trees here are just turning colors now, and the path was strewn with pine needles and leaves and pine cones.  Leela and Clara were finding treasures, the boys were taking the lead with the dog and Emmett.  It was good to take a constitutional and see the beautiful lake and it's shores while chatting.  Last year their were turtles, but we didn't find them perched on their log this year.  It was lots of fun.

There were also many trips to the store to buy ingredients for tomorrow's huge feast.  And after dinner was made, consumed and tidied up after, we made 7 pies and a cake, and we started an oven fire. The fire was put out with calm and baking soda, but we can attest that their fire alarms are all in working order!  I don't know why I always forget to put the baking sheet in to catch the drippings!  Between oven fires and Legos spread all over their house, I think we've already done our duty to help break in their new home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembering Thanksgivings Past...

This afternoon after we visited a local mansion given to the city of Tyler, part of the family spends time at home while the other part practices Tae Kwon Do at the University.  The home contingent is spread out, writing, crafting, reading, eating, performing maintenance outside, and writing.

I am thinking of loved ones who cannot be with us, and of Thanksgivings past.

I remember some elderly friends my parents invited to share the table with us over the years, among them jolly Mrs. Hedin and Wally, the retired railroad engineer, and Mrs. Cavanaugh who introduced me to strawberry rhubarb pie.  I remember the green lace tablecloth that decorated the table every Thanksgiving, and which I have with me this year to put on Sarah and Amentahru's brand new dining room table.  I remember well the lengths Mom went to fill our table with yummy bounty.  I remember her home made wheat rolls and pies.  Sometimes I got to whip the cream with the old-fashioned rotary beater, and I enjoyed watching the volume grow, though it was sometimes hard to wait for it to happen.

We would give thanks, and have share happy conversation while we ate.  Always there was lots of laughter.  The game was always playing at various points during the day, and we often woke to the Macy's parade.

Some of the traditions continue, some are brand new, but I'm very glad for these memories.

Monday, November 21, 2011

R & R

We are enjoying our Texas vacation so far:  sleeping in, chatting, working out, eating, spending time outside where it is very warm, playing games...  Thinking of loved ones who can't be with us, and enjoying spending time with those whom we don't often get to.   Their home is beautifully landscaped and there are many things blooming now and it's relaxing just to look at the gorgeous garden.  We will go out soon to see some sights, and plan to have a Dallas outing tomorrow.  It's nice to have relaxation time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Of Tejas

I lived in Texas while attending university for three years just before and after I crossed the threshold of 20 years old.  I had only one other occasion to visit the south before I lived there while going to school.  Before that I had only heard southern accents on TV, so it was surreal to stop at gas stations and hear twang coming out of people's mouths.  It was also surreal to experience warmer weather just three hours down the road.

I think it benefits the human spirit in an inexplicable way to experience life in different spots on the planet.  To see different flora and fauna than you grew up seeing, to hear different accents, breathe different air.  Being by the ocean feels almost like science fiction to me, the world is soooo delightfully different from my norm.  Traveling to another country leaves me with an electric buzz tingling through my veins, everything is all so very different and exciting.  I look forward with great anticipation to the chance to travel internationally again, there are many places I would like to experience.

For now, I'm happy to be going to a different part of the United States.  Where they say "y'all" and call me "Sugar" and "Honey".  Where true winter rarely visits so the fauna and bug population doesn't really go dormant and therefore grow to gargantuan proportions.  You have never seen a cattail or a cockroach, until you've seen the monsters in Texas.  I imagine the rain forest would surpass even those, but I have yet to experience that wonderful place.

And, in some ways, going to Texas is going home.  To my little sis.  Sarahmaisy, Pepparoni Sissas Forevah!!  :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the Road Again

Today we will be on the road again, driving from Minnesota to Texas for maybe the 20th time.

Initially we made this same trip because we were attending college in Texas, graduating from Ambassador University in 1993.  If we thought we were done traversing these 1000 miles of highway once we moved back to Minnesota, the fates laughed at our ignorance.

As it happens, my sister and her husband have settled in the same area and purchased their first home over the summer.  We go to spend a share Thanksgiving week with them in Texas.  I promise dear reader, we won't mess with Texas while we're there :).

We're looking forward to our vacation, and as we embark on the journey, I'll definitely be humming this Willie Nelson tune.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanks to henna...

Tonight I went to the movies with dear friends whom I met, thanks to henna.  I am very thankful that henna came into my life.

In henna, I found an art form I fell in love with and couldn't stop learning about and experimenting with and ultimately making a career out of.  Only with henna did I finally feel comfortable claiming the title, Artist, though I've been drawing and painting in many mediums, throwing pots, sculpting, taking photos and practicing many other art forms since I could walk and talk all the way through primary and secondary education and beyond.

And because of henna, I became part of a community that nourishes me in many ways, and has gifted me with dear friends I am blessed to know.  If you had told me even 3 years ago that I would be a working artist part of a community of artists with awesome new friends and in my niche with an art form I'm passionate about and privileged to share with people of a variety of ages and cultures, I would have thought it only a happy dream.

My dream come true in so many ways, I'm thankful for henna.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Emmettisms

Emmettisms:  He had an upset tummy the past couple of days.  He says that after he eats, in a little while, his tummy gets mad.

Instead of "supposed" he says, "opposed (with a soft s)"  As in, I'm on the computer, checking Facebook or writing a blog entry and he asks for a drink of water, and I tell him, "OK honey, just one minute."  Then in five minutes he says, "Mommy, you're OPPOSED to get me my water!

Instead of "remember" he says, "you membered?!"  As in, Mommy, you were opposed to get me my water, you membered?!"

Instead of "maybe" he says, "naybe."  And naybe is the Weapon of Choice for pitching an idea.  "Naaaaybe we should go to Target and I can choose a toy."  Coupled with Weapon of Choice #2:  the adorable look.  He's well aware how cute he is and how to arrange the facial features in a manner that is very difficult to resist.

Instead of "accidentally" he says, "actually."   For instance:  While he's giggling because he called me Daddy instead of Mommy by accident, he'll exclaim that he... "actually called me Daddy!"   His laughter comes freely and often, and it is such a sweet part of my life.

He also says, "Mommy, guess what?!" about 200 times a day, and I love it because he's just so busy thinking.  His observations are keen and lately he's also launching into the world of make believe in a very entertaining fashion.

He's really good company, and I will have to have a firm strategy in place when he goes to kindergarten next year to help alleviate my loneliness.  Of course, he maintains that he will not EVER be going to school.  For months this has been his stance.  He says I will be his teacher and this will be his school.  I'm considering it, but I know he would thrive at school, meeting new people and exploring the world in different ways.  We'll see.

But I do treasure the time I have with him now, my final baby.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sharing the song that's stuck in my head...

Clara came home from school one day with a new song that her teacher had shared with the class.  I'm not a soccer fan particularly, so don't connect the music with excitement from watching the World Cup play out.  But nevertheless, this song makes me feel so happy!  Clara brought up this video to introduce the song to us when she got home that day, and now it's one of the songs we sing together on a regular basis.

I'm sharing with it you here to spread the joy.  Warning:  It will get stuck in your head!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exercise and Crafting (but not at the same time)

Because I know you're waiting on bated breath...

I've been exercising on a daily basis for 4 straight days.  Two of those days I even had two workout sessions, adding yoga and walking/jogging at the indoor track.  The kettlebell swing/burpee combination is definitely a cardiovascular workout, and I follow it up with some Pilates.  It feels good to sweat out some toxins, and it definitely brings the mood up as well.  Only 17 more days til I've built the habit, if you prescribe to the view that says it takes 3 weeks to form a habit.

Things have come together nicely for me this month: writing daily, organizing space in the home, maintaining the organized and clean environment, exercising, waking up earlier (thanks to Daylight Savings Time returning the lost hour)...  Wonder what else I should add, as long as I'm on a roll?

Maybe I'll let the girls take the ball now.  Tonight we stopped at the craft store because Clara mentioned she would like to sew more.  We found all sorts of goodies that caught our eye, but settled on a hoop, some fabric and thread and a beginners cross stitch book.  Elli chose a beginner's knitting kit and a skein of yarn, though she was also sorely tempted by a quilting book.  I like the thought of us picking up our projects in the winter months and listening to a program on the TV or radio.  Makes me think of Mom, and all the many beautiful things she made over the years...  Afghans, sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, slippers...  I suppose it will partially be keeping her memory alive whenever we work with our hands as she did.  If we listen to the Waltons while we do, dear reader, I may have to have a box of tissues handy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Teddy Bear Birthdays

At some point last week, Emmett began declaring that his teddy bears were having a birthday.  When we went to the grocery store, he reminded me to get the cake 'gredients.  For several days we had to postpone the celebration because the time just wasn't right.  He was not dissuaded from his declarations.  Thankfully, when you're four, time is fluid.  A birthday can be stretched out for days.  Similarly, it makes no sense to him how long 6 weeks take to pass, it's simply ludicrous that when he wakes up next morning, the 6 weeks he wishes to have passed have not gone by, and we discuss how time works at great lengths.

Finally, last night was the night when we were home and the kitchen was clean and I had time to help him make the cake for his bears.  He helped to beat it, and thought it was amusing how fast I can turn the batter.  When it came time to do the frosting, he wanted to be quick like me, but I cautioned him to go slow so the sugar wouldn't fly out of the bowl, and he changed tactics and the counter was only lightly dusted.  He wondered how we got vanilla frosting, but when I let him smell the bottle, he knew the smell immediately.  I remember when I was a kid being so disappointed at the taste of it.  He must have already had a taste, because he had no interest until it had been mixed in.

When it was cooled and frosted with the words, "Happy Birthday, Truckers and Fluffy Jack!", we sang the song, and Emmett blew out two candles.  When we asked him how old they were he replied, "Fifty!"  Apparently age is a pretty fluid concept as well.  We dug in to our cake and enjoyed the sweet treat.  Eventually Emmett said, "Hey!  You forgot their presents, they're feeling sad!"  

I'm thinking with that he revealed the modus operandi for this little celebration.  At least he got cake out of the deal!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter is coming...

Today we worked outside, cleaning up leaves, sweeping out the porch and stowing outdoor furniture, mowing and mulching and wheeling refuse out in a barrow...  Winter was in the air ever so slightly.  Chilly enough outside for a heavy sweatshirt, but indoors the same gear makes you uncomfortably warm.  I made a chili and rice, and coming indoors to warmth and fragrant food was a homey comfort.

I love four distinct seasons, and welcome the arrival of snow.  I'll get sick of it before spring arrives, but I far prefer the beautiful white blanket to cover the earth than looking at dull brown everywhere.  Across from our home the lake will freeze, and we'll venture out several times to walk across the lake, pulling Emmett in the sled.  We'll go for winter walks, go sledding or tubing, perhaps skate or snowshoe or ski on occasion.  Shoveling, snowball fights and the making of snowmen and forts will figure in as well.  

It's the time of year when I start making soups again, and feel like baking things.  There have already been requests for a cake and cookies today alone.  Out on the porch where I was closing windows and sweeping, I found the stack of board games and got the urge to play one.  Perhaps tonight we'll play a card game or Cranium or Pictionary.  Engaging in these old-fashioned, homey activities is a pleasure.

I'm enjoying autumn, leaves, chill and all, and am glad winter is coming.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Exercise: that lovely, dreaded, impossible needed thing...

Exercise.  I enjoy certain forms of it, especially the kind where I'm having so much fun I barely notice the exercise at all.  Like any form of dance, yoga, volleyball, swimming...  I like walking, but walking the same route repetitively is no help in the motivation department, (BORING).  I really love hiking and being out in nature, but driving somewhere for exercise seems to take it out of the regular category.

I have lots of reasons to exercise, over age 40 and still possessive as I am of most of the weight I gained growing my four babies, the youngest of whom will turn 5 in the winter.  I was at my most fit at the time I got pregnant with my firstborn.  I've periodically worked on fitness in the 15 intervening years, when I wasn't breastfeeding (which represents more than 5 out of those 15 years) or just too tired to find the energy for it.  It's a vicious cycle, since I'm fully aware that a regular fitness regimen gives energy back.  But a lot of good that does a person when they feel too exhausted even to do the dishes.

My last baby particularly, born when I was 37, really seemed to do me in energy-wise.  I felt depleted for far longer and have really had trouble even caring about exercise.  Getting the family to go on an evening walk has been a huge accomplishment.  I've enjoyed a little yoga, a bike ride annually or so, dancing when I get the chance, and hikes on the occasional beautiful weekend.  But, except for brief and unsatisfactory attempt at Curves membership about 6 months after Emmett was born, I haven't built a regular, enjoyable habit of it.  And have been of the attitude that it might be impossible for me to do such a thing.

Now, it is time!  I've been building momentum to make myself a priority in this way.  Some could observe this as procrastination, but at this point I will just accept it as what I needed to get myself going.  A few weeks ago I saw an article on the web somewhere (maybe this one?), that told me for a total body workout that will give me great results and aid in weight loss you need to do only two exercises:  the kettlebell swing and burpees.  (Elli does the latter in gym class, and she was pretty sure they were called "herpes", but we disabused her of that notion pretty quickly, once we could stop laughing.) I don't have a kettlebell, so of course I couldn't start.  But I found a video on how to make your own here.  So yesterday I bought the parts at Lowes.  But I didn't realize that you are supposed to already own weighted plates.  So today I will go and get those!

In November, I've created space and done yoga followed by meditation twice now, and it feels great.  I've danced with my son, done a few Pilates moves, and enjoyed several gentle walks.  I'm going to pick up the pace and put a personal emphasis on fitness and activity.  It's time to nurture myself in this way.  Watch this space for a report on how I do with the kettebell swing/burpee personal challenge.  I'll be ripped in no time, right dear reader? :)  That's OK, don't answer, I'll be very happy with a little more energy and less of me altogether.

Friday, November 11, 2011


An auspicious day.  My older two children both reported loud cafeteria countdowns to the moment of eleventh hour, eleventh minute, eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of the second millenium, and  much cheering and laughter and wishes sent out the moment it came.

How did you view this day?  Was it the same as any other?  Did it speak to you, as it did to a acquaintance of mine on Facebook, of oneness?  Did you send a prayer up for that deep, missing wish of your heart?

It's interesting to ponder how we came to be at this time, for these days--how the Master Plan all fits together. Somehow today for me was a time of introspection, and a time to reassess goals and priorities.  Where I am in the journey and what direction I'm headed.

Blessings to you on your journey, dear reader, and if you made a wish, may it come true.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Merry Maids and Young Thespians...

It was a fall cleaning kind of day today.  Emmett was an excellent helper!  For a good while he stayed engaged in the tasks, helping me scrub floors, clean windows, put away toys and various sundries, and the while I heard his happy chorus of, "Guess what, Mommy!!" and got precious glimpses into how his mind works.

We put his train table back to rights, got a snazzy track formation going and found lots of engines and cars, and he played there for at least an hour.  Things were flying and I'm sorry to report there were many grave accidents.

A productive day spent with my youngest son was followed by a very entertaining evening provided by my older son and his fellow cast and crew members, as they held opening night of "30 Reasons Not to Be in a Play".  Deven had three parts and he did very well.  All the students gave such excellent performances, it was hard at times to remember they were middle schoolers.  The crowd was LOLing, sincerely and a lot.  There were a few times Elli elbowed me to reign in my mirth.  Teenage girls are particularly well suited to remind one of proper etiquette.
Deven and cast, during the performance while Deven's role was passive.  We tried to get him during
his speaking parts but his motion was too dramatic to capture without flash photography.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday, Chemo Day

Wednesdays are the days I bring my dad in for his chemotherapy.  I need to make sure Emmett and I get ready along with Clarabelle, and a few minutes after she heads out for her school day, we head out to pick Grandpa up from the care facility.  I have to make sure I pack some things to keep the 4 year old occupied so I can be eyes and ears for Grandpa when the nurses question him and the doctor gives us an update.  Thankfully the Cancer Center has cookies or graham crackers available usually, so that's enough of a treat to keep the little one happy.  Sometimes Grandpa even enjoys those too.

Today marked the beginning of Round 4, so we met with his doctor and she got a handle on how Dad felt off treatment for 2 weeks, what his symptoms are, whether he can continue to tolerate the dosage she has prescribed, and so on.  At the end of this round, he'll be scanned again and we can see how his body is responding.  So far so good, the therapy has been more effective than we dared hope for at the beginning.

Hope.  That is something a terminal illness makes you examine.  Can you hope to get better?  If the end of days is in sight, what hope remains?  Up' til that point, if you believe in God and life after death, those things may or may not feel vital to your well being or of utmost importance on a daily basis.  Times like these bring them fully into the spectrum of what is real and vital.

Besides those loftier unknowns, from a physical standpoint, just enduring the illness and the effects of the treatment can make it a challenge just to get up and dress for the day.  As the daughter to one experiencing this, it's wearing emotionally.  It's been hard for me to accept the terminal part of his diagnosis, and words like 'palliation; and extending life.  At the beginning I really wanted there to be a fix, for us to just be able to work hard, research enough, change his diet, have aggressive therapy, and beat it.  Now I have learned to accept what he is going through and how it is for him.

But it is still draining emotionally to see him weakened, easily confused, worn out, sick.  I am glad I can support him, glad he is still with us.  It is hard when you want to make something better, and simply can't.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hair Stylings

Last night, Clarabelle asked me to put curlers in her hair.  It's a lost art, that.  I remember my Mom setting (and teasing) her hair to get ready for church every week.  I have many school photos that bear evidence of the use of curlers.  (And, might I ask modestly, wasn't I a cutie? ;)  

When I was in junior high and high school, the glorious late 80s, we used the perm, curling iron, blow dryers and hairspray to achieve monumental proportions.  I wonder if our ways of grooming seemed strange to my Mom, though she was no stranger to hairspray, about a half a can of AquaNet was required for her beautiful bouffant.

Nowadays (and yes, I hear the old timer in me speaking here), girls go au naturel, growing their bangs out and letting their hair be as it is.  I follow suit, and I like it a lot better than standing in front of mirror for a half hour beating thick, coarse hair into submission.  

But it was fun connecting to the generations that have gone before, and trussing Clara up with rollers before bed last night.  The results this morning were pretty adorable too.  Her siblings remarked, 'You look like Shirley Temple.'  I say even cuter.  Don't you agree, dear reader? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time Shifts

Daylight Savings Time is an odd thing.  Going this direction, I really feel like life clicks back into place.  Mornings are easier, it feels like I can get more accomplished in the day, and come evening time, I experience several waves of  relief when I look at the clock and see I have an hour more than I thought I did before it's time to lay me down to sleep.

When it goes the other way and we lose an hour, it takes quite a while to catch up.  It's usually sleep that gets forfeited, and our body clocks are set later so it's harder to get moving in the morning.  I think it lasts all the way until we get that hour back!  I would like us just to leave it like this, please?  I'll deal with darker mornings, it will be just fine with me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Funday

This was a fun Sunday.  Writing the daily blog has been the catalyst for several things.  It made me want to piggy back yoga on to this daily activity--if I'm growing the discipline bone, why not benefit two ways?  Which made me want to deep clean my carpet so that I felt like hanging out down there.  Which made me want to deep clean other areas in my bedroom.  Which made me want to move the computer area from my sitting room to the basement.  Which made me need to clean off two desks in use as shelves for a whole lot of stuff I hadn't bothered to go through in years for the computers to go on downstairs.  Which made me think about a few items of furniture I wanted to pick up to make more efficient use of this newly spruced up space we live in,  and control the clutter that can detract from it.

This morning, I talked the family into an IKEA outing.  We broke our fast there, spent more than an hour on the display floor, sitting on things, opening things, ruminating on shelving choices.  In Emmett's case, throwing stuffed animals and lodging them 8 feet up on wall mounted display items, trying to climb ladders with plexiglass safety shields, and having several near misses while darting through the crowd at high speeds.  Then another hour was spent on the warehouse floor, doubling back for missed items, deciding against some and switching to others.  Ultimately I was able to buy the furniture we chose from henna money, and that makes me a happy camper.

We moved on to the Mall of America, as we rarely spend time there and it was handy for a few purchases we needed to make.  Elli had a birthday gift to purchase and wanted a new belt, Deven needed a tie for Opening Night, and he no longer wishes to borrow Dad's, Clara found a cute winter hat, and Emmett found something he HAD to have in just about every store.  The gift shop where he found Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia brought on his hardest sell, and even some conniving tactics where he told Dad, 'Mom had said he could buy it', and so on.  He doesn't yet realize getting under-handed in his approach is a sure way to lose out.  We couldn't get him that item, but a little later on in the wanderings, we passed the Build-A-Bear store.  I realized Emmett would know nothing at all about this store, and had never seen the process, and would really love it because he's very in to his stuffed animals right now.  So we went in, and he selected his bear and named it (Fluffy Jack) and had it stuffed and was tickled pink.

To cap off the day we shared dinner near Southdale and went for a delightful walk at a park in Edina, where the lights reflected off the water and the kids found a meditation maze and we spent time in the porch swings, then came home to assemble our purchases, which went surprisingly well!

So dear reader, though I can only report doing yoga one day last week, it was one more session than I might have done otherwise, and a lot of other good stuff happened.  My mat is here beside my bed, and next week I'll improve the score.  Have a great week!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My happy place...

We're sitting here at the local library, four of our six family members all here together.  Somehow it pleases me immensely to have access to this grand and airy space, all the books, the miracle of all of us enjoying computer time concurrently rather than waiting for our turn to finally arrive...  There's lots of natural light and peaceful colors, ergonomic seating and many good neighbors absorbing knowledge.  Sounds are muted and there is minimal mess for me to clean up when we're all done.  I could spend hours here, and, in fact, have.  I have visited many of the libraries in the surrounding area, and love discovering a new haunt and comparing which have the best nooks to cozy up in or which have the best Nora Roberts' selections on the shelves.  Sometimes I almost 'forget' to go home and make dinner and re-enter the realm where I am responsible for the state of the floors and every other surface, and for the technology itself.

Which leads me to why we're at the library, besides to be in our happy place.  Technology, or the lack thereof!  Something has ceased to function in my home computing setup, my suspicion is that the offending party is the router.  I shudder to even think of walking into the discount technology warehouse, that ugly, disorganized and very confusing (yet cheap!) place has the very opposite of library effect.  But suffer it I shall, so I can continue to blog daily!  The sacrifices I make for you, dear reader, honestly!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Confessions of a low maintenance spendthrift...

I have a confession to make.  And this is specifically for Betty and Sheila, should they happen to glance this way.  I feel you should know, I TOOK IT ALL BACK!!

My good friend Sheila organized a fun and pampering ladies' night out, where three of us visited the good Dior makeup artist folks at the department store.  We listened to the presentation of a makeup artist while she applied the line to a beautiful model, ate the yummy food they set out for us and had professionals clean, prepare and apply makeup to our faces.  It was slightly like being a movie star, I've never had anyone else brush and blend my makeup, and it was super fun to hang out with da girlz.  Having someone else put mascara on you is a very strange sensation, by the way, I think I now understand why my young dancers and actors have not enjoyed it when I apply it to their lashes.  Copious tears and mascara are not a good combination either.  But I didn't cry for the very skilled gentleman who applied mine, not to worry!

I did give him quite a challenge though.  I'm a very low maintenance girl.  I don't have regular facials or sometimes even do more than wash my face with soap.  I thought I was really becoming advanced when I bought a cleanser/toner/moisturizer trio a year or so ago, and do that occasionally.  The makeup system we learned about blows that right out of the water! You cleanse, then detoxify, then plump, then do something special for the eyes, then you prime the face for makeup, then you put makeup on, then you add concealer, bronzer, some kind of highlighter, and blush.  He told me my eyebrows looked more natural with added color from a special pencil, figure that one out!?!  It was discombobulating, yet somehow fun.  And it the end I thought, 'I'll dip my toes into these waters.  I can experiment with being a sophisticated, many-layered makeup wearing woman.  I'll just get a few items and build from there.'  But I didn't know how to choose, there were about 20 things on my face, and I had no idea which one might be most important for me.  I took a stab in the dark, selected a serum (sounds magical and powerful and perfect for a 40-something, right?), a foundation (basic and I know how to use that), and a blush (same reason, plus I got a strong reaction from the makeup folks when I told them I just blot my lipstick with my finger and then use that for cheek color).

Take a wild guess what the total for those three items was!!  You may want to sit down before I reveal the cost.  $189.88!!  Me, a person who can't be bothered with makeup except when I'm going on a gig and for the special event, spends almost 200$ on fufu makeup!  The buyer's remorse set in even before she swiped my card.  This was more than I was paid for doing henna for 6 hours on my last bride.  This was 2/3 of the price of the tablet and/or smartphone I would like to buy for my business.

But I had to follow through in that moment.  The up feeling from being pampered and sharing the experience with Sheila and Betty buoyed me along.  I didn't really dwell on it while we continued through the store and chatted and enjoyed our time together.  But walking out to the parking lot and getting in the van, I came back to my senses.  The presenter's makeup and that of the artist who took care of me in my mind's eye took on a more plastic-y, artificial appearance.  I realized, I didn't even want to look like that!  Much less pay a premium to look like that.  I'm perfectly happy being imperfect, lined, blotchy, and whatever else.  For those of you who read the Hunger Games series, I had a flash to the part of the story where the Capital City artist were making Katniss over into their image.  It's just not me.

Finally, I summoned up the courage and brought it all back.  I'll just drink more water and maybe treat myself to a facial sometime, and see about buying a blush at Target.  (Does it appall YOU that I use my excess lipstick for color?)  My minimal routine is just enough for me.  If you happen to be reading, my dear girls... Next time, can we please go to that movie instead :)?   And my advice to you, dear reader, is this:  Steer away from the makeup aisle at Macy's altogether!  That's my plan, anyway.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Morning Routines

Every morning I make sure to wake up before the first member of my family leaves the house.  That's about all I can promise, I will be up and semi-mobile and wish everybody a happy day before they leave.  The first fifteen to twenty minutes after waking is dodgy time for me.

Elli leaves first, her bus comes to take her to high school (!) at 6:45 in the morning, while it is yet dark.  She gets herself up and prepared for her day, and typically wakes well before 6 o'clock.  She's chipper and organized while she's about it too!  If I couldn't vouch personally that she is my child, I'd wonder.

Clara is the last leaver, her bus gets her at 9:00 a.m..  By this time, I am fully operational.  It's good too, because she takes after me and ranges from groggy reluctance to downright grumpiness upon waking.  Today she woke fairly easily because she had a goal in mind to accomplish before leaving for school  We finished the story she's been writing for a school assignment called, The Volcano's Secret.  She dictated while I typed, since she is a beginner typist and I was once an administrative assistant with 70+ wpm.  I love her style, thinking and self expression--she is one smart cookie!  We refined a few segues and printed out a great story, all before she broke her fast on Nutella waffles and chai.

As we waved and air kissed goodbye and the bus roared away, I witnessed yellow leaves on the neighbors' huge old tree falling to the ground like fat, solid snowflakes, one after another.  We had an early freeze, so our fall colors peaked early, but the hardier varieties have given us beautiful reds and oranges and yellows later on, even as the days remain warm and delightful.  When I see the leaves dropping like today and frost on the roof, I realize winter is on its way.

It's off to the yoga mat for me, dear reader!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Of Pumpkins and Excercise

Clara and Elli carved the two on the right, and Emmett commissioned the one on the left.  I had a few choice words to say about his selection an hour or more in to the project, when yet another web "thread" separated itself from its intended location.  And this was one of the "easy" freebie designs I found on the web!  Those of you who do the elaborate, multi-layered jack-o-lanterns have my awe and respect.  Then again, maybe if I bought a set of special pumpkin carving tools, I might have an easier time keeping it PG at the dining room table in the hours before Trick or Treating.

Our kids are getting older...  Deven had to hurriedly carve his pumpkin when he got home from play practice, which is in it's longer stages since performance is just a little over a week away (!).  His creation wasn't ready yet when I took the shot.  He came out with us for the first house, then had a change of heart and went back home to do homework instead.  And Elli opted to stay home and hand out candy from the beginning.   There was a day when neither of them would dream of missing the opportunity to get even one piece of candy.  Of course they were a lot shorter then.  Time does march on!  Now my two older babies have both passed me up in height and shoe size.  I've got them on girth though!  I'll always have the girth card, nanananabooboo.

Unless, of course, I add fitness as a lifestyle goal with any regularity.  I mean, the kind of goal a person ACTS on.  EVERY day.  Elements of routine requiring discipline are not typically my strong suit.  I like to flit from thing to thing, propelled by creative energy.  So my thought is, since I have committed to blogging every day this month, I can let exercise tag along with the happy writing activity.  Either I write, then exercise, or maybe better, don't get to write until I have exercised.  Anyway, dear avid reader, I will report on how this approach is working for me--stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Meeting the NaBloPoMo challenge: A post a day in November

A friend of mine from college days who blogs here recently brought to my attention a blogging challenge for the month of November called, NaBloPoMo (check it out for yourself here).  Since my daughter is an aspiring author and is participating in the equivalent challenge for novel writers (NaNoWriMo), and intends to write 50000 words this month, I figure a blog a day is within my power to accomplish and a fun way to support her and resurrect something I've really enjoyed over the years.

I started this blog years ago, along with my Flickr photostream where I've posted family photos from seasons, events and phases dating back 10 years and more.  When my Mom died nearly three years ago, I realized I was primarily writing and sharing photos for her.  She was certainly my most devoted fan, and hits on both pages took a dramatic dip when she could no longer peruse them.  She is missed for this reason, and so many more that it is difficult to articulate.  Perhaps at some point within the month challenge I'll give that a try.

For now, in Mom's absence, I need to remind myself and state to the audience (whomever that may be) why I write (besides the joy of picking up the gauntlet of NaBloPoMo).  I love writing, putting words together and expressing thoughts, feelings and memories.  It pleases me to share life experience in blog form.  

Hopefully, you, the reader, might enjoy a post or two as well!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Summer 2011

I used to express myself creatively through writing much more than I have in recent months and years. Perhaps it is because there is a finite amount of room/space/time for creative expression, and these days I am so heavily involved in henna and entrepreneurship that there is little time to sit and think in type.

But this morning it is time to write. I'm sitting in the window seat, looking out at the lake across the street with gentle waves interrupting the reflection of the milky grey sky. Downstairs I hear my two Es (Elli 14 and Emmett 4) playing Wii. Clara (9) is industrious in her room, she wants to invite a friend over to play tomorrow. Deven (12) is off somewhere by himself, usual for my dreamer boy. Deven and Elli are writing books this summer, and I am amazed by their ability. Clara is growing in artistic ability every day, and has recently started to use shading techniques and seems to follow in the portrait inclination my Mom and I both leaned toward in our sketching days. Clara loves playing with henna design elements as well and is already quite the henna artist. Emmett is smart as a whip and full of energy and mischief, and empowers himself in lots of ways he shouldn't. He's not about to ask for help or permission, he just does what he wants! ( For example just now he found a bit of thread coming out of the drawer and pulled it out to a length he could loop around Bungee (our cat's) mid section, and watch as the thread grew longer and longer as Bungee moved out of his reach). But he's learning every day about manners and gentleness and acceptable behaviors :).

Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day. We gave Nat decadent breakfast in bed, and presented him with a new backpack stuffed with things needed for a geocacher, complete with coordinates to a cache in a nearby park. Once breakfast was complete we went to hunt the cache, which he found with no problem (next time we'll put on bug repellant before we leave so we can hide it deeper in the forest :). Dad came over in the afternoon and we grilled steak for him (his favorite food) and the kids put on a lunch bag puppet show they wrote in honor of Nat and Grandpa and rehearsed several times.

I was thankful to spend Father's Day with my Dad. Special occasions like this take on layers of meaning now that he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. I was happy he felt well enough to spend some hours here, as he hasn't for some time. Illness and death, health and wellness, alternative and traditional medicines... These things are occupying my thoughts and are subjects of my research these days when I can make time. I find it difficult to embrace death as part of life. It does not feel like a natural part of the flow of things, and peace is elusive. I resist accepting, and instead would like to find a way to encourage the body to heal itself.

It is good to have the children around, experiencing the other end of the spectrum where life and ideas and experience are expanding rapidly, and energy is strong and end of days is banished from thought. They are amazing, beautiful, creative, talented, exasperating, energetic, precious children and I am so blessed to be their Mom.

This summer we plan to take advantage of community events in our area like movies and music in the park, hang out at the library and beach, geocache, camp, get together with friends, and I'll take henna to a variety of places. Summer vacation is off to a great start :).