"about me"

Good Ol' Days

I've been working on my "About Me" page for my new web store, and to complement it, my mom sent me some photos of me, circa 1986, enjoying our family's horses. The palamino filly (which I believe was dubbed "Blondie" while we had her) was the gray mare's foal, sired by a black stallion, believe it or not. (And YES, my pants were always too short. It seemed impossible to keep me in clothes that fit--a problem that I am now dealing with in my own tall, slim children!)

Here is the relevant excerpt from my "About Me" page:

The summer I was nine, my parents acquiesced to my pleas to let me go riding alone. We had an old dapple grey mare named Gal. Stubborn—my father made no secret that he was not overly fond of her—but she was stable, and short enough for a tall nine-year-old girl to get up on by herself. I tried to saddle her a few times, but of course, one of my parents always checked to make sure everything was snug… (Well, except that one time… but no harm done—I just learned how to slide off a horse instead of under the belly with the rig.)

That summer on top of Gal was full of magical memories. I took miles-long, hours-long rides all over the surrounding countryside (most of which was owned by relatives, so I guess my folks weren’t too worried), all by myself. Riding a horse became my first taste of independence, of freedom—and all the magic that had only lived inside my head until then seemed absolutely real. Gal was old, and grey, and kind of pudgy, but in my mind I was atop a brilliant silver unicorn, and we were dancing through woods filled with faery kind.



And when do you get to see the actual page, complete with a functioning store? Soon...

But not yet.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Working From Home

There are always downsides to everything--most of us know this. But while there is the odd time I think that maybe a dedicated ten-hour stretch without the interruptions of home life would enable me to accomplish so much more, really, I absolutely LOVE that I get to work from home. And here's why (in no particular order):

  1. Conducting business in my pajamas.
  2. When I put my makeup on, my husband knows it's for him, not someone at the office.
  3. When dealing with a particularly frustrating "Customer Relations" issue, I have the advantage of being able to take a few hours, cool down, and think about it before responding.
  4. Home schooling my kids.
  5. On my break, I get to go outside and enjoy my beautiful property.
  6. Conducting business at night, after my kids are in bed.
  7. "Going on vacation" does not necessarily mean I stop making money.
  8. My business is portable--not just for vacations, but for moves.
  9. It saves on gas.
  10. I get to raise our kids, not a babysitter.
Hey, all you work-from-home moms and dads--do you have some reasons unique to you why you love your "job"?

Entrenched

Jason came into the office a few minutes ago and surveyed me sitting at my desk, where I have been a fixture for most every evening during the last month. A month ago coincidentally happens to be when I decided to start creating my own independent (from eBay) web store for my saddle pad business.

"Are you going to be done that web store anytime soon?" he asked wistfully. "I'm just wondering when I get my wife back..."

Yeah. Me, too.

... Sigh.

Paradigm Shift

So, on Sunday I wore my kickin' new sky-high-black boots, the current fashion statement of all masochistic women everywhere.

I had never worn heels that high in my life before, and after an early morning at music rehearsal (8 a.m start), by the time I got home at about 2 p.m., my feet were crying--or maybe that was just me.

"Why are these so popular?!" I wondered to myself.

 It made me wonder if I made a mistake buying them...

...until, of course, my husband gave me a kiss that knocked my socks off (boots still on though--it was that good.)

"What was that for?" I asked.

"Nothing... you're just looking good. You don't normally wear heels like that."

Hmph.

So, the next day, I ordered three more pairs of high-heeled shoes.

I guess I answered my own question! Women will endure all kinds of ridiculous things to look attractive...

... but that's nothing new, is it?


(Oh, Lizzy, what were you thinking?!!)

Sewing the Tramp (or the Sewing Tramp?)

Today, we did some spring maintenance on our trampoline. First, we replaced some bolts that had worked loose and gone missing. Then, we decided that rather than unlace the entire net so I could pull it inside to sew on an elastic strap that had broken off, it would actually be easier to sew it right there on the trampoline.


This is definitely a first for me--sewing outdoors. If a tramp is a promiscuous woman, (anytime, anywhere), would sewing a tramp ON a tramp make me a sewing tramp? ;-)

Welcome to My Parlour

Some of my friends have been asking to see photos of my house. For most of the winter, the timing never seemed right to take pictures--not only because I was suffering from "my-house-is-never-clean-enough" syndrome, but also because the daylight hours are so limited in the winter months, and when the sun does shine in, it is thin, direct, and harsh--most unflattering.

Well, the world is tipping back into summer, and the sun has taken on a golden, glowy tone that has me cleaning out corners and doing odd fix-it jobs, dreaming of seeds and landscaping ideas, and eying up the can of paint destined for the bathroom walls in a way that is making it nervous. Also, it has enabled me to take some photos of my home that partly convey the way I feel about it. It is my "happy place."

So far, I have only photographed the kitchen and the living room, but it's a start--not to mention, where we spend most of our day (excluding my office, which is just off the kitchen in the addition/entrance.)

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One of our first renovations (which I'm pretty sure I mentioned last summer) was to remove a peninsula that divided the kitchen from the dining room. We had originally intended to put it back once we solved the leakage issue causing the mold we found on it, but liked how open the space was without it so much that we left it off.

The only unfortunate thing is that the flooring in the kitchen/dining area was very new, and now needs to be replaced because of the big L-shaped hole in it where the peninsula used to be. Hopefully, we will be able to do that this summer.

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While we have "made do" with a lot of free or re-purposed items, I love seeing how we can make them work and look beautiful together. I also love how almost everything has a story or some meaning to me. The table was a gift from my mom and step-dad. The "Faith" sign was a gift from our church family in Mena. The apron hanging below it was my Grandma H's. The spice racks on top of the stove were hers, also. The photo of the little girl beside the apron was a gift from my Aunty Lin. I made the angel cross-stitch while I was in India with Jason, before we even started dating. The cat-tails on the shelf were gifts from the kids from our dugout. And the shelf itself was a gift from my friend Candace, which she had her uncle hand-make for me. (Tucked into the "Faith" sign is a silk rose that Jason gave me while we were courting, but it's hard to see in this photo.)

Even the dishwasher was re-gifted to us from a couple at our church that was redoing their kitchen. She didn't want the dishwasher to go to waste--she loved it more than their new one, but had replaced it because it didn't match the new appliances! And she's right--it's 19 years old, and still works great, despite a year or two out in our shed! (So what if our appliances are now three different colours? Four, if you count the stainless-steel toaster!)

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Jason made this shelf out of a couple of weathered pallets to fill in the space left behind by the removed peninsula. I LOVE IT!! (He even re-used some rusty nails to complete the "rustic" look.) The little doll was made for me by my Grandma M. when I was a child. "Twinky" is made of muslin and yarn (for the hair), with a hand-embroidered face and moveable arms and legs. She is too special to leave in a box in the dark somewhere--and nice and handy when little Norah comes for a visit. The lava-rock mortar-and-pestle does get used in my kitchen. I am pretty sure that also was a gift from one of my grandmothers, but I don't remember for certain. And those two kids in the photograph are my brother and me as teenagers. Don't ask me how long ago that was... I'll never tell! :-)

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When we moved in, the kitchen cupboards (which are resin doors on wood-veneer particle-board boxes) had a wood-grain look to them, and a significant amount of wear-and-tear. The upper cupboards next to the range hood, in particular, had seen their better days. I loved the look of black and red cupboards, so I decided to paint them. I LOVE the results! Instant face-lift! Also, after about twenty minutes on YouTube, I decided that glazing them would not be beyond my ken, either, so off to the paint store I went. The red ones are glazed with black and the black ones are glazed with red. (The black also had a layer of red underneath, and the black was thinly applied to let it show through.) I just added the knobs to the drawers on Friday (the day these photos were taken), and liked it so much that I bought knobs for all the cupboard doors yesterday, too.

The red display cupboards originally had some etched glass fronts, which the previous owners had replaced with smoked mirror tiles. I am not quite sure what I am going to put in there--eventually, I think I'll put some glass or bead board, but for now, they are dust-catching zones.

There are a few "stories" in this photo, too--the little yellow "happy-face" mug was made for me when I was a child by my great-aunt Myrtle, who did ceramics as a hobby. (It actually says "Talena" up the side, spelled right, and everything!) Amanda recently gave me the matching tea-cup pictures as a thank-you for helping out with the cooking on her "India Night" Jolica show in January. My friend Renée took the photo of Noah in the bucket. And the cross on the wall was a gift from our Peace River church family when we moved away in 2008.

Just to the right of these red cupboards is the door into the addition, above which is this sign, scored on Etsy at Bedlam Country Crafts:

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As I tell my guests when they notice it and laugh, "I look at the sign, and I laugh a little, and then I realize that it's not all that bad... and my children get to survive another day." (You can also see the trim piece above that still needs to be painted, which is why the piece that broke off on the left has not been replaced.)

The living room is directly adjacent to the dining room. In fact, that is where I was standing when I took the long shot of the dining room and kitchen, above top. The colour of the feature wall was directly inspired by Jason's and my love of chocolate. :-)

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You can kind of see the little pony wall (brown in the left foreground, covered in pipe-cleaner crafts) that separates the two rooms. On the other side is a built-in bookshelf. That, combined with the tall shelf you can see here, is the sum total of space we have for our "library" right now. Sad, I know. And the top shelf is all cookbooks! We have totes-full of books in storage in the Sea Can, which I have dreams will have a room of their own someday--or at least, a room they can share with guests and the children's games someday, but that will at least allow them to be able to breathe fresh air again! (Right now, I try to rotate them out about once a year to keep our selection fresh and age-appropriate.)

The armoire hides our television and other electronics when not in use (a score off of our local Freecycle network). The kids like to play educational games on their laptop (right where I can keep an eye on them!) when they are finished with their school work. I like that the projector screen rolls up to reveal our lovely Stephen Lyman print when not in use, just like a flat-screen T.V. wouldn't.

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The front window looks out across the yard, the garden, the trees, the field... it's awesome.

The curtain rods were new last week. The curtains are old, but perfect--I scored them at my friend Larrissa's garage sale last summer. There were two more than we needed for the living room, so those ones went into the master bedroom.

I have plans to replace this futon with a big, overstuffed leather chair--just as soon as we can get that aforementioned guest/family room to put it into. Other than the spare bunk in Jude's room, this is our only "guest bed" at the moment, which irks me. Also, there really isn't room for it in the living room, and it's kinda ugly, but you do what you gotta do. The couch, which is extremely comfy to sit on, is extremely un-comfy to sleep on, so the futon stays. But someday, we'll have a big chair, and room for real side-tables! Someday!

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We'll finish the tour of the living room with the "school station", which consists of the small bookshelf behind this blue chair, and the dresser beside it. (There is also the whiteboard which is visible in the dining room in the very first photo, and several bulletin boards on display in our hallway.) Not your typical living room furniture, but a definite part of our current lifestyle. This blue chair is easily transportable on the laminate floor, and I often put it in front of our "library" shelves to face the room for visiting, or for enjoying the scenery through the windows. Also, the blue chair and the school dresser are both from my Grandpa and Grandma H's estate. The small book shelf is from my other grandparents. And the couch and cushion are from Jason's Uncle Dale--a gift he made sure would go to us before he died.

I painted the small yellow terra-cotta pot that I use to keep my garlic (sitting on the turn-table spice rack on the kitchen counter) with the verse "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me" from Psalm 23. Surrounded by so many mementos of family, and friends, and those who love us, I hardly needed that reminder... but it does seem to sum up the atmosphere of our home perfectly.

That, and the phrase, "Guests are welcome here."

... So when are you coming for tea?

My New Baby...

About a year ago, the beautiful Tama guitar that my Dad bequeathed to me started to separate at the neck, cracking at a spot where a screw had been put in to attach the strap to.

The quote to fix it made me gulp. Yes, I told the luthier, I will get it fixed. Just not right now.

On Tuesday, I got an "interim guitar"--and am completely thrilled with it.

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Pretty, isn't it? And it sounds nice, too. The action is low, so even though I have practised for three days in a row (and tonight it was for well over an hour), my fingers are sore, but not bloody... and that's a good thing!

I also started guitar lessons with all three of our boys yesterday. The younger two are VERY enthusiastic. The older one... I think he is disillusioned by the amount of work involved to sound half decent. Sigh.

Also, I was quite happy that I had not forgotten nearly as much as I thought I would in a year. If I keep practising regularly, it shouldn't be long before I can actually play, like, real songs and everything. :-)

How has your week been going, friends?

Out With the Old...

Sewing was the first handicraft I fell in love with.

Yes, my grandma had taught me to knit and crochet at about the age of 5, so I knew how to do both already, but that work was slow, and finicky, and beyond my young attention span.

When I was nine and my brother seven, my parents (like all good Canadian parents do*) put him into hockey. I was a little peeved that I didn't get to "do anything" (I was really angling for ballet lessons, but for reasons I now understand, that wasn't about to happen), so my mom made a deal with me that she would give me sewing lessons.

I had always been fascinated with sewing. My mom and her mom both did a lot of it, and I had seen them make the most beautiful bridesmaids gowns, and dresses for me that made the best twirly dresses with full skirts down to my ankles. (I was the first granddaughter, so I got spoiled from both machines). Other than things sewn directly for me or received as birthday gifts, all of my clothes were hand-me-downs. I didn't have a problem with that, but when I was offered the chance to learn how to make my own clothes, I jumped at it.

For my first real project, I chose a jumpsuit (for you Brits, that is not a sweater, but a bibbed coverall) and made it out of black corduroy.

Mom had let me start on making Barbie clothes (though I'm not sure why--probably to waste less fabric if I screwed up, but anything that small is way harder than normal people clothes!) When I was quite young, she would let me stand beside the machine and take out the pins as she was sewing seams. So by the time I started on the jumper, I was not intimidated. Also, it was a good start on learning how to match fabric and to keep the grain straight when cutting out. I was so excited, and managed to finish them in a few weeks. I had planned to use them as my "Christmas" outfit that year--except I broke and dislocated my arm a few days before Christmas, and ended up spending it in the hospital. Oh, well! I still had the coveralls. The good feeling I got from knowing I made it myself (with my mom's help, of course!) was addicting, and I never looked back.

(Aside: When I actually took Home Economics in Grade 8, I was a little dismayed that we were expected to do a pair of boxing shorts or a tie as our "first" project. I had purchased a pattern and blue taffeta for my first fancy dress long before the sewing unit came up, which dismayed my teacher more than a little. After my mom had a talk with her and reassured her that not only could I do it, I could do it without any help, she "let" me do it as my project, and even let me work on it at home. After three days, I was finished, and got to read novels for the remaining two weeks of the sewing unit. End aside.)

Husqvarna sewing machine

My mother's machine was a sturdy Husqvarna that had been given to her as a gift from her mother when she graduated from high school. And later, she gave it to me as a graduation gift.

That machine sewed my first project. It sewed my first gown and my prom dress. It sewed my wedding gown, and a wedding gown for a friend. It sewed dresses for myself, my friends, pants that fit (something that became crucial as I continued to stretch skywards), clothes for my children, costumes, quilts for friends' babies, and more. I took it to college with me, where it adorned one wall of my bedroom.

And then, about a year and a half ago, the gears started stripping. The longer the stitch I set it on, the worse it was. Our local "sewing machine doctor" (the male half of the couple that owns the local fabric store--a very senior gentleman who tinkers with sewing machines in his spare time) couldn't do anything about it, and said it was too old to get parts for.

Dismay, this time at the fact that I was without a sewing machine for the first time in my life!!

When she heard of my plight, my friend L gave me a Pfaff Hobby machine of hers that she no longer used. The first project I made on it was a pair of fluffy flannel pajamas for Jude. When I went over the flat-felled crotch seam (about 6-8 layers of fabric), something in the machine growled fiercely at me, and it was broken. The good doctor wasn't able to do anything about this one either. (I think it might be fixable at a Pfaff store, but we don't have one of those here.)

So, I started saving my pennies for a fancy, new machine that can do embroidery, but with our very expensive summer last year, those pennies seemed to keep getting misplaced into other projects.

As the December holidays approached, though, I really started to feel the absence of a sewing machine. Yes, there is always knitting (which you all know I now LOVE), but there are some things that just need to be sewn. I started thinking that maybe all I really need right now is something functional, not fancy.

Then, my in-laws gave me $100 to spend at Sears for Christmas. And my friend Colleen told me about a machine she had heard about that Sears has that is only about $300, and pretty good, too. And when I went looking for it, I found out that the very well-reviewed machine was indeed there, and on sale for only $200, but the sale was ending that night. So I bought it, of course.

And when it came, I found out that it has pink on it. How great is that?!! (I have to glory in areas of femininity when I can, you know.)

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So, I quickly went stash-busting to find a quick project to make that would test the capabilities of this new machine. I discovered that there have been some pretty nifty new inventions in sewing machine technology in the last fifty years. (I'm in love with the automatic buttonholer.) Here is the vest I made first, using some fabric rescued from some horrible curtains and vintage buttons from my Grandma's stash (the weird crop is to spare you a view of my armpit):

Brown Tunic Vest 2

Now I am working on a linen-and-lace peasant top of my own design:

Linen Peasant top

And you already know about the Angry Birds.

Red Angry Bird 1

Ah... a sewing machine is back in my life. All is right with the world again... (Okay, maybe not, but that certainly helps me cope!! :-D)

*Jason and I have sworn off hockey, as it is the most expensive, time-consuming sport available--so I guess we are the bad Canadian parents!

Not for Lack of Desire... or maybe it is.

I want to post. Honest. There just seems to be so much else to do right now. Like knit. And sew. (One of the things I want to post about, actually.) And recover from the nasty cold that Jude so generously shared with me. (Almost gone now. Yay!)

So, I will be posting a "real one" soon. But now, after a night of catching up on a back-log of school tracking and prep, I'm tired of sitting in front of this computer... and let's face it: it's 10:30 p.m., and I'm just tired.

However, I did finish Jude's gloves. (He opted to not do a "flip-top" after all, so no glittens this time.)

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And he wants to keep the liners separate instead of sewn-in, so as to have more versatility with warmth vs. weather:

G.I. Joe Glove Liners

Plus, I made a hat for a friend:

Brock Beanie

And I'm also almost finished some gloves for Noah, and a second hat for Jabin.

See? I toldja I'd been busy! :-)

More updates coming soon!

Not Quite Half Full

"I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth." 
- Janeane Garofalo 
"The tongue is ever turning to the aching tooth." - Benjamin Franklin

Last night, I chipped a tooth. And for reasons that I am trying to fathom, it has totally sent me for an emotional loop.

I have personally known three people in the last year who have chipped their teeth. These people were all a generation ahead of me, ergo, their teeth had seen much more wear and tear than mine. I could tell it affected them, and I empathized with the annoyance that having a sharp something in your mouth must be. But I figured it was only natural that eventually, this happens to teeth (especially those continually exposed to our refined Western diet, even in limited quantities). And I knew their inconvenience would only last until they could get to a dentist.

But now that it is my mouth, and my tooth, why can't I be as rational? Why am I so upset about it?

I have never had any problems with my teeth before. Blessed with good genetics and good nutrition early in life, I have never had a cavity, and the worst problem I occasionally endure is teething because my wisdom teeth have not fully emerged. (I was teething wisdom teeth while Jabin was teething his one-year molars--believe me, though the pain made me grumpy, I had loads of empathy for the little guy. I think he handled it better than I did.) They are also slightly out of alignment with the rest of my teeth, so I try to be extra-careful that food does not get caught in them. However, I recognize that someday I may have to have them removed.

But this is different, maybe because it was so unexpected. I think that, deep down, I believe it shouldn't have chipped. That's part of it. I wasn't eating anything hard, only pizza. Homemade, "healthful pizza", at that. For crying out loud, I ground the flour myself! Which means that my tooth (and probably more than one) must have some structural integrity issues. Which means I need to change.

I guess I had believed that the healthier-than-the-average-bear diet that I try to follow would help me keep my teeth to a ripe old age, undamaged. The link between teeth and internal health (especially your heart) is fairly well-known, and I wanted to believe that I was doing all I could to keep myself healthy, without having to go to extremes.

But now, I'm not so sure. And am I doing all I can for my children? I don't know. Jabin's lower jaw, which I once thought had plenty of room to fill up, is starting to look a little crowded...

One chipped tooth has filled me with self-doubt. Ridiculous, I know. But just like my tongue cannot stop worrying at the broken remains (and, in all honesty, most of the tooth remains--it was a tiny piece that came off, only a flake), my mind cannot stop worrying that maybe I need to make more dramatic changes to my lifestyle and diet. And I don't want to. I have done "dramatic" for short periods, and it is a serious pain in the arse, for reasons mostly having to do with the convenience of both myself and friends that may ever want to entertain our family. Mostly me, though. Can't what I do now just be enough? the petulant three-year-old in the back of my mind whines.

The final straw is that, after a summer that has been especially rough on our emergency fund, I know that there is nothing I will be able to do to change it right away. There is no trip to the dentist's chair in my immediate future for a "Band-aid fix." Only twenty-four hours later, and the tip of my tongue is already raw. How long until it is worn flat by use? And is the rest of the tooth about to crumble?

I know I'm making too big a deal out of it. And I'm really trying to get a grip. But this is my blog--it's where I get to vent (within limits, I realize). And I guess I was hoping that typing this out would help me "get over it."

One of those others who chipped their tooth recently claimed that this has been "the summer of her discontent." I'm beginning to feel the same. Not really--for the most part, I am not discontent. And when I think of Job, that amazing man who lived so many thousands of years ago, and lost so much, including his livelihood and children within only a few days, and still blessed the name of the Lord, I think that I must still have a long way to grow. When he also lost his health in a severe and painful way (body covered by painful boils), he finally started to question God.

It would definitely take a lot more than a major move, a few gardening setbacks, and a chipped tooth to make me question the God who is my Rock--but apparently, that is enough to make me question myself.

All I can say is, whatever it is I am supposed to be learning this summer? I wish I would just get it over with!

Back to the Future

I've had some people hint at me recently that they would like to see something new on this page a little more often.

While my intentions are all towards blogging 3-5 times a week, the reality is that by the end of my day, it has usually dropped right off my priority list. We'll see if I can pick up the pace again in a few more weeks once we have all the "extremely-urgent" items off of our "to-do" list.

But I'm not making any promises...

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Despite the frost we had several nights earlier in the week (or maybe because of it), I managed to get all my potatoes and onions in by Wednesday. There is still a good chunk of garden to come in, but between school planning and the sun going down so darn early (what's with this "dark at 8:30" thing?! :-D), I am running behind on a few things. Our addition only has one coat of paint on it, still... and in a way I was glad that I was stalled at that point when we got to "discover" some leaks yesterday, thanks to a day of steady, slow rain. Now we get to figure out where the sources of those are before finishing the inside.

Jason almost got our fuel tank for the diesel furnace in place before dark on Thursday... but not quite. Yesterday, the rain made working outside unfavourable, so I expect we may now not have heat until Monday. It won't be a minute too early, either! Some mornings this week, I have really had to "psych myself up" to extend my bare toes from beneath warm, fluffy blankets to frigid morning air!

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Both Jabin and Noah have said some things this week that tickled me to the funny bone. Of course, I don't remember what they are now...

Okay, I remember one. On Monday, Jabin was helping me pick rosehips to make jelly.

"Could we have rosehip jelly for a snack sometime, Mom?" he asked, clambering over some rocks to reach some berries that were higher on the bush.

"Well, yes, on our toast and butter," I replied, gingerly reaching my hand through a gap in some thorny branches toward a succulent-looking red hip.

"Not by itself?"

After several turns around this conversation, it occurred to me what he was talking about.

"I'm not making Jell-O, I'm making jelly," I clarified.

"What's jelly?" he asked.

"It's like jam, only without the pieces of fruit," I replied. "'Jell-O' is that jiggly stuff that is really bright, weird colours."

"Oh." After a few more moments, "It would be cool if my name were 'Jell-O'," he said.

Giggling, I asked, "Why's that?"

"Because I love Jello so much," he said, then went on with his picking.

Oh. "I guess we didn't think of that when you were born," I replied. Gotta love kid logic.

Yesterday, Jabin used the word "struggling" a handful of times, in context. It caught me by surprise at first. How many near-six-year-olds use words like "struggling?"

"Mommy, I am struggling with this one. My '2' doesn't look right," he calmly said to me, pointing at the question in his math book so I could help him out. He used the word several more times in the next twenty minutes.

Later, at supper, when I said to Jason, "Jabin's 'Word-of-the-Day' was 'struggling,'" Jabin added, "Yeah, I was struggling with math."

Hee.

It really struck me last night how grown-up all my boys seem. Only a few short years ago, Jude was bringing our family into the new chapter of "school age" by being in grade one, Noah was a mystery we hadn't read very many pages of, and Jabin made you want to squish him into a hundred little pieces of love just by being alive.

Now, Jabin is running around using words like "struggling", "supposedly", and making astute observations every day. The "baby" is gone from his face, leaving behind a little boy with hairy legs (which he gets from his dad!) who thinks he can boss around his big brothers. Jude is only a couple of years from "pre-teen", and Noah is becoming more responsible all the time.

Reading through some of those older posts, it struck me that I used to be much more clever. I guess that's the benefit of posting more often--you think of better things to say. Or better ways to say the things you were going to say anyway.

From the archives, here is a few-paragraph blurb that gave me a giggle. I hope it does for you, too:

From August 10, 2008 (my 31st birthday):

"What is this thing?" Logan asked, looking at me. The "thing" in question was a small but surprisingly heavy shiny metal rod that had been shaped into a triangle, and was suspended by a brightly-coloured nylon cord attached to a very small, rounded, red wooden handle. My brother kept swinging it around by the cord. "Is it an actual musical instrument, or a weapon?"

"Both," I replied. "It's a child-sized triangle. I don't know where the stick is for it." A twinkle popped into my eye. "But musical instruments often double as weapons, you know. That's why you would always see the Mafia walking around with violin cases."

"Uh, Talena, those had guns in them," my Dad said, but I refused to be deceived.

"No, just violins," I replied nonchalantly.

"What, 'If you don't talk, I'm going to play my violin at you?!'" he teased, imitating a maddened Mafia henchman with evil intent about to play something dark and Russian.

"Well, you know, some of them were saxophones," Logan chimed in.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yeah. That's why they had so much sax and violins."

Disclaimer to the members of my family who may feel like correcting me on any part of the above conversation: While some of the exact wording may have been changed, the purpose of the conversation remains the same. This is how I remember it--and conversations around a breakfast table do not always translate well verbatim to the written word. End of disclaimer.

Camera Happy

Several years ago, our kids received the Fisher Price KidTough camera as a gift. It is a toy digital camera that really takes photos. You can put them on your computer, but the resolution is so low it's not really worth it. However, this toy has been a perennial favourite, especially since every action you take on it makes a nifty noise.

There are the traditional "digital" beeps and boops (albeit at 90 db louder than a "real" camera), and when you delete something (as the kids often have to do, since they take photos non-stop until it reaches it's 80-photo limit) it makes this great whip-cracking sound. Sometimes, I think they take photos just so they can delete them--a theory that is supported by the total randomness of the aim most of the time. (Like at the table. Fifty times.)

Needless to say, this is all pretty hard on the AA batteries the thing is powered with, and inevitably, unless it gets misplaced somewhere out of sight, the camera is "broken" again within only days of a new set of batteries being installed. Since Mommy and Daddy aren't made of money, and we are usually thoroughly sick of whip-crackings and beeps and boops by then, the camera often remains in this state for at least six months until we decide to ration out another quadruplet of batteries.

Last time I opened up the camera to change batteries (an ordeal requiring me to find the tiniest screwdriver in existence), I discovered that one of the batteries had leaked onto the springy post inside the camera, and there was enough gook there to prevent proper contact. So, the camera sat dormant for another indeterminate amount of time, until Spring Cleaning Fever hit me last week.

During Spring Cleaning Fever, all those things that have been randomly set places to be dealt with "someday" are no longer allowed to be sitting randomly. Things out of place, once picked up, are required to find their permanent home. If they must be repaired first, they are.

This time, I had enough of my own repair jobs to tend to that I figured it was time to delegate. Thus, I gave the job of cleaning the camera post to Jude. He did it admirably, carefully manoeuvring the cotton swab and rubbing alcohol I had supplied him with around and around the little spring deep in the camera's recesses, and then inserting fresh batteries. Wow, I love how useful they get as they get older. (Meaning children, not noisy toys.)

The kids then took turns--"timed" by the number of photos taken--with the camera, since it was functional again.

What surprised me was that for once, Noah did not seem to be aiming at random. He really wanted to take pictures of stuff he liked.

Like the pictures we coloured to go with our ocean unit.

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And every single video game we have in the house--carefully laid face up, then set aside to make room for the next.

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But hey, if those are the things that he wants to photograph, who am I to say otherwise? After all, I take pictures of yarn!

Knit Picks Andaean Treasure

And self-portraits from awkward angles and way too close.

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And plants.

Cilantro

And my camera doesn't even make a cool whip-crack when I delete anything!

(Maybe if it did, I would take the time to delete more photos--I obviously don't need inspiration to actually take any more!)

Yay! for Spring

What a difference a week can make, right? Last weekend: snowed in. This weekend: signs of spring are everywhere.

Signs of early spring I noticed yesterday:
  • The trailer was warm enough to open the windows.
  • The hundreds of gallons of water in the form of ice crystals covering the landscape was transforming back into its liquified form. In town, this meant there were several teams of town employees pumping out ditches in danger of flooding the road--or the trailer park. Oops! Too late for the trailer park! It was a lake!
  • No coats, no winter boots, bare arms.
  • Lineups at the car washes in town around the block. (I decided to wash my van another time.)
  • The snow in my yard was soft enough that a half-hour or so of shovelling revealed the walkway that disappeared about three weeks ago in winter's final death throes.
  • The sudden urge I felt to buy a place setting for ten of polka-dotted melamine dishes, a matching pitcher, and a salad spinner, with the intent of making our summer entertaining much more comfortable this year.
  • The also-sudden urge to go find picnic table plans, with the same intent as the last point.
Unfortunately, the only one in my family who has not been ill this week is me! (Well, I feel fortunate, but not so much the rest of the family.) Jabin and Jason have been sick since the beginning of the week, with Jason taking three days off of work. By Thursday, the other two boys had succumbed, so we declared "no-school days" for Thursday and Friday. However, since we have just started our unit on the Ocean, the days were not completely uneducational--they watched two hours of BBC's "The Blue Planet: Seas of Life" each of those days. Fabulously-done movies.

Not teaching all day meant that I got to take a walk in the sunshine, and also succumb to another Sudden Urge--spring cleaning!