Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm Back!

It's been relatively quiet in the blogosphere (the corners I frequent most often, at least) in the past week as I've peeked in. I've been missing it. Still, in the interest of discipline I kept the closet door closed (thank goodness it's a walk-in. Can anybody tell me why I have four pairs of black shoes in there?). Now at last I'm finished. A year and a half long writing project has been completed and passed along. That may not sound that long to some, but for me it was just long enough. If I had the energy tonight I might do a victory dance. As it is, spending time curled up with a good book will be a wonderful way to celebrate.

I've been musing in those brief interludes of cooking and cleaning during the past week, but can't muster the brainpower to put them into words right now. So for tonight, I'll share my uber-princess' funny phrase from today: "Oopsie Daisy! Spaghettio!"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm Stepping Into the Closet and

closing the door.Why? My muse is gone or rather, is occupied. Which leaves me with very little to say lately, and what is left is barely coherent. I've been neither musing nor amusing. My children, who have often been called by the wrong name as of late, will attest to that. Their Musing Mom's brain is getting fried. So I bid you "das vydanya" for the next week while I follow my muse in completing the gargantuan projects on my plate.

In the meantime I leave you some photos and a promise. This is a cabinet my husband redesigned to fit my daughter's American Girl doll and accessories:

He did three of them in one weekend. Isn't he awesome (I can tell you his daughters certainly think so)? See that floral thing hanging inside the door?

I made that. It's a shoe organizer. I did two and it took more than just in a weekend. I'm still working on the third. But when I return I plan to post instructions on how to make one. That's my promise. If you want to know how my husband did the cabinet (and it cost a total of about $35 to do it), let me know.

The door is closing. Feel free to knock. I may answer. If nothing else, I'll "see" you next week!

Monday, January 22, 2007

January 2007 GEMS Pampering

Here are the projects we did for our January couple's gathering.

White wood trays with acrylic inserts accented by football field liners and topped with a football-shaped bowl, easy snack nut recipe, plastic cups and a bag of pigskin chocolates kicked off the theme at the center of the table. Each couple was also presented with their own set of elegant tumbled marble coasters.

Centerpiece -- Game Night Tray

15 x 11” white wood tray with handles and acrylic insert

12” x 12” football field scrapbook paper

football bowl

set of plastic sports themed cups

green cardstock

sweet/salty nut recipe (see appendix)

football shaped chocolates

bags of snacks such as Cheetos

Cut one inch off end of scrapbook paper and place in tray under acrylic. Wrap chocolates in plastic bag and tie with green raffia. Arrange bowl, cups, snack bags, and chocolates on tray. Create snack nut recipe card by printing recipe from Appendix and attaching to 4” x 6” piece of green card stock. Prop recipe card on tray among other items.

Pampering Gift -- Tumbled Marble Coasters

4 - 4” x 4” tumbled marble tiles

stamps (we used

Stazon permanent ink pad

3/8” adhesive felt dots

matte acrylic sealer

To prepare tiles for stamping clean all surfaces with a damp cloth and allow to dry. Stamp images on tile and set by blow drying with either a heat embosser or hair dryer. Apply one felt dot to each corner on bottom of tile. After images are dry, spray a light coat of acrylic to seal. Tie coasters into a bundle with ribbon or twine.

For more ideas like these and other information on creating inexpensive gifts and decorations, check out the new book, Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well For Less.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Which is Harder: To Start or To Finish?

I'm coming to the end of a very big project. And I'm terrified. Thanks to a deadline I keep moving along inch by inch, otherwise I might run away in fear.

What is it with that? Every so often I get working long and hard on something only to run into a few road blocks and quit when I'm close to the end. Or I procrastinate it to death.

Starting is rarely difficult for me. When I get an idea for something it often distracts me away from my current project. I want to get started and I want to do it now! Even if I can only get a little piece going I'm satisfied to see it get under way. I'm learning to discipline myself in this and reward myself with a crack at a new thing only once a current one is put to bed.

How about you? Which is harder: starting a project or finishing one?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Youthful Exuberance

I have three daughters. Do you know how loud three girls can get? I'm not sure I've found out yet, but mine are definitely approaching their limit. My husband blames me. I came home from an appointment last night to find the girls running through the house calling quite vociferously to one another. So I asked my husband what it was all about. He was bewildered.

"They were playing quietly until just now. They must have known you were home. You make them loud," he said.

I make them loud. Because I'm loud? Hardly. I love quiet. I love silence or peaceful music. I love soft conversation. Loud? Not me. And most of the time I can barely handle the noise of my girls. But I'm trying to learn to appreciate it because otherwise I'll miss out on some of the greatest moments of their childhood; those spontaneous outbursts of youthful exuberance.

Here's an example: my girls love High School Musical. In our house we now have both the DVD and the CD. They've watched the DVD at least twice and the CD is on almost every day. So earlier this week they decided they would put on a "musicale" (if you've seen H.S. Musical you know why). Our family room became the stage and the music meister (eldest daughter) loaded up the CD. With a fancy (pretend) microphone headset on her head and a set of earphones, complete with dangling cord, on daughter number two's head, they were set. Uber-princess donned not just one pretty skirt, but three at once. And then it began: singing at the top of their lungs they all danced and bopped around that family room, none of them missing a single word of the lyrics. It was riotous fun. I wish I could have slowed down to watch it longer. I wish I could have slowed down and loosed up enough to join them.

When was the last time you got loud and active and generally uninhibited like a child? When was the last time you enjoyed the youthful exuberance of a child? Take time soon to appreciate that more. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me". Jesus took people the way they were. I'll bet he'd embrace the noisy, rollicking creatures that most children are if he walked the earth today.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who Turned On This Crazy Thing?

I'm having one of those days - the kind where it's like you're on an inclined treadmill set on high. You're going as fast as you can and still keep losing ground. That's me. And I can't seem to get off. I've even slowed down to reassess and chucked all the plans that weren't on my immediate to do list and didn't have any sense of urgency. I'm only attending to what must be done. But none of it is cooperating and getting done easily. So what am I missing? Why is it all taking twice the time necessary when I only have half as much time as I need?

A pastor at my old church once talked about a mechanic he knew. This mechanic knew he was living right and pleasing God when his business brought in a lot of "gravy" jobs - those jobs that paid well but took little work. When he'd gotten off track with God those jobs would dry up and he'd get a lot of time-consuming, low paying jobs.

Except I don't think that paradigm fits my day. It started it off well with a good half-hour quiet time where I really felt connected with God. And my morning with the kids was fine. Time with the uber-princess was peachy. But all the projects and chores I've tried to tackle have gone painfully slow and somewhat awry.

And now the fish is sick. I think he's got Ick and my daughter blames it on me not taking good care of him.

I'm glad every day has only 24 hours. I might wish for more time to get stuff done, but I don't think that would help. It's better to get off this crazy thing and start new tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll have leftovers for dinner, get the fish some medicine and try not to pull any muscles attempting to stay on this speeding treadmill.

Epilogue: We ate leftovers. The day wound down and I regained my focus.Now it's Thursday morning and the fish is barely living.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On Thin Ice

I had such high hopes this morning for my kids' day off. I'd take them ice skating, for the first time. It would be so much fun! Immediately memories came flooding back. In high school my house was right across the street from a park that would be carefully groomed for ice skating all winter long. I'd get home from school and go out to spend an hour honing my skills. I became pretty comfortable at it. By the time I took lessons in college I was ready to start learning some tricks. And during the free lunchtime skate hour I'd even begun working on simple pair skating with a friend.

Fast-forward to today. I'm ready to introduce my girls to this sport, sure they'll be so enamored of the grace and beauty if it that they'll be begging me to sign them up for lessons. When we arrived at the rink there were two girls in skating skirts getting ready to go out on the ice. Aha! Perfect for my plan. "Watch those girls while I get your skates," I told my daughters.

Half an hour later I finally had everyone's skates on and looped and fastened and tied. Eldest daughter had already tested the ice and was excited to really get out there. Then I turned to daughter number two. She was in tears.

"It's too cold," she complained. "My feet hurt. I don't want to do this."

"Just go stand on the ice and see what it's like," I pleaded. She complied. As soon as her skates touched the ice and she began to slide she turned around and stumbled back off.

"I don't like it," she pouted. Back went the skates to the rental office.

My uber-princess was still out on the ice with her sister, slipping and tumbling. A young figure skater suggested I tighten her laces. Then I saw another preschooler going onto the rink with a set of chair legs. That was my solution! I grabbed a set for uber-princess and propped her behind them.

"Try these," I said. And off we went, slowly inching around the rink. One trip around. That's all we made before she gave me the same complaints as her sister. Back went her skates. I took the younger two up to the viewing stands and made my way back to my eldest on the ice. She was slipping and sliding and doing everything but skating. It took some coaxing, but I finally convinced her to let me tighten her skates some more. Then she was off and skating. Still falling and mostly shuffling, but over the next half hour she made a lot of progress.

There were more tears from her sisters ("we're bored. We're cold. When are we going home?"). And then the time was up, the morning nearly a waste. As we took off our skates I consoled myself with the fact that at least one of my children had enjoyed our outing. And then she began crying. Her toes hurt. Bad. I tried to explain that it was just part of skating. It was merely from the cold. My toes hurt bad too. But that didn't matter to her. She just kept crying. So much for my dreams of a fun day-off activity that would launch a new hobby for my children.

As for me, I'd taken a dozen or so trips around the rink - my exercise for the day. It felt good to have the ice under my feet again. I'm not limber enough to do the moves I'd been learning when I was younger, but I was still steady, still able to do crossovers and skate backwards.

I don't think I'll be getting the mom-of-the-year award for my attempt at fun today. Which makes me wonder, why is it so hard for my kids to have fun trying something new? Why is it so hard to be a mom who wants her kids to enjoy the things she enjoys?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Girls & Video Games

I have three daughters. I assumed this meant our house would be filled with dolls, but relatively free of video games. Guess what? In this day and age girls like video games. Why? Because the video game companies have figured out how to market to them. I learned this three years ago when, for Christmas, my own hip and cool mom gave her granddaughters (who were 3 & 5 at the time) each their own Game Boy Advance. This was partly to benefit my husband and I for the trip we were planning to take, by car, to Disney World. Along with the GBA's my girls got Disney Princess and Polly Pockets games. Totally girly. My husband reluctantly played them on the car trip because what else was there?

By now we've accumulated a collection of Dora the Explorer, Strawberry Shortcake and Princess games. Even my husband has his own "Simpsons Road Race" game for the GBA. But what about me? I used to get asked to "help me get up into this tree, Mom", but now they've all mastered the games enough not to need my help. Even my uber-princess, after years of sharing her sisters' systems, got her very own GBA this year for Christmas. On the rare occasions I let them pull out their games I immediately get shooed away. Sometimes they'll let Dad play so they can watch him totally rock his way through to the higher levels. But not Mom.

You know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking a new Pink Nintendo DS Lite would get me out of the video game dumps. After all, daughter #2 had a DS at the top of her Christmas Wish List. Since she didn't get it that would make me super-cool in her eyes. And I happen to know from an expert (my nephew) all the features and benefits that make the DS superior to the PSP. I had a wonderfully long conversation with him a month or two ago where he brought me up to speed on the portable game systems. Come to think of it, having my own DS would make me hip to him too (my sister-in-law quite regularly outdoes me in the hip & cool department with her iPods and camera-phones, exotic vacations and theatre outings. I could use a turn being top "Hip Mama" in our family).

Why do I say all this? Because Crazy Hip Blog Mama's site has a Nintendo DS/Brain Crazy contest going on. Don't you think I deserve to win?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Supermarket Survivor

I think I was filmed today for a new reality TV show. Only a guy didn't suddenly appear with a microphone and cameraman to tell me they'd caught me on film. But maybe they're saving that for a future episode.

It's called "Supermarket Survivor" or "Rage Among the Radishes". You see, the grocery store sets it up by placing these incredibly frustrating plastic bags in their produce section. Then you (or me), the unsuspecting shopper go to actually use one of these plastic bags to carry your produce. You select your bell pepper (or squash or mango or jalapeno). Then you innocently grab a plastic bag that supposedly was placed on a roll near the produce for your convenience. That's when they get you. You see, those bags are part of the reality show. They are formulated with a special glue that does not allow to the bag to come open until, in utter exasperation, you rub it rapidly between your hands. The friction produces a glue-melting heat. Then the end of the bag separates, slightly. If you managed to rub the right end. If you even found the end.

I was standing next to a gentleman in produce today as we both shook and raged at the plastic produce bags. I glanced at him. Then I glanced up and noticed a tv monitor. We weren't on it. But maybe there was a camera hidden behind it. I suggested something like that to him, like maybe we were going to be on this new reality show. He laughed a short laugh, got his bag open and hurriedly stuffed his pepper in the bag while scooting his cart away from me. I flipped my bag over and wrestled it some more. Finally the ends parted. I don't think I won.

Anyway, if they weren't taping me for a reality show I think I'll send my idea to the networks. There's a lot of frustration to be tapped into among the rutabagas, at least when I'm there.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Disaster Averted

Imagine standing in the street next to your minivan, cellphone to your ear, motioning to your children to settle down in their seats. It's dark. You're cold. As you wait you hear the sound of sirens approaching. Then in the distance you seeing the flashing lights. Suddenly they're upon you, blinding your eyes, your children's eyes. You watch as the firemen jump out of the truck and carry their equipment into your house.

You open the van door and poke your head in. "Where will we eat dinner?" your youngest whimpers. Her sister anxiously asks, "what about the Rhubarb the fish?". You inhale deeply and ask if they all feel okay, wondering if your own headache is just from the tension. They're all fine. You're fine. Soon the firemen emerge from your house. It's fine.

Yeah, that was me last night. I was simmering some apples on a low flame last night to make apple pancakes (breakfast food for dinner!). I was also helping with homework and generally being distracted by my children. The flame went out. I kept stirring, not noticing. After a bit I realized my children had left the video game and TV on so I went to the basement to turn it off (it's a complicated setup so I don't expect them to do it). While I was down there I noticed the smell of gas. The furnace had kicked on. But as I went up the stairs the smell got stronger. My apples weren't cooking. The pot was cool. The burner was still turned on.

Thankfully I realized our problem immediately. I sent the children out of the house and began opening windows and doors. My only mistake was that I turned on a fan and turned off a light. Never do these things. They can cause a spark and...

Well, I'm so grateful we're all okay. As I followed my children out of the house I thought, "well, it might all be gone". But I'm a pessimist by nature, so I'd already thought that one through. Most days I think to myself that it could all be gone in an instant. I could be gone. Pessimist. Realist. Sometimes it helps me realize what's important. Yesterday I was very glad to be able to go back inside and eat breakfast food for dinner. My daughter appreciates her pet. We're lucky to have each other.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Sky Is Falling

Have you noticed in the papers lately how the media is getting all worked up about the unseasonably warm temps in parts of the U.S. this year? I blame Al Gore. His movie (I actually read part of the book before it was due back at the library), An Inconvenient Truth, has the global warming idea on the top of everyone's minds. Is it making any difference? Hard to say at this point, other than getting a large crowd standing around saying, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!".

I agree with Mr. Gore's intention (oh dear, is that the proper term of address for a former VP?). I do think we need to be more careful about our stewardship of planetary resources. Really I do. I even helped pioneer a recycling effort at my dorm in college. I try to limit my production of unnecessary waste. I fume along with my car when stuck in heavy traffic. And I wonder if any of us are doing enough.

But back to the media. I think there's one really big point they're missing. The earth was not made to last. If you read the Bible at all and believe what it says, it's going to be all gone one day. But the good news for us is that we were built to last (makes me think of the chorus from one of my favorite Lost Dogs songs). And for those who know Jesus we've got a new earth coming that will be even better. If you think otherwise, say so . I'm not an apologist so I can't say I'll have answers to convince you of my side. And certainly if you disagree with me you'd better listen to the media. Because I think they're right. The sky is falling. The question is: "how quickly?".

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rollabind Notepads

I got a fun new tool for Christmas. It's a Rollabind punch set - it punches paper for binding with plastic circles. So I can make my own books (no, this is not a start on self-publishing my book). Anyway, I had some fun with it on Christmas Day. Here's what I made:

It's a notepad. I created a "To Do" list template on the computer that I printed out and then cut to 8 1/2" x 3 1/2". I used heavy card stock for the front and back covers and mounted this Christmasy paper on top. The stamp is from TAC's "Tag Tidbits". Then I punched the top of the pages with the Rollabind and bound them with small discs. I realize without a Rollabind you're not going to just jump up and make one of these. But if you're looking for a fun tool for paper crafting, I'd strongly recommend this one. It's great for all sorts of different gift-giving projects, both big and small. Who knows, our GEMS group may end up with notepads or something made with it in the next year or two. Here's a link to some ideas of other things you can make with a Rollabind.

For more ideas like this and other information on creating inexpensive gifts and decorations, check out the new book, Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well For Less.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reality Check Take 2

What was I thinking? A list of "goals" for 2007? Isn't that like setting myself up for failure and disappointment? Rather than join the legions of depressed Americans two weeks from now, I'm thinking I need a new set of goals, something a little more realistic. Something like this:
  1. Play We Love Katamari at least once every day (like during nap time).
  2. Serve breakfast foods for dinner on a weekly basis.
  3. Get more exercise by making repeat trips up and down the stairs (while carrying heavy loads like laundry and uber-princesses) because I've forgotten why I was going up (or down).
  4. Read and post comments to multiple blogs each day, sometimes even my own.
  5. Avoid going to the grocery store more than once every couple weeks.
In two weeks when you're regretting the money you spent on that new treadmill and Pilates equipment, don't come crying to me. I won't be listening. I'll be busy getting in my daily round of katamari rolling.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Reality Check for 2007

Happy New Year! It's a fresh year, new start, all that good stuff. Have you set any goals for this year yet? The uber-princess said last night that her goal for 2007 is to learn how to play Polly Pockets better. And you know what? I think she just might attain that goal.

I've set a few goals too, some maybe not as realistic as hers but worth considering anyway:
  1. Catch up on at least one daughter's scrapbook, preferably one of the ones containing photos only up until 2004. It was my goal last year, but at that point two of them only dated to 2002. I'm getting there.
  2. Go see at least one live play (no dead ones though). I enjoy seeing them. I sometimes enjoy writing them. I just don't do either often enough.
  3. Get my book published. Still waiting on those editors to respond.
  4. Keep Rhubarb the betta fish alive at least to 2008. So far, so good.
  5. Spend more time moving with my exercise videos, pint-sized naysayers or not.
There's more, but some I'm afraid I'll jinx by putting in print. Others aren't fully formulated yet. I do want to put in a small reality check here though. I think it's something worth considering on this first day of the year, to put things in perspective:
"Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15

I don't know what will happen tomorrow or this year. I'm excited to set goals and work toward them, but I also acknowledge that it's not for me to determine. There will be detours and pit stops along the way. And I want to be prepared when they come. Lord willing, I'll check back on this list in December and find I've done things I'd never planned and learned things I hadn't expected. I'll bet I'll play a lot of Polly Pockets to help my daughter achieve her goal. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have gotten a scrapbook up to date.