Monday, April 30, 2007

Speed Demon

When I saw the comic strip Shoe on Saturday (go to the April 28, 2007 strip) it brought back memories. When I was in high school I saved up my money and bought myself a Honda Spree scooter just like the one in the picture. It was my main mode of transportation to school and work for my junior and senior years of high school and even during my first job after college. And it worked great - except in rain or snow. Plus it really only held one person. Not nearly as cool as a car, but certainly better than a bike. And it got great mileage!!

The memory that the comic strip brought back was of a time when my parents had gone out of town, leaving me in charge of three of my younger siblings. I can't remember how long they were gone, but it was long enough for us to run out of milk. No big deal. My scooter had a white wire basket on the front - big enough for 1 gallon of milk. So off to the store I went keeping to smaller residential streets since the maximum speed the scooter could go was about 27 miles an hour, maybe 29 going downhill with the wind at your back.

Now, you have to know that I was pretty proficient at controlling the throttle on that machine. I could sit at a stop sign and keep my feet up, while waiting for traffic to go all by opening and closing the throttle back and forth, letting the shifting keep me upright. And I did that all the time. On my return trip from the grocery store this proved to be problematic. You see, a police car was following me. And when I stopped at a stop sign without putting my feet down the officer pulled me over.

I kinda wondered what the problem was. Well, he cited me for failing to stop and for - get this: speeding! I immediately burst into tears, sensitive teen that I was and began pouring out my tale of woe. "I'm just out getting milk for my sisters and brother 'cuz I'm in charge while Mom and Dad are gone" (if it weren't for the milk jug right there he'd probably have thought it was a bunch of BS). And I explained the whole throttle deal. He made me demonstrate that I could stop without my feet down (harder to do from a dead stop, let me tell you) and finally let me off with a warning.

So, when I'm old I'm gonna have me another scooter. Then let them stop me for going 7 mph in a 5 mph zone! Just call me a scooter rebel.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Extreme Makeover: My Closet Edition


Today a friend came over and helped me do a wardrobe makeover. It was probably more like the show What Not to Wear than Extreme Makeover. Well, except I didn't get five thousand bucks to spend on a new wardrobe. I still kept a lot of my clothes. And there wasn't this big "reveal" at the end. But it was still a thrill and will continue to be for the next few days when I go into my now huge-feeling closet.

Here's how it worked: Before my friend, Linda, arrived I had emptied my whole walk-in closet (not including Musing Dad's clothes that have taken over some of the space) and all of my drawers onto my bed and a nearby chair. Then one by one we looked at each piece and decided one of four options: pitch, keep, give away, or store for "retro fashion parties" my daughters might attend (yes, some of my clothes had been around long enough to be almost retro).

It was exhilarating! Linda did a great job pointing out which things would go together and noting what items were mate-less. She even rescued the bottom part of an old suit to use just as a simple black skirt. Here's a picture of what we evicted from the closet:

The great thing about doing this is that I can now more easily see what I have. I found some great pieces I'd forgotten about. And I've only got a short list of things to purchase to really fill things out - at a cost of $150 max! Plus I know better what works together and what great outfits I've got.

I got the idea for this, not from TV, but from a wardrobe workshop I went to at the Hearts at Home conference. The presenter suggested this kind of closet gutting and I must say that I'm pleased with how it worked. It only took an hour and a half to go through everything and another half hour to put stuff back together. And now I've got a trip to the Goodwill Store in my future. Which always gives me a good feeling - getting my stuff I can't use into the hands of someone who can use it. I think Linda was a little motivated by the experience too. We both certainly had fun at it.

Question: is your closet crammed full? Are your drawers hard to close? Maybe you need a wardrobe makeover. I'm pitching my idea to Hollywood this week. Send me your application and I'll try to get you on for Season 1. And if you don't make the cut for that, there's always Supermarket Survivor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Special Day in the Life of Little Miss History

It's LMH's birthday today. She is so excited. Finally she can say officially that she's eight! It is obvious to me that we have entered the middle years. Suddenly being "older" really matters. So does being "fashion" (read "fashionable"). Boys are not a big deal - yet. Thank goodness. But I'm learning that the relationships at school are becoming more complicated. There are now friends AND enemies. Not just friends and not friends. But at least the "enemy" is the one who gets to the coat hook before she does and hogs all the cubby space. And LMH and said "enemy" worked things out so they hang up their coats at the same time (plus warmer weather will do away with the conflict soon anyway).

So I breathe a short sigh of relief and say that LMH has happily reached her eighth birthday. And I pray that God gives us the wisdom and patience to guide her happily through this ninth year. I see a whole new mom learning curve ahead and am grateful for friends with older children that I can watch and learn from.

Today WE celebrate. After all, I celebrate eight years since I becoming a musing Mom instead of just a musing Gal (and musing Dad, he celebrates the day he became Mr. Fix-it-all and Special Man to more than just one gal). It's a fun journey and we're glad for the child who started it all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

My Moses Moment

Do you know the story of how Moses got his start as leader of the people of Israel? It's pretty dramatic. God, THE God, speaks to him from none other than a burning bush. Whoa! Kinda freaky, huh?

Moses does get a little weirded out by it. But what really freaks him is actually hearing what God is asking. He doesn't feel up to the job due to his speech impediment (it's said that he stuttered). Well, this excuse does gain him a spokesman (his brother Aaron), but it doesn't get him out of a job. God's chosen people are being oppressed and He needs someone to speak out on their behalf. Moses is the one.

I've been reading Ed Gilbreath's book Reconciliation Blues recently. As I've read, I've searched for ways to identify with the struggles of people of other races. What does it feel like to receive an insensitive remark? How would I cope with being treated differently just because of what I look like? Then suddenly one day I found my point of identity and it left me changed. I recognized a group of people that is totally shut out of a popular dialog in our culture. It's a minority group (at least here in America) that, because of physical attributes over which they often have little control, are many times picked on, maligned and basically shut out of certain conversations. I'm a member of that minority group and I'm feeling a call to speak out. A little like Moses. And like Moses, I'm afraid. The group is such a small segment of society - is it worth speaking on their behalf? Will they care (sometimes the Israelites wished Moses had left them alone)? Should I allow them to continue to endure the thoughtless comments that come even from the lips of Jesus-loving, God-fearing people, without speaking up? In the end, does it really matter to any but a few?

Well, if nothing else, I am learning empathy for those who face racism. I know what it's like to not be able to shop in certain stores. I've had to deal with stares and whispers all because of being created different from the majority culture. And I'll tell you another time about being in a culture where I was in the majority and the huge sense of freedom I felt, like finally being able to let out that breath you've been holding when you didn't even know you were holding it.

But like the title says, this seems to me to be my Moses moment. Like Moses, I'm kinda freaked out by the whole idea of speaking up. But I'm not sure I have the choice to be silent. Oh, I didn't see any weird burning bush. In my case the burning is inside; not consuming me, but not going out either. Maybe God will send an Aaron, someone more eloquent who can speak for me. But probably not. So these are my first words. Forgive me if I've stuttered.

Oh...and please don't call me "skinny".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

All the Field's Her Stage

We sat outside in the cold last weekend for several hours for the beginning of the spring soccer season. Our girls did not disappoint, timid daughter in particular. She was totally in her element on the field, not so much for the sport of it, but the attention. Every time she caught my eye (or the eyes of one of the three grandparents) she smiled and waved. No matter that the ball was traveling down the field toward her at that very moment. She had a audience to satisfy.

It grew more comical on the occasions that actually brought her to our side of the field. On one such occasion she was standing directly in front of us waiting for a throw-in. At least she was supposed to be. In reality she was grinning hard at us and never saw the throw-in until after the ball had hit her on the head. We cheered her "header" and she bounced back and ran off into the game, waving at us over her shoulder.

Did I mention that she had a hat trick over the course of that game? When the kid got her head in the game she was really "on". Timid and quiet on the sidelines, she turns into a monster powerhouse out on the field. That ball stays between her feet while she moves fast. And somewhere along the way she learned how to give it a good strong boot into the goal (okay, here's where I give her coaches some credit - they're doing a great job with this team). Naturally she's also motivated by the applause. More goals means more cheers for her and more chances to wave at Mom and Dzedo and Grandma and Grandpa. Maybe she's headed for a career on stage. But for now we're just going to enjoy the show on the soccer field.

Friday, April 13, 2007

French Memo Board for 18" (American Girl) Doll Cabinet

I created this french memo board to go in the doll cabinet my husband made. If you want a larger board, simply scale up to whatever size you want (you may want more ribbon intersections, in which case the measurements for the ribbon placement will change drastically). Here you go:

Doll-Size French Memo Board
1/4" thick foam core board cut to 10" x 15"
18" medium weight picture wire
batting cut to 14" x 19"
fabric cut to 15" x 20"
approx. 3 yds. of 1/2" wide grosgrain ribbon
5 buttons either 1/2" or 5/8"
heavy duty thread
four small squares of cardboard

Make two holes in board 2 1/2" from top and 2" from sides (I punched with an awl). Then thread picture wire through holes. Secure ends by looping back through each other and twisting tight. The twisted side will be the front (covered) side of the board.

Lay fabric face down on table. Place batting on top, then foam board with wrapped wire end toward batting. Trim a small square out of each corner of the batting to help ease the fullness. Next pull both layers around onto back of board, making sure front side is smooth. Pull taught, pleating down fullness at corners. Staple to hold in place, making sure to staple only through fabric. If you go through the batting the staples will pop back out.

Glue around entire edge of fabric.

Mark centers of all four edges with pins.

Cut two 23" lengths of ribbon. Then cut four 13" lengths of ribbon. Pin the 23" pieces from corner to corner across both diagonals, crossing in center of board and lapping ends to back of board.

Next pin each 13" length from the center of one side to the center of an adjacent side. Repeat all the way around.

Sew five buttons onto the center of each ribbon intersection as follows: mark a starting point on the back of the board by poking need through front center mark of ribbon "x". To keep thread from pulling through foam, anchor by sewing through a cardboard square. With thread doubled and knotted, pull through cardboard, then through previously made hole in board. Sew through button and back down through foam board and cardboard. You can repeat if desired. Then knot.

Finish off board by gluing loose ends of ribbon to back of board. Then hang.

Note: we put two 1/2" small screw eyes (opened with pliers) on the door of the cabinet and hung from wire. To keep it from swaying when door opens and closes we also put 1 1/2" piece of sticky-back velcro on the back of the board and pressed in place against the door to hold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Princess Uber-Princess

On Easter Sunday my sister-in-law asked my three-and-a-half year-old daughter, "Will you be the princess in my wedding and drop flower petals?".

Immediately the uber-princess answered with a firm, "I will" and planted a big, wet kiss (her favorite kind to give and least favorite to receive) on her aunt's cheek.

Since then she's talked about it almost non-stop. When I asked her what she would be doing in the wedding she told me, "I am going to drop the flower petals on the ground. And I'm not going to pick them up because Aunt ___ said I can't".

So she's ready. Well, almost. You see, there's that all-important detail called "the flower girl dress". It must be pretty. And pink. And spinny - that's probably the most important feature. There have been tears in our house before over dresses that didn't properly spin. And so we shop. And shop. And shop more because added to her requirements are her mother's requirements that it not cost much more than any special-occasion dress her mother would buy for herself. Which is proving to be a challenge.

That and the constant request for pink. The wedding color is periwinkle. Not pink. A pink flower girl would be cute, but a little off. So the flower girl's mother works on that one too. Ultimately though, the bride will not be disappointed. The uber-princess has been waiting for the day that she would get to be a flower girl like her sisters were for another aunt three years ago. She's seen the pictures and she's up for the thrill. Of course, what outgoing uber-princess isn't?

4/17/07 Update: A dress has been chosen & ordered! The uber-princess chose this one herself because it's "like a fairy tale" (wouldn't you know the dress description actually uses those words). She was very certain that this dress was "the one" (oh my, visions of prom are upon me now! Lord help us). Since spaghettipie requested, here is a link to a photo of the dress.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Gonna Make Ya Sweat

I grew up with lots of Easter traditions. There were traditional foods (babka, pascka, cirrhets), ritual happenings (pizza at midnight to break the Good Friday fast), and traditional greetings (Christos Voskres! Voistin Voskres! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!). But the one tradition I never got was the horseradish challenge. And Sunday I missed the annual Easter horseradish challenge.

What is this challenge you ask? It's about opening a fresh (very FRESH) jar of horseradish. It's about slathering that fresh horseradish thickly on a slice of ham, preferably in a layer thicker than the ham itself. And it's about forking a large piece of horseradish and ham into your mouth, then closing tightly and not flinching while that very FRESH horseradish eats it's way into your brain. It's about the BURN. The stronger the better. You should be feeling that horseradish sting upwards into your nasal passages, sending pressure up into your eyeballs. Yes, if it's that good, you should be beet red from the stinging heat and perhaps if you're lucky, even crying.

Like I say, I missed it this year. My husband's family does not have this tradition. But this does not mean that my husband does not participate in such abuse. Instead for him it's about spicy chili. The spicier the better. In his case it's a good bowl of chili if it makes him sweat. Literally. If it's too mild he just tosses a chiltipin (a very tiny, very potent pepper) into his own bowl. Thankfully the rest of us don't have to join him (unlike the horseradish challenge this year where my brother goaded my mom into taking part).

So my question: what's up with that? Why eat something that hurts, burns, even fries the inside of your mouth (and head)? Sure, your sinuses might clear from the horseradish, but can you still taste anything else? Okay, so I'm far from understanding this tradition. I like my fresh horseradish in moderation. To me it's like the people who go to horror films for fun. What?! You like to be scared silly?

Can anyone explain?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Memories

We went to the library yesterday and Musing Dad checked out the CD soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar for me. Listening to it brings back memories!

When I was a kid I loved that movie. Trouble was, back in the day there were no VCR's or DVD players so the only way to see any movie was to catch it when it was actually on network TV. And usually this movie (perhaps for the liberal approach it takes to the story of Christ's last week) aired at a very late hour. Too late for this youngster to watch. Or so my folks said.

One year I desperately wanted to see it, late night or not. So I arranged a plan. I would take our little black and white tv into my bedroom closet, along with an earphone and camp out in there to watch it. The bonus of that old black and white was the brightness dimmer - no chance of light escaping under the closet door.

Only remaining detail was the need for me to be in my bed. Solution: a decoy. Thankfully I had a Marie Osmond styling head (okay, if all the other things I've said haven't dated me, surely that does. We not only had the styling head, but my sister also had Donny & Marie dolls, complete with Donny's trademark purple outfit). Marie's hair very nearly matched mine and with that head on my pillow and some extra stuffing under the bedding you could hardly tell I wasn't in the upper bunk (the added height helped too).

At the appointed hour I snuck into the closet. It was glorious watching that movie. All those catchy tunes and the funky seventies dance numbers. I don't remember if I watched it all the way through. And as far as I know my parents were none the wiser. According to my younger sister who occupied the bottom bunk, Dad actually kissed the Marie head good night when he came in later (so see, the movie couldn't have been on too terribly late). And I wasn't any worse for the wear the next morning.

After that year though, I don't remember any other extreme efforts to watch the movie. In fact, I can't remember how long it's been since I last saw it. Musing Dad doesn't think he ever watched it. Maybe next year we'll have to rent it. And this time I can watch it on the couch, even during daylight if I want.

Friday, April 06, 2007

It's Friday and God is Good

It's "Good Friday" today. Every year at this time I think to myself, how did they come up with that name? A little searching on Google didn't help. All I found out is the origin is uncertain. Me too. I'm not always certain why you'd call the day we remember an innocent man being convicted on trumped up charges by jealous detractors. We remember his torture and ultimately his death. And we call it "good"?

To those who were there that day it wasn't good. And I have to think Jesus' disciples were filled with not just grief on that night, but also doubt. All their assumptions about a Savior were being dashed before their eyes. Was this what God meant to happen? All they could see was the evil and the tragedy. And indeed on the human side, that is all there was to that long ago Friday.

But God is good. And His intentions toward us are always good. So in the midst of supremely evil events, He did the ultimate Good. He gave His one and only Son up to a humiliating, painful, undeserved death because it was the only way to satisfy the demands of His promise to His people.

The disciples had to have spent that night wondering. Their faith must have been challenged to the utmost. But it wasn't over yet. They were about to learn a whole new way of relating to the convenant-keeping God.

Do you ever have doubts? Are the assumptions you've carried with you for so long being challenged? Could it be because there are things you do not yet know? Is that doubt just the frontier to an undiscovered land? Wait for new information. After all, like Tony Campolo says, "It's Friday, but Sunday's coming!".

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Holy Week Meditation: Well, Duh!

I'm reading through the account of the final days before Jesus' death and resurrection in the gospel of Mark. Each day I'm trying to follow what Jesus did and said on that particular day of the week. Yesterday I was shocked at Jesus' cursing of the fig tree. It was supposed to be bearing fruit, but it was bare - a foreshadowing of what he would find in the temple in Jerusalem. His indictment of the goings-on there was just as strong.

The next day (Tuesday) finds Jesus and his disciples passing by that same tree. In one day it has died and withered from it's roots. The disciples are surprised at this. I don't scoff at their "well, duh!" moment. When Jesus explains that even greater things can be accomplished by them through prayer it reminds me of all my surprised reactions to answered prayer. "Well, duh!", I often have to remind myself. "You did pray for that. What did you expect?".

Then I go on in the story and find the tension beginning to build. All of those who are threatened by Jesus come to him in turn trying to catch him with crafty questions. They're looking for a basis to legally get rid of him. He's God. He doesn't fall for any of it. Nor does he shy away from them and their mistaken beliefs. His time has come. He takes them on in ways they don't expect. Did any of them see who He really is? The text doesn't say, but we certainly get the impression that even if they did, they're not about to bow the knee.

The juxtaposition is stark. Jesus continues to teach and encourage his disciples. He pours into them what they'll need in the days and weeks to come. But for his accusers there are no more answers, only questions, only exposing their faked arguments. Jesus never minced words for the "white-washed sepulchers" around him, yet there is an in-your-face feel to what is happening here. His face is set on the cross. He has wept for Jerusalem. His time has come and he is not about to shy away. What a blessed Savior!

As we prepare for Easter consider your own faith. Do you wonder at the power of prayer, even though it's been promised to you? Do you feel the weakness of your faith exposed in those "well, duh!" moments? Are you ready to be encouraged? Or are you simply challenging Jesus and His authority in your life? Do you throw out red herring arguments about issues that aren't really even a part of your life hoping He'll go away? Do you have ears to hear the real answer? It's Holy Week. Good Friday approaches. What do you make of all this?