Saturday, May 10, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

Compulsive Posting

Unlike some bloggers who know when to take a break from posting, I cannot seem to resist sharing something, anything. And for this, I apologize. I have nothing to say... nothing but an irresistible urge to report the minutia of the day.

Dude, this isn't my car.
Funny, when we were 5 kids, crammed into our avocado green VW bus, I didn't think it was quite this cool. Hey family, who remembers summer 1982, the road trip and the unplanned stop in Visalia, California? Waiting for a part to come in? Good times. Mom, that was the same trip when we camped in Kings Canyon and you kept us on high alert for bears. Even though I was 15 and moody, I still have happy memories of being in the wilderness, with real trees and hiking across a huge meadow.

I just dragged the children out to the driveway of Garage Mahal to clean our ride. I love our Odyssey... so much room, so dependable and safe. In the recesses of our conestoga we found 47 pencils and pens, 2 crayons, 14 Lego parts, a pair of socks, 3 dirty socks, one black dress shoe -size 12, inline skates, knee pads, a helmet, an old sheet, 68 plastic grocery bags to take to recycling, a banana... technically a fossil of what is presumed to have been a banana, 2 jackets, one sweater, 17 print-outs of house listings, and the "Mary Poppins" DVD box, which had "Pirates of the Caribbean" in it. There was more, but I think you get the idea.

As soon as William gets out of the shower, we are going to the car wash, then we are going on a walk. Fascinating, I know.

We are having turkey meatloaf for dinner. I will do my usual thing, where I add a ton of grated zucchini and whole oats to the mix, and everyone except Max and Maria will love it. Max and Maria will get peanut butter and jelly or pasta.

Ah! He's out of the shower... we're off!
I hope You have a great Friday night.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cutie Pants and Chocolate Croissants... Yeah, We're Creative

This is Maria's line-up. I can't think of a nicer way to tone down the looming towers of faux columness that grace the entry of Garage Mahal. True, she does tend to overrun the house with her collections, assortments of odd this and that, and sacred altars of randomness. I could do an entire blog devoted to things Maria puts in boxes, bags and cupboards. But if this is her art, her expression, well then, it is sacred to me too.

I can't think of a time when we haven't been a creative family, enjoying spontaneity and the pleasures of discovery and invention.

Jennifer, those stamps you sent us have been a huge hit. It took me a while to remember to bring home a fresh stamp pad, and when I finally did show Maria what magic was contained in those funny wood blocks she was ecstatic. Then Alex jumped in and filled a giant page with his stamped tales. Max was racing through his school work, so he could join them, and he stamped these stars dancing across the waves. Yesterday he used the 3 dragon parts to make a dragon of unusual length.

William's creativity has been applied to stop motion animation. The latest family interest has been of extra special interest to William. He is our resident film enthusiast-graphic art-CGA expert... a true prodigy, his father's son. I promise to figure out some way of posting video, so I can show-off some of the fun William, Alex and Max have been having with stop motion animation.

Warning: Here Comes The Chocolate Part!

Alex likes to mix things up... his creative enterprises are all over the galaxy and in the kitchen too. Heavens! He decided to try his hand at making chocolate croissants. We had some leftover chocolate chips from Trader Joe's and in the freezer was some puff pastry, also from Trader Joe's. Love that place! Defrost, cut, fill with a few chips, fold and bake... and then drizzle with melted chocolate. They are small and tasty and I think Alex has a baker's gift...

Nothing satisfies like chocolate, except, perhaps, a good read. Maria has an uncanny ability to immerse herself in a book, any book, pictures optional, and turn it page by page. Sometimes she makes a running commentary, a sort of lecture or lyrical narrative, and she does not appreciate being interrupted. Fair enough.

These reading sessions can last a long time.
Self-conscious Mother Moment: I washed her shirt and she pulled it on again, so no, she hasn't been in it for 3 dirty days. Oh, I feel better.

So, what's up with the Creativity Theme? Well, I finally couldn't resist bringing home Amanda Blake Soule's "Creative Family" book. There is so much good buzz about the book and I really enjoy visiting her blog, so when she offered signed copies, I jumped.

It's strange... when William was born and I was merely 24 years old, none of my peers were into marriage or starting families or even remotely interested in going all domestic, so I felt like something of a loner-pioneer mom, and I also felt free to do things my way. My way has been a creative journey. These days? Well, these days I feel like a rather old mom. A been there, done that kind of mom, and I wasn't sure I needed a book about "creativity." Then I remembered something else from when William was born... Geoff questioned some method or approach I was taking in caring for our newborn son and he cited the advice of an expert from a hospital pamphlet. I did not agree with said expert and said as much, adding, "It's okay to do it our way. We'll just find another expert to support our style."

So, trusting my instincts, including finding help when I need it, has been my parenting style and I like to surround myself with experts, resources and support that confirm and validate my beliefs. I guess that might sound narrow... it isn't, and most importantly it's what works for me... which leads me to something else I've learned as a parent: You have to do what works for you and your family.

Well, since creativity works for our family, I realized I ought to welcome an expert into our home, someone who supports our beliefs and lends a fresh perspective, new ideas and terrific insight. And I must say buying this book was a very good decision. I am enjoying it immensely. It is thoughtfully written and full of lovely examples and real life illustrations from a real life family. No one asked me to review the book, so I hope she doesn't mind my deep thoughts and other musings!

Maria was the first one to get her hands on the book and she obliged me by reading me some of the pages. I love Maria's reading voice, the words she creates. Then, on page 42, we found something that really captured my imagination: "Constructing Children's Pants" was a perfect fit for something I have been working on lately and I could not wait to try my own version of this ingenious recipe.

I just recently finished a quilt top. It's been a very emotional project, involving Aloha shirts. I have been wanting to take a breather, a step back to prepare myself for the next step of finishing this quilt, and Amanda's idea seemed like an ideal transition. Her idea is to make something old new again, and in this case it involved turning a shirt into children's pants. Some of Geoff's old Aloha shirts were still on my cutting table... a fun print and careworn comfiness seemed ideal for some beach-combing, pajama-style pants for Maria.

Easy! Oh, man was this easy and gratifying and fun. Really, I am quite giddy about the results and even the process. The hem of the shirt finishes the hem of the pants.

Even the pocket transfered nicely... a feature that delights Maria. I had already used the sleeves to make soft baby blocks for cousin Izzy, and now much of the rest of this old shirt is new again and keeping Maria comfy-cozy and very happy.

I love the how the details of the shirt, like the cut vents in the shirt's side, make an easy, cute finish in the pants. Geoff joked that he might start missing some of his shirts. I will be on the lookout for any that are getting too shabby! Thank you Amanda Blake Soule... this creative family is feeling nurtured and encouraged anew!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yesterday, After the Rain or 1,111 Posts

Once upon a time, a family awoke to an unexpected shower. The rain falling in the garden, was cold, the sky dark and gray, and the family felt invigorated and inspired by the change in the weather. There was talk of camping, or walking in the zoo. The youngest one found her umbrella and boops. And when the rain stopped, they stepped out and into the garden.

I had so much fun reading your comments and reactions to the "Pop Post" that I had to go back to the Blogger Buster tutorial and pull out a new trick. I feel so fancy. But I'd rather wear boots and gardening gloves than a tiara... just look what's popping up in the barrel garden. Those tall fellows are carrots and the wee little ones are violas.

Can you see the little seed caps at the tips of the carrot sprouts? Those delight me. And already the frilled true leaves of the carrots are emerging. It's very exciting. I know, it's time to thin them. They'll be crowded enough growing in a barrel next to flowers and a tomato plant. Joe will be happy to dine on tender and fresh carrot greens.

Did you know Carrots love Tomatoes? I learned all about companion gardening years ago when I read Louise Riotte's wonderful gardening book. It's one of my favorites.

I hope carrots and tomatoes love violas. I do.

Once upon a time, there was a kitty who lived all of his days loved and sheltered. To keep him safe from coyotes, which are alarmingly prevalent and malevolent and mean and hungry and most unpleasant, the family kept the kitty indoors.

Most days our furry baby is happy inside, and then there are days like this one when he cries and cries and cries. He watched me from the big window as I cooed to my carrots and tomato, and he made such a pitiful wail as if to say, "Nature calls me to her bosom, be merciful and let me answer. I am a fierce and wild beasty! Hear me roar!"
Really, it was just like that.

So I released the wild beasty. And he directly ran and leaped for the most beastly and wild corners of the walled garden. He sniffed rain dampened grass. He rolled in a dirty place. He attacked a spider web with beastly ferocity.

"Here kittky, kitty. Come here Benjamin baby, furry, furry yum-yum," which is the name he likes me to call him.

And this is how he answered me!

Then Maria got wild too! She waved goodbye to Alex and me, she even said "I love you, " as she drove off in search of adventure.

.... to be continued.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pardon Me, While I Muck Around...

How to become a blog of note... I was reading "Blogger Buster... "reading" may be overstating the facts. I was scanning "Blogger Buster" and the article about making posts "pop."

I am going to click "publish" now and see if this post "pops."


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Confessions of a Give-Away Slut

Yes, I read "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman." No, I am not going to make it a link back to her already fabulously popular 2 year old blog. No! I'm not jealous. She and Dooce deserve thousands of comments and huge ad revenues. I'm totally fine with it. Really. Incidentally, Dooce will be a featured mommy blogger on the Today Show tomorrow. Seriously, she does not need my plug.

Pioneer Woman is giving away a coffee maker today and I left my comment in hopes of being randomly selected to win the coffee maker. I make horrible coffee. Actually, I don't even drink coffee. My idea of good coffee is decaffeinated Nescafé with lots of milk. But I want to be a winner. Guess what? My comment number is the same number of the lucky woman who won a $500 gift card yesterday. I am commentator #1708. What are the odds of the random generator picking that number 2 days in a row? Zip.

How do you make long division interesting? The answer is: Elaborate tales that involve zombies. If 21 friends came to your house and they had to eat 7,000 cakes in order to keep zombies from destroying all video games in the world, how many cakes would each friend have to eat?

While I made homemade macaroni and cheese, Alex illustrated the ensuing mayhem of 21 people racing to consume 7,000 cakes while zombies are being quashed by video game characters and giant Lego figures. The mac 'n' cheese had fresh Italian herbs and grated Romano and Mozzarella cheeses over penne and I baked it in the oven to give it a nice crisp crust. When I served Maria she looked appalled and said, "I want real food."

Heck, yes, I can mommy blog with the best of them.

Here is Maria. When I write my posts and export my photos to the server, Maria likes to sit in my lap. She brings me things. Little papers, lotion, an apple, an orange peel, a red glove, a pencil sharpener, a bottle cap, stones, a bandage, and cups of tea.

Geoff promised her a pony if she poops in the toilet. A pony! It was enough to make me want to wet my pants until I can negotiate a chicken. Just kidding. I shouldn't have to say that I am "kidding," but I never know when people will decide to take me seriously. And some readers lurkers will see this as proof positive that they were right to disown me.

There's a lot I would like to say. There is a lot I could confess. I want to be a winner and I want to have long shiny hair. I want to keep a clean house, but I don't want to do the actual cleaning. I want lose weight, disdain food, regularly visit an aesthetician, read novels and retain facts about politics, economics, history and html. I want to let go of the past, live in the moment and smile in the face of the unknown.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

What the Future Holds

Both Max and Alex are working on entries for a Lego contest. The theme: Build the hot new gadget of the future... What will everyone want 50 years from now?

What will people be clamoring for in 50 years? There are so many amazing gadgets already. Sometimes I wish we could decree a cease fire... an agreement not to make any new gadgets until we can catch our collective breaths and fully absorb and appreciate all the technology at our disposal already.

Max envisioned a hand held computer with an attached stylus. "It has an antenna, and you use it for wireless internet." And he adds, "You can use the stylus to type things on the keyboard, which is located in the screen. It has 2 buttons for the power, and the power comes from a processor that collects the energy from sound waves." He says, "Using its processor you can make charging it easier by talking to it."

I think I say this every time the boys show me one of their creations: I only ever made roofless houses, boxes with imagined furnishings and gardens and tiny kitchens. Max made a streamlined, curved frame, a monitor and pen pointed stylus with its own built in holder.

No one diagramed this. He did not follow a plan or instructions. I have a deep and abiding admiration for creativity, for the skill required to envision something and the ability to make it real. Plumbing, wiring, planting a garden, plowing a field, sewing a dress, writing software, baking bread... these are the skills that impress me. I suppose there will be marvelous gadgets 50 years from now. There are marvelous gadgets today. But I hope in 50 years children will still empty a box of parts and pieces and make something all their own, something from the recesses of their hearts and fancy.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mom, I'm in Love.
And he takes very good care of me.

He laughs at my jokes. He reads me poetry, or housing sale ads.
His hands are capable, his heart is true and he makes the bed with me.

He fills my tank, he backs up my blog and updates my software. He changes all of the light bulbs.

I'm in love. Since 1982, when he first kissed me. Since the beginning, when we both knew we wanted to
love forever.

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