Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgot something...

Since I was dropping off paperwork at the school this morning anyway, I packed a bag full of snacks and water and loaded up Jacob's bike so we could stick around and play. He really hasn't had a lot of success with the bike on our uneven grass out back. But a parking lot? The incline wasn't even a challenge!

My apologies regarding the quality of the some point this week my camera dropped and refused to work. Striking it harshly on the table returned it to Functioning but, alas, I fear it will never be the same. If you listen closely you can hear his little sister cheering him on! And I said it was a long week...not necessarily a sucky one.

Bits and pieces from a long week...

Early mornings, late nights, longness in between...

Right now I'm being highly entertained by a kitten and her catnip mouse...and Lethal Weapon*..."there are no real heros anymore". Anticipating a quiet weekend even though he's working.

Our final race of the season is in three weeks...I still have a lot to do and very little motivation to do it with.

Our bat has decided to stick around. He's fascinating to watch throughout the day. And watch fly off each night. When he left this evening, I opened the window and hosed down the screen. Hopefully he'll still be able to find his way home in the morning without the strong pee smell.

Kyleigh is enrolled in a playgroup for the fall. Same school that Jacob went to for pre-K last year. Yesterday the director called and let me know that if I wanted to move her from two days a week to three days a week, there was room and the tuition would stay the same. Once again, I know this is where we belong. I didn't immediately jump on it simply because this is my baby girl and she'll be the one starting kindergarten before I can blink again. But we'll go ahead and take the offer. There are my three training days. Three mornings for me to sit and write. Three mornings to just be.

But I have to survive until then.

*Always a good one to update the Evil Overlord checklist mano-e-mano fight at the end, no messing around with torture, no devolving the grand know, basic stuff.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Going batty...or, an unexpected visitor...

Sunday morning I realized the leaf stuck in the kitchen window wasn't a leaf at all...

Just one more check in the "We're Not Normal" column since we were all delighted to see watch him throughout the day, watch him fly off...and then, imagine our delight when he came back!

Just look at the furry little cute...but I'm resisting the urge to pet him. Though, one member of the family is much more interested and much less concerned with keeping him out of the house than the rest of us...

The outside storm window is stuck open by about five inches (it's on our list to so many other things) and somehow this little guy found his way in. Monday morning we taped a piece of cardboard onto the glass just to give him more shade. Apparently he likes it since he's now back for the third day in a row. There's no way for him to work his way inside the house and the window is too far off the ground outside for it to be reached without a ladder. He's fascinating to watch--rather active, really.

Bats are amazing creatures. I'm delighted that one chose our kitchen window for his summer roost.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A temporary suspension of rules...

A fringe benefit of having a science teacher for an Aunt...nifty little projects like Sharpie tie dye! For one day--and one day only--I allowed them to color on their shirts with Sharpies!

Take one clean white t-shirt, scrunch it up and secure with rubber bands and color all over with a and around all of the crevices. Soak the scrunches in rubbing old dosage syringe worked really well! Remove rubber bands, lay out flat to dry.

Ta-Da!! Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Friday, August 20, 2010

More things handed down

One morning--years ago during Navy days--stumbling in the door of my apartment following a long night of aircraft maintenance on the midnight shift, smelling of MO gas and thick, nasty hydraulic fluid I stopped for a double take. Sitting on the table was a brand new Brother sewing machine. Only one person had the capacity and the capability to break into my apartment and leave amazing presents. He waited a few days before he also brought over a few uniforms that needed new patches and insignia sewed on. Over the next few years I managed to make a decent amount of pocket change from co-workers requiring uniform maintenance. Regardless, it was delightful to have the outlet once again.

Options for extra curricular activities in boarding school were limited-even more so for those of us without an ounce of athletic talent. I, however, gravitated towards drama. Throughout high school I tried out for every single play...and never landed any part that included more than a sentence. The disguised blessing in that was that I was singled out for the behind the scenes activities--scene painting, make up and costumes. The first play I worked on costumes for (Life With Father) I was hooked. I had found my niche, my solid ground, my sanctuary. By my senior year I was the costume department.

Sewing and design weren't new to me. My mom made most of her own clothes as a teenager and then she made most of our clothes as well. The only reason I kept dolls around as a child was to serve as models for my latest creations.

When it came time to fill in the blanks for college classes I decided to go with what I knew. I entered university as a theater major with an emphasis on costume design. I recall practicing my Oscar's acceptance speech on numerous occasions--working in the wee hours pushing opening night tends to addle one's brain. In my year and a half with the program I learned a vast number of things...nifty sewing techniques like French Seams and plackets. Professional grade sewing machines come with oil tanks and they will sew through notebooks. There are over 400 different forms of fabric and polyester turns into black ooze when burned. Most of all I learned that while I enjoy creating and designing, I would never be good enough nor dedicated enough to make a living off of it. Or to actually use that Oscar speech.

But I never gave up my enjoyment of design and creating. I actually maintain a fairly diverse number of creative outlets...I paint, I draw, I take pictures, I decorate cakes and I still sew. None exceptionally well, but well enough to be enjoyed by those I share with. And that's enough for me.

In a recent conversation with a dear, sweet friend I talked about the skirt I had made for Kyleigh and that I had enough elastic for one more. She recalled that there was elastic a plenty and far more goodies in my grandmother's old sewing basket and that I should go through it and pick out what else I needed or wanted. I had completely forgotten I had handed over the entire thing when we moved.

Grandma had lived with us for a year before we moved a couple hours west. It wasn't an easy arrangement. At times far more less so than others. Her mind wasn't the same and it was increasingly difficult not take her verbal assaults personally. In the end she decided she would rather live with her youngest son and then with my elder cousin. When it came time for us to pack up the house and move no other family members came forward to claim items of Grandma's that remained behind. The vast majority of furniture and nick-knacks were donated as a fund raiser to a friend who's husband found himself in need of a second kidney transplant. The mountain of pillows went to Goodwill. Amy graciously took the sewing basket. It was as close to keeping it in the family as I could get. We were moving from a five bedroom house into a two bedroom apartment--I had no room for sentimental baggage...tangible or emotional.

Now...I found myself yearning to go through the bits and pieces that Grandma had left behind.

Yards of elastic. Sewing scissors with her name on them. Bags of buttons...just imagining the possibilities leaves me giddy. Bias tape, needles, sewing machine needles (they say they fit my machine--I hope so, since I'm actually on my last needle), lace, lace and more lace. The lace even comes with instructions on finishing hems. What a quaint and adorable touch...the hint of lace at the hemline. I happen to know a little girl who would be delighted with that detail.

And entire tin of thread...every color I could possibly need. Look at the little tags..."Made for my Princess" and the other is "Made with love from Grandma". The princess tags will get used. But I'm keeping the others too. I own one or two garments--far too small now--that have that special Grandma tag sewn in.

I've moved around my entire life. Flesh and blood--outside of my immediate family--tend to be strangers. There's really nothing resembling roots under me. But what I do have is priceless. And I'm passing it down. Special tags sewn in garments. Handmade quilts tucked around wee, slumbering bodies at night. If, years from now, my children sit and tell similar stories regarding their own parents and grandparents (without the losing their mind bit, please), then I'll say we did a Fine Job.

Schooling Abbot and Costello...

Kiddos and I inflicted ourselves upon the grocery store this morning and were all delighted with the store's new big kid carts--not a car cart but double seats with harness straps. Only issue was that while they were strapped in they were this close to each other. Fun.

Jacob took the opportunity to teach his sister the fine skill of the Knock-Knock joke...

Jacob: Knock, Knock!

Kyleigh: Knock, knock!

J: No, Kyleigh. You say, "Who's there?"

K: Winnie Pooh!

J: No! I say, "Knock, knock" and then you say, "Who's there?"

K: Knock, knock!

J: Kyleigh! You don't say "Knock, knock"! I do! Okay?

K: Okay, Dabi!

J: Knock, knock!

K: Knock, knock!

J: Ky-Leigh!

I finally stopped laughing long enough to intervene...explained to the very patient big brother that maybe his sister wasn't quite ready for the intricate nuances of the Knock, Knock joke.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rogue genetics...

Somehow I gave birth to a wee girlie girl who insists on wearing skirts and dresses. I'm pretty sure it just skipped a generation since I remember frustrating my own mother due to my complete and total aversion to anything remotely resembling girl clothes.

So what's a Mama Llama to do?

Make girl clothes of course...

I found a most excellent tutorial on a little 3-tiered skirt after a google search took me to Kuky Ideas (a delightful blog in itself!). This was the first one I made. And, I'd like to point out, that even though she now prefers skirts over shorts...her Batman t-shirt is still her favorite shirt!

As I'm all about repurposing and reusing, I had the idea of taking a pair of her brother's hand-me-down shorts that she's not wearing and seeing if I could stretch one more year out of a size 12 month skirt that's now just a little too short (told you she was wee)...

One pair of shorts...

One too-short skirt...

One girlie skirt that Kyleigh will love and can wear for another year!

Another skirt I made for her a while ago. So far I have spent $0 on these projects...all scraps I already had. The lace on this one was in a bag of material that's been following me around since before we were married! I figured it was about time I found something to use it on.

Even in skirts she still prefers to play in the dirt. That gene she gets from me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Triple gainer...with a twist

During my early college years I joined every cause that came along. If a bandwagon crossed my path, by golly, I was on it! And passionate about each and every one. Passionate and smug in my Rightness.

Over the years, the passion waned. The fire turned to embers and eventually burned out all together. A Cause really, truly has to touch me in some way on a personal level to get me involved. Not saying Causes aren't worthy. Just saying I've grown cynical about giving Time and Money to everyone that asks me for it.

Two of the four members of our little family have been diagnosed with arthritis...Kyleigh has pauciarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and her daddy, diagnosed with generic non-rheumatoid years ago, was finally correctly diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis two years ago.

Yeah. I'd say it's now Personal.

I know that I will end up being much more involved in the local chapter for the Arthritis Foundation. Non-profit public relations and asking others for sponsorship (money) is, after all, what I do. Right now, however, my goal is to support my own little family. Once we get a decent handle on the particular hand we've been dealt, then we can move on and help others do the same.

In the past several months I've read up a little on the disease. It is the number one cause of disability in the US. Numero Uno. And right around 300,000 children are diagnosed with JRA.

Growing up I knew ONE girl my age who had arthritis. Besides running funny, she had gnarly weird fingers. That was the extent of my knowledge of the childhood disease prior to my own daughter's diagnose. In all honesty, prior to Sean's diagnosis, I thought there were only two forms--Rheumatoid and Non-Rheumatoid. Sort of like having both kinds of music--Country AND Western.

Off the high-dive...

There's a fund raiser coming up in December. The Jingle Bell 5k run/walk. Raising money for research and awareness of the disease itself. After a few texts to family...okay, one to my sister asking if she was busy on that date...I signed up as team captain of "Kyleigh's Kronies". My job is to recruit members and raise money. Having never done this before I was stuck coming up with a realistic monetary goal. The race is December 4th. So far I'm a quarter of the way in both my recruitment and donation goals. I'm pretty happy with that.

Here's the bit where someone pipes in and advises me to gain some perspective. Yes, my husband and my daughter are suffering from arthritis. But that's not so bad, really. Believe me when I say--I know. I think I have a very healthy perspective. Yes, my husband has a potentially debilitating disease. But he's home. And he's alive. And he has been given the ability to lead a normal life. If, however, left unmedicated by Knock-Him-On-His-Ass -Weekly-Totally-Compromising-His-Immune-System-For-The-Rest-Of-His-Life meds, the man would be unable to walk. Our daughter, though diagnosed with an incurable disease, is able to also lead a normal life with no limitations. She's just on medication for the rest of her life as well. And thirty years from now will someone recall the odd girl in school that ran funny with weird gnarly fingers?

Then comes the bit where I face myself. How can I, as the Mommy, look my daughter in the eyes and inform her that she has no physical limitations and there is not one thing she cannot do if she should put her mind to it, as I sit on my butt? On the couch. No longer pushing my own limitations. Answer? I can't.

So here's the twist...

Long time ago--in another life, it seems--I was a runner. Mainly because I was bored. But I was still a runner. So, setting aside recruitment and donation goals, I set my own personal goal. Instead of walking the 5k in December, I will be running it. And so will my sister--whom, as far as I know, has never been a runner. I even found a training program to help us out...Couch to 5k. Using their training guide we should be running 3 miles in two months time. Due to my lack of unfettered time, I'll probably wait to really start until the kiddos start back to school. But I am going do what I can until then. I happen to have a very supportive husband when it comes to stuff like this. Though I can't help but think it's a little selfish on his part--getting back into running will work wonders on my backside.

The morning after I set up everything on the foundation's website and registered our team, I was faced with a dreary, rotten day. Everyone was getting sick. I was exhausted and working my way into a full fledged pity party. Mid-morning I received a notice from the foundation's website informing me someone had made a donation in Kyleigh's name. Then another letting me know someone had joined our team. And the emails kept coming in. Friends and family responding to the event page I set up on facebook. Acceptances, donations and a humongous outpouring of support. Not just for my daughter but for me. Little ole me. And I was in awe. Humble awe. Ruined a perfectly good grump. I'm neither used to nor comfortable asking for help. It never ceases to amaze me to see how blessed I am to have the companions I do who, without hesitation, step up and walk beside me and help when I do ask. Thank you! Because I can't do this--any of this--alone. No way. No how.

If you should so happen to be interested in what we have set up, send me an email (found on my profile page) and I'll spill the details. I'm also going to have a link up for the Couch25k training and I just may set up another page for a training journal... accountability is a good thing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And then I made bread...

Today...after running full throttle--mentally, emotionally, physically--since March...I crashed and burned. And it was a healing purge.

And then I made bread.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All in the family...

Despite being plagued by a cold all week, my wee first born was determined to compete in his very first race this morning! The age minimum is 5 and ever since his birthday he has not let up asking when the race is!

Daddy ran the mile lap around the island with him just to keep him motivated and on the correct path. He was the last one over the finish line but he didn't care. He ran. He finished. And he scored a pretty cool goody bag and a t-shirt he's dang proud of!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Movie quotes I've used on my children today...

Come Nadia! Let us dance like children of the night!

There can be only One!

Stay on target! Stay. on. target!

Run away! Run away!

Nice. Hopping.

You have chosen...wisely.

One day they will realize that I have no original material. They will either be hurt or impressed. Maybe both. I'll probably tell them to add it to their growing list of grievances to be shared with the therapist.

And at supper my beloved First Born asked what a Geek was. I started to offer a snarky reply about looking in a dictionary and seeing his dad's picture. But,'d be a family portrait, wouldn't it?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homeward bound...

Kiddos and I are heading home half a day early...

I miss my husband. The munchkins miss their daddy. It's been a good week, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.