Thursday, May 29, 2008

What is this?

The things you find on your camera when it's been in the hands of your children:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My kid's brush with girly-ness...

A friend of mine invited N. along with her daughter and a couple little friends to go to Libby Lu. If you've never been, it's really, really frightening on many levels. It's pink, and perfumey, and full of Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers (which we are blissfully ignorant of, given our cable-free household). N received a Celebrity DJ makeover, with a plush pooch add-on.

This was the end result, complete with pink eye shadow, glitter lip gloss, and pink nail polish:

AAACCKKK!!! Someone remind her she's only 8, LOL!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Our garden is growing! (pictures added)

I thought I should post an update on the progress our garden is making. We've been enjoying lettuce and spinach from our garden for nearly two weeks now! Our strawberries seem to have survived transplanting and are putting on fruit.

The peas we started from seed in the garden are starting to creep up the trellis we built. We harvested a crop of radishes, but found them too hot and spicy (they were supposed to be a mild variety) - we're giving it another try, and I'll report back in three weeks.

I transplanted two varieties of tomato (golden and roma), but the jury is still out on how they're fairing.
Our bell pepper never came up, so I cheated and bought a start to plant. Carrots have been a big disappointment. Only a few started to grow, and then birds got to them. I'm down to one, and I've planted a second crop of them. Fingers crossed. 16 walla walla sweet onions made it into the garden (they're looking a bit scraggly), and 2 basil plants. Corn is planted, and so are a few sunflowers (I'm twiddling my thumbs on the latter because they *should* be up any day). Other than that, the apples finished blossoming and are starting to develop fruit, and the blueberry bushes (in their 3rd or 4th year) have a few flowers on them. I think all that's left is to get our pumpkins planted, and then stay on guard against the evil slugs, root maggots, birds, bunnies, and moles who keep us on our toes!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Proud parent moment

Nat performed with her drama class in their final show of the year: Peter Pan and the Mermaid's Treasure. She had the part of Wendy (essentially the narrator, with some minor dialogue). When she was cast in the role of Wendy, she wasn't super pleased. She was hoping for Tinkerbell, or one of the mermaids - something that involved wings, or a shimmery costume. When she didn't get the part she was expecting, we talked about how maybe her teacher felt this was a role she was more suited for, and we talked about giving it your best no matter what.

The kids were challenged a bit on this play because they received their lines really late this time around. Fortunately there's a part of N. that can repeat almost verbatim anything she's heard more than once or twice, and she had her lines, and those of many of her castmates, down pretty quickly. She spoke with inflection, and responded to the dialogue going on around her. She definitely gave it her all.

When showtime came, she was ready. What I didn't realize beforehand was how much she was responsible for on stage, aside from her lines. She knew who needed props when, and when things needed to be moved. If a kid needed prompting or forgot their line, she quietly encouraged them. The next day I still found myself thinking back to how proud I was of her as I watched her up there. She showed maturity, confidence, leadership, and a genuine interest in bringing out the best in others in a way that was humble, not arrogant. I was beaming.

Today was the last class for the kids, and they had their cast party. Their teacher awarded all the kids individually for the work that they've done, and N. received a silver Atlas Award. She said their teacher told them how Atlas carries the world on his shoulders, and that the award is for that person who demonstrated that ability. I thought that was pretty cool. I'm still beaming. We've got a pretty great kid.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I love camping

A few months back I made reservations for our family to go camping at a nearby campground for Mother's Day weekend. Brian and I used to go camping BC (before children), but have only taken the kids twice in the past 8 1/2 years. Going to a nearby site for some leisurely car camping seemed a good way to ease back into things.

I was first struck by just how much *crap* you end up packing for two nights of luxury camping with kids. When Brian and I were dating we'd often decide to go camping at moment's notice. We'd run about gathering what little we needed, dump it in the back of my 1985 Mazda GLC hatchback, and hit the grocery store on the way out of town. This past Friday we barely had room for the dog, two kids, two parents, and half our wordly posessions in a Toyota Sienna minivan with half the seats removed. Go figure.

If you'd stopped by Saturday afternoon around 4pm and asked us how our camping trip was going, we would have been all smiles. We'd have told you that we made it through our first night with just some light sprinkles, and that the overcast skies were doing nothing to dampen our spirits. We were warm, dry, and well-fed. Camping consisted mainly of the following activities: a)building a campfire, b)snacking, c)making the fire bigger, d)making, and eating, more food. We also took lots of walks down to the lake, played at the playground, and went on the nature trail. All was well.

Then Saturday evening came.

At some point I was walking back from the restrooms on my way to ask N. if she wanted to do the nature trail with me, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, a giant bug flew into my eye. It was excrutiating. I stopped in my tracks and put my hand to my eye as it flooded with tears. My body's only defense against this unwelcome invader. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the feeling to go away. Brian comes at me with black, sooty fingers, fresh from stoking the fire, and offers to take a look. He gives this assessment: "I don't see anything. It must be out already." I think he saw that those comments were unwelcome, as I continued to clench my flaming red eyeball and puffy eyelid, with tears streaming down my cheek. Brightly, hubby suggested an eyewash, and proceeded to crack open a bottle of Arrowhead springwater. He then apologized as most of it poured onto my shirt. At that point I went back up to the bathroom to look in the mirror, and sure enough, I couldn't see a thing. Resigning to ignore the now constant discomfort, I tried to go about my camping business. Finally, at dusk hours later, while sitting near the fire, something must have shifted because I was gripped by a searing pain in my eye again. I trudged up to the restrooms once again, flipped my eyelid inside out, and found the cause of my trouble - bug parts stuck to the underside of my eyelid. Once removed, I felt much, much better. I enjoy nature, but it doesn't belong in my eye.

We poked around the fire some more, ate s'mores, cast shadow animals on the outside of the tent wall, and eventually N. and I decided to turn in. Not five seconds after making that wise decision, the sky opened up and began to pour. The boys and trusty dog quickly followed suit.

Now when preparing for this camping trip, we'd heard the forecast calling for rain off-and-on over the weekend. I had dutifully gone to REI to purchase appropriate waterproofing applications to apply to our tent and make it an inpenetrable fortress. Or so I thought.

The rain continued to pour down. Not the soothing sound of a light pitter-pat on the rainfly, but the kind of deluge that makes you wonder if you should maybe get off your duff and build an ark. Every hour or so I would wake up and hear only more rain. I found myself happy on some level that I'm blind as a bat without my glasses on, plus it was just plain too dark to see what was happening around me in the tent. I also fought back the need to pee, which was not helped any by the sound of water all around us. I crossed my legs, hunkered down in my sleeping bag, and dozed off once more - the logistics of making it up to the restroom in the pouring rain, and trying to stay dry were too exhausting.

Waking once again, I couldn't take it any longer. It was 4:45am, and there was no sunlight in the tent. I grabbed my eyeglasses and the flashlight so I could find my shoes and raincoat. It was then I caught my first glimpse of what had been taking place as we slept. I could see that water had been dripping down onto N's bag, but didn't appear to be soaking in. Our dog was curled up as tightly as possible in the only dry place he could find - there were puddles all around him on the floor. I went up to the bathroom, returned to the tent, climbed into my bag and pulled the covers over my head. There was no use worrying about it in the dark.

To be continued...

Friday, May 9, 2008

We are specks.

Hey. Sorry I went MIA there momentarily. It's been a week of pretty much wanting to just find a rock to hide under. Times can get like that. During the last week or so I've found myself pondering God and religion, as one is apt to do during a time of crisis (this one specifically affects my sister and her sweet boy, and by extension the rest of us - it's the kind of family we are).

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I'm not a religious person. Not necessarily because I don't want to be, but more because I haven't found one that speaks to me and fits just right. I am a spiritual person - to me that's completely separate from religion. At any rate, over the course of the past week I've found myself in conversation with God more so than usual. I'm not sure what I'm asking for, and truth be told, I try not to ask for much - I don't like to set myself up for disappointment.

There are a some people in my life who seem to continuously get the short end of the stick. Life is incredibly unfair to these people, and repeatedly doles out really horrible life events that even if taken singularly would be completely life-altering, but taken together become all the more staggering. These are good, caring, kind, peaceful, compassionate people. I can't chalk their "bad luck" up to karma. I can't even chalk it up to a balance of good and bad within the course of each person's life because life has been a long series of financial, medical, and relationship events that have not gone in their favor. Maybe I'm wrong and their luck will turn around tomorrow, and the rest of their living days will be bliss (ie. balance out the first half of their lives). I'm a little sceptical of that scenario happening.

And there are folks in my life who pray for these individuals all the time - daily, for decades now. They are beginning to feel their faith shaken. "Why isn't God hearing our prayers?" they ask. Surely God wouldn't allow the same people to keep being dumped on, or bring fear and suffering upon small children, just to teach all of us a lesson about "letting go and letting God". Right? God doesn't try to test or grow faith at the expense of others, does He?

I just don't know. In times like this I feel so small. I feel microscopic in my place in the world. Maybe it isn't for us to comprehend. How can I possibly expect to have a grasp on the "whole" from my tiny little place on earth? I think most humans are doers and fixers, and we're compelled to find answers and make things right. There are some things just can't be fixed by mere mortals. It's a hopeless kind of feeling, and I think this is where people who do have a stronger faith are at an advantage. Right now I'm just too at odds with God. I don't want to just accept that I'm not supposed to be able to understand the way life works.