Thursday, December 31, 2009

CYCLONES WIN at Insight Bowl!

Phew. We all left Rich alone in the living room during the first quarter. It was just easier that way.

A Toast to Paul Rhodes and the Cyclones! Wooot! Let the party start!

Have a wonderful and safe New Years Eve everyone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Daily Album

Here are the first two pages of my December Daily album a la Ali Edwards. I have a photo to order for day 1 and journalling for both Day 1 & 2 ready. Most of the basic pages are ready, I'll try to post them all in advance as I have time over the next few days. I love what I have so far though. I did take a little more time in creating than I probably should have, but I knew from my calendar some days had special events. In some cases there are a multitude of special events scheduled and while I know I'll want to record those, I also know those busy days will leave less time for changing up album pages later. So I tailored the pages some now, choosing just the right papers and size, while leaving others without dates so I can move or change them as needed.

The first page is acrylic, from one of the many albums I accumulated when I was receiving kits. I intend to leave it as more of a title page. Day 1 info. will be placed on the striped Basic Grey paper (Christmas 2008 vintage), and Day 2 on the backside
. The actual album I am not sure about. It is a red courderoy Chatterbox album, which I love. Being post-bound, it doesn't allow the acryllic pages to turn very well. Right now I have old ribbon holding the pages together, but I may punch holes in inner binding and add circle rings, or large D rings if I can find them. I'd really like to use what I have instead of buying something else. I COULD use a larger piece of acryllic for a cover, however I like my first page and I don't think thsoe stickers will come up nicely enough so I can reuse them. And I really like the red album, so we'll just have to wait & see what happens!

November Scrapping

A few pages I created in November. They look horrible here actually. They were dark to begin with as the sun refused to shine. I lightened them, and they looked fine in PSE, but here...

This one of Natasha is actually a light sunny yellow, (Bazill swiss dot paper). Used a variety of rub-ons (don't tell her many were ends of packages, they just went so well together). Added jewels and an acrylic flower with added rub-ons and jewels. The N is Karen Russells chipboard.Volleyball page - actually very clear, with a light tan background in real life. Those grey words on the background paper? White. Honestly.Here's Miss Mira helping me last Spring. Karen gave me the cool Heather Bailey Buckle & tag. Mira loves gardening and digging in the dirt as much as I do!This is Creative memories paper, again, much lighter than it is showing up here. A quick page of Mira's preschool Halloween party. Sarah wore this costume twice, and Mira wore it last year too, but this is the first year it was a "wild' cat, complete with paws in the air and a rather wild growl!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scrapping in Omaha

Yes, I drove to Omaha on Saturday to go scrapbooking with my friend Karen. Why? Because I can. Because it's fun. Because I like Karens company. And because she has come out here the last few times. I had a nice drive, we had a nice lunch, and I scrapped these pages, plus another one I will finish tonight at the church scrapping get-together. It feels good to be creative again!This first page is about Natasha and a friend of hers. Used some old Scrapworks (?) fabric tabs, & gypsies photo turns, Prima flowers & a notesheet Melissa sent me, left-over rub-ons (Crate Paper maybe?) and some Smooch paint to tone down that gold heart. The safety pin holding the heart was from the tag on my new jeans!

The girls in their Halloween costumes, Bazzill paper & paper hearts 2 years old (heart aged with Ranger Distress inks), OLD tag from a years-ago Chatterbox page kit swap, Prima leaf (also aged with Distress inks), Corrugated paper from a Secret Scrapper swap 9also years ago - thank you Vicki S.), a branch of grey Jolee's leaves made green with Tattered Angels mist ink, new making Memories Journal paper (orange leaf), Maya Road enamel flower (at least 2 years old), another Scrapworks fabric tag and Heidi Swap orange letters left from a long ago kit, painted with shimmery orange Smooch.

Miss Sarah from this Fall. My Minds Eye paper and tag, tag outlined with blue Smooch, and a few gems from my stash added. Blue Matt is Bazzill shimmer. The blue button is WeRMemory Keepers, from a package I bought last year I think. Thickers letters brushed with a little blue Smooch. Yes, I think I Smooched most of pages Saturday!~
Sarah again - last Springs school photo. Paper my Secret Scrapper sent me this summer (love the deckles, wanted to use the cherry hearts pattern on the other side, but they clashed with her pick outfit). Die cut paper by ??? It's been in my stash awhile, altered here with Brick Ranger Distress ink. Thickers (also inked) and another WE R Memory Keepers eyelet button.

I have more photos but they'll have to wait.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eddie update

Just a quick note as it's another busy week at our house!

Sarah stayed home yesterday with a bad headache and was alternately comforted by Mira, Eddie pawing at her face and purring, and Horatio napping by her on her bed.

Eddie has gotten used to the basement stairs and now goes down alone, staying close to the wall side. Natasha spent the first few days making sure he visited the litterbox often, leading him to the top of the stairs and prompting him to go a little further, keeping him away from the open side.

He is also very affectionate. He loves to nuzzle right in our faces and purrs and trills nonstop for a good 10 minutes. I think we've all been claimed!

Though he hadn't been taken upstairs during the day, he managed to find his way up the dark stairs in the middle of the night and was wandering around, meowing and calling questions. He followed my voice and was incredibly pleased with himself when I lifted him up on the bed. He purred and kneaded my face & neck for a good 20 minutes before settling down to sleep. I've since trimmed his nails just a tad so they are not so sharp! Every night since he has come up and climbed on the bed on his own, purring like mad. Tonight he fell asleep between me and the arm of the couch, on his back - I think he feels comfortable here!

Being a kitten, he loves to play, and especially loves the girls long hair! He has also discovered the crows nest on the cat tree, and it's become his favorite place to nap when no laps are available. He climbs down one level at a time, backwards, while hanging onto the carpet. Silvara is NOT pleased as that is her spot, but she takes it over when he vacates. She has let him come near enough to touch with his nose, then she dashes off. Horatio has eaten side by side with Eddie a few times, but otherwise is spending his days as usual, sleeping on the sunroom couch or Sarah's bed. They'll come around.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bob and Eddie

4 weeks ago: After spending much of 3 days on the phone trying to find a place that takes FeLV (Feline Leukemia) cats and had space, we finally learned about Witty Kitties in Solon Iowa. After getting Bob fixed and up to date on vaccinations, the girls and I drove Bob out there on a day off from school. Bob wasn't thrilled with the trip, but he was soon exploring his new room at Witty Kitties. As you can see he is doing well. It was a hard trip but we were happy that he now has a chance to live out his life and just maybe find a home where he is the only cat. (He really is the perfect cat other than his FeLV status).

While there we fell in love with 3 other cats: Lucy, Eddie, and Knight. While they each have their own special needs, none are infected with FIV or FeLV. After a few weeks of consideration, we decided on Eddie. We did test both Silvara and Horatio yesterday and their FeLV tests came out negative, so this morning we hopped in the car for the drive to Solon. I have to mention here that Rich had already spent 18 hours in the car crisscrossing Iowa and Nebraska this week, but he was up for the 4 hour round trip. The girls woke up so excited and ready to go you would have thought it was Christmas morning!

Eddie is just about 6 months, and while he has limited sight in his one eye, is a very friendly cuddly cat who likes attention and cuddles. After Rich picked him up he climbed up on Rich's shoulders. Smart cat :).

Eddie spent most of the trip napping in my lap. The first part of the trip he wandered back & forth sitting in various laps and he showed no interest in getting in the carrier. He purred and cuddled and meowed. So far he's more vocal than either Silvara or Horatio.

As you can see from his profile below, he was named after Sir Edmund Hillary because he climbed all over his room at Witty Kitties. We haven't definitely decided to rename him, but have been batting around a few names based on the beautiful pearly blue color of his eye. DH asked about my favorite pool at Yellowstone, but it's name is "Pearl Geyser". Not a good name for a boy kitty. Don't worry, though he is still young and has only been Eddie since August, if we change his name we'll continue to alternate it with Eddie as he adapts and probably use Eddie as a nickname.

He's found the food & water and used the litter and is now lying on the couch, staring down at what probably looks like the endlessly deep black hole of the green rug. They gave us a knitted (crocheted?) cat sized blanket to take home with him - we'll have to put that on the carpet for depth perception until we replace the rug. Although after wandering out of the room for a few minutes he just walked into the living room with the blanket on his back - and all the girls are outside. The blanket may not stay in place on the rug.

Silvara and Horatio don't know what to think. They've hissed a few times, but not being able to see them following warily 10 feet away and having lived in a room full of other cats, he's relatively unphased. He sniffs back when they come close and that's about it. Eddie has also played with a few balls and crinkly cat toys that he's come across in his explorations.

We'll post some photos in a few days, but we don't want to wig him out with the camera flash as he's getting used to his new surroundings.

Where'd October go?

Good afternoon!

Little bit of an update. In the past crazy month we've had a few celebrations including several school and preschool Fall & Halloween celebrations, middle school projects, Church gatherings, family and friends Birthday celebrations for Sarah, and I had a great afternoon with RIF (Reading is Fundamental book distribution) at the elementary school. Rich has been traveling and Michelle has been working on the HEN website. The new website is up and just about finished and I'm very pleased. Now that I'm about ready to hand over the website to a new chair, I plan to update my blog and photos a bit more often for family and friends (at least in the winter months). But for now I'll start with an up date on Bob and introduce you to Eddie.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Birthday time again!

Sarah wanted a Halloween Birthday again this year, and since Halloween is on a Saturday... My friend Christy gave me some great game ideas, and since the girls are a little older we can branch out a bit. There will be the toilet paper Mummy game, and one called Scabs in a Bag (or something like that).

Here's a photo of the invites that went out.Looked at so many papers I'm not positive who made these, but those darker splotches of green? Spiders :). Punched the owls out using a Martha Stewart punch before adhering to the black cardstock. Used my orange Smooches for the owls eyes. The words are stamped with Close to my heart alphas using Ranger Inks Perfect Medium, and finished with a dusting or Perfect Pearls orange-y shimmery color.

I'll add the rest of the product tomorrow, I have a head cold and need to hit the hay.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Windy the cat

Isn't he beautiful? We love this cat. Many of you have heard the story already, but he needs a home, and fast. He is loving, playful, loves to sit on laps and be petted, chases toy mice, and is litter trained.

Why then does he need a home? Well, we tried to give him one. One of Natasha's teachers found him eating food she puts out for their outdoor cats, and named him Bob. We brought him home and fell in love and Mira named him Windy. We didn't yet know enough about his friendly playful personality to give him a name, and Windy seems to have stuck :). The next day, when taking him for his vaccinations, we found out that he has feline leukemia.

Feline leukemia is very easily transmitted through grooming and shared water/food bowls, so he cannot be exposed to healthy cats, or they too will contract this disease. For Windy, this also means a shortened life of 5 to 6 years and his being more susceptible to colds and infections. Most cats with feline leukemia live perfectly healthy lives until then. He can live with dogs or other pets, just not cats. He also needs to be an exclusive indoor cat to avoid exposing other cats.

Due to the contagious nature of feline leukemia most shelters and rescue centers cannot accept him for adoption, and the ones that do are full with waiting lists.

Windy is currently being boarded, in isolation, at our vets office. They play with him, and he is very loving and playful when we visit. We are paying his bills and board for the next week but if we cannot find him a home, this otherwise healthy, playful young cat will have to be euthanized.

He will need to be 'fixed' and will need his yearly vaccinations as would any other cat.

Monday, September 28, 2009

In love with the pink room. Again.

Next to the sunroom, the pink room has often been one of my favorite rooms.

Once upon a time it was a guest room. Then we painted it yellow, with green shades, a grass green crib (yes the one that is now the compost bin) and grass green rocking chair, with a beautiful rainbow mobile. I used to sit in there and rock and stare at the mobile for hours on end after work when I was expecting each girl.

I've spent countless hours in that room over the years, rocking babies, struggling to get little ones to stay in their new beds, playing puzzles and dress up and store and tea-party. It was easy to keep clean and lovely when they were too little to clean up without my help. But then there were two and then three. Three girls who went to school and started growing out of clothes at alarming rates and bringing home pictures colored with wide swipes of a crayon that only they could describe. "Horse? Elephant? House? Oh, it's your best friend - how lovely." Papers painted green or purple from edge to edge. Treat bags that had to be saved even though the candy and note were long gone.

I started to despise that room, and not because we painted it pink. Barbie shoes and plastic tiaras hidden on the carpet under innocent dress-up clothes were the enemy. Puzzle pieces were lost, clothes mingled with the dress-ups. Papers and broken toy parts I heartlessly suggested be thrown away ("Yes moommmmm," followed by a long sad sigh) mysteriously found themselves tucked in dresser drawers, on closet shelves behind games and under the beds. It made me crazy to go in there.

Almost two years ago we took everything out, sorted through the boxes of minutia, separated game parts and, well, junk. It took a week + to get it all back in... it was insane.

This weekend I was there again - at the point where I hated even to walk past and didn't dare enter the room with bare feet. It was particularly bad after an entire summer of playing and 'cleaning' episodes where the 4 year old sits on her bed while the 8 year old alternately reads or plays with whatever she's picked up, then frantically stashes things under the bed when she hears me coming to check on their progress.

So this weekend I cleared the floor and reclaimed some of Mira's dresses and shorts from the dress-up box. I filled a large garbage bag with papers, gum wrappers, scribbled notes, papers painted solid blue. I filled a second garbage bag with stuffed animals (note, the girls were sent outside at this point, and there are still two large baskets filled with the animals they play with). I sorted clothes and made them try everything on (and later sneaked a few too small favorites out of their closet). I turned one avalanche of a dresser into a dress up dream with containers of play rings, necklaces, hair do-dads. I recovered countless headbands and hair clips from Ponies and dolls heads so once again I can tame Mira's curly head. You don't want to know about the beaded dust bunnies I vacuumed. I (gasp) sorted out a box of books from one of the bookshelves. And - AND - I did all this without yelling. That alone is a miracle, but I suppose that if being horribly messy is their only fault then I guess I can just dig in and get it done.

Once again the room is lovely, calm, peaceful. Mira and I spent most of this morning actually sitting on the rug playing games, building puzzles, dressing dolls and reading. I love this part of parenting...

No, Natasha's room is NOT next. Thankfully she sorts her own clothes and can clean her own room when she feels the need, though I do have to talk to her about not shoving everything she no longer wears directly into Sarah's dresser whether it fits Sarah or not. I like it when the drawers actually close.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Good Grief Blog

To gather. To grieve. To celebrate. To praise. To mourn. To love.
A Scrapbooking Journey through Loss and Healing.

Those are the taglines on the new blog my good friend Amanda began recently. Amanda is an incredibly talented scrapbooker and while I could list her scrapping resume*, all you really need to know is this: she is a very creative, funny, caring person who knows how to tell a story. She also lost her Dad two years ago in an accident, and kinda got lost herself for awhile.

Until she returned to her scrapbooking and began recording stories about her Dad. She found her way again and felt compelled to share her journey of healing through the Good Grief Blog.

To quote Amanda, the Good Grief Blog is "intended to help in that process of loss and be a source of inspiration and motivation...and to simply be a place to share and know that others understand."

There are scrapbooking challenges which will be added to twice a month - challenges helpful to anyone who wants to record memories and feelings about someone they've lost. Even if you aren't a scrapbooker, the challenges may help you focus your thoughts whether you keep them private, in a journal, or decide to share them in letters to family and friends. There is a message board with space for discussions on grieving and prayer requests, an area for celebrating those loved ones, and galleries for sharing your creations, if you feel like doing so.

It's a lovely place. Check it out and bookmark it even if you aren't currently grieving. And I pray that you won't need to visit for a long time to come.

*Amanda has a monthly column in Creating Keepsakes magazine, her own book Month to Month Scrapbooking, and is a Design team member for Prism Papers. She is also a wonderfully attentive mother who home schools her three beautiful boys, and an amazing friend.

(post edited 9/20/09)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beaverdal Fall Festival

It's a gorgeous Fall morning... yes, ok. Most mornings this summer could have been classified as a Fall morning. But the sun is out, crickets are chirping, and for once no one in the neighborhood is having a tree cut down or a driveway ground out.

The girls have no school today, so Sarah is off to a playdate with a friend who changed schools last year. I still have some projects to work on, but we'll do some gardening and neighborhood walks in between. Then tonight Beaverdale Fall Festival Starts.

Last year was a doozy. We had dinner at the various stands, walked around, watched Mira groove to the awesome street bands. Then I needed to go home. Couldn't stand any longer. Despite 6 weeks on two new anti-arthritic drugs I couldn't fathom the thought of walking back down the street to watch the fireworks. Three stinkin' blocks. Or two, depending which side of the street you walk on. So Rich walked down with the girls. I felt guilty. I tried to watch from the porch but too many trees in the way. I tried to hobble down the driveway but it was too much and I went back and just listened. Apparently this bad memory is going to stick - I was just at the point where I was giving up on the idea this arthritis disease was virus induced, and I wasn't happy about the idea of taking even the mild meds I was then on for the rest of my life. And I was missing doing something I loved with my family. Turned out to be a good thing I missed the fireworks. Rich said a renegade firework went off course and headed straight toward them. Didn't come near and all were safe, but yeah, I would have freaked. Freaked that my girls were in danger, freaked that I couldn't have helped move them out of the way.

The next day we enjoyed the 2 hour parade drinking our coffee, girls catching more than enough candy, waving at friends, dashing off for cinnamon rolls. We walked around the neighborhood awhile longer before heading home to relax in the backyard. Only I ended up with hives from the combo of my non-working med and the sun. That part I can laugh about!

This year, I actually contemplated walking in the parade, thanks to stronger meds. Natasha and a friend are walking with our church, passing out flyers and pencils (trust me, anyone watching from the sidelines ends up with enough tootsie rolls to make candy shopping for Halloween unnecessary).

Sarah wanted so badly to ride her bike with her elementary school, and Mira wanted to walk with her preschool, dressed with wings (the Butterfly lady visited her class this week). However each school requires parents. And I'm a bit selfish - I want to enjoy this years' parade, sitting on the sidelines with Rich and my coffee, watching one last little girl dashing for candy and oooh-ing at the bands.

So that's what we'll do. Sarah will ride with the church group and her sister. The parade route ends a few blocks from our street so they'll just walk back and join us for the end of the parade. Mira will wear her wings, and if she still wants we'll join her preschool for the last few blocks. Everyone happy. But first we'll watch the fireworks tonight. Together.

Beaverdale Fall Festival

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hello September and 40!

Short post to get back in the swing! Here's me, day after my 40th. Not so bad, eh?

I had a great birthday, breakfast with friends, afternoon getting my hair done, dinner at home, and a scavenger hunt for my present - the girls set it up, and I had to solve each clue to find the next. Two weeks later I'm still having lunches with friends who couldn't make it to my breakfast! The weekend after we were camping (as always at Labor Day) with my parents. Beautiful weather, and my Mom gave me a beautiful scrapbook celebrating many of my 40 birthdays :). Lovely.Rich just celebrated his birthday yesterday. He isn't like me, and likes to keep things simple, though he is happy we are in the same decade again. Silly.

The girls are back in school, have been for weeks. Three schools, 3 dismissal times (although. 3 of the same dismissal time would be more disturbing I think)! Natasha is again in Band, and playing volleyball as well. She and I have piano lessons right after each other (yes, I am taking piano this year!). Sarah gets her piano lessons in school and is SO excited to be in 4th grade math. Mira goes to preschool in the afternoons 4 days a week and this year jumped right in. No shyness at all. She also has Kindermusik once a week which she still loves.

In the meantime I've been working on a project for HEN, which is in it's end stage. A new website, which should debut before the mid October annual meeting. So I've been busy, along with a few other people and about to get busier for a few weeks, but oh so worth it. On top of that, I'm President of my Women's Circle at church this year, and helping with several other things at church, the girls school, and HEN. Going to be a great but busy Fall!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Fly-by

School is just about to start up, and in the month since I've posted we've:
  • picked Natasha up from camp;
  • visited my lovely cousin Karen and some Twin Cities attractions;
  • spent a week camping in MN along the beautiful St. Croix River, and picked up an armful of fun antiques;
  • harvested plenty of beans, broccoli, zucchini and tomatoes from our garden
  • Painted Natashas' room (finally) a gorgeous Fountain Blue, glazed with a seafoamy green color we swirled and ragged on as a top layer. I think I want my old office back...
  • Visited Michelles parents in Chicago while attending her grade school reunion in the park (and an evening out afterwards), and spent a day at the Museum of Science and Industry including a visit to the Harry Potter Exhibition and the U505 German Submarine Tour.
Right now I have a few trays of tomatoes slow roasting in the oven. It's been a cool year so the tomato harvest hasn't produced near enough to start canning sauce. However there are still too many tomatoes to just eat. So when I came across the idea in Molly Wizenbergs A Homemade Life it seemed like the perfect idea. I already love romas topped with olive oil, fresh chopped basil and fresh mozz and broiled to a lovely warm gooey mess. I just don't know if I can wait 3 more hours to taste them, they smell so GOOD.

The other night I finally took a little time to scrapbook too - felt good to just sit back and create, even if I kept things a bit simple. Used quite a bit of old product too. This is Natasha's 6th grade school photo - just in time as the new ones are scheduled for a few weeks from now! The golds are a bit more vibrant IRL and those two orangey flowers on the side came off another page you'll see in a minute - in other words, imagine the page without them!
Sarahs' second grade school photo - used Perfect Pearls bronze on the Basig Grey white letters.
Mira last Labor Day. Every year we camp with my parents ( it's lovely to have a getaway every year on my birthday) and every year it seems we find a walking stick at our campsite- climbing up Grandpas' chair while we roast marshmallows or just after we've finished packing up the car and are setting up for the annual photo of the girls with Oma and Grandpa. Not this year - lots of fuzzy caterpillars which Mira took a huge interest in. We stopped at the range station just before leaving the park (which we never do) and there in the grass was our walking stick!
Mira early last summer (note boxes of bedding plants on the picnic table). She had her Disney Princesses in hand and spent the afternoon playing with them and dancing all over the yard. What an enchanted day! Karen Russel products (including parts of a rub-on that inspired the outside circle to tie the page together, and painted CI flowers, didn't notice the missing flowers when I took this photo). The rest of the circle consists of my handwriting and AC Kate alphabet rub ons for the title.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp, Computers and photos.

Yet another long absence...

I've been having so much fun with all this computer nonsense. I am very thankful for my mini-laptop (an eeePC). Rich knew I'd be happier editing photos and chatting etc. from the living room (nevermind my difficulty navigating stairs at the time), but it has been instrumental in helping me navigate this malware mess and get back in touch and on track of projects. The main computer is a total loss, recovery not possible, things disappearing every time I turn it on. Yes, I had a current security/back-up system, but based on timing of the last back-up I believe it was disabled about the time of Natasha's birthday sleepover. Several girls were up late looking at youtube... maybe they turned it off instead of delaying the back-up or perhaps they innocently clicked on a link they shouldn't have. Or maybe afterwards when Sarah was on youtube because Mira was playing on their computer? We'll never know. Thankfully since that time I've been uploading photos to my eeePC and haven't deleted from the cards yet.

The girls aka OLD computer is slowly getting faster. Still needs work (which is why I am up at the moment, actually), but it is fast enough for me to FINALLY access my back-up hard drive. What a huge relief to see those files, and all of our photos dating back to 2004. Having access to those, I now feel safe enough to finally reformat the infected drive. And lucky for me, my computer guru Jeff (Hi Brother-in-law!) just got home from a short vaca today. I promise not to call too many times... Somehow the phone connection between Iowa and Georgia is just so much better than the relays between Iowa and halfway around the world to the support people. Bonus: I can understand Jeffs' accent. I'm not knockin' the support departments - they were thorough and GREAT once I got them to stop passing me from person to person asking me to type in the same set of commands over & over. I'm convinced being able to hear or understand them would have saved several hours over the past week.

Digital Photos
I have been beating myself up a bit for not having them all printed as we went along, seeing as we went digital before Mira was born. Also for not having finished my scrapbooks of several vacations since then, but I will be doing that here. Slowly, but I'll be doing it. Rich, being the perfect man that he is, told me that if the photos were lost we'll just have to revisit all those places again :). Not that I wanted to recreate Miras' birth, but do I have to tell him the Hawaii photos are ok? In the meantime, we've been talking about our vacations this past week - prompted by my worries, sunsets, clouds that remind of us that day at Natural Bridges last summer and the random memory generator that started Mira talking about the Tall Green Statue in New York holding a book. Because of this there are two things I've remembered that I want to share.

a: We remember the vacations and important events in our lives. The girls remember them. Maybe because we talk about them, maybe because we do look at photos, or kept journals, souvenirs, maps and postcards, or trusted that they can entertain themselves (no handheld games or backseat TVs). Who knows. But they remember. Without photos.
b: We lived those events. Not everyone gets the chance to do some of the things we have, or go some of the places we've been. Then again, not everyone has learned to see the beauty or stop and notice a wonderful moment or how to create one in their busy lives, vacations or no. And I see that my girls do. That is so much more important than photos.

More Photos
That said, I took at least 200 photos during the girls swimming lessons this past week. More at the zoo with Sarah's friend on Thursday. Last week we took about 100 at Living History Farms and Rich set the camera up by the hummingbird feeder on Sunday. Today when we dropped Natasha off at GT camp I left her 2 disposable cameras for 5 days. (She desperately wants a digital camera, but if a disposable camera falls out of a pocket when she's on a 60 foot high zip line or her canoe tips over, no loss.)

I'll get back to sharing the photos and hopefully updating this blog whenever all the computers are in tip top and I'm all caught up. When will that be you ask?

Lets see, Sarah has Art class a sleepover and at least one playdate this week, Mira has two playdates, plus the company picnic...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A fun day

It's cool and breezy today, almost ready to rain but not quite. Last night as we ate our grilled salmon, grilled sweet corn and foil wrapped grilled potato, green pepper & onions, the girls had to run in for fleece jackets to cover bare shoulders. It felt like Fall, and this was the week with no preplanned activities, places we HAD to be. Well, with the exception of Natasha's pre-camp physical which we missed on Monday and have had to reschedule. (blush).

Yesterday was sunny enough for most of the laundry to be line dried. Not warm enough for the pool, but the girls didn't care. They had their noses stuck in books picked up at the library during Mira's story hour- our second trip in 3 days. They love reading as much as I do. The elementary school is participating in Scholastics' Summer Reading Challenge and adding their reading hours to Scholastics bid at a Reading World Record.

Sarah is not the best at keeping track of her hours - she forgets to write things down because she has her nose stuck in a book or magazine, and occasionally the paper. It's a safe bet that if you haven't seen her for 20 minutes she's either out riding her bike,or has picked up a book somewhere in the house. I know she's read at least 40 hours since June 4 - and that's not counting every hour I've read our 'family reading' or all her stolen half hours when she was supposed to be cleaning her room, sleeping, or looking for socks to wear.

Here she is reading on the swing this past Spring - I have been writing the titles of her finished summer books on the tabs - don't worry, I have many more tabs that can be added!

Today isn't even sunny, and we're all wearing long pants. So we're headed to a favorite spot, the Art Center to see some new exhibits, and some Japanese Art. They each have classes starting there in the next week or so, and they still are dying to go today. Please Mom? Love it. After that, we'll try for a picnic in the Rose Garden, weather permitting, and then a walk around Grays Lake. May toss Sarah & Mira's bikes in the trunk for that. (We'll ride the trails down on a sunnier day.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The week that was

We've been enjoying our summer so far - quality time at the pool & yard, hours spent in the hammock or on a blanket reading library books, a few playdates with friends, and an awesome band concert at the end of Natasha's Honor band camp last Friday.

This is the post that I started at the beginning of the week, but never posted because I intended to add a photo. I had big plans of weeding, painting, redoing the bathroom ceiling, touch-up painting all around the house during the mornings when I had alone time. But that's not what happened:

This week the girls are (hehe - were) at vacation bible school at our church. Natasha (was) a counselor, and she & Sarah (stayed) for the afternoon fun activities (tie-dying, pottery painting, hiking, trip to a climbing center) while Mira (participated) for the first time and won't be old enough to stay all day for a few years yet. The organizers and teachers were incredible with the activities and the girls had a blast and are sorry it's over.

I did spend most afternoons doing fun things with Mira as planned - reading books, visiting the wading pool a few times, once with several of her preschool girlfriends, dancing to music, baking a cake. All good. It's the mornings that didn't match the plan. I thought with the cool 78-80 degree temps it would be wonderful to paint, leave all the windows open and get away in the afternoons while the house airs. Less stink to deal with than when the AC is on.

Monday morning I cleaned. You know, normal weekend with kids and a garden = dirt everywhere and a ton of laundry. I also spent time posed at my keyboard, waiting for the magic moment when Karen Russells' Snapshots of a Good Life Photography class registration page came online. Despite a small glitch, I was able to get in the class I wanted (starting Jan 4, 2010.) Guess what? My Brother-in-law Jeff managed to get Melissa in too, so we'll be in the same class. Yay!

Tuesday I realized the Thursday conference call was actually Tuesday. Yeah. Spent time getting ready for that. Dialed in. Dialed off to get Mira and feed her lunch. Dialed back in until it was over then we went to meet her friends at the pool. Game over. (Productive call however.)

Wednesday I had a freak out day. Someone got into my car (through a window left open). The garage is filled with bikes & paint easels & whatnot so in summer I park in front of it, with Rich's jeep behind. The jeep was locked thankfully. All they managed was some change though it was obvious they rifled through everything. They left the pennies and package of Swedish Fish I'd bought to bribe small crabby children who don't want to leave VBS with. Must not have been too hard off, were they? Then I managed to throw my keys away while talking on the phone and looking to see if anything else was missing. Until I found them 90 minutes later, I panicked that someone hand actually grabbed them from the back steps (the ones inside the door) and was going to rob us blind while I took the girls to church. While I was looking for the keys (I finally gave up and grabbed the spare) Mira got in the car and her sister buckled her in, along with a passel of Barbies and a Barbie lounge chair. So I didn't know she was BAREFOOT until we arrived at church. Sigh. Gave up on Wednesday morning and read the paper once I found the keys (and delivered the shoes). Oh, I did some work too. The volunteer kind.

I made up for it (the freak-out, not the work) later by going to, ahem, dinner with the VBS gals -the Moms who planned and lead the whole thing who needed, um, dinner, after all that hard work.

Today I baked the following cake that will be served at the final VBS camp outing tonight, along with my not so favorite food, hot dogs. Hey, it's a camp thing. The cake is cool, no? Mira helped roll out the green gumdrop lettuce and squirted on alot of the 'ketchup' and 'mustard'. My friend Shirley is making a cake that looks like S'Mores. No, my children will not need any additional sugar this weekend, laugh! Thanks for the fun recipe Kristin!
Happy 4th everyone!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Air Show Day

Oh what a beautiful day. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds, lovely breeze, jet fuel, the roar of a Jet powered School Bus (!!!!), the Blue Angels, and a Harrier.

Time to read the paper and most of a book on the ride there and back, girls sitting in the back reading, doing puzzles, giggling. And a nice cool shower at the end of the day.

I wonder how many photos Rich took today? Couple hundred at least.
Happy Fathers Day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recycled Compost bin

Remember my Earth Day post? Finally, here are the photos of the recycled Crib that my niece Jenny, nephew Todd, and my girls slept in. Well, Jenny, Todd and Mira slept in it anyhow. Natasha hated it from day one. Sarah hated it from month six. One day I could put her down for a nap awake or asleep and she'd stay asleep for two hours. Then WHAMMO - the next day I couldn't even set her in it for 3 seconds while I was standing right there before she'd turn red from screaming and wanting out.

It's much nicer of us to use it this way instead of passing on the sleepless screaming red faced curse, don't you think?

Crib doors for easy access, crazy volunteer elderberry at the corner
Headboards for the sides (along with wild Melissa/Lemon Balm and peonies)

The back of the compost isn't quite against the old garage, although it looks that way.

Just for good measure, a 2 week old photo of the garden. Yes, we cram alot in every year - but it works well. This year we have 24 tomato plants - beefsteak, roma and grape; 8 red, yellow, green bell peppers; 4 hot peppers (I think they are jalapenos this year?) ; 4 each broccoli & cauliflower plants; two rows of carrots; two rows of beans (so far), a double row of snap peas on the frame in the far corner, cilantro, mint that grows along the fence - I keep only enough for tea; a wide wedge of lettuce - so far our only harvest, and daily at that! We also have a hill each of acorn squash, butternut squash, and zucchini. Oh! I forgot the radishes and green onions. Those too! Some years we do plant pumpkins, but there's not always room. The rest of the herbs are grown in a dedicated herb garden next to the house, while camomile & rhubarb hang out elsewhere. We have a whole corner of tangled raspberries - haven't had a crop in years despite trying many things, but I'm not ready to give up on them yet.

Should be sunny tomorrow :). Yay!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


It's happening. The girls are growing up. Oh I knew it all along - somewhere in the back of my mind. But occasionally something happens to make it so obvious you can't pretend it's not happening.

Last week Natasha babysat - for a 2,4, and 7 year old - all at once. She's even designed her own babysitting business cards and has been handing them about. She regularly walks to the local neighborhood stores - the bookstore, the resale shop, etc. Just to wander, or look at hats and books she just HAS to have. (Thank goodness for babysitting money!)

finally figured out how to ride her bike. Oh last year she tried once or twice after Rich took the training wheels off, but since she could still go on family rides on the tag-a-long, she could easily refuse to ride her own bike. Sarah also walks down to the local shops by herself. While she loves a bargain as much as Natasha does, she goes to the local music shop to ogle the drum sets!

Mira too. She's old enough to feel comfortable riding her training-wheeled bike around the corner with only Sarahs' company, even when I've stepped in to start lunch or do some other mommy-task. Of course, we have great neighbors, and they go only as far as the driveway of a well-known couple around the corner, but still... I think it's wonderful she feels comfortable in her surroundings without me. I'll be in trouble when she realizes a preschool friend has moved in farther down that street! This week at the pool she put her face in the water to retrieve a diving ring and came up all smiles. Then she asked me to take her to the big pool, which she thoroughly enjoyed instead of being coerced in and begging to go back to the wading pool.

Well, if they have to grow up, at least they're doing a pretty good job of it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

summer workouts, Overdue photos and a picnic blanket

The girls have been off school since Wednesday afternoon. We started the summer off right with ice cream at Snookies with a good number of friends who carry the same end of year ice cream tradition. Above you'll see how we spent the rest of the day - hanging out. The picnic blanket the girls are sitting on was made by me from a pattern in Betz Whites Sewing Green book. I have materials for another one too - it is lined with vinyl on the bottom so you can sit on damp ground and the dried grass cuttings and dirt can just be wiped off. Brilliant! Sarah had a sleepover stay through Thursday noon, and we did more hanging about in the yard. Too bad the pool wasn't yet open, as it is supposed to be rather cool all this week.

Twelve! Yes, Friday was Natashas' birthday. Several of her friends came for a sleepover, not that they slept much. We took everyone to see UP. Wonderful movie (sniff sniff), but the real adventure was in getting there. I drove Sarah & Mira in my car, Mira making up Seuss-like rhymes in a high sing-songy voice the whole way there. Too bad wearing earplugs while driving is discouraged, though I think Rich had more need of them. He drove the 5 loud giggly female tweens and even thought about running a few lights to make the ride shorter. I was lucky going home as Mira fell asleep. The tweens didn't.
Here's the birthday girl in her favorite tree.

Sunday I ran out to buy new gym shoes while Natasha was at the party of a girl she's known since her actual day of birth - we have photos of them together in the hospital before either was 24 hours old. How cool is it that they are still friends? (ok, so we've known her parents for oh, 20 years now...). Still, they have alot in common.

I needed new shoes as the old ones were giving me blisters. Otherwise I am thoroughly enjoying being able to work out again. Timing is easier too now that Natasha & Rich no longer leave at 7:20 and need breakfast and lunches at the ready... Hoping to drop 15 pounds by the time school starts up again August 27.

Random photos of Mira and I planting: she's a great garden helper. The pansies in the first photo were table decorations at her birthday party - I simply wrapped the plastic 6-packs in yellow and green tissue paper, then we planted the next day.

Remember my spring break post? Here are a few of those long ago promised photos of my Dad getting a workout chasing the girls :) Sarah: "I'm safe up here - you can't get me!"
Natasha :" Darn, he's guarding the slide. Dude - did he just go DOWN the slide?"
Dad: "Maybe if I just climb up on the slide I can reach..."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Anniversary Pages for pagemaps contest

This LO is for the Love Me Some New BasicGrey contest over at PageMaps that ends tonight. As soon as I saw the sketch, I knew exactly what I wanted to scrap: our anniversary. The various elements of the sketch just said "Art Deco" to me. PERFECT, because both the restaurant and Theater we patronized that evening are throwbacks to the Twenties. (Dinner was wonderful, BTW, and so was the movie. Check out links at the end of the post.) Oh ok - maybe the Fleur is more colorful than this page, but the silver letters naming movies above each theater is what I was thinking of when I saw this sketch.

I had quite a bit of trouble finding just the right pattern for the bottom edge of the layout - all the patterns I had either obliterated the Art deco feel or provided too much competition for the other black elements. While the darker blue was just about right, it needed something else. The Basic Grey rub-ons leftover from my (ahem, yet unfinished) Hawaii album were just perfect!

Products used were: Bazzill Cardstock; Basic Grey white rub-ons; Silver Cardstock (from); MM 5th Ave journal pages and acrylic accents, Black Tie Transparency; AC Thickers Poolside (perfect font I might add); Wordsworth Foundation Sticker alpha, filled in with a black Zig photo signature pen; unknown bronze/brown ribbon from my stash. Oh and little paperclip from ? on the journal page holding the two movie tickets in hiding!

Fleur Cinema: It's small, comfy, and they serve wine and lattes as well as delectable carrot cake, cheesecake and brownies. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah - a great selection of movies too!
Chicago Speakeasy: Classy, yummy. Prime Rib, Steak de Burgo ~ mmmmm. The kids spaghetti dishes include salad bar and are WAY better than a certain local specialty pasta place too, price included. Oh, and they serve Templeton Rye Manhattans...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Plans

Ok, so I was reading Kelli Crowes blog this morning and in one post she asked about summer plans. I had a list going in my head, but it's always good to put these things in writing. Here's my list:

1. Finish and send the other half of the Christmas cards. Really. I should have just stuffed them in envelopes and sent, but I wanted to FINISH them, write something to everyone. But between the achy pre-Humira aka miracle drug fingers and sweet ailing Ramses sitting on my lap most December, January and February evenings, well, it just didn't happen. It doesn't mean we don't love those of you who are still waiting... I know you are laughing Amanda. Thbpt!
2. Catch up on scrapbooks. Ok, at *least* finish the 3 half finished trip albums I have going! (now that I think about it, maybe I only have two half finished?) Hey - life with 3 lovely smart girls is busy! And the lovely pile of helpful meds I take every day make me want to go to bed at a normal hour (like, when the girls go to bed) instead of staying up half the night scrapping.
3. Maybe actually print photo from last years two trips. we'll see... Laugh. If I don't, Rich will print them all as 8x10's to hang on the wall.
4. Finish something from the unfinished project closet every week - flannel nightgowns, sundresses, and a quilt. Then use of some more of the pretty fabrics I have stashed. I want to use that pile of old knee-torn jeans to make a denim quilt, and I am SO in love with my new Sewing Green book. And my new Flat Roman shades for the living room and my bedroom - those will actually be first since I have all the materials. Watch out sewing machine!
5. Keep up with the garden weeding. I'm already ahead/finished on planting and most* of the weeding so I can dream, right? * I've been avoiding the always overgrown raspberry corner with it's sneaky elderberries and maple & oak sprouts. That's where the poison ivy lives. I think I'll give it one more week with a few more applications of ivy killer before I veture back there. Maybe I'll sacrifice a pair of those old jeans to throw away right after I'm done in that corner. Now I just need some old rubber boots to borrow...
6. Spend 3 hours a week organizing/cleaning closets, the attic, desks, etc. Have made major inroads already on files and piles. It's easier to do when your baby grows up (choke, sniff sniff) and there is more time/less clutter and the girls aren't as attached to EVERY single spelling test they ever took. Okay. Maybe the church garage sale helped too. GRIN.
7. Spend every afternoon swimming with the girls. Easy Peasy. I can actually MOVE this summer. Woohoo!
8. Read every day with the girls. That's a given. In the hammock. Lovely.
9. Go camping several times (already scheduled, HA!)
10. (added after reading Amanda's latest post). Help Sarah to ride her bike without training wheels. Maybe Mira too. Then we can ride more/farther on Daddys' bike trails!
11. Visit the Harry Potter exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry (with rabid fan daughters of course). Sarah is planning to read all the books by herself this summer.
12. Update my neglected blog? Here's a start!
13. Learn to type? Instead of the hen-pecking I do now.
14. Consider back-to work options. After all, only one more year until Mira will be in Kindy. More on this later.

So, what are your summer plans?

I miss you blog

Yes blog, I promise to update you this summer. It's just that I've been busy. You know - helping with Field trips, church and school meetings, playdates, piano lessons and softball games, birthday parties, the church garage/bake/plant sale, my 17th anniversary, rainy weekend trips to antique malls where the girls have been finding treasure galore, playing with Mira, planting the garden, mowing, reading books with the girls, helping Natasha's Sunday school class plant a vegetable garden (aka: tiller killer) so they can help those without, planning summer camping trips... all that good stuff. Finishing promised projects and my continuing ed and enjoying it. Hmmm going back to school might not be so bad?

I even took a class to "bling" you out blog. Promised to start - twice. But I was so busy. At least now I know how to make you look the way I want.

Summer is almost here. I promise to check in often. I have alot of back photos I want to post, and alot of planned projects I'll want to share.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Phew. It's been a long few days. Mira has been sick. Since last Thursday night actually - almost a week. High fever, clingy, just wants to cuddle mom, sitting on the couch all day.

She's better now - only still crabby worn down and clingy.

And I have a few deadlines coming up. Oh dear.

Oh how I want to edit photos, scrapbook and most of all sew the new window shades for my bedroom and living room. I have all the material and the window guy will restring the weights on the double hungs on Friday. Yay!

I did get to play in the yard some yesterday - but there is the siren call of Mira awake from a long morning nap on the couch, wondering why I am not sitting next to her.

Till the weekend? Maybe?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earth Day

How did you celebrate?

Rich celebrated by staying home with the girls (and all the crazy school drop off & pick ups that occur on an early out day) while I sat inside at a seminar, learning new stuff. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, which he spent dragging stuff for the church garage sale up from the basement, digging out the beautiful compost for the garden, and replacing the years old bowing splintering lattice that made up the compost pile walls. Two of our neighbors who also compost complimented us on our beautiful pile of compost. Funny the things that make you proud!

What did he rebuild the compost walls with? The old crib parts. Really. My brother & sister-in-law didn't want them back. Their grandson has his own crib. Can't give the crib away as it is way outdated by current safety standards. It's beautiful, can't just take it to the dump, and no place to store it. Jon, my BIL, suggested using it as garden art. Huh. You know...

So we did. Yes, it is also painted green. I spent hours sanding and stripping and then painting it with baby-safe enamel paint before I had Natasha. Quite the hoity-toity compost heap. Rich says it's perfect for the girly house he lives in.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I'm realizing just how often I rub the underside of my wedding ring with my thumb - about every 5 minutes when awake. At least I'm starting to not be startled when I notice.

See, it's been a good year or more since I have been able to get my wedding ring off. That's not a bad thing, just that I like to have it cleaned and professionally checked once in a while. Until recently some of my knuckles/fingers have been swollen enough the ring would hardly turn around on my finger, much less come off.

Almost 2 weeks ago I had my first dose of the new Arthritis med. Let's just call it a wonder drug and say I feel like Superwoman these days. No pain and my hands look more like they belong to me too. I can do ANYTHING - except get my ring off. "Soon" I thought. "Then I can have it checked at the jewelers and stop worrying."

Yeah - not so fast. Saturday morning I felt a sharp point poking my middle finger. Looked down. Pooh. A weak prong had broken and one of the small gems was gone. The ring had to be cut off.

I swear, the stories Rich and I can tell about the adventures of our rings...the rings have had much more trouble than we have in almost 17 years of marriage. Cheers to that!

Insurance will fix the damage, the rest will be evaluated and fixed as needed and the ring tucked away until it can be resized. Maybe in afew months, less if I'm lucky. My finger looks rather odd at the moment, with that skinny band surrounded by puff... So if you see me without a wedding ring or absentmindedly rubbing the inside of my palm or a random rock I've picked up, you'll know why.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bento photos

My last post talked about a few of the whys of Bento boxes, and a few giveaways that are still going on.

Here, finally, are photos of our lunches in the first few months. I'll apologize now for the quality - some are blurry, taken in haste to please hungry children. We have gotten a little more creative since - well, at least for Natasha and myself anyway!

Here are our boxes: Miras' at the top with the two kitties and Natashas' box at left with the cherry blossoms. If I remember correctly the box holds approximately 350 ml in the bottom compartment and 250 on top. (See the Lunch in a Box: Choosing the right size box post for more information). Sarahs' at the bottom holds the most, with 450 ml on the lower and 350 on the top compartment. It is a little wider and has a slightly domed cover. My box is on the right, approximately 350 and 250 ml (I think). Great for portion control. Since I eat with Mira and usually at home, it would be easy for me to find extra food if my lunch is not large enough. Or, I could finish whatever Mira leaves behind, but most days I have just enough.

A very blurry photo of my lunch: On the left bottom layer, several grapes, shredded cabbage with basil & fresh lemon juice, one leftover Beef/potato croquette (recipe Harumi's Japanese cooking, one of Natasha's favorite dishes from one of my favorite cookbooks) and some apple slices. Right holds some leftover chinese stirfry on rice, carrots and jicama. Two Lorna Doone shortbread cookies fit perfectly between the lid that secures the second layer and the box cover. If I remember correctly this was for an on-the-go picnic lunch at the Rose Garden after Art class and before swimming.

Michelles' bento: Leftover spicy pork stirfry over jasmine fried rice on the left and sugar dusted strawberries and grapes on the right.
Natasha's Bento: Same as Michelles' above, with two Fig Newtons replacing the grapes.
Natasha Bento school lunch: Leftover Pork Stirfry over brown jasmine rice and one Beef potato croquette on theleft. On the right one sticky rice ball (Sushi rice with dash of superfine sugar and Rice vinegar ala Mimi (Natashas' long-ago Japanese babysitter. We miss you Marilyn!), apple and carrot slices and fig Newtons. Natasha prefers veggies over fruit.
Another Middle school lunch Bento for Natasha: Ginger Beef and sticky rice stars - those are simply tomato picks for decoration in the middle of the stars. I usually cook the Ginger Beef that morning - it's quite fast, and cools fast in the freezer while I pack the rest of the lunch. Fresh pineapple on the right with a small container of chocolate animal cookies (organic of course). Natasha also loves Salmon with rice balls or over Udon noodles in her lunches. I always cook extra when we have salmon for dinner (or we count on Sarah not eating her portion), but more often I marinate and cook a large piece of salmon and then freeze it in 2-3 oz. portions. In the morning I cook and cool the Udon while making breakfast. Then when I pack her lunch I break the still frozen salmon into bite sized pieces and nestle it into the noodles with a fish bottle of extra sauce and if warm outside, a small frozen (plastic) ice cube. The salmon is always room temperature and ready to eat by lunch time. (see Harumi's Japanese cooking for our favorite salmon marinade, though I rotate through several.)

Sarahs' Bento: Sarah thinks rice balls are great in moderation so you won't see many in her lunches. She also isn't a big fan of most meats, unless I am serving sesame chicken. When we have that for dinner it MUST be in her lunch the next day. Leftover pasta is good, otherwise a variety of fruit, cookies, mini muffins and pretzels along with a shaped peanut butter/honey sandwich or bagel with cream cheese is what she prefers. Small containers of dip for veggies are sometimes used. The small containers of chocolate sauce for strawberries or caramel for apple slices in Fall always come back empty. Good thing they only hold a tsp. worth! Miras' Bento: Mira is the pickiest of all - she would live on pasta, cheese, strawberries and fishie crackers if I let her! Mira is not big on meat, peanut butter OR bread, so these are typical boxes for her. When I made the bottom box she specifically requested cheese slices on bread! Both boxes were demolished on picnics.

Hungry yet? I've added quite a collection of small food picks and colorful reusable divider cups, as well as a few more small cookie cutters. The food picks make it so much more fun to eat the fruit at school.