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Archive for September, 2010

The Gifts God Gives

Thirty years ago under slightly different circumstances, this was me.  I was in the first grade without teeth, dragging my bag home alone as I rounded the block onto Columbine Street.  And not that it matters so much, but I was looking down, completely oblivious to anything but the sidewalk in front of me…already burdened with life.  Which was why I didn’t see him at first.  My dad. Crouched on his knees in the middle of the broken sidewalk some ten feet away, arms open wide.  Just waiting for me to look up.

I do not remember closing the gap…or even my mother holding her camera.  But somewhere in an album dated 1980, there’s a picture of my school bag and me wrapped around my dad’s neck.  And he’s still kneeling on the ground.  I could not have been happier.

Now in 2010…

This is is my daughter.  In the first grade.  Toothless.  And hugging her dad.  Only he’s not just coming home like mine was.  He’s got a plane to catch. 

It’s just somehow the sentiment is the same. 

He loves her…She adores him.  Ain’t no better place than in his arms.

Here’s the lot of them.  My little fam.  The ones God gave me.  The ones I love.

Ahh…thank you, Lord.

For each of them.

Amen.

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Thug Husband

For being fairly photogenic, my husband surprised us all with his two new pictures.  For his passport.  The dinky postage-stamp sized ones that uh, end up being somewhat permanent.  But just for ten years or so.  The kind you don’t take a sharpie to and give yourself a mustache or a couple of horns.  Or even a smile.

Which is what the gal at Costco had told my husband to wipe off his face.  “They don’t like it when you smile too much, “she said.  So she’d snapped another pic.  Only the double doozer she left him with may be the reason we never leave this country.  Or never get to.

As now we have Thug Husband.

Who yesterday waved his newly arrived passport four inches from our daughter’s face and asked, “does this look like a guy you could trust?”  And to which she’d looked up from her math, squinted and said, “no, not really.”  And then asked, “is that you, dad?”

My point exactly.

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Burrito Kitty

When I’d walked inside, there’d been two separate things on the picnic table.  A purple towel.  And a black and white cat.  The melding of the two had not crossed my mind.   

 But then I was not three nor into wrapping every creature we own, find or chase down, in blankets, wet wipes or purple towels, as has happened here.

The tolerance of our pets should not go unnoted.  As demonstrated by burrito kitty who, for this fraction of his life, realizes that what he’s got is pretty good.  Or rather, it ain’t that bad.  No small boy is resting on top of him.  Or hauling him with the single hook of an arm somewhere upside down.  Or pushing his rear end through the cat door. 

No…this is not just burrito kitty.  But hotel kitty.  With a built in concierge who works for free.  And who otherwise wouldn’t know a tip unless it was something to eat. 

By which time the concierge service ended.  He heard his stomach growl.

But if you’re concerned, like I wasn’t, know this:  no black and white cat was loved to his death. 

At least not the one in the purple towel.

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We did something new on Saturday.  Borderline risky.  Marginally unsmart. But overall an education.  We took two small children to The Museum of Glass.  Guh–lass.  The stuff that shatters. 

Having never been there ourselves, we had no idea just how much there was to break.  Or if they would lend us a friendly smile as we entered or call in more security.  But since most of Tacoma woke up with the same idea about going to the museum…I think we were just one more family floating through the door.

Here is one of the first pieces or displays right outside the entrance doors.  Looking very breakable.

Separate from the gallery part of the museum is the Hot Shop.  The place where the glass blowers, heat and gather and turn and blow the glass into something only money can buy.  A lot of money, that is. It’s set up like an amphitheater.  Which means if you’re there early enough, you can actually sit down. 

And if you’re not, well you can stand behind the ropes in the way back and experience first-hand why they call it the Hot Shop.  It be warm, people.

 

Here we are fixin’ to expire from the heat.  Or at least the little guy in orange is.

Here this group of six or seven people will work for an hour and a half on a single piece of glass.  Right now the guy in motion is spinning the glass.

And it’s like a team of surgeons.  Only paid slightly less.  The guy whose rear is toward us is blowing down the pipe to create the neck of the piece.

We’re at a different vantage point now having moved further up the walkway .  Here we can actually look down on the piece and nearly faint simultaneously.

Somehow with those wet pieces of wood (the things that look like saws), this guy and gal are shaping the top and bottom of the piece.  The guy in the hat…he’s spinning the thing.  I  can only assume they know what they’re doing.

How these people haven’t folded from the heat is still a mystery.  Here they’re still messing with the hot glass.  Hot enough to catch their wet wood planks on fire.

 

And here’s the mostly final piece.  Pretty, I guess.

And here’s part of the crowd. They’re all looking where my daughter is…up at screen showing how powder is added to the piece to give it color.  I personally thought the piece was prettier before they up and powdered it.  But then, no one asked me.

Then we moved again.  It’s what you do with small children.  Hot small children.

And that’s them spinning and shaping the thing again.  I think it’s heavy at this point.  And growing more costly by the minute. 

Then radically, in mid-sentence, the gal narrating the whole thing had everyone stand up and file out.  “Sorry,” she said. “We’ve got more people who want to see the Hot Shop.”  Which was fine, etiquette or not…we got the gist of what they were doing…and uh, we just wanted to suck on some ice.

Here we are in the kids’ gallery, where they’d taken a bunch of elementary kids’ drawings and then re-created them in glass.  Impressive, really.  Only you’ve just got to look at them and remember what they looked like.  No cameras here.  But then they did have these huge dry erase boards where anyone could draw.  That’s my daughter and her monkey…the one she hopes they’ll re-create in glass for her.

And here we are, wallets still intact, having broken nothing while inside.

And though we didn’t park in this direction, we walked over the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.  Where you can see glass encased like this.  Um…who knew?

And where you could see up close the glass pillars only previously seen from the freeway.  And where you can make a quick note to be somewhere else in an earthquake.

And where you can look up and see more glass art, and wonder how on earth they got it all in there.  Very Bellagio-ish. 

And then because small legs and big legs can only appreciate glass for so long, we headed back. 

And plopped down for one more picture. 

We done did The Museum of Glass…

With small children.

Whew.

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When Winning Doesn’t Matter

Some time over the summer we bought this game.  Chunks.  Not the healthiest sounding, I realize, but one my daughter and I play often.  Like this morning before her brother drug his blanket entourage down the stairs and needed both of our attention.

“How ’bout a game?” I’d asked her.  “How ’bout ‘Chunks’?” she asked me back.  And so it was…a game of Chunks.

Which goes like this. 

You’ve got two colors of tiles and you turn them all face down.  The yellow tiles are word beginnings (a letter or letters that can begin a word).  The green tiles are word endings. 

On your turn, you grab one tile of each color and look to see if when you put the two together, you make an actual word. If, however, your tiles don’t make a word, you laugh at what it did make and then place those two tiles back down.  End of turn.

This is my daughter’s list so far.  In her three turns, she’s created three words.  I might’ve helped her with the last one.

She pulled these two tiles, raised her eyebrows at me and said with the hard ‘g’ sound, “gin?”  Which sounded hilarious, and which, I of course corrected and said, “no, honey.  This one’s pronounced ‘jin’ with the soft ‘g’ sound.”  And then I added,” it’s a hard liquor that some people drink.”

Then ever-grateful, she said, “good thing you know your alcohol, mom.”   By which time, had I false teeth, they’d’ve flown right out onto the tiles.

The other thing about the game is that if you draw a couple of tiles that don’t jive together, you can switch your tiles around to create new words, so that all of your tiles work.  But the thing is, when you’re done moving tiles around, they’ve all gotta be words.  Which is why we have a dictionary just a breath away.

My daughter’s list no longer has the word ‘gin’ in it, but ‘kin’ and ‘gear.  It works.

Then she drew ‘frump’.  Which sounds like a word.  But isn’t.  You can’t say to somebody, “you look frump today.”  And you can’t feel ‘frump’ today.  What you can do is find yourself a ‘y’ and then you’ve got a word.  So what to do…

You move your tiles around.  And you come up with cool words like ‘chump’ and ‘fray’.  And you learn from the dictionary that chump means ‘fool’ and fray means ‘to come a part at the edges’.   And because your brain’s a sponge, you file these words away for later use.   Say when your brother wakes up.

And then you smile because at this moment your stack of words is much larger than your mom’s.

And then because the game could go on forever if we wanted it to, and because it’s hard to hear over our stomach’s growling, and because a little boy is on his way down the stairs, we say, “okay, last turn.”  And this is how we ended.  She has one more word than I do with the same number of turns, and so she wins. 

Only with a game like this, there is no loser.   It’s just too hard to feel defeated when you’ve had fun gettin’ smarter.

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Sugar Sugar…

It started out with a personal hankering for something sweet.  A small something.  Just a bite, really. 

Only the moment I asked, “does anyone want to help me make cookies?”  two children appeared from thin air and jumped up on the same chair.

I doubt she’s choking him here.  I think this is more after the fact. 

It should’ve been obvious to me already that neither child would need a cookie…  Um…no reason.  Just a feeling I’m getting now. 

And though we haven’t even started, here they are corraled in the same corner of the kitchen, bleating their requests to help with the eggs or the butter.  It’s possible a smarter mother would have noted the un-sugared energy level and nixed the cookie idea.  But she was not here to consult.  And well, I still had that hankering.

When we got down to business, I actually trusted this guy to peel the butter.  The same guy who has snitched it for three years with his right index finger and occasionally asked for it for breakfast.  But he did great; all butter was accounted for.

My daughter would chop all the pecans by hands.  Then lick the molasses cup.  My son would poke at the flour with a knife and then flick a 1/4 cup of it onto the cupboards.

Which is why baking with children is prescribed in small doses around here.  My brain usually hurts from the effort, as I will have said in varying intensities and no fewer than 63 times, “no, no, no…stay back from that.”  And… “Watch your fingers, please.”  And… ” That’s hot…be careful.”  And… ” Hey, where are you going with the spatula? ”  And…”If you’re going to jump on the chair, you’re going to have to leave.”

No, my brain is not weary… it is fried.

But just four hours later, we’ve got 71 molasses cookies, two loaves of zucchini bread and, if it matters, one meatloaf.  But it probably doesn’t.

Two children have also leapt across the living room, buzzed down hallways and emerged again with their clothing completely plucked, like naked chickens.  It might’ve been simpler if they’d just said, “we like sugar.”

And me…well, I got that hankering handled. 

heh heh…

And some.

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Why We Homeschool…

Because I forget sometimes, this is for me…

A reminder, that is. 

About why we’re homeschooling.

1.  She’s really a teacher.  Patient as they come.  

Nevermind that they’re both in their pjs or that his robot bottoms have a hole in the crotch that he keeps messing with.  Completely nevermind.  It’s that he’s sitting still long enough to listen as she reads off the facts of each card.  “Did you know the tiger is the biggest living cat?”  she asks.   Bigger than the lion, even.”   Then he ‘wows’ outloud and collects the card from her for his stack.

2.  They’re on the same team. 

“What is this, bud?” she’s asks.  And he answers, “hands.”  Which they sort of are.  And which is why she says,”almost.”  Then adds, “these are gloves.”  And he says, “oh,” feeling neither belittled nor hurt.

3. She is long-suffering. 

 This might be the thirteenth card or the thirtieth, but she’ll hang in there until he wanders away.  Or tackles her.  Or goes off to sit on the cat.

4.   She appreciates the finer things in life. 

Like making applesauce by hand.  And eating the cooked apple skins that don’t make it through the sieve. Only she asked this time, “Don’t you think they have a machine for this sort of stuff?”  “For what?”  I’d asked.  “For making applesauce.”   And then I wasn’t sure if she really did appreciate the finer things in life.  But it didn’t matter by then.

5.  She’s his biggest fan.

 And he knows it.  Which is why he runs to me for a half-second hug and then rattles on to her that he didn’t even cry today at preschool.  And she drops her jaw for effect and then hugs him, too.

6. She knows him well. 

And knows like I do, that he hasn’t just hefted his backpack because he can.  Rather, it’s his nonverbal for, “don’t take my picture.”  Which, uh, didn’t pan out for him here.

7.  She gets it. 

 Here are her notes from the phone call with her dad.  Um…those are commas.  Caw–muhs.  And how she knew to separate our names with them…I still don’t know.  But the whole thing’s perfect.  And it makes me smile.  Kind of like she’s doing here.  Only with teeth.

8. She thinks it through. 

 She just tallied her dad’s lunch, which came to an exorbitant $139.00 in fake bills.  Only he claimed that both his arms were suddenly useless and he needed her to count out the money in the fewest number of bills…

 Which she did.  It’s the tip that got forgotten.  But I won’t let that happen again!

9.  The two of them can create a game where there isn’t one. 

The game’s really called Blokus.  And it’s got tiny pieces.  And a set of rules we’ve never read.  But they love it.  The tiny pieces, anyway. 

Here they’re both onto something, only it isn’t the same thing.  Her goal is to fill the whole surface space in without leaving anything empty or unfilled.   And just the edges concern him.  What this might say about either of them…I don’t know.

10.  She’s adaptable. 

About this time the game turned into something about monsters.  His suggestion.  Only she went with it and before I could haul him away to a nap he never took, the two of them laughed their eyeballs out.

11. Which is just one more reason why we homeschool–for now…

there’s a lot of laughter we all might’ve missed out on. 

And that just might’ve been the biggest shame of all.

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