Skating away

Let me start by stating that I am not a graceful or athletic person. I go to step aerobics and yoga, but I never get any better at either one. In aerobics, I actually have to count my steps just to keep vaguely in synch with the rest of the class. In yoga, my skills are not exactly legendary either.  I was attempting this arm balance in class last week (called the Crow Pose):

Annnnnnd after balancing for about .000078 seconds, I pitched forward onto my face and then rolled onto one shoulder.  I ended up off my mat and well into the middle of the room. "Ha ha!" I said (since everyone was looking at me). "So close!"  Because obviously I was not even vaguely close.

In general, I am fairly clumsy and often have bruises I can't explain.  As I've already made abundantly clear, I don't have what you'd call athletic prowess.  However, I get out there.  I ride my bike, I go to classes, I hit the treadmill at the gym.

My daughter, however, will not "get out there."  If she doesn't believe she has an innate ability to do something, she will not try.  I'm convinced this is why she didn't walk until she was 14 1/2 months old.  She never practiced walking - she just waited until she knew she could.  In the intervening years, we have purchased the following items for her: roller skates (Barbie ones that fit over her shoes), a scooter, a tricycle, and a two-wheeled bike with training wheels.  The number of these items she has used: zero.  Well, I exaggerate. She has used most of the items once or twice. The skates were the worst purchase.  We got them on her once, she fell down once, and she was done - permanently (at least as far as skating in our driveway goes). 

I took A to the local roller skating rink on Saturday.  We donned our rental skates and then completed one lap, with me holding her hand.  She gripped the wall but still would have fallen multiple times had I not been holding her hand. She was getting more frustrated by the second. I then got my hands on a training contraption in case that might help. It's a triangular thing made out of PVC piping with wheels on the bottom. The idea is that a kid can keep his/her balance while learning to keep their feet under them.  We tried using the training thingamajig for the next lap.  I thought she was doing fine but she couldn't go as fast as the other kids and she got mad.  "I want to go home!" she shrieked through her tears. 

I brought her off the skating floor and tracked down the rink's owner, Mary.  Mary has owned the place since the Vietnam War. No exaggeration this time - the rink's decor bears this out. She is a fit little lady who genuinely loves children, and roller skates every day of her life. I asked her if she had any tips for me. I hated to see my daughter give up on skating and never want to come back.  She nodded, laced up her skates, and took the kid out on the floor.  She asked me to stay behind and wait by the lockers. I watched as Mary worked so patiently with my daughter, teaching her to take tiny steps. When they came back, I asked A if she still wanted to go home.  She seemed less stressed than before, but nodded. I thanked the owner for working with her.

I guess I'm just disappointed because I like skating and want her to like it too.  How do I convince her that eventually, she'll have to fall down? And that this won't be the worst thing ever to happen to a kid?  Summer is coming and I want her to get outside and DO stuff.  It's just interesting to me that someone with such advanced social skills is so skittish in this one particular area.

As we were leaving, she said, "Next Saturday let's just go to a movie."

My Mom is Grate Book.

This morning Kerri handed me a two page "book" she made herself. She titled it: "My Mom is Grate Book".

The first page says: "My Mom is grate becaush she luve me."

The second page says: "My Mom is grate becaush she addaps me's."

And the last page is covered in X's and O's.

The book is a priceless treasure that I will keep forever.

Life with Kerri is better than winning an Oscar or a Golden Globe award.

Weekend updates.

Tonight Kerri lost another tooth. She wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy asking where do all the teeth go? Right now she is standing at the window looking for the Tooth Fairy, and I hear her yelling: "Tooth Fairy, this is our house! Daddy, I saw the Tooth Fairy!" And she is expecting a million dollars for her tooth. Someday, she will look back and read this and laugh.

It's still winter here. The groundhog got it all wrong. We got snow last night, and are expecting freezing rain tomorrow. I love the winter, but am so ready for Spring!

And we are ready for a visit soon from Grandpa Oscar from Florida. He will be coming in March, and we are looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with him. Especially since he hates the cold and probably won't want to go anywhere in this weather.

Pookie is due to be groomed. We let his fur grow long for the winter, but the Poodle part of his coat gets really matted. His Schnauzer face is adorable though, with the long whiskers and eyelashes - except we can't see his eyes now because they are so long. It's a good thing he is cute, because he has been quite mischievous lately. By the time Grandpa comes to visit, he will be shaved short again.

Kerri is still growing. She is now wearing size 7 tops, but can still wear the size 6 bottoms. She is outgrowing her size 13 shoes, so I think we are moving into the big girl single digit sizes now. And she wants an I-POD now. I don't know if she knows what it is, but she said it's what Daddy wears around his neck every day he goes to work (she got that right). I think it is time to buy her a CD player and some music. And although she has never heard his music, she says she does not like Justin Bieber. I think she learned that at school.

Kerri is coming along in French too. I am picking things up from her homework, which Daddy has to help with on the weekends. Both Kerri and I have a hard time pronouncing sounds, and we really sound like Americans when we try to talk in French. No offense intended, but it is so very different! And I am fluent in Spanish, and still cannot speak properly in French. Oy.

We have not seen Nana in over a month, she is really busy. But she is coming over in a week to spend her birthday with us. So I am sure we will have plenty of pictures a week from now to post here.

In the meantime, I had a meeting with Kerri's teacher. Kerri is really improving, and is getting extra help to catch up in her reading skills. She is great at math. And I finally had a chance to tell the teacher about her sensory issues, and you could see the light bulb going off...the teacher had several examples right away of what I was trying to explain to her. So she will be forwarding the referral for OT testing (which was supposed to happen at the old school), and will ensure that she pays extra attention now to the things we talked about. I felt bad I never had a chance to talk about it with her before, but with the abrupt change in schools, the speech therapy transition, the bullying on the just got pushed to the back burner for a bit.

I really like Kerri's teacher, and this school has been such a positive change! Except for when I muttered "Jesus" and Kerri told me she was not Jesus and he was tortured and dead. We still have a bit of work to do in that area, ahem.

Daddy is getting over the flu. It seems to be going around here, and so far Kerri and I have been spared. Kerri's asthma has been a bit worse with the changing weather, but nothing too scary.

So life with Kerri has been a bit busy lately.

Back on the bus, and other big steps.

It has been an eventful week for Kerri. She decided to get back on the school bus after a hiatus (due to bullying). We were disappointed to find out that her school bus bully is now the one being picked on. But Kerri is ignoring the misbehaviour on the bus, and so far everyone is leaving her alone. It helps that her neighborhood friends watch out for her too.

Another big change for Kerri happened recently. She has been wearing pull-ups to bed for years. And for several months, she has not had any night time accidents. But she insisted on wearing them. We agreed, thinking this was the last thing she could control. She has come such a long way that it seemed a small price to pay for her peace of mind and restful sleep. But last night, she decided she would - on her own - try to go without them. And this morning she proudly showed me her dry panties! We both said - at the same time - that she was a big girl now.

Another big step for Kerri is in the romance department. Although she is over her summer time love, they have remained great friends. As a matter of fact, they arranged a date on Wednesday, and Thursday the ex-boyfriend came over to play. We are all happy that they both have moved on, there are no hurt feelings, and they are still the best of friends. Somehow, I don't think this will always be the case, but it is nice to see that Kerri cherishes her relationships.

I am still getting used to my new big girl. She tries new things every day, and keeps reaching for her independence. She no longer needs me as much, but she still comes to me for big hugs and long cuddles. And as far as I am concerned, she will always be my baby.

Life with Kerri changes.

Because I'm a Sloth

February is a very  s l o w  month here at Pie In The Sky.

Beside the fact that winter has returned (as I voiced my hopefulness for in the post for February 13) with a new blanket of snow, there is not much to report. I decided not to show pictures of the snow since that would detract from the lovely flowers in my previous post.

I am enjoying the slothful pace of a quiet month so please forgive me if I am not very creative here. If you are a new visitor there are many more thoughtful posts you could browse in the archive. May I recommend my Ode to Boys or to the Best Dog in the Whole Wide World? Or how about my hair raising adventure with French Bullet Trains? (After you read Part One, you'll need to know how the saga ended.) You could watch me hack at my boys' hair or read my rant about the dirth of good pie. A little summer reminiscence could include butchering chickens on the farm or planting the garden

But, if none of those sound diverting, how about this for a chuckle. Everyone needs a reason to laugh in February and this one makes me LOL everytime I watch it.

I just love creative people. Wish I could be one every day.

Notes on the video:

1. I love how she holds the glasses by their stem!
2. The earrings!
3. She knows bad wine when she tastes it.
4. It took me three viewings before I noticed her "enhanced" figure.
5. So pretty much, bar patrons who become drunk turn into babies.

Have a great day!

Reader, Reader

It amazes me what kids learn in Kindergarten these days. Here's what I remember doing in Kindergarten:
  • Gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper
  • Sitting at the "blue" table (each table had a color)
  • Befriending a boy named Carl
And that's it.  My daughter, on the other hand, is learning math, reading, writing, science, computers, and so forth.  I've been particularly impressed with her reading skills.  The bad news is that now I suppose I'll have to explain foul bumper stickers and the like. Greeaaaat.

Sometimes she gets a little bit cocky about her reading abilities.  The other day we passed Hooters on our way to Red Robin.  "Huh," she said with a casual shrug. "I didn't know we have a Hotters here." When she is reading and she doesn't know a particular word, she typically doesn't attempt to sound it out or, God forbid, ask for help.  She just substitutes some random word - typically one that does not even start with the same letter - and keeps going.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little video clip of A reading "Chicken Soup with Rice" (just the first three months, though).  I think it goes without saying that she is a genius. As further proof, I will subject you to a video of her saying her alphabet when she was just 20 months old.  See, I told you - gen-i-us.

Of course, the little brainiac wore her tee shirt inside out all day on Monday, persists in singing incorrect lyrics constantly, and still thinks we store our cheese in "the fridgelator."  But still . . .

Flowers in February

God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December.
-   James Matthew Barrie, (1860-1937)

 Life is like a rose . . . More exquisite and precious,
When shared with others.
-   Jane Oechsle Lauer

Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers
and never succeeding.
-  Marc Chagall

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
-   Bible, Matthew, 6:28-29

When words escape, flowers speak.
-   Bruce W. Currie

"What grows in the garden, so lovely and rare?  Roses and Dahlias and people grow there." 
-   From the TV show A Gardener's Diary


The lily was created on the third day, early in the morning
when the Almighty was especially full of good ideas.   

-   Michael Jefferson-Brown

"The Earth Laughs in Flowers."
-  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every rose is an autograph from the hand of God on His world about us.  He has inscribed His thoughts in these marvelous hieroglyphics which sense and science have, these many thousand years, been seeking to understand.
-    Theodore Parker

"Flowers are love's truest language." 
-   Park Benjamin 

"Observe this dew-drenched rose of Tyrian gardens
A rose today.  But you will ask in vain
Tomorrow what it is; and yesterday
It was the dust, the sunshine, and the rains."
-  Christina Rosetti 

"Still - in a way - nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small - we haven't the time -and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."
-  Georgia O'Keeffe

 "I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
-   Emma Goldman   

What a desolate place would be a world without flowers.   It would be a face without a smile; a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth?  Are not our stars the flowers of heaven?
-  Clara L. Balfour

The one in which I attempt a segue between halitosis and Strawberry Shortcake

The kid is recovering well from her surgery and was all set to go back to school today . . . until school was canceled because of a winter storm, that is.  The only real issue we've noticed after the surgery is her breath.  It could "knock a buzzard off a shit wagon" as my stad would say. The doctor had warned us about this possibility, but I guess we didn't think about it until it came to fruition. I assume it has something to do with dried blood and/or healing tissue from the adenoidectomy.  Whatever it is, we don't have the heart to say anything to her.  Of course, one time I ate some garlic-parmesan pretzels and the kid didn't hesitate for a second to tell me that I had problem. There was all sorts of hand-waving-in-front-of-the-nose and "Oh my gosh, your breath, Mama!" theatrics going on.

Other than that, she's been doing fine.  She goes back in for a follow-up with the doctor on Thursday. She and I spent the day together on Saturday.  We went to Weight Watchers, out for breakfast with a friend of mine, and then to a local farmers' market (yes, a farmers' market in the winter - see, I told you we were capable of finding a festival or celebration anywhere and any time!) The kid got her face painted and ate a wee cupcake on a stick ($7 for the face painting, $2 for the microscopic cupcake, in case you wondered). After that, we headed to a meet-n-greet that the rescue was holding at a pet supply store about an hour north of us.  We weren't there officially as volunteers - we just went to check it out and say "hey" to the others. I bought Gideon a skull-and-crossbones collar because you know how he likes to look tough with his four remaining teeth and all. We rounded out the afternoon by catching a performance of "Beauty and the Beast" at our local junior high.  A friend from church was playing Belle (yes, we are that well-connected!)

I was a little nervous all weekend because I was scheduled to lead the service at church on Sunday as well as to deliver the sermon. I must say I have a renewed respect for pastor-types, as it took me a couple of months to a) come up with a topic, b) write it, and c) obsessively edit the bejeebers out of it. Obviously there'd be no hope of pulling this off every week. Also, I'm officially out of topics now (this was my third time presenting) so I guess it's a moot point anyway. 

Part of our service entails reading a story to the children before they go off to their religious education classes.  I chose a book called "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!" by Dr. Seuss.  I sat in a rocking chair and the fellowship's youngsters sat on the floor in front of me.  My kid made sure she was physically closer to me than anyone else. As I was reading, another little girl made the mistake of inching closer to the chair.  I was trying not to look down but out of the corner of my eye, I saw my daughter's arm fly out and give the other child the  universal "stop" signal of the open hand.  By this time, A was sitting on my feet, with her arms and legs wrapped around my calves. At that point, she could not get any closer to me without having herself surgically implanted in my flesh, so she settled for glaring at the other kids.  I wasn't expecting the green-eyed monster to appear quite so menacingly during an innocent children's story!

A snowstorm was scheduled to roll in by afternoon, so we stopped at Red Robin* for an early lunch after church. I had my free birthday burger coupon and, as you may have noticed, I am not one to let free things go by. After that, we headed to Best Buy to buy a wireless router. Our neighbor was willing to let us tap into her wireless network, but the signal was not strong enough.  Anyway, we can now view streaming movies through our Netflix account (via the PS3).  A immediately wanted to watch Strawberry Shortcake, which caused us immediately to second-guess the purchase of the router.

The storm ended up dumping about a foot of snow on our fair city. I can't say that I'm too upset about it, in as much as the poop swamp in the back yard has now been returned to its unseen glory.

*After lunch, I played the claw machine and won something on my first try (an orange teddy bear).  Just as P started to say, "You know you'll never win any-" my ugly little bear came tumbling down the chute.  Take that!

Presidents Day

Recently in our homeschool studies, our reading book had a couple pages devoted to a list of the U.S. Presidents. Since today is President's Day and the boys are loudly wailing their lamentations over having to still attend classes when the rest of the school-age population is living free and easy, I thought I'd tell you about our little presidential lesson.

First we discussed which of the presidents they were familiar with and then I had them each choose the name of a president of which they hadn't heard. I wanted them to look up the name they chose, read about the president and give a little oral report. The main difference in how this exercise was carried out and how I would have done it at their age is that we didn't use an Encyclopedia Britannica.

We used the internet.

What has happened to all the millions of encyclopedia's in the world I would just like to know.

Peter immediately chose the name of Calvin Coolidge. He thought it was amazing that there was a president named Calvin. His current favorite reading material is Calvin and Hobbes. (Classical homeschoolers reading Chaucer and Shakespeare?- We are not.) He thought a president named Calvin had to be a fun president.

Samuel chose the president named James Garfield. I'll let you extrapolate why he chose it.

It turns out these two presidents were interesting. We found this great little website with a page and photo for each president. The reading material was only slightly beyond the boys' abilities but with my help they learned some memorable facts about the men's lives.

Calvin Coolidge started out as the vice president for Warren G. Harding. He was sworn in as president when Harding suffered a heart attack and died suddenly. At the time Coolidge was visiting his parents' family home in Vermont. Coolidge was sworn into office in the middle of the night with his own father presiding and his hand on the family Bible.

He was later sworn in again in Washington when there was a question as to the validity of the oath conducted by a notary public. 

James Garfield was a Union army general during the Civil War when Ohioans elected him to congressional office and continued to re-elect him for eighteen more years. His term as U.S. President was cut short in the first year when he was shot in a railroad station. He suffered with his wound for two months. Samuel was interested to read that Alexander Graham Bell used a device to try to locate the bullet but was unsuccessful. Consequently, Garfield eventually died from infection and internal hemorrhage.

In honor of President's Day we will read about a few more of the men that have occupied this highest office in our nation. My goal is simply to acquaint my eight year old and ten year old boys with the names and official terms (oath of office, inauguration, four year terms, etc.) as an elementary civics lesson.


As I watched Kerri dunk a chocolate chip cookie into her glass of milk, I realized that she picked that bad habit up from me. I confess, I am a dunker. I have been dunking my cookies ever since I can remember.

But Kerri dunks everything. She will dunk things into her soup. She has taken dunking to a whole new level.

It is amazing to watch my daughter pick up my habits and personalize them. Sometimes I feel like a bad Mommy, for not being more careful.

Kerri plays with her hair, like I do. She yells at the athletes on TV, like her Dad does during a hockey game. And now she is a dunker too.

Life with Kerri reminds me that our daughter learns more from our actions than our words.

Ready to Party!

Here's the finished carrot cake-

It would be even more fun with a lit sparkler in the middle! If they'd make them cleaner burning...

Daddy-Daughter Dance

The glitz! The glamour! A gymnasium full of little girls jacked up on cupcakes and ice cream!

Tonight was the long-awaited Daddy-Daughter Dance. A has been looking forward to this event ever since the invitation arrived weeks ago. I bought her a velvet navy blue dress at Lands' End.  It is a traditional, classic style and I know this was probably my last chance to get her in something like that before she falls further under the influence of other kids at school.  Also, it was on sale - not because it had some kids' monogram on it (as you find with some bargains at the Lands' End outlet), but because the style has been discontinued.  Anyway, I glammed her up a bit with some fancy barrettes, dressy shoes, and glitter in her hair.  Plus, she got to wear her "big girl" add-a-pearl necklace.

P ordered a corsage for her, and she was thrilled about that.  Yesterday she told her dad, "Daddy, I want you to wear your marrying day suit to the dance."  He didn't plan to wear a tux (which is what he wore on his "marrying day," of course), but he did wear a nice suit.  I took a bunch of photos before they left and, much to my surprise, he was willing to take my camera along and snap a few at the dance itself.

The whole scene was undeniably adorable. I took pictures and then my husband strapped his date into her car seat and they headed out to paint the town red.  Or at least the gymnasium of the local high school.  As for me, this was the first time I've had the house to myself in a solid year.  Woot!

"You don't know everything."

Today I was driving Kerri home from school and we were having a conversation. Kerri told me there were things about her that I did not know. I told her I pretty much knew everything there was to know about her. She disagreed and told me: "You don't know everything about me."

So I told her to tell me something that I did not know about her. And she told me she had a crush on a boy in her class. Surprised, I asked her what happened to her boyfriend - the neighbor boy she was madly in love with all summer. She told me that she stopped thinking of him that way when she started going to school with him. And then she said: "I realized he would not make a good Daddy because he plays rough and misbehaves. He could crack our baby in half."

I asked her to clarify what she meant, and she said she has watched him at school. And that he would play with their baby and wrestle with it and break the baby's back. I told her I did not think he would do that, but Kerri has moved on. I should have seen it coming when she kept talking about the new crush all week.

I have met the boy, and can see why Kerri likes him so much. But I am still not ready for this. And where did she learn the word "crush" from? Kerri is only six and a half years old. Sheesh.

Life with Kerri keeps surprising me.

Moist Sweet Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a big favorite with my family and clients and one of the easiest of cakes to make. I think every family probably has their own well-loved recipe handed-down among generations. It is such a classic. My recipe came from my mother who once judged baked goods at the Oregon State Fair. This carrot cake was one of the blue ribbon winners. I have always used it and it always gets rave reviews.

No matter what kind of cake or dessert I am making I always start by lining the baking pan with parchment paper. Removing the cake after cooling is completely trouble free with parchment paper.
I butter the sides of the pan or I use a baking spray. I never flour coat the pan. That's just me. I don't like how flour dries out the edges of the cakes. The absence of flour doesn't affect the removal of the cake.

For two 9" round layers or one 9" x 13" pan or one bundt cake pan start by mixing two cups of sugar, one cup of oil and three whole eggs.

Next mix in the good stuff:

one cup of drained crushed pineapple....

...and two cups of grated carrot. I use my food processor to chop the carrots into tiny bits.

Add one teaspoon of vanilla and beat on low to mix well.

Next add two and a half cups of all purpose flour, one teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Beat until the flour is absorbed, scraping the bowl as necessary.

One cup of chopped nuts is an optional addition to the cake. Walnut or pecans are divine!

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Let me share a baker's trick with a fuzzy out-of-focus photo:
Wrap the outside of the baking pan with strips of wet cloth- I use terry cloth towel strips or cotton sheet strips about three inches wide. (These are browned from many uses in the oven.) These damp baking strips will even out the baking of the cake so that a dome doesn't rise up in the middle. The layers of a stacked cake will be easier to assemble.

Bake the cake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until it passes a toothpick test.

This carrot cake is so moist and sweet it doesn't even need frosting but to gild the lily, a cream cheese icing is the perfect finish. Try it and tell me what you think.

Carrot Cake
Blend together:
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 whole eggs

2 cups grated carrots
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix well.

Stir in 1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans if desired.

Pour into greased and papered baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

She's not leavin' til she's heavin'

My daughter had her surgery today. Yes, I know it's a relatively minor procedure (installation of tubes in her ears plus adenoidectomy) but I'm a worrier. I held it together until the nurses wheeled her down the hall into the operating room.  Her dad and I were instructed to go and wait in the lobby.  I made the mistake of turning around to look at her one last time and she just looked so . . . tiny.

She didn't go into surgery until nearly noon, so it was a bit of a rough morning.  I have to say that I'm sure this whole scene was much easier with a 5.75-year-old vs a younger child.  I was able to explain everything to her, as did the nurses and doctors, and she understood. I could tell she was still worried, though, and at times she was teary.  When the nurse informed her that she was going to take her blood pressure, A responded: "You're going to take my blood?" She was wide-eyed and frightened. I'm glad I was able to hold her and stay with her right up until the last second.

Although we were at the hospital for several hours and were introduced to at least two doctors and half a dozen nurses who seemed to be involved in the process in some way, the actual surgery only lasted about 15 minutes.  A few minutes after that, we were escorted back to the recovery area. The kid was awake, but just barely.  I held her hand (which had an IV in it) under the blankets. "Mama, can I go to sleep?" she asked.  I nodded and a few seconds later, she was out.  P and I just watched her sleep for a half-hour or so.  When she awoke, she drank her apple juice and eventually decided she was ready to go home - on the condition that her dad would carry her out.  A nurse removed the IV and handed me some post-surgical instructions.

I sat my daughter up and proceeded to dress her.  She seemed woozy but said she felt fine.  P stood her up on the bed and was just about to pick her up when . . . the apple juice exited her mouth, arced into the air and over the bed, and splashed the floor at high velocity. She also managed to hit her winter coat and her dad's shoes.  There were three nurses nearby.  They all congratulated her.  You've gotta love nurses and their cast-iron stomachs. "You'll feel a lot better now!" they said, almost in unison.

I then drove the kid home (as she held a barf bag in the back seat) and P drove back to work.  She was quiet the rest of the afternoon, which is a rare event indeed.  So far, she says she feels fine (no school for the next two days, though). We are hoping that she is almost completely recovered by Friday night, because she and her dad are attending a "Daddy-Daughter Dance."  She is absolutely over the moon about it.

Next up: expect at least one blog post containing a prolonged rant about the insurance and the medical system. The hospital called last week to pre-register my daughter for the surgery. When I answered the phone, the woman on the line asked to speak to my daughter.  I advised the caller that A is five.  "Oh, it says here she is 39," she replied.  Then I got a call from a finance lady at the hospital less than 24 hours for the surgery advising me that our portion of the surgery will be [insert obscene dollar amount here] and would I like to pay for it now by credit card? So yeah, I have full faith in the doctors and nurses but the paperwork people? Not so much.

Now, if you'll excuse me . . . I made the mistake of handing someone a walkie-talkie and it seems I am being summoned.

Will Wonders Ever Cease?

I have been a potter for thirty years and can make pottery with ease at a potter's wheel, forming shapes as I see them in my mind without too much back-talk from the clay. Now, firing...that is another subject... but clay is my comfortable medium. With years behind the wheel I can make myself happy with my creations in clay.

Since the wedding cake business has taken over my kitchen, I haven't had time to spend in my pottery studio in almost a year. Every time I walk by my little green building I think about spending a few hours throwing some clay again but I don't actually do it. It's cold out there. The spiders have taken over in my absence. Maybe when the sun starts shining again I can deal with the clean-up I'll have to do before I can even slap a lump of clay on the wheel head.

So in quiet moments I've been daydreaming about trying my hand at some painting. Just for fun. Just for me. I painted a wee tiny bit when I was a youngster and got very frustrated at my lack of technical ability. Clay was much more appealing and I loved even the lopsided pots in the beginning. With painting I couldn't live with the poor results of my efforts. But now I want to try again. The fact that I don't have to submit the canvas to a process like firing in a kiln makes the idea less ominous.

I bought a paint set and supplies last fall and they sat in the corner for months. Last month I decided to play around and see what I could do. I'm self-taught in so many areas of my life (which I don't necessarily recommend. The learning curve can be looooong and steep.) so I figured that experimentation may lead to something. Either frustration or fun I guess.

I started just making what would be backgrounds for a still life. Color blends and graduations. It was fun. Then I read about the February show at the gallery which was a challenge to artists to think square.
I decided to use it as motivation to complete something with paint.

I know I already told you about my painting but since I took photos of the process I thought I would share that too.

I painted numerous 12 x 16 canvas papers with these graduating "background" colors. In the end I painted about twenty of them in every color.

I then cut them all up into two inch squares. I started with my rotary cutter that I use for quilting. It didn't take long for my arm to ache with the effort and despite my careful cutting, the squares were not perfectly matched.

At my daughter's suggestion I switched to an old-fashioned paper cutter which worked much better and was more accurate.

I ended up with hundreds of squares...

...which I then arranged, and rearranged. And then I painted some more. And cut some more and started arranging again.

The whole section that is more stippled then the rest I ended up repainting too.

...until finally I had colors that blended as I wanted. The final product wasn't exactly as my initial vision had been and I eventually just made myself stop and settle because I could have kept up the rearranging for decades.  I then glued the squares onto a 36 inch square board. At first I thought I would decoupage them down with a roller and a top coat of clear sealer but I decided I really liked the texture of the edges slightly raised up. People have commented that it looks woven or quilted. I'm glad for that since my original idea was sparked by quilts I have seen made in this fashion.

Mr. Dirtywrench made me a perfect frame for the piece that finished it off splendidly.

Today I found out that my little painting exercise- for fun, for me,- sold one week after the opening.

I'm gob-smacked.

On ice.

We had a lovely Valentine's Day yesterday. Kerri and Daddy made me a chocolate cake. Kerri made her own Valentine's cards for both Daddy and me. She put them in a big gift bag full of tissue paper. We had a lovely dinner, and there was lots of laughter. For us, Valentine's Day is every day, not just once a year.

We also stayed home, because we had a flash freeze. The unusually warm weather had melted a lot of the snow, and then the temperature dropped rapidly and froze everything into ice. So this morning, when I was taking Kerri to school, we both ended up on ice. Kerri slipped and landed on her back. I fell twice to my knees. Picking her up this afternoon should be interesting.

Life with Kerri keeps our hearts warm even when it is freezing outside.

Listen To Punxsutawney Phil

Here in Oregon, we were one of the seventeen states of the U.S. that was not slammed by blustery, frigid, mid-winter blizzards. While other Americans have been digging their cars out of snowbanks and paying outrageous heating bills, we've been opening windows and planning the gardens. The mountain has lost most of its snow pack resulting in a very disappointing ski and snowboard season.

I'm not trying to gloat or anything. Though we are enjoying the spring-like temperatures and frost-free roads, residents here are always a bit on edge knowing that it is just too early to get settled into spring.

We want to whisper to the awakening  buds to pull up the covers and go back to sleep for a couple more weeks- we'll wait.  From experience we know that any day things could suddenly change- the temperatures could drop and we'll get buried with snow. Worse yet, the temperatures could just drop. And drop again.

So we are hesitant to embrace the temperatures of spring in the fear that as soon as we start pruning and raking and planting primroses, the North Wind will laugh boisterously and blast us for our folly.

We've lost plants to this fickle season many times such as roses and shrubs pruned too soon.  Fruit crops have been destroyed when the buds on the trees woke too early only to have winter suddenly return for one last hurrah. 

No matter what nature seems to be telling us we need to keep checking the calender. Yep. It's still winter.

With his thoughts turning to spring, Mr. Dirtywrench hauled load after load of black gold from the compost pile, aka the Pile O' Crap, to rejuvenate the raised beds before planting time.

Mr. D. is a keeper, doncha think?

But I won't get too excited about planting those seeds quite yet. According to the calender it's February. Winter.

Oh yeah! It's Valentine's Day.

That explains the semi-annual arts and crafts mess in my kitchen.

And the extra four hours I spent making special cookies for the shop customers instead of the standard chocolate chip and peanut butter.

These are Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Valentine Cookies modified for the cookie jar. Powdered sugar decorations would never hold up in a cookie jar so I drizzled them with white chocolate. I just want to say that the cookie dough, oh my, the cookie dough made for divine eating. And I try not to eat cookie dough as a rule. I never even ate a finished cookie to test because I ate too much of the dough. Delicious!

For the first time in recent historical memory, Mr. D. and I are going out to dinner on Valentine's Day. I think we may have gone out sometime in our early days but not since having kids (read in twenty-eight years) can I remember going out. Maybe that's just because having children has sucked all the brain cells out of my memory banks. Regardless, I usually cook because Valentine's Day falls just before pay day, that is, when we are dead broke. But this year we are breaking tradition and going out. May wonders never cease during this, our thirtieth year of marriage.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?

Tanner and Kate Face Painting

They came home from a birthday party the other day looking like this. I loved it. = )

Party of Three

Our little clan had a fab-u-lous weekend. We swam, we whirlpooled, we ate candy. Bliss!  Of course, the shortest member of our party could not stop talking, but that came as no surprise.  Last week the director of Kindercare emailed me to let me know that my daughter had invited the entire building to join us for our weekend getaway. I cringe when I think about some of the stuff she must say at school. One of my clients told me that when her son was around five, they caught a mouse in the breezeway between their house and garage. Later, she found out that her son had told his teacher that they had HUNDREDS of mice in their home.

As soon as we checked into the resort, we heard the following about a thousand times:

"Can I go in the ball pit now? How about now? Can I go in the ball pit now? Okay, after you use the bathroom can I go in the ball pit? Okay, but after you pour your drink can I go in the ball pit?"

We let her play in the ball pit and then took her swimming.  We stayed in the pool until we were prune-y. The goal, of course, was to wear her out. However, in all honesty, I don't think running a marathon would put a dent in my daughter's energy level. She finally passed out a few hours later.  The next morning, she immediately launched into "can we go swimming?" and "can I play in the ball pit?" - alternating them every few seconds.

The three of us went "into town" to go to a candy store. The kid was grabbing this and that, seemingly intent on rotting her teeth before lunch. I noticed she was mixing different types (price points) of candy in the same bag.  I told her she couldn't keep them all in the same baggie and instructed her to put the rest in the basket I was carrying. "Oh, I'll just put them in my pocket!" she exclaimed, shoving some foil-wrapped chocolate pennies into her coat. I guess I hadn't yet explained the issue of "perceived shoplifting" and why store owners tend to frown upon that sort of thing.

After returning to our unit, P and I decided to hit the gym.  We brought along a word find book and A's Leapster in an attempt to keep her entertained, but of course she ran her mouth the whole time. We had stopped at a Target for a few supplies on our way to the resort on Friday. A told the cashier, "We're going away for my mom's birthday!"  He laughed and asked her if she knew my age.  I held my breath.  "She won't tell me!" my daughter replied.  Whew!  It's not that I'm trying to hide my age but rather that I'm not dying to have it broadcast all over the free world.  When I went to A's parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago, the first thing her teacher said to me was, "Soooo, I understand your husband just turned 39?"

Anyway, we did take her swimming (and yes, back to the ball pit) Saturday afternoon. After dinner, we watched "The Town" while she watched "The Wizard of Oz" in her room. We briefly wondered if she'd be afraid of the flying monkeys, but she never said a word about it so we're assuming that she'll just be secretly afraid of them henceforth . . . you know, like the rest of us are.

On Sunday we had one last trip to the children's play area and then hit the road.  I stopped at a pet boutique and bought an overpriced collar for Gretchen.  Saturday was her birthday and I was feeling a little bit guilty about boarding her on her big day.  P didn't ask about the cost of the collar and I didn't offer any information.  Don't ask, don't tell!

Conversations with Daddy.

I know this blog is about life with Kerri, but sometimes life with her Daddy is blog worthy. For instance, today...Daddy dropped Kerri off at her Kung Fu class and decided to take a short trip down the street to use a gift card his boss gave him. And the following is the conversation that ensued, as told per my hubby (after claiming he waited in a mile-long line):

Starbucks employee: "Hi, what would you like today?"

Hubby: "I want something to drink. I would like a coffee please."

Starbucks employee: "Would you like a (hubby did not understand)?"

Hubby: "Sorry I don't speak Starbucks! What you just said sounded like the chorus from the Lady Marmalade song...(singing and dancing) Mocha Choca lata ya ya ..."

Customer behind hubby: "Yeah, it really does sound like that!"

Starbucks employee: (amused) "What would you like in your coffee, what flavor?"

Hubby: "Chocolate."

Starbucks employee: "And do you want it hot or cold?"

Hubby: "Cold!"

Starbucks employee: "And would you like it (hubby only understood veni, vidi, vici - which hubby understood to mean "I came, I saw, I conquered" in Latin)?"

Hubby: "Whoa! Now you are speaking to me in Latin. That's two different languages I don't understand."

Starbucks employee: (rolling her eyes) "What size would you like it?"

Hubby: "The biggest one you got."

Starbucks employee: "Venti."

Needless to say, hubby suffered an allergic reaction to something he ate and/or drank from that store. He is allergic to cinnamon.

And now I have that Lady Marmalade song in my head for the rest of the day!

Life with Daddy is Mocha Choca lata ya ya!


Not much to talk about at the home-front lately but I do feel inclined to talk about the state of the world.

I have never been so moved by watching the evening news as I was tonight. I feel privileged to witness the self-liberation of the Egyptian people. What an astounding event! The euphoria of the Egyptian nation is deeply touching.

I have been reading about their oppression in the last few days and the connection of the U.S. to the sustenance of it. To witness the rising up of the population and the peaceful yet successful revolution against a brutal despot that ruled over them for thirty years (sustained by billions of American aid dollars) is enough to give anyone hope. For a change, in a world full of bad news and depressing forecasts for the economic and political future driven by seemingly heartless and inept politicians, to see civilians perform an act of self-liberation in the manner that the Egyptian people accomplished, shows that the common people can have a voice and make a difference in their homeland.

They say that other dictatorial regimes are now shaking in their bloody boots and I hope that they are. I pray that it does give courage and hope to other people suffering in oppression around the world.

What do you think of the events taking place?

School Museum Trip.

Last week, I volunteered to accompany Kerri's class to the downtown Children's Museum. We all rode the bus, put our winter gear away, and then headed to our first workshop:

We learned how to make whole wheat pita bread. Everyone had fun!

Our second workshop was music, and everyone learned how to tap dance and play foreign instruments. After lunch, we had some free time to explore the museum. Kerri (still wearing her baker's hat) joined her buddy on the motorcycle:

We all had fun, and came home really tired.

Life with Kerri is sometimes hard to keep up with!