Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just wait till he learns about shrinkage...

The Things got to soak in the tub last night. This is a special treat since they both have such dry skin that we prefer they take showers rather than deal with the itchies that come from a soak in the tub. But, they love it and so we caved. Sort of a treat for having to go back to school in the morning.

Afterwards, Thing Two announced to his dad that his tentacles were all wrinkled! He found this very amusing. As parents we found it pretty funny too. But ya know, we weren't laughing at his wrinkles, but rather his attempt to call his body part by the correct name and falling just a tad short in using the right word!

Ah yes, it is only a matter of time until they discover other features of their equipment...

The Most Wonderful time of the year...

As of 0800 this morning, the Things are back in school! YAHOO! I've already made my Sams Club run, finished up a couple chores left over from the weekend and am now sitting down to blog for a bit before I head out and do some more chores that got put off while they were under foot. Much as I love the lazy days that come with being off track, I do enjoy the alone time that I get once they go back to school.

Another thing that makes it so wonderful is that Saturday was "opening day" at the pool. They insisted we go, even though the wind made it a chilly experience. Didn't bother me all that much as I'm officially a "chair mom". You know the ones: they come to the pool and yet never have to get IN the water because their kids are good enough swimmers. I guess I'm more of a Jr. Chair Mom: the Things are good enough to be in the water alone but I'm not relaxed enough to pull out my book and leave their safety completely in the hands of the lifeguards. Maybe by the end of the summer.

And the final thing that makes life look so bright this morning is that my crafty Mojo has returned! With the move, and the challenges that come with settling into a new house, my creativity went on hiatus. I felt it sneaking back last weekend when I finished my unfinishied pages and realized this weekend it is back 100%! On Sunday, I edited, organized, renamed and ordered a bunch of digital prints. I'd tell you the exact number but Hubby might read my blog and shoot me. :) Suffice to say, once they arrive, I'll have my work cut out for me for months! Yesterday, my friend Fran and her boys joined us for an afternoon of play. Us mommies played with trimmers, stamps and adhesives while the boys played with legos, swords and paper airplanes. I'm sure it is a tie as to who had more fun! We all agreed we must do it again real soon! I managed to complete 4 double page spreads: finally working on Christmas pictures.

Ah...it does feel like the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A perk to kids learning to read...

Hubby is now able to send Thing Two to the basement to make a beer run. "Bring me up a Heineken". Up comes Thing Two, with the correct beer in hand "here's your hiney can Dad!"

*yep, life is slow around these parts, which explains the very blah blogging

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Slugger takes another hit...

Oh poor Thing Two...he so wants to learn how to play baseball. And he gives it his all. He listens to his coaches. He practices with his dad the drills he's learned at practice. And then, suddenly he decided he didn't want to go. Initially I thought he was just too happy playing with his brother and the neighbor boy and didn't want to leave the comforts of home (we admit that's a genetic trait both boys have inherited from their home body parents). Then I remembered what had happened at the LAST practice. Well...first I'll show you

Poor fella! Last Wednesday they were working on catching using empty milk jugs when he misjudged the ball and took a direct hit to the lower lip. The bloody nose was a secondary injury...or at least that was what my assessment was. I wasn't there...having left early to start dinner. Hubby and another dad provided the initial first aide and then came home for Nurse Mommy to check it out.

So, yesterday morning we had the big post-trauma meltdown. How he wants to play baseball. How he loves baseball but he's just afraid. And somehow once he acknowledged his fear of being hit, his anxiety subsided and he was ready to go. Last night's practice was a success: he had fun with his friends, he caught a few grounders, hit a couple pitches (and yet, in classic kindie little league fashion, just stood there after making contact, completely forgetting to run to first base!) and most importantly: didn't take any hits to the face. On the way home he said "well, MOM, that's because I used my glove not a milk jug!!"

YOu just got to love the logic of the six year old mind and admire the courage that they have to get out there and try again....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Roundtuit Sunday

Everyone has that pile of stuff and projects that they set aside, hoping to get around to tackling some day/some time. I call mine my roundtuit (get it: around to it?) pile. Since moving, (and in all honesty even before that, but the move provided me with a little reprieve from my guilt) I'd had a couple pages of scrapbooking that just needed a little bit here and a little bit there until they were completely ready for the page protectors. As I was itching to start some new projects, I told myself FIRST you have to finish up the other stuff.

My first order of business was finishing Thing Two's preschool album. Since late Fall, I've had just one last page to do and a couple pages to journal and finish up and it would not just be a finished layout but a completed album! I have had plenty of opportunities but never had time and desire been in total sync. Yesterday, the stars must have all been in alignment with the planets and the Gods of Creative Energy smiled down on me! I am proud to report his "Grins and Giggles" album is COMPLETED. All pages journaled. All pages protected and it is a complete wrap! I started this album once I'd finished his baby album, easily a good 5 years ago. I take pictures that are extras from our family album and make pages that just feature him. (Yes, Thing One has a similar album. Trust me, I try to keep things pretty fair when it comes to their albums). I wanted to finish it up now that he's in kindergarten I"ll start a similar album of his school days stuff. Ah, it feels so good to be done.

But, wait, while I'm on a bragging kick let me continue to disgust you with my boasting....

I went ahead and pulled out some pages that have been bugging me since January. Last Fall I started a Travel Album. I had tired of doing the chronological scrapbooking and decided I'd start an album that features some of our trips (but not major enough to warrant a seperate album). I was struggling with some layouts from a trip we took last May to see the inlaws. These visits are always a challenge for me (complicated family dynamics) and so scrapbooking the photos that we take is never easy. But guess what? I managed to finish up this trip as well! I decided that minimal journaling was perfectly acceptable. Sort of that "if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing" approach to scrapbooking.

So now I have at least a smaller pile of stuff in the roundtuit stack. I'm thinking as crafters and as women, we'll always have something sitting around that needs a little attention whenver we find time but it always feels good to have that pile made just a bit smaller if only for a day or so. And now I can start on some new stuff with not quite as much guilt about never quite finishing one project before moving on to something new!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rant on Roses...

I'm wondering if I can still be a card carrying "Martha" and NOT like having my own rose bushes? I thought I'd be excited to have inherited rose bushes with the purchase of our new house. I'm descended from garden loving women. My grandmother's house was known as the place with all those rose bushes on the side yard. My mother loved roses so much we had inscribed on her marker a quote about roses and memories. So, what's my problem?

Maybe I'll change my tune once they start to bloom.
But for today, I'm still crying over my pruning injuries!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Samurai's Garden

Lonelines ** Solutiude ** Isolation

These are three of the primary themes that Gail Tsukyama visits in her novel titled The Samurai's Garden. She sets her story on the eve of the Second World War with a young Chinese man as the narrator. He's been sent to his family's seaside home in Japan to recover from TB. While recovering, he meets some interesting residents of this small coastal town.

I finished the book earlier in the week, and I'm still trying to decide if I liked it. I know that I didn't love it. Nor did I hate it. It was just sort of ok. It made for a very good "waiting" book. As a mom, I spend a fair amount of each day waiting. Those 5 or 10 minutes before it is time to pick up the boys from school or practice. Or, watching the boys while they play out in the front yard. Since the story unfolds gradually and all the main characters have a real sense of quiet to them, it was an easy book to pick up only to quickly put back down again.

I did like how the author wove in cultural elements (from both Chinese and Japanese culture) and historical details that I found interesting. I admit to knowing very little about this time in history so I was interested to learn moe.

I'm not sure what it is that has left me going "ah, it was ok". Perhaps that these themes she visits, are rarely experienced in my life. So I found myself with little connection to the characeters in the story. I thought she did a better job of creating the older characters than she did creating the narrator.

I"m glad that I read it but I don't think I"ll be rushing out to check out her other works. It is almost summer and I think I'm in the mood for more lively tales...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Morning stall..

So, my new job is just around the corner. Well, actually, I have to go up the street two blocks and then it is around the corner. I can't complain about rush hour traffic or getting stuck in traffic. But I am finding that already, just two weeks into the job, I"m doing the morning stall.
  • Hmmm....let me just check my email real quick
  • Oh wait, looks like there is a message from Sis. Better answer that real quick before I forget
  • Oh gee, I need to get this deposit ready for the bank so I can drop it off after work without having to come home in between work and my appointment
  • Oh, man, if I don't send off this Quicken payment, it won't get there in time.
  • Gotta go Gotta Go Gotta go (the coffee kicks in)
  • Oh my, look how full the laundry basket is getting..
  • Let me just toss in a quick load before
  • Come on boys, time to brush your teeth
  • What do you mean you didn't eat your breakfast yet? What have you been doing for the past hour and a half?
  • Oh man...BOYS! Come on, we're gonna be late. Let's hustle...

Yep, regardless of distance to be traveled, there is always the potential for a rush hour!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Big Squeeze

Tomorrow I"m off for the "girls' annual photo shoot", or the "big squeeze". Or for those of you who prefer the more technical, but less fun term, my annual mammogram. Ok, I admit, to call it an ANNUAL mammogram would have meant I went 6 months ago. But, I let minor details like insurance coverage and life get in the way. ENOUGH I said and I made an appointment (no easy feat if you belong to an HMO that covers every woman with breasts in the Rocky Mountain region...or so it seems).

I admit, I don't like these tests. It isn't the comfort factor. I really see that part as no big deal. It is the anxiety of the procedure that gets to me. Each year, I look in the mirror and see more of my mom staring back at me. I've got her chins. I prefer her shade of lipstick (that is when I bother to wear lipstick, just like her, I'm not big on beauty products). I hear words come out of my mouth and think "OMG! I sound like my MOM!". And now tomorrow, I hope and pray that these are the ONLY ways I've become like my mom.

But you know what THIS year I've decided that , if it turns out that there is another trait I've inherited from her, that's ok. Because like my mom, I"ve got a source of faith and a circle of friends and family that will get me through whatever challenges get thown my way. I am indeed blessed and ever so grateful for those blessing that have been bestowed on me!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Furniture shopping: Can this marriage be saved?

Ah, shopping with a husband who doesn't like crowds nor does he like parting with his money has never been an easy task here in the House of Chang. But, trying to make a major purchase...well, I just hope it doesn't do us both in!

Actually, we agree on the usual sticky point of budget. And, we agree on what needs to go where and what we want the final look to feel like. So, we should be all set?

Oh no, not so fast. Sure, we can decide to move in a matter of weeks. We can decide and sell a rarely used vehicle in a matter of days. But, buying a couch for the family room? This might just take forever!

Hubby sits in a very comfie chair at the local coffee shop when he and the other geeks make their daily trek over for an afternoon espresso. He loves THE chair. Says it is the perfect fit. So, I figured the first order of business would be "find THE chair". We hit three furniture stores with little luck. He was like Goldilocks, racing through each place, first looking then shaking his head and giving the signal to move on troops, they don't have it here. One kindly saleswoman was trying her hardest but I just shook my head, knowing better than to try and sell him on anything other than what he had his mind set on finding.

Monday he calls the owner of the coffee shop to say "where did you buy THE chair?". The kind owner not only tells him but offers to retrieve the serial number once the morning rush subsides (can you tell this is a locally owned and operated business NOT one of the more popular and prevalent coffee shop chains?).

So, last night we went to THE store where they sell THE chair. Sadly, this store although known for their competitive pricing, stinks when it comes to hiring intellingent sales staff. We asked for help but about all they did was wander the showroom floor WITH us, in search of THE chair.

In the end, Hubby is realizing that perhaps it isn't just about THE chair. It is more about how he feels when he sits in it. And just maybe there is something else out there that fits the bill of being the perfect fit. So, after 4 stores, he actually starts to sit on furniture and on a couple pieces let out the sigh of "oh yeah, this is what I want to crash on after a day of dealing with change management and Big Blue Pain in the tookus protocol for network changes".

So, today the Things and I head back to the very first furniture store, now in search of THE look and FEEL of something so comfie you just get stuck in and don't want to move out of until the next morning...

That's what we should have been doing in the first place but hey I've figured out after over ten years of marriage to my very lovable hubby, you just have to go with the flow and realize that in the end it will all be ok.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

aufWiedersehen Elsa!

It is with a tinge of sadness that I report the departure of our beloved Elsa. She joined our family some three years ago, as a Mother's Day gift for me. As both hubby and I are fans of the Sound of Music, we named her after the Baroness Elsa Schraeder because face it, Elsa did have a commanding presence.

Unfortunately, we had found over time that she was becoming a neglected member of our family. There just isn't enough driving going on to warrant her upkeep. Oh she was still very much loved and recognized in the community. But, she was spending most of her time under cover. And, with a girl who is aging as well as she is (she's a MB 420SEL, born in Germany in 1987), she deserves to be out there on the scene. So, hubby listed her for sale on Monday and a kindly man purchased her yesterday.

Thing Two was the sadder of the Two Things to see her go. At first we thought it was his more sensitive side being nostalgic over the road trips we'd taken in her (she really did handle 90mph nicely on the long trek from this Rocky Mountain scene to the Land of Cheese). Or perhaps his logical brain was moving too fast: if we got rid of the third vehicle, what would he be allowed to drive in some 9.5 years when he is allowed to drive?

But, then when Thing Two started to release bodily fluids yesterday morning I realized his emotional reaction was more than likely just a prodromal response to the incoming flu that has struck him down.

So, much as I would love to sit here and share more lovely Elsa stories, I've got some disinfecting to tend to...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

You're too old Mom!

Yep, that's what Thing Two announced yesterday when we saw a cute little toddler at the store. Thing One asked "why don't we have a baby in our family?" I chuckled and started to point out all the things we can do these days now that both boys are a bit older. I even offered up the reality that if we had to buy diapers we wouldn't have had the extra money for the toy we'd just bought at Target. Thing One was immediately swayed in realizing that yep, life is just fine WITHOUT a cute baby in our family.

Then, Thing Two (who up until this point had been totally silent on the matter) piped up with "well, it doesn't really matter anyways, because Mom, you are TOO OLD to have a baby".

Ok I thought, he does have a point but HOW does he know that? So, I asked...not quite sure what I would get as his response. "What makes you say that?"

His response brought a smile and a sigh of relief to me "well, Mom, you aren't twenty anymore." Whew, dodged that bullet. But wait, he had one more pearl of Thing Wisdom "you have to be 20 to have a baby!".

Silently, I let the subject fade off to talk of transformers and baseball. But, we will definetly be re-visiting this matter of age at some point in the future. Because, this Momma doesn't not want to become a grandma in about 11-14 years. I can easily wait 21 years, thank you very much!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Ah, the places I've been...

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Yep, I've been a travelin' gal most of my life. The red reflects states that I've visited. I know that I've been through a couple of the remaining continental states but didn't include them if I only passed through the state en route to somewhere else.

It isn't that I purposely set out to see a vast majority of the United States. Nope, I need to give proper credit to the fact that my dad was a wanderlust. Growing up, we lived in the Land of Cheese (Wisconsin for those of you not familiar with various state knicknames) for most of my childhood with detours to Arizona, Georgia and Wyoming. Trust me, don't even try to figure out how or why we ended up in these very geographical and culturally different locales. If you knew my dad, you'd totally understand.

And when we weren't moving, we were visiting. Some of my fondest childhood memories include the road trips that we'd take. Dad worked for the school system which meant a long summer break. We'd hook up the trailer and off we'd go...Often being gone for two weeks at a time. As an adult looking back, I have a lot more respect for the planning my parents put forth to make these family vacations possible.

The rest of the visited red is courtesy of Uncle Sam. When I joined the Army, I thought I'd get to see the world. Instead, I got sent to the sandy (not!) shores of Monterey peninsula (while my former co-workers were pounding Saudi sand back in 1990). I tasted yummy TEX-Mex food in San Antonio. While in NC, I found that working night shift is a bit more bearable when you and your girlfriends decide that the next day we should all road trip to Myrtle Beach for the day. And, when I got sent to KY for what would be my final duty assignment, I realized Nashville was only a quick trip down the road and I managed to re-ignite my love of Country Music (although I didn't manage to spot any country stars!) And while serving my country, I met people from all over the country. This of course gave me another reason to travel: to go see where my friends came from.

Now that the Things are getting a little older, I hope to be able to create some similar road trips. We've already taken them to a fair amount of states but there is so much more to be seen in this great land of ours. It is always such a shame when I meet people that think or act as if the world ends at their state border. If you don't get out and see other parts of our country, you can't begin to appreciate the complexity of running it as one nation under God...

Ok, so I'll step off my soap box and go back to my quiet little world. But before I do, try to get out this summer and see something different than what you've always done on summer vacation. You'll be happy that you did...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Twas the Night before Track Off...

And all through the house..
Mom was quite certain she had it all wrong..
Those Things...
They just had Spring Break...
What do you mean,
Starting tomorrow I'll have them for

Ok, so my ability to rhyme is right up there with my dancing and singing skills.
But, at least you'll understand why I've not been updating my blog this week: I was a busy lady enjoying my last week of alone time.

Oh but wait, I also worked three days this week.

Yep, times are changing here at the House of Chang. For the first time in almost 7 years, I am working outside of the home. But, I think it is "time" and I'm excited about the possibilities this new job offers. And, the hours are a perfect fit to the Things very wacky school schedule.
I'd forgotten about some of the initial hiccups that go with starting a new job.
But all in all, it looks like it will be a good fit.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Year of Wonders

Last summer (right around the time I started my blog), I read a great book by Geraldine Brooks called March. Last month, I learned Ms. Brooks had won the Pulitzer prize for fiction for this book. In talking to some other folks about this author and her award, we all agreed it was a well deserved win. But, I was one of the few who had read March. Most of the other women were commenting on the skills she demonstrated in her first fictional work, A Year of Wonders. They had concluded that based on how great that book was, March had to be equally well written and worthy of such prestigious award as the Pulitzer Prize. Well, somehow I'd missed the fact that she'd written a book before March and knew immediately what book I wanted to start reading.

The book tells the story of the village of Eyam in Derbyshire England and what its citizens did back in 1665 to prevent the spread of the Plague when it struck their village. The narration is provided by Anna, a young maid who works for the village minister and his wife.

Truly it is a fascinating story. Tragic in the numbers of citizens lost to this horrific infection. Yet, amazing in reading how the villagers made a very difficult decision to isolate themselves so as to prevent the infection from spreading to nearby communities. The faith it takes to make such a selfless decision. Well, I'm not sure I'm that strong of a person.

The story is historically based but fiction: so the author has created characters based on what she thinks they might have done during this time. She created some very vivid characters and the story itself felt very real.

Now, who shouldn't read this book? Well, for starters, if you are a germaphobe, I suggest you skip this one. The first night after I started reading the story, I had some pretty vivid dreams. Having watched Colonial House on PBS a few summers ago, I had a pretty good idea of the harsh living conditions of the time. Toss in something as disgusting as the plague, and you've got an icky setting for a story. The author manages to describe the conditions in a simple style but the images your mind creates are very vivid.

Also, if you are not of the believing type, I don't think you'd find the book to be as interesting as I did. For the citizens to make such a decision, they relied very heavily on their belief in God and the teachings of the Bible. The author makes a fair amount of references to the worship practices of the time and if you are turned off by a religious tone to books you read, you might want to skip this book. But, to be true to that period of time in history, the author would have been wrong to not address the role that the Church played in society.

But as for the rest of you, you simply must read A Year of Wonders....You'll be wondering long after you finish the book what you would have done had you been faced with similar decision. Would you be able to continue to live when all around you is nothing but sorrow and sadness?
I'm still wondering myself....long after having finished the book